The Miami Dolphins open their 2018 preseason on Thursday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the I-75 trip south to Hard Rock Stadium. This will be the first of four preseason games for both teams, and likely will not include much participation from the starters for either side. Typically, the first preseason game will see the top players play maybe a series, then stay on the sideline while the players fighting for depth positions hit the field for the majority of the game.
For the Dolphins, this will be a chance to get quarterback Ryan Tannehill back in a game for the first time since December 2016, when he first injured his knee. It will also be the second time linebacker Raekwon McMillan will be able to get on the field for the first preseason game; last year, McMillan tore his ACL on kickoff coverage for the opening kick for the first preseason contest and missed the entire season.
Over on the Tampa Bay sideline, there are questions about how the team will handle their quarterback situation. Jameis Winston, the team’s starting quarterback, is suspended for the first three regular season contests this year, with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick slated to start those games. Will the Buccaneers use the preseason to make sure Fitzpatrick is getting repetitions with the rest of the starters, or will they use it to get Winston as ready as possible before he is out of contact with the team for three weeks?
Everything you need to know about Thursday’s game is below. Check out our live chat with other Dolphins fans here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)
Preseason Week 1
August 9, 2018
Game time: 7pm ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 86˚F, Isolated Thunderstorms
Dolphins TV Coverage: CBS - Miami/Fort Lauderdale; NBC - Fort Myers; CW (or CBS) - West Palm Beach; ABC - Orlando
Dolphins TV Announcers: Dick Stockton, Bob Griese, Nat Moore, Kim Bokamper
Buccaneers TV Coverage: NBC/8 - Tampa; FOX - Orlando, Gainesville, Fort Myers, Tallahassee; MeTV - Panama City; CW - Mobile; My/54.2 - Huntsville
Buccaneers TV Announcers: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber
Radio Network: Dolphins Radio Network, KISS 99.9 FM, WQAM 560 AM, WQBA 1140 AM (Spanish)
Online streaming: Last year, SB Nation broke down all the cord-cutting options for NFL games and free trials are still available for most of these if you want to use them; NFL Sunday Ticket (paid DirecTV service - one-week trial); NFL Game Pass (paid service - shows preseason games live, replays of regular season games); The Dolphins have announced that they will stream preseason games on Dolphins.com for fans in the local markets.
NFL Network Replay: Saturday at 6:30 am; Tuesday at 4am
Odds: Dolphins -1.5 | O/U: 34
All-time record: Buccaneers 6-5 (Regular Season)
Most recent regular season meeting: Buccaneers 30-20 at Miami (Week 11 2017)
Streak: Buccaneers 2 wins (2013, 2017); Buccaneers 5 of last 6
Most recent preseason meeting: Buccaneers 22-17 at Miami (PS Week 4 2015)
Phinsider on Twitter: @ThePhinsider
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The Dolphins get the ball first and immediately go uptempo, which is exactly what Adam Gase has wanted since he became head coach. Ryan Tannehill rolls out on the first play, looking like the pre-injury Tannehill. The Dolphins convert on a quick 4th-and-1 attempt. Tannehill throws some nice passes on the opening drive, but cannot connect on Danny Amendola and Kalen Ballage on the final two pass attempts of the drive and Jason Sanders misses a 53-yard field goal attempt.
The Buccaneers come out and look to be uptempo as well. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start for Tampa Bay, who will be without Jameis Winston for the first three weeks of the regular season. Davon Godchaux gets called for encroachment early in the drive, and pre-snap penalties continue to be an issue for Miami. The short field comes back to haunt the Dolphins, with the Buccaneers quickly finding the end zone on a Peyton Barber 4-yard run, but then miss the extra point.
David Fales comes in for the Dolphins at quarterback, ending Tannehill’s day. Ballage bounces the first play outside and gets the edge, picking up 14 yards. After a sack, Fales found Albert Wilson for two quick long passes, picking up first downs on both. Jakeem Grant then drew a defensive pass interference penalty. Fales then missed an open Mike Gesicki in the end zone, then missed him again on a crossing route, leading to a 29-yard field goal from Sanders.
Fitzpatrick stayed out on the field for the second drive for Tampa Bay, but it was another Fitzpatrick who stared on the possession. Dolphins rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick showed up on multiple plays, breaking up one pass like a free safety, then playing a short pass like a linebacker and breaking it up too. The Buccaneers punted.
The Dolphins changed their quarterback to Brock Osweiler on the next drive. Ballage picked up nine yards, with tight end Thomas Duarte making a beautiful block to spring the rookie.
End 1st Quarter.
