Although a plethora of Buccaneers' headliners did not suit up for the preseason opener, many shined on turf under the Saturday night lights at Raymond James Stadium including Tyler Johnson, Cam Gill and Anthony Nelson.
Blaine Gabbert started out at quarterback, connecting with Jaelon Darden in the first quarter on a post route to give the Buccaneers a 7-3 lead. Gabbert was poised in the pocket, going 5-for-5 for 56 yards and a touchdown.
In the second quarter to the delight of Gator fans, Kyle Trask took over under center. Tampa Bay's screen game moved the ball down the field with Rachaad White and Ke'Shawn Vaughn utilizing their shiftiness in space to make defenders miss. A 22-yard gain by Tyler Johnson moved the chains and shifted the momentum on the drive, culminating in a one-yard touchdown run by Vaughn. The Buccaneers took a 14-3 lead and on the ensuing offensive drive for the Dolphins, a sack and tackle for loss by Anthony Nelson forced Miami to kick a field goal on fourth-and-long.
Before the second half, Miami put points on the board off a Kyle Trask interception. Trask threw low to Rachaad White as he fell to the ground and the Dolphins came away with the football. Miami capitalized on the first play, as Skylar Thompson found Lynn Bowden in the end zone to cut their deficit, making it a 14-13 ballgame under 2:00 minutes left in the second. Then another Trask turnover. He began the throwing motion and was hit. The Dolphins recovered the fumble and took it in for a touchdown - two in a span of 29 seconds before the clock hit zero in the second quarter.
Trask started the second half and connected with JJ Howland for a gain of 29-yards over the middle of the field. The offensive opening drive ended with a stellar pass and catch – Trask connected with rookie Jerreth Sterns on a back shoulder pass for a gain of 19 yards and a touchdown. Trask went 4-for-4 for 55 yards and a touchdown on the scoring drive to make it a 23-21 ballgame. Miami's offense stalled on the opposite drive to put the Bucs back on the field in the third. Jose Borregales capped off the drive with a 54-yard field goal through the uprights to give Tampa Bay a one-point lead, 24-23. Rutgers undrafted rookie Olakunle Fatukasi chased down scrambling quarterback Skylar Thompson and prevents him from reaching the sticks for a first.
The defense came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth, as Dee Delaney showcased downhill range on a corner blitz and Patrick O'Connor registered a sack for a loss of nine yards, forcing Miami to kick a field goal for a two-point lead. On the final drive, a 20-yard pass to Jerreth Sterns keep the drive alive for the Bucs. Then, a 16-yard pass over the middle to Deven Thompkins put Tampa Bay in field goal range, down by two with under :30 on the clock. Jose Borregales drilled a 49-yard attempt but the Dolphins iced No. 19. The next kick hit the right upright and bounced off, sealing the Bucs' fate. Miami won the nail-biter, 26-24.
View the top photos from Preseason Week 1 vs the Miami Dolphins