Tampa Bay Buccaneers

01-06-2008 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening statement) "I would just like to congratulate the Giants. They are a very good football team, very physical. I tip my hat to them. I would also like to say I am really proud of our football players; they overcame a lot. We lost several key guys today during the game. We hung in there and obviously it's hard to lose. I am really proud of the men that laid it on the line this year and I hope they know that."

(On Jeff Garcia's performance) "We didn't really do a good job around him. Joey Galloway was ineffective; he tried. In all fairness to Jeff, the pass protection at times didn't allow him to find complementary receivers and things of that nature. But he hung in there and put a score on the board late and kept competing. Again, a lot of that had to do with the Giants today."

(On resting players down the stretch) "We really didn't have a choice. People can question it, here I am and I'll answer any more questions. We tried to get Galloway and Arron Sears and a number of guys to the game today. The best way to do that was to get them an opportunity to rest and heal. I will be happy to take the criticism. We didn't lose a game because of what occurred last week. We are unhappy to lose but there are plenty of people that will handle it the same way, I am sure."

(On the impact of the Micheal Spurlock fumble) "That's huge. That's the play of the day. It's a 14-7 football game and that play and the long, 95-yard drive that the Giants put together after that. We suffered an interception after we mounted a pretty good drive. There's a combination of that, but the turnover to start the third period was a big play in this game."

(On the defense giving up three touchdowns today in the red zone) "It certainly hurt us today. All I can say is they got us on the same play twice. The gap protection, it looks like the back is blocking a defensive end and he's not. It's a well-designed play; they did an excellent job in execution. That's an area we have to make dramatic improvement in to continue to play at this level."

CB Ronde Barber

(On the Giants offense) "We knew they were going to try to establish the running game and the first couple of drives were good and obviously they adjusted. We gave them some good looks actually, for him, some easy reads, [Eli Manning] made a whole bunch of quick throws and they were hard to defend."

(On the turnaround in the game) "You have to give them a lot of credit. They adjusted, I guess, a little bit faster then we did. In the second half it was a little different story, but they had two critical drives in the second quarter that ended up being the difference as far as I look at it. On top of that, we couldn't get anything going. I guess we were a little off, we were not on it, they put a lot pressure on defense and they have a great front four."

(On if Amani Toomer was forgotten about) "You don't forget about Amani. He gets a lot of opportunities over there. He gets many balls and he has been doing it a long time, and obviously he had a bunch of premium looks and he dialed up a couple of them."

LB Derrick Brooks

(On the game) "First of all, I just want to take a moment and thank God for the season that we had. I know it's hard to realize at this moment, but a lot was done. I remember having to sit in this locker room after the Seattle game last year and it was very hard to look up coming off the worst season of my career, but I did it and I welcomed the challenge. I welcomed the journey to lead this team this year and win a division championship and have another appearance in the playoffs. Obviously the last two have not ended in a way that we wanted it to end, but there are things that we can be proud of, and over the course of the next few weeks, we'll take the time to reflect on that."

(On the adjustments made by the Giants during the game) "The thing that comes to my mind right now are the short passes. They couldn't get the running game going so they started throwing some quick passes in three step routes. We were getting some hits on Eli [Manning] so they came out with some quick drops, got the ball outside to their receivers and we missed some tackles that we normally don't miss and that ended up giving them favorable situations."

(On the turnovers) "I preach it every time I have a chance to talk about this football team. You look at the games yesterday and throughout the playoffs that the team that wins the turnover battle is going to win eight out of 10 games. It was no different today, we turned the ball over a couple times and defensively we didn't get one. I think that's more disappointing to me than anything else because I felt that we would have some opportunities to do that today. You have to give the Giants credit for protecting the football and not turning the ball over, but when you go minus two in the turnover battle, it's hard to win."

QB Jeff Garcia

(On if he felt rusty because of the time off) "No, I don't think so. I don't think it had any effect on me or the rest of my teammates. It was just a matter of them playing well as a team. Defensively, they are a solid defense. They did some good things against us today, put some pressure on us. They never allowed us to really get into a rhythm, but I don't want to harp on whether we were rusty or not. We had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation. It was just a matter of coming out and executing and unfortunately we didn't do that enough today."

