Bucs must finish in close games

It was the Jaguars last drive of the game that left a lasting impression on the Bucs.

With less than 3:00 to go in the game, Jacksonville drove down the field 86 yards for a touchdown in just 1:45.

The Jaguars made it a one possession game, and Lovie Smith wasn't impressed.

"We gave up one last, one big play there at the end of the game or we would have felt a whole lot better," said Smith.

"We want to start fast, finish strong," he added.

It's easy for the head coach to see it, and easy for the players to recognize they're not giving it their all in the end.

"You can tell because there's a lapse in play," said Bucs linebacker Danny Lansanah. "Guys not running to the ball like they usually do and things like that."

So, what is it about finishing a game that makes it difficult?

"I don't know, you just feel like you won the game already," said Lansanah. "Being up two scores, or whatever, you just feel complacent. In this game you can't get complacent, because you know, anything can happen."

Through the first five games, the Bucs are giving up an average of 13.6 points in the 2nd half.

That's 10th most in the league.

It's nothing to be complacent about.

"Missed tackle here and there, and the ball breaks for 30-40 yards," said defensive end Jacquies Smith. "We just have to be sound, just learn how to finish a little bit better than we did last week. We just have to do that honestly."

The Bucs next opponent, the Washington Redskins, know all too well about falling behind late in the game.

They give up an average of 16.2 points in the 2nd half, the 2nd most in the NFL.

Through six games, Washington has been outscored 46-3 coming out of halftime.

The Bucs head coach says the team understands how important finishing games are.

"Most games come down to how you finish," said Smith. "We know we have to be able to do that in order for us to achieve our goals the 2nd quarter [of the season]. We'll need to do that."

And Lansanah says there's only one way to finish a game.

"We have to guard ourselves from that and just play every play like it's the last play we'll play," said Lansanah. 

The Bucs and Redskins kick off in Washington at 1:00 p.m. Sunday on FOX 13.