RB Warrick Dunn believes that turnovers are the Bucs' most pressing issue at this point
For the third week in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a game they felt they had in their grasps. This time, the heartbreaker occurred in Minnesota, where a 23-20 lead turned into a 30-23 loss and a second Buccaneer comeback failed to materialize.
Afterwards, the Buccaneers opened the locker room to the media and searched for answers to the three-game losing streak. What follows are some of their thoughts.
Jacquez Green on turnovers: "We played hard, but you can't turn the ball over. That's the thing that's killed us the last couple of weeks. We turned the ball over the last three weeks and still had a chance to win at the end of the game (each time). So, if we eliminate the turnovers, we could be 6-0 right now."
Ronde Barber on how the Bucs lost: "We had a lot of opportunities. We turned the ball over too much and gave up the big play when we really didn't need it. I don't know. It was one of those games where you look back and it seems like we should have won.
"We had some turnovers, penalties when we didn't need them, gave up a big play when we couldn't afford it. I don't know…we're beating ourselves. I think we match up well with this team, but some way or another they find a way to make a bigger play than we do."
Barber on the Vikings' big passing plays: "There's nothing I can say about it. Guys are in position and we just miss the ball. It's frustrating but I think we played well, we played hard. Give them a lot of credit, as always. They outplayed us and made the big play when they had to."
Barber on the offensive and defensive role reversals: "What can we say? The offense played great and the defense struggled. That last drive, they pretty much marched all the way down the field on us. We couldn't do anything on third down to stop them. When they win that third-down battle, they usually win the game.
Jeff Christy on the Bucs' failures on short-yardage plays: "We said we were going to run it in a key situation, and you can't get any more key than that situation right there. We just didn't execute. Guys aren't making plays, people aren't executing, and we have to get better. It sounds repetitive, but we have to get better. Guys have to start making plays. That's the bottom line."
Warren Sapp on the near miss: "I think we played hard, we just aren't playing well enough to win. We had enough points to win and we just can't let them score anymore and we did. They just made the plays down the stretch to win the game. We had them right where we wanted them. If we didn't turn the ball over too many times, give them the short field, let them score on two 20-yard drives…some other things like that that kind of drive you crazy. Third-and-one, we've got to get better. Fourth-and-one, we've got to hit the wide open man. We're just not making the plays when we need them."
Sapp on his blocked field goal: "I missed the two before that, so I was overdue. I was in there on the first two and just missed him. The second one came out crazy and just went around my hand. We had momentum at that point and felt like we had a chance to put them away. But they got the ball back to their offense and it didn't work out that way and they won the game.
Sapp on the effects of the bye week: "It's just getting tougher and tougher. Every week we lose, it's getting a little bit longer and little bit longer before we can step back on the field and right this ship we're in right now. We have 10 days to prepare ourselves and come out and play a good ballgame against Detroit on Sunday night. We've got to have it."
Donnie Abraham on giving up 30 points: "We came into the game saying, 'No matter what happens, we're going to stay together as a defense and we're going to play hard. It's a lot of points (to give up), but it's the NFL also. There are good offenses in this league and you're going to have weeks like that, when offenses are going to put a lot of points up against you. You just have to bounce back.
Mike Alstott on where the Bucs go from 3-3: "This team has heart. We have a lot of heart and a lot of character, and we'll fight back. This team never gives up. We've been in these situations before. In '97, we went 5-0 then dropped three. Last year, we started out 3-4 and came back and put ourselves in a good situation for the playoffs. We're going to fight back."
Warrick Dunn on the turnover problems: "Well, we didn't win, so I think from here on out we have to get back on track, start a winning streak and just find out what we're doing wrong to put ourselves in this position. Right now, turnovers are killing us and we're not helping the defense out at all.
"The turnovers definitely stand out. You get one on a kickoff return, which is unusual, then another one on a punt return. That takes us off the field and puts our defense back on the field. It puts a lot of pressure on those guys; they've been out there working their butts off. As an offense, we want to get into a groove, get long scoring drives and try to help our offense out."