Nashville, TN – With 3:01 left in the game, Matt Hasselbeck completes a 2-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams to carry the Tennessee Titans past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-17 Sunday afternoon.
Chris Johnson carried the ball 23 times for a season-high 190 yards against the Buccaneers for an average of 8.3 yards per carry. It was the third-highest rushing yardage total in his four-year career, and the performance ranks 13th in franchise history. His 190 yards also is the fourth-highest total in the NFL in 2011.
He went over the 100-yard mark for the 27th time in his career and the third time in 2011, while he surpassed 150 rushing yards for the sixth time in his career. Four of Johnson’s runs went for 20 yards or longer (34, 25, 24 and 20), including a long of 34 yards during the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
With his two-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams in the fourth quarter, Matt Hasselbeck capped the 19th game-winning drive in his career. A game-winning drive is defined as a series in which a team takes the lead for good in the fourth quarter or overtime after the team trailed or was tied at the start of the fourth quarter. The win gave Hasselbeck 75 career victories as a starter (75-67).
The Titans defense forced five total turnovers against the Buccaneers, including four fumbles and one interception. The takeaway total was the Titans’ highest in a game since December 13th, 2009 against St. Louis (five), and the fumble recovery total was their highest since October 19th, 2003 at Carolina (four).
Titans Score On Kickoff Return
For the 15th time in franchise history and the first time in 2011, the Titans scored on a kickoff return. Marc Mariani fielded a kickoff at the goal line and advanced 16 yards. He then handed the ball to seventh-round rookie Tommie Campbell on a reverse, and Campbell raced 84 yards for a touchdown. The combined return of 100 yards was the fourth-longest kickoff return in franchise history and the first for a touchdown since Mariani’s 98-yard score against Denver on October 3rd, 2010.
Williams Scores Go-Ahead Touchdown
Matt Hasselbeck and Damian Williams combined for a dramatic go-ahead touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 17-13 with 3:08 on the clock, they connected for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line. Williams, a former third-round pick who is in his second season, now has five career touchdown receptions, all in the last eight games. Hasselbeck, with 191 career touchdown passes and 15 this season, has at least one touchdown pass in 10 of the team’s 11 games this season.
The Titans limited the Buccaneers to two third-down conversions on 10 attempts. The 20 percent conversion rate represents a season low for Titans opponents.
The Titans came up with a fourth-down stop late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, stopping Josh Freeman on fourth-and-one at the Tennessee 25-yard line after the center-quarterback exchange was mishandled. Against the Titans, opponents have converted on only four of 13 fourth-down attempts this season.
Success Versus The NFC
With their win over Tampa Bay, the Titans are 28-11 against the NFC since realignment in 2002, one of the top three interconference records (New England, Pittsburgh) in the NFL over that period of time.
Hawkins Ties Career High
Wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins led the Titans with five receptions and 51 receiving yards. His five catches tied his career high, set three games prior against Cincinnati (11/6).
McCourty Gets Early Takeaway
On Tampa Bay’s opening possession, Titans defensive end Jason Jones chased down running back LeGarrette Blount and forced a fumble. It was Jones’ fourth career forced fumble and his first of the season. Cornerback Jason McCourty picked the ball up for his first career fumble recovery.
Otto Starts For Stewart
For the first time in 2011, the Titans did not have their five regular starters on the offensive line. Right tackle David Stewart was inactive with a calf injury. He was replaced by Mike Otto, who recorded his second career start and first start as an offensive lineman (other start was in 2010 as an extra tight end). Stewart missed only his second game in the last five seasons.
Bironas Plays Key Role Even While Streak Ends
Rob Bironas missed a 42-yard attempt into the wind in the second quarter. The miss ended Bironas’ streak of 14 consecutive made field goals, which tied for the sixth-longest streak in franchise history. Nevertheless, Bironas played a pivotal role, later connecting on field goals of 31, 52 and 38 yards.
His 52-yarder in the fourth quarter was his 18th career field goal of 50 yards or longer. He also made both extra point attempts, becoming the second player in franchise history (Al Del Greco, 229) to reach 200 consecutive successful extra points.
Ball Gets Two Sacks and Turnover
In the second quarter, defensive end Dave Ball was credited with a seven-yard sack of Josh Freeman, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the same play. It was the first time in his seven-year NFL career he accomplished the feat. On Tampa Bay’s next drive, he ended the series with a six-yard sack on third down. Ball, who missed the previous two games with a concussion, has three sacks in 2011 and 14.5 in his career.
Babineaux And Finnegan Combine For Takeaway
In the third quarter, safety Jordan Babineaux forced a Mike Williams fumble, the sixth forced fumble of his career (first of 2011). The ball was recovered by Cortland Finnegan (second fumble recovery of career, first of 2011).
Casey Forces And Recovers Fumble
In the third quarter, rookie defensive tackle Jurrell Casey provided a big play, stripping the ball from running back LeGarrette Blount. It marked Casey’s first career forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Smith Gets A Piece Of A Punt
Late in the third quarter, Anthony Smith partially blocked a punt by Michael Koenen. The ball traveled only 30 yards, and the Titans turned the ensuing drive into a field goal.
McCarthy Makes Second Start, Records Interception
With starting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud out for the second time in three weeks with a groin injury, rookie Colin McCarthy made his second career start and notched his first career interception at a key moment in the game. Two plays after the Titans took a 20-17 lead, McCarthy picked off a Josh Freeman pass intended for tight end Kellen Winslow.
The Titans were then able to make the Buccaneers burn all three timeouts before Rob Bironas extended the lead with a 38-yard field goal. It was the second time in as many weeks McCarthy was involved in a key fourth-quarter takeaway after forcing a fumble the previous week at Atlanta.
Tennessee Titans Inactives
#11 QB Rusty Smith
#23 RB Jamie Harper
#55 LB Barrett Ruud
#60 C Kevin Matthews
#69 DT Zach Clayton
#76 T David Stewart
#82 WR Donnie Avery
#66 Mike Otto starts at LT in place of #76 David Stewart
#52 Colin McCarthy starts at MLB in place of #55 Barrett Ruud
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inactives
#24 CB Anthony Gaitor
#50 DE Daniel Te’O-Nesheim
#53 LB Zac Diles
#71 DL Michael Bennett
#73 T Derek Hardman
#77 T James Lee
#81 WR Michael Spurlock
#91 Da’Quan Bowers starts at LDE in place of #71 Michael Bennett