Tampa Bay Buccaneers

09-24-2006 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(On the game) "This was a tough loss for us. I would like to congratulate Carolina and Keyshawn Johnson. They made some big plays today in the football game. I am proud of our team, down 17-0 against a very good team. Our back was against the wall and I thought we responded."

(On Jake Delhomme's fourth-down run) "It was fourth and seven. They came out in an empty formation and ran two-man coverage, and I think Jake – I don't think it was a huddle call – I think he made a real instinctive play. He saw that the middle of the field was vulnerable and made a play that you would expect an NFL veteran quarterback of his caliber to make at times like that. He got through, I think we had a stunt on, and he made a nice, nifty move. You don't expect that from him but it was the play of the game, certainly."

(On Chris Simms momentarily leaving the game) "He got hit early and he hurt his ribs. We don't know the extent of that but he played hard today. He played tough and he showed a lot of grit. He really did. It is a credit to him. He made some big plays when we needed him. We tried a lot of things today – flee flickers and going for it on fourth down, and he responded to a lot of different scenarios. He is hurting right now, there is no question. He left the game. I don't know that it was because of his ribs, dehydration or both. He is a very sore and tired man right now, and I am proud of how he hung in there against a very good defense."

(On missed tackles) "We did miss some tackles. There is no question about that. This guy, No. 89 [Steve Smith] is back. This guy can make you miss. They are a very talented team. Foster and their rookie draft choice, [DeAngelo] Williams – they got us a couple of times. That is a credit to their skill level and it is uncharacteristic of our defense. We did miss some tackles that certainly allowed some short gains to become big ones."

(On the late attempted pass to WR Joey Galloway) "Well, we are going to try to get the first down. There is no guarantee. Two minutes with Jake Delhomme is not a long time. I have seen him, time and time again in this situation, do a good job. We had a play. We picked a side play. We had bump-and-run on [Joey] Galloway and took a shot. We thought they were going to be squatting on us, looking for the first down, and we didn't convert. We still had our chances. We had it on fourth and seven. We had numerous chances today, and we didn't make it happen."

CB Ronde Barber

(On John Kasay's field goals and the game overall) "They played well when they had to, John Kasay is a great player, we know that. Jake [Delhomme] made some plays down the stretch, undressed us a little bit and beat us. [The] effort was there, we weren't able to finish it."

(On the overall defensive play in the second half) "No doubt that we were in the game because of the turnovers. We caused three fumbles, so we knew we had some opportunities, even on top of that. Sometimes you do a lot of things right, we did something's wrong, and they got the better of it."

(On Jake Delhomme's run on fourth-and-seven) "He undressed us a little bit. He had the premium look. You don't expect him to run, but he did."

LB Derrick Brooks

(On if anything can be taken from this game) "A loss is a loss, but we saw some things. We saw enough to build on, to come out of this hole. In the second half, after that first quarter, we saw a football team that knows how to play; getting turnovers, scoring, excitement. Now we just we have to bring that other element, in terms of finishing. Finish on offense, finish on defense when we have got a fourth-quarter lead.

(On if Keyshawn Johnson's touchdowns and celebration was motivation for the team) "When you score a touchdown, you do what you want. It has no effect on us, it has no effect on me the celebration anybody does. You get in there, you deserve to do what you want to do. As far as inspiration, [when we're] down by 17-0, that's more important than a celebration by Keyshawn."

(On Carolina's last drive) "That is what I said in terms of finishing. Offense gets the ball, last year a couple of times, we finished drives off by making them use their timeouts in the first down. [On] defense, we get a turnover, end the ball game we don't let them score. We have enough to build on starting out going against New Orleans in two weeks, but there's still some areas we need to clean up."

WR Joey Galloway

(On the loss today) "It is always frustrating to lose. No matter how you do it, it is disappointing that we didn't pull it out. We had our chances to dig our way out of a hole and we didn't get it done. So we've got two weeks from now."

(On the third-and-five play late in the fourth quarter) "We didn't execute the play. When you don't execute plays in key situations, it makes it tough to win."

(On preparing for the next two weeks) "We need to continue to work hard, continue to try to eliminate our mistakes and play better."

