Head Coach Jon Gruden
(on his team's intensity in the game) "We were intense. Lack of intensity did not have anything to do with it. The New England Patriots played a much more physical game today particularly their defense against our offense. We were unable to get anything going, sustain anything whatsoever. Give Tom Brady those type of opportunities, it is not a recipe for success."
(on the success of the Patriots' blitzing linebackers) "Well obviously they beat somebody, an offensive lineman or a back. They came in with a lot of seven man protections. We were not outnumbered. We got whipped a couple of times. We have to take a look at that."
(on how decisive the roughing-the-punter call was) "It was big; you know it was 7-0 at that time. The third-down-and-16 conversion after roughing the punter penalty was big also."
(on how tough it is to win three straight games on the road) It was tough. I will be honest with you; I have done this long enough to know that three games in a row, on the road, late in the season doesn't happen that often. We were able to win two-out-of-three. I told the team after the game we weren't going to just brush this under the rug; say it's a mulligan or whatever. We did not play well enough to win today. I take credit for that. We have a young football team. I am very proud of them. Respect the intensity, effort and concentration that these players are playing with. We lost to a [darn] good football team for [a] good reason.
(on taking shots downfield) "Well you've got to take some shots. We did have a few called. The ones that we had called never got launched. That happens to me sometimes. You ever seen the duds, the smoke bombs that you buy at the store, and you light the fuse and it doesn't go off? We had a couple of duds today. New England doesn't give you a lot of single coverage; they were playing a lot of 2-deep zones, a lot of 3-deep zones with the blitz. So you have to pick up these men that are blitzing and generating the down the field seams and vertical shots is not the easiest thing to do."
(on dropped passes) "Oh it was a bad day for us. We had a 70-yard punt return called back. We dropped passes that would give us possession to give us some momentum. I did not like the fact that New England took the opening kick off for 80 yards for a touchdown. That did not help matters. To get behind and allow this crowd to get into the game is something that we do not take a lot of pride in."
(on people doubting New England's ability to compete) "Who doubts them? Right now the people that doubt them, let's put their names in the newspaper so New England knows who they are. I don't know how you doubt them. They have the best quarterback in the league, the coach is a great coach, and they are a physical, veteran-laden team. They are a handful. That is my opinion."
QB Chris Simms
(on the game) "You know what? We played a good team up here and I don't think there's more that can be said other than they out-played us and they played more physical today. We had a few chances to at least get some points early, get a field goal, and we just didn't get the plays done when we needed them."
(on his getting sacked from behind near the end of the first half being a big play) "It definitely was. We could have gone into the half 14-0 and instead we went in 21-0. You know, hey, they're the defending two-time Super Bowl champs, you're down 21-0, it's not the position you want to be in in there home. We're just going to learn from our mistakes, keep battling and we'll be alright."
(on not converting on two fourth downs) "It just goes back to we didn't make the plays when we needed to today. For whatever reason, we just didn't execute as well as we can. Give them credit, too. They're a great football team and they made the plays when they had to."
(on if the Patriot defense did things the Bucs weren't prepared for) "No, I can't say that they did. I think it just goes to execution and maybe they were just a little hungrier today. We've just got to look at the film and get ready for the Falcons."
(on getting to play at home next week) "We won two out of three. No one likes the taste of this one but we've got the last two at home and we've just got to make sure we finish strong."
TE Alex Smith
(on New England's defense) "I just think they had a good scheme going. They had a plan for our running game. They were filling gaps and we just weren't able to get anything going. Once we were unable to run the ball it kind of thwarted our efforts to pass it. I think they just did a good job controlling the run and that stymied our offense altogether."
(on his catches) "It was just a few hot routes. They were bringing a lot of pressure so I was a quick outlet for Chris. I was just trying to get up the field as quickly as possible once he made that hot read. I was able to make a couple plays here and there, but it definitely wasn't enough to get us going. We just have to come back next week."
(on troubles converting on third and fourth down in the third quarter) "That was just the story of the game. We just didn't make plays at the times we needed to. When you don't do that, that's the ending result. Sometimes you just have to step up and make those big plays, and unfortunately we had a punt return called back. Like you said, we had that fumble in the red zone. That stuff will kill you. You just have to capitalize when you have those chances."
(on the playoff race and playing two games at home) "We want to finish December off with a bang. It's only one loss and we still have two divisional opponents left. Atlanta's the biggest game we have right now and that could be for the division. As long as we don't forget this, keep it in the backs of our minds that we never want to let it happen again, and get prepared for Atlanta I think we'll be fine."
LB Derrick Brooks
(on what New England did and the Bucs needed to do better) "First of all, we're going to give them credit. Losses like this, man, there's really not a whole lot to say. We're very disappointed in the outcome but at the same time we've got to pick our heads up and get ready to come back and face Atlanta. Whether we won or lost today, the formula would still be the same, to get over it. The best thing we can do is learn from our mistakes today and get over it. Let's not let this loss linger on and affect us in our next two games at home against divisional opponents."
