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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-03-2006 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(on if the offense should move the ball better at this point) "We struggled obviously. We dropped some passes, had some penalties and missed some throws. Pittsburgh's pretty good. Put that all together and we struggled."

(on the turn of events where you get the short punt in good field position and don't convert it) "Obviously we have a wide open opportunity to make it a 10-7 game, but we don't make a play there. We overcome that and get a first down—first and goal. We lose yardage in our first-and-goal, we go for a high point to Maurice Stovall in a play we've been working on. It was just a bad throw and a good play by their corner. A little bit of both. We had opportunities to make plays today and I have to take responsibility for that."

(on if there is a level of frustration when you see the same mistakes) "It is. We got a turnover early in the game and had a third-and-two near midfield. And what looks like a big play, we mishandled a couple balls in key times. The pass protection at time, Pittsburgh got us. There's a lot happening right now for our young quarterback. It's very ambitious what we are asking him to do. All I can say is that we will put our heads together tonight on the way home and think about what our next step is."

(on if it was important to kick a field goal at the end of the game) "I'm sure I'll be criticized for that. I just wanted our quarterback to leave Pittsburgh with something. We left Pittsburgh with a field goal. Whether we kicked it or went for it, it's really beside the point. We have a lot of things to address."

(on if he is thinking about changing quarterbacks) "I'm not going to get into all that tonight. We have to play a lot better than we did to win in this league. It's not just the quarterback. We will take a look at every avenue we can to try and put our team in a better position."

(on if the defense played well enough) "I thought the defense did some good things—some very good things. They did some change-ups tonight. I thought our defensive staff did some good things and our players did play hard tonight."

(on what you can attribute the offense's dropped balls to) "I don't know. I would think that we have to be toward the top of the league in that. The young guys, in particular, are making some good plays, but not getting anything from it. Maybe we get a guy open and then miss the throw or we get a guy open and we don't catch the ball. You put that together and it's contagious. It's a disease that certainly has us right now."

(on the the pass protection tonight) "There were a couple passes that we took sacks, that we shouldn't have. There's no question about that. I don't think that stat sheet really represents how well some of the guys did pass protect. The Steelers are a tremendous defensive team in terms of all the things that they do. They've been doing it along time. They make it very difficult to run the football. We did try. But you have to throw the ball. We have to pick up the blitzes and throw the ball with some success. We were able to do that a little bit, but when it came down to it, we were not able to do it nearly enough."

(on if he is disappointed in the performance of Carnell Williams and Michael Clayton) "Again, it's very frustrating for all of us. We are worried about Clayton because he got hurt in the game. I don't know the severity of the knee injury. We have what we have now with one month left to play and we certainly will finish strong."

(on his third losing season with the Bucs) "I'm sure that's well documented by now. The big thing is that we have work to do. It's obvious and we'll do the work."

(on if he knows the extent of Michael Clayton's injury) "You don't know when you are told that he can't complete the game. You are concerned."

(on if he is worried about Bruce Gradkowski's confidence) "Yeah. I'm worried about every part of Bruce Gradkowski's whole life. He's been through a lot the past three weeks. If you would have told me that he was going to be in Monday Night Football at Carolina, Thanksgiving Day at Dallas and at the defending World Champions and his home town, in a three weeks span, that's about as tough as order as you can ask any man. There have been some good moments and there have been some dark moments. I just want to remind everyone that he's a young quarterback that's really got an upside and unfortunately it just really didn't come through clear as day tonight. "

WR Ike Hilliard

(on having had three losing seasons after the Super Bowl year) "It's frustrating. It's a frustrating time. I definitely thought we'd be a better football team than we are right now, but we're just not making the plays that we need to make when they're presented."

(on if there is a way to pinpoint what's not happening) "No. No way at all. We're playing hard. We're getting to the ball, running hard. It just hasn't worked out for us."

