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Titans ride Johnson TDs to victory over Bucs


February 16. 2013 5:28PM


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TAMPA, Fla. — Chris Johnson ran for two touchdowns and Rob Bironas kicked three field goals as the Tennessee Titans capitalized on some early turnovers to earn a 30-7 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night.


The Titans got an early boost from their defense, capitalizing on two first-half turnovers by the Bucs.


Tennessee second-year quarterback Jake Locker didn't have an ideal outing in his first NFL start, completing 4 of 11 for 21 yards and an interception.


But his counterpart, Josh Freeman, also looked shaky, completing 4 of 10 for 21 yards in five series of work.


Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount left the game in the first half with a left leg injury.


Both Titans coach Mike Munchak and Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano came into Friday hoping to see strong performances by their young quarterbacks.


Locker was looking to impress the coaching staff enough in hopes of earning the starting job over veteran Matt Hasselbeck, but got off to a very rocky start.


Pinned inside his own 10 on the Titans' second series of the game, Locker had his second pass intercepted by free safety Ahmad Black and returned all the way to the 2.


The Bucs quickly capitalized, with Freeman finding Mike Williams for a 2-yard touchdown pass to put Tampa up 7-0.


Locker had a serviceable outing replacing Hasselbeck in the Titans' loss to open the preseason last week, but completed 1 of his first 4 attempts against the Bucs. He played all but one series in the first half


Locker did have a few highlights, his biggest coming two series after his pick when he scrambled 21 yards on a broken play to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it 7-7 late in the first quarter.


The play capped a dominating five-play, 71-yard drive that took just 2:26. Locker had his best throw of the game during that series, completing an 11-yard pass to Craig Stevens.


But Locker's struggles stuck out more. They included him failing to lead his team into the end zone early in the second quarter after Titans defensive end Leger Douzable recovered a fumble by Tampa backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the Bucs' 10.


Vikings 36, Bills 14

MINNEAPOLIS — Christian Ponder threw a first-quarter touchdown pass in a sharp three-possession appearance and the Minnesota Vikings breezed to a victory over the Buffalo Bills, who saw a decent performance from backup quarterback candidate Vince Young.


Young's competitor for the No. 2 spot behind Ryan Fitzpatrick is former Vikings draft pick Tyler Thigpen, who threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by rookie linebacker Audie Cole. On the next play from scrimmage, Cole picked off Brad Smith's pass and ran that one 30 yards for a score.


Lions 27, Ravens 12

BALTIMORE — Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes, Calvin Johnson had five catches for 111 yards and a score, and the Detroit Lions beat the Baltimore Ravens 27-12 in a preseason game Friday night.


Stafford went 12 for 17 for 184 yards in four possessions. He failed to produce a score in three drives last week against Cleveland, then came up empty in his first two series against Baltimore before guiding touchdown drives of 93 and 70 yards.


Stafford threw an 18-yard TD pass to Johnson and connected with Titus Young for a 24-yard score to help Detroit take a 17-9 halftime lead.


Panthers 23, Dolphins 17

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton outplayed rookie Ryan Tannehill in a matchup of young quarterbacks as the Carolina Panthers defeated the Miami Dolphins in a preseason game.


Newton looked extremely sharp, completing 8 of 11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers jumped all over the injury-depleted Dolphins defense early, scoring on their first three possessions to take a 17-0 lead.


Last year's AP Offensive Rookie of the Year threw a touchdown pass to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart scored on a 2-yard plunge. Newton had been expected to play into the second quarter, but was removed with 1:12 left in the first after a solid night's work.




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