Tannehill starts fast in return; Dolphins lose to Bucs 26-24
By STEVEN WINE
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Back in a game for the first time in 20 months, Ryan Tannehill had plenty of time to throw Thursday night.
"The protection was awesome," coach Adam Gase said. "He was back there peeling an orange."
An untouched Tannehill completed passes on the first four plays in his return from two serious injuries to his left knee, and the Miami Dolphins lost their exhibition opener to Tampa Bay 26-24.
Tannehill, seeing his first action since December 2016, led a 40-yard drive that ended with a missed field goal in his only series. He was off-target on his final two throws and finished 4 for 6 for 32 yards.
"We didn't end up with points, which is what you want to do," Tannehill said. "But I thought for our first time hitting the field, my first time hitting the field in a long time, it felt good to be back out there."
New Buccaneers kicker Chandler Catanzaro made a 26-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to cap a 67-yard drive and give them the win.
Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston played the second quarter against Miami's second team and led a group of reserves to 10 points on drives of 32 and 40 yards. He went 11 for 13 for 102 yards in four series.
"Man, it was just great to play against another team," Winston said. He's suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
Miami's David Fales, battling Brock Osweiler for the backup quarterback job, led the second-string offense to a field goal against the Buccaneers' first-team defense. Fales also directed a 75-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, and he finished 8 of 11 for 115 yards.
Osweiler went 10 for 21 for 83 yards. Gase didn't give either reserve QB an edge in their competition.
"This is going to take all of training camp," Gase said. "It's going to take all preseason."
Dolphins fourth-round draft pick Kalen Ballage rushed for 37 yards in 10 carries and caught three passes for 23 yards. He also lost a fumble.
Bucs second-round pick Ronald Jones was held to 9 yards in eight carries, but scored on a 2-yard run.
Catanzaro missed his first extra-point attempt and missed a 53-yard field goal try, but also made two field goals.
"It was great to see him have the chance to get the game-winner," coach Dirk Koetter said. "The good news is he got that missed extra point out of the way so we don't have to repeat that again. He mishit one, and I know he'll be his worst critic."
Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn protested during the anthem. Stills and Wilson kneeled behind teammates lined up standing along the sideline. Quinn stood and raised his right fist. There were no apparent protests by the Buccaneers.
Stills kneeled during the anthem during the 2016-17 seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest movement by NFL players.
Bucs: CB Vernon Hargreaves III left in the first quarter with a groin injury and didn't return. ... First-round draft pick DT Vita Vea didn't play. He has missed most of training camp with a calf injury.
Dolphins: Reserve LB Mike Hull left the field on a cart in the second quarter with a left knee injury.
Buccaneers: Tampa Bay plays at Tennessee on Aug. 18.
Dolphins: Miami plays at Carolina on Aug. 17.
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Updated August 10, 2018