Head Coach Jon Gruden
(on the loss) "That was a pretty tough loss for us. Congratulations to Carolina. They did an excellent job offensively tonight, to say the least, running the football. I was pleased with the offense. We fought back and tied the score two or three times. Unfortunately we did not have an answer for their running machine tonight."
(on tackling DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart) "They did a nice job. I think they came in with an excellent plan. They did a nice job cracking our support a few times and got in some one-on-one situations. Those guys are that good. Those guys are going to make guys miss. Both of them. We knew that coming in here. We missed some run fits. Weve got to do a better job as coaches, obviously. You just have to tip your hand to Carolina. Theyve got two very good backs. They knew who to block tonight. They did an excellent job."
(on the defenses performance) "Im not going to single out anybody. If youre at the game tonight, we played hard. It was a tied ball game going into the fourth quarter. We just didnt have an answer for their offense tonight. It is uncharacteristic. But Im still confident that our defense can rebound from this and finish the season strong."
(on Antonio Bryants performance) "Never seen a guy play like that. He was dominant tonight. Great catches. Hes big time talent. Im happy for him. Unfortunately, it went down as a loss."
(on Tampas 9-4 record) "Im not going to do anything but go back to work like anybody else who lost this weekend. We lost to a good football team. We knew it was going to be challenging coming in here. We got held on a goal-to-goal situation, which disappointed us. But were still excited to finish the season, and that we will."
(on DE Julius Peppers) "Glad we dont see him for a while. Peppers, hes a great player, and Smith. Theyve got some explosive weapons here. Theres a reason why theyre a 10-3 football team."
WR Antonio Bryant
(on his most yards in one game, but how much does loss take from him) "Yes, that hurts, a lot. Weve seen a couple of teams take some big ones this weekend. I think we just need to focus on winning every game and approaching them as if they are playoff games already."
(on what he was looking forward to for this Monday Night Football Game) "My situation is a little different. I look forward to every game. Im going to be greedy about every opportunity I have. I try to make the most out of everything."
(on looking forward) "I havent looked at one game since I played them. Im not looking back. Im only looking forward. Right now, the only thing I keep in mind is our record. Thats four losses. Atlanta is on my mind, so I look forward to that game."
(on his one-handed grab) "It was just another one of those Jeff (Garcia) moments when he kept the play alive. I just kept telling him to give me the opportunity. After them playing a little man-to-man, we beat them a couple of times. So they zoned and clouded the weak side, the side I was on, so I sat in the hole where the safety had left. Jeff just came up with a great pass for me, and I just made a play on it."
(on if he is enjoying the season) "Im having fun because its exciting. Everybody is in a race. I think this is the most teams in a race or the hunt for an opportunity to get into the playoffs than ever before. There is no team more dominant than any other. Everybody is out hunting. Hopefully we go ahead and clean our gun and get ready for the next game."
LB Derrick Brooks
(on the game) "Its very simple. We didnt do a good job with gang tackling and tackling the running backs. We gave up the big plays and some long runs. When three guys miss a tackle and someone is out of the gap, youre going to get hit with big plays. Were not making any excuses about it. We got hit in the mouth today. Well patch ourselves up tomorrow, well come back tomorrow and get ready for Atlanta."
(on Carolinas adjustments since the last Bucs-Panthers meeting) "As I said before, some of the plays were plays weve seen before. They did a good job of blocking us this time. Im going to give them credit. We give them credit for breaking tackles and making us miss. At the same time, Im going to recognize our mistakes and what we didnt do. Weve got to get ready and go back to work and improve our tackling, especially going to play Atlanta."
(on playing another division opponent) "Our schedule is what it is. We just take one game at a time as I said before. We played New Orleans, and we played Carolina. Weve just got to have a better performance than we did tonight in order to get our 10th win of the season."
CB Ronde Barber
(on if the Panthers played as you expected) "Of course. We knew we were going to get their best. They won convincingly when they run the football. Their big wins have been when they dominated the running game. They werent complicated. They probably ran four or five running plays and two passing plays and just executed very well."
(on what the Bucs could have done differently) "Im not sure. Obviously tackles were an issue, especially in the first half. The game got out of hand in the second half just when they felt real comfortable doing what they were doing. They didnt take their foot off the accelerator. They just kept doing what they were doing and really gave it to us."
