Freeman's costly turnovers contribute to loss
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 12 December 2011

The Jacksonville Jaguars were able to avoid a blackout Sunday at EverBank Field. Their opponents can't make the same claim.

The Buccaneers were cruising with a 14-0 lead against the NFL's most inept offense before a flurry of three turnovers within a seven-minute span of the second quarter paved the way for a humiliating 41-14 setback.

Josh Freeman was victimized on the go-ahead score with 1:53 remaining in the opening half when the ball was jarred loose and defensive tackle Nate Collins recovered in the end zone for a 21-14 advantage.

That costly fumble was one of several low points for Freeman, who also was sacked three times and intercepted twice while posting a dismal passer rating of 43.9. For the season, Freeman has thrown 12 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

"I'm not here to make excuses,'' said Freeman, who missed last week's loss to Carolina with an injured right shoulder. "As quarterback of this team, I have to go out and execute better, point blank. I've got to find a way to right the ship. We have to be better and it starts with me.''

The Jaguars had just forged a 14-14 tie when Tampa Bay took possession at its own 11, hoping to build some momentum.

But on the first snap after the two-minute warning, Freeman scrambled to elude right end Jeremy Mincey near Tampa Bay's goal line. With linebacker Daryl Smith bearing down on Freeman, it appeared Bucs left tackle Donald Penn may have inadvertently knocked the ball from Freeman's hands.

"I was looking downfield,'' said Freeman. "I've got to feel that (Smith) and take a sack without fumbling. When you're on that part of the field, you can't turn the ball over.''

Penn acknowledged he might have made contact with Freeman on the play, one of seven Bucs turnovers that sealed a seventh consecutive loss.

"How do you win a game with seven turnovers?'' said Penn, shaking his head. "You don't. Raheem Morris is going to get the blame because he's our head coach, but all those penalties (12) and turnovers have nothing to do with our coach. It has to do with us and we've got to change it one of these days. And it needs to be sooner rather than later.''

Freeman wore a harness around his right shoulder after the game and said a few passes "died on me and some got away from me.''

Josh Johnson replaced Freeman in the final minutes and promptly threw an interception. "Obviously, (Freeman) didn't play well,'' Morris said. "He took a couple of shots today and was able to get back up. He played through it because he's a fighter. He's a guy for his team.''