QB LUKE McCOWN
(On today's win over the Saints)"Our defense won the game for us again. There's no question about that in my mind. We needed the ball back and they got it for us. I'll tell you what, the play of the game was made by the offensive line. The play before the touchdown at the end of the game, I had probably six seconds to throw the ball. We were looking for something to [wide receiver] Joey [Galloway] or [wide receiver] Ike [Hilliard] on the other side. They did a good job of covering that up, and the line held their guys for three or four seconds. I went through five receivers, some of them twice, before I came to [running back] Earnest [Graham]. It's a credit to those guys – they stepped up and got big first downs when they needed them. I thank the defense and offensive line once again."
(On the game-winning touchdown to TE Jerramy Stevens at third and goal)"It was something we had worked on all week. We had hoped to get a different match-up than a corner on him They ended up moving a corner out with a shift and being in that situation, I just tried to give a 6ft 7 guy a chance to get the ball. It was a lot better catch than it was throw. Jerramy deserves all the credit in the world."
(On if he was relaxed or nervous entering his first start)"Certainly I felt relaxed. God's with us wherever we go, in every situation of life, no matter what we do – whether it's sports, whether it's business, whether it's family – God's always with us. I certainly felt His presence with me today. All the glory to God for allowing me to play this game."
(On being sacked in his own end zone)"There are two plays that really changed the course of the game – the interception and the safety. That's my fault, I've got to throw the ball away. [It was] a tight situation, [I was] backed up, scrambling out trying to make a play, looking for a guy downfield to get a first down and get a ball. I just held the ball too long. [It was] a mistake by me, and again, it's a credit to the defense for getting the ball back."
(On getting a road victory and winning four in a row)"Its always great to get a win, especially on the road, especially against the division league champs. We needed this win, but we've got four games left. Statistically, it's not over. We helped ourselves today, but we've got four games left that we've got to take care of. "
(On if he thinks hie topped his brother's performance for the Raiders today)"We'll see. Congratulations to Josh. I'm so happy for him to get this win over Denver. It was a big win."
TE JERRAMY STEVENS
(On the win)"It is the most important thing that we came out here and got this win. It was a hard-fought game with a lot of momentum changes. It's always tough when you're going for a championship. When you come into there (the Superdome), the winning doesn't come easy. It was a huge win for us and I'm just glad to finally be able to help us get the game won."
(On what was said in the huddle in the final drive of the game)"There wasn't really any talk in the huddle. Everybody knew what they had to do. I think we've been coached well enough – we knew we had to go out there and put some points up. We were wanting the touchdown but we were in good field position so we were going to be risky – we just got it done. There wasn't really anything that needed to be said."
(On the decision not to kick on fourth and one and whether there was a debate on what to do)"We had been running that play all day and had been successful – the power T off the edge. I have to give credit to the offensive line and to [tight ends] Alex [Smith] and [Anthony] Becht for getting that blocking done, and [full back] B.J. [Askew] in the backfield and [running back] Earnest [Graham] for getting those yards – you know, tough, earned yards. It was a gutsy call by Coach Gruden and great execution by the O."
(On the game-winning play on third down and whether it was planned or if he was just an option)"He called that play to throw it to me. I've just got to give Luke a great, huge amount of love for having the confidence in me to put the ball up and letting me make a play on it. He put it wherever it was only going to be me, and either I was going to catch it or it was going to be incomplete. I just have mad love for Luke for giving me a chance to win it."
(On what went through his mind as the ball came his way with the game on the line)"It's not really even thinking. I was just trying to react to the ball and make a play on it."
(On if he kept the ball and if so, where it is)"Nah, I didn't keep it. I think Luke might have it. I'm not really too concerned about the ball. It was just a great feeling to help the team win. I've been waiting for the opportunity to make a play all year, and it's great that it came in this game with this opportunity."
(On the team's fourth-straight win in a row)"It was a huge game, and to have this commanding of a lead going late into the season in December is huge for us. We're executing well and we just need to continue to do that."
HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN
(On the Saints' fumble on a double reverse, and the chain of events that followed)"We obviously had a safety on our end just prior to that. They're a creative offense – they live and die with creativity. Certainly today that was a big play turned in our favor."
(On the last drive of the game and the decision to go for it on third-down instead attempting a game-tying field goal)"Well we had a good play there. We had success powering the ball up on the right side earlier in the game. [Center] John Wade got hurt and came out of the game. B.J. Askew got hurt and we weren't sure of his status. I believe you've got to sometimes look at your players and let them take responsibility for the game. If New Orleans stopped '96-Power King' today, they were going to win. But we had confidence in the play, our guys executed it, and Earnest Graham is one hell of a back."
(On the final play of the game and electing again to go for it instead of kicking a field goal)"In the National Football League we're professionals and you've got to expect everybody – coaches, players – everybody to handle that situation. I think Luke understood that it was a hit or miss play. I tried to tell the players after the game, ‘that's why we have 180 passes in every game because there are a lot of situations that come up. We had a quick shift, we were in goal-line personnel, we kicked Stevens out there, we found heat against Donny Kraft – 6ft 6 against 5ft 10 – we were able to get that play. It was a signature play of the game and one I'll never forget."
(On Jerramy Stevens' first touchdown as a game-winner)"I'll tell you, Stevens is a great football player. He's a great talent. We have to find ways to use him more, and I think that's in our future. Give him credit – it's not easy to be idle over there, in and out of the game, and going there in the most dramatic situation and make the big play of our season. I tip my hat to Luke McCown. That was a stellar play in our season."
(On QB Luke McCown's first start for the Bucs)"He ran for 40 yards too. I mean, he had nearly 400 yards of offense and it's a credit to Paul Hackett, our quarterback coach, and Bruce Allen, really. They had the brainstorm a couple of years ago to make a trade and Luke has been a wild horse. He's been a work in progress and he's quietly and patiently waited his opportunity. But what he did today is going to be highly noticed. We're very excited about what he did. What a tremendous performance."
(On McCown getting the ball deep to WR Joey Galloway on a number of crucial situations)"He's going to have to be. That's one thing we've tried to emphasize – the more you get deep, the deeper everybody else plays. Clearly we jumped on his early with a couple of big hits. One was just an explosive run after the catch on a slant, and one we had a designed bomb that McCown put right on the screws for 60 yards, but Galloway is clearly one of our best players, if not our best player on offense and he delievered for us today."
(On RB Earnest Graham's 106-yard performance)"I don't know how many yards he's made in the last seven weeks combined – rushing and receiving – but I know it rivals any back in football. The other thing that Earnest has done is pick up blitzes and not turn the ball over. He's been real secure with the ball. We've been real fortunate to have Earnest Graham because he has been a big-time performer for us."
(On the interception return by CB Mike McKenzie and what went wrong)"It was an all-out blitz in that situation in the shot-gun and Luke had a hand signal out there to Galloway. Obviously we weren't on the same page. That's one of the things that's very difficult. You've got a new quarterback who's going through those mechanics for the first time, but that was a miscommunication that could have cost us today."
(On the team's fourth-consecutive win)"With [defensive end] Greg Spires watching the game today, obviously we've lost [running back] Cadillac [Williams] and [running back Michael] Pittman didn't do much, and our left tackle [Luke Pettigout] and our quarterback [Jeff Garcia] and a number of other guys, our punt-return guy was not good today, we've lost so many returners it's been hard – we have a lot of guts in our locker room and I know our fans are proud of that and I'm most proud of that because every Sunday these guys are going to lay it on the line."
Bucs post-game quotes courtesy of the Buccaneer Radio Network.
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