Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-30-2007 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(Opening statement) "I would just like to say to Mike Rucker, I wish you the best if that's what you decide to do. He's a great player and had a lot of great battles. Obviously, we are disappointed in defeat. There were some bright spots, in my opinion. There were guys that got to play for the first time extensively. Obviously, our short yardage goal line offense let us down today. We had a key penalty on a special teams play and we didn't play up to Buccaneers standards. But there were some good things and we're excited now to enter the first round of the playoffs."

(On if he is glad to get this game behind them and head into the playoffs) "I'll tell you, I am very eager, obviously, to get going here in the playoffs. I thought our coaches and players did a great job in preparing for today's game. This was a big game for a lot of guys who got a chance to really get their first time on the field as Buccaneers. Ken Darby, you've seen him playing, and obviously a lot of guys. Our guys prepared well and at times they performed very well, against a team we have a lot of respect for."

(On the 9-7 record) "Again, I'm not going to be an analyst here. You know, you have plenty of people that can do that. We didn't play a lot of our regulars today; we sat numerous players. We pulled a lot of guys this week. If we had to do it again, we'd do the same thing. We're excited about where we are and that's all I will say."

(On if he watched the Giants game last night) "I was tired last night, so I kind of went to bed. But we'll have the tape of the game and I sure do congratulate Coach Belichick and the Patriots. What they did was sensational and it's one of the great accomplishments in sports history if you ask me. I surely compliment the Giants for competing the way they did."

(On the momentum of the team at this point) "Momentum is important. Momentum is making the playoffs. When you run out of the tunnel and there's 80,000 fans going crazy, you're going to have momentum, you're going to be excited to play. Momentum is having a quarterback that is your starter, healthy and walking around feeling good. It has a lot to do with momentum. And seeing Joey Galloway running as fast as he can run, that's what I see as momentum. I didn't like what we did today or yesterday, but I don't like a lot of things going on in my life and I'll do the best I can to live a perfect life for you, okay?"

RB Michael Bennett

(On the game) "I thought we came out and played well. We were able to get some things going on offense, but you hate to lose, but I think it was a good game to get in, to get a rhythm going, to get some guys in who haven't played such as myself or Ken Darby, other guys in a backup role to get some time out there. I think it was a great overall effort, but again we lost the game, but we have bigger things to look forward to. We won the division, we're in a playoff game and it's a one elimination game, so we have to be on all cylinders. The [New York] Giants are a great team, just look at what they did last night against the [New England] Patriots. They're going to be ready, their defense is playing well and so is their offense. We have to come out with our A game and hopefully get a win here at home."

(On his touchdown) "It was just a great call by Coach Gruden. The guy knows pretty much everything about football so it was a great call by him. The linemen were able to get in the guys way, set up the blocks, and I was able to beat the guy in the corner and get in the end zone. It was definitely something I've been looking forward to the whole time, but it was a great call and a great play."

(On his comfort level in the offense) "I'm definitely comfortable. I think that running backs coach Art [Valero] does a tremendous job of preparing us week in and week out for different situations and like I said, it was just a matter of time for me to come in and get accustomed to what the tempo is like, what practice is like and get familiar with the playbook. Now that I have a lot of familiarity with a lot of things, I'm able to get in the game and make plays without having to second guess myself."

WR Michael Clayton

(On today's production) "I think our main goal was to be productive today. I think it was a good day. There are a lot of things we could get better on. Luke McCown made some great throws. There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of stuff to grow from, especially with the backups. It is certainly an opportunity for those guys and myself to play and be productive. Especially, before a playoff run. I think it's a good experience for them. We played hard, we kept fighting, but we just couldn't come out with a win."

(On the momentum being broken after two losses) "No, the momentum is not broken because we are playing hard and that's the best thing you can ask for. You're not always going to win, but when you leave the field you want your opponent to say that was a heck of a team. I think that we have accomplished that. I think that when the Giants see us on tape, they're going to respect us for what we put down. It's not even our starters out there and it's a lot of credit due to the guys on this football team putting together a package, going out and competing for 60 minutes."

QB Luke McCown

(On his impressions of the game) "A couple plays here and there change the game. Every week, one or two plays are going to change the game for you. Pitt [RB Michael Pittman] runs a fantastic route on a slant-and-go and I miss him by a fingertip. It's not something we get to do a whole lot of. The interception at the end of the game, we had a drive going. Ken Darby was open on the scramble, Ken was open. They kind of sunk everybody to the middle of the field and the safety made a break at the right moment. The good thing is, this is my third game and I am learning when to take those kinds of chances. It seems like it is something different every week, whether it was a fumble last week or an interception this week. The good thing is, those aren't happening four or five times a game, it's one time a game where those are things you can learn from, when to take that chance. We had a good drive going, it's first down and we can throw it away and play another down. Things like that you can learn from and certainly I am learning from them and getting better."

(On not going for it on fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter) "I don't ever try to second guess coach; he has done it a lot longer than I have. He felt like that was the right call and I will stand up by him everyday he makes calls like that. He is putting the game in our hands and we've got to execute plays and stay away from fourth-and-one and third-and-one. We've got to convert those things. Those are the kind of things that will push us over the hump, as far as winning ball games."

