WR Keyshawn Johnson is looking forward to a productive offseason for the Bucs' offense
In the final analysis, the 2000 season will go down as one of the finest in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. Ten or more wins for just the fourth time in club annals; a team-record 388 points, a thrilling December playoff push; a myriad of broken records.
But for the Buccaneers themselves, on the last minutes of the millennium and the first few hours of 2001, it doesn't seem like enough. Make no mistake, this team's goal was the Super Bowl, so the season-ending loss in Philadelphia, in the Wild Card round, was a disappointment.
Soon, many of these Bucs will scatter around the country to take a few weeks off before beginning preparations for next year. Before they do, let's take a look at what they had to say about the game while the pain of the loss was still lingering in the air.
Head Coach Tony Dungy on the team's feelings after the loss: "It's always tough after a loss, especially when you finish the year like this when it doesn't look like there are a lot of bright spots. I thought we came here and gave it our best shot. Philadelphia really outplayed us today. They're a very, very tough team, they have an excellent defense and I thought they moved the ball well offensively. They were well prepared and Andy Reid did a good job of having them ready for us both offensively and defensively.
"They did some good things against us and they only turned the ball over once. We really couldn't get anything generated defensively. It was a good year for us…not as good as we would have liked. It's a disappointing ending, but I think we have the type of guys that will bounce back."
Dungy on Philadelphia's offense: "They made some plays and we knew they were a passing team. They stayed with what they do well and we didn't rush them as well as we would have liked. They made some plays in third-and-short situations that kept some drives going. The game was going back and forth and was pretty much even until they got the turnover. They got that turnover and I thought it gave them an emotional lift. We didn't really step up and match it."
Dungy on the specifics of that turnover: "We ended up with a situation where we had Warrick Dunn blocking Hugh Douglas. We had a screen play off of that, and we really needed Mike Alstott in there at that time, but we didn't get that communicated. That was a breakdown in communication that really gave them momentum. And then any time you give up points in the last two minutes of the half, that always comes back to hurt you. They got 14 points going against the wind in the last four minutes of the half, and that was basically the game."
Dungy on the Eagles subsequently controlling the clock in the third quarter: "Emotionally they were ready to go, and we weren't quite recovered from the 14 points they got right before halftime. We decided to take the wind and we knew we had to stop them and not let them eat up the clock against the wind. They had the ball pretty much the whole third quarter. They outplayed us that entire quarter."
Dungy on whether the Bucs played with enough emotion: "I thought we did until that play. [Hugh] Douglas got the sack and fumble and they ended up scoring on the third-down play. We then didn't match the energy that they got from that play. When you go on the road in the playoffs, you have to be able to step up and match the energy and you have to be tough-minded mentally. We just we're quite there today."
Dungy on the Bucs' offensive game plan: "We were going to play our game. I thought Mike Alstott ran well and we had some things out of the two-tight end package that we got going in the first half. But then being down 14-3 and really not even getting the ball until there was seven minutes to go in the third quarter, it took us out of it. We would have liked to run it a little bit more and a little bit better."
Dungy on the Bucs' season as a whole: "We had some disappointment. We played a little bit inconsistently. We had a four-game losing streak and then we had a game last week we really needed to win but we weren't able to. We bounced back and did some good things, but I think our season was kind of like the game today – we bounced back and fought, but we didn't quite finish it off the way we would have liked."
Dungy on what the Buccaneers must do to improve in 2001: "I think we just have to play more consistently. We have to stay away from the ups and downs and stay away from the four-game losing streak that we had. The material is there and I think we're going to be much better on offense as we learn this system more and get to know each other. Defensively I didn't think we played up to our standards all year."
RB Warrick Dunn on his assignment on the Shaun King fumble play: "I think Mike Alstott was supposed to come in on that play. I am capable of blocking him, but I just didn't do a good job. He over powered me; I was too scared to cut him. He just ran through me and made a great play."
Dunn on the offense's problems: "We couldn't control the line of scrimmage and couldn't establish a running game. We got behind and we had to start throwing the ball."
Dunn on how the loss feels: "The guys played their butts off for 16 games to get to this point and not to come out and play the way we're capable of playing, that's what hurts."
WR Keyshawn Johnson on the state of the offense: "Hopefully on the off-season, we will take a long look at what we have gone through. Hopefully the coach will look at what we're doing offensively and see how we can get more productivity."
WR Jacquez Green on the frustration of a difficult passing day: "It's tough because as a wideout you really have no control over whether you get the football or not. You just run the route that's called. It tough though, running around the whole game and not seeing any action."
Green on the Bucs' emotional letdown in the second half: "We just died out. Things happen like that in this league, and it happens a lot on the road. Once the other team gets it going the emotion doesn't seem to die down."
DE Chidi Ahanotu on what he believes lies ahead for the Buccaneers: "I am going to have to think about that one…I think what our offense did this year, with a new offense, new offensive coordinator, with a new key wide receiver in Keyshawn and a second year quarterback…I think they made great strides from last year. And I think they are going to continue to make great strides. I think the offense will continue to get better and better and this team will get better and better."