Head Coach Jon Gruden
(On the overall game) "I would just like to say it is a great feeling, a great accomplishment by our team. I am very proud of them. A credit to the New Orleans Saints, they came in here under adverse circumstances, obviously, missing some key players and they competed greatly today. We hung in there and we earned our 11th victory. We look forward to continuing the season at home next week. I am really proud of our football team."
*(On DE Dewayne White making a big play for the second week in a row) * "He made a big play, obviously, last week, to say the least, blocking the kick to extend overtime, and then finishing the play today, basically, was the signature play of the game. He has a lot of great things ahead of him. He's been trained by the best and I think his best times are close ahead."
(On RB Michael Pittman and the role he played in the game today) "Unbelievable. We had a lot of respect for the Saints, obviously, defensively. Their front four is very good. They create a lot of problems with Will Smith and [Charles] Grant. They know us. They rush the passer extremely well and we isolated a couple of things for Pittman and he helped us in the return game as well. A stunning run after the catch to start the second half, earlier in the ball game, and obviously, the big run that set up the score. He didn't touch the ball a lot, but he was very effective."
(On winning the challenge to get the interception overturned) "I am red hot now on challenges. That was a big play. We tried to throw the ball to [Joey] Galloway underneath their double zone and the ball was tipped. The linebacker made a great effort. It was close enough to challenge. They rushed their offense out onto the field. We didn't get a chance to really look at it, but we kind of threw that flag hoping the ball hit the ground, and fortunately for instant replay. I will vote for it again this year, if I am invited."
(On the opening drive being key) "That was a great drive. You know we struggled a little bit defensively, giving up some yardage; we let them get out of some holes. They were backed up a few times and uncharacteristically, they were able to get out of those holes and pin us back. I think the 80-yard drive where we converted four-or-five third downs in a row, was a tremendous drive capped off by [Joey] Galloway catching the ball in a tight area from [Chris] Simms. Then the following drive, we had the big run by [Michael] Pittman and we had a 14-3 lead. That is a credit to New Orleans for hanging in there and really pushing us to the brink today."
CB Ronde Barber
(On finding ways to win close games) "It's a credit to a lot of people, a lot of things we've worked for all offseason, the preseason, the early part of this season – being resilient and finding ways to win tight ballgames. We did that again today."
(On reversing last year's record) "That was one of our goals, to win an NFC South championship, and we found a way to do it. Regardless of what 2004 was all about, 2005 gave us a new opportunity. I think everybody jumped at it, believed in it, worked for it. It's easy when you look back in hindsight and say, 'Yeah, we found a way to get here,' but there was a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people."
(On the defense making big plays at the end of the game) "Our defense is built on fourth-quarter pressure, whether it's Simeon or someone up the middle or, as it's been lately, Dewayne White. We're finding ways to make big plays in the fourth quarter, and that's when it really matters. You go out there at the end of games and really try to earn your keep. We're doing that right now."
(On if it matters who they play in the playoffs, and the possibility of playing his brother's New York Giants) "Hopefully we'll see them later in the playoffs. Tiki actually called me last night and he told me to get some sleep. I barely talked to him. It didn't matter. We had our job to handle and we went out and did it today. We'll face somebody, whether it's going to be Dallas or Washington. Either way, it's going to be a stepping stone to the ultimate goal. We're going to have to prepare like a must-win situation, because it's going to be. Single elimination."
(On what pounding the rock means) "Pounding the rock is finding any way to win, sack-fumble touchdown in the fourth quarter is pounding the rock in a close football game. We've been doing it all year, finding ways to win. That's what it's all about."
(On what the key has been in turning it around this year) "I don't know if there was a key. Lots of things. Guys playing better, obviously. Everybody talked at the beginning of the year about having to step up, lean on some young guys and as they went, we were going to go. I think, as everybody has seen Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, Alex Smith, Chris Simms, Dan Buenning, across the offensive line, some of the other young guys up there. We've really turned this thing around behind some young talent. If I had to put one thing on it, it's their play."
(On the last couple of years and the fight to get back to this position) "We've had a bunch of guys stick with it. [We] had some tough years, going from the Super Bowl to 7-9, then a 5-11 season, you don't really feel good about what you're doing professionally. Having guys stick in here, really believe in what Jon [Gruden] was going to bring to the table this year, and turn it completely around is really rewarding at this point."
