NASHVILLE-- Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdown passes, two in the first half following turnovers, leading the Tennessee Titans (4-4) to their 27-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although it was the first time the Titans allowed more than 20 points this season, their defense forced Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to turn the ball over four times.
Tennessee won the toss but elected to defer & kickoff to Tampa Bay. And helped by a 43 yard pass interference penalty on Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims defending wide receiver Mike Evans, the Buccaneers were in the redzone on their first drive. But after getting the ball on the Titans four yard line, the Buccaneers ran the ball once for no gain. Then Winston threw two incompletions & they had to settle for a 22 yard field goal by kicker Matt Gay.
The Titans went three & out on their next drive. But after they punted the ball back to the Buccaneers, the Titans got the ball back after the game's first turnover. Two plays after getting the ball back, the Buccaneers committed a sloppy turnover. On a second & 12, with the offense in the shotgun, center Ryan Jensen snapped the football before Winston was ready & the fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Isaiah Mack. The fumble set the Titans up on the Buccaneers 10 yard line & after an offsides penalty on linebacker Shaq Barrett, Tannehill found tight end Jonnu Smith for a five yard touchdown pass giving the Titans a 7-3 lead.
Neither team was able to score on their next drive. But after getting the ball back again following a punt by the Titans, for the second time in the first quarter, two plays into another drive, the Buccaneers committed another turnover deep in their own territory. On another second & long play, Winston overthrew wide receiver Chris Godwin & the pass was intercepted by cornerback Malcolm Butler. And just like the previous scoring opportunity inside the 10 yard line, Tannehill was able to find an open man, this time hitting wide receiver Tajae Sharpe for the six yard touchdown pass, giving the Titans 14 points, all off of Buccaneers turnovers.
Now trailing 14-3, the Buccaneers put together a 16 play drive that nearly ended because of a pass by Winston that was initially ruled an interception by cornerback Logan Ryan. But after a replay review, the ball was ruled incomplete. That overturn allowed the Buccaneers to retain possession but the drive stalled & the Buccaneers were only able to get three points on the drive after Gay kicked his second field goal of the game, this one from 48 yards away. And after forcing Tannehill into another failed third down conversion, the Buccaneers got the football back. After a 40 yard punt return by T.J. Logan, the Buccaneers were once again inside Titans territory. And after getting inside the 10 yard line, it looked like the Buccaneers were going to put up their first touchdown of the game but a running play & two incompletions brought Gay out for another short field goal, his third of the game, this one from 24 yards away.
With the score 14-9, the Titans didn't waste too much time adding to their lead. After a 45 yard kickoff return by Kalif Raymond, the Titans got a 51 yard field goal from kicker Cody Parkey.
Before the end of the half, one in which the Buccaneers dominated statistically, their offense went 75 yards in less than a minute. All the yards necessary to get the Buccaneers their first touchdown of the game came from the Winston to Evans connection including a 46 yard catch by the wide receiver down the right sideline & ended when the quarterback found Evans in the right side of the endzone. The Buccaneers went for two but that attempt failed & the half ended with the Titans leading 17-15.
Tampa Bay trailed after the first 30 minutes mainly because their two turnovers led to 14 points by Tennessee. In the first half, the Buccaneers had over double the amount of first downs than the Titans, outgained the home team 215-70 & had possession of the football for over 20 minutes.
Tennessee started the second half with the football. But just four plays into the opening drive of the final 30 minutes & after gaining 9 yards, running back Derrick Henry was stripped by safety Andrew Adams, who was starting in place of rookie Mike Edwards. The ball was recovered by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves.
On the next play after the fumble recovery, Winston connected with Evans again, this time on the left sideline for 43 yards, getting the Buccaneers inside the redzone. And after a short pass to running back Peyton Barber, Evans snatched a two yard touchdown pass from Winston. Evans finished the game with 11 catches for 198 yards. Following his touchdown, the Buccaneers decided again to attempt the two point conversion but this time Winston was able to find his other receiver, Godwin open in the endzone to give the Buccaneers their first lead of the game.
After allowing touchdowns on back to back drives, the Titans were trailing 23-17. But after the two teams traded punts, the Titans 10 play 68 yard drive didn't result in a touchdown but got them close enough to allow Parkey to hit a 42 yard field goal. And after the Buccaneers registered their first three & out of the game, the Titans strung together another long drive, one that started on their own 10 yard line. The drive took a little less than seven minutes & ended when Tannehill threw a 9 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Brown. The touchdown was Tannehill's third of the game but first that did not come off of a Buccaneers turnover. After gaining just 70 yards in the first half, Tannehill led the Titans offense to 10 first downs & 176 total yards in the second half.
The Buccaneers got the football back trailing 27-23 but three plays into the drive, Winston committed his third turnover of the game after being stripped by linebacker Harold Landry III while attempting to make a pass. And after a scramble to determine who recovered the ball, Landry came out of the pile with the football, putting his offense in good field position to add to the lead. But after moving the ball to the 28 yard line, on a fourth & two play Titans coach Mike Vrabel decided to send his field goal team out but instead of having Parkey attempting a 45 yard field goal, the Titans faked the kick & punter Brett Kern was tackled for no gain. On the play, it appeared Kern fumbled the ball before hitting the ground & the ball was recovered by Adams, who ran with the ball into the endzone. But the play was ruled down by contact & not reviewed.
With over three minutes left in the game, the Buccaneers were trailing by four points & moved the ball into Titans territory. But after Winston was able to scramble for 9 yards on a 3rd & 10, the Buccaneers needed to convert on a their own fourth down play, but Barber was hammered down for a one yard loss ending any comeback hopes.
The Buccaneers did get the ball one more time with 42 seconds left on their own 24 yard line. But Winston threw his second interception of the game, a pass that was thrown to the middle of the field & clearly was a miscommunication between the quarterback & wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
Tampa Bay will attempt to end their three game losing streak next Sunday when they head to Seattle to face the Seahawks (6-2) with kickoff schedule for 4:05PM.