Osweiler looks deep on second down, slightly underthrowing Grant who goes up and lets the ball go right through his hands. On third down, Osweiler somehow avoided a sack, and found Ballage sprinting toward the line of scrimmage from the backfield. Ballage got to the first down marker, then jumped a defender and knocked the ball out of his hands with his knee. The Buccaneers recovered as the ball just lay on the turf.
Jameis Winston entered the game for Fitzpatrick, quickly moving the ball downfield and into scoring position. Dolphins linebacker Mike Hull was injured on the first-and-goal play, with trainers tending to his left knee then having to help him walk off the field. On second-and-goal, Ronald Jones scored, giving the Buccaneers a second rushing touchdown.
The Dolphins went three-and-out in their next possession, losing yards on a sack.
Winston would then again carve the Dolphins defense up through the air. Linebacker Jerome Baker, however, would come up big a couple of times, both with a play in the backfield and on a third-and-ten play to sop the Buccaneers a yard short of the conversion, leading to a field goal. Baker has been quiet so far this summer, but his instincts appear to be putting him in the right place to make a play in the second quarter of the game.
Miami then brought David Fales back into the game. Fales looked for Leonte Carroo on first down, but the pass was broken up. The Dolphins running backs then took over the drive, with Ballage picking up ten yards on a pass, then two yards on a carry, with Senorise Perry then picking up eight yards on a reception, 15 yards on a carry, 16 yards on a pass, 12 yards on a run, and a seven yard touchdown pass. The Dolphins running backs are looking to prove they are not a two-headed monster with Drake and Frank Gore, but rather a four-headed behemoth coming with Drake, Gore, Ballage, and Perry.
After the kickoff went out of bounds, the Buccaneers started their next possession at the 40-yard line. Jordan Phillips came to play on the possession, starting with a tackle for a loss on first down, then blew up the line of scrimmage on the next first down, leading to a Vincent Taylor sack. Taylor made the next play, stopping a screen pass for no gain, and the Buccaneers would end the drive with a punt.
Osweiler returned to quarterback the Dolphins after the punt. Miami could not do anything with the ball, however, as Ballage picked up two yards, then Osweiler found Rashawn Scott for nine yards then Duarte for three yards, then Ballage for four yards, before an incompletion led to a punt.
The Buccaneers attempted to run their two-minute offense after getting the ball back with 30 seconds to play, but were only able to pick up 16 yards before the half.
The Buccaneers got the ball to start the second half, with Ryan Griffin coming into the game at quarterback. On second down, however, the Buccaneers would fumble, giving Miami the ball at their own 13-yard line.
Miami could not do much with the ball, however. They started the possession with a delay of game penalty. After Thomas Duarte caught a short pass and turned up field for a 13-yard gain, Ballage could not pick up any further yards and Osweiler threw incomplete on third down. The team settled for a 23-yard Jason Sanders field goal.
Tampa Bay took control of the game then, running a nearly eight-minute drive. Griffin continued as the quarterback, and the team just picked apart the Dolphins. The drive featured a 12-yard and a 14-yard gain, but everything else was basically dink-and-dunk and short runs. The Buccaneers gained 88 yards on the drive, using 17 plays to do it and ultimately scoring on a 10-yard pass.
The Dolphins moved quickly on their next drive, with Fales under center again. On first down, Fales threw a perfect pass to Francis Owusu on a deep post pattern, picking up 45 yards on the play. After that, however, the team only picked up another six yards before having to settle for another field goal.
Tampa Bay would go three-and-out on their next possession.
Miami would put their own long drive together on the next drive, with Osweiler back under center. Unfortunately, a 16-play, 58-yard drive would result in no points as a false start penalty backed up the team from the five yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the three, Osweiler threw an incomplete pass and the Buccaneers took over on downs.
The Buccaneers again held the ball for a long time of possession, putting together a 61-yard drive on 13 plays, taking up 6:14 on the clock. However, the drive would still at the Miami 35-yard line, with Tampa Bay missing a 53-yard field goal attempt.
The Dolphins replaced the Osweiler/Fales quarterback duo with Bryce Petty on the next possession. He immediately found Buddy Howell on a short pass, then saw the rookie running back run for 18 yards. Then Petty connected with Owusu deep for 23 yards, getting down to the Buccaneers 16-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Howell picked up ten yards on a rush, then Petty found Isaiah Ford for the six-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion attempt, Petty again found Ford to give Miami the lead.
The Buccaneers, with no timeouts remaining, drove straight back down the field. Griffin completed passes of 12 yards, 18 yards, 8 yards, and 20 yards before the team ran the ball for two yards and seven yards to set up a short field goal with just 26 seconds remaining.
Miami tried to make a last second drive, but, after a roughing the passer penalty appeared to give the team hope, Petty threw an interception and the Buccaneers killed the clock.
Final Buccaneers 26-24.