Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-16-2007 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening statement) "I'd just like to say it's a big win for us. I'm really proud of our team. To win a division title is hard to do and we had a lot of guys step up throughout this year to help us do that and today is another indication of that. Micheal Spurlock being the first guy to ever take a kickoff back for a touchdown. You know, Ronde Barber started us off with an impact play. Byron Storer went wire to wire at fullback in his first game ever. I'm really proud of our players and happy for our ownership. It's another division championship that we add to our collection and we'll see what happens."

(On the kickoff return for a touchdown) "I saw him on the verge of breaking it, he was right in front of me and I just assumed he would step out of bounds or something would happen. I'm being serious. We've had opportunities to get close; it's almost a snake-bitten play for us. For Micheal Spurlock to be the first, there's been a long line of guys that we tried back there this year. It's a credit to Rich Bisaccia and certainly the guys that blocked it. I'm really happy for them, it's a monkey off their back."

(On the guys that stepped up) "You know Greg White tied a franchise record today. We didn't see Greg White until my brother released him to us in the middle of training camp. As I said, Byron Storer, an undrafted rookie playing fullback today, he played about 70 snaps. The list goes on and on. It's a credit to the guys that are finding these players and the assistant coaches that are working with them."

(On if he has ever coached a team that had so many players step up) "No, actually I haven't. I hope I never am again. It was funny, we were going to put Luke McCown in the game today and he lost his voice; he had laryngitis. It's always been something that's unexpected and yet someone has been able to step up for us and it's been a collaborative effort from a lot of guys that believe in one another. That's hard to find in any team sport."

(On if he recalls discussing Spurlock before this season) "Well he's been a guy that's done well on the practice squad. You know, we lost a lot of guys, not only Torrie Cox and Mark Jones, but guys like David Boston, Paris Warren; guys that were in line to do some of the things that he's done. We do see skill and we do see speed and returnability and that's good for us."

Special Teams Coordinator Richard Bisaccia

(On the scene on the sideline following the return for a touchdown) "I was just telling our coaches to make sure we get the field goal team, make sure to count them, and count them, and count them. I was yelling that because everyone was smacking me around pretty good, which is a great feeling and I would take it anytime. That was the first concern, after all those other thoughts crossed my mind; we have to make the extra point."

(On the impact of the play) "I think it was part of the play. Last week we talked about big plays in games. We gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and there were a lot more plays after that play. And obviously there are a lot more plays after that kickoff return for a touchdown in this game. Was it a deciding factor? There were a lot of plays after that, and for the first time we did our part to get some points for our offense."

CB Ronde Barber

(On winning the NFC South) "It's great. Three titles in six years here. We came into this game with a goal, to do just that at home, to finally get this off our back and not worry about what New Orleans was doing against Arizona today. We played well, it's definitely a battered team over there. To be honest with you, we wanted to keep them there and it was nice for us to go out and play the way we did and get our ninth win of the season and secure the NFC South."

(On his interception return for touchdown) "It was a two-and-two formation. We knew they run a lot of option routes out of that and to be honest with you, he held the ball too long and tried to throw it over there late. It was really kind of easy, probably one of the easier ones of my career. It's that time of the year, it's December and big plays need to happen this time of year and I'm glad I got us off going right."

(On if he baited him to make that throw) "Not necessarily. It may have looked like that. I just kind of had a feel that it was coming, then if that's baiting, knowing your offense, then yeah. But no, it was just me doing what I need to do, playing baseball for us, and like I said, he threw it a little bit late and it was a little bit easy."

LB Derrick Brooks

(On winning the NFC South) "It feels good. Obviously we thank God for the second time in my career that we went from worst to first. To clinch the division and be in the playoffs with two weeks to go says a lot about this football team. It still gives us time, we still have a couple goals out there in terms of how we can use these next two games, in terms of getting our playoff mentality going. I'm glad we clinched as early as we did so now we can start moving into a post-season mentality. This one is for the fans who showed up today, it really feels good to crown yourselves as division champs, but like I said, it's just the first step."

