Rice makes nice

"My goal is to be the Player of the Year. MVP of the league. The best that has ever played this game." --- Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice, the NFL leader with eight sacks

Q: As the NFL leader in sacks, how much has the talent around you had to do with all the sacks you've been getting dating back to the end of last season?

Rice: I think it has to do with scoring points on offense. I think back in the day, we didn't score too many points. I think we had one situation where we put no points up. In competitive situations, teams cannot just consistently just sit on the game and say we are going to milk the clock and win it. We have to pass the ball and put up points. We have to compete. The game is not won just because they score a touchdown. We have to try to compete at a high level.

Q: What happened two weeks ago against the Colts?

Rice: My point of view is that I jumped up and landed and I didn't touch anyone. I didn't land on anyone. From a standpoint, it was a debacle in terms of our situation. Defensively, we kind of got a lot of lackadaisical because the simple fact that we are not used to an offense putting points up like that. I think we should have continued to play aggressive. We were sleeping and the next thing you know, the game was close. Then, the jump, it was crazy. I think the game finished appropriately because of that.

Q: What are your impressions about what's going on with San Francisco's offensive line?

Rice: I think the offensive line is doing something good, personally. I think they can turn it around any given Sunday and this could be the week. So, my mentality after my possession is that we have to come in ranked. We have to come in with the mentality that this is not going to be the week that they get everything together.

Q: Have you been studying the 49ers and how to get to quarterback Jeff Garcia?

Rice: For myself, I'm always a block. I don't necessarily thing about how I am going to get there. I just get there. I take advantage of whatever a team gives me. That is my game plan this week. To continue to take advantage of whatever they do. I lean on my speed, quickness and power and all of that. I need to keep it simple. I think the more simple I keep it, the less complex it becomes.

Q: Does it matter to you who you're playing against at left tackle, veteran Derrick Deese or rookie Kwame Harris?

Rice: I don't really care. Both of them can face me. It is all good for me. I'll be ready.

Q: Is Terrell Owens the 49ers' biggest playmaker?

Rice: Yep, I think so, but I think they have a really good running game. Their running game is solid. I haven't seen too much of them this year, but the times I did, T.O. is definitely a bright spot that is going to always remain at the receiver position in this league, in terms of what they are trying to get done. I think Garcia is a really good quarterback. They just need to get on the same page. Pressure creates itself through the situation. I think through the situation that they are in, being 2-3 or whatever record they might be, I think when you are behind the gun, it seems like it is worse. But, if you kind of keep your hands strong and remain poised, you'll see yourself through all those tough times.

Q: What about Owens dropping passes?

Rice: You understand that he drops passes. As a player, we understand he drops passes. He is still one of the best receivers in this game. He can turn it on at any point and just be on. He works hard and things will happen for him.

Q: With your pass rush and Cover 2 so strong, do teams have to run the ball against you to have a chance?

Rice: Our thing is that I think we have shown that we are resilient at both ends and you have to be resilient at both ends to play at a high level. You want to make a team be that way.

Q: Is your goal to be Defensive Player of the Year?

Rice: My goal is to be the Player of the Year. MVP of the league. The best that has ever played this game.

Q: How attainable is that?

Rice: I don't, you tell me. I don't know, you have to a lot of people on your side. A lot of things have to go right. All I'm doing is trying to be the best I possibly can and that is better than everybody else.

Q: Who had a bigger impact on the Bucs last year, you are coach Jon Gruden?

Rice: I think we all did. I think it is a shared responsibility. I think Brad Johnson did it. I think I did. I think Jon Gruden did. I think special teams came together and played hard. I think it was a consistent effort from everyone.

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