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Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber on the team’s 24-14 loss to the Falcons:
“We had an opportunity to close in on this race and win four of the last five games and feel really good about it. We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. We were down 17 points on the road early and we had a chance to come back and win, but we didn’t. We dropped the ball, literally.”

Barber on why Atlanta’s offense was able to score on three straight possessions:
“I think we were a little passive all the way around. We weren’t the type of aggressive defense we’ve been over the past couple of years. In the second half, I think we came out with a different focus and a different feeling. Take away that big play in the fourth quarter and our defense played pretty solid in the second half. We’ve been notoriously slow this year. It takes a couple of big plays before we start playing well, and that’s unacceptable in my eyes.”

Barber on the Bucs coming back from 17 down to make it a three-point game:
“We had some drives there, and the Falcons weren’t doing anything offensively in the second half. We had some drives where we didn’t convert and didn’t get any points on the board. They made the plays they had to make and eventually put the game out of reach.”

Barber on Falcons quarterback Michael Vick:
“He’s got a great arm, but anybody can be a great quarterback when guys are running wide open downfield. We feel like we didn’t play up to our standards and there’s no doubt that we lost the game because our defense didn’t step up.”

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden on his team’s tough 24-21 loss to the Falcons:
“You can’t start behind 17-0 when you’re playing the team that leads the NFC South on the road and expect to win many of those games. It’s a credit to Atlanta. The Falcons played very well. It’s a credit to our team for coming back and putting themselves in a position to win, but we just didn’t have our best stuff today.”

Gruden on Tampa Bay’s 13 penalties against Atlanta:
“We had a few false start penalties, and obviously the noise may have been a factor. Once again, we’re going to play in noisy places in the near future. We had some holding penalties on offense and struggled with Atlanta’s pass rush. I think we had six or seven penalties on defense. It was a combination of some big penalties – we had a big one negate a big return by Earnest Graham. That’s an area that really cost us a win today.”

Gruden on the breakdowns on Tampa Bay’s offensive line, which allowed seven sacks:
“They got us one time on a blitz where they overloaded a side on protection and we missed a hot throw, but they rushed four people most of the day. We’re a team that keeps six or maybe even seven guys in the majority of the time. We have to take a look at it. Rod Coleman had a big day today. It’s a credit to the Falcons front four. They did a great job of rushing the passer.”

Gruden on his decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter when the offense was in field goal range:
“It was a 45-yard field goal, and let’s be honest, we’ve struggled in that area. There’s no guarantee you make it. We had a third-and-1 play that we were stuffed on right before that. We knew what front they were going to be in and that’s exactly what we expected. If I had it over to do again I’d do it over, and over and over again and call that same play. It’s just unfortunate that we were not able to deliver it.”

Gruden on what he told the team after the game:
“Don’t walk out of here confused or dazed. You get what you deserve in pro football, and 13 penalties and a 17-0 deficit on the road isn’t the recipe for victory. At the same time, I applaud them for their effort. We played without (Anthony) McFarland and we’re losing a lot of good football players. We can play with anybody, but we have to play mistake free and we weren’t quite able to do that this week like we did against Kansas City.”

Bucs defensive tackle Chidi Ahanotu on Sunday’s loss:
“It’s good to be back. Unfortunately we couldn’t pull out the win, which would’ve been the icing on the cake because this has been an incredible week for me. We didn’t get the win, but we’ve got to come back next week.”

Ahanotu on if there’s still a chance the 3-6 Bucs can make the playoffs:
“Yeah, I think so. This is a crazy league and anything can happen. The last thing you want to do is kick yourself out of it and lose hope. I don’t think this team will do that. This is a talented team.”

Bucs wide receiver Michael Clayton on the team falling behind 17-0:
“We knew coming in that those guys had the potential to make big plays, especially when you have a guy like Michael Vick. He’s hard to contain. We just came out and weren’t able to get that momentum that we had early last week. That kind of hurt us. We bounced back and we fought hard. You don’t see too many teams in the NFL come back to win after being down by 17-0.”

Clayton on Tampa Bay’s 13 penalties:
“It’s just a lack of concentration. Just like they did earlier in the season, penalties just killed us today. We all have to be accountable and go out and better prepare. We’ve got to be able to focus and be able to execute, and when you don’t, penalties and things of that nature kill you in the game.”

Clayton on what Gruden told the team after the game:
“He said we fought hard and needed to finish the season strong. There’s no doubt that we fought hard and overcame some adversity with the penalties. We have a lot to look forward to for the rest of the season.”

Clayton on if the playoffs are still a possibility:
“Definitely. We’re not really looking at that right now. We’re just taking these games one game at a time. We’ve got San Francisco next week and that’s the main focus now. We’ve got to put this one behind us.”


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