(On the kickoff return for a touchdown) "I've been whispering to [Micheal] Spurlock all year long, just saying in practice, the moves that he's making, the guys up front, you can see every week that we've been one block away, it seems like, for a whole year. When Mike hit that hole today, the whole city was ecstatic to see this happen. It can happen again before the year ends because that's one of the units that has gotten better throughout the season. We haven't gotten touchdowns, but we've been really getting good field position. So now we have to get our punt return game going and that will really help us be a more complete football team."

(On the kickoff return for a touchdown) "Every time we receive the ball, I'm thinking about it. Today, it's good to get that out of the way. It kind of feels like when we won a cold weather game when it was less than 40 degrees, it feels the same to be honest with you. I couldn't be more proud of the guys that lined up and did it, because most of them you're not going to see in the starting lineup, but they're just as big a part of our football team."

QB Jeff Garcia

(On the kickoff return for a touchdown) "First of all, the defense with an interception. Ronde did an outstanding job and a history making return on a kickoff, another outstanding play that gave us a 14-3 lead at the time. You can't say enough about the way our special teams has played throughout the season and finally getting that big break. It was just a matter of time. It really had showcased itself on a weekly basis, being close at times. The way our defense has played, you can't say enough about those guys. They are playing outstanding football, especially right now at the right time."

(On the offense) "We basically got into a very run-oriented mode and we used a lot of two tight end sets and just pounded the ball. That really became our offensive scheme from what seemed like the second quarter on. We were protecting the lead and we turned it over to our offensive line and said, be physical with Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman and we were able to get Michael Bennett involved late in the game. Those guys did an outstanding job of running the football."

(On winning the NFC South) "It's just a credit to the players on this team, the coaching staff of believing in ourselves and overcoming certain obstacles throughout the season, like injuries and situations where people had everything stacked up against us, but we never listened to what was going on outside of our facility. It's a credit to the players within the facility as far as the focus that they have had all season long and the attitude we have had as a team and the togetherness we have had as a team. There is never any finger pointing. There is never any blame with losses. It's about us, we rise and fall together and that's just a great situation for me to be a part of. It's been a great year so far and we just want to continue to make it better on a weekly basis. Now that we have secured a division title, it allows us to start looking forward to what's ahead. We are not going to lose sight of our next week and our next opponent, but it is something to be excited about. It is something to look forward to and it's a credit to this team to overcome what many people thought would be another rebuilding year and we are not about rebuilding."

RB Earnest Graham

(On his mindset when Spurlock broke free for the kick return) "I was a livid man; I was upset because I wasn't out there. I was one of the guys that wanted to be out there when I was on special teams, be one of the guys on the field when that happened; but I was happy for Spurlock. This is another great story for this year; another guy stepped up and is doing the job for this team."

(On wearing his championship hat) "I'm going to put it on, I'm going to wear it out, and I am definitely proud of it. We'll probably celebrate that tonight."

(On talking about the running game) "It was great to have a three back rotation tonight. Michael Pittman played, he's back. Michael Bennett came in there and made some great runs. It's great to have that pride going into the playoffs. We played some physical ball and we have been putting that on the field all season. So we will continue to do that throughout the year."

WR Micheal Spurlock

(On waiting for the first kickoff return for a touchdown) "I've heard, I've heard."

(On the feeling of breaking the record) "Not really until it was all over. We've been joking about it, we've heard it in the media, everybody has told me today could be the day. Derrick Brooks always tells me today is the day to make history, and it happened. Everybody got their block, I hit it and found the end zone."

(On if the impact of the accomplishment has hit him) "Not yet, maybe in the morning after everyone has called to say congratulations. Right now I am just happy we clinched a playoff spot, we won the South. We are just looking for it for the next game. For right now I'm just happy it's over and I guess everybody will be looking for the next one now."

(On the play) "It was a middle left return and for some reason everyone from Atlanta just played over and we got our blocks and I was like, wow this is wide open, and I hit it. I saw the guy run after it and I was like, you never know how close you're going to get to this again so, just take your opportunity and run with it. I was like, there's no way I can let him catch me, I have to get to the end zone."

C John Wade

(On what he was doing during Micheal Spurlock's touchdown) "I was jumping up and down. It's a franchise play, what else can you say. I mean that was unbelievable. The first time ever, wow, how do you not get excited about that?"

