Miami won the toss and elected to receive, letting the Bucs’ defense start things off. Couple quick first downs and after a holding penalty backed them up, the Bucs had Miami in third-and-12 before a run by Dolphins’ running back Kenyan Drake that the Bucs weren’t expecting got Miami within in a yard of the first down. Dolphins went for it on fourth-and-1 and continued the drive. The Bucs would stop them on the next set of downs with a good four-man rush that brought some pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami then attempted a 53-yard field goal that went wide left to keep the score 0-0.
The Bucs’ offense opened up with an out route to receiver DeSean Jackson from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for a pickup of 18 yards. Another quick first down on a subsequent throw to receiver Mike Evans followed. The Bucs then worked on establishing the run game early, handing off to Peyton Barber for a nine-yard run up the middle. Barber got the ball again and followed by a quick scramble by Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay faced third-down and three at the four-yard-line. Barber got a lane from left tackle Donovan Smith and drove it in for the touchdown. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro would miss the point after but the Bucs struck first, going up 6-0 with 7:06 to go in the first.
McCoy recorded the first sack of the preseason on the Dolphins’ ensuing drive but Miami got into a rhythm through the air. Bucs’ cornerback Ryan Smith got called for a pass interference penalty that helped Miami to the 19-yard line. The defense held and the Dolphins had to kick a 29-yard field goal to make the score 6-3.
Fitzpatrick came out for the Bucs on the second series but after the Bucs were forced to punt that would end up being it for the veteran signal caller. Fitzpatrick finished the game 6-8 for 55 yards, leading the Bucs into the end zone on the first drive of the game.
The Dolphins brought in their third quarterback for the third series and the Bucs brought out their second-team defense. Quarterback Brock Osweiler aired it out for receiver Jakeem Grant but rookie cornerback Carlton Davis III stuck his hand in there to break up the pass. Osweiler then scrambled and dumped it off to rookie running back Kalen Ballage who tried to hurdle the Bucs’ Ryan Smith but instead dropped the ball, which Isaiah johnson recovered to give the Bucs their first takeaway of the game.
Quarterback Jameis Winston then came out and his first pass was to second-year receiver Chris Godwin. A good run by rookie running back Ronald Jones II up the middle and a 15-yard pickup on a pass to receiver Freddie Martino got the Bucs to first-and-goal. Jones then took the outside lane and got the touchdown on a two-yard run.
Dolphins were stopped by the Bucs’ defense and Tampa Bay settled for a field goal on their next offensive possession, with Catanzaro hitting a 27-yarder to make the score 16-3.
On the Dolphins’ next possession, Davis batted a ball down on first-and-10. An offsides penalty on defensive end Noah Spence got Miami to the Bucs’ 30-yard-line and the Dolphins kept the drive alive on the ground, eventually punching it in on a seven-yard run from running back Senorise Perry to make the score 16-10 where it would remain into the half. Winston ended his night going 11-13 with 102 yards.
The Bucs’ first possession of the second half ended with a fumble by rookie wide receiver Justin Watson at the Tampa Bay 18. The defense held Miami to a field goal on their ensuing possession even with the good field position and the Bucs got the ball back with the score at 16-13 in the beginning of the third quarter.
The next Bucs’ drive would end with a 10-yard touchdown from quarterback Ryan Griffin to tight end Alan Cross on a leaping grab uncovered in the end zone, making the score 23-13 with six minutes left in the third.
The Dolphins connected on a 45-yard pass between quarterback David Fales to receiver Francis Owusu to get into Buccaneers’ territory. But that would be it as the Dolphins were stopped on fourth down and kicked a 48-yard field goal to make the score 23-16.
The seventh quarterback change for the Dolphins brought Osweiler back in with under a minute to go in the third quarter. The Dolphins fought their way down the field but the Bucs’ defense came up with a huge stop on good coverage by rookie safety Jordan Whitehead and took over with nine-and-a-half minutes to play in the game.
The next Bucs possession ended in a missed 53-yard field goal by Catanzaro but ate up over six minutes of clock. The Dolphins moved the chains quickly and the drive ended with a touchdown catch by receiver Isaiah Ford and a successful two-point conversion after would give the Dolphins their first lead of the night with 1:50 to go in the game.
With the Dolphins up 24-23, a big pass from Griffin to receiver Sergio Bailey got the Bucs in field goal range. Catanzaro would connect on the 26-yard kick to put the Bucs back on top with 23 seconds to go. The Dolphins came up empty on their final drive after Ryan Smith intercepted a long pass and the Bucs held on to win their first preseason game of 2018, 26-24.
View photos of the Buccaneers' Preseason Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins.