No one -literally no one- likes to lose in the NFL.
I mean, first off, a loss is failure. It's a reflection of ineffective coaching and execution. Secondly, losing costs these men and women their jobs.
Just to state the obvious: losing is a big, big deal in the NFL. And not in a good way.
So it's easy to see why players and coaches can be rough around the edges after a loss. But at the end of the day, you have to bounce back and move on. As long as you learn from the mistakes, you should be good to go.
And based off what the Buccaneers said Wednesday, it sounds like that's the approach this team is taking as they head into their Divisional Round matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.
According to Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski, it's a good thing the Bucs lost to the Rams earlier in the year. When you hear them speak, it makes sense as to why they believe that.
"I’ve always liked playing a team that beats us," Evans told reporters Wednesday. "Even in the regular season if we’re playing a division opponent that beat us the first time, I want to beat them bad the second time. Like last year, we played the Saints twice and I wanted to play them because they beat us twice in the regular season. I wanted to play them again this year, but it didn’t happen that way. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge come Sunday.”
You remember when the Bucs met the Saints in the playoffs, right? I know Bucs and Saints fans certainly do.
It doesn't hold much weight to say teams get cocky and overlook opponents when they beat them in a previous matchup. That's usually not the case - these guys know they're in the NFL and any team can get you at any given moment.
But a loss certainly brings a whole new outlook, focus, and intensity the second time around. It's a different mindset compared to the team that won the previous game.
And this week, it's the Bucs who have that unique outlook.
"How can we fix the problems that we had," Gronk asked Wednesday. "That’s what you learn from a loss is how can you fix it and how can you correct it. Instead of if you beat a team earlier in the year, ‘Oh man, we beat them and we had really nothing to fix.’ That’s not a good way to go about it when you beat someone else. In this case, they beat us, so it’s what did we do wrong? How can we fix it? What can we do?
"We go out there, we compete, put up points and that’s what you have to do when you lose a game. You have to make all the corrections and go out there and play good ball.”
It's huge for Evans and Gronkowski to have this mindset going into the game. Not only is it the correct mindset, but those two guys have huge leadership roles on the team. The younger guys will hear this/read it and will fully digest it and carry it into Sunday, which can only mean good things for the Bucs.
Whether or not that means Tampa Bay wins and moves on to their second-straight NFC title game remains to be seen. But, for now, the Bucs are saying all the right things.
They just have to go out and make sure they do the right things on Sunday.
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