Bucs struggle to close out games
The Bucs lockeroom was somber again on Monday, as they try to deal with - and explain - another tough loss.
What made it more difficult was the fact that it was the fourth time Tampa Bay had blown a fourth-quarter lead, and now it sits at (6-7), possibly on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.
With an 11-point lead and five minutes left, Eagles rookie QB Nick Foles led a comeback to win as the clock expired.
"We just have to find a way to make more plays than they do,'' Bucs DE Da'Quan Bowers said. "In those situations, it's man on man, and whoever wants it most is usually the guy who wins it.
"We didn't play up to our expectations (against the Eagles). They made a few more plays than we did and we weren't able to capitalize on some things they didn't make plays on. It's all fixable. It's nothing major. We just have to make more plays at the end.''
It was hard for the Bucs to put a finger on why they've let these games slip away. It began in New York, when the Giants erased an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to win in overtime. Redskins rookie phenom Robert Griffin III led Washington to a winning drive in the waning minutes at Raymond James Stadium a few weeks later.
Two weeks ago, the best-in-the-NFL Falcons trailed by six in the fourth quarter before pulling away from the Bucs.
The Bucs pass defense, which is ranked last in the NFL, is one reason. They're young and inexperienced - other than safety Ronde Barber - relying on Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Anthony Gaitor and Ahmad Black. But veterans CB Aqib Talib and Eric Wright were available for the Giants loss, and Talib was there for the Redskins comeback victory.
"You've just got to stick together, that's it," said injured CB LeQuan Lewis. "And keep on believing in each other, get each other's backs, that's basically it. That's what it boils down to."
Coach Greg Schiano insinuated after Sunday's loss that it's possible guys are trying to do too much.
"We made too many mistakes," Schiano said. "It’s not mistakes because guys aren’t working, guys aren’t preparing; it’s more guys making mistakes (from) trying to do too much. You have to do your job, that’s our whole mantra: Do Your Job. And we all – coaches, players – you try to call too perfect of a play, or you try to do something as a player to make something happen… (Football is) the ultimate team game for a reason. You have to do your job, and when you do that it gives you a chance to win. Today, we didn’t do that consistently enough and that’s why we lost.”
- JOE SMITH