Week Ten Morning Aftermath: Dolphins 25, Bucs 23

The Miami Dolphins struggled through much of the second half and nearly gave away Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  But in crunch time the Dolphins drove down the field for a winning field goal and a hard-fought win.

As usual, the Dolphins were primarily a running team on Sunday, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams gashing the Bucs both out of the Wildcat formation and in the conventional offense.  It was quarterback Chad Henne, however, who was getting most of the praise after the game for leading the Dolphins on a scoring drive in the game’s final minute.

After the Bucs took a 23-22 lead with 74 seconds to play, Henne calmly led the offense down the field, completing passes of 25 and 16 yards to receiver Davone Bess, and setting up kicker Dan Carpenter’s 25-yard game-winning field goal.

“The kid came back, and I thought he did a hell of a job in the final drive,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of Henne after the game.

Even the Buccaneers admitted they were impressed.

“That two-minute drill was bad ass,” Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud said.

But if Ruud showed grudging admiration for Henne’s effort, that doesn’t mean Tampa Bay was happy.  In fact, a controversial call on a Jason Taylor interception left the Buccaneers so unhappy that they got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for complaining to the officials. 

After the game Bucs coach Raheem Morris said the referee’s explanation was moot.

“He was trying to talk to me and I really didn’t want to hear it at that point,” Morris said.  “It didn’t matter what his explanation was.  I didn’t really care.  I thought it was the wrong call and I disagreed.”

No matter how displeased Morris was by the official’s call — and by the narrow loss — he must at least be pleased that his team played competitive football for the second straight game.  A week after earning their first victory of the season with a big upset of the Green Bay Packers, the Buccaneers again looked like a decent football team.

Tampa Bay is 1-8 and certainly no playoff contender, but the two games started by rookie quarterback Josh Freeman have been the two best games of the Bucs’ season.  Freeman’s numbers — 16 of 28 for 196 yards, with one touchdown and one interception — were mediocre.

But mediocre is a lot better than the Bucs had been before Freeman became the starter.

It’s particularly noteworthy that Freeman is starting to develop a rapport with tight end Kellen Winslow, who had seven catches for 102 yards on Sunday.  Winslow had a big game last week, too, and is starting to play like the kind of elite tight end the Bucs thought they were acquiring this offseason.

Overall, Freeman seems to have injected some life into a team that looked dead, and some of Freeman’s older teammates are taking notice.

“He’s definitely climbing that learning curve,” Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said.  “That’s two weeks in a row.  He has such poise.  Nothing fazes him.”

On that final drive, nothing fazed Henne, either.  Brown is likely out for Thursday’s game against the Panthers, so Henne will need to take on an even bigger role in running the offense.  The Dolphins, who at 4-5 have a steep climb to get into playoff contention, will need Henne to keep playing like he did on that final drive.

13 responses to “Week Ten Morning Aftermath: Dolphins 25, Bucs 23

  1. “The kid came back, and I thought he did a hell of a job in the final drive,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of Henne after the game.
    Even the Buccaneers admitted they were impressed.
    “That two-minute drill was bad ass,” Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud said.
    Chad Henne and Miami will rule the AFC East!!!

  2. Had Miami not had the refs in the bag, Miami wouldn’t even rule Florida.
    If this was Patriots-Colts instead of Bucs-Dolphins, Florio would be asking for a full investigation on whether Corrente or his crew were on the take.
    All you have to do is view the picture at the head of this article Florio posted and you’ll see how badly the Bucs were screwed…
    And yet they still nearly won the game.
    Yeah, powerhouse Dolphins there…

  3. I wouldn’t call Freeman’s performance “mediocre.” I’d say fairly solid. He made some rookie mistakes, but looked like a guy who knew what he was doing in the pocket and had the strength to make things happen when that pocket collapsed.
    Is he a great QB? No, not yet, but he at least shows the potential to be.
    All I know is, the Bucs are competitive. About f-ing time.

  4. freeman looked very good. as a dolphins fan, that was an unsatisfying win.
    many will point to the refs and that one call, but what those people don’t realize is that *was* the right call, but just a bad rule in the NFL.
    they should change that rule, because for all intents and purposes, that should have been a first-down catch by clayton. the rule says its not, but it should be.

