TAMPA — The Bucs saw firsthand Sunday how a team can find a heightened urgency and intensity after a loss, and just as Arizona bounced back with a 40-7 drubbing of Tampa Bay, the Bucs now seek to do the same in their home opener Sunday against the Rams.
"I can already feel that everybody's a lot more intense, ready to go," said rookie defensive end Noah Spence, who had his first career sack Sunday. "I don't know if we were like that last week. We're coming in and ready to get back to work."
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he had been nervous about how his team would respond after an opening win at the Falcons. He saw the emotion that Arizona played with, and saw a team that opened with a loss and didn't want to start 0-2.
"I expect and want to see fantastic resiliency," Koetter said Monday. "If you just look around the league, that's how the NFL is. The Cardinals had a disappointing loss, and they came back and got after us pretty good (Sunday). Look at the Rams, who we play this week. The Rams lost 28-0 in their opener to the 49ers, come back with a huge win against Seattle. The Falcons, who we beat last week, go on the road to the Raiders who were a hot team and play well enough to get a big win on the road."
After Sunday's humbling loss, Bucs players spoke of the need to review what went wrong and put Sunday's game in the past — use it for motivation, but then move on completely to the next game or risk repeating a similar outcome by dwelling on their disappointment.
"After we watch the film, it is over," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "We come in Wednesday to get ready for the Rams. The Rams just beat a very good Seattle team. They are going to try and build off their momentum going on the road to play us. We just have to be ready."
By splitting two difficult road games to open the season, the Bucs still have a share of the NFC South lead, but Carolina and Atlanta are right there with them. The Bucs' next two games after the Rams are against the teams who played for a Super Bowl this past season — at home against Denver, then on a Monday night at Carolina— so there's an immediacy to the Rams game, knowing a loss could snowball to a 1-4 record going into their bye in Week 6.
"We haven't been tested yet this season in that department," Koetter said, "but the fact that we're coming into our home stadium for our home opener, that's definitely what we're hoping for."
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said players knew they had a challenging opponent in Arizona, but need to have a focus against the Rams that was sorely missing in Sunday's loss if they want to bounce back as other teams did this weekend.
"We have to get our stuff together," McDonald said. "We understand that we're just 1-1. It's a humbling league, so from now on, we need to go to work with our heads down and expect to get things together the way we need to get them together, so we can have the outcome that we want."
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.