Dolphins 10, Buccaneers 7
Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Lex Hilliard’s two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter wound up being the game-winning score in Miami’s 10-7 win over Tampa Bay in a wet, defensive-minded preseason opener for both clubs.
Chad Henne played into the second quarter and completed 5-for-11 passes for just 19 yards for a Dolphins team coming off a 7-9 season. Ronnie Brown, who suffered a foot injury last November, rushed five times for 20 yards, while Hilliard logged 19 on eight carries.
Josh Freeman only needed two possessions to look in mid-season form, hitting on all four of his pass attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown toss to Sammie Stroughter for the Buccaneers, who are trying to improve on last season’s 3-13 campaign. Cadillac Williams accumulated 21 yards on four carries in the loss.
A downpour in the early portion of the game made for soggy conditions, much to the delight of the defenses.
The only score in the opening quarter came on Tampa’s second touch, as Freeman bought time with his legs and hit Stroughter on a 13-yard connection. Rookie Mike Williams’ 30-yard grab along the right sideline set up the TD.
Miami’s Dan Carpenter booted a 33-yard field goal in the final minute of the half, and the Dolphins took their first lead after Bucs rookie Hunter Lawrence missed a 49-yard field goal with four minutes left in the third.
Tyler Thigpen, who finished with 145 yards on 10-of-19 efficiency, drove the hosts down the field thanks to Marlon Moore’s 34-yard catch, and Hilliard capped the march with a two-yard plunge.
The Bucs had 1st-and-goal from the five-yard line midway through the fourth quarter but failed to cross the goal line. Tampa receiver Chris Brooks later caught a pass in the red zone near the two-minute warning but fumbled it away.
Brandon Marshall, acquired by Miami in an offseason trade, did not record a reception in his Dolphins debut.