Tampa Bay Coach Ray Perkins felt robbed Sunday--by his own team.
"They didn't beat us. We just didn't lose the game. We gave it to them, clear and simple," Perkins, in his 2nd year with the Bucs, said. "You can't fumble the football in this game and play in this league. At least you can't fumble on my team and my players know it."
Dan Marino threw 3rd-quarter touchdown passes of 5 and 8 yards to Mark Clayton as Miami capitalized on 3 of its 4 fumble recoveries to build a 17-0 lead after a scoreless 1st half.
Marino, coming off a 521-yard performance in a losing effort against the New York Jets, completed 27 of 46 passes for 266 yards. The victory was Miami's 4th in its last 5 games and improved the Dolphins' record to 5-4.
Tampa Bay's slide toward a 4th consecutive loss began with fumbles on 3 consecutive possessions. Miami turned recoveries by T.J. Turner, Brian Sochia and Rick Graf into Clayton's 2 touchdowns and Tony Franklin's 31-yard field goal that left the Bucs facing a 17-0 deficit heading into the final period.
"We got the ball in good field position pretty often today . . . that helps," Marino said. "We have to be happy with the fact we did win, but it's a little frustrating because you want to be able to put the game away."
Joe Ferguson, the NFL's oldest player at 38, started at quarterback in place of Vinny Testaverde for the Bucs (2-7). Ferguson completed 26 of 35 passes for 291 yards.
Testaverde, the No. 1 pick in the 1987 NFL draft, was benched after throwing 6 interceptions and fumbling once in a 49-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Ferguson was playing his first regular-season game in 22 months. He's hardly a stranger to the Dolphins, who faced Buffalo 23 times during his 12 seasons with the Bills from 1973-84.
"It's been just like this over the years, playing against Miami, as far as mistakes--they capitalize on them," said Ferguson, who was 3-20 against the Dolphins during his years in Buffalo.
"If you give them the ball, they'll score on you," he added.
The Miami defense intercepted a pass by Ferguson to stop a scoring threat in the 2nd quarter. He fumbled to end another drive.