Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last Second Knockout

Nearly floored by a final Miami drive, the Buccaneers get off the mat to land the final blow in a 16-13 victory


Most of Tampa Bay's offense centered around Warrick Dunn on Sunday, and he made just enough big plays to lead the team to victory

For a week, this Tampa Bay Buccaneers-at-Miami Dolphins game was billed as a heavyweight bout between two proud, defensive teams.

Three hours of pounding on a drenched Pro Player Stadium lived up to that billing, but the Buccaneers' defense was up against the ropes, bloodied, as the last seconds of the final round ticked away.

That's when Damien Robinson summoned up a knockout blow. Robinson's interception at the Buccaneers' eight-yard line with 11 seconds left in the game turned away a final Dolphin scoring threat and gave Tampa Bay a critical 16-13 victory.

Tampa Bay had taken its final three-point lead with two Martin Gramatica field goals in the fourth quarter. Gramatica had snapped a team-record-tying string of 16 consecutive successful field goals late in the first half, missing from 34 yards, but he followed with makes of 38, 30 and 46 yards.

That last kick followed a fumbled snap by QB Jay Fielder at the Miami 30. The Bucs offense moved forward just three yards as a light rain suddenly turned heavy. Despite the elements, Gramatica hit the 46-yarder straight between the pipes with just under seven minutes remaining.

Tampa Bay nearly sealed the game two plays later when CB Donnie Abraham secured his seventh interception of the season, tying his career high from last year. That gave the Bucs possession at the Miami 28, but a conservative Buc approach got nowhere and Mark Royals' punt found the end zone for a touchback.

Miami then moved to midfield with roughly three minutes left but stalled when CB Brian Kelly knocked a pass away from WR Oronde Gadsden deep over the middle. The Dolphins' punt was downed at Tampa Bay's two-yard line with 2:29 left in the game.

On third-and-seven from the five, disaster nearly struck Tampa Bay when RB Warrick Dunn caught a screen pass three yards deep in the end zone and was met by a Dolphin tackler before he could get out of that forbidden region. Dunn somehow spun out of the tackle and got the ball back to the four.

That allowed Royals to boom a 53-yarder that gave Miami possession at midfield with 1:57 remaining and one timeout left.

Thanks to two defensive penalties on incomplete passes, the Dolphins marched down to the 19 to earn a first down with 39 seconds left. However, a fierce rush from DT Warren Sapp forced Fiedler into an intentional-grounding penalty, costing the Dolphins 11 yards and 10 seconds off the clock. Robinson intercepted Fiedler's next pass by cutting across from midfield and snatching the ball out of Gadsden's reach.

The game was a defensive struggle, as expected. Miami gained just 254 yards of total offense, the Bucs' 221. Nearly every play ended up in Dunn's hands, as he ran a career-high 28 times for 59 yards and caught six passes for another 84 yards.

The biggest play in that busy day, besides the safety-averting spin, was a 45-yard reception in the final period, which set up Gramatica's game-tying 30-yarder. Facing a second-and-33 at the Dolphins' 45, Dunn released from the backfield and headed down the left sideline. QB Shaun King lofted a high floater that Dunn extended for on the run; he then eluded one tackler, spun away from another on the sideline and stumbled down to the one.

Unfortunately, a determined Miami goal-line stand, which included a sack on third-and-goal from the seven, forced Tampa Bay to settle for three points.

Though the Bucs' passing game struggled at times, King was as efficient as the team hoped he would be. King completed 11 of 15 passes for 147 yards and one interception, also converting a critical third-and-eight in the fourth quarter with a 23-yard pass to TE Dave Moore. The only other player to catch a pass for Tampa Bay was WR Keyshawn Johnson, who took a beating on the day but finished with four receptions for 41 yards.

Tampa Bay's defensive masterpiece was a team effort, with four different players recording the four interceptions (LB Shelton Quarles also had a diving pick of a pass deflected by LB Derrick Brooks to set up a second-quarter field goal) and reserve DT James Cannida getting the team's only sack.

