QUARTERBACK Quarterback Jeff Garcia just keeps throwing touchdowns in leading the Bucs offense, and he's done so without throwing a single interception. Garcia finished the game 20-for-31 for 274 yards and one touchdown. His leadership and experience in running the two-minute offense was on display again as he led the offense down the field for the game-winning 43-yard field goal by placekicker Matt Bryant. The nine-year veteran was 4-for-6 for 55 yards on the final drive of the game. After throwing two incompletions to start the drive, Garcia found wide receiver Ike Hilliard for a 28-yard reception on third-and-10 at the Bucs 20-yard line. He hit running back Earnest Graham for three yards on the following play and found wide receiver Joey Galloway for a 14-yard reception on second down at the Titans 49-yard line. Garcia's last pass of the drive was a 10-yard reception by Hilliard with 22 seconds remaining. Number seven made one of the six plays that the Bucs ran on offense in the third quarter count when he hit Galloway for a 69-yard touchdown on first-and-10 from the Bucs 31-yard line. Galloway split the double coverage from cornerback Nick Harper and safety Calvin Lowry for the score. The San Jose State alum was accurate as usual in the first half, finishing 13-for-17 for 141 yards. Garcia was 3-for-4 for 30 yards on the first drive of the game. He hit wide receiver Michael Clayton on a 14-yard pass play on third-and-4 from Tampa Bay's 26-yard line for a big first down. On third-and-21, he found tight end Alex Smith on a screen pass for a 15-yard gain. On the Bucs first scoring drive, a 23-yard Bryant field goal, Garcia went 4-for-5 finding three different receivers: full back B.J. Askew with a 14-yard reception on first-and-10 from the 36-yard line, wide receiver Michael Clayton down the sideline for a 39-yard reception on third-and-11 for another big first down, and RB Earnest Graham for a 5-yard pass on third-and-8.
RUNNING BACK Running back Earnest Graham was the only back to carry the ball for the offense finishing with 29 yards on 13 carries. In his first start for the Bucs, he served as a consistent check down receiver for Garcia recording six receptions for 17 yards, although he struggled to find running lanes all game long. Graham had two carries on the first drive for no yardage, which proved to be the offense's storyline for much of the game. Graham's longest run of the first half came at the end of the first quarter on a pitch play to the left side, where he made a nice shake move on a second-and-2 getting away from Harper for a 10-yard run and a first down. Following that carry, Graham had 19 yards on 12 carries in the rest of the game.
Fullback B.J. Askew was a big part of the passing game out of the backfield with three receptions for 33 yards. Askew had two receptions for 31 yards in the first half, including a 17-yard reception on second-and-8 from the Bucs 19-yard line. Following a Titans turnover, Askew had a 14-yard reception on first-and-10 at the Bucs 36-yard line. The Bucs' running backs rushed for 29 yards on 13 attempts (2.2 avg.) on Sunday.
WIDE RECEIVERSWide receiver Joey Galloway had a productive game with four receptions for 97 yards and one touchdown. After three weeks of being contained, Galloway finally broke out with a 69-yard touchdown reception at the end of the third quarter. Galloway got behind the coverage to make the catch, outrunning Harper and Lowry for the touchdown on a first-and-10 play from the Bucs 31-yard line. The Ohio State alum also had a 14-yard reception on the final drive of the game on second-and-7 with 29 seconds remaining. He was used on short routes in the first half with two receptions for 14 yards. Garcia found Galloway for an 8-yard out route in the first quarter on first-and-10 with 1:12 remaining. On the same drive, Galloway had a 6-yard reception on a similar out route on a first-and-15 after he was whistled for a false start. After two crucial drops last week vs. the Colts, Galloway dropped another pass on first-and-10 on the final drive of the game.
Wide receiver Michael Clayton made an impact in Sunday's victory with two receptions for 53 yards, both catches for big first downs. He had a 14-yard reception on third-and-4 from the Bucs 26-yard line. He also had a big third down reception for a first down on a 39-yard catch on a third-and-11 in the second quarter.
Wide receiver Ike Hilliard came up big today, especially on the final drive, finishing with four receptions for 59 yards. The 11-year veteran had two catches on the final drive – a 28-yard reception on third-and-10 from the Bucs 20-yard line and a 10-yard catch with 22 seconds remaining to set up Bryant's game-winning field goal. Hilliard had one reception for 14 yards in the first half, with the catch coming on first-and-10 from the Bucs 20-yard line. The Florida alum made up for his dropped pass on second-and-10 on the final drive with his two receptions on the drive.The Bucs converted 4-of-11 (36 percent) of their third down attempts vs. the Titans with the wide receivers making three third-down receptions.
TIGHT ENDS Tight Alex Smith became the latest offensive player to be carted off the field when he was injured on the first offensive play for the Bucs in the fourth quarter. Smith finished with just one reception for 15 yards. His one reception came on a screen pass on third-and-21 from Tampa Bay's 29-yard line for 15 yards. Smith also helped left tackle Donald Penn to get a chip on passing plays on Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Tight end Anthony Becht was used in two-and-three tight end sets for blocking purposes. Becht made a nice block on a first-and-10 play from the Bucs 17-yard line on defensive end Antwan Odom. Becht came in motion and cracked back on Odom for a 2-yard gain by Graham.
OFFENSIVE LINEThe Bucs knew that it was going to be difficult to run the ball against the Titans' No. 3-ranked run defense, especially with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in the middle. Tampa Bay's offensive line did struggle to open up holes for Graham, who finished with 29 yards on 13 carries. The running game averaged less than three yards per carry and never got any kind of rhythm going. The pass blocking was consistent for most of the game, not allowing a sack for the third time this season. Even though the Titans recorded six hurries on Garcia, he never took the big hit. Tennessee used a lot of stunts with their defensive line on passing downs and the Bucs did a good job in their transition and not allowing any linemen to slip through.
Center John Wade helped double-team Haynesworth with rookie left guard Arron Sears on running plays. Wade nor Sears was able to move Haynesworth as he clogged up all running lanes in the middle. Wade was consistent in his pass blocking as most of the pressure on Garcia came from the outside.
Sears found out how hard it was to block Haynesworth on the first play of the game, a running play for Graham, as he got shoved out of the way by Haynesworth, who made the tackle. Sears was better in his pass blocking, giving Garcia a solid pocket up the middle to step up in and throw the ball.
Left tackle Donald Penn faced another tough test with Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch didn't record a sack, but had two hurries in the contest and was pressuring Garcia most of the game. Penn was called for holding with 12:44 remaining in the first quarter that negated a 10-yard reception by Graham.
Right guard Davin Joseph wasn't able to get a push on running plays when facing either Travis LaBoy or Odom. Joseph did do a good job along with left tackle Jeremy Trueblood of handling the different stunts that the Titans tried against the offensive line.
Trueblood had trouble for the first time this season in pass blocking, when up against Odom. Odom used his speed rush to get two hurries on Garcia, including consecutive plays on the first offensive drive in the third quarter. Odom beat Trueblood on a first-and-10 play with 7:43 remaining in the third quarter with a straight speed rush.
Tampa Bay lost the time of possession vs. Tennessee, 22:23 to 37:37, and lacked a consistent running attack.
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