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Bucs’ Lovie Smith says that despite loss, his team is still in it

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The NFL playoffs look further away than ever for the Tampa Bay Bucs, but coach Lovie Smith says he isn’t surrendering.

One day after a disappointing loss to New Orleans dropped the Bucs to 6-7 on the season and two games out of the playoff race, Smith said there is still a chance.

“The same goals we had are still there,” Smith said. “Nothing has been decided, so we are still talking about the same thing. We have three games left to go and the team that’s ahead of us has eight wins. You don’t get into the playoffs with eight wins. Everything that we said before we started yesterday’s game, we’re talking about the same things. In order for those things to happen though, we have to play our best football so it all goes hand-in-hand.”

This week, the Bucs play in St. Louis on Thursday night.

“That’s exactly how you want to do it. It was disappointing yesterday,” Smith said. “There’s no other way around it. To answer your question, it was disappointing yesterday. When you are disappointed you want to make it right and get a chance to come back. We’ve had some disappointments this year and what I’ve seen from my football team is we have bounced back. So to be able to play that game a little bit early is a good thing.”

Smith, speaking in his day-after press conference, talked about the limited number of snaps where running back Doug Martin touched the ball, only 11 including three straight passes right after he had a 24-yard run.

“We had opportunities to complete those pass-pass-passes,” Smith said. “Yes, you can look at that. It’s so easy to second-guess afterwards, but when you are trying to win – and we completed some passes. That last touchdown that we had was a pass. You can complete passes too and we had good matchups with this defense against the pass. Today, after we lost like we did, yes easy to say.”

Smith said he was looking forward to his team playing a rare prime-time game.

“As we go to that next stage, which we will eventually get to, we’re going to have a lot of these primetime games,” Smith said. “It is a big thing. We’ve been there two years, right? How many times have we been in primetime? One of them. One other. Yeah, this is a part of it.

“This is a big deal to us. We have an opportunity where we are the only team that is playing at the time and we want to show people we’ve improved. We’re not the same old Bucs or any of that. We’ve improved an awful lot and now we get an opportunity to show you.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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