Miami scored first with the only points of the opening period. Though both teams showed a dedication to the run on their first drives, the Dolphins came out throwing the second time they had possession, starting at their own 17.

Fiedler hit Gadsden on a touch pass down the left sideline for 29 yards, then followed with another 21-yarder to Gadsden two plays later. Gadsden caught three passes for 56 yards on the drive, but when Fiedler tried to hit him with a fade on third down from the 17, CB Ronde Barber knocked it away.

Miami settled for Olindo Mare's 25-yard field goal.

The Bucs scored next on Duncan's interception, but the lead eventually changed hands four times. Tampa Bay is now 9-5 on the season, having won six of its last seven games, including three in a row. The Dolphins fall to 10-4 but could maintain first place in the AFC East if the New York Jets lose to Oakland on Sunday night.

During the game, Buccaneers.com provided detailed reports of the action from each quarter in our Gameday section. Those reports follow to give a closer look at all of the action in Tampa Bay's thrilling victory.

First Quarter

The first quarter was somewhat of the defensive struggle that was expected, but each team did manage to move the ball fairly well. Miami couldn't run on the Bucs' defense, but the Dolphin passing game worked well, leading to the only score of the opening quarter, a 35-yard field goal. The Dolphins thus led, 3-0, at the end of the period.

Miami's First Drive

Miami won the toss and elected to receive, so Martin Gramatica lofted the opening kickoff from the Bucs' 30-yard line. One-time Buccaneer Autry Denson took the kick at his own goal line and brought it out to the Dolphins' 24.

As expected the Dolphins tried to establish the run early, and RB Lamar Smith gashed behind right guard for a gain of four. Smith went up the middle on second down and used a sizeable hole to pick up five yards. On third-and-one from the 33, QB Jay Fiedler faked a handoff to Smith and threw a quick pass to O.J. McDuffie, picking up four yards and a first down at the Miami 37.

Worse for Tampa Bay, LB Shelton Quarles was hurt on the play and had to be helped up and off the field after several minutes on the field.

Fiedler pitched to Smith on the next snap, but Smith's attempt to get around the right end was thwarted by Ahanotu. After Ahanotu held him up, the rest of the Bucs' defense arrived to force a loss of three yards. On second down, Fiedler enjoyed good protection and was able to fire a 12-yard pass to WR Tony Martin in the left flat. That brought up another third-and-one, and Smith tried to dive over the middle for the yardage, but S John Lynch met him at the top of the dive and kept him from getting the first down.

The Dolphins were forced to punt and WR Karl Williams took Matt Turk's short kick on one hop and got it back to the Bucs' 24.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

RB Warrick Dunn sliced up the middle on first down and picked up four yards thanks to a nice hole opened by the Bucs' interior linemen. Dunn tried to slash off right tackle on second down, but was tripped up abruptly after gaining two yards. On third-and-four, QB Shaun King dropped back to pass but didn't find an open man and was nearly sacked by a Dolphin linemen. However, King spun away from the tackle, then scrambled up the middle and to the right sideline for a gain of six yards and a first down.

Dunn ran around right end on the next first down and picked up five yards before being ridden out of bounds at the Bucs' 41. Dunn's next carry picked up three yards up the middle, setting up third-and-two. King again had trouble finding an open man, and this time was sacked by CB Patrick Surtain while trying to scramble forward.

Mark Royals came on to punt, and his high kick was fair caught by WR Jeff Ogden at the Miami 17.

Miami's Second Drive

Smith ran behind left guard on first down but was stopped for a loss of one by Ahanotu and DT Anthony McFarland. However, Fiedler tossed a nice touch pass up the right sideline to WR Oronde Gadsden for a gain of 29 yards to the Dolphins' 45.

The very next pass went even deeper, but was thrown a few yards past Martin, who had run a post pattern on the left side. Fiedler then hit Martin on a quick out to the right sideline for a gain of 14, and followed with a 21-yard pass on the right side to get Miami down to the Bucs' 20.

Miami went back to the ground game after that, but it failed to produce as a sweep left was blown up by Lynch for a loss of three. A blitz by Lynch on second down forced Fiedler to throw the ball quickly, but Gadsden made a spectacular catch to pick up six yards. On third-and-seven, Fiedler tried to lay a fade up for Gadsden in the end zone, but Barber was able to break it up at the sideline.

