DOLPHINS DROP BUCS, 13-10 Miami escaped Raymond James stadium with a 13-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night. The Dolphins, led quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington, moved the ball on the Buccaneers backups en route to 196 passing yards. The Buccaneers faced the same problems on third downs, allowing Miami to convert 5-of-13 attempts.
LINEUP CHANGES Several Buccaneers did not participate against the Dolphins. The defense was without four starters with linebackers Derrick Brooks (rest) and Shelton Quarles (rest), safety Will Allen (rest) and defensive end Simeon Rice (rest) sitting out. Running back Cadillac Williams, center John Wade, wide receiver Joey Galloway, running back Derek Watson and tackle Torrin Tucker did not see playing time against the Dolphins.
STARTING DEFENSE FLEXES ITS MUSCLES Despite being down four starters, the Buccaneers defense kept the Miami offense in check, giving up a paltry 66 yards while notching two sacks by defensive tackle Booger McFarland and linebacker Barrett Ruud, respectively. The defense kept the ground game in check all game, giving up only 86 yards on the ground.
MAHAN GETS THE NOD OVER WADE Offensive lineman Sean Mahan was introduced as the starting center with the first-team offense for Saturday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. Mahan, who has been pushing incumbent starter John Wade for playing time, played for the first two series. Mahan was called for a holding penalty during the second offensive series, nullifying a first down catch by wide receiver Ike Hilliard.
GRADKOWSKI’S HIGHLIGHT REEL Rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski showed great maturity and leadership while at the helm of the Buccaneers offense. Momentum shifted back in the Buccaneers’ favor in the fourth quarter thanks to a 10-yard completion on fourth-and-1 to keep the drive alive. On the ensuing play, Gradkowski launched a 48-yard strike to a wide-open Edell Shepherd for a touchdown. Gradkowski finished the game 11-of-14 for 193 yards. Gradkowski displayed pinpoint accuracy until an ill-advised interception late in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for the Dolphins.
STOVALL PROVING HIS WORTH Rookie receiver Maurice Stovall continued his stellar preseason effort with a 36-yard reception from rookie quarterbac Bruce Gradkowski in the third quarter to get the Buccaneers in the red zone. On the play, Stovall split two defenders to haul in a perfectly thrown pass.Stovall now has four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown in two preseason contests. Stovall is averaging 14.3 yards per catch.
GRAHAM IN THE SPOTLIGHT Running back Earnest Graham was in the starting lineup against the Dolphins with Cadillac Williams seeing no playing time and Michael Pittman seeing little action. Graham responded by rushing six times for 28 yards and hauling in one catch for 11 yards.
WALKER RETURNS TO THE STARTING LINEUP Right tackle Kenyatta Walker replaced rookie Jeremy Trueblood in the starting lineup against the Dolphins. Walker had been battling a knee injury throughout training camp and saw many of his reps go to Trueblood. Trueblood was a mainstay during the second half of the game at the right tackle position.
RUUD LEADS THE DEFENSE Tampa Bay second-year middle linebacker Barrett Ruud made two impressive plays in the first quarter while starting in place of Shelton Quarles. On the Dolphins’ second offensive series, Ruud forced a fumble while sacking Daunte Culpepper. On the Dolphins’ ensuing drive, Ruud again shot through the line getting his hands on Culpepper again and forcing an intentional grounding penalty. Ruud finished the game with a team-leading eight tackles to go along with his forced fumble and sack.
STARTING LINEUPS First-Team Offense QB Chris Simms RB Earnest Graham FB Mike Alstott WR David Boston WR Michael Clayton TE Alex Smith C Sean Mahan RG Davin Joseph RT Kenyatta Walker LG Dan Buenning LT Anthony Davis
First-Team Defense CB Ronde Barber CB Brian Kelly SS Jermaine Phillips FS Kalvin Pearson MLB Barrett Ruud SLB Ryan Nece WLB Jamie Winborn RE Dewayne White DT Anthony McFarland DT Chris Hovan LE Greg Spires
Second-Team Offense QB Tim Rattay RB Carey Davis FB Jared Sowell WR Michael Clayton WR Edell Shepherd TE Alex Smith C Sean Mahan RG Jeb Terry RT Jeremy Trueblood LT Scott Jackson LG Toniu Fonoti
Second-Team Defense FS Kalvin Pearson SS Donte Nicholson CB Torrie Cox CB Juran Bolden MLB Barrett Ruud WLB Jamie Winborn RE Andrew Williams LE Keight Wright DT Jon Bradley DT Ellis Wyms
Third-Team Offense QB Bruce Gradkowski RB Carey Davis FB Rick Razzano WR Paris Warren WR Maurice Stovall TE Mark Aneli C Jonathan Clinkscale RG Tonui Fonoti RT Jeremy Trueblood LG Jeb Terry LT Scott Jackson
Third-Team Defense CB Dwight Ellick FS Steve Cargile CB Justin Phinisee SLB Jermaine Taylor DT Julian Jenkins LE Andrew Williams RE Charles Bennett MLB Anthony Trucks WLB Antoine Cash SS Donte Nicholson DT Jon Bradley
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