Dolphins Win at Tampa Bay

The Dolphins offense came on after a slow start Saturday night, but it was the defense that made the big plays in a 13-10 victory at Tampa Bay.

The biggest defensive play of all came on the first play after the two-minute warning when safety Jack Hunt intercepted a Bruce Gradkowski pass to stop a Tampa Bay drive that had reached the Miami 32-yard line.

It was the second big play for Hunt, who also dropped a running back for a loss on a third-and-1.

The defense also came up with a fumble recovery by Kevin Vickerson, an interception by Deke Cooper, and sacks by Dan Wilkinson, David Bowens, Jeff Zgonina and Vickerson.

The Dolphins offense, meanwhile, couldn't manage a first down in the first quarter while Daunte Culpepper was sacked twice and was called for intentional grounding on another play that would have resulted in a sack.

But the offense came to life on the fourth drive with a beautiful march that ended with Sammy Morris' 2-yard touchdown dive that gave Miami a 7-3 lead.

Culpepper finished 7-for-9 for 86 yards on the night.

Joey Harrington was sharp after coming in for Culpepper and led the Dolphins to two field goal drives, with Olindo Mare connecting from 41 and 52 yards.

Harrington was very impressive on the last drive of the first half, completing passes of 15 yards to tight end Jason Rader and 12 and 21 yards to wide receiver Fred Gibson.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, shut down Tampa Bay the rest of the first half after giving up a field goal on the Bucs' first drive.

But the pass defense had its problems in the second half.

There was another breakdown — similar to what happened against Jacksonville — when Edell Shepherd got behind rookie Jason Allen, who played cornerback against the Bucs, and safety Deke Cooper and caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Gradkowski to close the Dolphins' 13-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

After the play, Coach Nick Saban was caught on camera yelling at Allen.

Earlier in the second half, Gradkowski connected with Maurice Stovall for a 36-yard pass to the Dolphins 19-yard line. But on the next play, Vickerson recovered a fumble to end the scoring threat.

It was, all in all, an encouraging performance by the Dolphins after a forgettable start. And the best news was that it didn't appear that anybody sustained a significant injury.


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