It wasn't easy ... or pretty. The Bucs have found ways to lose games all season, and it appeared headed that way again when a 15-0 first-half lead dissolved into a 19-15 deficit by the start of the fourth quarter. To compound matters, running back Mike James -- who looked so brilliant a week earlier against the Seattle Seahawks -- was lost to a fractured ankle in the first quarter.
But the Bucs had an unlikely ace up their sleeve in Cleveland Browns castoff Bobby Rainey. In his first work since signing with Tampa Bay last month, Rainey rushed for 45 yards on eight carries, including a huge 31-yard burst that set up a 1-yard scoring run to put the Bucs back ahead for good with 10:26 to play.
The Bucs' defense took it home from there. Darrelle Revis had one of his best nights in pewter, silencing Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace and securing the game-sealing interception. The Bucs' front dominated Miami's depleted O-line, holding to Dolphins to two yards -- total -- on the ground and sacking Ryan Tannehill twice on Miami's doomed final possession.
There will be no Cinderella run for the Bucs. A strong finish still might net just four wins, and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff nearly is certain. But for one night, the season wasn't a disaster. The Bucs held their intrastate rival to 0.14 yards per rush.