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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Chris Johnson finds his groove against Bucs defense



Titans RB Chris Johnson had run for 4,598 yards in his three previous seasons before the start of 2011.

Yet, this season, he had not flirted with the sort of rare numbers he had since 2008 – until today against the Bucs. Johnson had the third-best effort of his career, running for 190 yards on 23 carries, dazzling with his precise, quick cutting and rapid acceleration that left the Bucs exasperated.

The Bucs, during the first half, seemed to have Johnson under wraps. They gang tackled him, dropped him for losses and generally limited his effectiveness. He had 46 yards at halftime.

Then, everything changed.

“The way he is, he can make up for (negative plays),” said Bucs DT Albert Haynesworth, a former teammate of Johnson’s. “He’s Chris Johnson. You don’t really come in and try to stop him. You just want to contain him. That was kind of the plan.”

The Bucs could’ve limited Johnson by limiting his opportunities. But that would have required getting defensive stops and finishing drives on offense. In the late going, they did neither.

“He got too many yards,” coach Raheem Morris said. “. . . He had a couple breakout runs. He’s a great running back. Make no mistake about it. When great running backs get that many carries and that many touches you get a chance to be explosive and (he’s) going to be. The only way to stop him is to get him off the football field.”

The Bucs entered the game with the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense. They didn’t help their ranking with Sunday’s performance.

[Last modified: Sunday, November 27, 2011 7:55pm]


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