The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began preseason game number two with an injury on the opening kick off as Charles Sims was banged up, and then a three-and-out to quickly punt the ball to the Tennessee Titans.
The Bucs gave up a first down on a short-yardage carry from Derrick Henry, but then stiffened to force a punt, and give the ball back to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense.
Despite Ryan Fitzpatrick looking a little less than accurate to start the game, the Bucs were able to drive into the red zone and set up Chandler Catanzaro for a go-ahead 30-yard field goal.
The Titans wouldn’t be down for long, as a big play to Dion Lewis set up a 47-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Taywan Taylor to put Tennessee up 7-3, and give Bucs fans flashbacks to a defense that gave up big plays regularly in 2017.
Jameis Winston was able to drive the Bucs the length of the field, and even find Chris Godwin for a touchdown on the following drive, but the holding on Brad Seaton was just one of the flags that ended up forcing the Bucs to settle for another Catanzaro field goal to cut the lead to 7-6 for Tennessee.
After forcing another Tennessee punt, the Bucs started their next drive on their own 10-yard-line, but they wouldn’t be in the shadow of their own end zone long as Winston dropped back and found Desean Jackson behind the defense for a 54-yard hook up to quickly push the ball into Titans’ territory. Moments later Winston scrambled out of trouble, and then threw the ball up towards the end zone off his back foot while avoiding pressure (The exact kind of risk you don’t want Jameis to take) and he somehow found Chris Godwin in the end zone for the touchdown to put Tampa Bay ahead 13-7 late in the first half.
The Titans next drive looked like it was getting off to a quick start as the Bucs once again gave up big yardage on a screen play, but M.J. Stewart stripped the football from Devin Ross, and unlike his first forced fumble which bounced out of bounds, this time the ball was recovered by Lavonte David, giving the football back to the Bucs.
Winston took the opportunity to run the 2-minute drill, and ran it how you’d want it to be run, finishing the drive with a beautiful touchdown pass to rookie wide out Justin Watson with 13 seconds remaining in the half, giving the Bucs a 20-7 lead heading into the break.
The Titans came out in the second half against a group of back up Bucs defenders who were underwhelming to say the least, and allowed Tennessee to move down the field quickly before Blaine Gabbert found Taylor for his second touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 20-14 in the third quarter.
As the game continued into the fourth quarter, penalties and back ups slowed the game down to a crawl. After a penalty helped the Bucs move the ball into Tennessee territory, Catanzaro was able to come out and attempt and hit a 48-yard field goal to put the Bucs ahead 23-14.
Tennessee’s offense couldn’t get much going at all in the second half, and quickly gave the ball back to the Buccaneers, and Ryan Griffin continued his solid early preseason play, leading the Bucs down the field, and eventually found Sergio Bailey for a touchdown putting the Bucs ahead 30-14.
The second half was sloppy, and uninspiring, but the play of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was very encouraging again, as the Buccaneers looked solid again despite plenty of things to clean up before the regular season arrives. The Bucs get back to work on Monday, and host the Detroit Lions in third and most important preseason tilt Friday night.