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Lovie Smith: Penalties 'killing' Buccaneers

12/1/2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- By his standards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith had some strong words about his team's penalties in Sunday's 14-13 loss to the Cincinnati.

"No defense for [penalties]," Smith said. "They're killing our team."

The Bucs were penalized 13 times for 94 yards. A crucial penalty at the end of the game prevented the Bucs from attempting what could have been the winning field goal.

Known as a calm, low-key personality, Smith admitted he was upset about the penalties.

"Am I angry right now?" Smith said. "I guess the only way I wouldn't be angry was if I was satisfied with what's going on right now. I'm not going to start throwing stuff, kicking guys around, getting physical on the sideline. But I'm disappointed in where our football team is right now. I'm doing everything I possibly can to get this fixed."

Smith said the penalties have tested one of his basic philosophies. He believes it's critical for the defense to come up with takeaways. The Bucs had three Sunday and that's what Smith expects. What he doesn't expect is losing games where his team comes up with takeaways.

"Normally, I preach turnover ratio," Smith said. "If you win that, then you're going to win the football game. What I've found out this year is that that many penalties can offset anything you do with the turnovers."

Penalties were a problem for the Bucs throughout the game. But one in particular was extremely costly. That came with 26 seconds left in the game. It appeared as if Josh McCown had just completed a pass to Louis Murphy that would have given the Bucs the ball at the Cincinnati 20-yard line.

McCown said he was prepared to let the clock run down until about four seconds and then spike the ball. After that, the plan was for Patrick Murray to attempt a field goal. But Murray never got the chance.

Officials reviewed the play and determined the Bucs had 12 men on the field.

"It's a sin, kind of as simple as that," Smith said. "Can't do it. We have a lot of safeguards in place for that not to happen, but they all fell through, starting with me not seeing it. That's why we have two wins right now and we haven't won at home based on how we've played at the end of the game."

What happened on the play was that offensive tackle Oniel Cousins entered the game as an extra tight end, but Robert Herron, the fourth wide receiver, didn't come out of the game.

With injuries at tight end, the Bucs knew all week they'd be using Cousins as a blocking tight end. Smith said the team went over the procedure for getting the proper personnel grouping on the field.

"Quite a bit," Smith said. "It happened at the end of the game. A lot is going on then. Keep in mind, we did that throughout the game and we didn't have 12 guys on the field. We had a week to put [Cousins] in a different role. I can't give you an excuse why. That's not it. We did go over it last week. It was a mistake that we made in the heat of the battle."