By Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida
With Tom Brady on personal leave and the Buccaneers showcasing their young players in preseason, Tampa Bay put up quite the offense against Miami.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert went 5 for 5 and completed a scoring drive in the first quarter. With a 23-yard deep pass, Gabbert found receiver Jaelon Darden down the middle for the first touchdown of the game. It was Darden’s first score of his NFL career.
At the start of the second, Buccaneers handed over the reins to Quarterback Kyle Trask, who is in his sophomore year with Tampa Bay. Trask, out of the University of Florida, had a 75.8% completion rate as he put up 258 passing yards in three quarters.
Despite showing better control over the plays, he certainly felt the pressure from Miami’s defensive line. The Dolphins had two key takeaways against the developing quarterback.
The first was an interception. Trask attempted to avoid a sack by passing the ball to running back Rachaad White. Before White could make the catch, however, he was under tackle from defender Elijah Campbell who caught the ball between his legs for the turnover. It took Miami quarterback Skylar Thompson just one play, with blown coverage by Tampa’s defense, for a 22-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Bowden Jr.
On the Buccaneers’ second turnover, the offensive line failed and Trask fumbled the ball as the pocket collapsed around him. It was recovered by Miami for a 32-yard touchdown. This was a true test for the young players to be taken off the practice field and thrown into situational NFL football.
There were a few breakout stars on the Buccaneers sideline including Tyler Johnson, who was the leading receiver in the game with 6 receptions for 73 yards. He was followed by rookies Kaylon Geiger and Jerreth Sterns, who completed 52 and 51 yards, respectively. In the third quarter, Sterns scored his first NFL touchdown on a 19-yard deep pass into the end zone.
With Miami still leading 23-21 in the third, it was Bucs kicker Jose Borregales who turned the tide with a 55-yard field goal. The ball arguably could have cleared from 65 yards. However, Miami’s kicker Jason Sanders launched his own 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to take back the Dolphins lead 26-24.
Trask made quite the final drive for Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers came up short. After several proficient plays, including a no-huddle 20-yard pass to Sterns and a 16-yard pass to rookie Deven Thompkins, Trask was able to get the team into field goal range.
With 3 seconds left on the clock, Borregales took the field for a 49-yard field goal attempt. The Dolphins strategically used their final timeout to ice the kicker, and it worked. The ball hit the upright and bounced out.
For the young Buccaneers, physicality and speed made up for a lack of discipline and experience, but it was not enough to hold off Miami in the first preseason game.
Tampa Bay is on the road for their next two preseason games. They face the Tennessee Titans Saturday, August 20th. Brady is expected to return for the final preseason game against the Colts on August 27th.