(On how important it is to have a home game and their chances in the NFC) "You play for three titles. Obviously, your division title. You want to play for the conference title and you want to play for the Super Bowl. We got one of those accomplished. We've got two more games to get the second one. I think everybody is excited about where we can be right now. It's a good time. It's a 12-man dance and we have one of the tickets, so let's go party."
LB Derrick Brooks
(On winning the game and the NFC South) "Again, it's a very humbling experience. I'm just so thankful to be a part of three division championships in this franchise's history. Like I said, right now we're very humbled but we understand this is just one of the championships that we're after."
(On the defense making big plays at key moments) "Again, Simeon [Rice] took it to a new level, raising up the level of play. I think right now this is a good momentum swing for us, defensively, heading into the playoffs, that we turned our fourth-quarter defense up to another level."
(On Dewayne White's big play) "Again, he's one of these young guys who has really come on the last few weeks and made his mark, not only defensively but on special teams, just going out there and competing. Hopefully he can stay humble, man, and hungry. We're going to need everybody really stepping up right now this time of year."
(On showing the league the Bucs are still a good team) "It's not over yet. There's an example out there that we looked at when the season started, and that was the New England Patriots. From 5-11 to division champs, AFC champs and Super Bowl champs. They did it in 2001, so we have an example we can put up and go after. But right now, we'll just let the guys enjoy this for 24 hours, then come in tomorrow and get ready to play either, I think, Dallas or Washington."
WR Joey Galloway
(On getting the victory they had to have) "It feels terrific. We were at home in front of our fans, and to have a chance to do what we did today is important for us and for them. More importantly, we come back next week with another home game."
(On his two touchdowns) "They were really nice plays by [Simms]. He put both balls on the money where only I could catch them. It's a nice play call, and when he throws them like that we have no choice but to score."
(On if the second touchdown pass was supposed to be thrown where it was) "Yeah, that's the play. He threw it perfectly. That's the way it's supposed to be. It feels good. I didn't know anything about the record; thanks for telling me. But more importantly, we won and we'll be back next week."
(On what it means to be going to the playoffs) "That's what I'm here for. I'm here to wear hats like this, and hopefully there's another hat coming later in the season."
(On the Bucs' defense) "It's great to have that kind of defense. Offensively, we know that if we don't screw it up, they're going to help us and they're going to keep us in the game. They did that today and they made a huge play at the end."
RB Michael Pittman
(On his 64-yard run) "It was called '95-Punch' and it was a good hole and I could accelerate through the hole, the yards came and I was tired. I had just run the kickoff back and I was tired. I got to maybe the 30-yard line when I was running and I had no more. It was a big play.
(On if he feels he has to do something great when he gets the ball) "No, not really. I just try to do what I can do when I get my touches and I just try to make plays every chance I get to help this team."
DE Simeon Rice
(On getting it done at the end) "It was a fun win. It was definitely necessary, and we definitely went out there and competed well. Kudos to this team and what we've been able to get accomplished thus far. In terms of our outlook and perspective, it's very bright. We're optimistic. We understand that we're a very dominant team but we have to show that every week. In terms of what we did, in terms of where we're going, we're just going to ride this ship. We're going to ride this wave. It's interesting. We went out there today with the ability to lock up the home field, to win the NFC South, and we did that. So we accomplished one mission. We're setting out for many more."
(On his fourth-down sack of QB Todd Bouman) "It's just kind of the way this season has gone on. Everything has just been falling into place. It's been happening really well for myself. We needed a big play and you've heard it many times – the big-time players step up in moments like that, in adverse situations. It only takes one to step up. When I stood up, it was the floodgates. You saw Greg [Spires] get a sack, you saw Dewayne White go out there and close them out and get the hat-trick with the touchdown. That goes to show you what we're getting accomplished. It shows you what we're trying to do in terms of our outlooks and our perspectives. I think every week we go out and we continue to get better. So it's a beautiful thing.
QB Chris Simms
(On winning the game and the division) "[It's] a big victory for our team and we're pumped to have a home game next week."
(On giving the Saints credit for battling) "You know what, we were prepared for that coming into today. They have battled all year long. They're an extremely talented team and it was just great to get out of here with a victory and become NFC South champs."
(On the two touchdown passes to WR Joey Galloway) "The first one, Joey ran an unreal route, what we call a double-move route. It was all him; I just had to put the throw on target. The second one they played pretty good coverage on the pass, actually, but I kind of threw it low and away in a safe spot and Joey made a great catch again."
(On the overturned interception and his third-down pass two plays later) "That was huge for us. They're a tough defense, they really are. They rush the passer well, they have a ton of different looks. We had good pass protection on that play and Joey did a good job of settling down in the zone and putting a move on them. That kind of got our drive started."
