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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12-31-2006 - Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Jon Gruden

(On the overall game) "Obviously, it has been a very rough season. I'm proud of our football team, in spite of the record. These guys practiced and played hard for 16 consecutive weeks and a lot of adversity throughout the season. A lot of men went down. I commend them for that."

(On what he said to the players after the game) "I want to make sure that everybody gets a firm handshake from as many guys as they can and a meaningful handshake and they look each other in the eye and compliment each other on a lot of hard work, staying together. A lot of people come unraveled, you know, some people jump right off that ship. They get on that life raft, but these guys stayed together and that's a real compliment and that's going to be something that this football team will never forget and hopefully lean on in years to come."

(On what he can take from this season to build next year) "Well, there's a lot of things you can take away, so many players played that many of them weren't here even to start the season. Some young players, some guys that are from other clubs that came in. Experience is one of the great teachers, if not the greatest teacher that I know. It's not a coach. It's not a veteran player. It's experience. We had a lot of bad experiences. We had some great experiences. We really did. We had some moments where we looked like a good football team and there are things that we can build off of. Clearly, we have some things to address. At the same time, we'll use the offseason to continue to try and improve our football team with the players we do have."

(On what is number one of his list of things to address for next season) "Well, I am not going to say that right now. Obviously, it's a very difficult time for me and our coaches and our fans and at the same time we will huddle; we will regroup and we will come up with answers to your questions, but you are not going to find all of those out tonight. You have to see the availability of players and what the status is of a lot of things before you can make those determinations."

(On Dewayne White and the defense) "We struggled defensively today. I don't think you give up 29 or 30 first downs and say that everything was on all cylinders. We struggled, but I do credit Dewayne White with playing hard and making some plays for us; not only as a rusher, but as a run defender. There's another young guy that stepped up in one of our great players' absences."

FB Mike Alstott

(On how it felt walking off the field after the game) "The support, I can't even describe it right now. It was an awesome feeling. I just want to say I love all the fans and everybody that has supported my career and that has been behind me, thank you. I just want to say thank you over and over again."

(On the team not being able to make anything happen in the red zone today) "It was just a frustrating game overall, a frustrating year. I wish we would have ended it, obviously, a little bit better, like we did in the last two weeks, and it just didn't happen."

(On what is going to happen next for him) "I don't know what is going to happen next. I really don't. I couldn't sit here and tell you what is going to happen. I don't know, that is the bottom line right now. I don't know how things are going to play out. I don't know about anything right now. I was really disappointed in the results of the game."

(On his feelings when he went into today's game) "Eleven years go into the head. Feelings, the electricity and the excitement that the crowd brings me is indescribable. Walking off that field with my family just now was just incredible. I would just like to say thank you to all of them for all those years. It has been great and I appreciate every moment of it."

(On if he was thinking about the memories during the game) "No. I really couldn't tell you. I was just trying to stay focused on the game. I am kind of disappointed in the outcome of the game and how things were going and stuff like that. But you have a time to reflect before and a time to reflect after. Pre-game warm-up, the crowd was awesome when I was just walking off the field. These fans are the best. I am proud to be a Buccaneer and I am proud I've played my whole career here."

(On if he has thought about what he is going to do) "Let me breathe a moment and I will let you know soon. It is one thing for a professional athlete to say goodbye to something you have been doing pretty much all your life. You don't know, you don't want to, maybe half and half, and I know I can play and I know I can play the high level and do some good things. I need some time to really think about it before I say the 'R' word. It is probably one of the hardest decisions for an athlete to say I am walking away from something that I have been playing since I have been six years old."

(On what the thoughts in his head will be for the next few weeks) "Just reflecting everything. I will talk to my family and see what I want to do, what we want to do as a whole. I have young kids. I want to be part of their lives. It has been a good, long run. I have done a lot of things, won Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, played with Hall of Fame players and done some great things. At the same time, you have to take this as my last game. Contractually, I have no contract. I don't know what direction the Buccaneers are going in the future. I don't know what direction I am going either. So I'll sit back and I am going to take off this week and take the family out of town and think about it."

(On if he would consider playing for anybody else) "I don't even want to start getting into that now. Today is too special as far as the city of Tampa and myself. I don't even want to get that out there. That is a not even the question to be dealt with right now."

CB Ronde Barber

(On missing the playoffs in three of the past four seasons) "It's unfulfilling. All you ever ask for is an opportunity to play in the postseason, to give yourself the chance to win a championship. It's the only reason we play this game and to be completely out of it is frustrating."

