If you want to know what's wrong with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the line starts way back there.
But save yourself a lot of time and sore feet.
Remember how during spring and summer workouts new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith kept saying we are a 4-12 team?
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Well, the Bucs were -- and are -- a 4-12 team.
Two weeks ago, they lost to a backup quarterback. On Sunday, they lost to third-stringer Austin Davis, who did enough things well to get the St. Louis Rams a 19-17 victory.
Again, Bucs quarterback Josh McCown did just enough to get this
Tampa Bay had a first-and-goal at the Rams 9-yard line with the scored tied at 7 in the second quarter when he threw an ill-advised pass you'd expect from a high school kid, not a 35-year-old veteran with more than a decade of NFL experience.
The Rams intercepted and the Bucs lost at least three points.
"It was a bad decision. I can't do that," McCown said after the game.
We could've played the audio from his comments last week and saved him some breath.
But there were many reasons the Bucs lost and it can be broken down into a simple fact: They are a 4-12 team.
They had a field goal blocked, a punt blocked that led to a Rams field goal, the McCown interception and had only one takeaway.
"Those mistakes throw you off. You are not going to win many games doing that," Smith said. "You just don't lose a football game on one play. We had so many opportunities and we had injuries, but we don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves with Atlanta coming up quickly (Thursday night)."
The Bucs went into the game without their starting defensive ends and other assorted injuries that had five starters out. Then they lost their best defensive player, tackle Gerald McCoy, to a broken hand and middle linebacker Mason Foster.
Still they made a game of it albeit against a team missing its first two quarterbacks.
"Losing your 3-technique guy (McCoy) and your mike (middle linebacker) puts your defense in a hole, but nobody wants to hear that," Smith said. "We can't use it (injuries) as an excuse. Everybody has injuries. We had our opportunities. Until we clean up those things and stop making major mistakes we are not going to win many games."
Smith had no explanation for how the Rams drove from their 9 to the Tampa Bay 20 and hit the game-winning field goal with 42 seconds left. The key play was a 25-yarder to Austin Pettis when St. Louis had a third-and-9 at its own 48.
"When you can't get pressure with a four-man rush, you have to blitz more than you want, and then you're putting guys in man-to-man situations and we didn't really match up as well as we needed to with that," Smith said.
You hope Smith and his offensive staff haven't lost confidence in McCown but conservative play calling after his interception suggests otherwise.
Leading 14-13 in the last 27 seconds of the third quarter the Bucs had a third-and-7 at the Rams 9-yard line. It was an obvious passing situation, but Rainey got the ball and gained only 3 yards. Tampa Bay tried a field goal that was blocked.
The Bucs had a third-and-2 at the Rams 16 in the fourth quarter trailing 14-13 with 6:03 left and ran Mike James, who lost 2 yards.
They didn't bother calling timeouts on the Rams field goal drive at the end of the fourth quarter, which would've given Tampa the ball with more time.
"We wanted to go into halftime and not go in the hole anymore," Smith said. "Right before half, I felt the only thing that can happen is bad and felt we needed to go into half without anything bad happening."
Is that an indictment of McCown?
Smith said he might call a different play on third-and-9 given another chance, but was adamant he hadn't lost faith in McCown.
The quarterback said he was surprised by the play call, but didn't believe it had anything to do with the coaching staff losing confidence in him.
"Our guys fought hard and we were banged up. We will handle situations better next time and eventually we are going to start winning football games," Smith said.
He will be bombarded with questions as he gets ready for Atlanta, but the answer is simple: The Bucs are a 4-12 team.
Alan Dell, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.