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Titans Beat Buccaneers 13-3 to Get First Preseason Win


NASHVILLE – It wasn't perfect.

Heck, at times it was hard to watch.

But the Titans did some good things in preseason game No.2 on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium, and they also did something they didn't do their first time out: Win.

After a pair of joint practices during the week, the Titans and Buccaneers banged helmets one more time last night, and the Titans walked away with a 13-3 win.

"I think there were some good things," Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. "Defensively we got some turnovers and we turned them into points. I felt like we were looking for opportunities on defense. I thought there were some positive plays offensively. (There were) too many missed opportunities on offense. It was really cool to see some of the special teams work. And then we finished the game off."

For the second straight week, Malik Willis started at quarterback for the Titans, and he mixed some good play with some plays he'd like to have back.

But Willis seemed to get better as the game went on before he was eventually replaced by Logan Woodside in the third quarter, with the Titans leading 13-0.

Willis acknowledged he once again probably got outside the pocket too much at times, and said he's disappointed in that regard. Still, he considered it an improvement from his first time out.

"It's a growing process," Willis said after the game. "It's my second preseason game, and I am not going too hard on myself. I am just excited and blessed that I get another opportunity next week."

It was sluggish on both sides early.

The two teams traded possessions again and again and again early before the Titans finally broke a scoreless tie with 5:58 remaining in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock.

A few minutes later, following a fumble recovery by Titans linebacker Rashad Weaver, Bullock made it 6-0 on a 49-yard field goal. 

Then, after an interception and return by linebacker Joe Jones, who showed some speed after the pick, the Titans were in business once again.

This time Willis cashed in the turnover for a touchdown, as he connected with rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo on a six-yard scoring toss to give the Titans a 13-0 lead with just 26 seconds left before halftime.

Willis finished the game 7-of-17 for 80 yards and a touchdown, and he was sacked three times. He also ran for 42 yards on five carries. His passer rating for the game was 75.6.

Woodside was intercepted on a deep ball intended for rookie Treylon Burks, who'd made his first catch of the preseason moments earlier, early in the fourth quarter. It was Woodside's third interception of the preseason. Woodside finished the contest 7-of-11 for 56 yards.

The Titans defense, which deployed a handful of starters for a handful of snaps early, looked stout all night. The Buccaneers managed just three first downs, and 95 yards of offense in the first half, when they converted just 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) of their third down attempts.

The Buccaneers moved the ball better in the second half, but only managed three points. Kicker Ryan Succop's 52-yarder with 2:20 in the third quarter made it 13-3.

"I think we had four or five sacks, something like that, and a couple of turnovers," Jones said. "We kept them from scoring (a touchdown), so that's what you want as a defense. If we can continue to have the guys that we had out there today to be able to get ready to go in when the starters need a breather, I think we'll be pretty good."  

A good number of Tennessee's top players – quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, safety Kevin Byard, receiver Robert Woods – were suited up for Saturday's game, but they didn't play.

The Titans, who lost to the Ravens last week, are now 1-1 in preseason play.

The Titans wrap up the preseason next Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium.

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