Bucs head coach Raheem Morris’ opening statement after 28-21 loss to Carolina.
“It was a tough-fought game by a young football team. We got overpowered there at the end, and really throughout the game as far as the running game. They were able to run the ball at eight-man fronts, which was a credit to the Carolina Panthers and the offensive line that we talked about earlier in the week. They did have the turnovers which we thought they would have. We were able to capitalize on some of those things and make plays. We came out early and on the first drive of the game we were able to score. With a young offense, we were able to move the ball but not able to punch it in like the rest of those drives, whether we ended it with a penalty or we ended it with a turnover. We’re young and can’t overcome those types of mistakes right now, and we’ve got to learn how to do that or not make them – one or the other.”
Morris on Carolina’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
“Fifteen straight runs. One being a pass which was called a run because we didn’t let Steve Smith go without getting a completion. They were able to run it right at us. Eight-man fronts, blitzes, whatever you were able to do, that offensive line. We talked about earlier in the week they had a very good offensive line. And we’ve either got to get better up front or we’ve got to get better people, and we’ve got to do that. We’ve got to find a way to stop the run when it counts, and that was one of the times it counted.”
Morris on if it was more frustrating because the Bucs had some big plays and people step up.
“No, because that’s just a sign that the team’s playing, that’s a sign to the guys you have some of the right guys that are in the right spots. Tanard Jackson making that big play to put that thing back to 21-21. Sammie Stroughter being a young guy, a seventh-round draft pick, that we’ve talked about from the beginning of camp, OTA (Organized Team Activity) days, and going right into the season doing it the same way - just stepping in when we needed him to. [With] Clifton Smith going down, him coming in and getting a kickoff return, it put a spark right back into the football team and everybody else. Those plays don’t make it more frustrating, that makes it more exciting. That makes me challenge, that makes me ready to work harder, and prepare to have more situations like that so we can be ready to go. Those are the encouraging parts; those are the things that you love to see. We’ve just got to fight through how we stop the run when it counts, how are we going to do it. We were eight-man fronts and they ran the ball right at us. We’ve got to beat a man physically and you’ve got to win. That last drive was the giant type of physicality. When you get beat up, you get overpowered, and that’s when you’ve got to get better. We talked about that earlier, we talk about it all the time and we talk about it often.”
Morris on if the team rallied after Clifton Smith’s injury.
“It wasn’t that it wasn’t a rally. It’s not a time to get caught up in any emotional part of the game right there. If you get caught up in an emotional part of the game, you go out there and do something stupid. You follow up one stupid act with another one, that’s just not the way it’s going to be around here. You go into halftime right after that happens, come out of halftime and you throw an interception. There’s nothing to be rallied from with an interception. There’s nothing to come out like that and give up a touchdown right there. That was a turnover that you can overcome. The rally part was Sammie Stroughter getting in there and running it back. That did rally us. It was Tanard Jackson picking off a pass and putting us back in that game. So it rallies you, it just came at some bad situations as far as that interception right there when we were coming out of the half. They get a quick and easy touchdown. And then you come back and they move the ball on us a little bit, get another touchdown. Then we’ve got to come back with the rally stuff. You’ve got to come back with the fight for Clifton [Smith], and they did.”
Bucs running back Cadillac Williams on the loss.
“That was a tough loss, but it hurts. It’s Carolina. It’s a rivalry game. It’s one of those things where we were so close to winning. We had the momentum and they basically just took the air out of us.”
Williams on Carolina’s final drive being tough to watch from the sideline.
“No doubt. It was very tough to watch. You just felt like on offense the way things were going, the way we felt, we were going to have the chance to put it back in, but we couldn’t. Before that drive we just left so many opportunities out there on offense and defense. We just have to come together and continue to play better and make plays.”
Williams on his touchdown run vs. the Panthers.
“The offensive line did a great job coming off the ball. Carolina, I caught them where they were pursuing the defensive end cheating so I just cut back and it was there.”
Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud on the 28-21 loss to the Panthers.
"This is the toughest loss I've ever been part of. I feel like we just got beat. As much as you can get beat by a team, the last drive is a prime example of that. That's hard to take. We just completely got outplayed that last drive. I thought our defense played good enough to win for 90 percent of the game, and then that last drive we got completely outplayed and lost. It's hard."
Ruud on what happened on the last drive.
"It was an execution thing. It wasn't a lack of effort. It wasn't a want-to thing. We got outplayed that last drive."
Ruud on the big plays the defense came up with, like safety Tanard Jackson forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.
"I've forgotten about those plays already. I'm thinking about that last drive. It burns at you. We played well enough to win the game, but we didn't finish it off. We have to learn how to finish games, especially at 0-5. It's a tough, tough loss."
Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan on Carolina's game-winning drive.
"Some guys were out of their gaps, and it showed. It's disappointing on our end, but at the same time they are a good team. It was a tough, physical game, which we knew it would be, but they made the plays to win the game."
More from Hovan on Carolina's game-winning drive.
"We have to stop them, man. That's what we get paid to do. That's our job. It's discouraging. Yeah, I'm pissed. I'm not going to sit here and swear and use a lot of profanity in front of [the media]. At the same time, it's got to be sick to your stomach. I'm not going to sleep tonight, but I'm going to get over it because it's my job to get over it and get ready for New England."
Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber on Tampa Bay's sixth loss of the season.
