In the first half today in Tennessee, the Titans’ offense simply couldn’t get going against the Buccaneers. And then Chris Johnson decided it was time to start earning his paycheck.
Johnson, the running back whose huge new contract has been followed by a hugely disappointing season, had a huge second half as the Titans came back to beat Tampa Bay.
After averaging just 50.9 yards a game and 3.2 yards a carry heading into today, Johnson carried 23 times for 190 yards. It was by far Johnson’s best rushing game of the year, and his highest yardage output since he went for 228 yards on November 1, 2009.
The Bucs’ pass defense played well, including an Aqib Talib 27-yard interception return touchdown that gave Tampa Bay a 17-10 lead in the third quarter. But as the second half wore on, the Bucs had no answer for Johnson, who gained 144 of his yards after halftime.
If anyone in Tampa was harboring any illusions that the Bucs might be ready for a playoff run, that should end today. The Bucs, who entered the season looking like one of the up-and-coming young teams to watch, are now 4-7.
As for the Titans, their playoff hopes are slim, but at 6-5 they’re not out of it. Tennessee is still two games behind Houston in the AFC South, but if the Texans tank down the stretch with T.J. Yates at the helm, the Titans are the one team in the division that could catch them. Especially if Johnson keeps running like he did today.