(On how hard it was to get into a rhythm because of the defensive pressure) "The first couple drives we moved the ball decently. The second drive we had great field position and put together a scoring drive. But after that, we had too many three-and-outs. The second half, it was a poor decision on my behalf with the interception in the end zone, trying to make play but I probably forced the issue against the blitz and didn't give Joey [Galloway] a real good chance to make a play. The corner did a great job playing the ball, but still, not where I needed to go with that and not what I needed to do at that time in the game because we were already in a position to at least get three points out of it. That is not indicative of my play and that was too bad for us at that point in the game. It didn't play out the way we wanted today. We weren't effective enough as an offense enough times during the day. Too many inconsistencies and when you play like that, you are not going to end up winning the football game."

(On how hard it was to take hit after hit) "It wears on you, it does. But I felt like in the second half I came out and knew what I had to do. I felt good about things all day long; they were doing a great job. Defensively, they have a solid defensive team. They create pressure in certain ways. Their d-line does a great job of getting after the quarterback and they did a great job of mixing up blitzes at opportune times for them and frustrating us."

(On the Giants secondary) "Their secondary did a great job of being physical with our receivers, getting their hands on our receivers, taking away some slant routes at times. Not allowing Joey to really break free on the outside and I don't know if that's more so because of his shoulder or their corner just doing a great job. I give them credit for how they played. I think they played better as a defensive secondary than maybe what we gave them credit for. We knew that their front seven was tough and strong and solid, but their secondary really stepped up, especially not having [Sam] Madison, one of their starters playing in the game today. [Corey] Webster stepped in and did a great job for them."

RB Earnest Graham

(On the overall feeling right now) "It's tough to end on that note. We didn't play very well. We started well, but the rest of the game didn't go our way. We just flat out got beat. There is not much else to say."

(On if he is frustrated with the performance in the first playoff game) "We ran the ball well early then unfortunately we came out in the second half and had a turnover. They got ahead and made plays, and they definitely deserved the victory."

(On the game) "What could you say? It's a playoff game. Everybody came out and played hard. The effort wasn't bad, but we had turnovers today and the Giants did a very good job."

CB Brian Kelly

(On Eli Manning's performance) "He was smart. He did a good job of protecting the ball. He made some safe throws. He didn't take chances and we didn't have too many opportunities to capitalize on some things. There were still some areas that we could have done differently. They capitalized today and you have to give them credit."

TE Alex Smith

(On the game coming down to turnovers) "Well that's the story, that's the season. When we don't turn the ball over, we win. What we did is we put ourselves in tough situations and there's nothing you can do."

(On the offense, whether or not they were trying to do too much) "I think we had moments where we were able to move the ball down the field and for whatever reason at sometime we got away from that. Again we had some turnovers down there in the red zone, and it just makes it tough to win when you do that, but I tip my hat off to them. They played well and we just came up short."

(On the great play of the offense in the first quarter and how quickly it turned around) "Like I said, we were able to move the ball. We did a great job on the ground and Jeff Garcia was making some great passes down field, and we were able to move the ball. For whatever reason, we just weren't able to continue that momentum and it happens, it's a 60-minute game."

(On the feeling of a drop off of momentum heading into the playoffs because the starters had not played together) "No, if you look at it we had starters hurt from playing in that last game, so I perfectly agree with the decision. I think guys were sharp, guys were ready to go. Like I said, those turnovers will kill you. I think we could have all played better. Defense made some great stops and then a first down on a key third down, so just all around the board. Special teams, offense, defense, it was a collective loss."

T Jeremy Trueblood

(On the defensive line pressure) "That's a heck of a rush team and there's no question about that. You don't want your quarterback getting it or feeling uneasy, but I know as an offensive lineman I don't like looking back at him and seeing him on the ground, so I wish it didn't happen but it did.

(On the Giants defense) "They came out and played hard. You have to give credit to those guys because they played a really hard and long full game and we didn't match their intensity."

