TAMPA, FL (WDAE) - The Bucs fell 20-14 to the Dolphins Saturday night at Raymond James stadium, the home debut of over half the team - and a brand new coaching staff.
Tampa Bay's starting defense started off a little slow, allowing Miami to get on the board first following a 4:47, 62-yard drive that resulted in the Dolphins' newly-acquired kicker John Potter's 48-yard field goal to make it 3-0, but turned it around quickly and were responsible for the Bucs grabbing a 7-3 lead seven minutes later.
Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy sacked Ryan Tannehill at the 34-yard line and forced a fumble which was scooped up and brought six yards closer to the Bucs end zone by Michael Johnson. Three plays later, QB Josh McCown found wideout Vincent Jackson for the seven-yard TD.
McCown ended his Ray Jay debut going 5-of-7 for 46 yards and a touchdown, while tallying four more yards on the ground.
Initially, it seemed the Bucs had extended their lead halfway through the second quarter, when backup Mike Glennon connected with first round draft pick WR Mike Evans, but an official review showed the ball coming out of the rookie's hands, fumbling through the end zone and ultimately resulting in a touchback.
After exchanging punts, the Dolphins took a 10-3 lead with 13 seconds to go in the half after backup Matt Moore found Rishard Matthews for nine yards and the score.
Tampa Bay received the ball to start the second half after deciding to defer the opening kickoff, but were forced to punt it away for the fourth out of eight times Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, Moore & Co. marched 71 yards downfield, eating up 4:30 off the clock, to put the game at 17-7 following Damien Williams' one-yard run. Miami gave themselves a 13-point lead on a 51-yarder by Potter after Dion Jordan sack-stripped Mike Glennon and the Dolphins recovered.
As much as Tampa Bay tried, they couldn't add more than seven points to their score until 14 seconds remained on the clock. After several failed attempts at the end zone, Mike Kafka connected with Lavelle Hawkins, and Patrick Murphy's PAT made it 20-14 to cap off a 75-yard drive.
The Bucs' attempted an on-side kick, but Miami recovered with 13 seconds remaining to end the game.
New & Notes:
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “The thing about the Tampa 2 defense, historically, on a pass is that the guys in the back end were so good because the guys on the line were really good. We’re just trying to bring that back and make it easy on the guys behind us, actually let them be able to scrape free over the top in the run and then not have to cover for that long in passing [situations].” - Gerald McCoy at halftime
- Several Bucs left the field with injuries; DE William Gholston (shoulder), safety Major Wright (back), CB Rashaan Melvin (ankle), and LB Brandon Magee (ankle) did not return to the game, but at this time, it is too soon to tell the severity of each injury.
- CB Alterraun Verner, CB Mike Jenkins, OT J.B. Shugarts, DL Da'quan Bowers, DE Steven Means, and RB Charles Sims who had ankle surgery earlier Saturday to repair a torn ligament and is expected to be out 12-14 weeks, did not dress for the game.
- According to The Sports Page co-host and Tampa Bay Times beat writer Rick Stroud, who spoke to Jason Licht prior to kickoff, the Bucs' general manager said the surgery went well and they expect the rookie to return this season.
- "I wouldn’t say he’s out for the year, it’s not a career threatening injury," Licht said. "The surgery went great. Some athletes can play with that injury, but a skill guy with speed and a guy with explosive ability can’t. We think he can come back and help us this year."
- Head coach Lovie Smith had been practicing Patrick Omameh at RG all week, and opted to start the second-year guard in place of Jamon Meredith.
- Fifth year LB out of Montana St. Dane Fletcher led all Buccaneers with five tackles, all solo.
- Mike Glennon ended his night 6-of-12 for 77 yards, while Mike Kafka threw for 55 yards and completed 4-of-11 passes and one TD.
- Jeff Demps was the Bucs' leading rusher, amassing 31 yards on , while starter Doug Martin finished second on the team with 24 yards on six attempts.
- The Tampa Bay offensive line allowed the Bucs' QBs to be sacked a combined five times, to the Dolphins' one.