TAMPA — If you're a glass-half-full type of person, the Bucs' come-from-behind wins at Kansas City and Detroit were positive signs of resiliency and resolve.
If you're a glass-half-empty type, it's a dangerous habit of being unprepared to start games on the road. Basically, the Bucs were just good enough to avoid getting tripped up by the bottom-feeders of the NFL.
Belief or relief?
"I guess the only good is that we have a very, very resilient team that really can overcome a very big challenge," C Jeff Faine said. "And then there's a lot of bad.
"To put ourselves behind the eight ball like we did in Detroit and Kansas City is something that we cannot do going down the stretch, something we cannot do preparing for the playoffs … or in the playoffs. It's something we've got to fix now, we've got to fix it quick, and it's something that just can't be accepted."
Facing a murderer's row of NFC South opponents the next three weeks — including two of them on the road — the Bucs cannot afford to sleepwalk through the first half of those games. Especially considering that the division teams are a combined 21-2 at home this season.
"I don't think it's wrong to look at what we have in front of us the next three weeks, just as long as we know where our focus has to be — this week, this game," QB Jeff Garcia said. "Any one of the four teams is capable of winning this division depending upon the streak that they go on. And so it's important for us to realize what we have ahead of us and the great opportunity we have ahead of us if we are able to take on this challenge and turn it into a positive thing for us."
There are three reasons for the Bucs' comebacks: The defense is good enough to keep getting the ball back, special teams has provided scores and field position, and Garcia excels in a two-minute offense.
"You don't want to fall behind. It's not like it's a good thing," LB Barrett Ruud said. "But it proves we've got some character and we play well after the first quarter or whatever. But we definitely need to get off to better starts because you don't need to be behind 17-0 very often."
Small gaines: Time for DE Gaines Adams to mash the accelerator. The Bucs' first-round pick in 2007 leads the club with five sacks — one fewer than all of last season — and has certainly had his share of impact plays, including two interceptions (one he returned for a touchdown).
But the team is looking for more. While Adams has improved against the run, he still tends to abandon technique for too many outside speed rushes and hasn't really made the step up as an elite pass rusher in his second year that the Bucs had hoped for.
"I told him we've got to find a way to get you four more sacks this season," DL coach Todd Wash said.