So it was up to the defence to help them get their first win of the season.
Rookie Mike Glennon threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tackle Donald Penn and led a long fourth-quarter TD drive to put the Buccaneers ahead for good in a 22-19 victory over the embattled Miami Dolphins on Monday night.
Bobby Rainey's 1-yard run capped an 80-yard drive, and the Bucs held on the final 10 minutes to become the last team in the league to win this season.
Jacksonville beat Tennessee on Sunday, leaving Tampa Bay (1-8) as the league's only winless team entering the game.
The Bucs held fourth-quarter leads in four of their eight losses, losing each time in the final 89 seconds of regulation or overtime.
"It had the same feeling going down the stretch," coach Greg Schiano said after his team won for only the second time in 15 games dating to last season. "But our guys bowed up and made some plays."
"It was rough. It was scary, I'm not going to lie," linebacker Adam Heyward said, recalling the Bucs blew a 21-point lead before losing at Seattle eight days earlier.
"It looked like last week. The guys, like Lavonte (David) and a bunch of us just said we're tired of it," Heyward added. "We can't do it again, and everybody just started stepping up and making plays."
Playing for the first time since a bullying scandal broke in the Dolphins locker room, Miami (4-5) started slowly before overcoming an early 15-0 deficit to lead 19-15 heading into the fourth quarter.
Ryan Tannehill threw touchdown passes of 6 and 19 yards to Rishard Matthews, but got no help from a running game that was limited to just 2 yards rushing.
The Bucs sacked Tannehill twice on Miami's final possession before Darrelle Revis intercepted Tannehill's fourth-down desperation throw intended for Mike Wallace with 1:35 remaining.
"We have good guys on this team who understand adversity and understand how to handle it," Tannehill said. "This is a good test. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying it's fun to deal with. But I have faith in these guys."
Glennon completed 11 of 21 for 139 yards in his sixth pro start. The third-round draft pick threw his first interception in four games — a span of 159 attempts — to set up a third-quarter field goal that put the Dolphins up 19-15.
Tannehill finished 27 of 42 for 229 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The Bucs saluted Hall of Famer Warren Sapp at halftime, retiring his No. 99 jersey and inducting the 1999 NFL defensive player of the year and 2002 Super Bowl champion into the team's Ring of Honor.
The Dolphins had not played since Oct. 31, when they beat Cincinnati 22-20 in overtime to stop a four-game skid.
They've been the talk of the league for the wrong reasons ever since.
The NFL is investigating tackle Jonathan Martin's allegations of daily harassment by teammates, including suspended guard Richie Incognito. Martin is with his family in California to undergo counselling for emotional issues, and he'll meet later this week with the league's special investigator to discuss the allegations.
The special investigator will determine whether Incognito harassed Martin, and whether the Dolphins mishandled the matter.
Owner Stephen Ross broke his silence on the situation during a news conference before the game at Raymond James Stadium. He said he was appalled by the player's accusations and plans to meet with Martin on Wednesday at an undisclosed location.
"Obviously there was a voice we weren't hearing," Ross said, adding he will take an open mind into the meeting and is eager to learn the facts of the case.
The owner said he has formed an independent advisory group that includes Tony Dungy, Don Shula, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor and Curtis Martin to review organizational conduct policies and to make recommendations on areas for improvement.
"We need to look at ourselves. We have to examine everything internally," Ross said. "This is so appalling to me. I know I'm capable of overreacting. I want to get everybody's feedback because we all know the football locker room is a different workplace than most of us are accustomed to. I don't want to make any excuses."
With Jacksonville winning on Sunday, the Bucs entered Monday night as the only NFL team yet to win this season.
It was apparent from the start that they might be able to change their fortunes against the Dolphins, who spent much of the past week answering questions about the bullying scandal.
Glennon finished a nine-play, 76-yard, game-opening drive with his TD pass to Penn, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound tackle who discreetly slipped off the line and was all alone in the end zone. Mike James ran five times for 41 yards on the drive before leaving the game with a broken left ankle.
The Bucs built the lead to 15-0 with a pair of field goals by Rian Lindell and a safety before Tannehill got the Dolphins on track in the closing minutes of the second quarter.
The second-year quarterback trimmed his team's deficit to 15-7 with his first TD pass to Matthews. The second put Miami ahead 16-15 late in the third quarter.
"We moved the ball well through the air, but we didn't have any balance. That caught up to us at the end of the game," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
"There's a lot of football left to be played. November and December is going to determine who moves forward," Philbin said. "We have to learn from the mistakes we made and prepare better and play better."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org