TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris is not giving up on the season despite a five-game losing streak that has all but ended any playoff hopes.
“We remain committed to growing as a football team,” Morris said on Monday, one day after Tampa Bay dropped to 4-7 following a 23-17 loss at Tennessee. “I don’t think the mentality of this team is ever going to change.”
Morris said he has a bunch of guys playing with pride.
“They’re not done playing, and we’re not done coaching,” he said. “We’ll keep going out there and keep giving it our best effort. I don’t see any quit in these guys.”
Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib called the long skid “the most frustrating thing that can happen to a football team.”
“We’ve just got to find a way,” Talib said. “It’s all about finding a way. We go out there and play on Sunday, we try to win. Stuff happened and we lost. It’s football.”
The Bucs continued a season-long trend of not finishing games. Tampa Bay had the ball late looking for the win on Sunday, but quarterback Josh Freeman fumbled a fourth-down snap, recovered the ball and only managed to get back near the line of scrimmage with 40 seconds left.
Officials ruled Tampa Bay had turned the ball over on downs, and the Titans ran out the clock to finish off the six-point victory.
“That’s been the deal,” Morris said. “We’ve had, I think, three games right now with the ball in our hands with a chance to get the lead and win. You got the Detroit game, the first game of the season, yesterday and the Chicago Bear game. Last year we won those games. We haven’t been able to get that this year.”
Freeman threw for 199 yards and a touchdown, but he had an interception and lost a fumble.
“We’ve got to play better,” Morris said. “Guys got to step up. We don’t make excuses. We didn’t play well.”
Chris Johnson ran for 190 yards, and Matt Hasselbeck threw the go-ahead touchdown to Damian Williams on fourth down with 3:01 left against a struggling Tampa Bay defense.
“I don’t know, man,” Talib said. “I don’t have the answer.”
Tampa Bay had been giving up 133.5 yards rushing per game. Johnson shredded the Bucs at times after being booed heavily most of this season after signing a $53.5 million extension.
The Bucs will look to stop the lengthy slide this Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers.
“We’re grown men,” Talib said. “We’ve all had seasons like this. We’ve got more games to play, so we’re going to play more games.”
Notes: Morris said the status of DT Brian Price, who hurt an ankle Sunday, will be evaluated during the week.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.