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By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2003


Brad Johnson on outplaying Donovan McNabb:

"This was all about our team. We came here Oct. 20 and when I left here, I left with cracked ribs, and now I walk away with an NFC title. I never really take the battle as between me and Donovan or any other quarterback."

Safety John Lynch on winning the NFC title in Philadelphia:

"You know to do it here is almost sweeter than doing it at home. Our fans would be able to greet us at home, but to do it on the road is so special because nobody believes in us except for the guys in this locker room. We believed that we could get it done."

Receiver Keyshawn Johnson on his touchdown catch:

"We have been running slants all year long. When I had their third corner on me (Al Harris) we knew we were going to go to his side. Brad (Johnson) told me he was going to throw the ball where only I could get it. I think he (Harris) was thinking I would go in one direction and I went in the other direction. I just wanted to get under him."

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp on a quick response to the Eagles' 7-0 lead:

"Jon (Gruden) told us in the meeting the other day, if the first three minutes don't go our way, don't worry, I got you. The first three minutes didn't go our way but he came back and gave us enough points to get it done. The offense answered back with three points and we look around the defense and say, "Let's get them the ball back. They're hot right now.' "

Receiver Joe Jurevicius on his wife being the MVP of the week:

"When I get home my wife is going to get a big kiss. The shame of the whole thing is that she will not be able to go to San Diego. We will take other members of her family down there to the greatest show on earth and see what happens."

Linebacker Derrick Brooks on what the win meant to the franchise:

"This win validated everything to a certain extent because we have gotten to the Super Bowl. We are going to the Super Bowl, period, to win and bring the (championship) back to Florida and Tampa."

Brooks on the final minutes:

"I was so happy at the end of the game that I may have gotten out of character. I got into it with a couple of the fans because before the game they were chanting my name. To see that crowd silenced was something that I wish all the Tampa fans could have been here to see."

Lynch on the difference between Gruden and Tony Dungy:

"You know that Jon is just a dynamic guy. He gets the best out of the guys and he does that by challenging you, and he did that from the first day. He challenged our defense. He said he had a ton of respect for what we had done, but he felt that we could be dominant and that's what we've done. I think this is just one of the great defenses of all-time and we have a chance to cement that by winning the Super Bowl next week."

Gruden on his history in Tampa:

"I grew up in Tampa. My dad was a running backs coach. I honestly am aware of how far this franchise has come since 1980 when my dad was coach. To be in the Super Bowl is something that hopefully the city of Tampa is jacked up about. It was our goal to let everybody know where Tampa is. We're the NFC champions."

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McNabb on preparation for the game:

"We weren't overconfident coming into this game. We knew what kind of team that they had. An aggressive defense, an offense that had been playing well the past couple of games. There was nothing to the fact that we were overconfident or looking past these guys. Obviously you want to get to the ultimate goal and that's in San Diego."

Center Hank Fraley on Bucs defense:

"They played the same defense. We just weren't doing our job. They did a good job of containing us. They shut us down."

Tight end Chad Lewis on the game:

"As a player you always feel that if you're on the field you have the power in your hands, take control and make things happen. We didn't do that today though everyone gave it all they had. Everyone played with all their heart and soul. ... Their defense rose to the occasion."

Safety Blaine Bishop on Brad Johnson:

"When Brad is out there, he's in control. They had a great game plan."

Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie:

"I feel so bad for our fans. ... My dream was to sort of kiss the Vet goodbye with a championship trophy ceremony and win the NFC championship for our fans."

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