At the start of the second quarter Thursday night, with the Falcons leading the Bucs 10-7 and driving, Atlanta guard Andy Levitre was called for a facemask on third-and-7. That could’ve set up third-and-22 from the Bucs 38-yard line which, in turn, would’ve set up a 56-yard field goal, provided the defense could hold.

Instead, the Bucs cut their losses and declined the penalty to make it fourth-and-7, setting kicker Matt Bryant up for a 41-yard field goal.

Many saw coach Dirk Koetter’s decision as a lack of confidence in his defense. After basically admitting as much after the game – “We thought [giving Atlanta another down] was probably going to end up about the same way and possibly worse” – Koetter walked back his statement and decision to decline the penalty on Friday.

“If I had that to do over again, we should have taken that penalty,” Koetter said. “And that’s on me.”

Before the flag on third-and-7, the Bucs had already been bailed out once on the same play when Falcons’ tight end Austin Hooper dropped a wide-open touchdown. A lack of confidence in the defense, one that had already surrendered four plays of over 15 yards by that point in the game, wouldn’t have been without reason.

But Koetter insisted that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t want anyone to read into that, that we didn’t have confidence or anything like that,” Koetter said. “That was just a bad decision by me … “I mean, you’re going to read into it what you read into it, but I just told you, that’s a bad decision by me.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]
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5 years ago

This is why I support Koetter because he will admit to his mistakes and also learns from them. Right now I can’t say that for Mike Smith. I definitely not supporting Licht until he convinces me he really knows what he is doing with the draft picks. I’m leaning right now he is a river boat gambler and that spells big trouble.

5 years ago

I was at the game and Ibdidnt have any problem with declining. Let’s see.. we had a Def holding last Sunday that cost us the game. We had a BS Def PI in the end zone Thurs night that cost us a TD. To allow them to run another play and get a 1st down off a cheap penalty. Koetter was right it’s either equal or worse outcome. If he did decline it and the scenario I outlined occurred everyone’s story would be how we should have taken the Penalty to set up 4th down.