Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-14-2003 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening comments) "I'd just like to say we're very proud of our football team. Once again we have overcome some more injuries. We deactivated Warren Sapp, Ken Dilger. Kenyatta Walker was active although unable to play with some kind of a bite. We're real proud of our football team. (We're) still alive. We'll go home and check out the scores and see where we are. I'll answer any questions that I can. I thought it was a very good football game. We'd like to score a few more points. (We) missed a couple of opportunities on field goals and had a big home run called back, but I'm proud of our guys."

(On the low number of penalties called on Tampa) "It's something we've tried to minimize. We've hired officials to come to practice on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Everybody knows how much I love being around the officials, but we worked hard to try and emphasize the etiquette with which the game is played. I thought our players responded, it's just ironic that the one penalty incurred today cost us a touchdown."

(On Charles Lee and Thomas Jones) "It just goes to show (that) football is an interesting game. Thomas came here very obscure. Some criticized us for taking a shot there. Charles Lee was an obscure player also. But they are fast, they are young, and they are improving. That's the most important thing is that they're getting better, and they're showing some consistency in the process."

(On the play of Thomas Jones) "As I've said all along, we're trying to discover just what kind of back this is. The only way you truly find out is if you give him an opportunity, and he's carried 54 times in the last two games for well over 200 yards. Some of our eyebrows were raised a little bit. We're excited. Maybe I should temper my enthusiasm and go somewhere else with the distribution of the ball, but I'm really excited about this guy and what he brings to our football team."

(On two consecutive games with many sacks) "You get a lead, you got an opportunity to get an offense, an opposing offense, in a more predictable situation where they have to maybe rely on a forward pass. That's when you get your pass rush going. Certainly this year we've been in a lot of tight football games and been behind in some."

(On the offensive line) "We're getting better. Obviously, we've had a lot of interchangeable parts this year. Today Roland Williams played about 40 snaps, and the tight end's a big part of that. But again, they are getting better so I tip my hat to them and Bill Muir."

(On whether the short week poses a problem for preparation) "Yes, it does. It's going to be a challenge for us and Atlanta. Obviously, we'll give the players off tomorrow, and Tuesday will be like a Wednesday. Injuries could impact practice a little bit, so both teams in Week 15 have to be creative in how they go about their preparation."

QB Brad Johnson

(On the game) "We worked hard all season long and we finally won back-to-back games. It was big for us and this is what we had to have at the end of the season. Also we have to win two more games (starting) with Atlanta next week and Tennessee on the road. It was one of the more dominating showcases today. Obviously we didn't score the way we wanted to, but offensively we rushed for over 150 yards and had a very efficient passing game again, and the defense just shut them out. We had a hard time down there in the end zone. They were rushing three and playing a lot of coverage and it makes it tough on you on third-and-eight when they do that."

(On the running game) "We kind of need a running game and Thomas (Jones) has been able to add some explosion to us. He made first guys miss and gets one or two extra yards. Every now and then he makes a 10 or 12 yard hit. He brings something special to our team right now. We're going to have to ride him out like we rode him today."

(On Charles Lee) "Charles gives us an explosion on offense. The yards after the catch we talked about. I feel like we've been connecting for the last five years, even though he's only been in the last 4 games. I felt very comfortable with him in there. He snags a lot of balls. He doesn't drop very many balls at all. He had a great reverse today. He adds some dimensions to our team that we haven't had in a while."

RB Thomas Jones

(On the Offensive line) "The offensive line did a great job blocking today."

(On touching the ball 34 times) "I love touching the ball 34 times a game. That's what I am used to. I'm used to getting the ball over 20 times. I think that's when I become effective is in the second half when the defense is tired and I'm still going. To get the ball 34 times I am definitely thankful for the opportunity and I just try to make the best of it."

