TAMPA — It took maligned DE Da'Quan Bowers nearly nine games to pick up his first sack of the season, which he did Monday night.
But it was a big one — albeit a half sack — as he combined with Bucs rookie DE William Gholston to take down QB Ryan Tannehill and help thwart the Dolphins' final drive in Tampa Bay's 22-19 win.
"It was definitely way overdue," Bowers said. "Coaches said, 'Hey, pin your ears back,' and that's basically what I did."
It meant a lot to Bowers to be on the field for one of the biggest moments of the team's first win of the season.
Bowers has been challenged by coach Greg Schiano to evolve into an every-down lineman since the offseason, with the former second-round pick having to earn snaps. And Bowers, who said before the season that anything but double-digit sacks would be a failure, has been quiet in his limited role as a situational pass rusher, with a combined six tackles.
But Bowers got the most important snaps Monday, and he pressured Tannehill on both of the team's back-to-back sacks.
"That showed that Coach has faith in me," Bowers said. "It was a designed group of players he wanted in right there, and he put us in. We were able to get the job done with (DT) Gerald (McCoy) and myself and Will and (DE Adrian Clayborn). So he put the best pass rushers on the field, and we were able to get it done."
Schiano praised Gholston, the fourth-round pick out of Michigan State, for playing his role in a package suited for him.
"It felt good," said Gholston, who played 21 snaps on defense, three more than Bowers. "I'm just glad to be able to get my first NFL win and first NFL sack."
Restraint: Schiano said one play that impressed him Monday was simply a rookie avoiding a penalty, as DT Akeem Spence walked away from a physical play that could have cost the team 15 yards.
"You see a guy like Akeem Spence get slugged in the head and (he) walks away from it," Schiano said. "That's a rookie who's learning. Instead of it being third and 1, it's third and 16.
"I think we have to just continue to do that and learn through the troubles we're having and still be able to win games while you're learning."
This and that: Eric Page's 52-yard punt return didn't result in any points Monday, but it was the team's longest punt return since 2009, when Micheal Spurlock went 77 yards against the Saints. … Sunday's home game against Atlanta will have draft implications. By their current records, the Bucs (1-8) and Falcons (2-7) would pick in the top five in May's draft, and each win alters the potential draft order. Keep an eye on Minnesota (2-7), whose remaining opponents are a combined 40-26, all with at least four wins. Jacksonville (1-8) and Houston (2-7) still play each other twice. … The Bucs have just one offensive play of 40 yards or longer this season, the fewest in the league. Teams average of seven such plays across the league, and the Eagles lead with 16.