The scoreboard may have indicated a victory for the Buccaneers but their fans know there are still some major questions that need to be answered. The Bucs get a late touchdown as they come back to beat the Dolphins 17-16 from Sun Life stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday night. Tampa Bay gets their first preseason win (1-2) while the Dolphins drop to 1-3. The Bucs got the win despite a shaky performance by Bucs’ quarterbacks and the first team offensive line. The defense also showed some leaks against another fast paced offense.
The Dolphins got the ball first to begin the game and went right down the field on a 17 play drive spanning 76 yards in 8 minutes and 25 seconds. The drive culminated in a 22-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis to give Miami a 3-0 lead. The Dolphins offense produced a couple of big plays on that drive as they went no-huddle against the Bucs defense. Lamar Miller ripped off a 20-yard run on the drive and Ryan Tannehill was 6 for 8 on the drive for 41 yards.
The Bucs first team offense got a first down on their first possession but the drive stalled. On the punt play, the ball hit the Dolphins return man and the ball was recovered by Adam Hayward at the Miami 23. The Bucs were able to take advantage as Brian Leonard punched it in on a 1-yd touchdown run to give the Bucs a 7-3 lead. That capped off a 6-play, 14-yard drive. The Bucs had a 7-3 lead after one quarter of play.
The Bucs’ special teams forced another turnover when Marcus Thigpen fumbled after being hit by Tom Crabtree. Hayward recovered it again to set up shop at the Miami 41. The Bucs settled for a 38-yd FG by Rian Lindell to make it a 10-3 Bucs lead. Freeman really struggled late in the half. He missed Kevin Ogletree on consecutive plays and then fumbled it away when he couldn’t find the handle on a wet ball. Miami recovered and went down the field to score a touchdown right before the half when Tannehill found Brandon Gibson on a 4-yd TD pass to give Miami a 13-10 halftime lead. Freeman was 4 of 11 for 51 yards with a lost fumble in the first half.
The Bucs held Doug Martin out of the game as head coach Greg Schiano wanted to get a closer look at the backup running backs with cut down dates looming. The running game struggled to find room as the offensive line failed to get a push up front. Mike James had 5 carries for -1 yards in the first half. James finished the game with 7 carries for 17 yards. Brian Leonard finished with 10 carries for 38 yards and a score. Peyton Hillis had 28 yards on 7 carries.
Mike Glennon entered the game late in the 3rd quarter and wasn’t much better. Glennon went three and out on the first drive. In the 4th quarter, the Bucs defense forced a turnover when Dophins RB Jonas Gray was hit by Williams Gholston to force a fumble. Sean Baker returned the fumble 51 yards deep into Miami territory. Glennon hit David Douglas on a 12-yd TD pass with 1:03 left. Derek Dimke’s PAT gave the Bucs a 17-16 lead. Keith Tandy intercepted Pat Devlin to seal the win.
News & Notes:
- The Bucs quarterbacks combined to go 9 for 25 for 103 yards and one touchdown. Josh Freeman was 6 of 16 for 59 yards and misfired on a few occasions. He also did not get help from his receivers as they dropped a couple of balls on him. Mike Glennon wasn’t much better, going 3 of 9 for 44 yards and a touchdown. On the postgame show, Freeman said of the offense: “We made a lot of progress….the arrow is pointing up.”
- The left side of Tampa Bay’s offensive line was subpar. Gabe Carimi started at left guard and did not play well. LT Donald Penn was beaten for a sack by Olivier Vernon and had trouble in the run game.
- Davin Joseph started and played the first quarter and looked good, especially in the run game. During a sideline interview, he said he felt “pretty good.”
- Gerald McCoy was lifted early as well after less than one quarter of action. Team being extra cautious with him as well.
- Bucs CB Anthony Gaitor left the game in the 4th quarter with a knee injury.
- Bucs defense was back on their heels again by a no-huddle attack. Ryan Tannehill diced up the Bucs by completing 17 of 27 for 150 yards and a touchdown. Make no mistake about it, the Bucs’ opponents are watching and taking note.
- Newly signed DE Trevor Scott had quite a debut with 3 sacks. When a guy just signed off the street has 3 sacks, you know the team is concerned with the pass rush.
- Bucs who didn’t play: RB Doug Martin, CB Darrelle Revis, G Carl Nicks, FB Erik Lorig, RB Michael Smith, CB Danny Gorrer, WR Chris Owusu, TE Zach Miller, DE Aaron Morgan and K Lawrence Tynes.
- Next Thursday night, the Bucs close out the preseason when they host the Redskins at Raymond James Stadium. You can catch that game on 620 WDAE & 95.3FM, your home of the Bucs. Our coverage begins at 5pm.