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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

First taste of victory leaves Bucs wanting more

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano doesn't spend a lot of time celebrating victories. He usually gives himself only about an hour to enjoy a triumph, then it's back to work.

It was that way even late Monday night.

In the wake of the Bucs' 22-19 victory over the Dolphins, their first win after eight straight losses to start the year, Schiano stuck to his one-hour routine.

“It was a good hour, though,'' Schiano said.

It wasn't a particularly exciting hour. Schiano spent it chomping on some chicken strips culled from the dinner spread laid out for the players, then it was off to bed.

By early Tuesday morning, he was back to work.

“You really don't have a long time to enjoy it,'' Schiano said. “But I'll tell you what, it was good to be in that locker room and to see the smiles on (the players') faces. Hopefully, that relieves some pressure off the guys.''

It seems to have done that. Players who had been quick to leave the locker room after losses hung around far longer than usual on Monday night, when smiles, fist bumps and high fives were in abundance once again.

“A win cures everything,'' cornerback Darrelle Revis said shortly after he sealed the victory with his interception of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's last-gasp pass with 1:35 to play.

“We've been through a lot here this year. We were 0-8 and that's tough. So, winning is sweet, especially when you do it at home. It feels great. We need to start doing a lot more of that around here.''

That's the Bucs' new objective. With that elusive first win finally out of the way, their goal is to turn one win into two, two into three and three into four. The Bucs believe that is entirely possible.

They've been saying all along that one win was all they needed to get on a roll that leads to several more. Their belief is that in beating the Dolphins they found their winning formula.

“This one can get us started, because tonight we played like we're capable of playing,'' Revis said. “We made the plays when we needed to make the plays. We shut them down on the ground and we showed up big at the end.''

It was the defense that showed up the biggest at the end, sacking Tannehill twice in succession for total losses of 18 yards on the two plays preceding Revis' fourth-down interception.

But it was another mid-game defensive lapse that made that late stand so necessary. One week after squandering a 21-point lead in an overtime loss at Seattle, the Bucs squandered a 15-point lead to the Dolphins.

“I don't care who you were in that stadium, there was a part of you that said, 'Oh, no — again?' '' Schiano said. “So, for our players to bow their neck, especially during that (last Miami) drive, that was very, very big.

“It's big because it's hard to win in this league. And as the losses mount, then that first win becomes harder and harder to get. So, I hope now that our guys can just go out and play and not feel any additional pressure.''

Some Bucs are almost certain to feel additional pressure in the coming weeks because their roles are about to change dramatically.

Schiano confirmed Tuesday that rookie Mike James will become the fourth running back lost for the season to injury after breaking an ankle early in Monday's game. That means Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey are about to get a lot more playing time.

New pressures are starting to mount on the defense as well, and not just because the Bucs have to figure out a way to avoid the lapses that allowed their past two opponents to erase sizeable leads.

With the offense compromised by the loss of James, it will fall to the defense to play even better than it did Monday in allowing just 2 yards rushing and 213 yards overall.

“Can't stop, can't get comfortable, can't be satisfied,'' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “Yeah, we got our first win, but now we need to keep this going.''

That's just what Schiano hoped to hear from his players during that hour he spent enjoying the team's first victory. He doesn't believe those players have it in them to relax now that their first win is in the books, but it's good to be reassured.

“No, I don't think that's going to happen,'' Schiano said of the team relaxing. “Not with this group. Not with the losses as hard as they've been. I think, more than anything, these guys are going to cherish the feeling of winning and are going to want it back again.''

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