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Johnson carries load as Titans nip Bucs

Nov 27, 2011 - 10:41 PM Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Chris Johnson ran for a season-high 190 yards and Damian Williams caught a go-ahead, two-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter as the Tennessee Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23-17, in a wild game that saw nine turnovers.

"That's flashbacks of when we came in together," Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones said of Johnson. "He was a work horse today."

"We just needed a victory, our backs were against the wall," Damian Williams said.

Josh Freeman had one final shot to win the game with 1:44 to go and no timeouts. He helped move the ball into Titans territory to the 25-yard line, but fumbled the snap on an attempted quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1.

"We got to stop the run better, and you can not turn the ball over," Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said of the loss.

Matt Hasselbeck threw for 160 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for Tennessee (6-5), which is still two games back of the Texans for first place in the AFC South after Houston defeated Jacksonville, 20-13, on Sunday.

Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount ran for 103 yards on 20 carries, but fumbled twice.

Aqib Talib had a 27-yard interception return for touchdown for the Buccaneers (4-7), who have lost five straight games.

With the Buccaneers leading 17-13, the Titans took over at their own 20-yard line with 7:14 to go in regulation following a Michael Koenen touchback.

Johnson ripped off runs of 10 and 34 yards to jump-start the drive, and Hasselbeck found Damian Williams in the back of the end zone on 4th-and-goal to give Tennessee a 20-17 advantage with 3:01 to go in the game.

Tampa Bay then committed its fifth turnover of the contest as Freeman's pass intended for Kellen Winslow was intercepted by Colin McCarthy with 2:19 to go. After Tampa Bay used its three remaining timeouts, Rob Bironas booted it through from 38 yards out to make it a 23-17 game with 1:44 to go.

It was an ugly third quarter as each team turned the ball over twice, including a three-turnover stretch in a six-play span early in the stanza.

On a run off the right edge, Talib stripped Johnson, and Sean Jones recovered the ball at Tampa's own 38-yard line. But Mike Williams coughed the ball up after an 18-yard gain on the third play of the ensuing drive as Cortland Finnegan pounced on the ball at Tennessee's 37-yard line.

Talib read Hasselbeck's eyes and cut underneath a pass over the middle intended for Nate Washington on the second play of Tennessee's ensuing series. Talib returned the interception 27 yards to give Tampa Bay the lead, 17-10, with 12:04 to go in the third quarter.

Later in the stanza, Blount -- who hadn't lost a fumble all season -- put the ball on the ground for a second time following a six-yard reception as Jurrell Casey recovered the ball at Tampa Bay's 29-yard line. But the Titans didn't do anything with the turnover as the offense went three-and-out.

The Titans used a nine-play, 37-yard drive to cut the margin to 17-13 as Bironas split the uprights from 52 yards out early in the fourth quarter.

Early in the first quarter, Blount took a screen pass and exploded for a 35- yard catch-and-run down the right sideline to set up the Buccaneers for a Connor Barth 43-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.

Tennessee used a bit of trickery on the ensuing kickoff for the go-ahead touchdown.

Marc Mariani fielded the kick at his own goal line, ran up to the 16-yard line outside the left hash mark and handed off to Tommie Campbell, who sprinted 84 yards the rest of the way untouched down the right sideline following a convoy of Titan blockers.

Bironas pushed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right as the Titans were unable to put points on the board following a lengthy 6 1/2-minute drive midway through the second quarter.

Dave Ball sacked and stripped Freeman on Tampa Bay's ensuing offensive series as he recovered the loose ball at the Buccaneers' 38-yard line.

Damian Williams took a wide-receiver screen 20 yards on a 3rd-and-17 and Bironas drilled a 31-yard field goal as Tennessee extended its lead to 10-3 with 3:52 remaining until the half.

Ronde Barber made a phenomenal defensive play to give Tampa Bay the ball at Tennessee's 29-yard line with 59 ticks to go until the break.

Javon Ringer took a screen pass, and from behind, Barber poked the ball free as Tanard Jackson made the recovery. Freeman flipped a quick slant to Mike Williams for a three-yard touchdown, tying the score at 10.

Game Notes

Tennessee's Lavelle Hawkins had five catches for 51 yards...Mike Williams had six receptions for 84 yards, while Damian Williams caught three balls for 33 yards...The Titans outgained the Buccaneers 352-308.