Gerald McCoy on collapse by Bucs' defense: 'This one was on us'

LANDOVER, Md. -- Gerald McCoy didn't hide from Sunday's inexcusable Tampa Bay Buccaneers collapse, calling out a defense he said has "to be better."

Blow a 24-0 lead to the Washington Redskins and turnover-machine quarterback Kirk Cousins on a day when rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and the offense clicked on all cylinders, and you leave no need to search for culprits from a brutal, 31-30 loss.

The beleaguered Cousins led the Redskins to the biggest comeback in franchise history because the Bucs' defense disappeared during an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with an uncontested, 6-yard slant pass to tight end Jordan Reed with 24 seconds left.

Things should have been so different. Instead, the Bucs (2-4) showed why they were ranked 31st in scoring defense coming off their bye week.

"The offense won the game today," McCoy, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, said in a near-empty FedEx Field visitor's locker room. "This one was on us."

He acknowledged earlier: "We have to be better. Thirty-one points? The offense gave us 30. We gave up 31.

"You feel like you let your teammates down."

Linebacker Lavonte David, the other stalwart from the Bucs' defense, said, "It is one of those losses you get a permanent scar from. Tough loss, all in all. We had the game. I want to say we got complacent.

"We let them come back and (make it) a ballgame when it shouldn't have been."

Still, McCoy said the Bucs "can't get stuck here."

He meant they can't let their last-minute Week 7 choke be the beginning of the end.

Because if Cousins and one of the shakiest NFC teams could rally for the largest comeback in franchise history, imagine what Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman can do against the reeling Bucs when they come to Atlanta next weekend.

The seat has to be getting warm for Lovie Smith, the one-time Chicago Bears defensive guru, whose team was called for 16 penalties worth 142 yards, sacked Cousins just once and couldn't force a turnover by a scattershot quarterback who had thrown two interceptions in each of his team's four losses.

Smith is now 4-18 as Bucs coach. And the same problems keep cropping up.

"Losing your poise, we had too many penalties," Smith said. "Some of the penalties really got them going a little bit when we had our big lead. Not the type of ball that we should be playing."

That winning drive culminating in Cousins' slant-in pass to Reed underscored everything wrong with Tampa Bay's leaky defense.

There was no pressure up front all afternoon, and the secondary surrendered too much cushion. Cousins hit 33 of 40 passes, including 9-of-11 on the winning drive.

And there is no sign of a turnaround by a struggling secondary.

Johnthan Banks, the team's most athletic corner, returned from a bruised knee suffered in Week 3 but seemed tentative. And on Reed's decisive touchdown, safety Bradley McDougald gave away the inside.

"We're supposed to not let them have a slant as easy as that," Smith said.

No kidding.

It should have been different. The offense came out flying, and the defense did enough to enable the Bucs to jump out to a 24-7 edge at halftime.

The offense played a near-perfect game highlighted by Winston's 297 yards passing with two touchdowns, Doug Martin's 136-yard pinball running and Mike Evans' eight catches for 164 yards and a touchdown.

And yet, it wasn't close to good enough, because a defense coming off its bye week fell down when it mattered.

"It shows what type of offense that we have," said Winston, who played his finest game to date. "Those guys played amazing. Doug carries the ball for over 100 yards again. We didn't turn the ball over in the passing game. We only had one sack.

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played our ball."

Well, at least one side of the ball did.