MIAMI — Chandler Catanzaro's night started with a missed extra point, then a long missed field goal in the fourth quarter, allowing the Dolphins to take the lead with 1:56 left.
But the new Bucs kicker got his redemption, hitting a 26-yard field goal with 23 seconds left, giving the Bucs a 26-24 preseason victory Thursday over the Dolphins.
The early miss wasn't what Bucs fans wanted to see, hoping for a preseason void of any kicker drama after three years of struggles at the position.
Catanzaro didn't miss an extra point in all of last season, hitting all 29 for the Jets. He got $3.75 million guaranteed from the Bucs, who cut his only competition this week in rookie Trevor Moore.
The Bucs' running tandem of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones made a solid debut, with both backs getting touchdowns in the first half.
Barber had runs of 9 and 5 yards to set up his 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive, and Jones scored on a 2-yard run to cap the team's third drive. Jones did have a drop on a quick pass on third down to end the second drive, but the Bucs totaled only eight rushing touchdowns last season, so two in a half is a promising start.
The Bucs played without top CB Brent Grimes due to an undisclosed injury, and they lost CB Vernon Hargreaves for the rest of the game due to a groin injury in the first quarter. That meant more reps for the team's two second-round rookies, M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis.
Davis had a strong first half with three tackles and two pass breakups.
The Bucs had the ball at the Miami 41 at the two-minute warning before halftime, but the makeshift second line had the drive stall there. A false start by RG Caleb Benenoch, a sack and two short gains set up a punt for the Bucs, missing an opportunity to build on a 16-10 lead.
This and that
The Bucs held out 11 players due to injuries, including four of their top six tackles. They used Brad Seaton as the starting right tackle, with Demar Dotson, Leonard Wester, Cole Gardner and Cole Boozer all sidelined. Seaton also worked as the second-line right tackle. Evan Smith, expected to be the backup center and guard, started at right guard ahead of Benenoch, who had been limited by injury but played with the second line. … DE Jason Pierre-Paul made his Bucs debut and was active from the start, getting two tackles and a QB hit on the opening drive. DT Gerald McCoy had a sack on the second drive. … Former Florida State WR Bobo Wilson got the first look on kickoff returns, while WR Bernard Reedy, a Lakewood High graduate, was deep on the team's first two punt returns, including one for 12 yards.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.