Brendon and Rachel

For a bit, The Amazing Race finale seemed like a two-team race between eventual winners Rachel and Dave, and Brendon and Rachel. But then the Big Brother duo took a cab instead of going on foot to a helicopter. "That was awful," Rachel tells TVGuide.com. "It was the $1 million mistake that you don't want to make. If it was any other leg, it wouldn't have been that bad because those are about survival; the goal is to win on the final leg." The pair finished in third, but not before having another one of their notorious meltdown fights. Where there more meltdowns that we didn't see? Find out below. Plus: Get their side of their feud with Vanessa and Ralph.

Amazing Race's Rachel and Dave: It was a relief to win after our mistake

How far behind Art and JJ were you?
Rachel:
I don't really know. We've heard it was like 20 minutes. But we were so focused on running our own Race that we weren't really paying attention to them or the time. It's crazy because in Hawaii, I feel like we did a week of vacation fun in one day, so it was so exhausting.
Brendon:
We knew we were last. At that point, I think all of the teams were just exhausted. I was just like, "Let's just finish it. Even if we're in last, let's finish it. We made it all the way through."

How much time did you lose in the cab?
Brendon:
Probably 20 minutes. ... Then our cab dropped us off at the wrong spot [for the second Roadblock], so we lost even more time.
Rachel: It was hard. After we made that mistake, we both felt like we had just kissed $1 million goodbye. We both want to be as good as we can for the other one and we're also individually competitive. ... That's why I lost it on Brendon. We started going at each other because we were so frustrated. When we got in the helicopter, we realized that we had to focus.
Brendon: We said before, "If we make a mistake, just keep going because you never know what's ahead or who's stalled." [Rachel and Dave] made a huge mistake! We don't know what could've happened if we didn't take the cab. I said if we didn't and our taxi had dropped us off in the right spot at the second Roadblock, we might have beaten Dave and Rachel. You never know. The problem is there are so many variables on The Amazing Race. So many things are determined by other people and that's, I think, the hardest pill to swallow.

I think everyone who's seen Big Brother was expecting at least three spectacular meltdowns a leg from you, Rachel, but we didn't see that many. Italy was your biggest one. Were there more that they didn't show?
Rachel:
[Laughs] No. I didn't lose it that much. But everyone relieves stress in a different way and I cry!
Brendon: There weren't any other meltdowns. If there were, they most likely would've shown them. The worst one was in Italy. We just hit a wall that leg. After that, we got it together and we were bickering here and there like everybody else.

Let's talk about your friends, Vanessa and Ralph. I just talked to them and Vanessa said your feud started because you didn't agree with her liberal political views and that Rachel said to her, "Oh, so you kill babies?" [Ed. Note: Check back Thursday for our interview with Vanessa and Ralph.]
Rachel:
What?! She said I said that? That's insane! I did not say that.
Brendon:
Wow. Well, apparently Vanessa is just like she is off the show as she is on the show. First of all, if she's saying that you said that in response to her being pro-choice, we're both pro-choice, so I don't understand that. I don't even think we talked about that. If we did talk about it, we never said that.
Rachel: Yeah, that makes no sense. I can't believe she's saying I said this. Anyone who knows me or has seen me on Big Brother — they film us 24/7 — know words like that would never come out of my mouth.
Brendon: But I can tell you how it started. It started before we even raced. Rachel and I were meeting and talking to the teams at the airport, which is what all the teams do. Rachel heard Vanessa say to Ralph, "Oh, that girl's staring at me" and blah, blah, blah. It wasn't even that Rachel did something; it was just that Rachel was there. I think that Vanessa is really one of those girls who wants to be the prettiest girl in the room all the time. If there's another pretty girl, she's gonna want them to get knocked down or not get the attention. I think that's what it was with her. It would go away and come back. The watermelons — it was really bad. In Europe, we sat down with them, had a beer and it was all cool. Then it started up again later. And it was all her, not Ralph. Even when we had that whole mat thing with them and shook hands afterward, I was like, "She's being super fake."

Amazing Race's Art and JJ: We don't care if people think we're jerks

And she made that nose job comment.
Rachel:
That was just mean. I know I said stuff about her too and I own up to that, but nothing I said was as mean as that. Like, cattiness — I get it. We were on Big Brother. People are gonna be mean and hateful, but it's a different kind of dig when you're making fun of people's appearance. OK, I have a big nose, but you don't have to rub it in my face. It's super mean, catty and b----y.
Brendon: I'm thinking, "If she's gonna go there, let's start ragging on each other's genetics." Let's just go to the fundamental core.

