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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Morris: "You have to teach this team how to insert a dagger"



Bucs coach Raheem Morris said his fourth quarter decisions to fake a punt and attempt a 51-yard field goal with the lead at Atlanta Sunday was 'aggressive play,' and a trait he wants to instill in his team.

Both decisions failed and the Falcons drove 59-yards for the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left in the Bucs 20-17 loss to Atlanta Sunday.

"I don't know if that's really outside the box,'' Morris said. "I don't know if a long field goal attempt is outside the box. I don't know if a faked punt attempt is outside the box. I think it's aggressive play. We're a 1-9 football team. I think you have to teach this team how to insert a dagger in somebody and win the game. That's part of the learning, part of the curve and part of what we're going through. For me, too.''

Morris said he didn't second-guess his decisions after he made them Sunday.

"During the game, no,'' Morris said. "But right now, it didn't work, so yes, I'm second-guessing myself. But if it worked, I wouldn't be. If it worked, we got the ball back, run the clock out and the game's over. Bucs win.''

According to Morris, those two fourth quarter decisions will be made easier with the continued development of rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, who connected on 20-of-29 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

The Bucs had forced Atlanta to use their final timeout and faced third-and-7 from the Atlanta 36-yard line. But rather than have Freeman attempt to pick up the first down passing and potentially run out the clock, the Bucs got a 3-yard run from Derrick Ward before Conner Barth missed a field goal from 51-yards.

"He took a step back the previous week but it's about the kid's character and about bouncing back,'' Morris said of Freeman. "With that, it's going to bring about more aggressive decisions with your quarterback. Having that type of flow and that type of feel, that's just going to build naturally. Yesterday? I kind of felt the Conner Barth love and I kicked a 50-yard field goal. I didn't ask him to make three this game, you go make this one. We kick the ball off, they get the ball inside their 20 or the 20-yard line. We go out there on defense and play the way we've been playing the whole day -- fast, hard, physical and together -- we get out of here with a win. It just didn't work out that way.

"Those decisions are going to come with (Freeman). I think he's starting to develop into what we all think he can be or what he's convincing us he can be. That's just going to come with him and time. Those decisions with him, those become more quarterback oriented when he comes to you on the sideline and tells you, 'I'm doing this.' And you just kind of back away because you know he knows what he wants to do. And that's how you make fourth-and-2 decisions when you've got Tom Brady and you're backed up.

"He's shown me nothing but good things. He had the one week (versus New Orleans) where he  
kind of backed off and had some blunders and the one big rookie mistake that we all kind of chuckled about. But he's getting better and better every week. He had a couple mistakes yesterday. He had a couple missed throws, he had a couple routes run the wrong way, which he's able to correct, which you love. When the quarterback is correcting routes and it's not your coaches, then you're going in the right direction. You're making the progress you're talking about. He's getting in those shoes and filling them.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:50pm]


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