Aug 17, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Jamie Harper (23) stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson (29) during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Tennessee defeated Tampa Bay 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
My idea for a game recap was this: Oh no, we suck again!
But in attempt to be somewhat professional (I know, totally debatable) I decided against it. Truth be told, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have stunk up the joint that had some reminisce about the days of chest bumps, but there were some positive signs in an otherwise dismal home opener to the pre-season.
The first was seeing LeGarrette Blount walking under his own power and without a brace or ice bandage on his leg after a huge scare in the second quarter. We're not sure of the extent of Blount's injury but Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano said it wasn't a knee problem or broken leg as many feared after watching replays of the collision that sent Blount writhing in pain. It seems to be an issue around the groin area.
So while Tampa Bay fans keep their eyes peeled on Blount's nether regions, his football team laid an egg on an otherwise beautiful night for football.
Tampa Bay started the game well defensively, forcing two three and outs and a turnover in the Titan's first three possessions. Offensively was an another story entirely.
QB Josh Freeman was erratic with his passes and his decision making and the Bucs' much ballyhooed offensive made their best matador imitations getting their quarterbacks hit on multiple occasions.
When Freeman wasn't getting pummeled, he was off target - but then again, so was the rest of the ball club. Vincent Jackson dropped a pass that would have gotten a first down. Blount was tentative all night, not running with authority.
In fact, the only bright spot on the offensive side of the ball was Doug Martin, who had 23 yards on 7 carries but had a beautiful 16 yard scamper called back on a late holding call.
On Tennessee's second series of the game, Tennessee QB Jake Locker forced a pass across his body and was easily picked off by the Bucs' Ahmad Black, who nearly took it to paydirt before being knocked down at the 2 yd line.
Two plays later, Freeman lasered a pass to WR Mike Williams, who outmuscled a defender for the touchdown.
It would stay that way until the waning moments of the first quarter, when the Titans mounted their first drive of the game, going 4 plays, 56 yards thanks to a personal foul penalty on the Bucs defense a 21 yard run by Jake Locker and the game tying 14 yard run by Chris Johnson.
After the Bucs offense went three and out, the first team defense got back on track, sending the Titans packing on a 3 and out.
Then, as pre-season games are wanton to do, it got turned over to the backups and it got ugly.
Two turnovers by Bucs backup QB Dan Orlovsky set up the Titans in point blank range. The Bucs were able to hold Tennessee for just a field goal the first time around but the second time, Johnson scored against a defense comprised of mostly backups.
Bucs first round pick Mark Barron got in the action. While only being credited with one tackle, he was flying around the field and making an impact.
Aquib Talib also returned and played well.
The Titans outgained Tampa Bay 341 to 81 and the defense surrendered a very 2011-esque 216 yards on the ground.
Freeman was just 4-of-10 for 21 yards and the touchdown. VIncent Jackson made his first catch as a Buc while Blount struggled before getting injured, getting 11 yds on 8 carries.
The Bucs secondary was less leaky, as Locker was 4-of-11 for 21 yards and a touchdown.
"The beginning of the game was (good), yeah," Schiano told reporters after the game, "We had a three-and-out, an interception and another three and out and that's a good way to start the game. But overall there was some sloppy play. We had some missed fits, some missed tackles. We weren't attacking the line of scrimmage."
The Bucs go back to the drawing board next Friday night at home against the Patriots.