  5. texasPhinsfan
    please explain how that was the right call.
    They ruled it an INT yet the ref can clearly be heard explaining after the review that Clayton had posession.
    If a guy has posession after he catches the ball how does that count as an INT against the QB, it can’t be done, it would be a fumble not an INT.
    Now if it were a fumble how do they explain away the fact that he had posession (they explained that) and was tackled to the ground, then rolled over before a second phin stripped the ball. How is it a fumble if he is downed by contact?
    There is not one single way within the rules of the game that ball should have been awarded to Miami, it was either a catch or incompletion. neither turnover scenario makes any kind of sense with regards to what actually happened.

  6. “The Dolphins, who at 4-5 have a steep climb to get into playoff contention, will need Henne to keep playing like he did on that final drive.”
    Henne did good, but the real praise needs to go to the WR – Davone Bess specifically. FINALLY!!!! – a WR was able to hold onto one of Henne’s on-the-money spirals. Something they don’t do too often.
    I wonder how many drops he’s suffered at the hands (literally) of this Wide Receiver and TE corp.
    I’ve been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen of the guy. He stands tall in the pocket, doesn’t get happy feet and zips the ball in some pretty small windows. He’s just not getting any help…
    I was worried with the Dolphins losing Pennington, but Henne has learned from him (and 4 years of big-time college ball as a starter) well.

  7. A case of too much praise for the QB. If it hadn’t been for pass interference on the Bucs and Ricky Williams’ long run the party would have been over for Henne and Miami.

  8. TBTrojan – it was the right call because that is the NFL rule. i didn’t make the rule, neither did the refs.
    it’s a rule that most of us don’t understand, but has been debated all year. you guys aren’t the first to scratch your heads over it.
    but the fact remains it’s a rule. the receiver must maintain possession all the way to the ground on any catch, not just in the endzone. down by contact doesn’t apply if the receiver doesn’t maintain possession.
    it could not be a fumble because the ball didn’t hit the ground and it was a forward travel of the ball, so it was ruled an interception. the only “wrong call” on the field was denying jason taylor of the touchdown.
    hey, i think that should have been a completed pass too, but the problem is the rule, not the refs. complain about the rule.

  9. I am quitting my day job to make Chad Henne jersey’s…I suggest you all do the same.

  10. Again, if he didn’t have possession it’s one thing. But he had full possession. The ball didn’t move at all until he was lying on his back and the dolphin player rolled over him, knocking the ball into the air.
    All you have to do is look at the picture. A trained monkey could understand that.
    Hell, in the first quarter the EXACT same situation happened with a Miami receiver but he was immediately called down by contact.
    ‘Splain that to me, Lucy.

  11. texasPHINSfan
    That rule is all nice and well explained but it has no bearing on the play that actually happened.
    Clayton managed to hold onto the ball for once, he was in posession as he came down, as he was tackled to the ground, as his foot, butt & elbow hit the ground, as he rolled.
    It was only after all that when a second Miami player came in and ripped the ball out did he lose posession. It’s as clear as day on the replays.
    Exactly how long does he have to maintain posession, until the quarter runs out? He’s have been flagged for delay of game if he held the damn thing any longer.
    That was a joke of a ruling and the explanation is crap because while he might have called it to the letter of the rule the guy needs his eyes checked so that he knows that the rule was the wrong one.
    Watch the video on the Bucs official site and tell me that he didn’t have posession and was downed by contact.

  12. We have a lot of history with this particular rule in Tampa. It was created to cover up the BS Bert Emanual call in the NFC championship game against the Rams. The rule states that a receiver must maintain posession of the ball after he makes contact with the ground. This rule doesn’t apply to the play on Sunday because of the fact that Clayton didn’t lose possesion when he contacted the ground. In fact he was stripped of the ball after rolling over. Did anyone see the linesmen call a personal foul on Winslow? He was punched directly in front of the official and no call, but he had no problem pulling the flag out on Winslow. The calls were lopsided.

  13. I’m always amazed at how replays show something pretty clear to all the fans watching, yet the final decision is something else.
    As a Fins’ fan, I thought the receiver was down by contact. I wasn’t 100% sure that he bobbled the ball. I’d be curious to see what the NFL has to say about it when they review it this week.
    We’ve had bad calls go against us in the past, so I’ll take this one. (Like the NE miraculously getting OOB with 1 second left, that was total bullshit)
    Calls eventually even out duting the course of the season.
    When the time came, your D had a costly penalty and couldn’t stop our offense. Plain and simple.

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