(On finishing with two wins at home and getting a home playoff game) "That's big right now. It gives us momentum going into the playoffs, and that's what you want. Hey, everybody wants to go in with a clean, fresh mind coming into the playoffs and we're where we want to be. We've just got to come ready to play next week."
(On if it matters to the Bucs who they will play in the first round) "No, not really because at this point of the season it's a new year. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, if we beat the Redskins before or whatever else, it's come to play and win or go home. We want to keep winning."
(On winning the NFC South) "I'm thrilled right now. It's definitely been one of the best accomplishments that I've been a part of so far in my NFL career. It's an exciting time for us. It's great. We have a home game next week. I'm excited for our team."
(On getting the overturned interception call) "Yeah. That was big, just from the sense that we hadn't moved the ball a whole lot in the second half, and we converted a third-and-ten and [that] kind of got us jump started. We ran the ball successfully a few times after that, and I think I hit Alex Smith in a deep cross. We needed it. New Orleans is a good defense. They were putting it to us there for a little while in the second half and then, of course, the end of the drive, I miss the easiest throw in the history of the Buccaneers to Mike Alstott."
(On the opening drive establishing the Buccaneers early in the game) "We wanted to jump out on them. A team like that, we know they are extremely talented. You kind of hope maybe if we jump out on them they might pack it in, but to their credit they didn't. They kept fighting and that first drive was what, 90 yards, 85 [yards], somewhere around that, right? It was big for us. It got us going in the right direction, but the momentum changed and it was kind of a stalemate there for a good quarter-and-a-half."
(On the opportunity to be in the post-season) "This is extremely exciting, because I can remember how excited I used to be when [my] dad was in the playoffs, or got a home game. His last season in the NFL, his last game at Giant Stadium was a Wildcard Game against the Minnesota Vikings in '93. I am extremely excited just for everybody involved with the organization. I know my family is going to be excited about coming down next week and going to the game, so it is a great time."
(On what making the playoffs says about the Buccaneers) "[We are] extremely resilient. I think if you look at our team, we have been pretty consistent all year long, for the most part. I think, probably our most inconsistent time, was when I took over and we lost two games in-a-row there. I definitely take some of that blame because I was a young quarterback who did some stupid things. But we continue to fight, even in situations where our backs are against the wall. We have continually found ways to come up on top all year long, and today was just another chapter in that."
(On what allowed him to take better control of the team) "I think the first Carolina game that we lost, again, I lost the game, pretty much, by throwing an interception to [Chris] Gamble and him returning it. I don't know if we would have won it, but nonetheless it pretty much ended at that point. The way the game went, I felt a lot more comfortable physically and mentally that game. I made a few mistakes here and there, but again, I continued to improve, and then, of course, the Redskins' game was huge for me, and I believe, our whole offense. Because our backs were against the wall in a big way in that game, and we found a way to come out on top.
TE Alex Smith
(On his catch on the fourth-quarter scoring drive) "We needed something. We needed a drive to put the nail in the coffin. We kind of had them lingering around the whole game and we were finally able to put one together. We ended up kicking a field goal instead of getting a touchdown, but it was big for us."
(On if he can say enough about what Galloway has done each week) "No, not at all. We're trying to ride Joey until the wheels fall off. The things he's done all season long – everybody knows he's the team MVP. As long as he continues to make plays and push this offense, we're going to ride him."
(On Chris Simms' development) "Chris is just one of those cool, confident guys. He knows he can get the job done. He was pretty animated this game. He really wanted to get this win and he was fired up. He made sure we got another drive going. He was great all game. A lot of guys feed off of that. Whenever he's able to do that and be confident, guys feed off of him."
(On starting the playoffs at home) "That's big for us. We wanted to play in front of our crowd. They deserved it. They've been great all year. That's where we want to be right now. That was one of our goals, to get a home playoff game. We're there now; that's the first step."
C John Wade
(On the victory) "I couldn't be happier. It was obviously a team effort and it's been a team effort all year. I'm just really happy to get it done."
(On how the Bucs were able to go from 5-11 in 2004 to 11-5 this year) "Hard work. I think every player in this room is resilient, and everybody believes we have a chance to win until the last second ticks off the clock. It's come down to that a lot this year. We were just fortunate to be able to get it done all year long, fighting to the end."
(On finding a way to win close games being a mark of great teams) "That's what they tell me. I don't know who 'they' are, but I'm just happy to get a win and to get into the playoffs, and obviously get the division. That's huge."
