On Sunday, the Buccaneers' hopes at finishing .500 vanished as the team dropped, 26-21, to the Bears at home. It was the Bucs' final regular season game at Raymond James Stadium this season and also marked the Bucs' third loss in a row - something that, understandably, is unsettling to rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.
The Buccaneers still have one game remaining on the schedule – a showdown with the division champion Panthers, who enter the game with a 14-1 record. Although Tampa Bay has been eliminated from playoff contention, Winston hopes to use his team's final regular season game as an opportunity to rebound from their recent struggles and head into the offseason on a positive note.
"We've just got to bounce back," Winston said following the Bucs' Week 16 loss to the Bears. "It's the NFL; sometimes this stuff happens. Obviously, we don't want it to happen to us, but it happened. We've got to be accountable and every one of those games, it's our fault."
The Bucs' season finale is an opportunity for the Bucs to end their season on a high note and a chance for Winston to rebound from one of his worst outings of the season. When Tampa Bay and Carolina met in Week 4, Winston was intercepted four times, the most in a single game in his NFL career.
"We've got to make plays," Winston said. "That's been the same thing with us the whole year. Got to make plays, can't turn the football over. We didn't take care of the football (against the Bears), especially me, and we've got to bounce back. We've got to learn from that, got to play against the best team in the league next week."
Winston and the Bucs can hand Carolina their second loss of the season after the Panthers' undefeated streak was snapped by the Falcons in Week 16. If the Bucs win, the Panthers could potentially be knocked from the No. 1 seed in the NFC.