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Tampa Bay Buccaneers deny tanking for top NFL pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith denied his team deliberately lost to secure the number one pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith denied his team deliberately lost to secure the number one pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

The hapless Buccaneers surrendered a 13-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter as they lost 23-20 to the New Orleans Saints in the final regular-season game.

Tampa Bay's fourth-quarter collapse came amidst a host of substitutions, with three back-up offensive linesman given minutes.

The defeat left the Buccaneers with a 2-14 win-loss record, ensuring they received the top overall pick at April's draft ahead of the Tennessee Titans (2-14).

But Smith dismissed suggestions the Buccaneers threw the game in order to claim the first pick, which has not ended up in Tampa Bay since 1987.

"It had nothing to do with substitutions," Smith said.

"You look at how we played. To me, I'm going to go back, we're moving the ball fairly well even in the second half.

"They played a lot better. We played a lot of guys the first half also. Vincent Jackson only played a few reps. That happened in the first half also, and the team we put on the football field had a chance to win right up until [the end].

"Yeah, we didn't have some of our best players there right in the end. But the guys we had in there we felt like we could move the ball and be able to win."

Quarterback Josh McCown echoed Smith's thoughts: "It's unfortunate, I don't think anybody tanked it.

"We played the guys we played to rotate guys in to give them a look. As far as players are concerned, the draft and that stuff isn't relevant to us as far as how we're playing. We play and execute the plays that are called. That's our job.

"All that other stuff is for people to try to speculate about all those things. We competed hard and that's the main thing."

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