Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-17-2006 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening Statement) "Go ahead and ask any questions you have, obviously this is a tough loss for us. I'm proud of our players and I'll answer any questions that I can."

(on the players' resolve) "We got a lot of resolve all year you know I mean this is a resolve group of guys that uh…they showed tremendous grip today and its credited to them, it really is. I'm more proud of that then I can tell you.

(on Bruce Gradkowski's play) "I thought he did a good job you know, tough situation. You're coming into the ball game, you're behind your playing this defense here on the road and a 24 to 3 ball game, I thought he made some great plays. They were coming from everywhere and giving us a lot different looks as they always do but you know we made them pay several times. We hurt them, real bad. We hurt them real bad and they are a hell of a defense but he showed some things today. I was pleased with what he did."

(on if he was surprised when the Bears didn't go for it late in the fourth quarter) "No I wasn't. I don't worry about their strategy but they were backed up obviously with a minute to go and obviously they were playing for overtime. They can answer that question."

(on who will start at QB next week) "I'm not going to get into it right now, ok. Obviously he recognized some looks, he got to some changes and I think the big thing is now lets take the next step and move the football team into the end zone and in his future he is going to do a good job at that but he's got a lot on his plate and I felt once again the best thing to do is give our team the best chance to win and go with the guy that has been around a little bit. Tim Rattay really did a hell of a job.

(on if he second guesses not going to Rattay earlier) "You do but you know I'm not going to get into all that. I'll second guess myself, I have a real strong conviction to the quarterback position. I spend all my time there. I really believe that this time invested in Bruce Gradkowski is going to benefit him tremendously. There will be people that disagree with me, but I don't second guess myself. I try to do the best I can to make an educated decision and I realize its pretty obvious that Rattay showcased some good stuff today and you do want to raise your eyebrow and wonder what could have been but you know, I don't do that, I don't look back, that's not my way of doing things."

(on if Gradkowski might still be the starter) "I'm not going to get into that right now. You know, we've made enough quarterback changes since I've been here. I feel like a major league baseball manager changing pitchers. You know, we're going to try and do what we feel is best not only for the upcoming week but for the future of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we like Tim Rattay showed some stuff today. I tell you, Bruce has some talent, there is a lot of things going on right now with a rookie quarterback, with the schedule that we play and once again we will make all those decisions after we collect all the information but I really can't answer that specifically right now."

(on the Bears' defense and overtime) "Well they are pretty good on defense, you know? They are pretty good. We had horrific field positions on a couple of occasions. We banged the ball out, we won the toss, we banged it out, we got a first down, we fumbled the ball. The Bears do a heck of a job of gang tackling, its no excuse for fumbling the ball, you have to protect the ball. They missed a field goal, we got it back, I believe we got it at our 1 foot line, we got it on knocked it out from there, we got into a third and one situation, we had a false start. Its loud here. I can't make excuses; it was bad calls and a bad day."

S Kalvin Pearson (on the Bucs' special teams) "The objective is to keep it clean - and make a tackle - all season long. With this group of guys, our minds are on speed and hitting and more speed and hitting. A lot of teams haven't seen the speed that we bring on the kickoff team and we try to take advantage of those situations."

(on Rex Grossman) "He was pretty poised when I was out there. He looked like he had the offense under control, but in the second half, we tightened up our defense and he kind of went back down to the slump again. But, good defense will cause those kinds of ups and downs."

G Davin Joseph (on if the Bucs had the Bears on the run) "We knew that if we stayed on the field long enough, we'd get a chance. If we stay on the field long enough, we're going to get something done and that's what happened. We stayed on the field for the majority of the third and fourth quarter and we were able to get some big plays and tie it up."

(on if the fumble was the big shift in momentum) "You can look at it like that, but big plays are, too. Big plays are playing smart, not turning the ball over. There are a lot of things that go into momentum. We're just showing that we're not giving up. We got two more games after this and we're just going to keep on fighting."

T Jeremy Trueblood (on being used to bad field position) "To tell you the truth, I never really think about that. I mean, I get pretty excited when I see a long kick-off return, but besides that, we should be able to get ourselves out of whatever position we're in. In that regard, I honestly don't really pay any attention."

(on frustration that led to his helmet toss) "First off, let me say that it was inexcusable and I should never do that. Second, I was not mad at Alex. In the beginning of the game, I was told by the referee that if I tried stripping the ball again in a pile, I'd get ejected. So, what do I do? I lay off a little bit and the defense strips the ball and they stand up with it. It's a lose-lose situation. I don't understand how I'm not allowed to hunt the pile, but they're allowed to hunt the pile. As an offensive line, we were trying to do our job and set the tone for the game and we get told that we can't do that, but the defense can. I'm not criticizing anyone; it's just what I was frustrated about."

(on coming back to send the game into overtime) "It just felt good that none of us lost our confidence. That's a sign of good players and great character. I'm proud of every single one of the guys that fought through that and unfortunately, we didn't get it done, but at least we know who we are. We don't have any quitters on the team."

