Fitz’s late drive lifts Bucs over Dolphins

by Gary Shelton on November 20, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Fitzpatrick had the 13th game-winning drive of his career./CARMEN MANDATO

Fitzpatrick had the 13th game-winning drive of his career./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 3 a.m.

Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes./CARMEN MANDATO

Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes./CARMEN MANDATO

Nothing else mattered. Just the quarterback and the clock. Everything else had faded into the background.

The blown lead? It no longer mattered. The Dolphins trying their hardest to lose the game with turnovers and penalties? Those were details. The Bucs giving up half-a-field at once on blown plays? At the moment, those had become irrelevant. The questions about Fitzpatrick still being in the league were just gossip. Yesterday was a million years ago and tomorrow belongs to another quarterback.

 Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Teammates congratulate kicker Patrick Murray for winning field goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Teammates congratulate kicker Patrick Murray for winning field goal./CARMEN MANDATO

None of it mattered. Not the ugliness of the afternoon. Not the ugliness of recent accusations. Not the big plays or the little ones.

What was important was the old man and the drive. Ryan Fitzpatrick had been dormant for a half, along with the rest of the Tampa Bay offense. The other backup had taken over the game. But now the game was Fitz's. There were three minutes to go, and the goal line was 75 yards away.

And once again, the codger took over.

Howard acted if he was going to dunk in his touchdown celebration./CARMEN MANDATO

Howard acted if he was going to dunk in his touchdown celebration./CARMEN MANDATO

This was Fitzpatrick at his best. He hit Mike Evans for 17, then Chris Godwin for 14, then Godwin again for 24. For the first time since he did against New England in 2015, Fitzpatrick led a game-winning drive (the 13th of his career), setting up Patrick Murray for a game-winning 35-yard field goal. Just like that, Fitzpatrick had a two-game winning streak.

Yeah, grandpa (Demar Dotson's description) still has some fire, doesn't he?

“He's done a good job,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “He's 2-0 as a starter. That

Justin Evans returns his interception./CARMEN MANDATO

Justin Evans returns his interception./CARMEN MANDATO

first half, we did a lot of good things, and a few negative things. Ryan, in the midst of some turmoil, has been a calm, professional leader.”

Has a team ever won a game and worked so hard to lose it? Perhaps not. Then again, the Dolphins worked hard to lose the game and did, which is worse. But the Bucs kept giving up huge, highlight-reel plays. They had a 69-yard run, a 61-yard touchdown pass, a 49-yard pass, a 45-yard pass, a 26-yard pass, a 24-yard pass and a 22-yard pass. And, thanks to five turnovers and 17 penalties (for 123 yards), they lost.

Was it a win with warts? Of course it was. The Bucs don't play any other kind of game these days. This was uglier than the Jets' game, which was uglier than the Saints, which was uglier than the Panthers, which was uglier than the Bills, which was uglier than the Cardinals, which was uglier than anything.

Yeah, both teams can walk away thinking about shortcomings. But the Bucs won. At 4-6, that's something.

Martin gained only 38 yards on 19 carries./CARMEN MANDATO

Martin gained only 38 yards on 19 carries./CARMEN MANDATO

“I thought we stepped up at the end there,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was tough getting things going in the second half. We had seven plays in the third quarter, I think. I was proud when it was 20-20; standing in that huddle, it was a good feeling. I think everyone thought we were going to get it done.”

Murray has now hit 10 of 12 field goals and all eight extra points as a Buc.

"I take every kick the same, doesn’t matter the situation of the game," Murray said. "Going out on that field after Fitz and the offense drove down there and they did a terrific job, I knew I was going to make it. I knew it was going to go right down the middle; I just had a feeling and it was right."

Before his game-winning drive, Fitzpatrick and the Bucs had sputtered alongside each other. On six first-down plays, Tampa Bay had only 21 yards –

Grimes won in his return to Miami./CARMEN MANDATO

Grimes won in his return to Miami./CARMEN MANDATO

and 16 of those came on a pass to Mike Evans. The Bucs couldn't buy a first down.

"The biggest play of the game was probably the throw to Godwin," Fitzpatrick said. "It wasn’t necessarily to our first, second, third target but I have supreme confidence he’s going to make that play and he knows that he’s going to get that ball."

Running? Forget about it. The Bucs had only 53 yards on the day; starting running back Doug Martin carried it 19 times for 38 yards, a whopping two yards a carry.

The Bucs took a 20-7 lead in the first half as Miami turned the ball over on four of their firsr six drives. But Tampa Bay got a tough break when Dolphins' starting quarterback Jay Cutler as injured late in the half and went into concussion protocol.

The brought out backup Matt Moore, who was hard to stop. He hit 17 of 28 for 282 yards and pulled Miami into a 20-20 tie. Fitzpatrick led the Bucs to their go-ahead field goal with four seconds to play. Adarius Glanton then recovered a Dolphins' fumble on a lateral play after the kickoff to make the final margin 10 points.

Five to zero (on turnovers)," Koetter said. "You shouldn't have to win it like that. But a win is a win is a win. Youu never apologize for it. It's good to get a win on the road."

The Bucs try to get another one next week when they travel to Atlanta. Game time is 1 p.m.

Alexander and McClain celebrabe interceptions./CARMEN MANDATO

Alexander and McClain celebrabe interceptions./CARMEN MANDATO

 

Share with:Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS November 20, 2017 at 10:26 am

Yeah Coach…..”a win is a win” but we will have to play a whole lot sharper to get over the Falcons with Ryan and Julio! At this point in the season I am starting to look for a favorite for the Super Bowl . After reading the great SI article on “super” Julio, I think I may have found it! I would just like to see an NFC South team in there this time! But any given Sunday …right? Another Buc win would be great! GO BUCS

Reply

Gary Shelton November 20, 2017 at 11:53 am

They’ll need Atlanta to make a few turnovers, too.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: