"The only stat in this game that matters is W's and L's," defensive tackle Anthony McFarland said. "Right now, we've got a couple W's in a row and we're 7-3. When you can continue to get that stat right, that's big.
"We don't like shootouts, but we like W's. If we can have shootouts and get a W, I'll take that every week."
Of course he will. But the Bucs have problems on defense, particularly in the secondary.
Free safety Will Allen is out with a knee injury, and former Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson missed his fourth game with a hamstring injury. Against the Falcons, the Bucs allowed a season high 443 yards of total offense and 306 yards passing.
"I can't remember a time when we've given up about 100 points in three games," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "You never want to say it's a shift in philosophy or even the way we're playing. We'll still hold our standards on this side of the ball. It's just nice knowing when we don't live up to them, the offense will go out and make some plays for us."
The Bucs still believe their defense will get better. Defensive end Simeon Rice has had three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception in his last two games, and Anthony McFarland is doing a good job against the run.
But coach Jon Gruden isn't satisfied.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," Gruden said. "We've got to play better overall on defense. Our third-down ratio was ridiculous today."
"We did do some good things at times. We started brilliantly. Their penalties assisted us."
Still it was linebacker Derrick Brooks who forced Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to fumble with just over a minute left in the game. The turnover set up Matt Bryant's 45-yard game winning field goal.
Brooks, who saves some of his best performances for Vick, had faked that blitz on several occasions Sunday but waited until the weary Bucs defense needed to be rescued late in the fourth quarter.
Cadillac Williams had just tied the game at 27 on a 9-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining.
But that appeared to be too much time left for Vick and the Falcons.