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Winless Tampa Bay Bucs out to save face

Bucs linebackers Quincy Black, left, and Barrett Ruud hang their heads during an Oct. 18 loss to the Panthers.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs linebackers Quincy Black, left, and Barrett Ruud hang their heads during an Oct. 18 loss to the Panthers.

TAMPA — Eleven months ago, the Bucs were 9-3 and tied for the No. 1 seed in the NFC heading into a Monday Night Football game with the Panthers.

Then Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for rush for 299 yards and four touchdowns as Carolina won the Dec. 8 game.

On Tuesday, the Bucs returned from their bye week as the NFL's only winless team at 0-7 and the sad owners of the league's longest losing streak at 11.

Rarely does something fall that far that fast without wearing a parachute.

Victories Sunday by the Rams and Titans left the Bucs locked alone in the basement of the 32-team league as the only ones still searching for a W.

"We all want to win, man. Nobody wants to be 0-7," quarterback Byron Leftwich said. "Think about it.

"This makes you don't even want to go out, you don't want to show your face. It's not a good feeling."

On Tuesday, Bucs coach Raheem Morris attempted a little reverse psychology by showing his team a highlight reel of sorts from the first seven games. Yes, it lasted more than a few minutes.

"I showed them everything we've done well," Morris said. "We had some players stand out the first half of the season. We had Kellen Winslow do well at times. We had Cadillac (Williams) do well at times, Derrick Ward do well at times, Michael Clayton the first game of the season, A.B. (Antonio Bryant) had his ups and downs. It's time to stop all the excuses and everybody has got to go out there and play together."

Continuity has been a problem, particularly at quarterback. Since last season's loss at Carolina, the Bucs have played five quarterbacks, including all three on the roster this season. Rookie Josh Freeman, the team's first-round pick, will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Packers.

"The thing to me that bothers me the most is we haven't won a game since that Carolina game," Bryant said. "That's what I'm looking at. So the record is like 0-11 to me. I hope some guys consider that as well. Where did we go wrong? I think you don't want to put yourself in a position that you forget how to win."

Center Jeff Faine said teams will be motivated not to break Tampa Bay's losing streak but cautioned against the Bucs putting too much focus on it.

"I think there's a little bit of that out there. But at the same time, I don't think we want to put the pressure on us to get that win," he said. "That's the thing where players start to try to do too much, try to overcompensate, and most of the time it backfires. We need to focus on everybody doing their job … and it'll get done."

According to Bryant, Bucs players are still working hard.

"I've been on teams where we had bad records and guys did things to show that they didn't really care to be here anymore or that the season is completely over," he said. "But for us, it's not like there's six games left. There's nine games. That's a lot of games to break this thing and potentially make people scratch their heads.

"At the end of the day, I respect it because nobody is coming late to meetings and nobody is being lackadaisical about being where they have to be or doing what they have to do; that shows you people are still fighting and wanting to win."

Morris said though it might be lonely at the top, he wasn't interested in having company at the bottom of the standings, either.

"I'm not ever interested in sharing misery with anybody else in the league. I'm not interested in who else doesn't have a win," Morris said. "I'm interested in getting our own win. …

"If you start looking at your longest losing streak, it will continue to be a streak. It will continue to be something that haunts your football team. It can continue to be something to be talked about. That hasn't come up one time. The only thing we look forward to is going out and getting our first win and our next opportunity comes Sunday."

Winless Tampa Bay Bucs out to save face 11/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 8:13pm]
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