RB Carnell Williams

(on how frustrating it is not to be able to make plays, the dropped balls, the penalties) "It's really frustrating. It's basically been going on all season. It's like one possession, we look like a good offense, and the next possession we look like we don't know what the heck we're doing out there. It's tough. I definitely can't put a finger on it, but we'll go back to work."

(on if this should not be happening at the end of the year) "I agree, man. It definitely should not be happening."

(on if he is surprised about the two-minute drill at the end of the first half down 10-0) "Um, I don't know. We actually were in a two-minute offense. I know we felt like we were going to hand the ball to Pittman and maybe get a big run and that's what we're going to start with to catch the defense off guard because they were looking for a pass."

(on if being a young offense is no longer a reason to struggle) "Right, that's no longer a reason. We're 12, 13 games in. We've got a young offense, but that's not the reason. We get paid and we should all man up."

(on if it would be realistic to see some improvement week-to-week from the younger players that maybe isn't there) "To be honest with you I do feel like our young guys are getting better. Like I said, we've just got to make plays."

CB Ronde Barber

(on how difficult it was for cover guys with Roethlisberger picking up yards with his feet) "It's frustrating. We were playing a lot of man-to-man to stop the run – Willie Parker is a hell of a back and he is. We stacked the line of scrimmage and played a lot of man-to-man, but we missed a couple of sacks and Ben, is somewhat mobile and he worked around and made some plays in the passing game."

(on if he is surprised that a game at Heinz Field in early December didn't have the kind of meaning you would expect for a team that is the defending world champions) "No. They're struggling like we are a little bit. They're finding their way. They're going through the same thing. It's incredibly difficult to get yourself ready to play when you're not playing for a whole lot. Pride is one thing, obviously it's your job, you've got to do that, but when you're used to playing for championships, making your way through the playoffs and you have to play somewhat meaningless games at the end of the year, it's tough."

QB Bruce Gradkowski

(on what it was like to play in his home town) "It was an amazing opportunity. I was thrilled to come back to Pittsburgh. The fans in Pittsburgh and everyone around here has been so good to me. Especially for all of the family and friends that got to come to this game to see me play."

(on how many of his friends and family were there) "A lot. I don't even know how many to count, but probably over 100. Close family members and friends. I wish we could have put on a better show and personally me also, but things happen like that and it was a great opportunity for me."

(on the turn of events with the end zone interception and resulting Pittsburgh TD drive) "We put a real good drive together in that third quarter and a couple plays we need to make and that interception in the end zone, he made a great play on it and that really turned it around. They put a drive together and went down and scored and made it 17-0 and that's kind of what changed the game. Against a good football team like that, you really can't turn the ball over. Personally, I made a couple of bad decisions out there. Two interceptions I'd like to have back and that stuff happens, I have to learn from it definitely and continue to move on."

(on if he should have checked down on his first interception) "I was off a little bit. I was going to throw it to Cadillac and then I felt somebody run towards him, so you can never come back and throw late and that's one thing you can't do. Even if you don't see the defender, there are guys out there. Those are two plays that I'd like to learn from and I wish I could have back."


Head Coach Bill Cowher

(on the win) "It was a good win. I thought our defense did a really good job setting the tone early with the first three-and-out and with a little adversity off the interception. I thought they did a good job. Our coverage team was excellent today. It was a good win. We have a short week to get ready for Cleveland."

(on guys stepping up with others out due to injury) "We did. In the second half Ryan Clark had a groin he really didn't play the whole second half. We had Anthony (Smith) and Ty(rone Carter) out there and they did a very good job. Ced(rick) Wilson had a high ankle sprain early in the game. Santonio (Holmes) played an extended period of time, Nate Washington, Sean Morey. Those guys did a great job. We did have some guys out but a lot of guys stepped in and did what they had to do."