(On a good performance last week as well) "He's got a good feel obviously for returns as far as the way he reads. Look on tape, you can see he's got speed. He does a nice job reading the looks and guys did a heck of a job blocking. Let's not forget the guys that got him there, it wasn't just him running and guys falling over, they had a nice scheme."

(On the 32 years it took to get the kickoff return for a touchdown) "I've been hearing about it since I became a Buccaneer. Believe me, it's not like something we don't know about, Rich [Bisaccia] stays on top of us, so I'm happy for the special teams unit, for Rich, for Rich's family. It's going to be better at his house tonight, and just for the whole team obviously, but especially for that group of special teams, and as men, they work their tails off and I'm glad it finally paid off."

DE Greg White

(On RB Warrick Dunn's fumble) "I think Warrick Dunn is a great back. I just might have caught him relaxing and he might not have seen me because I got pushed up the field and came up the field. I mean it was a good play."

(On making a big play after the DeAngelo Hall interception) "They came to compete and I don't want to take anything away from them. These guys play football and they get paid too. In a sense, we played well enough to win. That's what we are about, a win against whoever we play."

(On the physical play) "We were just out there playing Bucs football. Our special teams, defense, and offense were just out there playing Bucs football. They may have taken it too personal but that is how we play all the time."

ATLANTA FALCONS

Interim Head Coach Emmitt Thomas

(On the game) "It was tough. We turned the ball over early in the ball game on the interception and then they ran the kick back. I thought the guys came out with a lot of passion, fought hard, and we had some misfortune. Third down defensively, we couldn't get them out and third down offensively we didn't make many plays. It was a team effort all the way around. What we are going to have to do today is, like I told the team earlier, a couple of years this happened when Dan Reeves was here. We went to Indianapolis and they beat us the same way. However, we came back as a staff, got our guys together, we worked hard."

(On if the distractions during the week played a part in the Falcons performance) "No. We're not going to use that at all. Tampa Bay is a very good football team and they brought it to us. You can't turn the ball over and not stop people on third down, and beat a team like that."

(On how the early interception stifled all that emotion early in the game) "Well you see that is professional sports. You know you're going to have those ups and downs, peaks and valleys; you have to hang in there. That is what I mean about character, all the pushing and shoving, and getting back at the officials; we have to settle down and play Falcon football and that is what we're going to try and instill on them the next couple of weeks."

RB Warrick Dunn

(On the week) "It's just been an emotional week with everything that has happened and to try to come out and play a game. I could just tell you it was tough. We were always supporting each other, we were definitely supporting each other and to try and go out with a clear mind, just go out, have fun and play the game, and sometimes you can do that, and other times you can't. This is one of those times where it felt like we could play early, just stay in the game early that we had an opportunity, and it just didn't happen for us today. It was one of those days that when things started going downhill, it just went downhill."

(On coming back to Raymond James Stadium) "Well, all the fans are nice to me at least, but it's a little bit different. I mean, I'm here enough to still enjoy the weather and other things, but it's different playing on the other side, definitely, but it's just one of things and you get used to it."

(On the Buccaneers defense) "They just play hard, they're a sound defense. Monte [Kiffin] does a great job just really putting those guys in position to always make plays and they go out and execute well."

CB DeAngelo Hall

(On if the coaching by Emmitt Thomas was different) "Not too different, not too different. Still business as usual, we had a great week of practice. You know, guys were a little bit loose in practice and guys were having fun. Guys were having fun and that was something that I think was missing from this ball club for a while now, but obviously that wasn't the answer either. You know, we just came out, just didn't execute at all, on both sides of the ball, special teams. We just got dominated from the start of the game until the end of the game."

(On if the lopsided loss was surprising after having a good week of practice) "I wouldn't say surprising, I mean, it was very frustrating. It's very frustrating obviously when you feel like you've prepared to the best of your ability and you still come out and get just ran all up and down all over the field. It's definitely frustrating."

(On Interim Head Coach Emmitt Thomas saying his team has to play with character) "Just we got a lot of penalties. You know, we got a lot of penalties, we had a bunch of brawls going on, you know and that's definitely not the way football is supposed to be played. But, that's probably the main thing he was talking about, we have a certain standard that we play with, and we definitely didn't live up to that and didn't play it today in this game."

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