(On Joey Galloway) "A guy that can go the distance at any time he touches the football is a great thing to have. If we give Chris time, it can happen on any snap. Joey is unbelievable."
(On having a home playoff game) "It was huge. Obviously for the fans, we've got great fans here…I can't imagine the stadium being louder than it was the last few weeks, but I'm sure it will be. We've got great fans and we're excited about having a home playoff game."
(On if it's gratifying for him to win after coming back from a serious injury) "I couldn't ask for anything more. We won the division, we're going to the playoffs. Getting back, the knee's been great all year thanks to Dr. [John] Zvijac and all our training staff, who did a great job getting me ready."
T Kenyatta Walker
(On the season) We've been through our ups and downs this year. It hasn't been pretty. We definitely can improve, but from 5-11 to 11-5 in this great division [is great]. We're in and Carolina, dubbed the powerhouse, [didn't win the division]. It's just amazing. That's why you play football games. It's a good feeling. This is a great feeling to get some redemption."
(On having RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams rushing for over 1,000 yard) "Finally, [we] have a 1,000 yard running back, which we haven't had since I don't know when. That's probably one of the biggest accomplishments for me. This is my first year with a 1,000-yard running back in the five years I've been here."
(On making the playoffs this year compared to the first time he made the playoffs in his rookie year) "[My] rookie season was so fast, man, just like, I think for Dan [Buenning]. We made the playoffs my rookie [year], then the Super Bowl my second year. For [me] not to be there in two years, this is really special."
DE Dewayne White
(On winning the game) "They came out playing hard and we were able to overcome it and play a pretty good game. We're capable of better."
(On making what the defense was saying to itself before the Saints' second-to-last drive) "'Get a rush.' We were talking about what we were going to do, and the D-Line was talking about its game plan and what we were trying to do to this guy. We just tried to get a better rush and get some pressure on the quarterback."
(On his sack/forced fumble/touchdown) "I didn't even hit him. I just knocked the ball out. The ball bounced right at my chest, I picked it up and I started running. Simeon [Rice] gave me a good block and the rest was green grass."
(On his end zone dance) "That was my college interception dance. That's what I did in college. All the people who watched me in college know that when I get an interception, that's what I do."
(On wanting to be known for defensive plays after his big special teams play last week) "I'm a defensive end, that's what I do. That's what I've been doing since college. I was able to come through with the trifecta – the sack, the fumble, the recovery and the touchdown."
(On being at home for the first round of the playoffs being a good feeling) "Yeah it is. To be at home – we did well at home. We'll come in and we should defend this house."
(On his big play) "I got the ball. Then, he really did not even touch me. Everything slowed down and I saw the ball and knocked it down, picked it up, fumbled it twice, picked it up and started running with it. Luckily, Simeon (Rice) gave me a good block and I was able to outrun the quarterback."
(More on his big play) "I was having trouble getting to the quarterback all day. I just had a great get off [and] beat the guys. [I] saw the ball, knocked it down and it just happened to bounce right there [so I] picked it up and ran. It happened really fast."
(On the defense being resourceful and finding a way to win late in the game) "The last two minutes of each half, the second half in the fourth quarter, that is when the rush has got to come along, step up and get some sacks. We were able to do that today."
(On the fumble recovery for a touchdown) "It was the most fun I had. That and the blocked kick last week. I do not know which one is the best."
(On making a big play for the second week in a row) "It was the icing on the cake right there. I am glad it was me."
RB Carnell Williams
(On the game) "It's amazing. You've got to tip your hat to the Saints. They came out and played us hard to the end. But as a whole, we came out and played well and stuck with it to the end. It feels good to be a champ again."
(On the drive after the overturned interception) "I think that was a drive where we needed to put some points on the board. Everybody just stepped up. Chris [Simms] made a big throw, the offensive line came off the ball and gave me running room, and everybody just stepped up and made plays. We knew we had to in that situation."
(On winning the close games by refusing to be denied) "This team has endured so much. But no matter how the game is going, we just stick in there and we feel like in the end we can come through with a win."
(On his play in the fourth quarter) "I think the defense kind of gets worn down a little bit and as an offense we kind of feed on that. We as a whole get stronger and that just pumps me up."
(On the Saints) "You have got to tip your hat to the Saints. They came out and played hard. It feels good to be a champion. As a whole we came out and played well and stuck to it until the end."
