HEAD COACH JON GRUDEN
(On today’s win) “It’s a big win for us. Atlanta was a hot team, having won two games in a row. To go on the road and play as well as we did – it’s a compliment to our players, but in my opinion, there’s still some things we need to clean up.”
(On QB Jeff Garcia’s 44-yard touchdown pass to WR Joey Galloway in the first quarter) “Well we had good field position on first down and we brought [wide receiver Ike] Hilliard across in motion – we had a big run with him in the seam. We had [wide receiver Joey] Galloway against [corner back] DeAngelo Hall, who’s a very aggressive corner, on a double move and [quarterback] Jeff [Garcia] made the perfect throw. It was a big play, certainly, and it was followed up by [corner back Ronde] Barber’s scoop-and-score, which really got us off on the right foot today.”
(On DE Greg White causing a fumble and CB Ronde Barber recovering it for a touchdown) “As we said to him – ‘it’s about time.’ He’s made so many just great plays for this team and this organization and that’s what he does. Just get Ronde Barber in a big game and he’s going to make great plays. Hopefully we can hang around and put him in some big games down the stretch.
(On the defense’s pass rush) “We understand that that’s our meal ticket. If we’re going to play a lot miscellaneous zone coverages here, and rush four guys, we’re going to have to give pressure, and instant pressure. You don’t want to give these guys too much credit because professional football players can’t handle it these days. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re 6-4 and pleased with the outcome today.”
(On the offensive getting some momentum after halftime) “I think what happened [is] we over-prepared a little bit – we were ready for this game. We dropped a couple passes early on offense, we jumped off-sides on third-and-one – we were eager. We made some foolish errors I think that really stymied some of the things we were trying to do, but we scored on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter, put the game out of reach, and our defense was outstanding.”
(On utilizing RB Earnest Graham again as the premier back) “What can you say about the guy? I don’t know how many career starts he’s had, but if you combine the yardage that he’s accumulated against the caliber of opponents he’s played, he’s done a fantastic job. I really think he’s making this thing exciting. He’s an outstanding runner [and] he protects the football. On [quarterback] Jeff [Garcia’s] touchdown pass to [tight end] Alex Smith, if it wasn’t for [running back] Earnest [Graham] coming back side on a pickup – that play doesn’t happen. He’s playing really good for us.”
(On coming off a bye week, winning against a division opponent, and what the says for the remainder of the season) “Well it tells you that we’re a good football team. The last two times we played in the previous years coming off a bye, we’ve been breaking in a new quarterback. It was [quarterback Bruce [Gradkowski] and it was [quarterback Chris] Simms. Our team was very well prepared, our assistant coaches did a great job, and our players believe in themselves. No matter what anybody says about us – these guys really like each other and believe in each other and that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing pretty good.”
(On both New Orleans and Carolina losing today and now having a two-game lead in the NFC South) “That breaks my heart (laughs) but we have a lot of football left to played. We’re very pleased with the fact that we did see [running back] Michael Pittman show up and play today. It’s a credit to him, he and [wide receiver] Michael Clayton, and I think [linebacker] Patrick Chukwurah did some things, and hopefully they can be a little bit better next week.”
QB JEFF GARCIA(On today’s 31-7 win over the Falcons)“It was a big win for us, obviously coming off a bye week, where you worry about complacency and you worry about sluggishness. Not to say that everything went the way that we wanted to in the first half, but we got a lead with a great score by the defense which is always helpful. Then finally in the second half we got some things going that put the team away.”
(On his 44-yard touchdown pass to WR Joey Galloway)“[It was] just an opportunity where their corner bit on the slant fake and [wide receiver] Joey [Galloway] went by him. I put him in a place where he could make a catch and run after it. Once he gets the ball in his hands, people aren’t going to catch him. He did a great job”
(On the offense’s second half performance – with a touchdown pass to TE Alex Smith and a 26-yard touchdown run from Earnest Graham)“[That was] really on the offensive line’s back right there – they did a great job. We were running the football, pounding at their defense – not anything crazy, not anything fancy – just hard-nosed football. Our offensive line did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage, and opening up and creating holes for [running backs] Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman. And then when I had opportunities to make throws down the field, I was fortunate to be in a place where [tight end] Alex Smith could make a play – he made a great catch in the end zone. That was a big score for us, and then to get E.G.’s (Earnest Graham) run at the end of the end of the game – that really put the nail in the coffin, so to speak. That was huge.”
