NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The last thing I wrote in my preview of Buccaneers-Titans was that turnovers could be the key to the game.

It’s a basic tenant but it turned out to be true in this one.

Turnovers by the Buccaneers gave the Titans offense early points and an inadvertent whistle by the referees took away a go-ahead score on punter Brett Kern’s fumble on the fake field goal.SharpeTDBucs

QB Jameis Winston was his usual self: Careless with the ball in the pocket and in the air. He had two interceptions and two fumbles and he gave the Titans’ offense two turnovers in scoring territory early in the first quarter of the game.

Winston’s career trajectory is following the model set by QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Flashes big-play ability but can’t avoid the turnovers.

Winston has just enough arm talent to intrigue teams, but his costly mistakes keep him from being a winning player in the NFL. This was something that plagued him at Florida State, but the Seminoles were able to “out-talent” most of their competitors.

The Titans’ defense stopped the Buccaneers run-game and forced the offense to pass to gain yardage downfield. WR Mike Evans proved to be a tough matchup for whoever covered him during the first half of the game. The defense finally decided to double team him in the second half and took away Winston’s main option.

CB LeShaun Sims drew the responsibility early on and struggled with the size/speed and talent mismatch. Sims proved outmatched against Evans. He struggled to stay with Evans in man coverage and couldn't locate the ball in the air.Winners300

The injury loss of Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard was apparent in the game which moved up backup TE Cameron Brate, who was not up for the challenge.

Brate dropped multiple contested throws and struggled against man-to-man coverage from Kenny Vaccaro and Jayon Brown.

Brown played a great game in coverage. He covered Brate for most of the game and kept the tight end from being a factor even though the Buccaneers were forcing throws in that area. Brown had a big pass break up in the end zone covering RB Dare Ogunbowale. He forced another incompletion in the red zone on a pass to Ogunbowale.

DT Jurrell Casey dominated the Buccaneers RG Earl Watford. He was working both gaps of the guard and using power to push him into the pocket to change the RBs path.

Casey made the tackle on the game-winning fourth-and-2.

NT DaQuan Jones was also in the backfield against the run. Jones made a big impact against the interior OL.

DT Jeffery Simmons flashed on a number of plays, shedding a block by a TE and making a stop on a run at him. Simmons was more effective blowing up blocks even though he didn’t make as many plays in this game.

The defensive line was very effective pushing the line of scrimmage versus the run game.

OLB Harold Landry was held for most of the day by LT Donovan Smith. Landry had a sack and forced fumble on an outside speed rush. Landry did a good job of winning off the snap, bending around the edge and closing to the QB.

On the sack, Landry rushed deeper than normal because Winston was showing during the game his throwing point was at 9 yards: Five yards back for shotgun and dropping to eight to nine yards on his three-step drop.

Safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard were both used on run blitzes and each had a tackle for losses.

The extra defender in the box and the penetration by the defensive line kept the Buccaneers RBs from having cut back lanes.

CB Logan Ryan had another big game with a huge pass break up on a deep crossing route to WR Scott Miller. Ryan also had a sack and a hurry in the game and added an interception late in the game. He almost had another earlier on a poorly thrown ball by Winston.TannehillUCBucs

Bucs WR Breshad Perriman is a frustrating player. Drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Baltimore Ravens, he has been very inconsistent and an unreliable player in his short career and that is why he is on his fourth team.

Perriman ran the wrong route on two occasions and tackled his own player when coming in motion on third-and-goal. Perriman was out of bounds on a 2-point conversion try because he couldn’t get his feet in bounds on a wide-open pass. This is a losing-type player who struggles with simple responsibilities.

QB Ryan Tannehill was up-and-down most of the day.

Tannehill had another fumble, was sacked three times and had two interceptions that were called back because of penalties.
Late in the game when the team needed a drive to go ahead, he found his rhythm on a 12-play, 90-yard drive that ended in a TD pass. Tannehill was nine-for-11 on the drive. The key was it took over 7 minutes off the clock.

OT Taylor Lewan struggled against OLB Shaquil Barrett in the run and pass games. Lewan was beaten on a simple kick-out block by Barrett on an inside run. Lewan lunged and left his feet to push Barrett instead of easily walling him off for the inside run. Barrett made the stop for a 2-yard loss on the opening play of the game.

Lewan was inconsistent with his pass sets and finish.

LG Rodger Saffold left the game with a concussion and Jamil Douglas replaced him. Douglas was solid overall, though he did struggle when asking to pull and block the edge.

NT Vita Vea was a tough matchup for C Ben Jones. Vea controlled the middle of the line of scrimmage and hurried Tannehill on two passes.

RG Nate Davis was beaten on an outside rush by OLB Carl Nassib who aligned over Davis before the snap. Nassib used a rake and swim move that instantly beat the rookie RG, the pressure forced Tannehill to step up in the pocket and into Barrett who forced a fumble, but the Titans recovered.BeddingfieldLabel

Nassib beat Davis again with the same outside rake and swim for a sack on third-and-3.

RT Jack Conklin was solid in run and pass.

On a second-and-12, Jason Pierre-Paul beat TE Jonnu Smith for a sack and another loss yardage.

Smith recovered from his poor pass blocking attempt last week to have a very good day as a receiver with six receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown.

Two weeks in a row now he has been a consistent catcher and good run after contact player. Smith has proved to be a down-the-field threat and a solid screen receiver.

TE Anthony Firkser had some success with three receptions for 43 yards. Firkser was the second look on most throws when the receivers were covered up.

It was a quiet day for the starting receivers. WR Corey Davis had two receptions for 9 yards and WR AJ Brown had two receptions for 11 yards. One of Brown's receptions was for the winning TD.

Most of the day they struggled to gain separation on their routes. Davis struggled with the physicality and hand use of CB Carlton Davis.

WR Tajae Sharpe was a little more effective with three receptions for 16 yards and a touchdown while WR Adam Humphries made a couple of tough catches to move the chains.

The key to the offense was the willingness to stick to running the football. Derrick Henry had a number of negative-yard runs but also had big runs of 34, 18 and 15 yards that not only provided first downs but kept drives alive when the offense was struggling to complete throws.

Sticking with the run game has proved very beneficial in the past two games.

I know this sounds redundant, but Mike Vrabel made another questionable decision that could have hurt his teams’ chance of winning the game.

Cody Parkey had already converted two field goals. But the head coach decided to fake the FG which would have put the team up by 7 points with 3:47 on the clock.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedIf the officials would have made the correct call of the fumble and return, the failed fake FG would have resulted in a Buccaneers’ touchdown that was have put them up 30-27.

Two weeks in a row, Vrabel has been bailed out by his defense and the NFL officials for overturning touchdowns.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees deserves a game ball. He consistently dialed up an effective blitz at the right time. The Titans struggle creating pressure with their front four, but his timely blitzes have provided pressures and hurries that have resulted in a number of incompletions.

I can’t remember a time this season that a blitz was called, and the Titans were exposed in coverage.

Positives: Harold Landry, Jurrell Casey, Derrick Henry, Jayon Brown, Jonnu Smith, Logan Ryan.
Negatives: Nate Davis, LeShaun Sims, Taylor Lewan.

A win is a win no matter what it looks like. That is two weeks in a row the Titans have stolen one.

***

Blake Beddingfield was a Titans' scout for 19 years, through the 2017 draft. He was the team's director of college scouting for his final six years. Follow him on Twitter at @BlakeBeddingfi1. He’s brought to you by Winners Bar & Grill, a place where you should definitely have a beer, drink a Kickin'It Cooler and watch a game.

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