The Dolphins have made the wildcat famous, but it wasn't exactly their go-to formation Sunday. As usual, they used the offensive set in small doses. And, as is often the case, it yielded big results.
The first time they used it, on their fourth play from scrimmage, the Dolphins gained just 5 yards on a direct snap to RB Ronnie Brown. But Miami went right back to the wildcat on the next play. Brown took the snap, ran to his left and through the arms of SS Sabby Piscitelli, then caused LB Quincy Black to miss him on his way to a 45-yard gain. Only CB Aqib Talib's closing speed prevented a touchdown, with Brown taking the ball to the Bucs 16.
Stopping the wildcat comes down to what coaches refer to as "assignment football." Piscitelli's assignment was to be in position, which he was. The tackling part, however, is the second phase of the assignment.
"I have to make that play," Piscitelli said. "I shot it, and he just made a good move. I told the team that I'm going to come back and make a play for you guys. I think we were flying around and we made some plays, but at the end of the day, I have to make that play.
"Against the wildcat, I thought we did a pretty good job except on that one run. I'm going to put that on me. … I have no excuse."
Stovall's big catch
. WR Maurice Stovall was bumped up to starter with WR Antonio Bryant (knee) out for a second straight game. Though Bryant is faster and perhaps a better route runner, Stovall has the size advantage over cornerbacks. On the first play of the fourth quarter, QB Josh Freeman went over the top to the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Stovall, who ran a go route down the left sideline. Stovall got position against CB Sean Smith and caught Freeman's soft touch pass going toward the back corner of the end zone to pull the Bucs to within 19-16 with the 33-yard hookup. It was Stovall's first touchdown catch this season.
"Communication is a big thing in practice," Stovall said. "I tell (Freeman) what I see; he tells me what he sees. That's part of building a relationship with a quarterback."
Stovall couldn't repeat his heroics 13 minutes later when he dropped a would-be first down reception inside the 5-yard line with his team trailing 22-16. But he was bailed out when LB Quincy Black intercepted Dolphins QB Chad Henne on the ensuing possession, setting up the Bucs for a touchdown anyway.
"When I fell down, I think (the defender) got between me and the ball, and it kind of pushed it out," Stovall said. "But at the same time, I have to come down with that and capitalize on that opportunity."
Sabby bounces back
. With the Bucs needing a turnover, SS Sabby Piscitelli, left, provided one when he forced Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown to fumble late in the third quarter. When the ball popped out, FS Tanard Jackson swallowed it in midair and scrambled 5 yards to the Bucs 37. Tampa Bay went on to score six plays later on WR Maurice Stovall's touchdown reception. "I was trying to make a play," Piscitelli said. "We have to make more." It wasn't a deliberate attempt to strip the ball, but Piscitelli made good contact at the right time and at the right part of Brown's body. "My hand hit it out when I hit him," Piscitelli said. "I tried to hit him low because I was off-balance. The ball came out, and we capitalized on it." It was the fourth straight game Jackson has recorded a turnover (three interceptions and a fumble).