Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-23-2007 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening statement) "On behalf of our coaches and our players, we'd like to wish Bryant Young the best. I've been in the NFL for 17 years, and he is one of the classiest, great players I've ever met. The way he played today, Bryant, I'm glad you're retiring and I'm glad we won't have to see you anymore. Obviously, they got us with a surprise onside kick to start the second half. We turned the ball over deep in our territory and squandered numerous opportunities, but I'm proud of our football team. We had a lot of guys play today."

(On benching a lot of the starters) "It's a decision that we made when we won the division last week. We've had a number of injuries this year, and we've been able to overcome them and qualify for the playoffs. What we wanted to do today was get Jeff some work in the first half. I also wanted to take this opportunity to evaluate some of our other players. We're glad we did that and it will be a very similar case next week."

(On Garcia getting knocked in the head twice possibly having to do with his departure) "No, it was still part of the plan. We lost a number of receivers. Maurice Stovall got hurt during the game and Joey Galloway aggravated his shoulder early in the game. I thought Jerramy Stevens really stepped up. He's a guy that, as we enter the playoffs, we're going to need. I think we all clearly see that he's a very good football player who can help us."

(On going into the playoffs with momentum) "That's TV announcers talking about that. We have a lot of momentum. It's very hard to disagree with everybody that you should win your last two games if you can, and we tried today. I'm more concerned with finishing this season, playing the kind of football that we did in the second half today."

(On the offensive line) "It wasn't as good as it has been. I thought we put together some great drives and some explosive plays. We were unable to sustain the running game today, and a lot of that had to do with the 49ers and their activity."

(On Luke McCown) "I thought it was sluggish to start with. The one thing that we have to clean up is the turnovers. We turned it over deep in our territory two weeks in a row now with him as the quarterback, but I thought he picked it up late."

CB Ronde Barber

(On the difference in today's game) "Turnovers kill you. It was a turnover-filled game and we came out on the bad end of it."

(Impressions of Shaun Hill's performance) "He made a couple of nice throws, but it's a little early to draw any conclusions about his play."

QB Jeff Garcia

(On his return to the Bay Area) "It was exciting to be back, something I had been looking forward to. I had a lot of great times here. I'm thankful for the five years I had here."

(On Bryant Young's influence) "He's a fierce competitor, the ultimate professional. You have to be impressed with his approach to the game. He's still a fierce competitor out there. Everybody should have the opportunity to have him as a teammate. It was awesome to have been his teammate for five years. Whether or not this is his last season, he is still playing at a very high caliber."

(On his observations about the 49ers' defense) "They show a lot of intensity and enthusiasm. Their defense did a particularly great job against the run. They really flowed around the ball. Up front, they were very aggressive. Their linebackers and defensive backs provided great support."

(On Bill Walsh's influence on him) "I give all the credit in the world to Bill Walsh. I owe so much to that man. He was a great influence on my life. He gave me the chance to play in the NFL."

(On playing before family and friends) "I probably had a couple of hundred friends and families here to support our team (Bucs). It was great to play in front of them."

(On getting only a limited amount of playing time) "It was the coach's decision. He talked to me about it. It was disappointing not to win, but at least a lot of our younger players got a chance to perform today."

RB Earnest Graham

(On resting some players) "We knew going in that some guys might rest, but we have full trust in this coaching staff that they are making the right calls. They have been doing this a long time and we know that they will have us ready in the playoffs. We are all competitors on this team and would want to play in a close game like this, but we know the coaches are making the best decisions for this team."

(On momentum in the playoffs) "We are not concerned about that at all. Like I said, these coaches have been through a lot of games and we trust that they will be making the right calls and have us in the best position for the playoffs."

CB Brian Kelly

(On his interception) "We were in an aggressive coverage in that play, and it appeared that their quarterback (Shaun Hill) tried to squeeze it into too small an opening. He's 2 and 0 so he must be doing pretty well for himself."

QB Luke McCown

(On his expectations going into today's game) "I knew I was going to get the opportunity to play today. As a backup, I'm learning to come in without much work and find my rhythm quickly. I was out of sync early. I started slow the first two or three drives. You can't afford to turn the ball over like I did today."

(On his third quarter fumble) "I don't know how the guy stripped the ball out, I have no idea. It came as a surprise to me."

(On Nate Clements' second half interception) "I could have thrown a better ball. The ball went a little high and Nate Clements made a good play on it. You got to tip your hat to him for it. You've got to limit your turnovers to win in this league. Fortunately, we were able to finish the game strong (with a touchdown drive).

TE Alex Smith

(On his performance) "I was able to get open a bit a bit early and attack certain spots on the field. We didn't call any special plays today, but I was able to be successful early and catch some balls."

(On strong tight end play) "It was more due to injury at receiver than anything else. We had to rely more on the tight end play today since some of our main guys were down or not playing and we were able to do that. We have a lot of talent at the tight end position on this team and we were able to show that today when we had some guys injured."

(On Patrick Willis' play) "He has been doing that all season and we knew that going in. There is a reason why he is going to the Pro Bowl and he showed that today. We had to account for him on every play and we probably could have done a little better job of that, but he is a very good football player."

TE Jerramy Stevens

(On going forward) "I just need to keep playing hard on every play and be ready to go if my number is called. I will just play my role and if I am called off the bench then I will try to do the best I can and do positives things for this football team. I have to be patient and if they put me in clutch situations then I have to be ready to play."

(On his touchdown catches) "They weren't similar plays at all. The second one was just a great play by Luke (McCown) to scramble and find me open down the field. The other time they put me on a slower linebacker that couldn't keep up with me and sometimes they put me on a smaller cornerback that didn't have the size to match me. We constantly try to put ourselves in positions that create favorable match ups and I was able to do that today."

(On the Tampa Bay offense) "We have a lot of weapons on this offense and I think we are all coming together at the right time. We have a lot of youth on this team, but we have played well and were right there in the end of a pretty wild game today. We kept fighting, and I know that coach Gruden will be very happy to see us keep fighting and never giving up in any game."

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Head Coach Mike Nolan

(Opening statement) "Although he has not made anything official at this point, I would like to say a couple words about B.Y. and what he's meant to the football team, as well as the community. B.Y. has been an outstanding example as a professional athlete, not only to the NFL and the 49ers, but also to the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been instrumental in all the success that the 49ers have enjoyed over the last fourteen seasons. He's a unique person on and off the field, in the community, as well as with his family. If he does anything, obviously we'd miss him. He's been a great 49er."

(On the game) "I thought the special teams did an outstanding job as they have done every week. Joe's (Nedney) onside kick was instrumental in taking a possession away from our opponent and it looked like that's what it came down to in the end with one more possession. Joe has done well at that every time we've ever done it. He didn't have any field goals in the game but Joe got a game ball as far as special teams go."

(On the offensive side of the ball) "Frank Gore was over 1,000 yards. I believe he's the fifth ever 49er to go back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Shaun Hill (had) three touchdown passes in the ball game. Both those players played very well on offense and the offensive line did a nice job."

(On defense) "Patrick Willis had 20 plus tackles in the game, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Nate Clements, although he's intercepted the ball many times, I think that was his longest interception return for 62 yards. B.Y. played an outstanding game throughout. (He) played an awful lot of plays and he didn't want to come out. He did a great job. So those are some personal recognition of the players."

(On the play of the defense having the influence of Bryant Young) "Well I think B.Y. has an impact on the play of the football team at any time, but I believe collectively the defense played as good a game as they've done much of the season. We've had three games in a row now where I think the defense has stepped up and done an outstanding job in three very different games. Minnesota, three weeks ago is a team that just pounds the ball, (they're) number one in the league in rushing. We held them to (few yards), they didn't get much. And then the next week we came back and played one of the best passing teams in the league. They did an outstanding job against Cincinnati, and then today I though they did a great job as far as the overall game. Every game that we play B.Y. is an instrumental part in motivating the guys around him. He plays with a tremendous amount of heart but he also plays well."

(On what is Shaun Hill proving from week to week) "As I've said many times about players, it's important that you're the same guy every day. That's not just personality, but that you're the same player every day. Today, Shaun faced a little bit of adversity that he has not in the six quarters he played prior to this. I think he had one, maybe two picks the first half. He has been consistently the same guy and that's the thing that's the real key for any player. If you have the ability to make plays you want to consistently make them week in and week out, as the rookie Patrick Willis does. Now he's got ten quarters where he's played pretty good football. He's been a key in our victories the last two weeks. Shaun's done a nice job. I'm very happy for him."

CB Nate Clements

(On the victory) "We came in with a great game plan and we played our style of football and we got the win."

(On sending Bryant Young out with a victory) "It was icing on the cake. We knew it was Bryant (B.Y.) Young's last home game and there is nothing better than a win for Bryant Young."

TE Vernon Davis

(On Shaun Hill's play) "I think he is terrific. He knows how to get you the ball and he makes the right reads."

(On Bryant Young retiring) "I never met a guy like Bryant (B.Y.) Young. He is a good guy to be around, a good mentor and a guy you want on your team. He is everything you want in a teammate."

RB Frank Gore

(On what it means to have another 1,000 yard year) "It's been a tough year for us with our quarterback, the injuries. It's been tough for this whole team, but for myself to get 1,000, that means a whole lot."

(On playing with Shaun Hill) "He just goes out there and has fun. He told me when we were watching film, to be ready for the check downs. He said we could be doing that a lot and we made a big play of it. He always prepares like he is the starter and I feel with whoever we have in there, as long as we don't make mistakes, we will be alright."

(On if he feels he is underrated as a receiver) "It was just that early on in the season, I had to stay in for protection. Now a lot of teams are blitzing us and I have been able to get out."

(On what the season could have been given how the team is playing now) "That's the only thing that makes it tough, especially with how we are playing great ball. We've been playing tough defenses and good teams. Early on in the season we couldn't really move the ball, and now everybody feels like we are clicking together and staying positive."

QB Shaun Hill

(On how he feels after the game) "I feel good now. A win takes away a lot of pain. Offensively, I don't feel I played great. It is awful nice to come away with a win even though we didn't play very well offensively. The defense was amazing, they stepped it up and played a great game. The name of the game is to win and we did that. So I can't be all that mad. We are going to have to look at what we did wrong and improve on those things. That's for sure. No time to rest now."

(On throwing a TD pass after being hurt) "Adrenaline is a great thing. The injury was kind of a rib thing and the wind was knocked out of me, so I just had to go to the sideline and regroup. Luckily, I was able to go back in and be okay."

(On Tampa Bay's stellar pass defense) "I had to double-check the pictures of their defense on the sidelines because it felt like they had thirteen guys out there. I had to check just to make sure; I had to count them up. They are a very good defense. We just didn't execute well. I missed a couple of throws and some reads. We're going to have to play better and that's for sure."

WR Darrell Jackson

(On the touchdown catch) "It was a great route and a great pass. We have been working on that in practice and we were finally able to hit one."

(On Shaun Hill's continued improvement) "He just goes in there and does what is asked of him. He lifts this team, gets the plays in, and has taken us to another level. It's unfortunate it has taken us so long to come around, but luckily we did and we instilled some promise and left something to build off of."

(On Shaun Hill coming back in after the big hit) "I told everyone I love him, and that's what you want from your quarterback. You want your quarterback to be the toughest one and to be able to feed off that. When he did that, he got right back in and threw a bullet to Vernon (for a touchdown). It was awesome."

LB Patrick Willis

(On the game plan coming in to the game) "Our game plan was to come in and stop the run and make them pass. I don't know what the stats are in terms of them running and passing, but we just wanted to come out and play physical and play good defense."

(On what allowed him to have such a good defensive performance) "It was all the d-line doing their thing. They were creating double teams and not allowing guys to come up to the second level. They did a tremendous job. They were on top of it today and I put it all on them. They have been playing the best all year."

(On the possibility of being able to lead the league in tackles) "That would be great, but I don't put an emphasis on it or keep it on my mind. The main thing for me is to just win."

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