Breaking down the Titans' winning touchdown
The Bucs lost Sunday’s game in large part because of a fourth down touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Damian Williams that gave the Titans the lead for good.
So, what happened on that play that allowed Williams to get so wide open in the back of the end zone?
We talked to Bucs players and coach Raheem Morris to get some specifics.
For starters – with Tennessee in a fourth-and-goal situation – the Bucs went with a standard Cover 2 call, presumably to keep everything in front of the defense.
The began with promise. Hasselbeck had nowhere to throw the ball because the Bucs had taken away his No. 1 option. Because it was supposed to be a quick throw on Hasselbeck’s part, he then was forced to prolong the play to allow something to develop.
And that’s where things went very wrong for the Bucs.
When Hasselbeck began scrambling to his right, attempting to extend the play, the defensive backs are taught to make an adjustment. At that point, the members of the secondary are instructed to switch to a man-to-man coverage, with players told the “plaster” the closest man.
For the most part, they did.
But there seemed to be confusion on the part of Sean Jones, who began chasing receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who was streaking through Jones’ zone, to the defense’s left-hand side. But Jones seemed unaware that, while he was being distracted by Hawkins, receiver Damian Williams was running through the end zone uncovered behind Jones’ back.
Hasselbeck eventually found Williams for the key touchdown that proved the eventual game winner. By the time Jones -- the back-side safety on this particular play -- discovered Williams was lurking, it was too late. Jones could have let Tanard Jackson handle Hawkins as Hawkins was entering Jackson's zone, though the decision had to be made in a split second. It also didn't help that linebacker Mason Foster, who it appears was supposed to be playing in the middle of the field, opted to chase after Hasselbeck when he began his rollout. Had he not, Foster might have been in Hasselbeck's passing lane.
Morris explained things this way:
“The No. 1 receiver works to the back of the end zone. He’s not open originally. The safety (Jones) gets a little antsy and comes out of his zone. Mason gets a little antsy and comes out of his zone and (attempts) to make a play on the quarterback. And then Hasselbeck threw a nice ball through there.
“And it still had an opportunity to be picked off by Quincy Black if we have one more step back. I don’t want to take away credit from what Hasselbeck did buying time. It was just poorly executed on our behalf – the “plaster” part of it. Not the beginning. The initial read was taken away, and (Hasselbeck) did a nice job stepping back and resetting.”