Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Lead 7-3 at Half on Clark's Late Score

WR Brian Clark lost his helmet as time expired in the first half, but was able to hold on to QB Brian Griese’s three-yard pass to give the Bucs the lead at halftime in Miami

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WR Brian Clark lost his helmet but held onto the ball on the only touchdown pass of the first half

After appearing somewhat sluggish on offense through much of the first two periods, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put together a lengthy 19-play, 78-yard drive to close out the half at Miami's Dolphin Stadium. The drive culminated in WR Brian Clark's three-yard touchdown grab as time expired, giving the visitors a 7-3 lead.

QB Brian Griese capped a 10-of-14, 59-yard second quarter with the strike to Clark, and starter Luke McCown was 9-of-15 for 70 yards after playing the first quarter. TE John Gilmore, known primarily for his blocking skills, paced the Bucs with three receptions for 25 yards.

The Bucs' running backs weren't able to get much going, however, as Michael Bennett picked up only 16 yards on his seven carries and Kenneth Darby managed just 12 yards on five attempts.

On defense, the Bucs looked sharp, limiting the Dolphins to 117 total net yards and only two-of-six third down conversions. The Dolphins managed six first downs to the Bucs' 12.

The second quarter saw most of the Bucs backups take the field, and that's when the team was able to move the ball most effectively — surely an encouraging sign for the Bucs' depth.

