The Buccaneers let a golden opportunity slip through their hands. Undermanned against the 49ers, Tampa Bay got the game into the fourth quarter and needed a critical stop, trailing 20-14 in the fourth quarter. The Bucs couldn't get off the field when they needed it the most and said on Monday it will be tough to get over this one.
Head coach Greg Schiano said it last week – for the Bucs to win their game against San Francisco they would need to keep it close, and get it into the fourth quarter.
Schiano and his troops did just that, but 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had other ideas, and almost singlehandedly willed his team to victory, with a 17-play, 77-yard 10:27 fourth quarter drive that broke the Bucs spirit.
Schiano was still sick to his stomach nearly 24 hours later when he addressed the media Monday afternoon at One Buc Place.
“After having a chance to study the tape, several of the same feelings that I had last night – really disappointing because in our preparation we kind of scripted out how we thought we had an opportunity to win this football game,” Schiano said. “I’m really proud of our guys because it didn’t exactly come off the first half when we were down 17-0, that wasn’t exactly the script, but making it an opportunity where we could win the game in the fourth quarter or at least have the opportunity to.
“Our guys battled back, that two minute drive before the half, I thought was a critical score, and then cutting it to a 20-14 – being in that position until that third-and-12 play – but we were unable to get it done against the defending NFC Champs, one of the healthiest best teams, at least in our conference, and they’re kind of hitting stride right now. I’m not happy by any means by with by what the outcome was, but at the same token I thought there were a lot of positives in the way they played. We just didn’t quite have enough to get the job done.”
Talking to the media in open locker room defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was still obviously pained by what happened on Sunday.
“At the end of the game we’ve got to execute,” McCoy said. “I think we didn’t execute well. In the end it was a collective effort, just the calls we were put in and then, really, just the players just executing. It’s a very fine line in the NFL when you’re playing guys who are equally as talented or more talented. The margin of error is zero so you’ve got to be almost perfect and it just comes down to execution at the end of the game. We were right where we wanted to be. Coach told us that if we were within a touchdown going into the fourth then we were in the game, but it just wasn’t executed in the end.”
McCoy also pointed to the San Francisco drive that took up over 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, but said Tampa Bay had other chances earlier in the game.
“17 plays straight. That definitely wasn’t the greatest showing we had, but there’s a lot of different moments in the game where we could’ve been better. We watched eight plays in particular where could’ve been better which could’ve saved a lot but just being third-and-15 or third-and-12 twice, [third-and-] 11 conversions – you can’t do that. I don’t think it was just that drive, it was a lot more.”
And it wasn’t just defensive players who are having a difficult time letting the loss go. Starting right tackle Demar Dotson said the team has to do just that – get over it.
“It hurts, I still have the feeling in my stomach because I think that we prepared all week and worked all week and we had a good game plan going into that football game,” Dotson said. “To come [up] shorthanded, it hurts, but it’s a part of the game, it’s a part of life so we’ve got to put it aside because we have another game to play. We can’t let the San Francisco game carry into the St. Louis game.”
Schiano said as difficult as it was, the team knows there are two games left, and can’t let the past affect them negatively.
“It probably would’ve been 21-20, if we’re going to win that game it’s a 21-20 or a 24 one of those deals and it didn’t,” Schiano said. “I get … I feel we have to use this to fuel our fire going forward this week because it’s going to be a huge test going on the road. Our guys really put a lot into this preparation for this game, we watched it, we’ve got to flush it now and we have to move forward or otherwise the 49ers will get us twice and we can’t let that happen.”
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