DE Simeon Rice

(On the game) "It was an emotional and hard-fought game, period. That sums it up right there."

(On causing two turnovers in the second half) "It wasn't enough. It's all in the learning curve. I think at this point in the season, what we are getting accomplished is we're learning about ourselves. It's a difficult process, but that's what it is. You have to stand by it."

(On veteran players stepping up to lead the team) "The emphasis is coming back to being who we say we're going to be. The emphasis is getting victories. You're not in this game to learn, in terms of that's the objective. Our overall objective is to win games, and that something we have to fix."

(On if the loss ends the Buccaneers' playoff hopes) "If you look at it that way, if life is like that for you. For what we've accomplished, I don't think so. We've got a long journey ahead of us and if you look at it like that, then it becomes real. If you look at it like that is something you're capable of doing, once again you welcome the opportunity of doing it. When you climb out of it, you see how far you've come and you're a better man for it."

TE Alex Smith

(On opportunities in the passing game today) "We felt in other games those opportunities were there, but we just didn't quite capitalize on them. We were fortunate enough, we saw some looks today that, it was open in the middle of the field, and we were able to get it to them this time. I think it's something we always strive for, but we never really capitalize on it."

(On being encouraged by what the offense did today) "I think we finally got our offense together. I know we're still not running the ball like we would like to, but at least we're putting points on the board right now. That's the biggest hurdle we had right now was trying to get our offense clicking and putting some points on the board. So we know we still have a long way to go. We really have to get this running game going because without that, our offense won't thrive like it's supposed to."

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Head Coach John Fox

(On getting the first win of the season) "Yeah, it's not easy, it never is in this league and that was two teams, a very, very hard fought game that both really wanted to win bad. My hat is off to Tampa Bay and their efforts. I was just pleased to get out of here with a 'W.'"

(On Steve Smith naming John Kasay the MVP of this game) "He's pretty special, he's been pretty special for us for awhile and thank God for John Kasay. He's been a big part of us for at least my tenure and long before I got here."

(On the run by Jake Delhomme on the final drive) "They were playing a little bit of two-man there and they played there on the play before when Keyshawn [Johnson] caught the middle-read and they came back out in it again later on. They had a real aggressive rush up the field and Jake [Delhomme] did a nice job of finding the seam there and scrambling for the first down."

(If it was a designed run by Jake Delhomme) "No, that is the downside of [playing] two-man. We play it as a defense, too. The negative on that sometimes is you have a lot of guys with their backs to the ball and guys, quarterbacks, can find the seams and run up the field. It's a good coverage and excellent for the pass, but Jake [Delhomme] came through big on that play."

(On how close Steve Smith was to being a 100 percent today) "Again, as I have explained before, I'm not a doctor. You've got to ask him those things. It's going to be a process, it's been a process up untill now. He felt ready to go. I felt it took a lot of courage on his part to do what he did today, and the medical people had confidence in him. So as far as his percentage, I can't speak on that."

(On whether they were limited on what they could call for Steve Smith based on his condition) "I really don't want to get into that too much, just from a competitive standpoint, but we were not going to let him play 80 straight plays today, or whatever amount of plays we got offensively. We spelled him, we put a lot on his plate and some of it was mandatory on our part. So he was governed so to speak. I wouldn't say the play types, but as far as the reps."

(On whether he wanted to get Keyshawn Johnson involved early) "Well, Keyshawn's Johnson been a big part of our offense after three weeks with Steve [Smith] out. Keyshawn Johnson has been that guy, so he continued to be that guy in portions today. So there was not a specific design, and so much what we do offensively is dictated by what the defense does."

(On whether or not Keyshawn Johnson lobbied for more of an active role in today's game for personal reasons) "No, I don't like getting into all that. When you're 0-2 and going into game three, it wouldn't have mattered who we were playing. We were going to lean on Keyshawn Johnson big and he came through for us."

QB Jake Delhomme

(On the fourth-down scramble) "It was the same play we hit Keyshawn [Johnson] on a play or two earlier. I saw the coverage, and the last time Ronde [Barber] was off of him, this time he was up. I was either going to Keyshawn or [Steve Smith], that's where I was going with it. I wanted to see what the two inside tackles were going to do. As soon as they went up, I saw a lane and I just took off. Keyshawn did a great job because he didn't know [where I was]. Right when he set, he had to get the right depth and he was able to box out Ronde. I just closed my eyes and dove, hopefully I got far enough."