(On the turnover coming out of halftime) "That's unfortunate, but like I said, there are a lot of other plays in the game that could have turned the momentum here or there, maybe a missed tackle here or there and we score. You don't know what's going to happen, but we'll learn from this. I'm a young player, and I know there's a lot of guys who don't have many years left, but it hurts for them, but I know I have a long way to go, a lot of us do, we're a young team and we're going to bounce back."

C John Wade

(On if a light switch turned off and everything shut down) "I thought in the first quarter we did some good things as an offense, and you know, the defense obviously did some good things, too, but I focus on the offense. There's no switch obviously, but we came out in a little groove offensively, we put a few plays together, scored and I don't know what happened later. We didn't play good enough obviously. There's not some secret potion, we didn't play well enough, the New York Giants did, they're advancing and we're going home."

(On the turnovers) "Obviously if you turn over the ball, you decrease your chances to win. It's not a big secret, anybody who knows anything knows that's a big thing. Besides the win/loss column, that's another column that's very important, the turnover ratio. Obviously when you lose it, even if you are at home, sometimes you can overcome something like that at home. This is playoff football, you can't lose the turnover battle."

(On the kickoff return in the second half) "Things happen. The game was there to be taken by us. The opportunities were out there from an offensive standpoint. We had plenty of time left, even though the second half didn't start how we wanted, that's definitely not the reason we lost the ball game."

NEW YORK GIANTS

Head Coach Tom Coughlin

(Opening statement) "I'll start by congratulating Jon Gruden and his Tampa Bay team. They're an outstanding football team. I thought the difference for us today was that we preached all week about this team was plus 15. At home, they had really just the one loss that we considered and it was by turning the ball over. Jacksonville got three turnovers from Tampa and that's the only way that Jacksonville was able to win. We knew that this team had won when they won the turnover battle and lost the game when they didn't, so that was a big objective for us. Their team started fast, they did a real good job early on. We started slow, we got some momentum, I think, when we started to get three and-outs, and we got some field position following a three-and-out with a punt around midfield. I felt that like our mix was pretty good once that got going. They had a lot of people in the box, eight people in the box, so they were really denying the run really well. We did get some short passing game going and we were able to get the lead 14-7. Coming out and getting the turnover right away, I was disappointed it didn't get converted into a touchdown, but the 16-play drive and the continuous ability of us to get them off the field I thought was a key factor. At the end of the game to their credit, they took the ball and drove the length of the field and got another score, but again, I thought R.W. [McQuarters] made an exceptional interception to stop another drive and then we were able to run the clock out."

(On Amani Toomer) "Amani made some very solid plays. The ball went to Amani, the ball went to Plaxico [Burress]. We did get some very solid plays there. He came free, broke a tackle, almost made a long gain out of a short pass. The last touchdown on a third down, deep in the green zone was an exceptional play as well."

(On what Eli Manning did well) "Manage the game and not turn the ball over. [He] had a nice high percentage in terms of completions, we didn't get any big plays, but we did get some nice steady opportunities to convert and I thought that was the best thing he did. He also had to manage the run game obviously with people coming into the box, and he did a good job of that as well."

(On the job Corey Webster did) "Corey was outstanding. I felt that he would play well coming into this game. He practiced well, he's a guy who has exceptional hands and was in very good position in coverage, not only on the interception, but very early on in the game as well."

RB Brandon Jacobs

(On two second quarter touchdowns and never looking back) "You're not supposed to, you know. Tampa Bay, I give all the credit in the world to those guys who came out and played hard, they played really hard. They flew around. The guys had a nose for the ball. We had to come out and make a little adjustment. We had to get Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer involved and I think those guys gave us a better chance to win the game."

(On what it says about the Giants) "You know it says a lot about us. We have great character in here. Guys in here have a lot of heart. We do know one thing, when we go play against a team like the Dallas Cowboys we've got to bring it. Because it's a good football team and they're well coached."

(On getting his first playoff win) "I feel good. The first playoff win came, in my era. I feel good about that. We came out, won it. Now we have to go to the second round and never look back. This game is over."

