(Opening statement)"I would just like to say to [Carolina defensive end] 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'm 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. [Running back] 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'll 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 had a lot to do with momentum. And seeing [wide receiver] 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? (laughs)."QB LUKE McCOWN
(On his impressions of the game)"A couple of 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 players involved in the game)"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."
WR MICHAEL CLAYTON
(On his overall thoughts of the game and letting the younger players take over for the starters)"Obviously we were able to be productive today, I thought it was a good day. There are a lot of things we can get better on. I think [quarterback] Luke [McCown] made some great throws, a lot of ups, a lot of stuff to grow from, especially being a backup. It was an opportunity for those guys, and for myself to play and be productive going into this playoff run. I think it's a great experience for them. We played hard, we kept fighting, but we just didn't come out with a win, and that happens sometimes."
(On if the team has lost any momentum losing the final two games)"The momentum is not broken because we're playing hard. That's the [biggest] thing that 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 hell of a team.' I think that we've accomplished that, I think that people who see us on tape, like the Giants, that they're going to respect us by what we put down, and it's not even our starters out there. That's a lot of credit due to the guys on this football team, putting together a package, going out and competing for 60 minutes. My hat goes off to them."
(On getting this game out of the way and finally being able to focus on the Giants)"We're ready for it. We've got a lot of growing to do in this last week, and we'll be able to put the things that we need to put together to be the best football team. I'm excited for the Giants coming down off a great competition that they just had with New England. We know they have a hell of a football team, we respect them, but we do not fear them. When they come into our house, we're going to bring our A game and be ready to play."
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 [running back] 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 if he had any jitters coming into today's game, knowing he'd play a much bigger role in the offense)"You know, I really don't think about that. My thing is, again, I'm like a kid when it's time to play football. It's like backyard ball to me – I'm out there with my friends. Even though it's a competitive game, it's my job, but I look at it as just being in the backyard playing football, and that way it makes it easier not having to stress myself or think about next year or thinking about now. I want to play now and that's the bottom line."
(On his touchdown)"It was a great call by Coach Gruden. The guy knows pretty much everything about football so it as 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 how it felt to get back into the endzone again)"It definitely felt good. It felt good, you know, from Jacksonville to now – it's been a while. But again, just being patient, waiting my turn, and thankfully they rested [running back] Earnest [Graham] today and then [running back] Michael [Pittman], so I could get an opportunity. I think we came out and did some good things, we showed the coaching staff what we're able to do, and that's some promise for the future."
(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 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."
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 okay. 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 getting the feeling where I don't have to think so much. I can just go out and play my style."
RB KENNETH DARBY
(On getting the opportunity to play today while some of the veterans sat out)"It was a blessing and I enjoyed myself. I felt relaxed out there, I got into a little groove, I just felt good man, but at the same time, It was a blessing for me to get out there and just showcase what I have because it had been since pre-season since I had been out there, so it felt good to be just running around out there and having fun."
(On what it means to some of the veteran players to get a day off right before the playoffs)"Those guys deserve it because they put in their dues and they go out here and play on the field every sunday. Those guys deserve it, man. I just felt honored to even be with a lot of these guys because they've been in the league for so long.Just to see them get a day off to get ready for the playoffs – it's well deserved."
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