Tennessee was able to keep pace with the first place Texans last week with their victory over the flailing Buccaneers 23-17. The Titans started the game offensively with a trick play on their kick return. Returner Marc Mariani fielded the kickoff and ran up field before lateraling to Tommie Campbell who returned it the remaining 84 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
The Titans added to their lead in the second quarter with a field goal by Bironas who went on to have a big game for Tennessee, making 3 of 4 field goals, including one from 52 yards away. Aside from Bironas, Chris Johnson had a huge day rushing for 190 yards on 23 carries. Johnson has struggled mightily so far this season, but has had a couple nice outings over his last four games.
Before halftime Tampa Bay was able to tie the game at 10 with a touchdown pass to Mike Williams, giving the Bucs some momentum going into the second half. The start of the third quarter had an ominous feel for the Titans, when Aqib Talib intercepted a pass by Hasselbeck and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead. Hasselbeck did not have a very good game throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown, but two interceptions as well. After a hot start to the season Hasselbeck has cooled off in past weeks.
Trailing 17-10 the Titans were able to dominate the fourth quarter, starting with another field goal by Bironas. Tennessee forced Tampa Bay to punt on their ensuing drive and took advantage of it by driving the field and taking the lead 20-17 on a touchdown pass to Damian Williams who Hasselbeck found in the back of the endzone. The Titans intercepted Freeman on the next possession and were able to add another field goal before time expired.
The Titans are going to need to keep winning to keep pace with the Texans and the rest of the AFC to have a chance of making the playoffs. Tennessee will travel to Buffalo next week to face the Bills who are dead in the water after their loss to the Jets last week.