A day after going to toe-to-toe with the undefeated defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris and a few Tampa Bay players talked about the near upset Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“Obviously not the outcome or the result that the team wanted,” Morris said. “They played hard. They played fast. They played physical. We've still got to play smarter. Still too many penalties. Whether they're judgment calls or whether, they are offsides [or] whatever the case may be. When you play teams with the caliber of the Green Bay Packers – you can't have those things if you want to get a win.
“So we've got to eliminate those things [and] we've got to do a better job at that. Hopefully it's something we clear up at practice. We have been working on it all year so it's nothing new. It's a recurring problem that has to end at some point.”
After a day of reflection Raheem Morris was still adamant that going for two onside kick attempts was the right decision.
“When you play a team like that you've got to go out there and you've got to take chances,” Morris said. “You've got to find a way to steal some possessions. Whether it's stealing one on offense, whether it's getting turnovers or whether it's trying to make some plays on special teams, we gave those guys an opportunity to go out there and make some plays.
“Unfortunately we didn’t make those two plays, but if we do it's a different ball game and we've got a better chance. Those guys backed me up yesterday after we didn’t go get it. Elbert Mack came up and stole a possession for us with the interception. That stuff doesn’t happen to [Aaron] Rodgers. He's thrown three all year and for us to get one yesterday and steal a possession that way was awesome.
"That was a great job by our team [of] nobody blinking,” Morris continued. “Everybody understood the philosophy. Everybody understood the plan going into that game. We talked about it on Monday. We talked about it on Tuesday. We talked about it on Wednesday. We talked about it on Thursday and we talked about it on Friday and Saturday. Then Sunday we went out and tried to execute it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get those two big ones that we wanted. Certainly would have been a nice deal there. They stole the possession on us on that fake punt or the block, drop, pick-up, scramble, so it is what it is. It's just a good football team.”
Michael Koenen talked about the two onside kick attempts that were both unsuccessful.
“The second time it felt pretty good,” Koenen said. “The first one I knew was going to be short so I was just trying to cover it. The second did feel pretty good. I watched it back on film and it looked like it just sped up on me. I tried to dive on it but it squirted out. Wish I could do it again, but I can’t.
“It's a finesse thing where you are trying to hit it eleven or twelve yards but I just hit it a little light and it just died in the grass. I realized it was going to be a bad play on my part and I didn’t want to make it worse by letting them scoop and score. I was just trying to cover it up and minimize the damage.”
The play of the secondary was up and down for most of the afternoon. Holding Aaron Rodgers to less than 300 yards passing is almost a win in itself, but too many penalties again doomed the Buccaneers, particularly in the fourth quarter. Morris commented about a big bright spot in his opinion: the play of cornerback Aqib Talib.
“It might be Talib’s best game I’ve seen him play,” Morris said. “He pretty much was man-on-man with one of the best wideouts in the league in my opinion. And he pretty much played man-on-man every single snap. He went out there and got three knocked-down passes for us. [Greg] Jennings had two catches for six yards. [Talib] had some big tackles for us. He played physical, he played strong. He didn’t have any penalties. He was huge.
“You get on the plane and second guess yourself and say we should have put him on Jordy, but then Jennings would have killed us. It's what it is, man. You have to go out there and compete and you have to take your hat off to the Green Bay Packers, the coaching staff and their players for going out there and competing the way they did.”
Talib stood in front of the microphones but was in no mood to talk about his play.
“We went down there to get a W and came back with an L, so [there is] no moral victory,” Talib said. "We lost. We didn’t play good enough.”
PewterReport.com asked Morris in his press conference how much the decision to practice in pads had on the improved play over last week against Houston.
“I would like to think a lot of it was attributed to that,” Morris said. “I saw my receivers go out there and compete at the highest level we have seen all season. Competing down the field making plays. Mike Williams and Rejus [Arrelious] Benn in particular. And Kellen Winslow. They made a bunch of plays in coverage against some really good DB’s and linebackers. And that’s what it has to be about. That Blount run was a direct reflection of getting back to running in pads and lowering your level and making people tackle Blount. That was a direct reflection in my opinion of what the practices were about last week. He got the ball and broke a bunch of tackles. I could go upstairs and try to draw that run up again and we might never be able to do it again without LeGarrette Blount running behind his pads like he did.”
With six losses and six games to go, the Buccaneers’ head coach knows there is no more room for error this season.
“I told them yesterday we have six more and we've got to go out there and we've got to knock off one at a time,” Morris said. “You've got to play each game and there's still time to get hot. We can still finish with the same record we had last year if we got our minds right and we go out and play hard and fast, physical and smart. Those are things that can happen for us. We've got to go out there and think that way every time we approach the field and every time we go out there.”