Tampa Bay Bucaneers
The Buccaneers are going to suffer through the growing pains with Chris Simms.
The third-year quarterback had an interception returned 61 yards for a touchdown by Chris Gamble that sealed Tampa Bay's fate in a 34-14 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.
It was the second straight defeat in as many starts for Simms, who showed some improvement.
"We're not going to make excuses. There's a lot of teams around this league that are winning with young quarterbacks because they're playing better as a team," Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "Right now, we're just not playing well enough as a team to win. So we're not looking for excuses. Every man in the room is going to judge his responsibility and being accountable, and that's what's going to pull us out of this hole."
Simms certainly hasn't been able to do it. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 259 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway in the second quarter. But he was intercepted twice, lost a fumble and was sacked five times.
"We just got beat by a better football team," said Simms, who played well in the first half, going 10 of 13 for 121 yards. "We actually moved the ball decently on offense throughout the day and made it a 10-7 game. We kind of hurt ourselves with penalties. Then we come out in the second half, we start driving the ball, I throw a pick for a touchdown, and that put our team in a real tough position from that spot.
"I felt a lot better this week, I must say. Again, throwing the ball, we had some success early and kind of just hurt ourselves. Then again, with a great defense like that, you get down 34-7 or 24-7, it's going to be tough."
Simms' biggest mistake against the 49ers the previous week was holding on to the football too long. Against the Panthers, his worst play was attempting to throw a quick out to Michael Clayton that Gamble had smothered.
But backup Luke McCown is only in his second NFL season and his first with the Bucs; veteran Tim Rattay, acquired in a trade with the Niners three weeks ago, isn't familiar with Tampa Bay's offensive system.
That means the Bucs will stick with Simms.
"He showed growth today," coach Jon Gruden said. "It is not going to be an easy process, but there is going to be some things he did learn from."
Panthers receiver Steve Smith caught his ninth touchdown pass of the season, running back Stephen Davis rushed for two touchdowns and cornerback Chris Gamble returned an interception 61 yards in Carolina's 34-14 win over Tampa Bay.
Gamble's interception to begin second half was the worst mistake of the afternoon by Bucs quarterback Chris Simms, ruining his second start of the season.
It also sealed the third loss in four games for Tampa Bay (5-3), which fell out of a first-place tie with Carolina (6-2) and Atlanta (6-2) in the NFC South.
--LT Anthony Davis injured his left medial collateral ligament in Sunday's game against Carolina. His status is unknown. He will undergo an MRI exam Monday morning.
--LT Todd Steussie saw his first real action of the season Sunday when he replaced starter Anthony Davis, who left the game with a left knee injury.
--RB Cadillac Williams, who set an NFL record with 434 yards in his first three games, has been held to 62 yards in 35 attempts in his last three games since returning from a foot injury. He lost his first fumble Sunday against Carolina.
--QB Chris Simms lost his second consecutive start for the Bucs on Sunday. Simms completed 25 of 41 passes for 259 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway in the second quarter. But Simms was intercepted twice, including one returned 61 yards for a touchdown by the Panthers' Chris Gamble. He also lost a fumble and was sacked five times.
--WR Joey Galloway has 12 TDs (11 receiving, 1 punt return) in his last 13 games with the Bucs. Galloway had a 50-yard TD reception Sunday against the Panthers.--LB Shelton Quarles had 14 tackles for the Bucs against Carolina, but he was beaten on a 62-yard pass play from Jake Delhomme to receiver Ricky Proehl.
Already in last place at 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the AFC West, the Raiders could fall further into the abyss and damage the job security of their coaching staff with a loss to the division-leading Broncos.
Oakland was swept by Kansas City for the third consecutive season and has just won two of its last 13 games in the division. Coach Norv Turner is 1-8 in division games.
When asked if a 27-23 loss to Kansas City was worse than most, Turner declined to put the defeats in order.
"I don't rank them," Turner said. "They all hurt."
The Raiders, who had taken a 23-20 lead with 1:45 to play on a 7-yard pass from Kerry Collins to Randy Moss, were moments away from hitting midseason with a .500 record before suffering a punch to the solar plexus.
"The taste you get in your mouth after a game like this doesn't get any worse than it is right now," tight end and special teams standout Randal Williams said. "There's a 24-hour rule. We deal with it and get ready for Denver."
The Raiders gained a season-low 263 yards against the NFL's 29th-ranked defense in a 27-23 loss to Kansas City.
Quarterback Kerry Collins completed 21 of 40 passes for 175 yards, overthrowing receivers several times and throwing an interception on a pass well over the head of Randy Moss.
It was a mixed effort for the Oakland defense, which played well in the first half but gave up 197 yards on 22 carries to Larry Johnson as well as a Trent Green-to-Johnson pass for 36 yards to the 1-yard line with five seconds to play.
With Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil opting for one play to decide the game rather than attempt a field goal and send it into overtime, the Raiders' short-yardage unit could not stop Johnson's 1-yard plunge.
--RB LaMont Jordan appeared headed for a 100-yard game until the Chiefs took a 20-9 lead early in the fourth quarter and Oakland was forced to throw more often. He finished with 93 yards on 19 carries.
--WR Jerry Porter, who had not scored a touchdown until scoring two in the previous week's win over Tennessee, caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Collins. Porter had seven receptions for 68 yards against Kansas City.
--WR Randy Moss was the target of eight passes against Kansas City and caught one pass for a 7-yard touchdown. None of the other passes was close, and one was overthrown by Kerry Collins and intercepted by Greg Wesley.
--KOR Chris Carr averaged 38.5 yards on five kickoff returns with a long of 62. He won a personal duel with the Chiefs' Dante Hall (15.8-yard average on four kickoff returns, 6.4-yard average on two punt returns).
--CB Nnamdi Asomugha, a third-year player who still does not have an NFL interception, dropped an easy one on the first series of the second half at Kansas City.
--K Sebastian Janikowski successfully converted field-goal attempts of 32, 49 and 48 yards at Kansas City. He has hit his last 10 in a row.--P Shane Lechler had a 53-yard punt at Kansas City and now has a 50-plus-yard punt in 28 consecutive games.