(on the remainder of season) "I dont think things would have changed whether we won or lost this football game. Weve still got to play this season out. Give Carolina a lot of credit. They are a good football team and they proved it tonight against us. This season will play itself out over the next three weeks and well see where we sit at the end of it."
DE Kevin Carter
(on errors against the run game) "We didnt have the usual type of integrity of tackling that we usually have, that we hang our hat on getting the ball and being where were supposed to be. We werent quite as sound as we usually are and even when we got to the point of contact we didnt tackle well so when you have those things happen against a good team especially against two of their running backs those are the mistakes you look at, things you do wrong."
(on being 9-4 with a huge came against Atlanta coming up) "Were a little disappointed. Were not discouraged. Thus far we played ourselves into this position and next week is still important. It gives us a chance to make something happen going towards the playoffs so nothings really changed. We could have helped ourselves tonight by taking control but next Sunday is still important if not more."
(on the difference with Carolina compared to the last game) "I think if you look at the two games its a matter of gap integrity and tackling. We tackled really well when we played earlier in the season. Tonight wasnt quite as sound. When I say gap integrity I mean everybody getting where theyre supposed to be and when we got to where were supposed to be we didnt tackle when we got there."
QB Jeff Garcia
(on the game) "They did great things. They ran the ball well. Our defense has bailed us out so often this season. This was one of those nights we needed to be better offensively, we needed to be able to match point for point. Unfortunately we werent able to do that. It was close there for a while and one of those possessions that we didnt turn into a score didnt allow us to stay in the game. It was just one of those things where I think both teams came out and played extremely hard, played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm but they had more. They were the better team on the field tonight."
(on if there is more pressure now) "We have to win football games. We have to take the approach of one at a time still but we have a tough road game this week in Atlanta. Theyre playing great football this year and thats going to be another big challenge but I think well improve upon what we did tonight and look back and see how we can correct some of the things that we didnt do and just find a way to put together a good game plan and try to be effective in a tough environment next week."
(on Antonio Bryant) "He just did a great job. Thats the type of player that he is. Fortunately we were able to give him some opportunities to make some plays and he made some plays that were unbelievable and thats just what he has within himself and its great to see that because we need a guy like that. He works extremely hard. He has a certain energy and passion about him that just demands the football. He demands the opportunity to make plays and as we saw tonight he doesnt leave any plays out on the field. He gave us an opportunity to stay in that game by the plays he made."
(on the second half) "I think that we were playing pretty decent football offensively. I thought we were more effective than weve been in previous games. It was just unfortunate with our defense tonight. They had a tough time stopping their ground game. That was very uncharacteristic for them . Theyve given us opportunities throughout the season to win games. Its just tonight Carolina was making the plays. They were making enough plays to put points on the board and we just didnt have enough to match them."
LB Barrett Ruud
(on the game) "A lot of it is technique. Its about us. It wasnt a scheme thing. You gotta get down there and make the plays."
(on if the Bucs were embarrased on a national stage) "It is embarrassing. You dont get many opportunities to have that national audience and it is by far our worst game. We know were not that team that showed up here tonight. It is what it is. We did it on national TV and now weve just got to regroup with one less day and go play Atlanta."
(on if the team is panicking) "No. You cant panic. We knew going into this it was going to be a tough stretch. Win or lose tonight it was still going to be a dogfight to the end. We cant panic. Obviously were disappointed about tonight but weve got one less day to get ready for Atlanta so weve got to put it behind us as soon as possible, move on and get ready to play."
Head Coach John Fox
(on tonights performance compared to the last meeting with the Bucs) "I think after we came back and watched the tape I dont think we performed that well. What might have gotten lost a little bit is we had a couple linemen out and those couple of linemen were back in tonight. I think that was a factor. I didnt think our quarterback played one of his better games last time around. Again without watching the tape I thought he performed better tonight. All long I thought we performed much better tonight than we did last time."
(on the Panthers running game) "Its what we are built around. Its something we worked on. Props to Marty Hurney, the personnel department and Don Gregory. I think we got bigger and more physical up front. Those two backs are both pretty special. Thats what we tried to build around and we have the people to do it. Were going to try and do it more consistently moving forward."
