Defiant Derby County keeper Scott Carson admitted the players needed to take more responsibility as the Rams looked to stay in the race for the Championship play-offs.
Despite a winless February, County remained in outside contention for the end-of-season promotion shake-up.
Their hopes were then boosted by a first win in seven matches as they came from behind to defeat Barnsley 2-1 through goals from Tom Ince and David Nugent, his first for the club.
The experienced Carson, who insisted the play-offs were not out of reach, said: “We have had a lot of the ball but havn’t created too many chances.
“The biggest thing is that when we know teams are going to put 11 men behind the ball, we as players need to take a little bit more responsibility and try to do something and change the game ourselves.
“Once we get on the field we can’t rely on coaches and the manager to win us games.
“They give us everything we need before games, they set us up and to a certain extent it has worked as we have controlled and dominated games.
“Once that whistle goes it is down to us and we have to take a lot more responsibility than we have done.
“We have spoken (about it in the dressing room). We know that we are down to the most important part of the season.
“February was terrible. We had a run of games that we thought we would have at least picked a good few wins up out of them. That would have left us in the play-offs or very close to them.”
Manager Steve McClaren, who challenged his players for a reaction after a run of two points from six matches, was delighted with their character in the victory over Barnsley.
“It was a big win for us. Hopefully we can build from this. We have got to go on another run,” he said
“It was fantastic character from 1-0 down. Everyone could have gone down.
“It was important to react quickly (to the Barnsley breakthrough) which we did and then it was quite open, but we got the goal and then hung on at the end.”