Bucs coach Morris second guesses his decision to play it safe versus the Lions
Bucs coach Raheem Morris says he wished he had put the game in quarterback Josh Freeman's hands rather than relying on his defense to protect a three-point lead in Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions.
"That’s the time you’ve got to fall back and go with your head coach mentality and say, “I’ll win this thing with 5 (Freeman),'' Morris said Monday. "That’s where I’m going at.''
The Bucs had a first down at the Lions' 15-yard line at the two-minute warning with the game tied 17-17. Freeman, who has only thrown one interception in his last 142 attempts, went 21-of-32 passing for 251 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. But two running plays by Cadillac Williams gained 3-yards and Freeman was stopped on a quarterback counter play on third down at the Lions’ 8-yard line, three yards shy of a first down, forcing the Bucs to settle for a field goal.
With no timeouts and 1:39 remaining in the game, the Lions drove 58 yards for a game-tying field goal by Dave Rayner on the final play of regulation. Rayner's third field goal, a 34-yarder just 5:09 into overtime, snapped an NFL record 26-game road losing streak for the Lions.
“The Monday morning quarterback has a perfect passer rating, so that’s what I was for myself this morning, second-guessing some of the decisions I made, second-guessing some of the decisions we made as a whole,'' Morris said.
“But looking back at it, having 5, having him being the premier guy in my program, in our program and who he is, you’d like to give him a chance to go win the game. We did, so to speak, because we put the ball in his hands on the counter look. But just the normal second-guessing things.''
Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the team decided to go with Williams in that situation instead of running back LeGarrette Blount, who had 110-yards rushing on 15 carries in the game, because of 'ball security issues.' Blount has two fumbles in 164 rushing attempts this season.
Despite three consecutive rushing plays from the 15-yard line that forced the Lions to burn all their timeouts, Olson said the Bucs were not content with settling for a field goal.
“The bottom line is we were not playing the game down the stretch there to kick a field goal,'' Olson said. "That was not our goal. We’ll watch it here with the players. Those players were not out there thinking we’re just going to bang the ball up in there and kick three here. We’re trying to score a touchdown. That was stressed in those timeouts situations.
“We’re going to score here now. We know what they’re going to be in, we know their scheme, let’s go out and execute it." So there was no thought whatsoever that hey, we’re just trying to burn the clock here so we can kick three. We were trying to score a touchdown there.''