Close losses adding up for inconsistent Bucs

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 22, 2012
(Eds: Updates throughout. With AP Photos.) By FRED GOODALL AP Sports Writer The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are running out of explanations for their inability to win close games. The Bucs (2-4) fell short again Sunday, falling 35-28 to the New Orleans Saints after nearly scoring the tying touchdown on the final two plays of the game. Josh Freeman had a career day passing, however his effort to get his team into overtime ended in disappointment when his third-down throw was grabbed by a leaping receiver who landed out of bounds and a fourth-down attempt was caught in the end zone only to be nullified by a penalty for illegal touching. After four losses by a total of 22 points, coach Greg Schiano and his players are growing weary of questions about what it'll take to get over the hump. Mistakes on offense, defense and special teams all contributed to the latest setback. New Orleans rallied from an early 14-point deficit, with Drew Brees throwing for four touchdowns and a porous Saints defense limiting the Bucs to seven points after yielding touchdowns on Tampa Bay's first three possessions of the game. ''If you look back on all of the games we lost, they were all pretty close. This is just another one that is sickening. We beat ourselves in situations, and it's just frustrating,'' defensive tackle Roy Miller said. ''We've got to do our jobs better. A lot of those plays weren't (Saints quarterback Drew) Brees, they were us,'' cornerback Ronde Barber added. ''They're correctable, but in the immediacy of them it's very disappointing on our part.'' Freeman threw for a career-best 420 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The Bucs amassed 513 yards total offense, the second-highest in franchise history, and Vincent Jackson had seven receptions for a team-record 216 yards. Yet after the game, Schiano found himself trying to explain why the offense failed to score after Jackson's 95-yard catch-and-run - the longest play in club history - gave Tampa Bay a first down at the New Orleans 1 with the Bucs trailing by a touchdown in the third quarter. The defense yielded TD drives of 80, 80, 79 and 72 yards on four consecutive possessions in the opening half to allow the Saints to turn a 14-point deficit into a 28-21 lead. Then after New Orleans' goal-line stand preserved the edge, Brees marched the Saints 95 yards for what turned out to be the decisive touchdown. ''We made too many critical errors that we haven't made,'' Schiano said. ''You may whup us one-on-one, and that's fine. That's part of the game. But we made errors where we turned some guys loose. You can't do that at this level, especially with a quarterback like Drew. He's not going to miss the open man.'' Special teams miscues included a missed field goal at the end of a drive lasting nearly seven minutes, as well as a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that helped the Saints get into the end zone rather than settle for a field goal on their final scoring drive. Only one of Tampa Bay's six games has been decided by more than seven points, a 38-10 victory over struggling Kansas City two weeks ago. Schiano doesn't take solace in having a resilient team that's still learning how to win close games. ''Again, we're sitting here, what are we, 2-4 now? And we're saying this old song and dance. That's the way it is,'' the first-year coach said. ''Until we get it changed, until we find a way to change it, close but no cigar.'' Tampa Bay's resiliency will be tested again this week, when a short turnaround sends the Bucs to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Thursday night. Not only do they not have much time to correct mistakes from the latest loss, there won't be much time to prepare for the next opponent. ''We are maturing and understand that we can't hang our heads too long,'' tight end Dallas Clark said. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy echoed that sentiment. ''That's the NFL. You just have to take it with a grain of salt and move on to the next one,'' he said, adding New Orleans ''played well enough to get the `W.' It's over, we're moving on to the Vikings.'' --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
How to fix the San Francisco 49ers
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: 49ers plan to offer Kyle Shanahan head coaching job

Report: Timberwolves shopping Ricky Rubio in trade talks

Blue Jays, Jose Bautista reportedly agree to one-year deal with mutual option

Lynn swears after saying ‘San Diego Chargers’ during presser

Bo Jackson gets worried watching Cam Newton take hits

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Steelers WR Martavis Bryant applied for reinstatement

Is the NBA considering pulling the plug on sleeved jerseys?

Ezekiel Elliott named Rookie of the Year by PFWA

Rory McIlroy takes shots at ex-girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki

Dabo Swinney rips evaluators down on Deshaun Watson

Ovechkin on being a Russian living in D.C.: ‘I’m neutral’

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

Box Score 1/17: LeBron goes boom

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

The week in NFL news as explained by Heart

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The Mulligan: Why Chip Kelly deserves a second chance after the Niners

College coaches on the NFL's radar as the coaching carousel starts spinning

Five NBA teams that should not be counted out yet

Six hottest up-and-coming NFL teams for 2017

Best of Yardbarker: How to hop on NFL playoff bandwagons

Everything sports fans need to know about the Nintendo Switch

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Melo out: How the Knicks can move on from their superstar

QUIZ: Name the quarterbacks drafted in the 2003 NFL draft ahead of Tony Romo

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 1

The week in NFL news as explained by Heart

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

QUIZ: Name every Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Pro-Bowler in the Super Bowl Era

Best of Yardbarker: How to hop on NFL playoff bandwagons

Everything sports fans need to know about the Nintendo Switch

The sports classic horror villains would play

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker