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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-19-2004 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(On the overall game) "I would just like to say, it will not get any harder than this for our players, our coaches and our fans. It is a credit to New Orleans for hanging in there. A horrible, horrible defeat today."

(On the explanation of Michael Pittman's fumble) "It was stunning to me, (I) thought he was down. The ruling stands. The judgment on the field stands. That's the explanation I got."

(On how questionable the fumble call was) "I thought he was down. I thought he was clearly down. In the press box, we were all looking at the same video the officials were looking at. We all thought he was down. We'll wake up tomorrow and realize he wasn't down and that is was a turnover and they capitalized."

(On his frustration level) "We give up an opening touchdown and within seconds we are down 7-0. We answer. We get the ball back. We have another good drive. We fumble the ball once again going in for points. I believe we have another turnover in the redzone in the second half. We have a 10-point lead. We play great defense throughout the game. It is very windy down there. They played a lot of coverage as you noticed today. We had a 10-point lead and our defense has been playing outstanding. Michael Lewis makes the punt return and then lightning strikes with the fumble on the next play. You cannot turn the ball over and expect any favors from anybody."

(On Michael Lewis' punt return) "It looked like we missed the tackle. I can't say who. I can't see where. It looked like it was right in front of our bench. It looked like we had a couple of chances to get them and we didn't get it done."

(On Joey Galloway having a good game) "I think he has five touchdowns in the last three games. That's something that we expected from him. He has a chance to be great. It is just sickening, honestly sickening, to find positives in a game like that."

(On the frustration of losing) "It doesn't get any worse than that. I have never seen that before. I am speechless. I am looking for an explanation for our players and our fans. All I can say is that it is my responsibility. I failed."

LB Derrick Brooks

(On the outcome of the game) "For the first time in a long time, I am speechless and have no answers. We just keep finding ways to give away games."

(On the fourth quarter fumble) "I thought he was down. His legs were down, but the refs saw it the other way. Either way, they call it, our defense has to go out there and stop them."

(On Aaron Brooks' fourth and 12 scramble) "We had coverage and we figured he was going to launch it. He saw an escape in the rush lane. I came back up to tackle him and thought I held him back enough to prevent the first down, but he made a break."

(On the Bucs' playoff chances) "We needed to win this game to bring us up to the sixth spot and to control our own destiny. I don't know if this completely removes us from playoff contention, but it would take nothing short of a miracle to get us there."

(On today's game) "…The window was open and every time we approached it, we found some way to close it ourselves. Not to take anything away from the Saints; it was the second week in a row they found a way to win the game in the last three minutes. Today they deserved to win, we didn't."

(On if the Bucs deserve to be in the playoffs) "Look at our record. We're firm believers that you get what you deserve. So, we went from controlling our own destiny with everyone losing (today) and us winning, to needing anything short of a miracle. As I said, and I agree with Ronde (Barber), the playoffs are secondary. Right now, we have to find a way to play good football and end this season with a positive taste in our mouth. The way we ended last season was a very bitter taste, and I don't want to feel that way. Let's finish next week with a winning record at home. That was one of our goals we stated in March; to have a winning record at home. In my opinion, we still can accomplish that short-term goal next week."

QB Brian Griese

(On the game and the frustration of losing) "It is very frustrating. This is one of the toughest losses that I have been associated with because we found a way to lose. It is disappointing with the opportunities that we had. I felt like we had the game wrapped up in the fourth quarter."

(On throwing the interception) "I was actually trying to throw it away and I got hit at the moment that I threw it. I couldn't get it far enough out."

(On the offense's performance) "I thought we moved the ball well in the first half, running and throwing the football. We could have done better on third downs. We came out in the second half and were running the ball really well. I felt that we were in a situation where we could run out the clock. We weren't trying to do a whole lot on offense, other than ball control and it came back to bite us."

(On Pittman's fumble) "We wouldn't be where we are without Michael Pittman. He's a tremendous player, but more importantly, he's a tremendous person. It's not Michael Pittman's fault, it's all of our faults. Collectively, we lost as a team today and each and every guy has to be held accountable."

RB Michael Pittman

(On the loss) "It was more disappointing at first and hurt more than anything. I feel like I blew it, that's it."

(On the ruling of his fumble) "I thought that I was down but that is really irrelevant at this point because they said that I wasn't. New Orleans got the ball back and scored. I know that one player can't lose the game, but I feel like I lost the game. I will keep fighting."

(On the fumble) "I was just trying to run hard. I swore that I was down, but I guess that replay showed that I wasn't down. I was just trying to make a play, I was running hard all game long and the offensive line was blocking great but it was just the story of the season."

(On the team's 5-9 record on the season) "We are better than our record shows. We are not a bad football team, you never see us getting blown out. We played hard today and just have to keep playing that way. We still have two games left, I don't know about the playoffs, but I am just going to keep wishing that we get better and do what we can."

(On his fumbling during the season) "This year I guess the fumblitis hit me. I don't fumble, but this year I have. In practice I have guys stripping at me. Tonight I feel that I let a lot of people down, the fans, my teammates, and the coaches because they were depending on me and I didn't come through for everybody this game."

S Dwight Smith

(On what happened on the fourth and 12 conversion by the Saints) "He (Aaron Brooks) made a play. You try to stay in your lanes, and he probably saw a crease and took the crease and made the play. That's what playmakers do."

DE Greg Spires

(On how frustrating this loss is for the Buccaneers) "It hurts, it hurts. There's nothing much you can say. We gave it away. That's all I can say. I don't want to point any fingers. We gave it away. We did. I did. If I would've stopped that guy (Aaron Brooks) with that 12-yard sprint, we would've won."

