Buccaneers rally to beat Dolphins 17-16

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins’ red zone offense took plenty of snaps Saturday night — and finally produced a touchdown.

The first-team offense scored its only TD just before halftime on its 17th play inside the Tampa Bay 20, but the Buccaneers scored with 1:03 left in the game to win 17-16.

Miami’s starters netted 180 yards playing the entire first half, their most extensive outing in four exhibition games. Ryan Tannehil went 17 for 27 for 150 yards and a 4-yard score to Brandon Gibson with 10 seconds left in the half for a 13-10 lead.

The score could have been lopsided in the Dolphins’ favor, but Gibson and Brian Hartline dropped potential touchdown passes, and twice they settled for short field goals.

Miami fell to 1-3 with one exhibition game left. The Buccaneers improved to 1-2, but their first-team offense sputtered again.

Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman went 6 for 16 for 59 yards and lost a fumble while playing 2½ quarters. The turnover came at midfield with 1:29 left in the first half and led to Miami’s lone touchdown.

Tampa Bay had an edge in special teams, with backup linebacker Adam Hayward making two fumble recoveries on the punt coverage team, which led to the Bucs’ first 10 points. One turnover came after the kick hit blocker Nolan Carroll, and returner Marcus Thigpen lost a fumble.

The takeaways pleased former Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt, who is in his first year as Tampa Bay’s special teams coach.

Miami began the game with a 17-play drive that took 8½ minutes — but settled for a field goal. Tannehill completed six consecutive passes during the possession, including one on fourth down.

It was another slow start by the Bucs’ defense, which allowed the Patriots’ Tom Brady to go 8 for 8 on a game-opening touchdown drive last week.

Lamar Miller had the edge on Daniel Thomas in their competition for the job as Miami’s No. 1 running back. Miller had eight carries for 35 yards, including a 20-yard run on his first carry. Thomas carried seven times for 3 yards.

Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, who missed Tampa Bay’s entire 2012 season because of a right knee injury, played for the first time this preseason but couldn’t give the ground game much of a boost. Brian Leonard led Tampa Bay with 38 yards rushing and a score in 10 carries.

Tampa Bay’s David Douglas scored for the second week in a row when he caught a 12-yard pass from Mike Glennon with 1:03 left.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who began practicing with the Bucs’ first defensive unit this week, sat out his third exhibition game in a row as he comes back from knee surgery. Left guard Carl Nicks (infected left big toe) and running back Doug Martin (head) were also sidelined.

Veteran Rian Lindell, signed this week by the Bucs because Lawrence Tynes has a toe infection, kicked a 38-yard field goal. Rookie Caleb Sturgis, who has clinched a job with the Dolphins, went 3 for 3 on field goals.

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