(on making things hard on Bruce Gradkowski) "He's a good football player. He's a good quarterback. We did a few things to him. I thought it was important to put some pressure on him and not let him sit back there. He scrambled a lot and made some plays. We were fortunate to get the lead. The kick by Jeff (Reed) was real big. I was right on the fringe with that kick. It was the two-minute warning. I had too much time to think about it. I started to second guess. Jeff had a nice swing on that. I thought that was a really big play because that put us up by 10 right now. Otherwise they would have gotten the ball with two minutes to go with pretty good field position."

(on his thoughts on the Bucs kicking a field goal at the end) "I have so much respect for Jon Gruden. I understand it. I was in that same position last week (against Baltimore). We were in that position a number of times and you saw what my decision was."

(on why he understands it) "No one wants to be shutout in this league. That's obviously why you do that. You kick a field goal because you don't want to be shutout. I guess that's the thinking. It crossed my mind for a very, very brief second last week but not to the extent of making that decision."

(on if he talked to Jon Gruden about it) "No, Jon Gruden is a good football coach. In the grand scheme of things, does it really even matter?"

(on the techniques DBs use against fade routes) "That was a long time coming. Bryant McFadden made a great play on it. The guy we really wanted to take away was Joey Galloway. We didn't want him to get hit with some big passes. I know they made a couple third-and-long completions at the end. He's the one big-play guy that they have. We were aware of where he was on the field all day."

(on if he stuck with Willie Parker because of confidence or because he had a lead) "A little of both. I don't think we ran the ball particularly well today. Tampa has a good defense and they're very sound. It seems like it's taking us too long to get on track. We've been there two weeks in a row really. I'd even go back to Cleveland, almost three weeks in a row since we really came out. With New Orleans we had a good first drive but we've been very slow at getting started these last three games. We need to find a way to get on track early."

(on using Heath Miller at WR) "He gives you that option. We've been down that road before when we lost Hines (Ward), and we have packages where he's out there on third down. We may expand that a little bit, but we feel good about Sean Morey. Walter Young's here. We're not going to get rid of everything. We'll still be able to spread it out because we know that Ben (Roethlisberger) is comfortable with it."

(on how Larry Foote played) "Let me just say, defensively, the two scores we gave up last week, the two touchdowns were on short fields. We've played pretty consistently defensively throughout. We've given up some plays and have not gotten the turnovers. Today we had some takeaways and we hadn't been getting takeaways. Larry came up big. He played a lot in place of Troy (Polamalu). Larry Foote is a good football player. You see that week-in and week-out. He's been a very consistent football player for this team."

(on how Ben Roethlisberger played) "I thought he was solid. On the first interception that he threw, he didn't see (Derrick) Brooks run underneath it. The play he makes to Willie Parker, buying time, he really came out and had a big pass play. The throw he makes to Nate Washington, the throw he makes to Heath for the touchdown are plays that you see him directing people. That's the thing you have to give credit to. He's a great competitive guy and I thought he played a very solid game."

QB Ben Roethlisberger

(on his early interception) "It was one of those stupid plays – I didn't even see him (Derrick Brooks) out there. As soon as I let go is when I first saw him. I told him afterwards that I wish he would have dropped it. It's just one of those things. I told Max (Starks) that he's too big, I can't see around him. It wasn't the way we wanted to start, but we bounced back and fought hard. Give them a lot of credit, and I'm proud of the way our guys played."

(on Nate Washington) "Nate stepped up big. He made a lot of plays. I know he got smacked pretty good on one. When he really has to focus on the ball, he catches it well. He's stepping up and he's growing up every week, and he's going to continue to grow and get better."

(on getting the tight ends into the game plan) "I don't know. They got open. Jerame (Tuman) got his first touchdown, which is great. He did a good job of peeling back. The next one was kind of broken – I scrambled a little bit to the left, and Heath (Miller) peeled back and made a good catch."

(on guys stepping up with others injured) "That's what they do. They've done a great job of that all year, and that's kind of the m.o. of this team. When guys go down, we've always had guys who step up and play big. They did a great job of that and filling in for the guys that were down. I would expect them to continue to do that as long as we have guys down."