(On big runs and big plays when needed) "I think that one drive we needed to put some points on the board and everybody just stepped up. Chris [Simms] made a big throw, our offensive line came off the ball and gave me running room. Everybody just stepped up and made plays and we knew we had to in that situation."
(On the team's determination) "Once again we showed our game. This team, we are so motivated. No matter how the game is going, we feel if we just stick in there, in the end we will come through with the win."
(On being drafted to a team that was 5-11 and now 11-5) "I was like, wow. Coach Gruden all along just told me, 'Man we have a good team we just need a few players in places.' The whole time, even though they were 5-11, when I came to this team they still had confidence. They were a world championship team. I think that reflected on the leadership here."
(On him expecting to rush for 1,000 yards) "No doubt, that was my expectation. Well, to be honest, well over 1,000 yards. That is something I will always keep is confidence. That is something I just believed. I have to tip my hat off to my offensive linemen this year. We have some young guys playing and they have done a great job all year."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Head Coach Jim Haslett
(On injuries) "I'll give you the injuries if you want them. Joe Horn had a hamstring [injury]. He missed the whole game. Devery [Henderson] had a groin and a hamstring [injury] and he finished, and Donte [Stallworth] was dehydrated. He got three liters of IV before the game and Az-Zahir [Hakim] has a pulled hamstring, so all four of our wideouts were injured throughout the game."
(On the game) "You know, it's kind of a microcosm. You know, I thought we played [hard]. We fought hard today, again, and I give credit to Tampa Bay. They've got a great defense and they came up with some plays. I thought we moved the ball fairly well and we just couldn't get over the hump. It's kind of been that way all year. I thought the defense played well, except for the one run, 62-yard run. We just had a poor call and they executed very well, and that's why they got the run on us."
(On the mood now that the season is over) "Well, it's disappointing. I must say this is not a 3-13 football team. They have gone through a lot. I'm proud of what they have accomplished off the field and what they accomplished playing hard and doing everything right. I'm not happy with our record, but if you'd have seen the circumstances, the things that they went through, you'd be proud of this team. Even off the last week, this last week, the commissioner came to town, on Friday we moved practice to 8 o'clock in the morning. We didn't have meetings Saturday, we didn't have a walk through Saturday. We haven't had one all year and you know, our guys come out and play hard. You kind of roll with the punches this year, and I am proud of that. I'm not proud about us [not] getting over the hump."
(On QB Todd Bouman) "Well, I think Todd's a pretty good quarterback. The turnovers kill us, obviously, and today I didn't think [he] was real sharp in the red zone, but he also showed a lot of leadership and things that you are looking for in a quarterback. He can get a team up and down the field, but he just can't punch it in and that's been our M.O. all year. But I thought he handled it pretty well. You know, obviously the turnovers are the stickling point."
(On what may happen to him now) "I don't know. I really don't know. I think one thing you learn, especially after this year, that the only thing for certain in life is that you are going to die and you are going to go to hell or heaven. And if I have learned nothing else, I learned things happen and change fast, and you've got to be able to adjust on the fly. My own personal self, I am ready for anything. You know if it happens, I've got kind of three emotions going to be honest with you. One, is I've been here 8 years total and the sixth year as the head coach. I feel like a part of the community and these players. Part of me says, may be it's time for a change because, I think, as a head coach, nowadays I think you can get stuck somewhere too long. And the third part of me is the unknown. You know, what happens if it happens, and it's not for certain you will be a head coach again, or even want to be one right now. So I've got three things going on in my head, but to be honest with you, I am ready for whatever happens. I'll be fine. I'll be fine"
RB Antowain Smith
(On if he would return to the team next season if the same circumstances were to exist) "I am going to be honest with you, no. This has been truly a year to remember, right here. With all the moving around, all the ins and outs. We are here for a week, there for a week. It is just hard to concentrate on football when you have so much going on in your life."
(On if he ran the ball as well as expected against Tampa Bay) "I think we did a good job in the first half. We did a good job coming out running the ball. Second half, we did not do so well. [We] went in and made some adjustments, and we did not come out in the second half and match their intensity in the second half."
(On if the heart of the team is strong enough to compete if it had better talent) "I think so, we have been in some games this year. We have just had some collapses. Turnovers [have] plagued us all year long. That was one of the biggest things right there, the turnovers. If we eliminate the mistakes and turnovers we could have very easily been a competitive team this year."
(On if he is glad the season is over) "It has been a long year. I'm serious, it has been a long year. I can honestly say yes, because it has been truly a long and frustrating year."