(On the criticism the team has received on the running game) "We've been able to run the ball, earlier we made mistakes that hurt us during the season a lot of penalties that put us in passing situations so it wasn't that we couldn't run the ball it was just that we weren't in the situation to run the ball so that makes it hard. So, definitely the past couple of weeks we've had some good rushing games, Michael Pittman has had some good rushing games this year."

(On winning two in a row for the first time this season) "It feels real good to get two victories in a row. We have a great team and we had some misfortunes this year with some of our loses. We are still a tight team and everyone is still fighting hard and our goal is to still dominate the rest of the season and you never know what could happen. Our goal right now is to be the best team that we could be after the next two weeks."

(On the distractions this season and this week with Rich McKay) "Not really. That is administration, that is the business side of the game and we are football players and what we do is play football. We go out there and try our best to win for Tampa Bay and for the fans."

WR Charles Lee

(On the 72-yard reception) "We had a slant route called to isolate me on the backside and the safety shot down, Brad (Johnson) looked him off and went to other reads. Even though he (Brad) had tremendous pressure, I kept my route going and saw the other safety on the backside come down, too. Brad was able to find me and I was pleased to catch the ball. It hung up there forever."

(On what a big play means in a game) "Big plays devastate defenses. That is what they work on all week, not to give up the big play. It kind of hurts them and hurts their morale a little bit and we were able to get a little momentum going."

(On his ability to break tackles and make plays over the past few weeks and that the team has gone through some transformation) "I don't think we have. I just thank God. Every week when I come in, that's my focus, that's my goal, is to be the spark for the week for the team. I can make big plays and that I can bring a spark to the offense."

S John Lynch

(On being able to complete a game without having to come out with an injury) "Yeah, there were some discussion this week about me playing or not and it felt good towards the end of the week. So, it has been frustrating year in terms of dealing with that but I feel fortunate enough to be out there on the field and to be part of our first two wins in a row this year."

(On holding their offense to 107 yards) "That's one of the all-timers right there I remember 112 against the Giants but I don't remember any 107s, that's a nice deal. To be honest, we had respect for them but we felt we had an opportunity to have a defensive dominating effort and that's what we really expected out of ourselves today. It was nice to see the offense control the clock, that always helps and it was a complete effort today."

(On not continuing the streak of consecutive games with a takeaway) "Those streaks are great but the "Ws" are the most important thing and it's nice to do this and to do it at home."

(On the play of the defensive line) "We are obviously going to miss a guy like No. 99 but the other guys stepped up. We lost Ellis Wyms early in the game and guys like Cleveland Pinkney came in and contributed and Chartric Darby played big as he has the last couple of years, great energy in there. If his first receiver wasn't there then these guys were closing in on him and that's when we get humming, when our front four cuts loose. We didn't have to call that many blitz plays because they were getting such great pressure."

WR Keenan McCardell

(On the efficiency of the Bucs' offense today) "This is what he (Coach Jon Gruden) considers the West Coast offense and how he wants it to be run. We have a great running game that showed up today, and everybody touched the ball. You have tight ends, running backs and receivers—everybody touching the ball. It's a good recipe."

(On the Bucs' offensive line) "The guys up front were handling it. I tip my hat to those guys. They have been taking a lot of criticism all year. They just decided to come out and say, 'Let's play.'"

(On the Bucs' producing big plays on offense) "You want to be able to hit a big play, shorten the field and continue your offense. We got a couple of them. One was called back, I don't know what happened, but Pitt (Michael Pittman) made a great play and Charles Lee made a great play on a scramble and Brad (Johnson) found him. We really don't get many scramble plays, and we got it."

(On the play of running backs Thomas Jones and Michael Pittman) "Thomas Jones has been playing well. He's been a solid runner. Between Thomas and Michael Pittman, they go well. I think Thomas got the start today, and he proved what he could do. Mike came in and did his thing, too. We have two backs that can play, and you have to take your hat off to Thomas and the way he ran today."