(on Tom Brady's effectiveness) "He got some throws in there on us and made some plays. A couple times, we didn't do our job either. But at the end of the day, you always recognize that when you lost it was because an opponent did things to beat you. Again, we'll give them credit for hitting some plays on us. At the same time, we know there are some things we've got to go back and clean up before next Saturday."
(on the roughing the punter penalty and the fumble near the end of the first half) "As I said earlier, they did some things and you give them credit for that. At the same time, you realize that you didn't do some things. Great teams are going to capitalize on mistakes, and that's one of the things New England did today, they capitalized on our mistakes. We're going to learn from it. One of the things this team knows how to do this year is bounce back after a loss. Today was a loss and we realize that Atlanta is coming to town for a big division game. We know how to get over losses."
WR Joey Galloway
(on the game) "We've just got to play better. We made too many mistakes today."
T Kenyatta Walker
(on the playoff race) "We've got two division games coming up and we can still win this division. We've got to keep our minds on that. We'll look at this film and learn and hopefully, maybe not this year, maybe we'll see them again and we'll have a better outcome. There's a tape out there now that we'll definitely look at."
(on how it will feel to play a game at home again) "The best thing is we've got two games at home for Christmas and I can't remember the last time it was like that. We can finish out strong and I think that's what we need to do. We can still win the NFC South, and get that 10th win against Atlanta, who's coming in and are going to be very upset about the previous game. We've still got some challenges ahead of us and this can still be a successful year."
(on the Patriots' blitzes) "I don't know until I look at the film. I definitely cannot talk about the running backs and what went on. With a team like New England, when you get in third-and-long, they like to confuse you and blitz a lot. You just can't do that."
(on what happens when you get behind) "You've got to fight. It's all out. When you get behind like that, no offensive line likes it but it's just straight pass protection. Eventually, they're going to win some."
(on the run-blocking and not having runs more than three yards) "That's what's football is. When you're running it, you get three and you get three, and in the third and fourth quarter in the game is when it breaks out. Three yards is not bad. That's not great, but it's second-and-seven and you can work with it. You get three yards here and three yards there, and then eventually it will be a six-yarder. We definitely could have run better, but when you're playing from behind you can't run the ball. You've got to score and that's basically what happened."
(on if the Bucs still feel good about their three-game stretch on the road) "Obviously. You've got to feel good. For this team, at the beginning of the year we were supposed to be at the bottom of this division. To be at the top, with this horrible offensive line, with me coming back. We were supposed to be awful. It's disappointing, but you've got to suck it up. We've gotten our butts whupped before. You're going to take a butt-whupping every once in a while. It's not fun, it never is and we've just got to tip our hats off to them. They're a heck of a team."
CB Ronde Barber
(on the game) "For the most part, we beat ourselves, all across the board with some of the plays and some of the plays we didn't make it. It's a team loss."
(on playing again at home next weekend) "It seems like forever. But the road trip went kind of quick because of the two wins. It will be nice to go back home."
(on this game will sit with the Bucs for awhile) "We'll forget it and correct things. It's late in the year to talk about trying to get better, but we'll find out what we did wrong and hopefully we won't make those mistakes again."
(on the roughing-the-punter penalty) "It's a critical play, a critical play. You want to find a play in the game where it turned for the worse…not that that play should have determined the outcome of the game but it seemed like after that point it kind of snowballed on us. Yeah, that was a play that we gave them, and then on a subsequent third down later on in that drive, third-and-15 or whatever it was, those kind of mistakes kill you."
(on why New England did so well) "They didn't make the critical mistakes and that's what championship teams are all about. We inflicted things on ourselves and they didn't. They're very good when they get a lead."
(on the weather) "That wasn't even cold. It was beautiful out there today. That's a non-factor. It's a variable that had zero to do with the outcome of the game."
(on if the game is an indication that the Bucs aren't quite there yet) "Obviously, you'd like to think you're there at the end of the year. We've been talking the last couple weeks that you want to be playing great football in December as you push toward the playoffs. Yeah, this is a setback, there's no doubt about it, but we'll go back to work this week and try to get back on track."
(on the state of mind after the long road swing) "It will be a relief. Division opponents. I don't when we've swept a division opponent in awhile here, and we have an opportunity twice here. That will be our focus."
(on comparing this situation to the 1999 loss at Oakland) "Yeah, I hadn't even thought about it. You came up with that quick. I haven't even thought about it but, yeah, that's something we can look back on and I'm sure it will be addressed and talked about this week."
(on Tom Brady) "He's very good. There's no doubt about it. He's a living legend and we were seeing him at his best today. He made a lot of plays for them. We gave him an opportunity to make some plays and he did. But a lot of things that we did on defense today, we allowed him to really dictate the flow of this game."