(on if it's his first instinct to get out of the pocket) "Not as much as it used to be. My first instinct is to sit in there for a while, because I'm understanding better what guys are doing. It's just see what's going on, and get out at the last minute."

(on sticking with the running game) "That was our game plan coming in, to re-establish who we are. We're so good at running the ball at home – even though it wasn't necessarily working, we still were getting two or three yards a pop. We just continued to grind it, got behind our line, and opened holes for Willie (Parker) and Najeh (Davenport)."

(on the offense stepping up for the defense) "It was good for the offense to finally step up for our defense. They've been picking us up all year, and picking us up when we're not playing so well. We wish we could have put a few more on the board. They did a good job. The defense got us the ball a lot tonight, a lot of turnovers. We need to capitalize more on them, but we did a good job when we had to."

(on if he felt for the Bucs' rookie quarterback) Not at all. I have to go against them every day. I talked to him afterwards, and I told him the same way I told Charlie Frye last year, 'They're a good defense. Keep your head up, you're playing well.' He's doing a great job and he'll continue to play well."

LB Joey Porter

(on the game) "I think we played good. It's how we needed to play after playing bad last week. We just wanted to come out here and get a win, no matter how we did it. We feel like we had a chance to go out there and play good today, and I think we did."

(on getting Bruce Gradkowski on the run) "[He's a] young quarterback. That was kind of like our formula, what we did today, [to] get up early, and then have a chance to rattle the quarterback. Whenever you have a young quarterback going against our defense, I think we have a great chance of messing with him. And I think we did that today."

(on moving into fourth place on the Steelers' sack list) "That's always good. That's always a credit to the team. Individual success is something [that's based on] how good the team is playing. It's not like I'm out there by myself. Whenever you can have those accomplishments, it's always a good thing."

LB Larry Foote

(on guys stepping up with others injured) "Troy [Polamalu] was out. T.C. [Tyrone Carter] stepped in. You saw all the plays he was making. A couple times, I thought that was Troy. That one he made in the backfield – that's what Troy does on that certain defense. When guys go down, we have to step up."

(on if it was just another day at the office facing a rookie quarterback) "Another day. I was just mentioning, this is the first time we actually studied a team all week and we knew what they were doing. A lot of times, teams have been changing up from what we've been studying on film. We knew the play before they were doing it. And we made plays today."

(on knowing the play that was coming on his interception) "Right. I knew that the curl was coming when the running back went to the flat. When the guy crossed [the field], I don't know if the quarterback saw me because he might have thought I was going to go with the cross."

(on knowing what was coming) "It's just the [Jon] Gruden offense. They like to run the ball. We stopped that. So we knew they were going to do the West Coast Offense [with] a lot of 1-2 [step drops] and a lot of slants and stuff. We knew it was coming and we jumped a lot of those things."

WR Nate Washington

(on his game) "I did pretty good today, I guess. I'll watch tape tomorrow. I know there are a couple of things that I messed up. I kind of catch myself in trying to be a perfectionist sometimes. That kind of gets me. But I did okay today. I did just enough to get us the win."

(on if he's the new leader of the wideouts) "No. The only true leader that we have, [that] we look to, is Hines [Ward]. He's been in this business before. He has true experience. But I think other than that, we don't look for any leaders. We play off of each other. There are times that I don't know things that Santonio [Holmes] might know, even though he's younger than me. But we all play off of each other. Other than that, I don't consider myself to be a leader. I will take that leadership role, but I'm just playing with the other guys [and] leaning on their shoulders like they lean on mine."

(on what's left to do with the season) "We just have to finish strong. The season hasn't really gone the way that we wanted it to, but we just have to finish strong. Even though we're kind of [up and] down with a loss and a win, we just have to finish strong."

(on if taking a hard shot on one play got him going) "It did. It's just a play that I have to make. We're expected to catch the ball and that's what I have to do."

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