In the place they call “Music City”, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 30-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans was music to Bucs fans ears.
The game started off slow with back-to-back punts, one by each team. Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick came out guns blazing with two long attempts through the air on the first series, but neither connected. The first Titans drive was a heavy does of running back Derrick Henry, but after one first down they, too, stalled and were forced to punt.
On the Bucs’ ensuing drive, they went 68 yards in 14 plays for a long drive that ended in a field goal. A good chunk of the work was done by running back Peyton Barber, most of which came on an 18-yard run. The drive also featured a 13-yard catch by wide receiver Mike Evans and a 17-yard catch by tight end Cameron Brate. A 30-yard field goal off the foot of Chandler Catanzaro ended the short scoring drought and made the game 3-0 Tampa Bay.
In response, the Titans marched down the field 75 yards in just six plays to score the game’s first touchdown. A long pass to running back Dion Lewis and a big pass to wide receiver Taywan Taylor, which went for 47 yards, were the big plays on that drive. It was concerning to watch Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Justin Evans take very poor angles to the ball on both those plays, allowing them to go for major yards. The score then became 7-3.
Fitzpatrick would conduct one more drive for the Buccaneers, but it ended in a punt. Fitzpatrick’s night ended 5-for-13 with just 46 passing yards in three series played. He was notably inaccurate on his deep passes, too. It was not the same Fitzpatrick we saw in Miami in Game 1 of the preseason.
After a punt from the Titans, quarterback Jameis Winston entered the game for the Buccaneers, and he wasted no time by hitting wide receiver Mike Evans for a big 38-yard gain. Winston followed that pass up with another great toss to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, which went for 19 yards. Winston threw a touchdown to wide receiver Chris Godwin a few plays later, but that was nullified by a penalty. That wasn’t the first yellow flag of the game for the Buccaneers, either, as two more penalties killed that drive and left the Bucs with just a field goal and a 7-6 score.
Once quarterback Blaine Gabbert came into the game for the Titans, the Bucs defense clamped down. After the Titans initial touchdown, the Bucs defense held the Titans scoreless for the rest of the half.
But the Bucs were anything but scoreless. After bringing the score to within one point at 7-6, Winston started his second drive of the game with a bang. Winston hit wide receiver DeSean Jackson 54-yards down the field, and the Bucs were once again in business. After a 20-yard toss to tight end O.J. Howard after that, the Bucs were in the red zone, and Winston made a play that only Winston has been made known to make.
There’s only one Jameis Winston.
It didn’t matter that Winston was then up on the scoreboard after that drive. On his following possession, Winston orchestrated a 10-play, 71-yard drive that once again ended in a touchdown. Winston had big passes to Brate, Howard and Bernard Reedy before hitting rookie Justin Watson for the first touchdown of his career.
The Bucs went into the half up 20-7. Winston finished his night 13-for-18 with 226 passing yards, two touchdowns no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 151.4.
To open up the second half, the Titans blew right by the Bucs’ defense for an easy score, capped off by Taywan Taylor, his second of the game.
Following that opening-half touchdown, the score would remain 20-14 for quite a while. That changed when Chandler Catanzaro was called on for the fifth time of the night. Catanzaro went a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points.
One of those extra points came after a beautiful pass late in the second half from quarterback Ryan Griffin to wide receiver Sergio Bailey. For the second week in a row, Griffin looked very impressive in the second half. This week he finished the game 6-for-11 for 88 passing yards and a touchdown, including the game’s last score, which finalized the scoreboard 30-14.
On defense, the highlight for the Buccaneers was cornerback M.J. Stewart. Stewart got the start in the nickel spot with Vernon Hargreaves still sidelined. Stewart had two forced fumbles in the contest, one of which was recovered by Lavonte David. Defensive lineman William Gholston and linebacker Riley Bullough led the Bucs in tackles with five, and Devante Lambert got the team’s only sack late in the fourth quarter.
Next on the slate, the Bucs return home to take on the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium on Friday night.