Buccaneers - Titans 17-23 - Turnovers, run defense knock Tampa Bay out of Wild Card contention

Going into today's game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an outside chance at the playoff. They would need the right teams to lose a couple of games, and they had to win six straight games. The Bucs were fighting for their playoff life -and they failed. 

The game was ugly, make no mistake about that. Both teams combined for nine turnovers. There were eight total fumbles, and six of those were lost. Neither team could muster a run defense, as the Bucs rushed for 122 yards on 25 plays, while the Titans rushed for a ridiculous 202 yards on just 35 carries. The Bucs allowed Chris Johnson, coming into the game averaging just 3.2 yards per carry to go off for a season-high 190 yards on 23 carries, giving him 8.3 yards per carry on the game. 

And on offense, the Bucs couldn't get anything going either. The Bucs failed to score a first-quarter touchdown yet again, and had about one good drive all game. Despite being gifted good field position due to one interception and two recovered fumbles on defense, the Bucs offense failed to score more than 10 points.

Instead, they fumbled the ball four times and Freeman threw a late interception to boot. The quarterback was responsible for two of those fumbles, while Blount was stripped of the football twice, losing one, and Mike Williams lost another fumble. Meanwhile, the defense was responsible for scoring as many touchdowns as the offense as Aqib Talib ran back an interception for a touchdown. 

But ultimately, the lack of any run defense has to outshine the good things the Bucs defense showed in the passing game. When they needed stops late in the game with a four-point lead, they couldn't stop a very mediocre offense and a horrible running game. Tackling was once again an issue, but gap integrity may have been the biggest problem on the day as Chris Johnson kept gaining the edge and finding gaps in a run defense that at one point this season looked pretty good. 

Meanwhile, Freeman had another bad game, routinely throwing passes behind his targets and throwing a very ugly interception on a possible game-winning drive near the end of the game. Freeman ended the day completing 18/33 passes for 199 yards, and about fifty of those yards came on the final drive when the Titans were in their prevent defense. While his offensive line did not have a good day, Freeman was simply inaccurate yet again and was not good enough to win the game. 

Normally, special teams would provide a bright spot. But with a half-blocked punt, another bad punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown allowed even that unit failed to show up today. 

To make matters worse, the Bucs lost Brian Price to an ankle injury. According to Stephen Holder it was a sprained ankle, but those can vary in severity from just a few days of inactivity to effectively a season-ending injury. 

I'll leave you guys with one final quote from Titans DE Dave Ball on tackling Legarrette Blount

"It's like trying to tackle a greased up, naked guy in the shower."

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