TE Alex Smith

(on his fumble) "I was just fighting for that extra yard. That was just inexcusable on my part – to struggle for that extra yard. They made a good play. Fortunately, it didn't come down to that play and we gave ourselves another chance. But, it was definitely inexcusable."

(on the play of Tim Rattay) "He did a great job. I think once he finally got his feet settled in, you could see that he was making plays left and right. Finding Joey (Galloway), Ike (Hilliard), and even Maurice (Stovall)… guys were just stepping up and making plays, he was moving around with his feet, and that was the big difference… I think things were different simply because we were making plays. I don't want to say it was because of Tim (Ratay). Tim did do a great job leading us. Making plays is contagious, as we've been saying all week. We just needed guys to step up and once one person made a play and then the next guy, and you could just see, it was the 'trickle-down' effect."

(on competing with the Bears) "Well, this is supposedly the cream of the crop. We came into their city and put up a hell of a fight. I think that's a testament to where we are as a team, and what we can accomplish in the future. This season didn't go the way we wanted it to, but you have to measure yourself up. This is the best defense supposedly in the league, fighting for home field throughout the playoffs and we came into their house and gave them a fight. We're not happy with moral victories, but we definitely have something to build off of."

QB Bruce Gradkowski (on getting benched) "I'm sure I can learn a lot from sitting back and watching. That's what I tried to do during the preseason. If that's what I have to do right now, then that's what I have to do. I just have to continue to stay positive and keep working hard."

(on the play of Tim Rattay) "Tim did a great job today. There were a lot of plays out there that guys made, and they moved the ball very well. You have to give him a lot of credit; he did a great job. He's a veteran. He's a business man out there. He does a great job, and I've looked up to him since the day I've gotten here."

QB Tim Rattay (on his play) "Basically, I'm just upset we lost. I didn't play well enough for us to win the game. I'm frustrated. I'm mad and I am upset with myself. We had opportunities, but we didn't win. I mean, if you look at the offensive line as a group – the way they played – I don't know how many times I threw it, but I didn't get touched. The only time I got touched is when they brought one more guy that we couldn't block and I had to throw it "hot" (to the "hot read"/receiver). The way those guys played was unbelievable. I was really proud of them today."

(on whether he should have been starting earlier) "Like I've said, I want to play. I love to play. I'm not in this to practice. I don't do this to throw routes in practice and then get a front row seat at all of the games. I love to play. I love to be out there with those guys. There was an opportunity to play today, but it was just tough . . . I've learned a long time ago that you can't talk about hypotheticals and 'what-if's'. This is the situation that we're in. We have two games left, and we're just going to continue to try and win those two . . . Obviously, everyone in that locker room wants to play. There are fifty-three guys in there that don't just come to practice. I mean, we all want to play. I've wanted to play since training camp. But when slots are slotted for you, as a team player, you have to respond to your slot; whether you are three, two, or whether you are one, you have your responsibilities. My dad has been a high school coach for thirty years, so I understand the 'team' concept."


Head Coach Lovie Smith

(opening statement) "Going into the football game, we talked to our team about finishing and that was definitely the case with the group today. Last week we gave the guys an extra day off coming off that Monday night game [so] we had a little bit [left] in the tank towards the end of the game. But the crowd was outstanding – to get them to jump a few times at the end. We talk a lot about take-aways and we were able to get that big one there at the end. We got into overtime and kept the ball on our side of the field and were able to pull it off. Offensively, I thought Rex had an outstanding game, got the ball to the receivers. How about Dez Clark? I think he had over 100 yards in the first half, catching the football; he did a great job. We were able to run the football, against a good defense too. Defensively, we had control of the game, but we let them have a couple big scoring drives there – the two big pass plays. We can't give that up. We haven't finished as well as I would like for the team to finish right now, but we will work on those things. Robbie missed one early, but it was good to see him come back and get the big one there to win the game. Return game wise, Devin Hester went through a lot this week. Everyone was patting him on the back and telling him he is great. You're going to have some games like that. Of course, he turned the ball over a couple of times, but still kept running the ball and still did some good things for us. That was a big win for us. Again, we earned it the hard way. It was good to get home field advantage where teams have to come through Chicago in the playoffs. Injury wise I don't have a lot to report as far as new injuries from the game. Hopefully we will get a few of our injured players back."

(on Tank Johnson's status) "I don't have any new news to tell you. What we have been doing the last 24-48 hours is of course getting ready for the Tampa Bay game. Of course I have talked to Tank briefly right now, but in upcoming days, we will get on that a little bit more, but there is nothing new to report right now. Is he still apart of our football team? Yes, he is."

(on a report that Johnson would be released) "I think whenever you get into trouble and it's not the first time, there is concern on his part, but I haven't told Tank anything. When you lost your best friend, there is a grieving period that you go through. Again, what we have been doing the last day or so is trying to get ready for Tampa Bay, but no decisions have been made about that."

(on how much input he has in that issue) "I have a little bit of input on most of the things around here and this would be one of those too".

