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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Bucs notes: Defense fails to contain Titans' Johnson

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Titans put down new turf at LP Field last week and RB Chris Johnson looked like his old dynamic self on it. Johnson, who entered Sunday's game averaging 50 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry, ran for 190 yards on 23 carries in Tennessee's 23-17 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. About the only thing the Bucs did against Johnson, who averaged more than 1,500 yards rushing the past three seasons, was keep him out of the end zone. They took no solace in that, though. "There's no such thing as small victories,'' Bucs rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster said. "You want to win the game and we didn't win the game. That's all that really matters.''
The Bucs actually stopped Johnson for little or no gain on several runs, but poor tackling and effective blocking by the Titans offensive line allowed Johnson to have his best running day of the year. He ran for 144 yards in the second half. "He's a great running back, make no mistake about it,'' Bucs head coach/defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said. "But if you give a great running back that many carries, that much of a chance to be explosive, he's going to be explosive. "The only way you stop a guy like that is to get him off the football field. We were able to do that a couple times, but you have to keep him off the field and we weren't able to do that.'' Johnson's previous season-high came two weeks ago against Carolina - 27 carries for 130 yards. As impressive as it was, though, Johnson's rushing effort Sunday was only the third best of his career. In the 2009 season, Johnson ran for 197 yards against Houston in Week 2 and 228 yards against Jacksonville in Week 8. Teacher schools student Morris got schooled a bit by one of his former high school coaches on the Titans' first touchdown. The kickoff return in which Tommie Campbell ran 84 yards for a touchdown after taking a reverse handoff from initial return man Marc Mariani was drawn up at least in part by Titans special teams assistant Chet Parlavecchio. Parlavecchio spent a year coaching Morris at Irvington (N.J.) High School in the 1990s. "It's not about what you've seen on tape, it's about executing your assignment,'' Morris said of the return, "and we came inside and got pinned in there and so it was great execution on their part. It was a great job by Coach Parlavecchio. So, I got outdone by my high school head coach. Unbelievable isn't it?'' Tampa Bay's kickoff team converged Mariani near the Bucs' sideline, leaving the right side of the field open as he handed off to Campbell. "I tried to run him down from the opposite side of the field, but it didn't happen," Bucs RB Kregg Lumpkin said. "I think we focused in too much on one side Measuring stick Bucs LT Donald Penn was one among many still wondering well after the game was over why officials didn't automatically measure for a first down after Tampa Bay gained 9 yards on a third-and-10 play in the final minute. "I hope (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell sends us a letter explaining why we didn't get that measurement down there at the end,'' Penn said. "At least let us get a measurement and get things going. I swear, for any other team like that, it would have been a measurement. "It's just crazy how it's that close and you don't get a measurement. But it's just another question mark we're going to have in our head. Why didn't we get a measurement? The bad thing is we'll never get an answer.'' Dynamic debut The Bucs were generally pleased with the play of rookie DE Da'Quan Bowers, who made his first career start for LDE Michael Bennett, who missed the game with a groin strain. Bowers finished with one tackle and one quarterback hit, but he had several quarterback pressures that forced Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck into incomplete passes. "I thought he did OK,'' Morris said. "He had some good plays in there, got (into the backfield) a few times. I haven't seen the tape yet, but just looking it from the field it looked like he did pretty well.'' Milestones Bucs CB Ronde Barber played in his 219th consecutive game, passing DE Clyde Simmons for the fourth-most consecutive games by a defensive player since 1970. Barber has also started 194 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league and the most consecutive starts by a cornerback in NFL history. Bucs CB Aqib Talib recorded the 17th interception of his career and second of the season, returning it 27 yards for a touchdown. Both of Talib's interceptions this season have been returned for touchdowns, the first coming in a Week 1 loss to Detroit. Talib 17 interceptions are tied for eighth in Buccaneers history. Bucs TE Kellen Winslow had five catches for 52 yards, extending his pass-catching streak to 87 consecutive games. Winslow has the third-longest active streak among tight ends and has seventh-longest streak overall. Injury report Bucs DT Brian Price left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. He was on crutches after the game, but not in a walking boot. He expects to play Sunday against Carolina.

 Special correspondent Chip Cirillo contributed to this report.

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