TAMPA — It wasn’t pretty.
It doesn’t save the season or the republic or even jobs.
But losing isn’t part of the conversation this morning.
The Tampa Bay Bucs won.
They beat the Miami Dolphins, barely, 22-19, but they beat them, and that was enough.
That it happened on a Monday night, before a sellout crowd, in front of old Bucs gathered to celebrate Warren Sapp’s induction into the Ring of Honor ... with Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden in the house ... was that much better for punching bag Greg Schiano and his battered team.
They battered right back Monday night, rallying together after blowing a 15-0 lead.
Bobby Rainey scored the winning touchdown.
Of course he did.
All together: Bobby Rainey.Who?
Bobby Rainey, in for the injured Mike James, who was in for the injured Doug Martin.
The Walking Dead came alive Monday and they won.
The day after the Jaguars threw down, the Bucs came in from the cold.
It was ugly. The Dolphins were more ugly. Does it matter this morning?
Bobby Rainey, picked up three weeks ago after being released in October by the Browns — the Browns! — ran for 31 yards to the Miami 1 to set up his TD run on the next play, early in the fourth quarter. He had never run the football for the Bucs until Monday night.Who?
The Bucs, clean out of running backs.
Brian Leonard, to the rescue.
And The Ballad of Bobby Rainey ... take it away, Bucs fans.
“I was like, ‘What’s going on Mike, do you have a cramp?’ ” Rainey said. “I didn’t see anything. Then I knew me and Leonard were up next. The guys came up to me and said, ‘Let’s go, Bobby, you’re up.’ I’m always ready.”
Lord, they even won a game decided by three points or less, something they never do under Schiano.
Miracles all over.
After 13 losses in their last 14 games ...
“Day in, day out, it has been rough,” Bucs left tackle Donald Penn said. “Rough. Tough.”
They got a break. All week long, it wasn’t about them or 0-8. The story was the Dolphins in disarray, their mess. The Bucs went unnoticed. They went incognito.
Bobby Rainey is first-team All-Incognito.
Even after James went down with a fractured ankle (it was a bad day all around for legs in Tampa Bay sports), even after the cart carried him from the field, the Bucs went out and won. They were the NFL’s only winless team for a day, and apparently a day was enough.
Before the game, the Dolphins owner held a news conference where he announced a committee to get to the bottom of this Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin thing. Committee members: Dan Marino, Jason Taylor, Curtis Martin, Don Shula, and, of course, Dungy. I wonder if the Dolphins players leadership council is jealous.
Meanwhile, the Bucs formed a committee of their own — and won.
Among the committee members was Mike Glennon, who led the Bucs to a touchdown on their opening drive, ending with the usual 1-yard scoring pass to fellow committee member ... to Penn of all people.
On the defensive subcommittee, which stuffed the Miami run (2 yards rushing, fewest ever against the Bucs), Lavonte David truly brought the meeting to order when he flew in, clean, to nail Dolphins runner Daniel Thomas for a safety and a 12-0 Bucs lead — that might as well have been for Sapp Daddy, to whose halftime induction included the retiring No. 99.
The Bucs retired 0-9 before it got to that.
But they’d blown their share of games, including that monumental collapse last week at Seattle.
They tried real hard to blow this one, too.
They surrendered that 15-0 lead, giving up a Miami touchdown just before the half to get the Dolphins going.
“It had the same feeling going down the stretch,” Schiano said.
Then a Miami field goal. Then another Dolphins touchdown for a 16-15 Miami lead. Then a Glennon interception. Miami would have the ball first-and-goal at the 7. A touchdown and they run away with it. But the Bucs made a stand, keeping it to a field goal and a 19-15 lead.
And the Bucs came back, led by a guy named Bobby Rainey.Who?
And the defense, at the very end, with a statement:
“Our guys bowed up and made some plays,” Schiano said.
The maligned Bucs pass rush grabbed sacks on consecutive plays to nearly finish it off before Darrelle Revis’ interception did.
In news of the supernatural, Da’Quan Bowers, a ghost all season, got half of one of those sacks.
It wasn’t pretty.
It wasn’t art.
But there was heart. And they won.Who?
The Bucs. That’s who. For once.