QB Eli Manning

(On his emotions) "I am very excited. It was a great team victory today. Everybody stepped up and had a role. All of our running backs, tight ends, receivers, special teams. The defense getting turnovers and keeping us in the game, especially in the first quarter. The offense was not moving the ball well, couldn't get anything started. No first downs. Finally, at the start of the second quarter, we finally got something going. We threw two passes in a row to the right side, one to Plaxico Burress, one to Amani Toomer, who broke a tackle and got a first down that finally got us in the rhythm."

(On the amount of pump fakes) "Not on purpose. They just did a pretty good job of guys flashing in lanes. I would get ready to throw and the linebacker would run underneath, so I was holding it back and was able to hit a few. I missed a few short ones early on that I could have lost. My thought process was to play really safe, don't force anything. They do a great job getting turnovers. You want to get the ball out quick, don't throw interceptions, and don't get back there too long where they can cause a fumble. The offensive line did a great job protecting and receivers did a great job getting open on time where I could get the ball out."

(On if he has relief getting his first postseason win) "We have been in the playoffs the last three seasons and I haven't played particularly well in the two games before, and just to come in here and play well, give our team a chance to win the game and make some big plays, that was quite a situation to be in. But now you can't be just satisfied with what you're doing. It's about the bigger picture and keeping this thing going."

(On what this win does for his teammates' belief in him) "I think they still believe in me. They have faith that I can make plays and we can win. We have been doing it all season, we've won all sorts of different types of games. So I think we just have to keep finding ways to win. We've done a great job of doing that all season, just play smart football. If we, as an offense, can move the ball and have some good drives, put some points on the board. Our defense has been playing outstanding and they'll keep teams from scoring a lot of points."

(On what Head Coach Tom Coughlin said to him on the sideline) "Congratulations. It's a great feeling, but you can't just be content with this. That's our mindset. You have to win the first one to keep this going. We did our job today but it's about keeping this going further in the playoffs."

DE Michael Strahan

(On what this win means to him) "Big win, great win. It means we get to play another day. I think we can do it to be excited about it but we got a big test next week. All I'm focused on is next week already. We're going to be happy with this win because the Bucs are a good team and it's hard to win here at their place but we're thinking about Dallas right now."

(On having won eight straight on the road and facing Dallas next week) "I think as a team we seem to perform better on the road. I didn't know we won eight in a row. That's a great thing because when it's playoffs, if we're going to go as far as we want, we have to win every game on the road. I don't think it bothers anyone to play in Dallas. I think some of us are looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it because my family is in Texas, so I have an opportunity to let them watch the game. Hopefully the third time is the charm for us and we can win."

*(On what Eli showed him today) * "Eli played well. Eli showed that no matter what he's going to hang in there. He's going to figure out a way to get it done. This was a great game, a playoff game, a lot of pressure on him and he stood in there. It didn't start out so great for our offense or our defense but he hung in there and made the plays and made the throws and didn't turn the ball over, controlled the tempo of the game. You couldn't ask anything more from him and I think it was a great performance by Eli."

WR Amani Toomer

(On winning a game in Tampa at the same site where they lost Super Bowl XXXV) "Yeah, you know, I did think about that. The organization lost something the last time we were here and hopefully today we got a little of it back."

(On going to Dallas) "I feel pretty strong. I feel pretty good, you know, we know them, they know us and it's going to be a big game."

(On keeping the momentum going into the playoffs) "You know, today was a testament to that we got better. Even when we lost, we did get better for some reason. I don't know how that really works, but we did and it worked for us."

CB Corey Webster

(On the interception) "Just kind of in a bad field position. A person is going to be doing what they are doing all year and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was a good change of field position right there."

(On the fumble recovery) "One big guy ran down on a special team player, made a great hit, made the ball come out, must have been in the right place at the right time."

(On the underdog role) "I mean, it is what it is. I had the opportunity to go out there and play ball, there's always opportunity to get your hands on the ball and redirect the timing of the quarterback and the receiver and that's what we tried to do with Joey Galloway."

(On playing his best game) "I think it is one of my best games for the opportunity that Coach Coughlin gave me in covering Joey Galloway. It put a lot of confidence in me and showed me that I can go out there and get it done."

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