(On the team's first win) "It's big. Like I always say, it's hard to win in this league. Starting the way we started, going through a little adversity with some of the guys, when we are missing them a little bit, it's good to come in here [and get a win]. [Tampa Bay] doesn't change. Defensively, they are hard. Going against them, I know I'm speaking for the offense, it's tough going against them. You have to keep your eye out for Ronde, and you have to keep your eye on Brooks all of the time. I think I'm going to hit Steve [Smith] on the in-route early in the second quarter, and out of the corner of my eye, there's Brooks about ready to go pick it. It's a hard, mental game against these guys."

(On the return of WR Steve Smith) "He makes us a better team. I think we are getting better, but I think it coincided with him playing. He's not 100 percent and we know that. I think he would have scored on one or two plays today [if he was healthy]. What he does, the dynamic he brings, makes us better. Sometimes today, when we had him and Keyshawn on the same side, it's kind of nice. When you have that dimension, and you have that lead, you can play with it. He just makes us better, there's no doubt about it."

WR Keyshawn Johnson

(On how satisfying a win it was) "When you get to 1-2, it's always satisfying. When you're 0-2, things aren't going good, you definitely don't want to go 0-3. So, however it happened, it happened. We won the football game. That's the most important thing to me. I'm not really caught up in any of the hoopla. That's four years ago. I mean, that's for television and for print. I just care about helping this team get to a championship. Much like what I've cared about on every single team I've played on."

(On the fans' reaction to you returning to this stadium) "Anytime you play for a team and you're not playing for them anymore, it's going to be that way. Whether it's New York, whether it's Dallas, whether it's here, whether it's Carolina, wherever the case may be, I don't know very many players that get claps and cheers when they come back."

(On his touchdown off the reverse) "It was just a reverse. It was something we did in New York when I was with Dan Henning, when I played for the Jets in New York, we did that quite a bit. So, this is not the first time I've run reverses. This is not the first time I've run for touchdowns. I think Dan Henning is a guy who has coached me in the past, who knows my abilities, and knows some of the things I can do very well. I think a lot of people get caught up, and worried about a guy who can run on the clock, in terms of running reverses. But I think it's more so about knowing how to get around the corner, set up your blocks, and get in the end zone."

(On the importance of the win) "Well, I think it shows you can win football games. It shows that in tough times you can win them, and I think that's extremely important. A lot of times, when you look at teams, some teams go 0-2, they wind up going 0-3, they win a game, and the next thing you know they're 9-7. Or teams that are 2-0 won't make the playoffs this year. So, I like being in the position I'm in. I like being 1-2. It's satisfying. Atlanta still has a lot of teams to play. New Orleans still has a lot of teams to play. We still have the meat of our schedule to come. So, just take one game at a time, and get ready for next week."

WR Steve Smith

(On the game-time decision process) "I don't know what percentage. I just kind of felt good Saturday morning. We were meeting to discuss with the trainers, discuss with the coaches. It was an ongoing soap opera from there. We just kind of talked about it, they gave me the heads up, 'Let's see how you feel in the morning.' So, before I left my room, I woke up about 4:46 this morning, really just kind of pacing in my room. I talked to my wife. We talked for a good, quality five minutes and made a decision that I'm going to go out there. It was really just my wife talking to me, helping me out, and giving me that comfort that I needed."

(On his involvement and if it was limited) "I'm a professional, I've been in the league six years, and so they just kind of said 'It's on you.' Like it's been for the last 12 weeks, it's on me. So I just played smart. It was hot. I really just took my time. I really just came in and came out, so I wouldn't get fatigued and fatigue wouldn't set in and be a factor."

(On the importance of this win) "It was really big. Obviously, these first four games are division and conference. So it was really big. Next week we play New Orleans at home. That's another big game. We'll see what they do Monday night. It's not a crapshoot. The chips are all on the table. And there's no bluffing. We have to play strong games from here on out, until January. Every game we win is going to help us, and every game we lose is going to hurt us. We have to bounce back quicker from the wins and the losses."

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