Bobby Rainey scored a one-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes, 19 seconds remaining as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first NFL game of the season by a score of 22-19 on Monday over the reeling Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins have been struggling for the past week over the locker room bullying scandal that saw blocker Richie Incognito suspended indefinitely for a series of racist remarks and threats against fellow lineman Jonathan Martin, who left the team a week ago.
Now Miami can add to that the disgrace of allowing the last winless team in the NFL, Tampa Bay, to end that status and reach 1-8, while the Dolphins fell to 4-5, one game behind the New York Jets for the last American Football Conference playoff spot.
“It’s frustrating we did not play as well as we wanted. I cannot put it on the distraction. I thought we played pretty well in practice the last few days,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.
The bullying story dominated news around the Dolphins’ workouts before the first game since the scandal broke, but Tannehill would not blame the distraction nor the loss of the two blockers.
“They were two starters, but the guys who played those spots stepped up and replaced them, and played pretty well,” Tannehill said.
Tannehill completed 27 of 42 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, but the Dolphins managed only two yards rushing, a record one-game low in team history, and the Bucs avoided their fifth 0-9 start.
The Buccaneers lost running back Mike James with an ankle injury in the first quarter after carrying the ball five times for 41 yards on the opening drive.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said before the game that he plans to meet with Martin and talk with him about the bullying claims, which are now the subject of an NFL investigation into workplace issues around the club.
“We have been careful in our statements and in our comments, as we have not wanted to make a rush to judgement until we know all of the facts,” Ross said. “We still don’t have a full picture of the facts. However, I want to be clear, that I and the Miami Dolphin organization are committed to getting to the bottom of this issue and making any necessary changes to improve our organization.”
Ross said he would create an independent advisory group to review team policies and suggest changes, hoping the panel would include former coaches Don Shula and Tony Dungy, and former players Dan Marino, Curtis Martin and Jason Taylor.