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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Teammates back Josh Freeman, share in blame

16

December

NEW ORLEANS -- Josh Freeman has played his worst football of the season at the most inopportune time, helping to undermine the team’s once-realistic playoff hopes.

But even after his five turnovers on Sunday, when he was intercepted four times against the Saints, Freeman has a great deal of support.

In the locker room, where Freeman is well liked and respected, teammates came to his defense, even as fans continue to wonder what is wrong with him.

“It’s definitely not just one person,” TE Dallas Clark said. “We have a lot of things that we have to iron out as an offense. In this league, unfortunately the quarterback, the head coach, those guys are always the first ones to throw under the bus. But I’d be the first one to say it’s me (and) it’s everyone. We all have to play better. I think we have the people here that will make it happen. But certainly no one should take the brunt of any of this. It’s a team thing right now and we have to get it fixed.”

G Jeremy Zuttah, who is close to Freeman said, “It’s not all on Josh. It’s on the offensive line too. He’s getting hit a lot. We have to do a better job as a team. As the quarterback, obviously a lot of times people are going to point at him, but it’s a whole offensive effort. We’ve been off as an offense.”

Freeman finished Sunday’s game 26 of 47 for 279 yards and a quarterback rating of 37.5 – one of the lowest of his career. He was peppered with tough questions after the game and will continue to come under much scrutiny as the team ponders whether he’s deserving of a contract extension.

But he has to the fortitude to work through it, Zuttah said.

“Josh has been through a lot of adversity with a lot of people telling him what he can’t do and what he’s doing wrong,” Zuttah said. “He gets stronger and he fights back every time. He just goes out and gets better.”

Freeman summed up his performance and role thusly: "I know I'm the quarterback and the offensive captain of this football team. And I take responsibility for what happened out there today. It all starts with me: Getting the play in, calling the play and executing the play. And I've got to play a whole lot better to give our team a chance to win."

[Last modified: Sunday, December 16, 2012 8:50pm]

    

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