Saturday: Bucs-Dolphins in-game blog, Bucs win 17-16
How much will quarterback Josh Freeman and the other Bucs' starters play? Will recently signed Rian Lindell challenge rookie Derek Dimke for the kicking job? Who will start at the guard spots, with Carl Nicks out indefinitely and Davin Joseph likely to be limited?
Join the conversation as the Times' Greg Auman answers these questions and more as he blogs live throughout the Bucs' preseason game against the Dolphins Saturday in Miami, starting at 7:30 p.m.
PREGAME: Greetings from Sun Life Stadium. I'll also be updating via Twitter at @gregauman so follow there as well if you'd like. A few lineup changes to announce -- Brian Leonard starts at RB for Doug Martin, rookie Johnthan Banks steps in for Darrelle Revis, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim starts at left end for Da'Quan Bowers, Gabe Carimi slides over to left guard for Carl Nicks and Tom Crabtree starts at fullback for Erik Lorig.
More pregame: Good news, as guard Davin Joseph has been cleared and will start tonight -- it's the one-year anniversary of the knee injury that sidelined Joseph for the 2012 season.
7:20 p.m.: Ten minutes before kickoff, it's a predictably modest crowd here -- even for preseason, this is what you're getting.
Pre-kickoff: Players expected to sit out tonight: Martin, Revis, Lorig, Nicks, K Lawrence Tynes, RB Michael Smith, CB Danny Gorrer, WR Chris Owusu, TE Zach Miller and DE Aaron Morgan.
FIRST QUARTER: Miami took the opening drive 76 yards and had 10 plays inside the Bucs' 20, but had to settle for a Caleb Sturgis field goal after the Tampa Bay defense held inside the 5. Lamar Miller was held to no gain on two runs, and rookie corner Johnthan Banks broke up a third-down pass in the end zone intended for the Dolphins' Brian Hartline. Dolphins up, 3-0.
The Bucs' opening drive resulted in a punt, but that worked out well -- the punt bounced off Miami's Nolan Carroll, who was blocking, and Tampa Bay's Adam Hayward recovered at the Miami 23. The Dolphins helped out with a pass interference on a Freeman-to-Jackson pass attempt, and Brian Leonard, filling in for Doug Martin at running back, went 7 yards to the 1, then punched it in for a touchdown. Bucs up 7-0, 1:06 left in first.
SECOND QUARTER: The Bucs' best offensive play? The punt. For the second time, Miami has turned the ball over on special teams -- this time, tight end Tom Crabtree got a hand in and forced a fumble from the Dolphins' Marvin Thigpen, and again, Adam Hayward recovered to set up the Bucs at the Miami 41. The Bucs were outgained 80-20 in the opening quarter, but lead thanks to the two special-teams turnovers.
The Bucs offense gets a 13-yard pass from Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson, and facing a fourth-and-2 at the 20, Greg Schiano gives his new kicker a try. Rian Lindell -- signed this week with Lawrence Tynes injured -- connects from 38 yards for a 10-3 Bucs lead with 10:56 left in the first half.
This time, the Bucs had a special-teams breakdown, allowing Marvin Thigpen to get 38 yards on a punt return to the Tampa Bay 42. Sharp passing by Ryan Tannehill got Miami to the Bucs' 5, but again, their drive stalled there. Brandon Gibson dropped a potential touchdown on third down, and again Miami settles for a Caleb Sturgis field goal. Bucs up 10-6, 2:18 left in the half.
Trouble before halftime -- Josh Freeman drives the Bucs to midfield, then inexplicably fumbles without contact, the ball just falling out of his hand as he pumped. Miami takes advantage -- Ryan Tannehill completes five passes in 1:19, converting a third and 2 and then connecting with Brandon Gibson for a 4-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left. Dolphins lead 13-10 just before halftime.
THIRD QUARTER: Relatively uneventful quarter, with the teams trading punts and the Bucs continuing to struggle to move the ball. QB Josh Freeman played well into the second half, giving way to rookie Mike Glennon with 2:15 left in the quarter. Freeman's final numbers: 6 for 16 for 59 yards and a 48.7 passer rating, with a fumble as well. Glennon went three and out on his first drive, missing on a throw on third and 7. We enter the fourth quarter with Miami still leading 13-10.
FOURTH QUARTER: Another Miami drive stalls inside the 20, as backup Pat Devlin's third-down pass from the Bucs' 10 was batted down at the line by defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. Caleb Sturgis gets his third field goal and Miami leads 16-10 with 13:14 left.
Just when you thought it was over ... the Bucs got a fumble from Miami's Jonas Gray, and safety Sean Baker scooped it up and went 55 yards to the Miami 25. After four Peyton Hillis runs, the Bucs got a 12-yard touchdown pass from rookie Mike Glennon to rookie David Douglas. The extra point put the Bucs up 17-16 with 1:03 left.
And the Bucs ... win? Keith Tandy gets an interception on fourth down with 10 seconds left to seal a 17-16 victory over the Dolphins. Tampa Bay totaled 160 yards of offense in the win, but two special-teams turnovers and a 55-yard fumble return set up three short scoring drives for the win.