After Glennon INT, defense kept Bucs close
Much of the attention after Monday night's Bucs win against Miami understandably went to the defense stepping up on the Dolphins' final drive, with back-to-back sacks to set up two final incompletions to clinch Tampa Bay's 22-19 victory.
But looking back on the Bucs' first win of 2013, another defensive stand is worth revisiting -- the three stout plays that kept the Bucs closee after the Dolphins returned a Mike Glennon interception 23 yards to the Bucs' 7-yard line.
To set the scene, Miami had taken a 16-15 lead, and facing a third-and-10, Glennon's pass was intercepted by Miami safety Jimmy Wilson, setting them up at the 7 with 1:34 left in the third quarter. A touchdown would have put them up eight points, and the Bucs hadn't scored since the second quarter.
Keep in mind, Miami has the NFL's No. 5 red-zone offense in terms of touchdown percentage, at 64 percent. As the ESPN broadcast pointed out, they had scored touchdowns 11 straight times in goal-to-go situations, but the Bucs also have the NFL's No. 6 red-zone defense, holding opponents to touchdowns on just 45 percent of the trips inside the 20.
On first down, the Dolphins try a sweep left, and running back Daniel Thomas is dropped for a 2-yard loss by linebacker Mason Foster. Backed up to the 9, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is pressured on second down and tries to hit receiver Brian Hartline across the middle, but the pass is incomplete, with Leonard Johnson among those in coverage. So it's third and goal from the 9, and the Dolphins try a screen to tight end Charles Clay, who's tied for the team lead with three touchdowns. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy comes from the interior, around two Dolphins linemen, and gets the quick tackle on Clay for a 3-yard loss.
As a result, the Dolphins had to settle for a 30-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal and just a 19-15 lead, which kept the Bucs close for the drive that would follow -- nine plays, 80 yards and the go-ahead touchdown from Bobby Rainey.
The closest comparison in the Bucs' season to that situation would be late in the Arizona loss, when a Glennon interception put the Cardinals inside the 15-yard line, trailing 10-3 late in the fourth quarter. The defense didn't respond well to the sudden change, and on the very next play, Arizona had a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to tie the game, setting up a 13-10 Cards victory. For the first time under Greg Schiano, the Bucs won a game decided by three points or less, and a big reason Monday night was the four points saved by the red-zone stop.