Buccaneers Face Huge Challenge vs New England

Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris took one look at the Patriots game against the Tennessee Titans and knew he was in for a long day on Sunday. But he's not surprised the Titans couldn't stop New England. "When it comes to the Patriots, you don't get shocked at what they do," he said. Maybe not, but stopping them has now become Morris' problem.

The Bucs are 0-6 and are playing New England in England, with the Patriots coming off a 59-0 win over winless Tennessee.

Coach Raheem Morris is trying to keep his team focused in the face of what would appear to be futility.

"If it was anybody else other than Tom Brady I might be shocked. But when it comes to the Patriots, you don't get shocked at what they do, what he does and what they're able to do," Morris said. "But you've got to love those challenges. As a secondary coach, that's what you live for, what you dream about.

"You want to play against Randy Moss and Wes Welker ... awesome. We love it. Tom Brady throwing it to them. (Benjamin) Watson, their tight end. It's a challenge that your DBs love. You get a chance to see these guys play. Like always, the more physical, the more tough team will win. That's how it always plays out."

The Bucs and Patriots have taken different approaches to preparing for the game. New England practiced Tuesday and will depart after practice on Thursday. The Bucs will forfeit one day of practice to leave Friday morning.

"I have an ownership group that goes over there pretty frequently and we sat down and discussed it with those guys, the Glazers," Morris said. "When they feel the rest and how they feel prior to those days and they've done it a couple time. The second day is when you feel best. The third day, you kind of go into a lull and then you come out of it after that. We chose this route based on previous knowledge and people that do it a lot. That's the route we're going."

The Bucs really don't know where to start to craft a game plan to make them successful against the Patriots.

They have been beaten through the air this season - yielding eight passes of more than 40 yards. And they have been demolished on the ground. Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for rush for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 win over Tampa Bay last week.

More telling was the fact that Carolina ran the ball 15 of 16 plays in an 80-yard drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock and resulted in the game-winning TD by Williams.

The Patriots get it done through the air. But they have enough capable backs to control the football if they want to during the game at Wembley Stadium.

New England coach Bill Belichick has managed to make the Bucs sound a little like the '85 Bears.

"They're very fast at linebacker now," Belichick said. "(Barrett) Ruud's just a tackling machine. He must have 100 tackles already this year. He's in on 20, 25 plays a game. He's all over the place - runs, passes, inside, outside. It doesn't make any difference what the call is or what the play is it seems like he's getting up off the pile when it's over. They play their linebackers; they bring Ronde Barber in there and play him as a linebacker, inside guy in their sub-defenses, so they are very athletic inside.

"They run well. They tackle well. Jim Bates, I've know Jim for a long time, we worked together in Cleveland. He's an excellent defensive football coach. He's got them hustling around like he always does; they're playing with a lot of energy. They have good team speed and their linebackers are very active."

Not to worry, Bill.

Since 2005, Brady is 13-0 against the NFC.

The Bucs are sticking with quarterback Josh Johnson, who will be making his fourth start. Johnson has made some plays with his feet, but he's failed to produce more than a touchdown in two of his three previous starts.

Morris said the Bucs are treating it like a business trip and doesn't think he'll have trouble motivating his players.

"I don't think I'm going to have a problem with that," Morris said. "These guys, they appear to be spirited. They appear to be highly motivated to win. They appeared to practice well, they appeared to want to come out and want to play. I think it's a big challenge. Everybody wants to play the Patriots. That's fun. Whether you're a bad team, whether you're a good team, it doesn't matter. It's a lot of fun to play those types of teams on a highly-decorated stage over in London.

"The motivation is high. Motivation in this league is high for everybody. Nobody wants to be embarrassed on Sunday. Nobody wants to be the guy that self-proclaims we lost the game, or whatever the case may be. So you go out and practice well, play well and play hard. Motivation is easy."


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