(On him keeping the ball after the second touchdown)“[Tight end] Alex [Smith] had to stay out there for the extra point so he gave it to me to take to the sideline. I gave it away (laughs) so we’re going to have to find a new ball for Alex.”
(On the Bucs being now two games ahead of Carolina and New Orleans)“I saw that. That’s huge. It’s really upon our shoulders as far as how we’re going to finish things off this year and what we have to do week in and week out. But anytime you can separate yourselves even more so in the division lead – that’s a great Sunday. Today was a great Sunday for us, not only them losing ball games, but us winning on the road. We got that monkey off our back, so to speak. It’s about next week now, against Washington at home. It’s always great to be back at home, so we’re excited about that opportunity.”
CB RONDE BARBER(On today’s win)“We had a lot of time to get healthy. We got some players back that really made a difference for us. It’s important to play well coming off a bye. We’ve had a lot of teams hit us after the bye and we wanted to show that we can play well too coming off a bye. So it’s nice to be able to come back and get a win, a really convincing win.”
(On his fumble recovery for a touchdown)“We had a lot of pressure all day. [Defensive end] Greg [White] got in there and knocked the ball loose. I calculated the bounce and [it was an] easy touchdown, there was nobody around.”
(On it being his ninth fumble recovery/interception)“It’s a habit that I don’t know where I got it from but I’m sure everyone in this organization appreciates. It’s a thrill – getting chance to play and taking advantage of those type of opportunities. Our defense, especially the secondary – we define ourselves by throwing or getting the ball back. In every opportunity we get, we’re going to try that, and I think that’s why you saw B.K. (corner back Brian Kelly) get a little creative when he got his fumble opportunity. We’re going to let that define us.”
(On the Bucs winning today, and both Carolina and New Orleans falling in the NFC South)“It’s been two weeks in a row. We got lucky, not lucky, but we benefited off our bye week with those two losses. And then with two more this week and with our win, we have a chance to have a stranglehold on our division. We know we control our destiny, especially with those two division home games. I think we’re excited about the proposition of finishing this six game series here and seeing what we can get into the playoffs with.”
RB EARNEST GRAHAM(On the statement victory today)“It feels great. The last two weeks we got back to how we were playing ball the first five or six games. We’re hitting big plays early. When we get ahead, we’re to get out there and grind and run the ball when we need to. It’s a credit to the offensive line. They’ve been blocking well. We’re real happy with the outcome today.”
(On the momentum generated by the defense’s turnovers and being able to capitalize on that)“Oh yeah, that’s Buccaneer football. That’s Buccaneer football for almost the last decade now – the defense flies around, creates turnovers, and the offense feeds off of that. That’s just the way we play ball around here – fast, physical, and we create havoc on defense. It was a great game today, but it was typical.”
(On starting off the fourth quarter with a 26-yard touchdown run)“It felt good. It was a personal call. It was more of a timing call. We were in the perfect look for it and the guys flocked up front and then you’ve got a one-on-one with the safety – that’s the way any quarterback wishes to have it. He got it to me and I was able to put a move on it and go ahead and finish in the end zone. I’ve got to thank the guys up front for that. Anytime a running back gets up on a safety, you’ve got to be able to make that play and we were able to do that.”
(On his “wiggle move” that got him past safety Lawyer Milloy and if he has a name for it)“No man, I just wanted to get on one side of him because I kind of like to use my stiff-arm. I wanted to get on one side of him so I made a move, and he went the other way. I gave him my stiff-arm and got to finish the play.”
(On leaving Atlanta with a two-game lead over the rest of the NFC South)“It feels good to be in our own driver’s seat. This is the way we wanted it to be. We definitely try to be professionals around here. We feel like there are some other games that we should have won, but we’re improving. We got some guys back and we’re ready to make this run.”
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