(on Tampa Bay only giving up one rushing touchdown all year before Monday) "We just felt like we needed to run the ball. We didnt have any secret number of how many they have given up or how many we needed to score. The thing is needing to score more than they do. I thought our blocking element and our runners were outstanding tonight, that was fairly obvious. I thought our passing game came through especially early on when we needed to loosen up some."
(on the Panthers controlling their destiny for the playoffs) "This one is over, the most important one on our schedule is the Denver Broncos here. We wont look any further past that. We wont spend any time other than tonight enjoying this one. Right now the most important one is Denver."
(on the blocked extra point) "I know Julius Peppers got through. Other than that, how much of a swing that was, I mean there were a lot of big swings in that game. I am not sure that that one takes the cake."
(on anything in particular that stands out) "We had a couple that hurt us. We were down there in Bucs territory twice and had turnovers. That was a little upsetting early. I thought we got on track a little bit more in the second half."
(on enjoying the win) "People remember what you do in December and this was a big state. I like the way our guys met that challenge. I just dont want them to drinks this kool-aid they are about to go into and come back ready to work and realize how we got to this point."
(on if there was a buzz among the coaches and players about this game) "I am sure they were listening to their families. Those guys get kept pretty busy so they dont have a lot of time to watch TV, listen to the radio or some of the things that other people do. You have to ask them that. I dont think that was a big factor. I think they were pretty jacked up to play this game."
(on DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart setting new records) "Those are all things that I have just been made aware of. Both of those backs have been special for us. They are a big reason that we are sitting with the record that we have. They have done a perfect job."
T Jordan Gross
(on tonights game) "It was a lot of fun. We wanted to come out and run the ball and knew it was going to be challenging for the defense. Luckily we were able to do it."
(on the offense) "Any time you can run the ball like that, keep getting opportunities to do that, the longer you can do that in a game the more the yards are going to rally up. We knew we had them tired, we were leaning on them. Thats a fast defense. You dont want to sit back and have them rush the passer. We were smiling ear to ear, hoping we could continue to do that all game."
(on the Bucs defense against the run) "They are such a fast team, we thought the creases were down hill instead of trying to out run them. Sure enough our backs hit the holes right and didnt dance around. We were able to gash them a few times."
(on a Monday night game) "We got the national stage. They always say that everyone watches this one. I think they are. There was a lot of hype this week. Tampa is a great team. I think there is a good chance that we might seem them again this year. Just to validate the Panthers, the running attack we have. Our defense really put pressure on Garcia and kept him in the pocket well. I think this might be our most complete team game."
(on the Buccaneers) "I knew they were going to come out and score some points. They have a good offense and Garcia is a veteran guy. We just hit a lot of those long runs. You cant do anything better than that as an offensive lineman. You want to get those big runs. It makes you feel good and lets you know you got your job done."
(on Jake Delhommes performance) "That long pass to Steve was great. Jake had some good time in the pocket. Whenever we do that for him hes going to make it work. Jakes a great quarterback and I think he would have loved to have rushed for 300 yards than throw for 300 yards against these guys and set the tone a little bit. Those guys definitely have a chemistry that we need to keep riding on this year."
DT Damione Lewis
(on the Panthers defense) "For the two guys in the middle, ideally to get push and try and get the guards in his face, get our hands up and get you a batted ball. Then have ends pick and choose their battles to see if they can come around the corner and get a touch on it. I think we did a great job of doing that tonight."
(on how big tonights game was) "Well actually this is the biggest game weve had since Ive been here over the last three years. I think we responded well and went out and played well. I think we played with poise and really locked in, honed in and focused on the field. Our offense did a great job for us. We buckled down on defense in the fourth quarter and got the stop that we needed. I just think we played a great game."
(on how the offensive line played) "Man those boys were making holes big enough for a Cadillac to drive through. I thought it was unbelievable."
QB Jake Delhomme
(on the offense and the blocking) "Our defense stopped them early and we got the ball. We were able to put some points on the board which was nice. We just kind of went from there. Certainly the run game was outstanding tonight. We played with the lead and made the plays. That was huge. Our offensive line did great blocking. But we would be at a loss without Dante Rosario, Jeff King and Brad Hoover and those guys blocking. Also, Moose and Steve. They had some big time blocks down the field. That was huge. It was a great win. You love to play in these types of games. It does mean a lot. Its not the end of the world but it was a big game and we want to put ourselves in the position to win. To win ten games in a season is hard. I know there are veterans and they havent won more than eight. You just try to win and keep going."
