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Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose seventh straight, 41-14 to Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE — After the Buccaneers committed seven turnovers Sunday, including three during a gift-wrapped stretch of 7:32 in the second quarter during which the Jaguars scored 28 points, discarded gloves were strewn across the locker room floor at EverBank Field.

But the equipment staff didn't bother searching for the owners of the abandoned mitts. Because, like the loss, everybody had a hand in it.

The Bucs fumbled six times and lost four — including two that turned into touchdowns — blowing a 14-0 lead to fall 41-14 to a Jaguars team that had not scored more than 20 points in a game all season.

The seventh straight defeat for the Bucs (4-9) also featured three interceptions, including two by starter Josh Freeman.

"You have to hold onto the ball," coach Raheem Morris said.

"You're carrying everybody's livelihood in your arm."

So how did the Jaguars (4-9), the second-lowest scoring team in the NFL prior to Sunday (now the fourth-lowest), pile up 28 points over the final eight minutes of the first half?

• Preston Parker, who fumbled away the first punt he attempted to field under a weepy sky, got the snowball rolling with the Bucs leading 14-0. After he was hit by Montell Owens (who also forced Parker's first fumble) at the Tampa Bay 20, the ball bounced to the 8. Colin Cloherty scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown with 7:36 remaining. Parker was replaced as the punt returner in favor of Micheal Spurlock and refused to comment after the game.

• Safety Tanard Jackson bit on a pump fake by Jags rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, allowing tight end Marcedes Lewis to slip through the secondary for a 62-yard reception to the Bucs 2. That set up the first of four touchdowns by running back Maurice Jones-Drew, this one a 1-yard plunge to tie the score with 2:05 left. "One of our better players can't guess," Morris said of Jackson's mistake. "You've got to go do your job."

• Freeman, playing despite a sore right (throwing) shoulder, was sacked and lost a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by tackle Nate Collins. The touchdown, which came 12 seconds after Drew's score, gave the Jaguars a 21-14 lead.

• Just 51 seconds later, Freeman's first of two interceptions set up Gabbert's 5-yard touchdown flip to Jones-Drew with four seconds left that made it 28-14.

"It was a bit of a snowball effect," Freeman said. "Everything was going perfectly. We had the first fumble and recovered from that. The second fumble, third fumble, interception — that's three turnovers in like half a quarter."

Freeman admitted he played in some pain and lost some velocity off a few passes, but he wasn't making excuses.

"Regardless of how everything felt, being out there as the quarterback of this team, I've got to go out there and execute better, point-blank," Freeman said. "Some of those things that really didn't go our way, I've got to find a way to right the ship and get it done.

"A few (passes) kind of died on me and got away from me. But like I said, you can't make an excuse. I took practice reps, and I just have to play better."

For good measure, Josh Johnson replaced Freeman late in the game and — what else? — threw an interception on his very first attempt.

Running back LeGarrette Blount, who fumbled twice in the rain at Tennessee two weeks ago, put the ball on the ground two more times Sunday, losing one. Dragging defenders for a 23-yard run in the third quarter, he was stripped by linebacker Russell Allen, and end Jeremy Mincey recovered.

"When you have five, six, seven turnovers in the game, and your running back can't hang onto the football, now you have a problem," said Blount, who has lost just those three fumbles this season.

"The guys I go against are professionals also. They watch game film and see that I've fumbled the ball a few times. They're going to go for it. That's a weakness I have to work on to make stronger."

After the game, Morris said the Bucs will work on fundamentals during practice this week, such as holding onto the football. As they proved Sunday, turnovers and losing go together like a hand and glove.

"You get a bunch of turnovers," he said, "they're going to score a bunch of points."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose seventh straight, 41-14 to Jacksonville Jaguars 12/11/11 [Last modified: Sunday, December 11, 2011 11:28pm]
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