After playing five quarters and 92 snaps on Sunday in a 30-24 overtime loss to Oakland, the Bucs’ defense struggled again Thursday in a divisional loss to the Falcons with just four days off.
But that quick turnaround isn’t being used as an excuse for a defense that allowed 461 yards, even against one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.
“Whether it’s a factor or not, we can’t use it as an excuse … it’s football,” Bucs cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah said. “Whether we went into double overtime or whatever it was, we need to come out and play when the ball is snapped and today we just didn’t click.”
In their last two games combined, spanning five days, the Tampa Bay defense has given up 1,087 yards and 73 points.
Despite holding a one-point lead with 8:35 remaining in the first half, the Bucs allowed 27 unanswered points, putting them in a hole once again that they couldn’t get out of.
“The third quarter got out of hand,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “We let it get away from us. We can’t have those moments. We have to learn to finish games.
“We finished the first half off well and let them score the first drive of the second half and it just kind of got out of hand from there.”
McCoy attributes some of the struggles to members of the defense trying to do too much rather than playing their assignments.
“It’s guys just trying to do too much trying to make a play instead of just doing what you’re asked to do on that particular call and let the plays come to you,” McCoy said. “This isn’t the kind of defense where you can go make a play. You gotta be in your gap. This defense is set up for everyone to make plays, but when you go try and make a play, that’s when we get gashed.”
For McCoy, tough losses like these have become somewhat of a trend over his six-year career. Since being drafted third overall by the Bucs in 2010, Tampa Bay has gone 36-60 with just one winning season.
And it’s not getting any easier for the All-Pro tackle.
“It’s just another rough time for me,” McCoy said. “Just gotta fight through it, keep pushing. The first half of the season, we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to, but that’s why there’s two halves.”
With a short week comes an extended break following it up. It’s a break that McCoy feels needs to be spent with self-reflection rather than placing blame.
“We have to take these three days off and evaluate ourselves and do some soul searching, individually,” McCoy said. “Not by pointing fingers like ‘it’s this or it’s that.’ Everybody has to look at themselves and see what they can do better. The next few days need to just really be a break.