Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon hit David Douglas on a 12-yard touchdown set up by a Sean Baker fumble recovery, pushing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers past the Miami Dolphins in a 17-16 win at Sun Life Stadium.
On third-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 29, defensive end William Gholston stripped the ball from Jonas Gray, with Baker recovering it and returning it 55 yards to the Miami 25.
Peyton Hillis paved the way on the game-winning 25-yard drive with four-consecutive runs before Douglas’ touchdown.
Cornerback Keith Tandy picked off Pat Devlin with :12 remaining, sealing a strong effort by reserves picking up the slack for a lackluster starting cast.
Starting quarterback Josh Freeman and his duo of receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson were out of sync throughout the night. Jackson was targeted four times and caught one pass for 13 yards receiving. Williams was targeted seven times and only managed two catches.
Freeman’s final numbers on the evening: 6 of 16 passes for 59 yards, zero touchdowns, a fumble, and no interceptions. He was sacked five times and finished with a 48.7 passer rating.
Mike Glennon, who entered the game with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter, finished with 3 of 9 completions for 44 yards passing, a touchdown, and no interceptions.
The lone touchdown for Tampa Bay’s starting offense came on a 1-yard run up the gut by running back Brian Leonard, who likely clinched the backup running back spot, finishing with 38 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Leonard’s scoring run came after Adam Hayward recovered a muffed punt by Nolan Carroll at the Miami 23. It was the first of two impact plays from the Bucs’ special teams captain.
The second came at the beginning of the second quarter, on a punt return by Marcus Thigpen. Tight end Tom Crabtree knocked the ball loose, and Hayward recovered it at the Miami 41, setting up a 38-yard field goal by kicker Rian Lindell.
Lindell was one of two players the Bucs signed this week. The other, former Patriots defensive end Trevor Scott, had a massive performance, finishing with three sacks and a forced fumble, including two sacks on third down.
Lindell’s sacks were the first of any Tampa Bay defensive lineman this preseason.
The defense gave up some big plays early on to Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense, but twice held in the red zone and limited Miami to field goals.
On a 17-play opening drive where the defense surrendered 76 yards, Gerald McCoy and Mason Foster both made key stops on Lamar Miller in the red zone. On third-and-4, Johnthan Banks broke up a pass intended for Brian Hartline in the end zone.
The Bucs defense held again in the red zone following a 38-yard punt return from Thigpen. Rookie nose tackle Akeem Spence stormed into the backfield, tackling Daniel Thomas for a 3-yard loss. It was one of two TFLs for Spence.
Cornerback Leonard Johnson and MIKE linebacker Mason Foster broke up a pass intended for Brandon Gibson in the end zone, limiting the Dolphins again to a field goal, a 23-yarder from former Gator Caleb Sturgis.
The Dolphins were able to score on the very next possession, capitalizing on prime field position after Freeman fumbled the football at the Miami 45 yard line.
Tannehill picked apart the Bucs’ young secondary, with Marvin McNutt working against Leonard Johnson and Johnthan Banks on Brian Hartline, completing passes of 17 and 14-yards respectively.
Tanehill then threw a 4-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Brandon Gibson.
Dolphins second-year quarterback finished the night with 17 of 27 completions for 150 yards passing and a touchdown.
Miami’s offense outgained Tampa Bay’s 312 yards to 160, with 25 first downs to 14.
The Bucs’ offensive line surrendered six sacks.
Bucs Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph returned to action for the first time since tearing his patellar tendon last preseason against the Patriots. Joseph saw limited action on about 15 plays. He was replaced by Ted Larsen.
Gabe Carimi got the start in place of left guard Carl Nicks, who continues to undergo antibiotic treatment for a staph infection.
Although he practiced four consecutive days this week, Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis did not participate, meaning he likely will not see any preseason action at all and will wait to make his return from injury during Week 1.
Michael Adams lined up at nickel corner, an undecided position, finishing with four tackles and a pass breakup.
Lavonte David led the defense with six combined tackles.
The Bucs’ defense finished with eight pass breakups, a promising number for a unit that surrendered more passing yards than any other team last year.