The anguish of losing late haunts Bucs

by Gary Shelton on December 27, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Bucs' coach Dirk Koeetter admits job talk is a distraction./CARMEN MANDATO

Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter admits job talk is a distraction./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 2 a.m.

Lately, you can hear the frustration of losing from the Tampa Bay Bucs. It sounds like a wounded cry.

One week after watching an official trip and possibly cost the Bucs a final play to move closer for a field goal, the Bucs were venting after a pair of officials' calls late. One was a fourth-and-inches where the Panthers were awarded the ball. The other was a late fumble by quarterback Jameis Winston.

Together, the calls have left this Bucs' team frustrated.

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Winston was upset by  call on Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston was upset by call on Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, the sound of shouting could be heard from the Bucs' locker room.

"I just think when you lose a hard-fought game like that -- that's why they call it a cooling-off period," said coach Dirk Koetter. "Emotions are running hot and that game -- we had a lot of opportunities to win. We couldn't do it. Nobody is happy about that. A shouting match -- I don't think that would be the first or last time that has ever happened."

On the Bucs' final play, Jameis Winston fumbled for the third time. Officials awarded the ball to Carolina, even though Winston insisted he had possession of the ball.

"Any time your emotion leads to a 15-yard penalty, yeah, that is getting too emotional," said Koetter. "Jameis is a fighter and he is a great competitor. He felt like he recovered the fumble all the way. They (the officials) went up and waved it Carolina’s ball right off the bat and then it sure took them a long time to un-pile them.  When they came out of the pile, (it was) between Jameis and Julius Peppers, Jameis had the football and he told me he had it the whole time. But the fact that he got a penalty on it – the game was over at that point, so it didn’t matter, but obviously, you don’t want unsportsmanlike penalties.”

Before that, the Bucs felt they had stopped the Panthers on a fourth-and-inches play. Because it was in the final two minutes, the Bucs were unable to challenge.

“(It was) inside two minutes, so when I was asking the (official) on our sideline about that, I kept saying, ‘Are they looking at that? Are they looking at that?’ They can hear on their headsets. I’m not sure what the communication was, but he said if they were going to buzz down they would have buzzed down.

“Where I was, when they measured, I couldn’t even see (if) they needed to get the paper out there. I couldn’t see it, but even when they measured some of our linemen were pointing the other way, but there (were) too many bodies between me and them. I couldn’t see the sticks and the ball.”

Koetter praised quarterback Jameis Winston, who has hit 77 percent of his passes over the last two weeks.

“There (are) a million ways you can slice up statistics,"

Koetter said. "I think you look at the games Jameis was healthy this year, his statistics are pretty good. It’s hard to say exactly which games he was entirely healthy and which ones he wasn’t, but we know there was a part there in the middle where he wasn’t.

"I think health is the number one thing with Jameis’ recent performance and then he has been making excellent decisions. Again, I would attribute it to health, but he has been really throwing the proper type of pass based on the route and the coverage. By that, I mean he is not trying to throw too hard, he is throwing with excellent touch [and] when he does have to put one in there, he has done that as well. That would lead me to believe that he wasn’t able to do those (things) in some of those games, but there is a lot to that. There is defenses involved and routes and who is open and who is not and reads, but Jameis has played pretty darn well here these last few games since he has come back.”

Koetter admitted that speculation about his job was a distraction.

“Well of course – it’s your life," Koetter said. "It’s what you do. Just flip it around and of course it is. But we all, coaches and players, get paid to do a job. You try to do it to the best of your ability. That is all you can do."

Sunday's season finale against the Saints is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

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