The reality is the Bucs (0-8) found yet another way to lose Sunday, blowing a three-touchdown lead and wasting an efficient performance by rookie quarterback Mike Glennon in a 27-24 overtime loss on the road.
Tampa Bay has led four games in the fourth quarter and lost all of them in the final 89 seconds of regulation or overtime, falling to 0-7 in games decided by three points or less under embattled second-year coach Greg Schiano.
That made for a long, cross-country flight home, one that provided lots of time to watch tape of the game and mull over another missed opportunity.
''Tough loss, but there's a lot of good things on that tape. ... Things we can build off of,'' Schiano said Monday, while also stressing that the Bucs can't be satisfied with playing the heavily-favored Seahawks (8-1) close.
''That was a good football team, in their house. We've got to build on that,'' the coach added. ''What you can't do is come back and say that was good effort. There's no moral victories. There's one team that wins and one that loses. We lost, so we've got to find a way to win (the next) game.''
Glennon completed 10 of his first 11 passes, helping Tampa Bay to a 21-7 halftime lead at CenturyLink Field, one of the toughest places to play in the NFL because of crowd noise.
The third-round draft pick out of North Carolina State not only handled the environment but extended his streak of passing attempts without an interception to 141 - a three plus-game stretch that began during the second half of a home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 13.
The rookie finished 17 of 23 for 168 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks, who failed to force a turnover for the first time this season.
The Bucs rushed for a season-high 205 yards and Glennon posted a career-best quarterback-rating of 123.1 in his fifth start.
''Those are things that are getting us excited and encouraged. Three games without an interception. That's how we have to play the game,'' Schiano said. ''I'm mad at myself for not getting us there sooner.''
Sunday's loss leaves the Bucs winless at the season's mid-point for the first time since 1985, when they opened 0-9 before finishing 2-14.. They've dropped 13 of 14 dating to last year.
Second-year safety Mark Barron, who had an interception and 10 tackles against Seattle, said despite the team's record, morale remains high.
''It obviously hurts, but I think everybody's fine,'' Barron said. ''We've just got to figure out how to get a win.''
Rookie Mike James rushed for a career-best 158 yards in his second start in place of the injured Doug Martin, one of four starters the Bucs played without in Seattle. The offense converted seven of eight third-down situations in the first half, but went 1 for 7 the rest of the way while Russell Wilson was leading the biggest comeback in Seahawks' history.
Schiano expects injured safety Dashon Goldson (knee) to be back in the lineup against Miami next Monday night. He's also clinging to hope that Martin (shoulder) and guard Carl Nicks (MRSA) will play again this season.
''The team continues to come together more and more, and I think that's going to be critical in the second half of the season,'' Schiano said.
''We've just got to get over that hump and get that first one. I do believe we'll get going,'' the coach added. ''There's some positive things going on with this team. We just need to keep building on that.''
Squandering a 21-0 lead, albeit to one of the league's top teams, will not do much to squash speculation about Schiano's job security.
But after flirting with what would have been an improbable win, the coach remains adamant that he can turn the Bucs into winners.
''You look back when Seattle started their journey. They weren't doing it right away and they got better,'' Schiano said, adding that the Seahawks are a team that plays ''very much like we'd like to play. Very physical, very aggressive in all three phases - offense, defense, special teams.''
''That's why that was a very important game for us going out there. They play the way we want to play,'' Schiano said. ''For 58 minutes, we did it better than they did. But they did it better when it counted, and they won the game. ... But I'm confident with the guys in our locker room, and the coaches upstairs, we'll get it turned.''
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