(on the game around the line of scrimmage) "You could tell they came out with a physical mentality on both sides of the ball. They dominated us up front and the few times that we got to him it was on zone blitzes and what-not, and he still made some plays off of those. Give them credit. They came ready to play. As world champions, they should."
(on if the Bucs were in Cover Two for most of the game) "For the first half we were. We doctored it up last week and it was very successful for us. We tried to come back with the same type of plan and it was not very successful for us. It's a little bit out of character for us to give up those kinds of chunks of yardage in a defense that's been our bread-and-butter. In the second half we went back to what we've been doing all year, played a lot more man, a little bit more varied looks, and had a little bit more success."
(on if there are intangibles that set Brady apart from most quarterbacks) "Lots of intangibles; very smart; understands the game; understands zone defenses. There's not much you can do to fool him. In order to beat him, looking at the teams that have done it, they just got after them up front and we weren't able to do it."
CB Juran Bolden
(on the defense) "I don't think we played as well as we planned on playing out there as a whole unit. Whether it was someone falling down or someone…it was just mishaps that we were having out there, and in the secondary you have no room for error. Everybody knows that. We had too many errors, mental errors or whatever it was. That's this game. We've just got to go back and get ready for the next week."
(on Tom Brady) "He looks at the defense, and you try to give him a false defensive look at first, but he made the right corrections, the right calls. They made the plays and we didn't make the plays."
(on if the roughing the punter penalty took the heart out of the defense) "Nothing took the heart out of us. Nothing ever does. I don't care what happens. It didn't take the heart out of us, but it just took a lot more momentum towards their end. They did their thing."
New England Patriots
Head Coach Bill Belichick
(on the win) "Well, that was a good win for our football team. To win the division, it is certainly one of our goals in the beginning of the year and it's good to have achieved that. I thought we had a good solid effort from the entire football team. Short week, you know, coming off a tough game last week, a couple tough ones, and I thought they really responded well. We had a good week of practice and a good focus for the game and they played well. I thought they played well in all areas of the game, other than we still seem to be struggling a little bit on our coverage on the kicks, but I thought the rest of the game was pretty solid and I think it is a real credit for the players to go out there and play well like this against a good football team like Tampa. They are 9-4 coming into this game and they beat Carolina pretty good last week, so you have to give a lot of credit to the players. They are just playing physical, making the plays when they had the opportunity to, better in the red area, better against the run, [we] converted some third downs and got the ball in the end zone offensively. So those are all big keys to the game without turning the ball over. It's good to win and it's a good win for us. It's a good win for us."
(on clinching the division) "Well, we're happy that we've done that and now we'll still take it one week at a time and do everything we can to keep improving as a football team. I think we have gotten better in the last month since probably, well, I think we made progress the middle of the season, but since the Kansas City game, that was really a pretty poor performance, coaching and playing. And we have gotten a little bit better since then; so hopefully, we can keep it going in that direction. But the only way it will happen is if we work hard at it. We are going to have to work hard on it."
(on having WR David Givens back) "David can make plays. We have a good group of receivers. They have all been productive, running backs, tight ends. It's good to have as many of them out there as possible. You know, Dave is a strong receiver, physically strong. He runs after the catch, gets away from tight coverage and blocks a little bit, so it is great to have him out there. I wish we could have everybody every week."
(on having players back from injury and the resulting continuity) "Well, it helps. We were going through some weeks there earlier where we were introducing a new safety into the secondary, but we have a little more continuity. It is good to have Artrell (Hawkins) out there. We got challenged today with all the different formations that Tampa uses. But, no big plays in the passing game. That is one of our goals every week. And play competitively on third down. That is what you've got to do. Fortunately, we were able to stop the run. I thought the front seven did a good job with them. But it is great to have continuity in every spot of your team."
(on the performance of the Patriots linebackers) "Well, they have probably been our most consistent unit all year and they did it again today. They have done a good job setting the edge and keeping the ball from getting outside the running game and rushing the passer and generally tackling, so that's what they've got to do for the most part, and it can always be better. But I thought it was ...again we did a fairly solid job in those areas. Willie (McGinest) gave us some big plays there, other than that fumble lateral that he did. Other than that, we got Rosie (Colvin) and Mike (Vrabel). I mean there was (Tedy) Bruschi. Those guys showed up on a lot of plays, knocked some balls loose, made some negative plays. It was a real productive effort by that group."
(on if he was anxious about how his team would compete against the Buccaneers) "I think every week is its own week. I'm anxious to see how we perform every week. You know, with the week's preparation, we try to go out there and execute the game plan. Every team in this league has a lot of talent. Every team is capable of beating us or beating anybody else. Go out there, play well, play your best game. You are probably going to like the results. That is our challenge every week."