(On where the team goes from here) "We wake up in the morning. We have a 1:00 p.m. meeting and we look at this film and put it behind us. We get ready for Carolina, that's how we put it behind us."

T Kenyatta Walker

(On the game) "It was a hard fought game and my hat goes off to the Saints. They played good and carried the effort into the fourth quarter."

(On the state of the team) "We need to concentrate on Carolina. It's another division rival and we're guaranteed two more games. We definitely haven't given up and will continue fighting."

(On whether the Buccaneers deserve the playoffs) "If we get in, of course. You cannot be short-changed if you don't get in. This would be just my second time not making the playoffs and it would be a big disappointment."

New Orleans Saints

Head Coach Jim Haslett

(On injuries) "Wayne Gandy has a sprained knee, he will be day-to-day. Mel Mitchell has a pulled groin and he did not finish the game. Ernie Conwell's back, I give him credit he toughed it out, he could not even bend over at the end of the game."

(On the game) "I thought it was a great team effort. We hung in there when it did not look good, when we were down by seven. We talked about it all week; this game is going to come down to the fourth quarter. We knew we were playing a great defense. Their offense is much better then they have been in the last couple of years. We knew it was going to be a dog fight being on the road and being the seven-point underdogs. We hung in there and made plays when we had to. I thought the offense struggled must of the day but when they had to come up with big plays, they came up with them. Joe (Horn), Aaron (Brooks) were outstanding. I think down the stretch, I think his leadership today was probably the best I have seen ever by him. We ran the ball. We were committed to running the ball. On defense, I thought we played outstanding. I thought we played a great game on defense. We made plays when we had to; got turnovers when we had to, stop the run for the most part. Special teams struggled in some areas but we are good in some areas. As a whole it is a great win for this team."

(On if this game is like any other) "This game is kind of unique, in its own way. It was a battle of field position. It was a battle of wind. Who was going to make a play at a certain time. There was a lot of posturing going on in the game. We punted on the 35-yard, when we decided we were going to go for it, then I changed my mind and decided to punt it. They were conservative in some areas against the wind and then they opened it up with the wind. We rolled the dice at half time, saying we are going to kickoff against the wind and that backfired on us; they went right down the field and scored on us. I think it paid off in the end."

(On Michael Pittman) "Yeah, I thought (Michael) Pittman fumbled. If you look at it, he was straight legged as he was coming down and I thought the ball popped out. I do not think it was conclusive enough, even to overturn it."

C LeCharles Bentley

(On this being an emotional win) "It's definitely an emotional win. It feels real good. We're not thinking about playoffs or anything like that. We're just playing hard for ourselves."

QB Aaron Brooks

(On the importance of the opening kickoff return) "It was huge. It gave us an opportunity to go up on someone for a change. It was a great effort on that play and a great effort by everyone all day. It was a tough game but we prevailed in the end."

(On his fourth down conversion) "A lot of guys were making big plays. It was one of those things where you either make that play or you go home with a loss and no hope for a playoff chance. They dropped back and played some zone and I had the opportunity and took it."

(On how he reacted after the ruling of the fumble) "It was a great feeling. We could have been the ones faced with going home with a loss. Once we got the fumble we made the best of the situation."

(On the emotion of the win) "It was big and at this point in the season, it gives us a lot of momentum and confidence because it was a total team effort. This gives us a very good shot of possibly getting into the playoffs."

RB Deuce McAllister

(On Coach Haslett's post-game speech) "To stay together as a team and continue to take it one game at a time. Enjoy this win, but we need to start getting our minds right for Atlanta."

(On the comeback win) "It's a win. You're down 10 points with less than four minutes, to come back and win, it shows the fight that you have as a team."

CB Mike McKenzie

(On what the team needs to do to make the playoffs) "It is really about our group on defense. I think our defense fuels the entire team. We have all of the weapons that we need on offense. Defensively, we have not played well. The group that we have on the field right now has had a lot of injuries and there have been a substantial amount of changes in the starting lineup. We have been playing a lot better the last couple of weeks, so I think that we will go as far as the defense plays."

(On his transition from Green Bay to New Orleans) "The transition has not been bad. I am a man-to-man player. Green Bay is predominantly a zone team and that was real tough. As New Orleans has gotten a better feel for me, they have been working (in) coverages that fit me best. Everything is coming together now."

(On his interception in the red zone) "It was a fairly routine play. I couldn't believe the quarterback (Brian Griese) threw the ball. Brian Griese is a solid guy, but he just put the ball up there for me. I appreciate it and I am going to keep on rolling with it."

RB Aaron Stecker

(On the kickoff return for a touchdown) "That ball went through my legs and I couldn't help but think I was in trouble. Usually when that happens, guys get out of their coverage lanes so I knew I could make something happen. I was patient to wait for my blocks and got a touchdown out of it."

(On how it felt to play the Buccaneers) "I thought about this game for a while. It was fun. We played with heart and came up with a victory."

(On returning a kick for a touchdown) "It's ironic because I was almost the first (to return a kickoff for a touchdown) when I was here and that was against the Saints. Then I got this chance and my wife and I actually joked this week about how funny it would be if I returned one against the Buccaneers and I did."

(On how badly he wanted to come back to Tampa) "Well, I wanted to come back to Tampa. I don't want to get into all that, but I love Tampa. I love the fans here. If I could've continued my career here for a long time I would have been happy."

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