TAMPA - There was a sense of frustration in the Bucs lockerroom following a 24-23 loss to the first-place Falcons Sunday afternoon, with left tackle Donald Penn saying "we should have won."
"I know we outplayed them," Penn said. "We're a better team than them - it didn't show. They made one or two more plays, and that made the difference...
"We should have won that game, plain and simple. I'm not going to sugarcoat it for you. We should have won that game. We didn't, so back to the drawing board on Monday. We're a great football team, we're going to build. We lost this game, but there's still a lot of football to play."
The loss was particularly stinging considering the opportunity, with the Bucs (6-5) riding a four-game winning streak and hoping to help their playoff hopes against the Falcons (10-1).
"It's a different team out there, definitely," Penn said. "Everybody sees it. Last year has nothing to do with this year. It doesn't mean nothing. We've got a lot more football to play and we just got to get this behind us. I can't tell you anything besides that's a tough a-- loss. I'm telling you, it (stinks) right now, it (stinks) right now. It really does. That's as easy as I can sum it up for you. It really (stinks) right now."
Falcons veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez noted the Bucs are a much-improved team, and was happy to thwart their rival's momentum.
"We're going against a good team," Gonzalez said. "They won four in a row, they were hot. Everybody was saying they were the hottest team in the NFC South, and they probably were. But for us to be able to come in here, in this type of environment and stop the momentum. And really, I thought honestly we could have played a little better. When you win close games like that, it's only a positive..
"(The Bucs) are absolutely improved. They've always played hard. I give them that, always been physical. They've got on a roll the last month. And we knew that coming in. We read the papers, we watch ESPN and all that stuff. Some people didn't pick us to win today, that's fine with us. Just got to keep going out there, keep the nose to the grinder and not worry about it. I give them a lot of credit, they played us very tough today."