The 3rd game of pre-season is supposed to be the “dress rehersal” of the pre-season schedule. Instead, for the Miami Dolphins, sloppy play and poor play execution led to an undressing. The game started with familiarity. Rain. Rain. And yes, more rain. The Phins are used to it having experienced downpours in its two previous outings. Rain aside, the Phins offense was anemic and the defense looked o.k. but not great.
Chad Pennington started for the Phins and managed to lead the team on it’s first 6 plays to no first downs and only a handfull of yards. From dropped passes to offensive pass-interference, the Oline gave a sack on the first play from scrimmage and the rest was little more than the same. The first first down for the offense came on a 1st and 10 play that was an incomplete pass. The Buccaneers were flagged and the Phins gained 5 yards and the first. Then lighting struck.
The game was suspended for almost 45 minutes while lightning lit up the Tampa Bay night. When the Phins returned to the field, they faced a 3rd and 2 at the 50 yard line. Pennington’s throw to Brian Hartline was incomplete and the Phins punted.
The first quarter was a complete mess and had the Dolphins defense not managed to hold the Buc’s out of the endzone the 6-0 score would have been much worse. The Phins held nicely on their first defensive series keeping the Buc’s at 3 on series 2, the Phins blocked a TB punt but the ball crossed the LOS and a Phins player touched the ball. TB recovered. The Phins defense was helped often by over throws by TB QB Byron Leftwich. Wide open misses.
Brian Hartline was flagged for a PI negating his own 39 yard reception. It was one of those nights that got worse when the game resumed. The TB offense took over the LOS with heavy running doses of Ernest Graham and Cadillac Williams. An ugly drive for the Dolphins defense that finally ended the running attack at the 40 with 2 consecutive sacks and a 3rd down stop. Of course they would fair catch the punt and then be assessed a penalty for holding driving them back to their own 10. Again, it was one of those nights.
With less than two minutes left in the first half, the Dolphins moved down the field after a TB punt. The drive stalled at the TB twenty after clutch catches by Ted Ginn and Brian Hartline. Perhaps the best catch was a Davone Bess grab that was out of bounds. Contorting his body while in the air and in contact with a defender, Bess caught the ball falling backwards with one hand coming down out of bounds. The Phins would settle for a FG bringing the Phins within 3.
Second half still to go.