Titans fall to Bucs as Vince Young injured

The Titans made their second trip of the year to the State of Florida to face the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and came away on the wrong end of a 13-10 result after a last-minute field goal by Matt Bryant. Of potentially greater import to the long term plans of the Titans, quarterback Vince Young left the game after being injured halfway through the third quarter and did not return.
The Vince Young injury occurred on a scramble with 7:11 to go in the third quarter. He raced out of bounds and continued out of bounds, but appeared to suffer a leg injury and eventually stopped running by falling onto the hard surface beyond the bench area. He lay on the ground for at least the next play, and did not return. According to Jeff Fisher in the post-game press conference, the injury was a strained quadricep, and VY is day-to-day. We’ll see.
Before he left the game, Vince Young was 11 of 14 for 120 yards and an interception. The interception was the result of an underthrown deep pass to Roydell Williams late in the first half, and in fact should not have counted, as CB Ronde Barber appeared to put his second foot out of bounds. The play was reviewed, but the officials erred by not overturning it. Don’t let the good completion percentage fool you, though-this was not one of VY’s better days. The Titans threw many short passes, and VY’s incompletions all came at key times-the first 2 on bad passes on 3rd and the other on the interception. The Titans’ passing game didn’t get much better after VY’s injury, though, as Kerry Collins completed half of his passes, 10 of 20, for 125 yards, though he did redeem himself slightly by leading the tying TD drive.
As mediocre as the passing game was, the running game was even worse. LenDale White managed a TD, which didn’t really redeem a day that featured 25 carries for a total of 64 yards. His longest carry of the game went for a “grand” total of 5 yards. White got almost all of the work, as Chris Brown had only 5 carries for 26 yards. Brown also had a botched handoff from VY-I’m not sure whose fault it was, but it did lead to the Bucs’ first points of the game.
By that last comment, I mean the Bucs got the ball, then gained yards through the air. On a day when the Bucs had only one healthy and experienced running back, Earnest Graham, the Titans’ defensive effort would be judged on how well they prevented the Bucs from gaining yards through the air. On all three of the Bucs’ scoring drives, they failed at this task. Following the mixed-up handoff early in the second quarter, Garcia had a 15 yard pass to FB B.J. Askew, then converted a 3&11 on a 39 yard pass to Michael Clayton, beating Nick Harper, that set the Bucs up inside the red zone. The Bucs second scoring drive was mostly the TD play itself, a 69 yard catch and run by Joey Galloway. The Titans seemed to be in good position to stop Galloway out of the end zone, except a beaten Nick Harper picked off S Calvin Lowry enough to give Galloway clean sailing to the end zone. Then, after the Titans managed to tie the game with 1:24 to go, the Bucs started out with 2 incompletions. When it looked like the Titans had a chance to get the ball back and win the game themselves, the Titans allow a 28 yard pass to Ike Hilliard. 3 yards to Graham followed, then to Galloway for 14 and Hilliard for 10 to set up a Bryant’s 43 yard field goal.
Credit where it’s due: the Bucs had a strong effort defensively. White wouldn’t have been so bad if the Bucs had played run D like the Jaguars had in Week 1. Justin Gage had a nice leaping catch, and also showed good hustle to recover a Bucs fumble off a Scaife fumble. The Bucs did a good job of keeping Jeff Garcia moving to avoid a Titans pass rush that had been pretty potent. On a day where Brandon Jones was inactive, Roydell Williams had 5 catches. Ben Hartsock had a very nice catch off a mediocre throw by VY created by pressure on a bootleg, then broke a tackle to pick up 10 extra yards. Antwan Odom wasn’t the worst Titans defender (Nick Harper was). Jeff Fisher had a good challenge to overturn Kerry Collins’ mandatory interception on the Titans’ 4th quarter drive that ended in the game-tying TD. The Titans special teams didn’t have any turnovers, nor did they allow any long returns. Bironas had several good kickoffs, and didn’t miss any kicks.
The Bucs aren’t a divisional opponent, nor even a conference one, so this loss doesn’t hurt too badly. What hurts are the problems that led to the loss-the long pass plays, the turnovers on offense, the poor running game, and the mediocre passing game. Hopefully the Titans will be able to get it on track next week as the Titans travel to Houston for VY’s second game in our mutual hometown.

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