TAMPA, Fla. --Quotes from Buccaneers players and coaches after the seasons Week 17 game.
Head Coach Raheem Morris
"Obviously a disappointment. Got to sum it up like this, you had two close games with Carolina, you had two close games with Atlanta and you have a split with New Orleans and you have to find out how to win those football games to be competitive in this league. They won the battle up front today and they won the battle on both sides of the football. We weren't able to run the football and we weren't able to stop it. We have to tackle better."
Q: On his evaluation of the team.
A: "We had two wins in a row, so you don't evaluate each game individually. You have to evaluate at the end of the season and what they were able to do at the end of the season was pretty good. They came out and they were able to win two games in a row and they came here and lost a tough one against Atlanta today. We were not able to get our run game going today, so you can't say that's what we weren't or what we were able to do. Cadillac [Williams] toted the load by himself today. We tried to run it but just weren't able to. They played hard on that side of the football. We have to get back, get into the offseason, get into the lab, get healthy, get everybody back and get ready to start this offseason so we can get ready to prepare for next year."
Q: On upgrading the defense.
A: "You have to upgrade everybody. You can't do it based on one game. Last time we were able to come and we were able to stop the run against Atlanta. We were able to stop them from running the football. Today they came out, they had a nice plan. They were able to run the football and that lengthened their drives and their stats show it, so they won the battle upfront today. You're looking to upgrade everybody. It's no different in this season than any other season. You got to go into it, you have to prepare to get what you can get. Get the best players to come in here and help you win and that's what we'll do."
Q: On if he saw fight in his team today.A: "Oh, yeah. Anytime you see a 10-10 score the whole game that's a fight all the way. This game was never out of control. They fought all the way down. That last drive they were able to run the football, throw some tackles and our defense was able to stop them, keep them out of the end zone there. Teams that give up show signs of just giving up touchdowns back to back."
Q: On how he is a better coach now then at the beginning of the season.
A: "Just experience. You have to learn from experience every day. Everything you put yourself into, the learning curve, how you want to be. We're a team that has to go out and run the football to have success. Today we were not able to do it and that happens sometimes. So we have to go out and find ways to run it. We have to come back and get better at running the football. Both times we played Atlanta this year, they were able to stop our running game. Last time we were in the game because of our passing game. This game we tried to win it with our passing game but we just fell short at the end. But we have to find a way to get the run going against Atlanta. That's the bottom line. But we're a running football team that has to rely on the pass to go down the field and play ball. We have to play sound defense and keep them out of the end zone. We gave up three more points than our season average this year. The 17 that we've been holding teams to for the last couple of weeks, but we have to get better there. We have to find ways to get turnovers. We just go out there and play football. That's not our job to figure out all of that stuff. Our job is to get better and better every time we go out there and I felt like we have. I felt like we've been competitive down the stretch."
Cornerback Ronde Barber
Q: On Atlanta having a few turnovers.
A: "Their turnovers were factored in more than our turnovers. We certainly had opportunities throughout the entire game. We played great on defense. The first five or six series were three and outs. We weren't able to move, you have to give them credit. They played a physical game, a little bit more physical than we did. They won upfront on offense and defense. That showed at the end of the game so you tip your hat to them."
Q: On the Buccaneers' defense forcing turnovers.
A: "We pretty much knew what they were going to do. This is a team that we play twice every year. We are fairly familiar with who they are. There isn't much that we do, there isn't much that they do that we don't or they don't know about. Like I said, it comes down to who is going to be the more physical team and at the end of the day you have to give it to them."
Q: On the team not giving up at the end of the season.
A: "It has been that way the whole year. Even early in the season when things were looking very desperate, this team has always had that toughness about them no matter what. No matter what adversity we faced. We just keep grinding and finding ways to come to work and try to get better. I think that's a testament to the character of this team, the coaches obviously. That will pay dividends for us next year."
Quarterback Josh Freeman
Q: On the loss.A: "I have to put that on myself as the quarterback and the leader of the offense. We have to score more points in the first half the way our defense is playing, holding them to 10 points in the first half. It should have been a different football game but we weren't able to get anything going. We weren't able to complete those third downs in the first half when we needed to. It was just overall a poor effort."
Q: On the long completion to WR Maurice Stovall setting up a touchdown.
A: "It was cover-two. I saw on film that the corner was kind of dropping off, not really respecting it when it's a receiver out there. When they are playing quarter halves he is not really respecting the hole check and no one has really hit them on one this whole year. I decided to try to keep the safety inside and give it a shot. I was grateful that Maurice was able to get off of him so cleanly and get in that hole. Then the play to AB, it was a great ball by Antonio Bryant. It could have been placed a little further behind him for a better back shoulder throw. AB worked with what he had and made a great touchdown."
Q: On his interception late in the game.
A: "It was a hard-sell play action and really, they brought a blitz. Usually you like to sell it, sit back there for a little bit and get a good read on it. They were able to generate some pressure and I had to get it out a little sooner than I would like. If I would have been able to see it a little better I could have probably put it a little more outside. It would have been a little bit easier of a play for AB to make. It happened; I was trying to get it out to avoid the sack in the red zone. It is what it is. It was a tough one today."
Q: On his performance in his rookie year.
A: "It wasn't great. I felt like I got better as a player but I still didn't play as well as this team needed me to play to win games. I am grateful that I am going to have this offseason to get better as a quarterback and get better as a player. 3-13 is unacceptable. It is an unacceptable season. I know all the guys feel that way and we are going to come in, grind this offseason and make sure that never happens again."
Q: On what he can work on with his fundamentals.
A: "We are going to cover everything, every aspect of my game. We are going to watch every game, every preseason game. We are going to figure out what I did well and what I didn't do well. From there, we are going to work on it. Even now, we are working on keeping two hands on the ball in the pocket, really just improving the fundamentals. I think that could add a few percentages to my completion percentage, just more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. It is just working on developing as a quarterback overall this offseason. I am going to do the best that I can."
Q: On what he learned his rookie season.A: "I definitely learned a lot this season. Coming in as a rookie in the NFL, you're not sure what to expect. Coach Morris and the staff decided to sit me for the first half of the season and I am somewhat grateful for that. Sitting was a good idea because I still had a lot of things to learn. When they threw me in I had a good, solid grasp of the offense. Then it was just about adjusting to the game speed of the NFL and being able to read defenses, make protection calls and handle all of the other complexities of the quarterback position. I feel like I've grown a lot this year. I didn't play as well as I'd like to or as well as the team needed me to or deserved me to. I can't wait to get into the offseason and get to work. It's frustrating to end on a loss, but it will definitely give me motivation heading into the offseason."
Q: On his motivation heading into the offseason.A: "I hate losing and a lot of the guys on the team just can't stand it. Today was frustrating because in the first half we really couldn't get anything going, whether it was passing or running. In the second half we came out and I turned the ball over and you can never win when you turn the ball over in critical situations. We feel like we were in a lot of games and we grew older as a team and as individuals. We are going to find a way to win those close games. We are going to go back this offseason and figure out everything. Figure out why things didn't work, why they did work and try to formulate a plan to come back and get a lot more wins and get to the playoffs."
Linebacker Barrett Ruud
Q: On the touchdown at the end of the first half.A: "We were in a goal line defense and they were in a goal line offense. They called a bootleg and we were in man to man coverage. It was a good play. It was a tough play to stop especially with no huddle like that. They did a better job of executing on the fly than we did. It was one of those plays. Credit them for calling those plays like that."
Q: On if the defense could have called a timeout.
A: "No just because they were in as equally as tough of a bind. It would be one thing if they weren't set up for it. They just outdid us on the move. We were both on the move. We were both ready and set. They just made the play and we didn't."
Q: On the season.
A: "I think everybody got a little humility. I've never been 3-13 before. It makes you never take a win for granted. Wins are tough to get in the NFL. Last year we were 9-3, thinking about what teams we were going to play in the playoffs and then we lost four straight. Since then, it's been tough. Wins aren't easy to come by even when you are playing well and winning a lot of games. You can't take it for granted."
Running Back Carnell Williams
Q: On making it through a complete season.
A: "I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Definitely bitter about the game, but at the same time it is a blessing to have played in all 16 games for the first time in my career. I think that this is the start to something great."
Q: On how he feels about the future.
A: "I'm going to take some time off, sit back, and enjoy what I've accomplished this season. Not to sound selfish but, it's big to me to play in all 16 games. Whatever happens with the situation happens. It's not a long lasting league and I wish everybody the best."
Q: On if the offense started to click towards the end of the season.
A: "No doubt, I feel like things were definitely clicking. We were running the ball better. (Josh) Freeman was getting better. The receivers and tight ends were getting better. We were coming together as a unit."
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- FIRST TAKE:Exclusive post game interviews with Dave Archer
- GAME NOTES:Official game notes kept in the Raymond James Stadium press box
- THE BEAT BLOG:Quarter-by-quarter updates from AF.com's John Manasso
- J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:Additional thoughts from the AF.com managing editor
- INACTIVES:Inactive players and starters from Week 17
- QUOTABLE:Thoughts from Falcons postgame | Buccaneers
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- FORUMS:Talk about the Falcons 9-7 finish with fans on FalconsLIFE