(on the rushing game) "Theyve allowed one rushing touchdown all year. We were able to get a touchdown tonight that was nice. I dont think weve allowed too many points all year defensively which was nice. It was a great team win and we are excited. We are going to enjoy it for a few hours and get ready to go. Weve got Denver coming in and they are pretty good also."
(on the keys to success) Besides blocking, there were great individual efforts. DeAngelo busted along. He and Stewart both made guys miss on the outside. Really good running backs do that. I think they are both really good."
RB DeAngelo Williams
(on the running scheme) "The offensive line and the fullback did a great job blocking for us today. It came down to the third and fourth quarter and we finished it. Im really excited about our offensive line and our fullbacks and our wide receivers blocking down field."
(on if he felt the Bucs wearing down as the game went on) "I dont know if they were wearing down as the game went on. Our offensive line was getting better. They are an NFL team and I am sure they were giving us their all, and we were giving them our all. We had the edge tonight and were able to win this game."
(on his two touchdowns) "The offense, the fullbacks and Steve did a great job blocking for me. They were bringing the safety down in the box. Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton, Keydrick Vincent and Jeff Otah did a great job collectively as a group. The wide receivers down field were enabling them to not stack the box early on and gave us a little breathing room. We were trying to keep them on their heels and I think we did a great job tonight."
RB Jonathan Stewart
(on the fourth quarter drive of all runs) "You can tell when you are running the ball the way we were today that it takes a lot out of the defense, just to be running back and forth chasing the running back. It takes a toil on the offense if they are not getting yards or it takes the toil on the defense when you are running on them."
(on what he felt after that drive) "That we had it. We just have to keep running the ball. That its up to us and up to our offensive line to win this game."
(on of the four running touchdowns sent a message) "We arent trying to send messages. We are just trying to win the game. Week in and week out, they are going to prepare. This is the NFL. They are professionals. You have to be up to youre A game."
(on the O-Lines performance) "The front five, Brad Hoover, tight ends blocking, everybody did their part. Steve Smith was a great blocker. Everybody did their job."
WR Steve Smith
(on the running game) You know Smash and Dash, they did a great job. They ran the ball hard. You cant say enough good things about them. They did an outstanding job.
(on Jonathan Stewart complimenting his blocking) "When those guys run, I want to be a part of it. I need them as much as they need me. They continuously keep running that way and putting us in position, whether its fourth-and-one or first down, you never know if they are going to break it. They have shown that all year and they are the best one-two punch we have in the League right now."
(on the shortened celebration) "That is good. That means we have less time to shine our stars and focus more on the task at hand, finishing out I think, hopefully, a perfect home record. We want to do everything we can to help us in the playoff race."
(on if the win was redemption from the loss to Tampa Bay in last meeting) "We try not to focus on what happened last time, because it is foolish to do that. You dont play it as a revenge game. You play it as another opportunity to win the game. And when you have more wins than losses, you are always doing a good job."
(on playing on Monday Night Football) "I think everybody in this locker room was waiting on it. Monday Night Football, its on ESPN, its the only show on that night. It is always a good feeling when you perform well."
DE Julius Peppers
(on his overall impressions of the defensive effort) "There was a lot on the line, so both teams were playing hard and trying to get the job done. Our guys stepped up and made plays on offense and gave us a little cushion, and we just had to close the door."
(on if it was a statement game) "I wouldnt necessarily call it a statement game. It was just a game with a lot on the line. And we played well at the right time."
(on taking control of the game late) "Everything was shut down, except for they had three or four explosive plays that I give them credit for finding one-on-ones and finding the hole. A lot of stuff was missed assignments really. I think we did a good job taking away what they really wanted to do, which was the run and the short check down, so it forced them to do other things."
(on the running game) "Its great. It takes a lot of pressure off of the defense. You get to rest a little bit while the offense is making plays. DeAngelo, Jonathan, Jake, Steve, those guys played big today, and it helps us out when they do that."
(on the Panthers' home record) "You have to realize its tougher to play on the road than it is at home. You have the fans behind you. Its a comfortable setting. And when you go on the road, its harder to play, period. So this year we are just protecting our home, and thats what we need to continue to do."