Miami was able to capitalize, however, with Olindo Mare's 35-yard field goal. Miami 3, Tampa Bay 0.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Williams appeared to have returned Mare's resulting kickoff to nearly the 40-yard line, but a pair of holding penalties on Tampa Bay pushed the Bucs back to their own 10-yard line.

RB Warrick Dunn danced around the left end on first down to pick up four yards to the Buccaneer 14. On second down, King was sacked and forced to fumble by DE Jason Taylor, with Dunn recovering the loose ball. However, a holding penalty on CB Sam Madison negated the play and gave the Bucs a first down at the 19.

King tried to throw deep to WR Keyshawn Johnson on the right side on first down, but the ball was well overthrown. The Bucs then lined up with five wide receivers and King got a quick throw off to Johnson, who dove for a 12-yard catch despite very tight coverage.

On the next first down, a delayed handoff to Dunn didn't fool the Dolphins but still picked up four yards. On second down, King was hit hard again by Taylor, but he got a quick throw off to Johnson again, picking up seven yards and another first down at the 42.

Second Quarter

The game remained a defensive slugfest in the second quarter, and Tampa Bay got in the most damaging blow. A team-record tying fifth defensive touchdown gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead, and another interception late in the half resulted in a Buccaneer field goal. Tampa Bay went to the locker room leading 10-3.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

RB Warrick Dunn got a handoff on first down at the Bucs' 42 and tried to get around left end but was stopped by DE Kenny Mixon for no gain. On the next snap, QB Shaun King faked to Dunn and, with plenty of time in the pocket, tried to hit WR Jacquez Green downfield and on the other sideline. Unfortunately, S Brian Walker had tight coverage and was able to leap for the interception at Miami's 31.

Miami's First Drive

Miami's next possession lasted only one play and resulted in a touchdown, but that score went in Tampa Bay's favor.

On first down, QB Jay Fiedler rolled right and tried to throw an outlet pass to RB Lamar Smith. Buccaneer LB Jamie Duncan stretched in front of Smith, however, to intercept the pass and turn upfield. Following a lead block by DE Chidi Ahanotu, Duncan just escaped a diving tackle by Smith to score on a 31-yard return. Tampa Bay 7, Miami 3.

Miami's Second Drive

After a holding penalty on the Dolphins on the ensuing kickoff, Miami started anew at its own 10-yard line. Smith got the handoff up the middle on first down and picked up four yards. He went the same route on second down for five more, and S John Lynch was injured on the play. On third-and-one, Fiedler dove across the line for two yards and another first down.

After a delay-of-game penalty on Miami, Fiedler threw a an outlet pass to FB Rob Konrad for a pickup of eight yards. Smith tried the middle again on second-and-seven but was stopped by S Damien Robinson after picking up two yards. On third-and-five, Fiedler tried to hit WR O.J. McDuffie on an out to the right side, but CB Ronde Barber had tight coverage and neither player could reach the pass with their diving attempts.

Matt Turk came on to punt and boomed a 53-yarder that WR Karl Williams returned just three yards to the Bucs' 24.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Dunn got the first down carry and powered right up the middle into a pile for a gain of three. A nice cutback on a second-down carry around left end resulted in a pickup of six yards to set up a third-and-one. The Bucs converted that with a little trickery. King lined up in the shotgun and, as WR Keyshawn Johnson came across in motion, flipped it forward to Johnson. Johnson sliced up a hole behind right tackle to pick up three yards to the 33.

Dunn took his next handoff around right tackle and cut back in for a gain of four. King tried to hit Johnson over the middle on second down and the pass was nearly intercepted on a deflection. However, a holding penalty on LB Robert Jones gave the Bucs five yards and a first down at the 45.

QB Shaun King was flushed out of the pocket to the right on the next snap and, seeing a wide open field in front of him, took off running for a 12-yard gain to the Dolphins' 43.

