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Bucs vs. Titans: Five things you might have missed

Vincent Jackson reacts after his touchdown catch is nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Vincent Jackson reacts after his touchdown catch is nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Sep. 14, 2015

1 The way Doug Martin disappeared: Being down 28-7 in the second quarter can make a team have to throw the ball, but Martin, after getting 43 yards in the first quarter, had just three official touches the rest of the game.

The yard Martin would like to have back was a fourth-and-1 play in the second quarter with the Bucs trailing 21-7. Martin was initially given a first down in Titans territory, only to have Tennessee ask for a review on the spot, and that resulted in the Bucs not getting the first down. Sunday's referee was John Hussey, in his first game in that spot after being promoted in the offseason.

Martin's lack of touches wasn't all a coach's decision. On the second play of the third quarter, Martin had an 8-yard gain negated by a hold on tackle Gosder Cherilus, sparking a sequence that set up third and 42. On the next drive, Martin got the ball for an 11-yard gain, only to have that negated by a holding penalty on guard Logan Mankins on the way to third and 18.

2 The way the other receivers didn't step up with Mike Evans out. That starts with Vincent Jackson, who drew extra coverage but got only four catches — out of 11 targets — for 51 yards.

Jackson twice missed chances for late touchdowns, missing a toe-tap in the back of the end zone, then getting flagged for offensive pass interference on a potential score.

More than that, Louis Murphy had zero catches, unable to make something out of three passes thrown his way. The other two receivers — special-teams player Russell Shepard and rookie Adam Humphries — combined for 20 yards on three catches.

It's that much more obvious how much the Bucs need Evans healthy for them to compete next week at New Orleans.

And it's surprising to see Jackson — a team captain — pop in the earbuds and walk out of the locker room, declining to speak to reporters.

3 Austin Seferian-Jenkins still lacks self-awareness. Last season he caught a go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Falcons and was flagged for a celebration penalty, which helped spark a comeback win for Atlanta. Sunday he caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter but went high-stepping into the end zone, celebrating a score that cut the Titans' lead to 42-14.

"We all saw the scoreboard," Seferian-Jenkins said. But as a promising young player still emerging as a playmaker, he needs that same awareness in how he handles himself on the field.

4 Harry Douglas is a Bucs-killer. Douglas' 4-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter for Tennessee was all too familiar for the Bucs. Douglas, who faced the Bucs twice a year when he was with the Falcons, has five career touchdowns in 13 games against the Bucs, and four touchdowns in 78 games against everyone else in the NFL.

5 The Bucs missed on 10 plays in one red-zone possession. The game was long over in the fourth, but the Bucs had four shots to score from the Titans' 7-yard line. They took a penalty on fourth down, went for it from the 17 and got a Titans flag for a fresh set of downs. With new life from the 12 — the chain gang mistakenly treated it as first and goal — the Bucs got to the 1 for first and goal, and started backing up again.

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An illegal formation — harkening back to the Marcus Arroyo days — backed them up to the 6, and a false start on fourth and goal had them at the 16, where again, Jameis Winston threw incomplete.

The only thing gained by keeping starters in when down 28 in the fourth quarter is experience, and that's not how an offense wants to operate near the goal line.

The Titans, on the other hand, had four trips to the red zone, and came away with four touchdowns, including two on Marcus Mariota throws on third and goal.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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