Thank you very much.
Can you take us through the kick and the emotions as he (Micheal Spurlock) wend downfield?
Well, when I saw Micheal Spurlock get even with me, when I saw him kick it out on an inside-outside track and I just figured he was gone. So I thought it was a helluva hole he ran through, it looked awful big to me. Those guys in there made a lot of big blocks to get him clean and he did the rest.
Coach, it seems like this unit has been one block away for the longest time. Can you talk about the sense of relief that you're feeling?
I would think every coach that has stood in my shoes has thought they were one block away for a long, long time. I understand that. To be honest with you, when he got in the end zone, (I realized) that two years ago this weekend my dad passed away. That was the first thing I thought about. Then it was all the guys that have been on the kick return team here and for Mr. (Malcolm) Glazer to have this during his tenure here. For Jon Gruden to take down another thing that hasn't happened to us — winning in the cold, not winning in Philly and not having a kickoff return (for a TD) — all of those things went through my mind.
Where did you find Micheal Spurlock?
He's from Mississippi, so I've known him for a long time. We were together at Ole Miss. He was with Arizona last year and we tried to get him toward the end of last year but they activated him. We had a chance to get him this year and (director of pro personnel) Mark Dominik and the guys did a great job of getting ahold of him.
Do you remember the words that were exchanged on the sideline after the kick?
Just telling (coaches assistant) Dwayne Stukes to make sure that we get 11 guys out there for the field goal (extra point) pro(tection) team. Make sure you count them and count them and count them — that's what I was yelling the most because everyone was smacking me around pretty good. It's a great feeling. I'll take it any time. So that was the first concern, after all those other thoughts went through my mind, to make sure we had 11 on the field goal and how tired those guys were because we now had to kick off.
What made you think you could turn a guy like Micheal into a kick returner?
To be honest with you, I tried to get him at Ole Miss as a running back when he first got there, but coach (David) Cutcliffe was bound and determined to keep him at quarterback. He's a great athlete. He scored 71 points at one time in a high school football game. He's done it now. He's worked at it in Arizona. He's worked at it with us and we've given him a chance and obviously he's made the most of his opportunity.
Did you run down the sideline?
I did. I ran down until I hit me knees. I ran down as far as I could, as far as they would let me. I was really proud of our guys for not getting a penalty. I would have hated to kick off from the 15-yard line.
Did you see the challenge flag (by Atlanta)?
I did. But it came after we kicked the PAT, so it was bad timing. But he wasn't even close to out. He wasn't even close to out.
The fact that it was a big play in the game and that it kind of took the starch out of them can't be lost on you?
I think it was part of the play. We talked about last week that the kickoff return for a touchdown (by Houston) was the big play of the game. There were a lot more plays after that play, and there were a lot more plays after today's kickoff return too. So I think it was a big part in our game. Was it the deciding factor? There were a lot of plays after that. So for the first time we did our part in getting some points for our offense.
You also got a Gatorade shower after the game, like coach Gruden did. Just talk about how tight this team is, especially your guys?
It's been talked about and written about. This is a tight-knit group of men. They spend a lot of time together over in that building. They rarely go home. They usually come in extremely early. (It's been) We-fense around here for a while. We've had lot of guys like the Ronde Barbers and the (Mike) Alstotts and the (Derrick) Brooks and the (Shelton) Quarles and all those guys have been a part of special teams here. That really hasn't changed. And that allows the younger guys to buy in a little more quickly than some other places, so I've been fortunate with that.
How much did it weigh on you that you guys had never done this?
A lot, to be honest. It's something we always talk about. I talked about when I first got here, if I hear somebody talk about the fact that we haven't returned a kickoff for a touchdown, I'll punch you right in the mouth. I can't go through life punching everybody, so I had to eat it for a while. I think it's a great think, obviously, for all the guys that have come through here, to finally put this thing to rest and for the Glazer family and Jon Gruden to have this, it's a big deal to me personally.
Do you remember all the times that Torrie (Cox) was one guy away, or (Aaron) Stecker, was one guy away?
We talked about it. I think every coach thought we were one block away. I remember Stecker, in 01 before I got here, had a big return against the Saints and he was caught on the six or eight, something like that. So I think as a coach you always think you're one block away. You look at the tape and you go, ‘That's the block. We have to stop missing those.' Obviously we got them all today.
Can you talk about the first time you met Spurlock?
Our staff recruited him. I didn't do it personally. You see that smile on his face? That's there all the time. Incredible mom, incredible dad, great family.