The 2017 NFL season is still alive for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they won 29-20 on the road over the Miami Dolphins. It was a game that was originally scheduled for week one but had to be moved to week 11 because of Hurricane Irma. The Buccaneers used the change to their advantage and move to 4-6 on the season.
Week 11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Takeaways
Three Key Moments Came at the Beginning, the Middle and the End
The beginning of the game means the 11th play of the game at just 11:28 in the first quarter. The Dolphins came out of the gate strong on their first drive of the game when on the second play, Damien Williams broke out for a 69-yard run to the Tampa Bay 12-yard line. The defense kept Williams out of the end zone on the subsequent two running plays. Then Justin Evans intercepted a Jay Cutler pass intended for DeVante Parker and kept the game scoreless.
The second key play of the game came on the last play of the first half. With 36 seconds remaining in the half, Cutler rushed up the middle for one yard and was tackled by Ryan Russell. Cutler was committed to the concussion protocol entering halftime and didn’t return for the second half.
The Dolphins coaching staff was probably just as eager to get Cutler out of the game because he finished the first half with six completions in 12 passing attempts for 83 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. The Dolphins offense improved once Matt Moore entered the game. Moore threw for 282 yards and a touchdown in the second half and sparked the Dolphins for 13 points to tie the game, including a spectacular 61-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills. That touchdown tied the game at 20 with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
That led to the third key play of the game. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buccaneers offense on their best drive of the game. He connected with Mike Evans for a 17-yard pass and Chris Godwin twice for 38 yards to put the Buccaneers at the Miami 20 with just under two minutes remaining. The Buccaneers milked the clock to seven seconds left in the game. Patrick Murray came out and kicked a 35-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 23-20 lead.
Interior Offensive Line Versus Decorated Defensive Line
The Buccaneers led at halftime 20-7, but the Dolphins rallied with 13 points in the second half to tie the game. One reason the Buccaneers couldn’t put the Dolphins away was the that they couldn’t run the ball effectively. As a team, the Buccaneers accumulated just two rushing first downs and 53 rushing yards while averaging 2.2 yards per game on 24 rushing attempts. Doug Martin couldn’t break free despite having 19 carries, which produced just 38 yards. The main reason was the Buccaneers interior offensive line of Kevin Pamphile, Ali Marpet and J.R. Sweezy couldn’t win at the point of attack against the Dolphins defensive tackles of Davon Godchaux and two-time All Pro Ndamukong Suh. Godchaux have five tackles and Suh had three tackles.
NFC Playoffs Still a Possibility
The Buccaneers won’t scare anybody with a 4-6 record and the health of Jameis Winston up in the air. However, they have given themselves a chance to make the NFC Playoffs. The offense has looked better with Fitzpatrick recently, who now has two wins just like Winston. They have the same record as the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals. Question marks have also propped up on the NFC’s contenders. The Green Bay Packers are trying to survive without Aaron Rodgers. The Dallas Cowboys will try to survive without Ezekiel Elliott. The Seattle Seahawks have lost their Legion of Boom. The Buccaneers could also make up ground with two games against the Atlanta Falcons and one game against the Detroit Lions.