Preseason Game 4: Highlights and Lowlights

In the most important preseason game of the summer, the Dolphins had problems offensively in the red zone, committed four turnovers and lost the game on a late touchdown. But there were more reasons to be encouraged than disappointed after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sun Life Stadium.


• We'll start with the quarterback because, well, everything starts with the quarterback. This was Ryan Tannehill's best performance of the preseason even though his passer rating was lower than the ones he achieves against Jacksonville or Houston. Tannehill was 17-for-27 for 150 yards with one touchdown and no picks, and the one blemish was the first-team offense going 1-for-3 in the red zone. But that would have been 2-for-3 and Tannehill would have had two touchdowns had Brandon Gibson not dropped a pass in the end zone early in the second quarter.

• Stop us if you've heard this one before, but the first-team defense again was tremendous. Yes, Tampa Bay scored 10 points in the first half, but those came on two drives that started in Dolphins territory after special teams turnovers. The Bucs ended up with 63 total yards in that first half, and the Dolphins had three sacks and three tackles for loss on running plays in the first two quarters.

• Punter Brandon Fields continued his strong preseason with a 52.8-yard average and a net of 43.6. This should come as no surprise to anyone ... the guy is a stud.

• Wide receiver Brian Tyms continued his late push to earn a roster spot, catching three passes for 27 yards, including a nice 9-yard reception near the sideline.

• Marcus Thigpen bounced back from his second-quarter fumble with a nice 38-yard punt return that set up a Caleb Sturgis field goal.

• Sturgis didn't kick off quite as well as he did the previous two games, but even then three of his five kickoffs produced touchbacks.

• Linebacker Jonathan Freeny led the Dolphins with four tackles and had one of the team's three sacks in the second half.


• The running game got off to a great start when Lamar Miller sprinted 20 yards off the right side, but it was nothing short of brutal after that. After that 20-yard run, Dolphins running backs gained 41 yards on 28 carries for a paltry average of 1.5 yards per attempt. Dismal. Breaking it down further, Miller's long run was followed by runs of 4 and 4 yards by Miller again and of 5 yards by Thomas. That's 13 more yards, leaving 28 yards on the team's final 25 attempts by a running back for an average of 1.12 yards. Yikes! The Dolphins ran the ball three times on first-and-goal: Miller for a 5-yard loss, Miller for no gain, Thomas for minus-3 yards. That's how you wind up failing in the red zone.

• Brandon Gibson led all receivers in the game with five catches, but he had that drop in the end zone to go along with a bad drop on a crossing route on the first offensive play of the game. No wonder Gibson referred to his performance as (starts with sh and rhymes with bitty).

• While the poor statistical performances of Miller and Thomas could be partly attributed to unsatisfactory run blocking, there was no excuse for Jonas Gray losing a fumble late in the game in Tampa Bay territory. The Dolphins were in position to clinch the victory with a field goal; instead, Tampa Bay used the 55-yard fumble return to later score the game-winning touchdown. It was the culmination of a rough game for Gray, whose chances of making the roster might have disappeared on this night.

• Since we've been raving all summer about Brent Grimes, it's only fair to point out when he makes a mistake and he had about the only one for the first-team defense Saturday night. His pass interference on Vincent Jackson after he found himself beat gave Tampa Bay a first-and-goal and set up the Bucs' first touchdown. Make no mistake, though, Grimes still has had a great summer.

• Coach Joe Philbin said the possibility existed that one of the four tight ends on the roster could separate himself from the pack with a strong performance against Tampa Bay, but it didn't happen. It didn't come close to happening. The group of Charles Clay, Dion Sims, Michael Egnew and Kyle Miller combined for only three catches on the night — one each by Clay, Miller and Sims. What's bad for Clay is that he was targeted six times. One issue for Clay is this game is that he didn't create much separation while running his routes. Nothing that happened in this game, basically, made anyone forget about the loss of Dustin Keller.

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