Owens: 'Look who's talking now'
January 05, 2003
By Brian Peterson
SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 5, 2003) -- San Francisco wide receiver Terrell Owens is one of the NFL's most dynamic players and has a habit of grabbing headlines. In the 49ers' 39-38 victory over the New York Giants in Sunday's NFC Wild Card Game, he was as good as advertised.
Owens provided the game's first score on a 76-yard touchdown connection with quarterback Jeff Garcia. He delivered an impassioned, gut-checking, halftime speech to his teammates with the 49ers trailing 28-14. And his nine receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns (not to mention two catches that produced two-point conversions) were major reasons why San Francisco was able to overcome a 24-point deficit. Only the Buffalo Bills, who came back from 32 points to defeat the Houston Oilers in 1993, had a more dramatic comeback in NFL postseason history.
During the 2002 regular season, Owens generally kept his distance when it came to talking with the media. Following the victory over New York, it was hard to keep him quiet.
Q: What did you do against the Giants defense in the second half to get better results?
Owens: We stretched the field and were able to make the plays when we needed them. Everybody stayed focused. I remember someone saying on the sideline when we were down 38-14, "We can't win if we don't score points!" At that point, we just took it upon ourselves to turn up the effort.
They were playing a more passive and cautious defense, and that also helped. When we went to the no-huddle, it was something we've been doing throughout the season. We were able to keep the Giants on their toes. Once we started doing that, they didn't have the time to think. There was no time for them to change defenses.
Q: Were you surprised the Giants defense seemed to be running out of gas?
Owens: Yes, a little. If anyone should have been gassed, it should have been me. I haven't practiced for two weeks. Before the game, everyone was pumped up, and I kind of gassed myself a little then.
Q: In the second half, you had a noticeable discussion with Jeff Garcia on the sidelines. What did you say?
Owens: I just gave a pep talk to Jeff. I said that they were doubling me and if that continued to happen, to take his time and hit the open guys. There were some times when Tai (Streets) was open, and he came back and let us know that. I told Jeff to get the ball to Tai and J.J. (Stokes) if I was covered.
Q: What did you say in your halftime speech?
Owens: I remembered earlier in the week reading who were the contenders in the playoffs. We were listed as pretenders, and I just asked my teammates which ones they wanted to be -- contenders or pretenders. I vowed to myself after last year's playoff loss to Green Bay that I would do everything in my power to not lose in the playoffs. Something had to be said to our team, and my teammates just backed up what I was talking about.
Q: You're not known for being a vocal leader. What prompted you to speak at halftime?
Owens: I feel like in the past few years there were times when I wanted to say something, but I would just sit at my locker and let the other veterans, such asDana (Stubblefield) , do the talking. This year has been different. I really hate to lose and felt it was time to take a more vocal role.
Q: You were involved in a couple of heated exchanges -- most notably with Giants safety Shaun Williams -- after scoring the go-ahead touchdown. What caused the altercations?
Owens: They were talking trash to me all game long. From the second series, they talked my ear off. I knew they were going to do this to try to disrupt my game. Shaun just kept running his mouth and once we caught up, I just said, "Look at the scoreboard. Look who's talking now." I think I got the last laugh.
Q: Did you say anything in the huddle on your final drive?
Owens: I said, "Who can make a play? I know I can." After that, all the other guys started chiming in saying the same thing.
Q: Describe Jeff Garcia.
Owens: Jeff is at his best when he's on the run. He makes plays with his feet.
Q: Describe your feelings after this incredible comeback.
Owens: I've never been a part of anything like this. I didn't grow up wanting to play football, but I feel privileged to be a part of this league and this team. We seem to play our best when our backs are against the wall. But I don't want to do this too many times.
Q: You sat out the final two games of the regular season. Are you completely healthy now?
Owens: I won't be 100 percent for any playoff game. But I'm going to give 100 percent every time I step on the field.
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