(on stringing together shutouts) "Well, it is good to play consistently. I mean we are always striving for that, and we have had a good part of the season we were so up and down in practically every area of the game. But we had been a little bit more consistent the last couple of games. Hopefully, we can continue to play that well, but it certainly helps our football team when we can go out there and consistently do things sort of right, not perfect, but sort of right and then correct them and try to get them right, rather than feast or famine, playing for a loss or an 80 yard touchdown or four three-and-outs or two 90 yard drives where you just don't have any idea what is going to happen. If you have a little bit of consistency, it is a lot easier to manage a game and you'll probably win more games that way too."
(on Tom Brady) "Like always, probably a couple throws he would like to have back, but I thought he held under the pressure pretty good. They knocked him down a few times. I thought he moved out of the pocket, stepped up, and that was a key on a couple of big plays we had. He found Corey (Dillon) on the touchdown. That was pretty good vision there. I don't think any of us I didn't see him. It was a big scrum in there and he popped through there and found Corey on that last touchdown. So as usual, he does a pretty solid job."
QB Tom Brady
(on throwing to a 305-pound tackle in Tom Ashworth) "I know it. It was right in the sun too. He said, 'God, I couldn't really see the ball.' I said, 'Well, you caught it.' So as many times as we work on that play, I don't think I've ever thrown him anything in practice, so he has done a great job being back there. It shows his versatility."
(on the progress of the Patriots since they were 4-4) "Well, I think there has definitely been improvement in a lot of areas. I think we are still looking to improve. It's like we have our stretches in every game where there are things that go really well and you build some momentum, and then we have a few stretches where we just kind of shoot ourselves in the foot. And I think offensively we are still struggling to run the ball a little bit. We are still leaving some plays out there passing wise, and it just comes to execution with myself and the receivers, and the line is trying harder. The guys have been in and out all year, which makes it tough to develop a lot of consistency. I think the receivers are getting healthier. The backs are getting healthier. Obviously, it is good getting Kevin (Faulk) back. We have to make progress the next few weeks, but it is a great feeling, realizing how many injuries we've had, to know that we are 9-5 and we have won the AFC East. And I think everyone is excited about that, but we still understand that we still have a long way to go."
(on his preparations this week) "Well, I certainly had better weeks. You know, it was a long week and I wasn't able to prepare on the practice field as many days as I would have wanted to. And I always want to play. And I just love playing and the only way I am not going to play is if the doctor tells me I can't play. So believe me, me playing, it's exactly what I would expect of everybody else on this team, if you can find a way to play. And for me, injuring my leg, it's different than if I had injured my arm or something like that. I mean, I really don't move very well, nor do I move very well when I am completely healthy, so I guess I'm used to that."
(on if he thought injuries would kill this team several weeks ago) "Well, I think that we realized we needed to play better in every phase of the game. I think we were sitting there playing very inconsistent football and we won, [we] loss, won, loss, won, loss, won, loss. You know, we lost to some pretty good teams and we lose on the road and we have had some tough injuries, but I think in certain ways we are developing. We are
the chemistry is a little better. I think we are getting breaks. The defense is playing terrifically. Offensively, I think we are capitalizing on some of the mistakes that they're making. For example, today we go out there, first series, we don't do much. We punt, go out for the punt, and they rough the punter. Next thing you know, we are in the end zone. So when they give you a second chance, you've got to be ready to take advantage of that. And we're doing that now, as opposed to six weeks ago when we weren't doing those types of things."
(on the roughing-the-kicker penalty) "Well, we do what we need to do. We have two weeks left and I would love to see us improve in the next two weeks and I would love to see us improve this week against the Jets. We played them at home, but playing them in the Meadowlands is a different environment. And we need to go play a tough team on the road, so we will see what next week is all about. I would love to see us continue to improve, and then when the playoffs come we will see where we're at. But we don't have to beat them this week. We are not playing the playoffs this week. We have just got to beat the Jets."
(on whether the play of the defense has taken some of the weight off the shoulders of the offense)
"Well, I think we try and score every time we take the ball. They don't put us out there to go three and out and punt. That is not why they are putting the offense on the field. So I think our approach is, regardless the way the defense is playing, I think, offensively, we have got to go out and take the same approach every time, and that is to go try to punch the ball in the end zone."
(on the game feeling like a playoff game and if it was a statement for the Patriots) "I think it was important for us. We had a lot on the line today. I mean we were playing for the AFC championship and we accomplished that, and I think that was a goal going into the week. I mean we really thought last week we had a great chance, and we beat Buffalo, and Miami played a great game against San Diego and beat them so it went to this week and I think we performed well. I thought our defense played great. Special teams held up their end of the bargain and I think offensively we were opportunistic today. So that is the way it has got to be. In a few weeks when the playoffs start, hopefully, we are playing better than we are now."