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Titans Flash Early, but Fade Late with Reserves in Preseason Loss to Buccaneers 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marcus Mariota flashed, Taywan Taylor dashed, and the Titans provided some more positive vibes on Saturday night vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Of course, like most preseason games, there were some not-so-great moments as well.

The Titans lost to the Buccaneers 30-14 in preseason game No.2 at Nissan Stadium.

Mariota played just two series, and finished the night 4-of-7 for 80 yards, and a touchdown, with a passer rating of 136.9. He's now played three drives this preseason, including Week One at Green Bay, and guided the team to two touchdowns in those appearances.

Mariota engineered a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Taylor to give the Titans a 7-3 drive at the end of the first quarter.

"Taywan made a huge play," Mariota said.

Taylor caught two touchdown passes in the contest, and finished the night with four catches for 95 yards, with the two scores. He caught a three-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the second half.

Running back Dion Lewis was also among the stars of the night on offense, albeit in limited time.

"We are always, every week trying to get better," receiver Nick Williams said. "You are either getting better, or you are getting worse, so we are always going to be critical of ourselves. Whether it's good or bad you move quickly and keep showing up and working.

"And that's what we have to do."

Lewis caught a pair of passes and showed his elusiveness along the way on to spark the team's first scoring drive, and the Titans led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter before back-ups entered the contest.

In the second quarter, facing Titans reserves, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston got on a roll, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns – an eight-yard pass to Chris Godwin and a 21-yard strike to Justin Watson – as Tampa Bay raced to a 20-7 lead.

That's when Taylor caught his second touchdown pass of the night, which cut the lead to 20-14 in the third quarter. The Buccaneers stretched the lead to 23-14 before Luke Falk entered the game at quarterback for the Titans. The Buccaneers made it 30-14 on a Ryan Griffin touchdown pass to Sergio Bailey in the fourth quarter.

The Titans travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in preseason game No.3 next Saturday.

Players know there's work to be done. The Titans committed 11 penalties for 134 yards against the Buccaneers.

"At the end of the day we are still not where we want to be – we have a lot of work to do," Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. "We definitely still have work to do. I don't think we are anywhere near where we want to be. There's a lot of things we need to continue to build on."

The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the the second preseason game for both teams Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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