BUCCANEERS HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN (On today’s win) “It’s a credit to our football team and our coaches. Carolina’s a good football team, and to come down here and play like we did – it’s a credit to our football team and I’m proud of them.”
(On making a statement in the opening drive) “We made a statement in the first half. We were after them the whole first half and had to overcome some really difficult injuries in the process. It’s hard to breathe over there, honestly, after seeing two key members of your football team carted away. I was really happy with the resolve we showed in the overall execution of our football team – offense, defense, and special teams – that was a key factor today.
(On the injuries suffered by RB Cadillac Williams and left Tackle Luke Pettigout) “Well we’re going to reserve comment until we know officially, but we have to be honest. It doesn’t look good and we’re concerned [with both of them].”
(On running backs Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham stepping in after Cadillac was injured) “Well we won Super Bowl XXXVII with Pittman as our feature back, and not that we’re on our way with another one, but Michael Pittman will be our feature horse and Earnest Graham will be a very trustworthy assistant. We’ll be obviously monitoring Cadillac’s situation and we’ll be updating our fans as soon as we know. If he’s not ready, if he can’t play anymore this season, then obviously we’ll be looking for another back.”
(On “knit-picking” and areas he’d like to see improvement) “That’s what talk radio’s for. You’re good at it, man. Make those calls and get after my ass, I could care less [laughs]. We had a great game plan. [Wide receiver Ike] Hilliard fumbled in the first half at [Carolina’s] 18-yard line and we had Hilliard in at the inch line. We really took the game personally today. We won the game convincingly and that the end of the day you have to agree to that.”
(On being 3-1 and at the top of the NFC South) “Well we’ve had a tough schedule. We opened up at Seattle – the defending [NFC] West champions, the New Orleans Saints – the defending [NFC] South champions, the great Carolina Panthers at their place, and the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ (St. Louis Rams), and we’ve got to go to the World Champion’s house next week. I’m sure we’re going to be underdogs but don’t tell our guys. They think they can win and we’re going to go out there and lay it on the line.”
(On the defense’s stellar performance the last three weeks) “Well you get a good defense, and I call our defense good at this point because they haven’t scored a touchdown yet. We have really good players there. We have some great guys and if we can collectively put it together, then we have a chance. But overall defensively we did some great things today. We just don’t want to tell them too much because they play a lot better when they’re mad at me.”
BUCS QB JEFF GARCIA (On winning the third-straight game) “[It was] just a good all-around effort once again. The defense played outstanding, special teams – that’s what it takes to win in this league. Everybody needs to step up and play. Offensively, first half was a good half for us. Second half, we need to find a way to close the team out like we’re capable of doing and we just didn’t do it tonight. But hey, the defense – they’re playing awesome and when they’re playing like that it really puts us at an advantage.”
(On the offense scoring on the opening drive) “It was a great first drive. [We] converted a couple of third downs [with wide receiver] Ike Hilliard making yards after the catch doing a great job. The offensive line did a great job of protecting that first drive and that’s how you start a game off – to be able to take the ball down the field, to put seven points on the board in another team’s territory. It’s a great way to start a game and that’s what we expect out of ourselves and that’s what we need to continue to find ways to do in the future.”
(On finding WR Ike Hilliard four times in the opening drive and seven times in the first half, and if the game plan was scripted like that) “It just worked out that way. You just never know what you’re going to see until you actually line up and you start to see what the defense is trying to do. Often times tonight they were favoring over the top of [wide receiver] Joey [Galloway] and trying to keep that big threat away from us. It was time for another guy to eat and get opportunities to make plays and [wide receiver] Ike Hilliard, even though we didn’t see him this week at practice because of his rehab – he did a great job of coming out on the field, being mentally prepared, [which] you know you’re going to get that out of Ike, and stepping up and making plays when he had the opportunity to make plays.”
(On the defense’s performance the last three weeks) “Awesome. They’re playing awesome. They have a great challenge coming up in front of them in Indianapolis but the way they’re playing, they really gave us a chance to win every single week because of that mentality that they have and because they’re keeping teams out of the end zone. I feel bad that we weren’t able to close out the game ourselves on offense and keep the shutout alive, but they did a great job tonight. If they can continue to do those kinds of things, it gives us a great opportunity to win football games.”
BUCS DE JOVAN HAYE (On winning on the road at Carolina) “It’s a real big win. I mean, coming on the road, conference game, a division game, especially in Carolina – it’s a real good win for the team.”
(On getting after the Panthers defensively) “We just want to keep up the little trend we’ve got going on right now – just go out there, hard work, hustle, and make plays, so it was just another day, you know.”
(On the defense building momentum with one big hit coming after another) “This year our motto is ‘cap it off,’ finishing every play [otherwise] they’re going to get something on us. As long as we have guys flying around, capping it off, getting hits on the ball carrier, everything is going to be okay.”
(On almost having a shutout today) “A win’s a win. You’ve got to take a win. It doesn’t matter if you win by one or by 13. A win’s a win, and it feels good.”
(On getting a division road win) “It was great. We talked about this all week – coming into hostile territory and [saying] ‘No matter how we’ve got to win, we’ve got to win.’”
RB EARNEST GRAHAM (On the team’s third consecutive win) “It’s always great, especially to come here to Carolina, to get that victory in our division against the Panthers. We played really well and we got a ‘W’ but we’d like to finish a lot better than we did, down at the goal line in a couple of short yardage situations. We definitely have to go back and work on that, but right now the victory is great.”
(On taking over for RB Cadillac Williams after Williams went down with an injury) “That’s my friend and my teammate. To lose Cadillac is to lose a lot. He’s one of the best running backs in the league. Me and Pitt (RB Michael Pittman) have to step up. We have to step up and we don’t want to drop off there. We did a good job the last two weeks so we have to try and keep it coming.”
(On making a statement by scoring on the opening drive) “In the NFL it’s all about starting fast. To come in here to Carolina, running about seven-minutes off the clock and scoring a touchdown – that’s huge. We always talk about starting fast and we were able to do that. It’s awesome that we got a victory.”
(On building momentum heading into next week’s game at Indianapolis) “Three wins as a pro is huge in the National Football League. It’s hard enough getting a ‘W’ period. We loved getting three-in-a-row but we don’t want to stop there. We have to go back to work Monday and get ready for the Indianapolis Colts.”
SS JERMAINE PHILLIPS (On winning and now leading the division) “I came out there and did a good job today. We knew it was going to be a big game and that the winner controlled their destiny in the division. We came out here and played great on offense. We played great on defense as well, and it’s a credit to the guys up front because we didn’t get much action back there in the backfield.”
(On why the team is suddenly flying around the ball, shutting other teams down, and getting takeaways) “I don’t think we’re really doing anything different. It’s really just come down to accountability. We’re holding each other accountable and holding each other to the standard that we’re supposed to. I think that when you have 11 men on the field doing that, and everybody’s working together to be the best men that they can be, it’s going to make the defense great.”
(On if winning on the road against an NFC South opponent made a statement for the team) “Definitely because we’ve got to see these guys again, and because next time it’s still going to be a dog fight. There’s never going to be an easy way or an easy victory when they come and see us in, I think it’s December. It was a big game”
(On his interception today after missing one on Monday Night Football last year) “You don’t get those opportunities very often so when you get them, you just want to take advantage of them. Today I got it. I was surprised that it came to me, but I didn’t drop the ball so it was sweet this time.”
Quotes courtesy of 620 WDAE The Sports Animcal Game Day broadcast.
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