(On TE Jerramy Stevens and WR Chad Lucas) "Chad did a great job for his first time playing, maybe ever, but certainly a long time. He did a fantastic job making great catches on one or two throws that were on the back shoulder instead of the front shoulder where he reached back and snatched them. Jerramy Stevens again shows up big for us, game after game. We are really learning what Jerramy Stevens can do. Like I said last week, he is going to be a tremendous part of our offense heading into this week."

TE Jerramy Stevens

(On the game overall) "We went out there and we didn't have a lot of our starters in, but guys did what they were supposed to do and executed the plays and that's something we will need going into the playoffs."

(On getting a lot of people involved) "I think we're going to need everybody going into the playoffs. You never know what's going to happen, football's a game where injuries happen and it's good that we got a lot of guys a little more seasoned and had a little more experience so maybe the first time they step onto the field isn't in the playoffs, so I think that the only choice we have is to use it to our advantage and turn it into a positive."

(On his touchdown) "It was different [than the touchdown at New Orleans]. It was set up to give them the look and just get me one on one with a guy that I feel I should beat."

LB Jeremiah Trotter

(On the team's focus) "You want to go out and win every time you go out no matter who is on the field. We just have to keep getting better. The young guys and myself have to get to where we don't have to think so much. You have to give [it] to the guys they made some plays. We felt like we left some plays out on the field."

(On his performance today) "I think I did ok. I can play a lot better. I have to learn to be a little more patient. This was my first game really playing so I was still trying to get a feel for the defense in speed and get the feeling where I don't have to think so much. I can just go out and play my style."

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Head Coach John Fox

(On ending the season on a positive note) "Yeah, I think these guys have been through a lot. We saw things turn different direction way back after the middle of our third game and they hung in there. It's remarkable, some great efforts and I'm really appreciative of their efforts throughout the year."

(On getting QB Vinny Testaverde out on the field one last time) "Vinny has been a good addition for us. He got us some wins, became the oldest quarterback in the NFL to have a victory twice, and some countless great time with some of our young quarterbacks, and even some of the young players on our football team. So, that was the least we could do for him."

(On what he is doing tomorrow) "[I'm going to] get on the plane and fly back to Charlotte. Tomorrow we will meet with the team, go through our check-out physicals and head into the offseason."

(On the play of QB Matt Moore the last two weeks) "Matt, you know, has been singing the same song for some time now. But that's a good defense that he played [against] today and I thought he made some good decisions and good throws and he's a very capable young quarterback."

(On the play of RB DeAngelo Williams) "I thought both he and DeShaun Foster both ran well today. I thought our line created some movement and I don't know what we ended up stat-wise, I haven't seen any stats, but we were able to bang around in the running game enough to open up some of the things in the passing game."

FB Brad Hoover

(On the Buccaneers as a whole) "They're a very good team and rightfully so as they won the NFC South. Defensively, especially they're just quick and they play hard and they're all over the place and that's why they're leading the league in scoring defense, but this team, you know, granted we played a different unit today because we didn't get all their starters, but earlier in the year when we played, they're just a solid group, they play hard, they go out and just try to hit you in the mouth."

(On if there is anything in the Buccaneers defense that stands out) "The speed naturally, you know, it used to be that what we called that "Tampa 2", they're still doing that, but they changed it up a little bit, but the main thing for them has always been speed and angles and just everybody being around the ball and they still do that."

QB Matt Moore

(On his team's performance today) "The protection was good all day. The defense really played awesome and really kept us in it and dictated the tempo of the game and our communication was good. It was good."

(On the past few weeks) "I've been preaching that this experience is so valuable and to have it and to get it. Playing these last few games has been really big and hopefully it will just carry over to next season and we just keep getting better. There is always room to get better, but experience, just seeing different looks is very important, so it's good."

(On if he'll miss Vinny Testaverde) "Oh absolutely. Vinny and I have become really good friends and he is just a great guy, great player and even better person. He'll be missed definitely by a lot of guys."

QB Vinny Testaverde

(On before he became an NFL player) "Well, I can't help but think back when I was a kid and I used to go out in the backyard with my buddies and pretend I was guys like Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene and guys like that and just dream about being an NFL player. It's just hard to believe that's what I became and it's even harder to believe that I played for so long."

(On the meaning of taking the last snap of the game) "It does mean a lot. I'm sure one day I'll look back on all of this and appreciate it even more. I started here 21 years ago where I took my first snap in this city. Ironically enough, it's where I took my last snap. It means a lot and I've enjoyed just about every minute of it. "

(On what he has learned since stepping up on a podium and putting on an orange Bucs jersey 21 years ago) "I've learned a lot, and met a lot of people and made a lot friendships, but I think the one thing, and I talked to my team yesterday, the one thing this game teaches you is it prepares you for life after football. It teaches you about teamwork, discipline, dedication, leadership and how to overcome some obstacles. I think that's real life and I really believe this game teaches guys that and if they can take that with them into their next career, they'll be successful doing it."

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