Patriots

Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

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Dolphins lose 30-20 to Bucs, continue sinking in AFC East

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds remaining and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Miami Dolphins 30-20 on Sunday.

O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter.

They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day where Miami had more mistakes than points.

Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20-20 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner.

Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs' score.

Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. Moore went 17 of 28 for 282 yards and the touchdown in relief, but Miami couldn't overcome five turnovers and 17 penalties - one shy of the franchise all-time record.

Stills caught seven passes for 180 yards, and Jarvis Landry had six catches for 95 yards and another touchdown for Miami, which has lost four straight for the first time since 2013.

A pair of short drives gave the Bucs control in that big second quarter. Howard's score came on a two-play, 6-yard drive after an interception, and Jackson's score capped a four-play, 37-yard drive following a Miami fumble.

BIG PLAYS

The Dolphins had their three longest passing plays of the season - the 61-yard touchdown pass to Stills, a 49-yarder to Landry and another 45-yard strike to Stills. Before Sunday, Miami's longest pass play was a 36-yard throw from Cutler to Stills against the Jets on Oct. 22.

INJURIES

Buccaneers: RG Evan Smith left in the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Dolphins: Besides Cutler's concussion, the Dolphins lost RG Jermon Bushrod in the third quarter to a left foot injury. LB Chase Allen, who started in place of Rey Maualuga - who was arrested early Saturday in a dispute over a bar tab and quickly waived by the Dolphins - also was evaluated for a concussion in the second half. LB Stephone Anthony had a knee injury, the specifics of which were not announced.

PLENTY OF BIRTHDAYS

Howard, the Bucs' rookie tight end, celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. For the Dolphins, CB Cordrea Tankersley turned 24 and DE Terrence Fede turned 26.

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Visit Atlanta on Nov. 26, the second game in a three-week stretch of road contests.

Dolphins: Visit New England on Nov. 26, the start of a three-week stretch where Miami will see the Patriots twice.

Despite 'a lot of urgency,' Patriots don't panic before game-winning pick

Despite 'a lot of urgency,' Patriots don't panic before game-winning pick

Who saw that ending coming? Anyone? Well, if the Patriots are to be believed, they had a pretty good idea that the Steelers were a threat to have something up their sleeve as time wound down on what turned out to be a thrilling 27-24 victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.

The ill-advised ‘fake spike throw a freakin’ slant to a well-covered Eli Rogers’ wasn’t the smartest play ever cooked up in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s apparently very smokey lab. But that’s what Pittsburgh decided the situation called for, down 3 with 9 ticks left on the clock. They were hell-bent on walking away a winner and instead departed the field slack-jawed and silent, likely having cost themselves a chance at home field throughout the playoffs and maybe, just maybe, a shot at the Super Bowl.

“I think just practice execution turns into game reality,” said an elated Duron Harmon, who intercepted that final throw. “ We’ve seen it before. Everybody didn’t panic. Nobody was out there thinking they didn’t know what to do. We just played our rules, played good football and it turned into a good play for us.”

“The fake spike is something we see all the time,” said Devin McCourty. “I think all great quarterbacks do that. If they catch you sleeping and get an easy play, they’re going to try to do it. You could see us yelling and screaming the coverage, trying to get the guys up and get set because we knew there was a chance. If they spike it, they spike it.”

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The tape told a little something different. Only Trey Flowers actually attempts to play the play up front, eventually jumping in the air to dissuade Ben Roethlisberger from throwing the pass. On the back side of the play, Stephon Gilmore barely moves while Pat Chung appears lost and then lets up. Even Duron Harmon, who ended up with the ball falling into his lap for the game-preserving interception, didn’t react at the snap of the ball. But cornerback Eric Rowe did. The Pats should thank goodness for that. He deflected the ball that ended up in Harmon’s hands.

“A lot of urgency on that last play,” he said, describing the play in detail. “I see ‘em rushing to the ball. I see Matty P (Patricia) giving the call. I’m the star (the nickel cornerback). No one is on the outside. I’m like, forget it, I need to go outside and cover ‘em up. Everybody was in panic mode trying to get lined up and I see Big Ben fake it and I’m like ‘oh they’re running a play.’ I get my eyes back on the receiver and see him doing like a slant or a pop pass. I didn’t really think he was going to throw it because I was on his hip. He threw and I said ‘I just need to break this up’ and then boom, and I honestly like - it tipped off and if they caught ‘oh my god,’ but we came down with it. I was ecstatic.”

Coming down with it was Harmon. One of his nicknames is “The Closer” for good reason. He’s had a knack for sealing games with an interception but this one may have been the biggest of his career.

“Just prepared, man. Like everyone on our team. I just prepare. Credit to the entire defense for playing until the end. To all the guys,” said Harmon.

“It’s not by accident,” said Matthew Slater, who’s seen his share of big plays. “The guy prepares himself in that way. He respects the game of football, gives it everything he has every day and comes in here and he works hard to be in position. When guys are always around the ball, it’s not by accident.”

No, it is not. Never seems to be with this team, who once again have put themselves in position to do special things come January and - they hope - February in Minnesota.

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