Dunn made another nice cutback move near right tackle on the next snap and appeared to have room to run, but DE Jason Taylor caught him from the backside after a gain of three. On second down, Dunn started left, waited for his blocking to develop, then zipped upfield for a gain of seven and a first down at the Miami 33.

Rabih Abdullah spelled Dunn on the next snap and came up with outstanding results, bouncing a handoff around right end for a gain of 10 yards and another first down. Dunn came back on the field for the next play and took his handoff in the same direction for three yards, dancing away from several tacklers to avoid a loss on the play.

Abdullah was next up and he powered straight up the middle for six yards, setting up a third-and-one. Abdullah got the handoff, but DT Daryl Gardener knifed into the backfield to catch Abdullah for a loss of one. K Martin Gramatica, who was riding a string of 16 straight successful field goals, then missed wide left on a try from 34 yards out.

Miami's Third Drive

The missed kick gave Miami possession at their own 24 with 2:52 remaining in the half. On first down, Fiedler was flushed out of the pocket to the right and eventually sacked by DT James Cannida for a loss of five yards.

Fiedler was also injured on the play, taking several minutes to get up, though he did walk off under his own power.

Damon Huard came on to relieve Fiedler and, on his first snap, handed off to Smith. Smith got just four yards up the middle before his route was pinched off by LB Derrick Brooks. After the two-minute warning, the Dolphins came out for a try on third-and-11 and ran a draw to RB Autry Denson. Lynch trapped Denson nine yards shy of the sticks and P Matt Turk had to come on to kick it away.

Turk's punt bounced into Williams' hands 47 yards downfield and Williams got it back to the Bucs' 36.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

The Bucs lined up with four wideouts but handed off to Dunn on first down. A holding penalty across the line of scrimmage made it first-and-19, and another delay to Dunn picked up just one yard. The same play on second down lost the yard back to set up third-and-19, and Miami called a timeout with 42 seconds left. King then threw a quick screen to Dunn, which picked up three yards to the 30.

Miami called its second timeout with 34 seconds remaining, forcing a Buccaneer punt. Mark Royals hit short kick that took a nice Tampa Bay punt and rolled to the Miami 20.

Miami's Fourth Drive

Another one-play drive for the Dolphins followed. Fiedler returned to take the snap but threw his first-down pass behind intended receiver O.J. McDuffie. Brooks tipped the pass and LB Shelton Quarles went to his knees to intercept it at the Miami 32.

Tampa Bay's Fourth Drive

With just 13 seconds to work with, King threw a quick pass to Dunn, who made a marvelous play to spin out of a tackle, pick up 12 yards and get out of bounds at the 20. With five seconds left, the Bucs sent out Gramatica, who nailed a 38-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 10, Miami 3.

Third Quarter

The game momentum swung drastically to Miami's side in the third quarter, as the Dolphins scored 10 unanswered points to take a 13-10 lead. The Dolphins saw the benefit of excellent field position, though Tampa Bay had driven across midfield when the period came to an end.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

WR Karl Williams downed Olindo Mare's kickoff in the end zone for a touchback. Starting from their own 20, the Bucs handed off to RB Warrick Dunn, who was stopped for no gain. QB Shaun King took a shotgun snap on second down but almost immediately took off up the middle. He was pulled down after a gain of just one yard. On third-and-nine, King scrambled left for a gain of six yards.

Mark Royals came on to punt and hit a very short kick that WR Jeff Odgen returned two yards to the Miami 47.

Miami's First Drive

QB Jay Fiedler pitched the ball on first down to RB Lamar Smith, who had perhaps his best carry of the day to that point, an eight-yarder behind right guard. Smith shook off a pair of tacklers on second down before LB Shelton Quarles stopped him after a four-yard gain.

With a first down at the Bucs' 41, Fiedler threw a nice timing pattern that WR Tony Martin went to the ground to catch at the Bucs' 25. After that 16-yard gain, Smith tried right guard again but found no hole this time and was tackled by DE Chidi Ahanotu for no gain.

