Dolphins Comeback Falls Short In Tampa Bay

Posted Nov 11, 2013

Strong second half not enough to overcome slow start.

Ten days after fighting their way to an overtime victory at home on Halloween, the Miami Dolphins dropped a heartbreaker on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 22-19.

Miami erased a 15-0 deficit to score 19 unanswered points behind a career night for second-year wide receiver Rishard Matthews but ran out of gas in the fourth quarter against a hungry Tampa Bay team. Bobby Rainey’s 1-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter proved to be the difference and then back-to-back sacks of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins’ final drive sealed it.

“Field position was in their favor, they did a great job but we had plenty of opportunities and they played better in the fourth quarter and deserved to win,” said Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin, who is in his second season. “They played better than us out the gate and the film will say that when we watch the tape. They had better tempo, they controlled the line of scrimmage better and you don’t want to go on the road and dig yourself into a 15-0 hole, which is what we did.”

Matthews caught 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, the first two of his career, to spark Miami’s passing game after the Bucs shut down the run but it wasn’t enough. The loss drops the Dolphins to 4-5 on the season with back-to-back home games against the San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers next on the schedule.

Tannehill finished 27-of-42 for 229 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on his final throw of the game on a 4th-and-28 and rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis was 2-of-2 on field goals of 40 and 30 yards. Safety Jimmy Wilson had an interception in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, Miami’s running game never could get going on the heels of its best performance of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals. Tampa Bay held the Dolphins to a franchise low two rushing yards and zero in the first half.

“It’s definitely tough because we want to be a balanced team,” Tannehill said. “We want to be a team that can establish the run game and then use it to set up play-action and things like that, so it’s something that we’ll definitely try to get back on track. We had a couple of good games leading up to this. Obviously, this wasn’t a great game but we can’t abandon it. We have to get back to work and see what went wrong.”

On the flip side, the Bucs rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown and second-year quarterback Mike Glennon completed 11-of-21 passes for a 139 yards and a 1-yard scoring toss to offensive lineman Donald Penn. Reserve running backs Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey combined for 102 yards on 28 carries (Leonard had 57 on 20 attempts and Rainey added 45 on eight) after Mike James left the game with an ankle injury.

It was Rainey who came up with the big runs on Tampa Bay’s 80-yard scoring drive that led to his go-ahead touchdown run against a normally stout Miami front seven. Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who won the game over Cincinnati with a sack for a safety in overtime, saw his offense fall victim to a safety in the first half and struggled to find an answer for what happened on that last drive.

“It’s just kind of frustrating,” Wake said. “The game obviously didn’t get off to the best start but there’s always a point where you feel like, ‘this is the point where you’ve got to stand point and this is the point where you make the play that maybe change the course of the game.’ And I think on defense that probably was one of those points where you stop and give the offense back the ball and who knows what happens from there, but that’s one of the situations where as a defense we’ve just got to stand up and obviously that didn’t happen.”

Miami hosts San Diego on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium in a 4:05 p.m. kickoff.
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