"I told you I've give you three words, but I'll give you this. I'm not giving any explanations; I'm not giving you any excuses. We're looking for a win, but it wasn't today. Hopefully we'll get it in London."
Barber on Tanard Jackson's interception and score giving the team momentum, but the team not being able to keep the momentum.
"You write that story. I have no idea."
Bucs rookie wide receiver Sammie Stroughter on his 97-yard kickoff return for a TD.
"Maurice Stovall and all those guys made great blocks. I saw daylight and finished it up. I have to give big props to Antonio Bryant. Before that kickoff he came up to me and said, ‘Big players make big-time plays, and it's your time right now.' Even though not everything is going right, we're that close. It was a great effort by the guys, but we have a dissatisfied taste in our mouths after the loss."
Stroughter on Clifton Smith suffering a concussion after Dante Wesley's unsportsmanlike hit on a punt return.
"Coach Morris always tells us not to ride the emotional rollercoaster, but Clifton is like my brother. It's hard. He teaches me so much about the game. When you see somebody take a cheap shot like that really hurts. I'm sorry for him and I hope he gets right. He knows we're behind him."
Stroughter on his 97-yard kickoff return tying Clifton Smith's franchise record.
"We lost. That's all that matters. It's a great honor, but the thing on my mind is we lost. We have to grow from here."
Bucs center Jeff Faine on Tampa Bay's 28-21 loss to Carolina.
"It's kind of our story of the year. It's all self-inflicted stuff. Coming out of the half we threw an interception. There were little things here and there during the game that caused us to step on our own foot. I felt like after that first drive we should be able to move the ball on them well all day, but we weren't able to that because of little mistakes here and there."
Faine on how he fared in his first action back from a triceps injury.
"My arm held up great. It was just a matter of having to deal with the pain. The strength was there and I felt strong. It was great to be back out there."
Faine on the team's mindset after a 0-6 start, having lost 10 straight dating back to 2008.
"I like the composure of this team and the mindset of this team. There's nobody here throwing in the towel. We're all playing hard, and everybody has the mindset to come out here and play hard, and prepare for the next week. There's nothing we can do about this week. Now we have to move on."
Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant on if he needs more opportunities.
"You tell me, this is probably the best I've felt all this year. I got a lot of great results on this knee. I encouraged the guys like Sammie Stroughter, you know, I know when the plays are supposed to be made. Right before the kickoff I told him ‘hey this is when playmakers make plays.' The guy went out there and he plays with his heart every opportunity he gets. I just want some of them opportunities, and that is how I look at it."
Bryant was asked if those opportunities downfield.
"Well a lot of the times yeah, but I understand somewhat the process we are supposed to be going through. We are trying to groom one of our young quarterbacks. There are a lot of growing pains we have to get through. That is the frustrating part, having the patience to get through it."
Bryant on if it is embarrassing.
"It is also embarrassing especially when you feel like you are in position where you can't compete the way you want to compete. It is like you got your hands tied behind your back, and you have to dodge the punches."
Bucs defensive end Stylez White on if it is hard to keep the enthusiasm to play.
"Honestly yeah. It really is. It is very frustrating but we are professionals and we are supposed to handle it accordingly."
Bucs defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson on the trade of Gaines Adams.
"That is everywhere in the league. If they feel they can trade you for picks, or feel you would be better in a certain defense that is what they are going to do. I try not to get into the business aspect of the NFL. I'm just a player trying to do my job on the field. They are doing what is best for the team, and we just have to go with it."
Wilkerson when asked if the Bucs weren't ready for the Panthers running game.
"No we were ready for it. That is what we practice for. It is to prepare for things like that. Unfortunately they did a better job than we did. We can't do anything about that now. We have to move on from this loss and try and get a win against New England.
Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson on the interception in the third quarter.
"I was trying to get a throw into Mike [Clatyon]. The guy carried but he leveled off. I felt like I could touch it over him. He made a great play. He jumped, and I didn't think he could really get up that high. I was trying to get a play downfield to get us going."
Johnson when asked if the Panthers pass rush kept him from getting the ball to open receivers downfield?
"Yeah at times. We had guys downfield, and maybe a split second longer, but hey it happens. They got Julius Peppers and guys like that. They are going to create a pass rush. That is the nature of being in third-and-long and second-and-long. The routes are going to take a little bit longer to develop. I was trying to sit in there as long as I can to try and buy some time, because we might have an opportunity downfield, and I hurt us with maybe two sacks trying to do that."
Johnson when asked about Bryant's frustration with not being involved in the offense and why that was the case?
"They played safeties over the top pretty much the whole game. They had their corners in position at the line of scrimmage to jam him. As for me, I have to try and do better and move him around, so we don't get in that situation with [Bryant]. I really can't say right now until we look at it on film to see exactly what happened. With a guy like [Bryant] you want to try and get him the ball and get him involved."
Bucs safety Tanard Jackson on his interception returned for a touchdown.
"I read Jake's eyes the whole time. I was on a free play, in that play. I was on Jake's eyes and he starred him down. I was able to make a play on the ball."
Jackson on the final drive by the Panthers to end the game.
"I think they threw one pass that whole drive. Any time you can't stop the run in the fourth quarter like that, when only have to make one pass, every third down conversion, every third down we couldn't get off the field that's what gets you beat, and that's exactly what happened."