A middle screen to FB Rob Konrad worked marvelously for Miami, as Konrad rumbled up the middle for 13 yards to the Bucs' 12. Smith took a pitch to the left side on first down and picked up five yards to the seven. Smith again found less to work with on the right side, gaining just two yards behind right guard. On third-and-three, the Dolphins tried to throw a fade to WR Oronde Gadsden. Gadsden has a large height advantage on Buccaneer CB Ronde Barber but, as had happened when the Dolphins tried the same play in the first quarter, Barber held his own and broke up the pass.

The Dolphins were forced to settle for a field goal, which Mare hit from 23 yards. Tampa Bay 10, Miami 6.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

Williams took a much shorter kick up the middle this time and got the ball back to Tampa Bay's 30 with an 18-yard return. Dunn took a first-down snap to the right, then cut back to the middle and picked up five yards before Jason Taylor's tackle. Dunn tried to get around the left end on second down, but DT Daryl Gardener caught him from behind for a loss of three. On third-and-eight, the Bucs called a timeout.

After the break, King threw a pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson on the right sideline that went through Johnson's hands. Royals then came to punt again and hit another very short kick, this one bouncing out of bounds right at midfield.

Miami's Second Drive

Fiedler dropped back on first down and threw downfield just before Ahanotu got to him. However, Fiedler's pass to a wide-open Gadsden was overthrown and nearly intercepted by a diving Dexter Jackson. On second down, Smith tried to go up the middle but Ahanotu and DT Warren Sapp were waiting to force a loss of three yards. On third-and-13, Fiedler stepped up under pressure and hit Gadsden downfield for a 19-yard gain over the middle.

At the 34, Fiedler handed off to Smith but LB Nate Webster tripped him up after a gain of just one. A quick curl by WR Tony Martin gave the Dolphins another first down when Fiedler hit him for a 13-yard gain to the Bucs' 20.

On the next snap, Smith slipped through several tackles before Webster tackled him at the one after a 19-yard gain. Even worse, a confused Buccaneer defense burned a timeout before the next snap.

After the break, Smith simply powered behind right guard for the go-ahead touchdown. Miami 13, Tampa Bay 10.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

A short kickoff return and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Jackson forced the Bucs to start at their own 11-yard line.

On first down, King got the Bucs out of that hole by throwing a 19-yard completion to Johnson, who made a nice spinning catch at the end of his crossing route from left to right.

Now at the 30, King took a shotgun snap but was flushed out of bounds at the 27 for a sack credited to LB Zach Thomas. A draw play to Dunn picked up three yards to set up third-and-ten and, unbelievably, the Bucs were forced to burn their final timeout of the half because King couldn't hear his headset radio.

The results were at least positive. With plenty of time to scan the field on his next dropback, King eventually flipped a pass to a wide-open Dunn on the right sideline. The play was good for 23 yards to the Miami 47.

On first down, Dunn took a handoff between the guard and tackle on the right side and picked up two yards to the 45. His next carry went up the middle but was stopped for no gain as the quarter ended.

Fourth Quarter

The Bucs pulled out victory thanks to five turnovers, three in the final quarter. The Miami Dolphins threatened to tie or win the game in the closing seconds of the game, but the third takeaway, a Damien Robinson interception at the Bucs' eight, sealed a 16-13 Tampa Bay win.

Tampa Bay's First Drive

The Bucs opened the final period facing a third-and-eight at the Miami 45, and quickly turned in one of their biggest plays of the game. QB Shaun King dropped back and looked left towards an apparent screen pass. At the last moment, just before he was sacked, King wheeled back to the middle and threw a pass to a wide-open Dave Moore. The tight end rumbled up the middle for 22 yards to the Miami 23.

The Bucs then a took a few step backwards, committing holding on first down and suffering a sack for a loss of 13 yards. However, on second-and-33, King lofted a high floater towards RB Warrick Dunn. Dunn got a step on the cover man and caught the ball on the run, barely staying in bounds and spinning acrobatically off another tackle to get the ball all the way down to the one.

On first-and-goal, Rabih Abdullah tried to pound it in up the middle but lost a yard. After a false start penalty, King threw a shovel pass to Dunn that picked up just two yards. On third-and-goal from the five, King took a shotgun snap but couldn't find an open man, thereby taking a sack. Martin Gramatica came on to salvage points from the drive with a 30-yard field goal. Tampa Bay 13, Miami 13.