Why did you let it get under your skin so much?
Rachel:
I shouldn't have. But when someone's constantly in your face and constantly talking about you behind your back and you're in a competitive situation, you let them affect you when you shouldn't. Maybe that was their strategy to throw people off their game by being mean. I think Vanessa is one of those girls who wants to get attention. She's just mean to be mean. You don't have to be my best friend or like me, but you don't have to constantly dig at me and make fun of me and talk about me. It's just unnecessary. What did it have to do with the Race? The Amazing Race is not that kind of game. It wasn't like she was trying to get allies and get me evicted or voted off an island. If that were the case, then I would at least understand.

Art and JJ weren't very fond of you either.
Brendon:
[Laughs] They were probably the two people we talked the least to the entire Race. So for them to have the hatred they had for us was comical to me. We don't know if it's Big Brother or whatever. When we got into at the airport with Vanessa and Ralph — it was just between us two teams — they were behind us and wanted to jump in and start talking smack to us. No one else wanted part of it, but they did. I think that says it all. If I weren't part of a fight, I wouldn't join in when it has nothing to do with me. I might try to stop it, but I wouldn't join in. When we started interacting with them, I felt like these were two guys who got picked on in high school, became border patrol agents to become tough and carry guns and to be able to tell other people what to do and boss them around.

It seemed like you had good relationships with other teams. Nary and Jamie told you and Bopper and Mark they were federal agents.
Rachel:
Yeah. Vanessa and Ralph, and Art and JJ were the only ones who didn't like us. At the end, we formed a really close bond with Rachel and Dave. As you guys saw, we worked together when we were in Japan. I think we had good bonds with the teams. Once people got past the whole "You guys were on Big Brother," it was fine. People on the Race and some fans seem to not like teams who come on from other shows. It happened with the Survivor team and the other Big Brother teams.

Did you say yes right away when they asked you to do the show?
Brendon:
Rachel always said yes right away. I always said no right away. ... I was like, "Hold on. I've got my PhD. Let's stop and think about this and us." I told Rachel, if we're gonna go on The Amazing Race, I don't want us fighting all the way through and them airing it. We put ourselves in these situations voluntarily, which is insane to think about, but I don't want this to be the downfall of our relationship. If it's gonna mean us giving up a chance to win $1 million, then fine. Our relationship's more important. You see how easy it is to get into a fight with a significant other. You put yourself in that situation, you have to be willing to take a risk, but you also have to say that at the end of the day, no matter what happens, we're still gonna be together. We're still engaged and we're still best friends.
Rachel: Yeah, that's the most important thing. When I lost my cool on Brendon in Hawaii, watching it back, I was so embarrassed. But we have to remember that in that moment, we were under so much stress and we have to remember that we're still best friends. If we have other opportunities, like when this came up, we have to remember that we come first. That's what's gonna keep us healthy and strong.

Amazing Race's Mark and Bopper: Our friendship is deeper than any situation

When I talked to Phil, he said you guys are like rocky road ice cream. Do you agree with that or do you think you're another flavor?
Brendon:
I like rocky road, so I'm good with that. [Laughs] ... The truth is, Rachel and I both realized on Big Brother that we're very emotional people, so when you put us in situations like this, we have a hard time maintaining and controlling our emotions every single second of every single day. When we get caught up in the moment, we get caught up in the moment. I know that annoys some people, but it's just who we are. We tried not to say things that were below the belt or something that we would regret later. We're passionate people and with passion comes emotion and sometimes we got overemotional. Sometimes the overdramatic expressions that Rachel makes are out of control!
Rachel: [Laughs] I'm really trying to control my emotions better. But I like rocky road too!

How are your $500 extensions doing, Rachel?
Rachel:
[Laughs] Oh my God! If I had known that [third place] was $10,000, I think I would've shaved my head.
Brendon: Yeah, she says that!
Rachel: Yeah, I say that! [Laughs] It's so hard because I'm getting married and I didn't want to just shave my head. I was thinking about my wedding and my extensions and all these things. And it really wasn't necessary for us to do the Fast Forward because we knew Mark and Bopper were so far behind. We knew that if we left right away, we still had a chance to catch up with everyone. It probably would've given us first place, but I would've done it if it was seriously the only thing that was gonna keep us in the Race.

What are you up to now? Any more reality shows?
Brendon:
I need a break from reality television! I really do. I try to tell Rachel every time. Every reality show adds one more year to my PhD. We're excited about getting married. That's what we're focusing on. We're getting settled in L.A. We're looking for a house and ideally we'd love to get married and move into our first new house together. I think we're ready to have a normal relationship that isn't a spectacle.

So no special on your wedding?
Brendon:
Exactly! Watch — we'll say this now and three months later we're getting ready to be filmed. [Laughs]