(On the roster going into next season) "We'll find that out as we go here in the next couple months. Good thing is that we have a lot that we can do. We definitely need players to get better. We need the young players to get better and we need to have a dedicated offseason to do that. I think that with the guys that we have here, obviously with the leadership, we can rededicate ourselves to being the team that we know we can be, because this is unacceptable and I don't think anyone wants to go through this again."

LB Derrick Brooks

(On if the defense's weaknesses are obvious) "I guess you can say that when you don't win. Our defensive success usually correlates wins and we didn't play consistent enough on defense all year long. We only have four wins, and that's part of the reason for that."

(On having too much pressure on the defense) "We always want the spotlight on us. We have the veteran players to do it, that have performed time and time again. It's a combination, like I said. We showed as much as we can, but we are still a team. We just didn't play well enough as a team."

(On if he is prepared not to have many of the same players on next season's roster) "I don't know. We'll wait and see. At this point, we just make room for next year's roster in the next couple of days and try to get this season's taste out of our mouth. I feel you can't get better, in my opinion, until you get away and you get this season off your chest. Hopefully in the next few weeks, a month or so, I will be able to do that."

(On if he talks to Coach Kiffin about the losses) "Sometimes, [Coach] Kiffin and I would talk too much. That's just the nature of us being together for so long. Again, he's looking for answers just like everybody else. It's hard when you can't put your finger on that one thing to get us turned around. It seemed like we were chasing it all year long. We started bad in one area, then we picked it up in another one, slacked off in another area. We just weren't consistent across the board like we've been in the past. We've been humbled, but what do you do when you get humbled? So we're at the point right now we have to go back and fix those cracks in our foundation."

WR Joey Galloway

(On this season) "I'm very disappointed we didn't win more games. [I'm] looking forward to having the opportunity to improve and come back, and hopefully try it again next year, try to reach more of our goals."

(On two consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons) "Right now, that doesn't mean a whole lot to me. The season is over and everyone is a little disappointed right now because we feel like we had the talent to win more games and we just didn't play well enough. So everyone's a little disappointed and right now the 1,000-yard seasons don't really mean much."

QB Tim Rattay

(On having played three games this season) "Yes, we are obviously disappointed about this game and the outcome. I enjoyed playing, I enjoyed being in the huddle with those guys, that's what I told them afterwards. I'm glad that I got the time that I got to play. I enjoyed being out there playing."

(On being a free agent this offseason) "I'm going to think about this game for a couple of days and get into the offseason and relax and then kind of see what happens. I'm trying not to think about all that right now."

(On having the opportunity to take his career anywhere he wants) "Well, you know free agency, you have to have people want you. So like I said, I'll sit down and see what happens but right now I'm still a little upset about this game. Also, I enjoyed playing with these guys and I enjoyed the games that I had with these guys. We fought every game, played until the end. I had a lot of fun, it was my pleasure to play with these guys, I had a great time."


Head Coach Mike Holmgren

(On how the team played) "I thought our guys played very well given the circumstances surrounding the game. We came in, and you guys have seen games where the outcome of a football game has very little to do with anything once the playoffs start. So, to motivate the team to play well, I thought it was very important for us to play well, and I think we did for the most part. I think we did some good things. Actually, they held up pretty well given the weather. It hasn't been this warm in Seattle in three years. But I just want to say, Jon Gruden is a good friend of mine and a terrific coach. It's tough when you don't have your players. We went through that with injuries ourselves. But he had his guys ready to play and he calls a heck of a ballgame, so I feel fortunate that we won and now we want to get on the plane and start preparing for the playoffs."

(On if he wanted to get his offense in a rhythm) "Yes, to a certain extent, I think. I think we did some good things. I don't think we did a very good job in the red zone, I think, other than that we did do some things. I've always said [when] you play Tampa and [when] you play their defense, you're going to play a game. And it's tough. The defense, since I've been in the league and Monte Kiffin's been in the league, we've seen each other a number of times and some of those faces have changed over there but they do a great job defensively."

(On not resting the starters) "I think there is, unless it's the situation we were in last year where you kind of explain to the team how you're going to play the game, that while you want to win the game, certainly, we're going to rest some players. And once they get that, like we lost to Green Bay in the final game last year and they came in and played very well in the playoffs, I thought. But if you're going into the game and you're not doing that, you're not resting people and stuff, I think it's very important to win the last regular season game. Our record isn't what we had hoped, to be honest with you. But there's something about 9-7 being a lot better that 8-8 even though it's only one game. And the players feel that, and I think the organization does, so now we start our new season, as I told the players."

