Raheem Morris said he has to do a better job of clock management at the end of the half, an issue that reared its head again in Sunday's 38-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The Bucs trailed 10-7 when they took possession of the ball at their own 25-yard line with 2:09 remaining in the first half.
But the Bucs went three-and-out, failing to gain a yard. Tampa Bay elapsed just 31 seconds off the clock on two incomplete passes by rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, including one on third-and-10.
The Saints, who boast the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense, needed just 1:10 to drive 63 yards in five plays for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead.
"That's on me. Completely," Morris said Monday. "That's my decision, those are things I can say to call off the dogs. But when you're playing a team like the Saints and you have an opportunity to go down and get three, I was trying to steal it. I probably shouldn't have. I probably shouldn't have played so aggressive. That's a question mark completely for me right there."
A week ago, a controversial interception by Miami's Jason Taylor, followed by the Bucs' three-and-out in the final 1:25 before halftime, enabled the Dolphins to push their lead to 19-6.
"The clock management, as far as running the clock out, we could've gone to halftime probably and gotten some of that time off and knocked some of that stuff out of there," Morris said. "But you've just got so much confidence in the young man (Freeman), you just never know when it's going to come. Because you've seen it happen the last couple of weeks. It just didn't happen for him yesterday.
"That's on me. Definitely. That's something you want to do. The confidence you have in the young man, in the kid, just giving him an opportunity to go out there and win. If you had a big-time stud like we think we're going to have here sooner or later, you want to go down there and attack them and try to steal three."
Instead, Freeman began the second half by losing a fumble and throwing his second of three interceptions. The Saints took advantage of the short field to convert those turnovers into touchdowns and expand their lead to 31-7.
Freeman finished with three interceptions, lost a fumble, was sacked three times and a passer rating of 33.1.
"He made his first real rookie blunder," Morris said of Freeman. "The best thing was he got up there after the game and accepted responsibility for what he did and he looks to go correct it. That's all you can ask for from a young quarterback. He'll be a better football player from it."
--QB Josh Freeman has completed about 60 percent of his passes from the shotgun this season, but less than 30 percent of his throws under center. Freeman threw three interceptions and lost a fumble, but coach Raheem Morris said he wasn't concerned with Freeman fighting through the rookie growing pains.
"Oh, yeah. He's going to fight through these things," Morris said. "This is Josh. This is what he's got to do. He's got to go out there and fight through and find a way to get better. We've got to find a way not to throw that interception at the end of the game, he's got to find a way to move the football when we have to, he's got to find a way to pick up the tempo, he's got to find a way to handle all the adversity that you're talking about went on yesterday. I think he did a nice with handling the situation, as tough as it was."
--FB Chris Pressley saw his first action for the Bucs Sunday as a lead blocker on some two back sets.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--OT Jeremy Trueblood left Sunday's game against the Saints with a right knee injury and did not return.
--RB Earnest Graham could get more rushing attempts as the Bucs continue to develop another fullback, Chris Pressley. Graham had been forced into action as a lead blocker.
REPORT CARD VS. SAINTS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Josh Freeman had a rookie-like performance, throwing three INTS and losing a fumble. He missed a lot of throws on third down and wasn't sharp.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Bucs got some long runs from Earnest Graham and Josh Freeman, which greatly padded the rushing stats. But they had to abandon the running game in the second half.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- QB Drew Brees did not have to throw for 300 yards, but he did enough damage. The Bucs couldn't cover TE David Thomas.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Bucs have the NFL's worst rushing defense, allowing nearly 170 yards per game on the ground. The Saints called running plays on 22 of their final 24 snaps.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- KR Clifton Smith made some bad decisions in punt returns and put the Bucs in bad field position. Kick coverage was just okay.
COACHING: F -- Raheem Morris burned two challenges and mismanaged the clock again at the end of the first half.