Buccaneers Plunder Titans with Overall Attack

Ken Cross

November 14, 2023 at 12:46 pm.

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been pillaging the high seas of the NFL in order to find an afternoon where they could exude dominance on both sides of the football.  

Sunday’s 20-6 expulsion of the Tennessee Titans showed this approach as the Bucs defense held Tennessee’s moribund offense to just 209 total yards while keeping the Titans out of the end zone.

On the flip side, the offense didn’t show close to the dominance of the defense, but it controlled the line of scrimmage in supplementing the outstanding defensive play.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw a pair of touchdown passes to running back Raachad White and wide receiver Mike Evans and then he provided a consistent offensive effort after he was picked off on the first drive by Roger McCray.

“I think we took advantage of different looks we had today,” said Mayfield. “I think guys were locked in and pretty prepared.”

Evans’ play was a monumental reason why the Titans couldn’t match up and push Tampa Bay into any crucial situations. Instead, he was a mismatch for the Tennessee secondary.

He caught a 22-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter which gave Tampa Bay a 17-3 lead as it pushed the Titans away. Tennessee’s staggering offense against the sharpness of the Bucs’ defense was not going to be an issue unless Tampa Bay turned the ball over and gave Tennessee short fields.

“That’s what this game is about – adversity and overcoming that,” explained Evans, as his teammates were relieved that the four-game losing streak was over. “This I what life is about. We just kept fighting and we were able to make some big plays down the stretch to win it.”

In a game where neither team had posted an established running attack all season, the most prudent pass offense was likely to help its team procure the win.

Tennessee was starting a rookie QB in former Kentucky Wildcat Will Levis, who never was able to put drives together with any consistency as he completed 19-of-39 passes for 199 yards.

Tampa Bay stuffed the run as the Titans could only find 42 yards on 16 carries as running back Derrick Henry had a tough day with only 24 yards on 11 carries.

“We knew that was a great team coming in with a great running back and we knew the emphasis was to shut him down,” explained linebacker Devin White. “I know the big boys held up well up front and they were able to get that done.”

Henry has only two 100-yard rushing games this season to beat Atlanta and Cincinnati as the 24 yards and 11 carries were his lows in both categories this season.

Lavonte David was dominant as he had five tackles and two were for loss. He noted the pressure that the Buccaneers were able to exude on Levis and how that gave Tampa Bay such a solid opportunity.

“I think we got them rattled a little,” explained White. “We’ve got that mindset, ‘relentless,’ trying to do all we can do for this team.”

After Tampa Bay fell behind, 3-0, Mayfield hit Evans with passes for 15 and 16 yards on the Bucs’ fourth drive.

After Evans moved the Bucs to the Titans’ 41-yard line on the 16-yard reception, Mayfield hit Rachaad White in the left flat after being under a heavy rush from Tennessee defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons.

White turned the play into a track meet as he outran the Titans’ secondary and gave Tampa Bay a 7-3 lead that the Buccaneers would never lose.

“We were probably more aggressive today like we were all year like we used to be,” noted Bucs coach Todd Bowles. “Just getting back to the basics and doing things that we do well and playing fast football.”

Tampa Bay was able to dominate and control a Tennessee offense that came in with only 302 total yards per game on average (23rd/NFL) as it finds only 187.5 yards in the air (26th/NFL) per night.

Tampa Bay’s ability to hold the rushing attack in check was stellar as the 42 yards on 16 carries was a Tennessee season low.

 “This is a team (Titans) where if they would have controlled the ball as hot as it was today, it would have been a long day,” commented Bowles. “We controlled the ball more than they did today and I am sure we won first down.”

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