In a showdown at Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Miami Dolphins 45-17.
The Dolphins were without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa due to a rib injury earlier in the season, but that did not slow their pace. On the opening drive drive, Miami went down the field 70 yards in 8 plays. Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett completed several short passes, including one to receiver Preston Williams who turned it into a 34-yard play.
Earlier on the drive Williams caught a deep pass for 21 yards along the sideline. The play was ruled a catch and Tampa Bay challenged, as it appeared the receiver came down with the ball out of bounds. The ruling remained a catch and Miami eventually found their way into the red zone.
Buccaneers Defense Bends
On second and goal, Brissett lined up in shotgun formation and handed the ball off to running back Myles Gaskin for a run up the middle. Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett immediately read the play and knocked Gaskin to the ground for no gain. The Bucs defense disrupted the next play on third down and held the Dolphins to a field goal.
The Buccaneers also came out firing on their first drive with back to back first downs. Quarterback Tom Brady completed 7 plays for 70 yards with passes to multiple receivers and utilizing two different backs.
The only incomplete came on a short pass intended for receiver Chris Godwin in the end zone which brought up 3rd and 6. On the next play, Brady threw a short pass to running back Giovani Bernard who flipped sideways into the end zone for a 10-yard Buccaneers touchdown.
All Gas, No Brakes
From that point forward, the Buccaneers offense never took their foot off the gas. Brady completed 411 passing yards and 5 touchdown passes. Leonard Fournette led the run game with 67 yards and 1 touchdown. He also completed 43 passing yards showing off his ability to be both a run and pass threat.
The highest receiving yards in the game went to Buccaneers Antonio Brown and Mike Evans with 124 and 113 yards, respectively. Both receivers also scored two touchdowns, but it was Brown who came away with a more memorable performance.
What Can Brown Do For You
At the end of the first quarter, on a short 10-yard pass up the middle from Brady, Brown recorded his 900th career reception. Brown said, “That is something I am very grateful for, but you know, I couldn’t do it by myself. I’ve been able to play with some great quarterbacks – Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady. It’s a blessing to play with guys like that and be able to get the ball and be on that trajectory. “
On his next reception, in the second quarter, Brown caught another short pass from Brady and turned it into a 62-yard touchdown. He broke through the Miami secondary, turned up the speed and was in the end zone.
After the game, Brown described the contribution and depth of the receiving core. “Each one of our guys could be the reason we win,” he said, “We are all unselfish and we know the greater cause is winning. Our business is winning, and we are just here to inspire each other and win the ball game.”
Following Brown’s two touchdowns in the second quarter, the Buccaneers took the lead 24-10 and never looked back. They were not without a few mishaps, including giving up two sacks on Brady for loss.
Brady suffered a minor injury to his finger on the right hand, but did not disclose when it occurred or the extent of the injury after the game. Arians said, “whenever it happened, it happened early so it didn’t affect him too much.”
In the first half of the game, Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David also suffered an injury but and unable to return to the game. Arians indicated the injury appeared to be a high ankle sprain but did not have any additional information after the game.
Despite losing another leading defensive player, the Bucs held Miami to only 17 points. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett explained, “It was big for us, Coach [Todd] Bowles came in and gave us a message, the message was received, and we wanted to go out there and play the way we were supposed to be playing all four quarters and we were able to do it.” Barrett recorded 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble recovered by Ndamukong Suh at the end of the second quarter.
Shutting The Door
In the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers defense completely shut down Miami limiting them to only 3:51 time of possession and 0 for 2 on third down conversions. Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean, who is coming off a previous knee injury, intercepted Brissett on a short pass intended for Jaylen Waddle.
Dean ran for 6 yards before getting pushed out of bounds. He said, “It was in zone. So, I was just reading the quarterback and once he threw the ball, I ran to it and realized the receiver tipped it. So, I was like, ‘I can’t miss this one,’ I’ve had two layups so I can’t miss both.”
Arians said, “We’re working tomorrow, Tuesday, getting on a plane Wednesday and it’s a very, very short week. We can celebrate this one next week if we take care of our business this week for Thursday night.”
The Buccaneers are heading north to play the Philadelphia Eagles.