(On collecting more than 1,000 yards receiving this year) "A lot of people in the game of football judge guys by individual stats, 1,000 yards, this, that and the other. I've been there before, so it's kind of like, 'keep on.' The biggest thing is to get this W because anything can happen. It's getting funnier and funnier as the season winds down. Would a 1,000-yard season be a big accomplishment? Yeah, but I have to let that go."

DT Anthony McFarland

(On how the Bucs' defensive line overcame the loss of DT Warren Sapp) "Greg Spires stepped up big today, and Cleveland Pinkney stepped up huge. If you get good efforts from the guys that are out there, it's good."

(On shutting down the Texans' rushing attack) "We played well. We were able to do some good things. As long as we can generate pressure up front, we can stop the running game. I think we did a pretty good job of stopping the running game. As long as we can do that, we'll be all right."

(On filling in for Sapp) "I just try to go out there and have a little fun. It was a new experience sliding over and playing in the "three" technique. There was a little more freedom and a little more fun. I'm glad to get a win."

(On adjusting to a new position) "It's just a different position. It's kind of like playing corner and safety. It's too different spots with different techniques and different fundamentals. It takes a little getting used to, though."

DE Greg Spires

(On the Bucs' success on defense) "I kind of felt that we had a good thing going. To be honest, I didn't feel like I played that many snaps, so that's always good."

(On the defensive line playing strong without DT Warren Sapp) "It shows you that we have depth and that we have good guys, who could start anywhere else, plug in and do the job."

(On the Bucs' attitude on the field) "We were having fun. Everyone was celebrating and hitting. The offense was getting first downs, and we were happy on the sidelines watching them play. That's just how it went the whole game."

(On how the Bucs have been approaching recent games) "I think these last couple weeks, everyone knows it's there. I don't think anyone on this defense wants to finish under .500. That's the one of the biggest challenges for us this year: to go at least 9-7."

(On carrying momentum into next week's game against Atlanta) "We just have to build off this week. We have a short week this week coming up, and we need to continue to build."

Houston Head Coach Dom Capers

(On overall game) "The difference in the game today was that we had a number of opportunities early in the game to make plays and we didn't make them. They took advantage of their opportunities, ran the ball fairly well in the first-half. We had them in some third-and-longs, they converted plays to sustain drives and were able to go into half with a 13-0 lead."

(On the Texans' performance) "I'm proud of our effort. We did not give up in the second half. We had a hard time getting something going offensively in the second half. You know you are out of the playoff chase, and we did not give up one bit in the second half, and we battled."

(On what his team needs to do to become more successful) "We have to go back to work and figure out how to make plays and execute better. The credibility of the team this time of year is based on the effort they give. We battled our tails off defensively in the second-half. We fought to the last of the game and as long as we have that effort, our day will come."

(On why the team didn't make big plays) "It's tough to make big plays against a defense like Tampa. We took our shots up field and I felt some balls were thrown well, we were just unable to make plays. When you play a defense like Tampa, you have to get into a good rhythm. They were able to disrupt us offensively today."

(On Texans QB David Carr) "He could've played today. He wasn't 100 %. We felt it would not be the smart thing to do, to start him today. One more week of rest and he will be ready to go next week."

(On Buccaneers fourth-down conversion) "It's tough to stop a QB sneak for less than six inches."

(On WR Andre Johnson's dropped balls) "I can't comment on that. Every receiver is going to drop the ball on occasion. We will continue to attempt to get him the ball. Part of our game plan is to get the ball to Andre, up field. We took our shots, unfortunately we were unable to convert big plays."

Houston CB Marcus Coleman

(On the Bucs' rushing success) "We didn't stop the run like we should have, which led to other things. If you can run the ball against anyone in this league, it opens up everything else. We didn't stop the run as well as we should have."

(On what the Texans can take away from the game) "All we can do is go back to work and try to freshen up for next week."

(On the performance of Houston's secondary) "I thought we did well. I mean, we only gave up one big play on the scramble, but that happens. We can't control things like that. Overall, I thought we played well. We made the plays and tackles when we had to, and that's really about it."

