Titans 30, Buccaneers 7

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 17, 2012
Chris Johnson ran for two touchdowns and Rob Bironas kicked three field goals as the Tennessee Titans capitalized on some early turnovers to earn a 30-7 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night. The Titans (No. 21 in the AP Pro32 rankings) got an early boost from their defense, capitalizing on two first-half turnovers by the Bucs (No. 26). Tennessee second-year quarterback Jake Locker didn't have an ideal outing in his first NFL start, completing 4 of 11 for 21 yards and an interception. But his counterpart, Josh Freeman, also looked shaky, completing 4 of 10 for 21 yards in five series of work. Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount left the game in the first half with a left leg injury. Both Titans coach Mike Munchak and Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano came into Friday hoping to see strong performances by their young quarterbacks. Locker was looking to impress the coaching staff enough in hopes of earning the starting job over veteran Matt Hasselbeck, but got off to a very rocky start. Pinned inside his own 10 on the Titans' second series of the game, Locker had his second pass intercepted by free safety Ahmad Black and returned all the way to the 2. The Bucs quickly capitalized, with Freeman finding Mike Williams for a 2-yard touchdown pass to put Tampa up 7-0. Locker had a serviceable outing replacing Hasselbeck in the Titans' loss to open the preseason last week, but completed 1 of his first 4 attempts against the Bucs. He played all but one series in the first half Locker did have a few highlights, his biggest coming two series after his pick when he scrambled 21 yards on a broken play to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it 7-7 late in the first quarter. The play capped a dominating five-play, 71-yard drive that took just 2:26. Locker had his best throw of the game during that series, completing an 11-yard pass to Craig Stevens. But Locker's struggles stuck out more. They included him failing to lead his team into the end zone early in the second quarter after Titans defensive end Leger Douzable recovered a fumble by Tampa backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the Bucs' 10. Johnson didn't have the same troubles producing when he got a chance to score, adding a second 14-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter that was setup by Chris Hawkins' interception of Orlovsky. Johnson finished with 46 yards on 10 carries. In limited action Hasselbeck was an efficient 4 for 5 for 29 yards. Freeman was looking to build off a decent performance in Week 1. But like Locker, he left a lot to be desired in just over a quarter of work. Freeman seemed rushed at times, throwing across his body on a few occasions and narrowly avoiding interceptions. The bigger issue for the Bucs was seeing Blount, last season's starting tailback, limp off the field with a leg injury late in the first half. Though most of Tampa's starters had been pulled by that time, Blount darted through the right side of the line and was struck by a defender on his leg as he dived forward. Blount, in his third year out of Oregon, remained down for several minutes before gingerly getting to his feet and making his way off the field flanked by two trainers. He didn't return to the game, but remained sitting on the sideline in uniform during the second half. If Blount does have to miss any time, the Bucs can be encouraged by the continued productive preseason of Boise State rookie tailback Doug Martin, who led the team with 23 yards on seven carries. Defensively, Tennessee linebacker Zach Brown and tackle Jurrell Casey led the way with six tackles, while linebacker Dekoda Watson had four stops and a sack for Tampa Bay. --- Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL. --- Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower.
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