(on not going for it at the end of regulation) "We were backed up. I didn't see a lot of good things that could happen for us. I felt like we should take our chances, get into overtime and either get the ball and have a chance to move it down. They had momentum there at the end of the football game, we wanted to take that away and once we kicked the ball off of course, we wanted to see the defense finish on a high note. We were able to gain momentum there."

(on if the team did anything to prepare for Johnson's absence) "It's tough whenever you have things going on that could possibly take away from you getting prepared for a football game, but our guys are professionals and we have to be able to do that. There are off the field things that always come up, but you have to put that aside when you have to get ready to play football and I thought our guys did a good job of that."

(on if the starters would play in the next two games) "Good question. We want to win the next two football games. As far as how much we're going to play, it's not like we are going to shut down our team. We have a few things to correct going into the playoffs."

(on missing three defensive starters) "It factored in. Tommie Harris isn't coming back. Injuries happen always. We have good enough personnel to play better than we did at the end of the game. But when the defense had to come through at the end, they did. We plug players into our system."

(on Rex Grossman throwing for over 300 yards) "Rex is a good football player. Of course he can throw the ball, so it's not like it was a total shock. It was good to see that he has put a couple good games together- getting his confidence back going into the playoffs".

QB Rex Grossman

(on Rashied Davis' catch in overtime) "That was a great catch. It was cover-one because it was man-to-man so it was just him (Davis) and Ronde Barber basically with the whole field and I wanted to put it to the outside where he could go up and make a play on it and he did that and it put us in a position for the field goal to win."

(on the win and where the team is at this point in the season) "I'm extremely proud of this team. We hung in there and really battled through a lot of tough games this year and also blew some people out this year, as well, and to now have home field advantage where everyone in the NFC has to come through Chicago is a huge advantage."

(on his strong play the past two weeks) "I feel comfortable out there in the pocket, confident with the game plan and the reads and confident with my approach and hopefully I can just continue that and stay on that level."

DT Ian Scott

(on clinching home field advantage for the playoffs) "That's huge. You get a comfort level just playing at home and you know where everything's at. You got the same routine so that will be big. We have to play at Detroit next week, finish up here against Green Bay and hopefully we can finish up on a high note and build some momentum going into the playoffs."

TE Desmond Clark

(on being so involved in the game plan) "I think Ron (Turner) just made it a point to get me the ball this week. From week-to-week you never know what the tight end position is going to have to do out on the football field. This week it was catching passes and trying to do some things in the pass game."

(on earning home field advantage in the NFC) "It's big. That's what we set out to do. That was one of our goals and we needed a little help today and we got that. I'm not sure everyone knew that New Orleans lost today and we just had to do our part and now everyone has to come to Chicago if they want a piece of the championship so were in a good position. We made the easiest road we could make for ourselves and now we just got to drive down that road."

DE Alex Brown

(on clinching home field advantage) "It feels good. This was an early goal that we set at the beginning of the year. We were fortunate to accomplish that goal, so it's good."

(on the play of some of the defensive line back-ups) "They have been full-time players at some point in time, so it was just a matter of getting in it and re-establishing themselves. I thought they did a good job. Ian (Scott) got his hand on some balls out there and made some really good plays. He recovered a ball on a fumble and made some tackles in the backfield. He did a great job and (Alfonso) Boone's been doing very well for a long time too."

(on Tampa Bay's comeback) "There is no easy win in the NFL. But, they came ready to play and never gave up. You've got to give them all the credit in the world but it's tough to win. They are a pretty good team and they make plays. We've got to go out and play well every week or we could lose."

(on whether he is concerned about the defense) "We're getting to the point in the season where all that matters is if you win. Once we make the playoffs, who cares how many points we give up as long as we win. We're concerned about some things, but it's easier to correct things when you win."

WR Rashied Davis

(on his catch in overtime) "Making any catch is big, but to make a catch to set up to win a game is much more fun than getting some five-yard outs."

(on whether the play was designed to go his way) "Maybe it was. I just tried to stay ready and make a play out there. They had single coverage on me so I tried to beat them in the press and get open."

LB Brian Urlacher

(on getting home field advantage) "We got it done. In the second half, we didn't play our best football, but the offense got it done when they had to. We got the win and that's all that matters."

(on whether he is concerned about the defense) "I'm tired of worrying about yards and points. I'm worried about winning. That's the number one goal for me. We've won three in a row now and are getting on another good stretch. That's really the bottom line for us. We won."

(on Tank Johnson) "No, the last few days haven't been tough. My thoughts and prayers, just like everyone's on this team, are with Tank. I'm sure it's been tough on him."

K Robbie Gould

(on how it feels to miss and then make the game-winning kicks) "It's pretty obvious. You feel bad that you've let your teammates down when you miss and feel great when you make them. The biggest thing is I've got to go out there and get in a rhythm. I kicked great today. I had one bad kick, but that one bad kick can cost you a game."

(on the outcome of the game) "It's great to get a win and for me personally to get a second chance. My teammates played great. Brad Maynard started it off with a great punt. The defense got a stop. Rashied made a great catch, the offensive line did a great job. We played great and I'm just glad I got a second opportunity."

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