Head Coach Tony Dungy plans to keep handing the ball to FB Mike Alstott
Of course, you knew that Tampa Bay Head Coach Tony Dungy wasn't going to gloat over his team's victory over Kansas City. You might have expected a little satisfaction, maybe happiness that his squad moved to 5-4 and seemingly back into the NFC Central title hunt.
What Dungy was feeling on Monday morning, after the reviewing the game film of the Bucs' 17-10 win over the Chiefs was a mixture of relief and disappointment. That's what will happen when your team basically dominates its opponent on both sides of the ball for three quarters but barely holds on for a slim victory. Tampa Bay became just the fourth team this decade to commit six turnovers in a game and still find a way to win, but Dungy knows that formula won't hold up very often.
"I think that was definitely one of those games where it feels good to win," said Dungy on Monday, "but, when you've had a day to reflect on it and see some of the errors we made, it's not really a great feeling. We can play a lot better, and we're going to have to play a lot better. Maybe it's a good sign that we didn't play as well as we can and we still won."
Of course, the main focus of Dungy's disappointment was the team's five fumbles, most of which shortcircuited strong scoring chances. FB Mike Alstott was the victim on three of thos fumbles, but Dungy's not sure there is anything wrong with Alstott's technique. He certainly does not plan to take the ball out of the hands of the team's leading runner, even if defenses are going to be trying to.
"The only thing we can do is tell him to hold the ball tighter," said Dungy. "I looked at all three (of Alstott's fumbles) and it's nothing where the ball is loose (in his grip). You put one hand over the point and put the other point in your elbow area, and Mike basically did that on all three. He's carrying the ball the right way…he just needs to hold on tighter. He has to make an effort to know that, at least for the next few weeks, that's what people are going to try to do (force him to fumble)."
Of course, not everything was painful to watch, as the Buccaneer offense hit on several long plays and rolled up 370 yards of offense, 270 through the air. The Bucs' defense was masterful for most of the afternoon, allowing just 117 yards through the first three quarters and forcing 11 straight drives of four or less plays.
"I thought our defense did a good job of holding us in there," said Dungy. "I think we got nine or ten three-and-outs in a row, which kept giving the ball back to our offense. Special teams-wise, we did a good job and got that field position that kind of kept the game in our favor. Offensively, we moved it and had some good things go on. We ran the ball pretty well most of the time and we made some big plays in the throwing game, but we just didn't hang onto the ball, and that was disappointing."
Of course, it would be against Dungy's nature to put too much emphasis on any win. Just as they felt after last week's win at New Orleans, the Buccaneers believe yesterday's victory is only helpful if it begins a winning streak.
"It would be better to be in Detroit's position, but we're not, so we have to try and keep winning," said Dungy. "What we preach is that we're going to go out and practice again this week and see if we can keep that tempo at a high level. We need to try to win this one and go from there. It seems like we're not the type of team that can look down the road and say we've got three out of four here, or something needs to happen to help us. We've just got to focus on winning each week."
Monday is generally a game-review day in the NFL, but the Buccaneer coaches should be fully into their preparations for the Atlanta Falcons by Tuesday. That will be good for Dungy, who probably prefers to focus on something besides yesterday's troublesome game film.