(On if he was nervous leaving his star players, QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander, in the game late) "No, well I pulled Shaun out at the end. To be honest with you, when I'm involved in the game, I'm not thinking about that necessarily. I don't worry about injuries. I don't want the players to worry about injuries, otherwise it's almost a self-fulfilling process. They both wanted to play, and they both needed to play. They both needed to play the game because they have missed a lot of time this season. So, no, I wasn't thinking about that too much."

RB Shaun Alexander

(On the overall season and looking into the playoffs) "I'm excited because we played a solid game against San Diego, and I felt we played another solid game back-to-back and that's football. This has been an up and down team from crazy injuries to crazy timing and crazy weather. You don't make excuses; you just go out there and play. We feel like the tide is starting to turn for us. We were happy to be able to win and the defense is really starting to come together and their playing well the last two weeks, so this is a good time for us."

(On the playoffs) "The playoffs are exciting. It's the second season and everyone knows it's totally different than regular season. This is usually where big things happen, and we gladly accept that challenge."

(On the offense playing well) "Yes, we're still working. We still have little things to get better. Of course, this is the first game with Floyd Womack at right guard, so we got going on a good groove in the second half and we started doing some things a lot better, but we're getting there. Once I watch more film, I'll be able to tell you precisely where we are."

(On the weather being so hot today) "It was brutal. I think it was more brutal because we played in snow, we played in freezing temperatures, we played in a rain and wind storm and to come out here and play in this the last game of the season, it was great, but it definitely took your body to deal with things. Over that, I don't mind playing in this kind of weather at least one more time."

(On how he would sum up the season) "I would say we stuck it out. This team went through a lot and we stuck it out and I think we really feel like we're about to turn a corner and that's a good thing."

WR D.J. Hackett

(On whether or not his elbow touched the ground) "I don't know. They know the rule books better than I do."

(On getting an explanation on the rule) "I didn't get one. I'm sure coach may have, so he may know."

(On the offense getting into a rhythm) "Definitely. Last week we played pretty well, as well. We got the running game going last week and it just continued this week. Whenever you have a good running game going, the passing is easier."

QB Matt Hasselbeck

(On the win) "Obviously, the win didn't mean anything to our playoff standings or anything like that. It's always fun to come together as a team [and] go out there and take the field. We had a pretty good effort by everybody today, we had some new guys that got in and played a little bit. It was a good time."

(On whether today's game was a continuation from the San Diego game) "Yes, I think that's what the season is. You try to come together as a team. There's been times this year where we have played well and there's been times where we haven't played our best football, so this is kind of a journey. We came together, the new guys get to play like I said, so it was a valuable experience for them."

(On not going into the playoffs losing four straight) "To me that was not a big deal. Obviously you don't want to lose games but you start the playoffs fresh. Had this game not turned out well for us, it's okay. I don't know who we play next, but they don't care if we won or lost this game; they are concerned about themselves and us. They aren't going to play any differently whether we won or lost this game, so to me that wasn't that big of a deal."

(On whether it took convincing that this was a big game for them and how did they respond) "No, I don't think so. I think some of us were wondering how he [Mike Holmgren] was going to handle it, but once he told us, he was very clear about it and sounded very confident about it. So I think at that point we needed to get our minds right and get ready to play our game before we got out here."

LB Julian Peterson

(On if they had a clean defensive performance today) "We still gave up a couple of explosive plays. [Michael] Pittman hit us up with a 15-yard gain and Joey [Galloway] got his long play, but they did a lot of things to us. They gave us a lot of double reverses and the little screens coming back inside. They did a lot of little quick stuff on us to keep us off balance, but for the most part, everybody did what they had to do. We made plays and got turnovers. Any time we get turnovers, we help our offense out, and it makes a better game for us. We got the turnovers, we got a strip that Michael Boulware had a nice return on. When we get things like that, our defense always clicks."

(On knowing that they didn't need to win, did they come into the game thinking that) "No, we really didn't need to get this win. We took a couple of tough losses the last three weeks and we wanted to come in and get a little momentum before the postseason. It's good to see the offense click the way they were. They were a little upset with the way they've been playing for the most part. I'd rather they hit their stride now than at the beginning of the year. So it's a good thing."

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