Yesterday's game had its positives and negatives. The Bucs played a pretty good game against a very strong game. The offense finally had a good game, while the defense did its best but came up short in coverage against the best quarterback in the game. The Bucs can be proud of their effort, but they cannot be satisfied with a loss. The end result was not what they needed.
And to an extent, the Bucs showed this when talking to the media yesterday. Josh Freeman put the loss on the team. "We just weren't sharp enough, didn't make enough big plays, didn't score enough points." said the quarterback in his post-game press conference. Raheem Morris said the same thing. "We came here to win the game, make no mistakes about it, and we didn't. So we're very disappointed in what happened there."
And that's the right attitude to have: the Bucs have to come into every game to win it. And when they don't win the game, that just means they didn't make enough play. The Bucs showed improvement, but they still lost and they're almost certainly out of playoff contention now. And when they lose the game, the attitude has to be "We have to play better". But not everyone agreed, yesterday. Some preferred to blame the referees.
And with 'some', I mean mostly Kellen Winslow, who after the game seemed to blame the referees for losing them the game, per the St. Petersburg Times: "I really felt we made enough plays to beat those guys. It's hard when you put the game in the refs' hands. That's all I can say."
Raheem Morris said something like that, too. "The penalties are what they are. They're judgement calls and their judgement went against us a lot of the time." Morris didn't blame the referees, but there's a trace of dissatisfaction with the referees there. To be fair to Morris, he also consistently says that they can't let the penalties they can't control stop them.
The problem with an attitude like that is focusing on things that have nothing to do with how you play the game. Sure, the referees had a few close calls go against the Bucs - but none of those calls were clearly wrong, either. And if you listened to Green Bay Packer fans during the game, you would be convinced the referees were letting a lot of defensive and offensive holding slide.
This kind of attitude has been with the Buccaneers for two years now. Every time they get a few calls to go against them, you hear about it afterwards. But whenever calls go their way, like they did in the past couple of games, the referees are never mentioned. That kind of attitude is not going to get help a team get any wins. Instead it sounds like a team making excuses for why they didn't make more plays.
Whether the Buccaneers got some bad calls to go against them doesn't really matter, because it's not something they can control. The Bucs can't dwell on bad decisions or bad plays. They have to move on to the next play and beat the opponent - again. If you want to win games, you will have to overcome a few bad decisions.
Compare Winslow's post-game comments to Aaron Rodgers' post-game comments. Despite winning the game and posting ungodly numbers for the 348th time in a row, Rodgers wasn't satisfied. Instead, he was frustrated with his performance. He felt it wasn't good enough. And that was in a win. That's the kind of mentality champions show, and it's the kind of mentality the Buccaneers need.
Instead, it feels like the Bucs too often let things they can't control bother them and stand in the way of winning games. The Bucs need to fix what they can control, continue to improve, and make enough plays so the referees can't stand in the way of victory.