Wrap-up: Titans 23, Buccaneers 17
November, 27, 2011
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Tennessee Titans’ 23-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at LP Field:
What it means: The Titans improved to 6-5 by finding their balance in the fourth quarter of a wet and sloppy game against the Buccaneers. Chris Johnson had his best day of the season with 23 carries for 190 rushing yards, though he lost a fumble for one of Tennessee’s four turnovers. With Matt Leinart now also hurt for the Texans, the Titans have to still feel like they can catch Houston. But they need to pair some wins with some Texans losses to do so.
What I liked: Matt Hasselbeck had a poor overall game, with two picks -- one returned for a touchdown -- two sacks and only 160 passing yards. But at a crucial moment with 3:01 left in the game and facing a fourth-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 2-yard line, he got great protection, showed great patience and found Damian Williams with a dart in the back middle of the end zone for a touchdown that provided the game-winning points. The Titans were down 17-10 at the start of the fourth and took control, outscoring Tampa Bay 13-0 in the quarter.
What I also liked: Great play on the first-quarter kickoff return with Tommie Campbell taking a reverse handoff from Marc Mariani and bolting to an 84-yard touchdown.
What I didn’t like: Four turnovers, including the two picks by Hasselbeck and lost fumbles by Johnson and running back Javon Ringer. Tampa Bay turned those into 14 points. Meanwhile, the Titans had five takeaways and turned them into a grand total of six points. They were quite fortunate to win the game given that discrepancy.
What I wonder: Will rookie linebacker Colin McCarthy, who had a game-high 10 tackles and a game-sealing pick, keep the starting middle linebacker spot even after veteran Barrett Ruud (groin) is healthy?
What’s next: The Titans travel to Buffalo, where the weather may be tough but the opposition is a lot less dangerous than it was early in the season.