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Tampa Bay Buccaneers fall short on effort again, coach Raheem Morris says

Josh Freeman is sacked by corner Orlando Scandrick in the second quarter Saturday.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Josh Freeman is sacked by corner Orlando Scandrick in the second quarter Saturday.

TAMPA — Bucs coach Raheem Morris laid it all on the line — both offensive and defensive lines, to be exact — for Saturday night's 31-15 loss to the Cowboys.

Players lost individual matchups, blew assignments and had poor execution.

But for the third time this season, Morris also said his players lacked effort.

"Generally, we haven't had the (not-playing) hard deal," Morris said. "But (Saturday) night, I've got to say, it was a little something where we've got to play harder.

"The Houston game, we struggled a little bit. At San Fran we struggled a little bit. I guess we were tired, the short week and all that stuff. … I wouldn't say it's been a continuing problem, but (Saturday) night, I'd have to say it was."

The Bucs, who have lost eight straight in a season for the first time in 24 years, trailed 28-0 at halftime, part of a 69-0 run dating back to last week's game at Jacksonville when the Jaguars scored 41 unanswered points.

Quarterback Josh Freeman ran 24 yards and lost a fumble on the next play, before the offense went three and out four straight times in the first half Saturday.

• On the first two plays of the game, right tackle Jeremy Trueblood yielded pressure and Freeman was flushed from the pocket. After running for a first down, Freeman fumbled on the next play.

• On third and 1 on the next series, guard Davin Joseph missed an assignment. Instead of blocking outside to the right, he crashed inside and let defensive end Marcus Spears tackle LeGarrette Blount for a 1-yard loss.

"Without calling out individual performances, it was a disappointing night as far as protection goes, not as far as scheme, not as far as coaching, not as far as any of that stuff," Morris said. "It's more about (man against man), stand up and block your guy, and we did not do that.

"Hence the frustration. You've got to go out there and execute what you're coached to do. If it was something we weren't prepared for that we knew was coming, I'd be a little more understanding.

The defensive line didn't play much better. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completed 23 of 30 for 249 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score.

On two of those TDs, Romo broke containment and rolled right, extending the play before firing into the end zone to receivers Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson. On both plays, the Bucs ran line stunts with the left end looping inside the tackle.

"Some of those things, the end's not supposed to go inside," Morris said.

The Bucs had only 55 yards in the first half on 17 plays, including a kneel-down to end the second quarter. After the Bucs spread the field with three receivers in the second half, the offense started moving.

"I thought once we got into a groove, once we started moving, (we did) some things schematically that took them out of rhythm," center Jeff Faine said. "We spread it out a little more and started bringing in different packages where it was keeping what they want to do off the field. It's something we do reasonably well, and that's no-huddle, two-minute style offense. We kept them in the nickel a little bit with our personnel. We controlled what was out there. It was like, what are they going to bring next as opposed to we put out a certain (personnel) grouping, and there's only so much they can do. That's pretty much what we did the entire second half."

But Morris said that's not the formula for the Bucs to win.

"The thing we want to do and how we've won a bunch of games around here is hand the ball to LeGarrette Blount a bunch of times, and when he gets to 20-plus carries … you win the football game," Morris said.

His opening statement Sunday probably best summarized the game and his situation.

"Not a good game to watch on tape," Morris said. "Hard to watch. Tough to deal with. Not competitive in the first half. Unacceptable. Got two weeks to go out and change that."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fall short on effort again, coach Raheem Morris says 12/18/11 [Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2011 9:56pm]

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