Miami's First Drive

The Dolphins' third one-play drive of the game followed, ending in a turnover once again. The snap was fumbled by QB Jay Fiedler on first down and LB Jamie Duncan recovered at Miami's 30.

Tampa Bay's Second Drive

The same thing happened to King on the Bucs' first snap, but King recovered himself and even ran up the middle for three yards. On second down, King handed to Dunn on a draw and the play lost one yard. The exact same play on third down was good for just one yard.

Gramatica came on again, this time to try a 46-yarder and the second-year player came through in the clutch once again. Gramatica's kick was high and floating, but it made it through with ease. Tampa Bay 16, Miami 13.

Miami's Second Drive

The Dolphins' next drive was almost as short. After overthrowing Oronde Gadsden downfield, Fiedler tried to hit WR Tony Martin on the right sideline. CB Donnie Abraham stepped in front of Martin to record his seventh interception of the season at the Miami 28.

Tampa Bay's Third Drive

The Bucs then became extremely conservative, running the same delayed handoff to Dunn on first and second down. Dunn got no yards on either carry. King took a shotgun snap and tried to pass on third down, but threw the ball away when nobody was open downfield.

The Bucs chose to punt it away from the 28-yard line with the rain falling very heavily and 6:19 left. Tampa Bay nearly downed it at the one-yard line, but CB Floyd Young's hands just slipped into the end zone as he downed the ball.

Miami's Third Drive

The Dolphins opened up at their own 20 after the touchback and got two yards on Smith's run off left tackle before Steve White dropped him. Smith took Fiedler's screen pass on second down, however, for an eight-yard gain and a first down at the 30.

On the next snap, Smith burst up a hole in the middle for a gain of 19 almost to midfield. A pitch to Smith on the next snap went left, but LB Jamie Duncan and DT Warren Sapp combined to hold him to just three yards. Smith cut back towards the middle on his next carry but DE Chidi Ahanotu caught him after just a one-yard gain. Fiedler nearly found Gadsden over the middle on third down but CB Brian Kelly had tight coverage and Gadsden couldn't hold on.

Matt Turk came on to punt and hit a roller that got down to the Bucs' two.

Tampa Bay's Fourth Drive

Dunn sliced off right guard on first down to pick up three yards to the five. A similar play on second down lost a yard after Miami had called its first timeout. On third down, after the Dolphins' second timeout, the Bucs nearly surrendered a safety when King tossed a screen pass to Dunn in the right end of the end zone. Dunn was able to spin away from a sure tackle and even advanced the ball out to the four.

Royals followed with his best punt of the day, a 53-yarder that Jeff Ogden caught at the Miami 43. Ogden was dropped by LB Don Davis at the midfield stripe.

Miami's Fourth Drive

Fiedler took a shotgun snap on first down but was flushed out of the pocket by Ahanotu. Fiedler threw incomplete just before he reached the sideline. A quick slant to Martin on second down picked up 12 yards to the 38.

On first down, Fiedler tried to loft one downfield to Martin but Abraham had excellent coverage and nearly intercepted the pass. A delayed handoff to RB Autry Denson on second down picked up just two yards, but CB Brian Kelly was called for pass interference, giving Miami a first down at the 24 with 49 seconds left.

Fiedler tried a quick slant to Martin on first down, but Abraham got his arm in front to knock it away. On second down, a blitz by LB Shelton Quarles caused the ball to be thrown away incomplete, but S Damien Robinson was called for defensive holding. That resulted in first down at the 19 with 39 seconds left.

A fierce pass rush by Sapp on the next snap caused Fiedler threw the ball away and was called for intentional grounding. That made it second and 21 at the 30 with 25 seconds remaining, after a mandatory 10 seconds was drained off the clock.

Robinson made a brilliant play on the next snap, timing his coverage on Gadsden perfectly to intercept Fielder at the Bucs' eight-yard line.

One kneeldown ended the game.

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