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Bucs compete, but losing trend continues

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris is a very confident man, and has even more belief in his team.

Even after a tough loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, a seemingly-fuming Morris still found some positives from Sunday's 35-26 setback at Lambeau Field that dropped his team to 4-6 on the season.

"We played sharp, we played fast, we were able to move the football on a very good defense," Morris said after the Bucs' fourth straight loss. "We did a nice job competing. I felt great about the whole game to be honest. Our guys did a nice job of competing."

Leading up to the matchup with the Packers, Morris and the Buccaneers had an aggressive week of practice that quarterback Josh Freeman described as a training camp atmosphere. The pads were on a bit longer in preparation for Green Bay, and Morris said the game plan was to be aggressive and steal possessions.

An interception by Elbert Mack put a smile on Morris' face and preceded Freeman's two-yard touchdown pass to Dezmon Briscoe that pulled Tampa Bay within 28-26 with under five minutes left.

Hope was building along the Buccaneers' sidelines that they would be the ones to knock off the Packers for the first time this season, but an unsuccessful onsides kick followed by Aaron Rodgers' 40-yard touchdown strike to Jordy Nelson sealed any chance of an upset.

The Bucs still have to have some sort of pride in keeping up with the NFL's hottest team, and there's still hope to turn things around and compete for a playoff spot.

Morris was asked what's left for Tampa Bay over the remainder of the season following the game.

"What's left?" Morris responded. "Six games to go out and finish with the same record as last year. That's what's left."

The Buccaneers finished 10-6 a year ago despite missing the playoffs for a third straight season. They still have an opportunity to turn things around and hope for teams such as New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and the New York Giants to falter down the stretch. Though that may be wishful thinking, anything can happen in the NFL, even if it'll likely take someone else falling apart for Tampa Bay to extend its season.

Tampa Bay must forget about almost unseating 10-0 Green Bay as the only unbeaten team in the league and shift its focus on Tennessee. The Titans will host the Bucs, who are 1-5 since a hopeful 3-1 start and third in the NFC South behind New Orleans (7-3) and Atlanta (6-4), this Sunday.

The Bucs have hitched their wagon to running back LeGarrette Blount and the bruising back almost single-handedly led his team to victory against Green Bay. Blount had 18 carries for 107 yards, including a career-long 54-yard touchdown run that will be on highlight reels for some time. Blount even raised some eyebrows from the Packers with his performance.

"[Blount] is probably the second-toughest back we had to play this year," Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji told the Tampa Tribune. "Just knowing if he gets a seam, running downhill, he's a load to take down. He runs very aggressively, he's a very skillful player and he made us pay."

Raji and the Packers have already stated Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is the toughest they have faced in 2011.

Tampa Bay tight end Kellen Winslow also gave Green Bay's defense some trouble with 132 yards on nine catches, and Freeman threw for a career-best 342 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the first time Tampa Bay had a 300- yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game since the 2007 campaign.

The Buccaneers still have some work to do within the red zone, as they have produced just 11 touchdowns in 28 trips inside their opponent's 20-yard line this season. Freeman said the Bucs didn't have enough big plays on Sunday, and added that it's not good when the Packers are driving and scoring touchdowns and the Bucs are kicking field goals.

He did, however, look to the bright side.

"We gotta go back, prepare and get ready for Tennessee," Freeman said. "We have a lot of confidence. We're a young team. I'm really proud of those guys."

CHARGERS' RIVERS HEADED DOWNSTREAM

When it rains, it pours. And when Philip Rivers throws an interception in a game, it's usually more than one.

A year removed from passing for 4,710 yards, 30 touchdowns and yielding 13 just interceptions, Rivers is having a topsy-turvy type of season.

The San Diego Chargers quarterback has been a winner ever since he strapped on a helmet, but those days of success are fading faster than his team's decline in the AFC West. San Diego suffered a 31-20 loss at Chicago on Sunday in which Rivers was picked off twice in the fourth quarter -- his seventh multi- interception game of the season after having just two in 2010.

Rivers has thrown a league-high 17 interceptions compared to 15 touchdown passes in 2011, and he couldn't break the slump in San Diego's fifth straight loss after a promising 4-1 start. Instead of holding a lead atop the wide-open AFC West standings, the Chargers find themselves last in the division behind Oakland (6-4), Denver (5-5) and Kansas City (4-5) heading into the Chiefs' game at New England on Monday.

"It's a first for me, the first for the San Diego Chargers since '03," Rivers told the San Diego Union-Tribune in reference to the losing streak. "It challenges you physically and mentally. We have to worry about winning a game. If you look at it like that, and you say you're going to help your team fight like crazy to try and win, that's about all that we can do at this point."

It hasn't got to the point where head coach Norv Turner will insert backup quarterback Billy Volek under center, but even that day could come if Rivers continues to put his team in tough positions due to his miscues. Rivers, who also had an interception in the red zone on Sunday, was missing three starters across the offensive line (Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, Louis Vasquez), but the unit did not allow a sack after it watched Rivers go down six times in a loss versus Oakland the previous week.

Rivers wasn't the only one who made poor headlines in the Windy City. Running back Ryan Mathews fumbled twice and the one he lost led to a Bears touchdown. Mathews has fumbled three times in the last three games

"When you're a running back and carrying the ball, that's your baby, and you want to hold it tight," Chargers running back Mike Tolbert said afterward. "When you don't, when it gets away from you, it hurts."

The season is getting away from San Diego, which does play three of its next four games at home. The Chargers have a big date set this Sunday against the rival Broncos and will then travel across the country to Jacksonville before Buffalo and Baltimore then visit Qualcomm Stadium in Weeks 14 and 15. San Diego has lost two in a row as the host.