Houston RB Domanick Davis

(On running against a tough Tampa Bay defense) "It was frustrating, but I don't get down on myself too much because it is part of the game. We just didn't get things going, and they made plays when they had the chance to."

(On the Bucs' defense confusing the Texans' offense) "It wasn't really confusing, but they just put everybody in the box. It's kind of hard to get things done when they do that. We just have to do what we can."

(On holes in the Bucs' defensive line that he could exploit) "There were a few times when we could squeeze in there for eight yards but not too many."

(On failed long pass attempts) "I think if we would have completed a few passes downfield and backed them up a little bit then we might have been able to get the running game going better than it was.

Houston WR Andre Johnson

(On missed receptions) "It gives you a bad feeling, and I feel like I let my whole team down. I've just got to move on."

(On rebounding after an incompletion) "Once you drop one it kind of stays in your mind. It's always going to be in the back of your head. If I had made those catches, it would have been a different game."

(On the team effort) "I can't worry about what everybody else does. I can only worry about what I did. I didn't perform like I'm supposed to perform. I didn't play like Andre Johnson knows how to play. I just have to deal with it and move on."

Houston C Steve McKinney

(On the game) "We didn't make any plays. (We) didn't do anything special, put up points. At least we didn't get shutout."

(On whether the loss could be attributed to a lack of execution from Houston's offense or good play by Tampa's defense) "Not to take anything away from them because they're a good defense, but I think a big majority of it was our not executing. There were plays there to be made. We missed some big plays we could have had. Things like that change the landscape of the game. It really could've changed things up. It's frustrating, but next week we're going to roll. We'll get all our guys back, get Dave (Carr) back, get everybody healthy, and we'll turn this thing around to end the season."

Houston QB Dave Ragone

(On missed completions) "That's the nature of this game. We could've made many different plays here or there, but we're not going to point fingers. There's more than two or three players in the ballgame. You've got the other snaps out there that we executed. It's just one of those games where we came out pretty well. They kind of stymied us a couple of times, and we responded. It's just one of those things that came out on their edge this time."

(On getting hit hard today) "Well, they got some new blood out there with a rookie quarterback, and some of those sacks could've been avoided by just throwing the ball away or getting down and sliding. But, you live and learn by things like that."

(On not executing the offense) "We're not going to sit there and say, 'Those three plays changed the game,' because the 60 other plays we were out there we could've done something different. As young players, we all made mistakes. I made a handful I wish I could've taken back, but we will watch the film and learn from it."

(On the Bucs defense) "Those three plays scared them. We stretched the field and tried to do some things to open up the box for Domanick (Davis). When they did have eight in the box we tried to throw. We ran into two tough defenses the last two weeks. Credit is due where credit is due. They came out and played hard. It's still a Super Bowl caliber defense."

Houston LB Jamie Sharper

(On Bucs RB Thomas Jones) "I played with him for many years while I was at Virginia, and he always puts forth a great effort."

(On the youth of the Texans) "We have guys that work hard and play hard no matter what. We have a team that we can build up. We have guys that are coming in practically off the streets, and they are making a difference."

(On the Texans' defense in the red zone) "We played real well down there. We blocked a field goal and killed some other big plays to keep us in the game."

(On setting a good example for a young Texans team) "I always go out there and try to maintain credibility. I try to fly around and get involved in every play, so mainly these young guys can feed off that and make some plays."

Houston LB Kailee Wong

(On stopping the Bucs) "You're working with a lot of things, but it's our job as defensive guys to just keep the teams to less points than we have. We just have to go out there with that as our mindset, and our ultimate goal is to not let any team score."

(On turning things around when injured players return) "I think we can turn things around with the guys we have. It's just a matter of capitalizing on big plays. We missed some big plays, everybody did, and if we get those, we'll be right in the hunt."

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