Playoff Sapp-speak

"There's nothing about the 49ers offense that you don't know since you're a 10-year-old kid. They're real efficient and real good at what they do and we gotta be on top of it to try and contain them, not even try to stop them. I don't think too many offenses have had success against us. If there's something that they've had success, then we break them down. The first rule of winning is don't beat yourself and if you don't have any breakdowns then it's real difficult to move the ball on us."

Q: When did you realize you were playing the 49ers over the Giants?

Sapp: Naw, I was just watching the game as a fan I really wasn't watching as number 99 cause there were too many points being scored.

Q: What were your impressions of the 49ers offense and the way they came back against the Giants?

Sapp: They were always very efficient. There's nothing about the 49ers offense that you don't know since you're a 10-year-old kid. They're real efficient and real good at what they do and we gotta be on top of it to try and contain them, not even try to stop them.

Q: What do you remember about the game in 1997 when Steve Young and Jerry Rice got hurt?

Sapp: 13-6.

Q: Did what Jon Gruden brought to Tampa Bay make your team more equipped for the playoffs?

Sapp: I don't think it makes us better equipped but I think the thing he's done is make us an accountable offense for every snap that we take and in the past it wasn't that way; the defense would carry us and we played our field position game in where they gave us the turnover and they gave us the opportunity to score points and get us up in the ball game and then we could kind of hold on at that point. Jon's always had an attacking style so we attack on defense and we have two phases, offense and defense, that attack you at all times and our special teams have been a solid force all year long so it equals 12 wins for us.

Q: During the head coach search last year did he think he'd end up playing for Mariucci?

Sapp: Never even thought about it. I had a torn rotator cuff that I was rehabbing and that was the only focus for me was to get myself back healthy for the 2002 season whoever the coach was going to be.

Q: What was your first meeting and impression of Gruden?

Sapp: Our first meeting where he gives you that look, that intimidating look and I kind of laughed and told him on my job it takes two and it still ain't a whole lot so please don't try to intimidate me and we broke the ice real quick. We're like two peas in a pod, he loves this game and he loves to prepare for it and loves to practice and that's the kind of guy that I am.

Q: What's your reaction to Jeremy Newberry's comments about confidence last week?

Sapp: Oh you must have confidence in yourself, this game is all about confidence. You don't believe in yourself then who will? I have to take my hat off to Mayberry, the young fellow Mayberry or whatever his name might be, he has confidence in himself because he goes to work everyday and works hard. He believes in it, then say it.

Q: What do you think the outcome of the game will be on Sunday?

Sapp: All I know is it's going to be a 60-minute game, kicked off at one o'clock that's all I can tell you right now.

Q: What does an offense need to do to be successful against Tampa Bay?

Sapp: I don't know, I don't think too many offenses have had success against us. If there's something that they've had success, then we break them down. The first rule of winning is don't beat yourself and if don't have any breakdowns then it's real difficult for you to move the ball on us.

Q: What does Tampa Bay's defense do to neutralize running quarterbacks?

Sapp: We just have a defense that pays attention to them. We watch film on guys who have let them out of the pocket at any given wheel and we just laugh at it. We just don't take that same approach. We take the approach that we're going to attack and keep you in the pocket and make you be a quarterback. Garcia is a damn good one, no doubt about it and he can run and he can throw and he can throw on the run. He can do anything he wants to. This man especially and he has the best receiver in the game so we have to be ready to play.

Q: Do you know Terrell Owens well?

Sapp: I know T.O. from a couple…I've never really seen him out and about but he's my favorite. He's the man. C'mon baby, he's big, he's show, he fast, catches the ball, talks more trash than a little bitty and you still can't stop him.

Q: If you were T.O.'s size, would you be T.O.?

Sapp: Naw, I'd be a safety, I'd be beating Terrell Owens (laughs). I'm a safety at heart trapped in a 300-pound body.

Q: What are your thoughts on Terrell Owens' touchdown celebrations?

Sapp: It goes all the way back to the Dallas thing, somebody asked me about it. If you don't want the man to celebrate keep him out of the end zone. To the victor go the spoils; the man scores a touchdown, grab the pompons, sign the sharpie, stand on the ball, do whatever you need to do. You gotta be ready to play, you know this man is coming with everything he's got to come get you so you'd better be ready to play.

Q: Wil you only trash-talk the man who's lined up on you, or will you direct it to others as well?

Sapp: I ain't no telling.

Q: Does trash-talking get you hyped up?

Sapp: Only the Lombardi trophy gets you fired up at this point cause right now there's 22 teams gone.

Q: Why do you keep making plays and are not a grunt worker the way other teams treat your position?

Sapp: I'm a good player.

Q: What are your thoughts about being featured on that great defense?

Sapp: I'm featured on the defense? Oh, OK. I'm asking you, you tell me…I didn't know there was a way to feature a defensive player, especially a tackle. So, we're revolutionizing defense over here.

Q: Do tackles always have to do the dirty work?

Sapp: No. I don't look at it as dirty work, it's my job.

Q: Was the 1997 game against San Francisco a turning point for the Bucs?

Sapp: That was our starting point because it took use eight weeks of '96 to get used to Tony Dungy's system down as a defense and then the last eight weeks we were 5-3 and then that was the start of our next eight weeks as we look it. The second half of '96 rolled over into '97 and they caught a team that was focused and ready to go and we came out and we handled them.

Q: Does it help to be a team that has the mystique of winning?

Sapp: No, when you win you know how to win. And you've been in close games where you've been down 14 and come back and win and you've been up 14 and lost. That experience in this League really prepares you for this time of year when it's one game and you go home.

 


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