Press Pass: Earnest Graham

In this edition of "Press Pass," running back Earnest Graham talks about that 4th-and-1 running play and his lack of love for college football's current bowl system.

Talk about the injuries that you've had to deal with this year? You've had so many different lineups this year. What were the challenges this week with Luke (McCown) in it (the lineup)?

We all understood what Luke could do. But I'm sure everyone around here wanted to take as much pressure off of him as we could by being available and making plays where we can. We know the type of player he is and the type of competitor he is. We knew he would be able to make plays. That wasn't a surprise to anybody.

What does it say about this team to be able to keep winning despite all these injuries?

It says that the makeup of this team and the character of this team is right. Anytime you have that, when you have guys stepping up and leaving it all out on the field, you have guys preparing for the game the way they should. Then everybody is one the same page. This team has the makeup of being a very, very good team.

What kind of statement did coach (Jon Gruden) make to you guys, trusting you, to get that critical fourth down late in the game?

He was confident. We had been moving the football the whole game and like I said, he knew we wanted to leave it all out on the field. In the situation we were, we were pretty close to the first down in the red zone and you don't want the field goal because they could get the ball back or take it to overtime, and then a flip of a coin could decide the game. Right there, you have your destiny in your own hands and we wanted to take control of that and we did.

Was that as important a carry as you've had as a NFL player?

That was the biggest play of my career so far. It was 4th-and-1, everything was on the line. It was a huge play for this team for us to become a playoff team. As of today it's one of the bigger plays we've made. They did a good job blocking up front and as a running back you have to make at least one guy miss and push forward for that extra yard.

What's that feeling like in the huddle when you get that play and you know you're going for it?

I was happy. We missed it on third and two and I wanted another chance at it. Coach called it out, I strapped on my helmet and ran back out there. I was ready to roll.

If you look at this team and you look at the way you've stepped in, Luke has stepped in and other have stepped in. There are a lot of stories on this team.

Like I said, the makeup on this team is right. From the veteran guys to guys like me, Jovan Haye, Luke McCown, guys who have been around for a while, have worked hard and are good character guys. The makeup of this team is right.

Jon gristled when we used the words "Team of Destiny" earlier. Do players think that way. Do they ever think, "Man, there's something going on here?"

You definitely do think that way, the way things have happened and the way things have fallen into place at the right time. Like I said, we have a lot of guys stepping up. I think we've responded partly because those of us that came in saw an opportunity and we believe in that, and our belief in that is what's got us here.

Do you ever use that word?

I don't use it, but I like to think that you ultimately control it and bring it to fruition. I think we all had that belief in that we were supposed to be good and when you believe that you act accordingly.

OK, enough of this crap. Do they need a college football playoff?

Hearing all these guys debate about "These are the two best teams?" They have no clue. Nobody has a clue. Football is about matchups and anything can happen any given weekend. So if you match up well against a certain team, you never know who will beat who.

Does it drive you crazy? We all love college football, we know you love college football. We invest a lot of time listening to these guys about these games and then at the end of the year … I mean in the NFL it's great.

Being a college football player, it's just not the same. That's the thing I love about the NFL. You get exactly what you deserve as far as playoffs. You have to win games. A lot of these teams now are winnings six games and going to a bowl game.

For what you guys make in college, which is zero, don't you deserve a playoff?

When you're a student-athlete, you pay your dues. You expect to have a shot at something at the end of the year and you don't. It's good to have closure. You could lose a lot of close games at the end of the year, and a lot of these teams might lose a game or two at the start of the year and they play well the rest of the year. Then you don't get a chance. Some teams get better later, some teams play well at the start of the year and they fade.

You guys (Florida) really didn't get screwed by the BCS, did you?

No, it was actually in our favor. We kind of screwed ourselves up.

This would be a good year for a playoff?

This would be a great year for a playoff.


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