BY SEAN DONOVAN
In the so-called dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Miami Dolphins' starting offense and defense hit an encouraging stride in the team's second-to-last preseason game.
Unfortunately, turnovers and dropped passes slowed down that stride as the Dolphins dropped a 17-16 decision to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Miami played its starters, who out-gained the Tampa Bay starters in yardage by more than a 2-to-1 margin, through the first half. But two turnovers by the punt return team deprived the offense of scoring opportunities while giving the Buccaneers the short fields that led to both of their scores.
The Dolphins left more points on the field in the first half when two Ryan Tannehill passes were dropped in the endzone -- one by Brian Hartline and another by Brandon Gibson -- forcing Miami to settle for field goals.
Tannehill was later able to lead a two-minute drill that resulted in Gibson touchdown reception that brought the halftime score to 13-10, before Miami's starters called it a night.
The overall performance allows the starting units finish the exhibition season on a high note, playing with continuity on both sides of the ball in the last action they'll likely see until the regular season. The final point tally, however, underscores the importance of limiting mistakes, especially turnovers.
The Dolphins best performer on the night was Tannehill, who was 17-of-27 passing for 150 yards with the touchdown, good for a 90.0 passer rating.
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