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NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - INSIDE SLANT
Close games are the norm in the NFL, where parity reigns and many contests are decided in the final two minutes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano's failure to win close games -- he is 0-7 in games decided by a field goal or less -- will likely be his undoing in Tampa.
The Bucs blew leads of 21-0, 24-7 and 24-10 (in the fourth quarter) to lose in overtime to Seattle 27-24 Sunday. It was the biggest comeback in Seahawks history.
"We've got to close out," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "There's nothing else you can say but that. You have to close out, especially with one of the best teams in the NFL. I mean, their record speaks for itself. They've got great players on their team. When you have a team down like that, you've got to choke them out. Choke them out."
The common problem for the Bucs has been their inefficiency on offense in the second half. Tampa Bay is averaging 4.5 points per game after halftime. That was the case again on Sunday against the Seahawks. The Bucs took the kickoff in the third quarter and drove for a field goal to pad their lead to 24-7. But that was their last score.
The loss dropped the Bucs to 0-8 and was the 13th defeat in their last 14 games under Schiano.
"Well, it certainly hurts," Schhiano said. "Guys put forth a great effort, coaches, players. But at the end of the day it's about having more points than they do and we didn't.
"There's a lot of good things that are encouraging, things that make me optimistic. But at the end of the day, it doesn't feel very optimistic."
Collapses on defense also have been the norm in the fourth quarter for the Bucs. In the season opener, a late hit by Lavonte David on quarterback Geno Smith led to a 15-yard penalty that put the Jets in position for a game-winning field goal on the final play.
Against the Saints, kicker Rian Lindell missed a field goal that would've made it a four-point lead, but quarterback Drew Brees drove New Orleans for the game-winning kick in the final seconds.
On Sunday, the Bucs won the turnover battle -- intercepting quarterback Russell Wilson twice and forcing a fumble on special teams while not turning the ball over. They ran the ball exceptionally well behind rookie Mike James. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon had one of his most efficient passing days. But it wasn't enough.
"This one is a tough one," Schiano said. "You win the turnover battle, you rush the football, you handle the noise. We had one illegal procedure penalty and it had nothing to do with the noise. Mike James leaned a little too much in that direction on the direct snap. The job Mike Glennon did handling the noise was veteran like. A good football team came back and beat us."
The question now is how long will Schiano be able to keep his team playing hard. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the coaching staff in the locker room with each close loss.
"I honestly don't know what to say because every game like this, you don't want to say, 'Oh we played good, we almost had them,'" defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. We lost again. I'm tired of losing."
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NOTES, QUOTES
--RB Mike James provided the play of the day with a 2-yard jump pass to tight end Tom Crabtree, who had fallen down in the end zone.
"We've run that for a number of weeks getting it ready," coach Greg Schiano said. "We felt like the situation was right. It almost went awry. Tom Crabtree fell down, he caught it but fell backward making the catch."
--WR Vincent Jackson was held to only two catches Sunday at Seattle. That could be his new reality with the loss of WR Mike Williams, who is out for the season with a torn hamstring.
--S Keith Tandy recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter Sunday when he deflected a pass from QB Russell Wilson to himself near the goal line, preventing a touchdown.
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--RB Doug Martin, who has missed two games with a torn labrum in his shoulder, is "in play," for Monday night's game against the Miami Dolphins.
--S Dashon Goldson, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, has a good chance to play Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.
--G Carl Nicks, who is recovering from surgery on his toe, is not expected to play vs. Miami.
--LB Dakota Watson, who is battling a shoulder injury, split time Sunday with Jonathan Casillas at strong-side linebacker.
--WR Tiquan Underwood caught his first TD of the season and made his first start Sunday vs. the Seahawks in place of the injured Mike Williams.
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Considering the environment and the defense he was facing, QB Mike Glennon did a nice job managing the game. In the second quarter, he was 8-for-8 with two touchdowns. Glennon, however, was sacked three times and had trouble escaping pressure, particularly in the fourth quarter. TE Tim Wright continues to improve and had a TD reception.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Credit the offensive line for taking control of the game Sunday from the start. Rookie RB Mike James, making only his second NFL start, rushed for 158 yards. It was the first time since high school that James went over the century rushing mark in a game.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- It was the tale of two halves, really. The Bucs intercepted QB Russell Wilson twice Sunday. But he rallied in the second half, throwing a pair of TD passes and keeping plays alive with his feet. The Bucs put pressure on Wilson, who is an escape artist, but could not register a sack.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Bucs had no answer for Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch, who controlled the game in the second half. Lynch went over 100 yards and shifted into Beast Mode in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Bucs did nothing in the return game and their special teams allowed perhaps the biggest play of the game for Seattle -- a 71-yard punt return by receiver Golden Tate, who broke six tackles. The play led to a field goal and got the crowd back into the game.
COACHING: C -- You have to give Greg Schiano a lot of credit. He is missing RB Doug Martin, WR Mike Williams and G Carl Nicks but still managed to give the Seahawks all they could handle on the road, in the noise. That's not easy to do. But as has been the case all too often, the Bucs couldn't close the deal.