TAMPA, Fla. -- For the past two weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have insisted they are not out of the playoff hunt, despite a losing record at the halfway point. Fast forward to Sunday's 16-3 loss against a hobbled Washington Redskins team, and the Bucs' on-field play showed otherwise. And so did the players' faces and body language.
"I'm kind of at a loss for this one," said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, whose eyes were glued to the floor. "We're way better than our record shows. We keep beating ourselves."
Even coach Dirk Koetter told his team in his postgame speech, "I don't have all the answers."
The Bucs have now dug themselves into 3-6 hole with seven games left, and it feels as if there's not much hope left. Even a miraculous five-game win streak like the one they had two years ago to finish 9-7 feels out of reach.
How can this be the same team that went into New Orleans to beat the Saints and then toppled the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2?
"It's not. It's not. Nobody can [pinpoint the problem]. If we could, we'd fix it," McCoy said.
The Bucs have now gone six consecutive games without an interception on defense, tied for the longest streak in franchise history. They had three previous six-game streaks: one that spanned the 2015-16 season, and streaks in 1991 and '92.
"When we got on our run, we were leading the league in takeaways," McCoy said. "We've just got to take the ball away."
The Bucs faced a Redskins' offensive line that was down three starters and a fourth struggling through injury, yet the defensive line mustered only two sacks (both in the second half while trailing). Alex Smith had all day to throw on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Josh Doctson.
Tampa's electrifying offense was missing Sunday, too. In five trips to the red zone, the Bucs came up empty. Chandler Catanzaro missed field goal attempts of 30 and 48 yards.
"I don't know what the recipe is. We're getting down [to the red zone] fairly easy. I don't know. I don't know what it is," Bucs receiver Mike Evans said. "I'm hurt after every loss. I'm a competitor. Sometimes I wish I wasn't as competitive as I am because it hurts. It takes me some time to get over it."
Defensive tackle Beau Allen added: "Football is an emotional game, man. You put a lot into it. ... Sometimes you can't control certain aspects of the game, but you really gotta do everything you can to focus on what you can control and what you can fix and get it right."
The Bucs are 1-2 in the NFC South and have held onto hope that their three remaining divisional games -- all at home -- can propel them to salvage a winning season. But that hope is looking more and more like disillusion. The New Orleans Saints are now 8-1. And the Bucs showed no signs of being able to slow down the 6-3 Carolina Panthers last week, either.
This Redskins game, against an offense decimated by injuries, was a gift, and the Bucs couldn't capitalize. Next week's game against the 1-7 New York Giants? Same situation. It won't matter who the opponent is if they keep beating themselves.