Dolphins Drop 17-16 Decision To Buccaneers

Posted Aug 24, 2013

Tannehill has strong first half and defense records six sacks but Miami falls on late Tampa Bay touchdown.

The next-to-last preseason game annually is the most telling for all NFL teams, and the Dolphins’ performance Saturday night spoke volumes despite a loss.

Almost all of the Dolphins’ starters were pulled after halftime of the 17-16 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night, but there was a lot of good work accomplished while they were in there.

“You can’t ever be too happy when you lose,” defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “We did some good things, but we still have a lot of things to correct. What’s encouraging is that we can still get better from here. We played pretty good early on, but we didn’t do enough to win the game. Once we put everything together, it’s going to be a nice showing every time we get out there.”

The loss dropped the Dolphins’ preseason record to 1-3, with the finale coming up Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints at Sun Life Stadium.

Tampa Bay’s game-winning touchdown — a 12-yard pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to David Douglas with 1:03 left — was set up by a 55-yard return by safety Sean Baker after he recovered a Jonas Gray fumble late in the fourth quarter. It was the third turnover by the Dolphins, but overall Miami had a positive night on offense and defense.

“We had a lot of positives and, of course, we had some negatives,” cornerback Brent Grimes said. “But that’s with any game. The biggest thing is we didn’t play well enough to win. And you want to win the game. But the first-team defense, I don’t know the stats, but I don’t think we gave up a lot of yards or a lot of plays. I think we played pretty well. We didn’t play perfect, but I think pretty well. Coming from that game, we can gain a lot of confidence from that.”

The Dolphins dominated Tampa Bay when both first teams were in the game, and only a couple of special teams miscues and problems in the red zone kept Miami from having a bigger lead than 13-10.

The numbers illustrate how the Dolphins controlled play in the first two quarters, with Miami recording advantages of 15-6 in first downs, 180-63 in total yardage and 18:04-11:56 in time of possession.

“As an offense, I think we moved the ball pretty well,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “We’ve just got to capitalize on a couple of those drives. When we get close, we’ve got to score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals. But I like the way our offense played today for the most part for the first half.”

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a strong outing, completing 17 of 27 passes for 150 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He had great success connecting with his wide receivers, with Brandon Gibson, Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace combining for 12 receptions.

Gibson gave the Dolphins their 13-10 lead when he scored on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the first half. The catch gave Gibson five catches in the first half.

“It felt good,” Gibson said. “The coverages dictate a lot of where the ball is thrown. I just wanted to make sure I was in the right spot even though I kind of played a (mediocre) half.”

Earlier in the first half, Gibson had failed to hang on to a pass in the end zone on third down, forcing the Dolphins to settle for a field goal. That came after the Dolphins had a first-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 7-yard line.

On the first drive of the game, the Dolphins put together an impressive 17-play drive but had to settle for a field goal after having a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.

“I think we need to do better in the red zone as far as coming away with touchdowns,” offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. “We score three touchdowns in the first half when we’re deep in the red zone like that, then it’s a completely different ballgame. They did a really good job defensively bending and not breaking, but we have to have that mentality that when we get down there we’re coming away with seven. One out of three isn’t going to cut it.”

The longest play on that drive was a 20-yard run by Lamar Miller to the right side.

“The offensive line did a great job opening up the holes,” Miller said. “I was just following Mike Pouncey. I knew he was going to do his assignment, so I just went off of the offensive lineman.”

The first-team defense, meanwhile, held Tampa Bay running backs Brian Leonard and Mike James to 18 yards rushing on 12 attempts and sacked quarterback Josh Freeman three times.

Odrick and Olivier Vernon recorded the first two sacks, while the third was a fluky play that set up Miami’s first touchdown of the game. Freeman simply lost control of the ball in the pocket and Derrick Shelby recovered the fumble at the Tampa Bay 48 with 1:29 left in the first half.

Safety Kelcie McCray and linebackers Jonathan Freeny and Josh Kaddu added sacks for the Dolphins in the second half. Rookie cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, meanwhile, had nice pass breakups.

“We did a pretty good job here and there, but we’ve just got to finish on the defensive side no matter what the score is,” nose tackle Paul Soliai said. “We’ve still got to finish. We’ve still got a lot to work on. We’ve just got to go watch this film and just learn from it.”

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis finished the night 3-for-3 on field goal attempts after adding a 28-yarder in the fourth quarter.

The second half was quiet on both sides from an offensive standpoint, but the Dolphins had a nice conversion of a third-and-12 in the fourth quarter when Mike Gillislee gained 21 yards on a screen pass.

Tampa Bay’s 10 points in the first half were set up by two Dolphins turnovers on special teams, a muffed punt that bounced off the helmet of Nolan Carroll and a fumble by Marcus Thigpen.

Thigpen would gain a measure of redemption later in the first half with a 38-yard punt return, which set up Sturgis second field goal.

“You really can’t redeem a fumble,” Thigpen said. “I’ve just got to get better. That can’t happen. That’s unacceptable. Especially for myself, I don’t want that to happen ever again. That’s something I’m going to be working on.”

John Jerry started at right guard for the Dolphins in his first action of the preseason. Defensive tackle Randy Starks also played his first preseason game this year.


• KR Marcus Thigpen on the two special teams turnovers: “It’s tough just because we harp on those things all week, not to have those miscues and have those fundamentals. Just to go out there, we’ve got to work hard on it, especially ball security. That’s the main thing we had a problem with tonight.”

• Rookie CB Will Davis on his first game at Sun Life Stadium as a member of the Dolphins: “That was amazing. Just coming out here in front of everybody. I was looking at (fellow rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor) sometime toward the fourth quarter, I walked up to him and I said, ‘Man, you’ve just got to love life. We’re here. We made it.’ It was a good moment just to be out there in front of everybody.”

• Safety Reshad Jones: “We wanted to limit them as much as possible. Those guys did a great job of competing and going out and finishing and playing until the end. They made more plays than we did.”

• Tackle Tyson Clabo on the progress of the offensive line: “The regular season is pretty much here. I think we’ve made some strides and I think we’re going to be good enough to get the job done for sure. And we’ll continue to improve as the season goes along.”
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