  • The Dolphins won the toss and elected to receive. Ted Ginn Jr. fielded Matt Bryant's kickoff about two yards deep in the end zone and returned it to the 21, where he was walloped by S Donte Nicholson. LBs Barrett Ruud and Cato June combined to bring Miami RB Ronnie Brown down after a short gain on first down, and Brown was stuffed again on second down. On third-and-10, John Beck's pass short hopped WR Derek Hagan and the Dolphins were forced to punt. Micheal Spurlock returned Brandon Fields' punt for 12 yards, setting the Bucs up at their own 44. * The Bucs' first offensive possession of the 2008 preseason didn't start off well, as QB Luke McCown was dropped for a sack on first down. Facing second-and-18, McCown found Michael Clayton for 13 yards and on third-and-five, McCown's pass intended for Maurice Stovall was nearly intercepted by Yeremiah Bell. Josh Bidwell's 37-yard punt was fair caught by Jayson Foster at the Miami 14. * Beck found Reagan Mauia for a nine-yard gain, but not before S Jermaine Phillips laid a big hit on the fullback. On second-and-one, Beck overthrew Hagan down the right sideline for an incompletion, but on third down Beck found Boomer Grigsby out of the backfield for 14 yards and a first down. Beck connected with Hagan on first down for six yards, then hit Ginn Jr. for 10 yards and a first down as the Dolphins moved into Bucs territory at the 47. Brown stumbled ahead up the middle for four yards, but Beck threw the ball to the ground on second down as what looked to be a screen pass never materialized. On third-and-six, DE Jimmy Wilkerson burst through the line and deflected Beck's pass, ending the Dolphins drive. Fields' second punt of the day was downed at the Bucs' nine-yard line. * On first down, RB Michael Bennett ran up the middle for seven yards and picked up another two yards on second down. Facing third-and-one, McCown rolled right but had his pass broken up by S Jason Allen and Bidwell came on again to punt. The ball actually hit a Dolphins player and could have been recovered by the Bucs, but it rolled directly out of bounds instead, setting the Dolphins up at their own 42. * RB Ricky Williams received a big cheer from the crowd after picking up two yards on first down, then broke a tackle in the backfield on a draw play on second down, gaining another nine yards and a first down. Williams plowed up the middle for four yards, but a holding penalty on the Dolphins on second down brought up second-and-16 at the Bucs' 47-yard line. Beck then found WR Anthony Fasano for a six-yard gain, but CB Ronde Barber sprinted in and sacked Beck on third down for a loss of three as the Bucs' defense again held firm. Fields' punt rolled out of the end zone for a touchback and the Bucs' took over at their 20 with 3:42 to go in the first quarter. * McCown hit Clayton perfectly in stride on a deep crossing pattern on first down, but Clayton had the ball bounce right off his hands as the Bucs missed an opportunity for a huge gain. On second down, McCown hit TE John Gilmore for a five-yard gain, then found Bennett for seven yards as the Bucs moved the chains. On first down at the 32, Stovall took a quick pass and sprinted ahead for eight yards, but RB Kenneth Darby was tripped up for no gain on second-and-two, bringing up third down. The Bucs then took their first timeout of the half before Darby squirted ahead for just enough yardage to move the sticks. McCown then hit a wide open RB Clifton Smith as the rookie ran ahead for nine yards. Darby then picked up another first down with a one-yard gain as the first quarter came to a close. * McCown was flushed from the pocket and looked for TE Jerramy Stevens on the first play of the second quarter, but Stevens slipped and the pass fell incomplete. There was a brief delay for a Dolphins injury before McCown hit Clayton for nine yards, setting up third-and-one. Bennett showed a good second effort after the play looked to be stuffed, falling forward for two yards and a first down at the Miami 37. McCown rolled left, then scrambled all the way back to his right, eluding the Dolphins' pass rush before having his pass intended for Bennett fall incomplete. WR Antonio Bryant made his first catch as a Buc for six yards on second down, then Gilmore caught a McCown pass for 11 yards and a first down at the 20. Bennett was stopped for no gain, then caught a short pass for two yards on second down. On third-and-eight, McCown threw too high for a wide open Clayton on what would have been a sure touchdown. Bryant's 36-yard attempt sailed wide right, so the score remained 0-0 with just over 11 minutes to go till halftime. * As the Dolphins started at their own 26, Ricky Williams burst ahead for 12 yards. QB Chad Henne completed his first pass of the game to WR David Kircus for 14 yards but then overthrew Ernest Wilford for an incompletion. On second and 10 at the 48, the Dolphins moved back five yards with a false start penalty. Bucs' rookie CB Aqib Talib made a great open-field tackle on Williams' four-yard gain to prevent a much bigger run. S Sabby Piscitelli laid a big hit on Kircus' 20-yard gain, but the wideout held on to the ball for a first down at the Bucs' 29. RB Patrick Cobbs then picked up a yard on the ground before Henne's pass intended for TE David Martin fell incomplete. Facing third-and-nine, Henne found Kircus on a quick route, but CB Eugene Wilson dragged him down for only a five-yard game. K Dan Carpenter's 41-yard field goal attempt was good, and the Dolphins took the 3-0 lead with 6:46 left in the half. * Spurlock fielded the short kickoff and brought it back to the 23. QB Brian Griese entered the game and handed off to Bennett for no gain on first down. Griese then hit TE Alex Smith for 10 yards and a first down. Gilmore made his third grab of the day on the next play, this time for nine yards, but Alex Smith had a pass bounce off his fingertips for an incompletion on second-and-one. The third down play saw Bennett run right for two yards and a first down. Griese then hit Bryant for eight yards before Darby was held to a gain of one. On third-and-one at the Dolphins' 48, Griese opted for a deep pass down the sideline to Bryant that was broken up by CB Travis Daniels. The Bucs chose to go for it on fourth down, and Bennett squirted through for three yards to move the sticks. The Bucs then burned their second timeout with 2:06 to go before Griese found Bryant for six yards as the clock wound down to the two minute warning. Clifton Smith caught a screen pass for one yard and Clayton caught a pass for two yards, setting up another fourth-and-one. But Darby picked up eight yards up the middle before the Bucs took their final timeout with 1:01 to go and the ball at the Dolphins' 28. Griese then scrambled out of the pocket up the middle, but the Dolphins were offside so the Bucs moved ahead five yards. On first-and-five, Darby caught a short pass over the middle for one yard, but then snagged a five-yard grab and a first down, stopping the clock by getting out of bounds. Griese's pass intended for Clifton Smith came up short, but then Stovall broke a tackle on a pass up the middle for a 14-yard gain. With the clock running, Griese faked a snap and lofted a pass for incomplete to Stovall in the corner of the end zone. Opting to take one more shot at the end zone from three yards out with six seconds left, Griese found WR Brian Clark in the end zone as Clark lost his helmet on the play. Bryant's extra point was good and the Bucs headed to the locker room up 7-3.
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