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Takeaways from Buccaneers-Titans | Week 10

Top observations from the Buccaneers 20-6 victory over the Titans in Week 10


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a win on their ledger with a 20-6 trouncing of the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium in Week 10. The Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak and improve to 4-5 on the season. Tampa Bay is only a half-game out of the driver's seat of the NFC South after the Saints lost to the Vikings. After allowing 470 yards and five touchdowns to C.J. Stroud in Week Nine, the Bucs' defense bounced back in impressive fashion against Titans' rookie quarterback, Will Levis. Tampa Bay's relentless pressure on Levis became the deciding factor in the game, spurring the team to victory at home. The defense finished with 13 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss and four sacks. The 13 quarterback hits are tried for the fourth-most by any team in a single game this season and the most by a Bucs' defense in a single game since 2019.

"The offense started a little slow, but the defense was playing on fire all day," said Baker Mayfield. "To neutralize Derrick Henry like that, that's a big task. I commend those guys for doing that."

Defensive Powerhouse

Todd Bowles' menacing crew consistently swarmed Will Levis and collapsed the pocket. The Bucs' defense imposed their will at the line of scrimmage, bolstering the team's production. Shaq Barrett, Vita Vea, Yaya Diaby and Devin White were all credited with one sack and the unit also produced 10 tackles for loss, with rookie Calijah Kancey amassing two. Tampa Bay kept Derrick Henry – one of the most feared backs in the league – bottled up in the backfield, not allowing him to accelerate past the second level with a head of steam. Henry was held to 20 yards from scrimmage (his lowest total dating back to 2017) and the Titans concluded the day with 42 rushing yards total. Levis completed just 19 of 39 passes for 199 yards, threw no touchdowns and had one interception. The Bucs controlled the line of scrimmage and won first down, dictating the pace of the game. The Titans two red zone trips resulted in field goals as the Bucs created an impenetrable force. The coaching staff made a concerted effort to attack on earlier downs, putting the Titans into second- and third-and-long situations.

Several plays in the fourth quarter became a microcosm of the day. The first being a 'Takeaway Tweeze' sighting. On a stunt, Markees Watts was freed up on the play for a runway at Levis. He hit the quarterback, which forced an errant throw. Pressure bursts pipes and on this play in particular, it did. Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted Levis and returned it 28 yards to the Tennessee 42, putting Mayfield and company back on the field with positive positioning. The next defensive series, Vita Vea and Calijah Kancey penetrated and took Levis to the ground on third down, which set up fourth-and-17. Jamel Dean was in press/man coverage on DeAndre Hopkins and blanketed the route to perfection. He mirrored Hopkins and sustained inside leverage throughout the vertical route, placing his body in the way of the catch. Dean prevented the touchdown with sticky coverage, solidifying the Bucs' defense.

"That is my strength [press-man] and to be able to execute my strength against a great receiver is a confidence feeling," noted Dean.

Offensive Highs

The Buccaneers' offense started off slow but found their rhythm as the game wore on. Baker Mayfield threw a pair of touchdown passes to Rachaad White and Mike Evans, while completing 18 of 29 passes for 279 yards, one interception and a 102.4 passer rating. Initially, the Bucs attacked outside the numbers on out-breaking routes with their big-bodied receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay complemented the run game through bubbles and screens to get Rachaad White in space. White ran 20 times for 51 yards and caught two passes for 47 yards, including a 43-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Evans eclipsed the 100-yard marker with 143 yards on six catches (averaged 23.8 yards per catch), including a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Evans caught the ball and dragged Titans' cornerback Kristian Fulton five yards into the end zone. He was not going to be denied and provided the team with a 17-3 cushion. Overall, the Bucs converted seven of 15 third downs and won the time of possession advantage.

"I think we took advantage of different looks that we had today," said Mayfield. "I think guys were all locked in and pretty prepared. Yeah, just little things, physical things today that prevented us from taking the next step but those are things that happen in football."

Highlights: Rachaad White and Calijah Kancey

Rachaad White accounted for the Buccaneers first score of the night, taking a screen 43 yards for a score. Baker Mayfield felt pressure from a blitz and dumped the ball to White, who turned on the jets down the perimeter post-catch. He quickly accelerated north-south after making the initial defender miss. The touchdown play marked the longest scoring play of the season for Tampa Bay and the longest play of White's career. The second-year back finished with 98 yards from scrimmage, including 51 on the ground and 47 in the passing game. Among running backs in the NFL, White ranks second in receiving yards (326) and third in receptions (35) in 2023. While the Bucs continue to build the run game while developing mid-zone principles and duo concepts, White has helped supplement the ground game to open up play-action by keeping defenses honest in space. His versatility keeps defenses on their toes and White adds another dimension to the Bucs' passing game with his prowess in the open field.

Against Tennessee, Calijah Kancey consistently disrupted the backfield, making tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Kancey consistently won the leverage battle with a low pad level and first-step quickness. He concluded the Week 10 matchup with three combined tackles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Kancey became the first rookie with multiple tackles for loss in consecutive games since Micah Parsons and Jaelen Phillips accomplished the feat in 2021. The former Pittsburgh star posted his fifth and sixth tackles for loss of the season surpassing Philadelphia's Jalen Carter for the second-most tackles for loss among rookies this season – even more impressive considering he missed multiple games due to a calf injury. In the fourth quarter, Kancey won at the point of attack and shifted the momentum on second-and-goal. He dropped Derrick Henry for a loss of three yards, which set up third down. The instinctive play helped set up a Nick Folk 27-yard field goal. Earlier in the third quarter, Kancey knifed the gap and stopped Tyjae Spears in the hole for a loss of two, which put the Titans in unfavorable down-and-distance. Kancey wreaked havoc up and down the line of scrimmage with balance, elite technique and explosiveness out of his stance.

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