DECEMBER 1, 2013
“That was a hard-fought football game. As I told them in there, I can’t be more proud of our effort, our energy and our resolve out there today. We just keep playing. We keep it interesting. We have to win things a couple times it seems like, but we have to be proud of how they did it. I thought it was a tremendous effort by the offensive front today and also the defensive football team allin- all. It was a day where we knew that running the football was going to be important and I thought we did a very good job of that. We came in and did what we had to do. I thought defensively we were opportunistic. They’re tough, a very good offense. They have a lot of weapons. We just kind of made plays when we needed to and kept them out of the end zone. That was the biggest thing, making the turnover plays we did and some big third down stops. The guys really played to their knees today and we did a good job.”
Was there one thing you emphasized to the defense above all else this week?
“Big plays. We couldn’t give up a big play. The one touchdown they got was a semi-big play. You have to make them work the field and we have to be good on third down. We have to have tight cover on third down. One thing that we probably didn’t do that we did try to emphasize was we have to squeeze the pocket around Philip Rivers. He escaped a couple times early in the game and made some plays. As we got later in the game, he was kind of throwing it with people all around his feet and legs. He made some errant throws. I thought we did a better job in the second half of squeezing the pocket in on him.”
You had a big game out of
“I never thought he wouldn’t play.”
So Burfict’s injury wasn’t that bad?
“Well, I think the injury was bad but I think he has special powers and he used them all today. Most people wouldn’t have been able to play today. There’s no doubt in my mind, most people wouldn’t have been able to play. I had no doubt that he would play. He had another special day. He worked his tail off. Everything he does, he played sideline to sideline today on a bad ankle. We’ll put him back in the boot and take him out on Thursday and get back to work with him.”
It seems like things changed in the third quarter:
“We had the ball,
Even behind a reshuffled line you ran it well:
“I thought (Andrew) Whitworth moved great inside the guard and (
“Right now we think he has a significant knee injury. I doubt that will change, so right now I think he may be lost.”
How much of this was a mindset game?
“We’re a tough bunch and they thrive on toughness and grit. They’re led by tough people up front on both sides of the football. You have to hand it to the secondary a bunch too. To me, they gritted it out today. I thought they did a great job of battling and controlling. It’s a great win to come out here and do it like this. It’s a hot day for us. You don’t realize how warm it is until you’re out there prior to the game and you get going. We were kind of moving lethargically there at the end of the second quarter. We came out and picked it up in the third quarter. It was good. That’s what we needed to do. We picked up the pace offensively then we got in and out of the huddle on defense. They weren’t huddling up, so we did a better job of getting back. I thought we settled down and played and the outcome is that we had control of the game at the end.”
After he fumbled you went right back to
“We’re fortunate to have such a great runner that rarely fumbles. Unfortunately we had a chance to put some distance between us there then the fumble was unfortunate. He’s our guy and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
On the Bengals run game getting back on track:
“The run game was big for us and I think we put an emphasis on it and the guys responded. The guys up front played really well getting a lot of movement and the backs did a really good job getting a lot of tough yardage that helped us win the game.”
If someone were to ask, what is the identity of this offense?
“I think for us we’ve been able to do different things. Certain games we’ve run the ball well and the run game has been working and other games we’ve had to throw it a lot. I think for us it depends on the game and what we’re needing to do that’s helped us win a lot of games this year.”
What is your reaction to those who say you’re a jack-of-all-trades and the master of none as an offense?
“I think we can do so many different things so as long as you’re winning games and it’s working, that’s all that matters.”
On the Bengals pass protection:
“I thought they did a good job. There was only a couple times where I felt like guys were in the way where I couldn’t’ get through everything but I thought they did a good job up front.”
On what happened during the interception:
“On that one we were trying to give A. J. a chance at a deep throw and the whole week we had been talking about putting some air under it and let him go make a play. Unfortunately that was one of the plays where I had a little bit of pressure and I overthrew it a little too much and Weddle did a good job. Unfortunately we tried to take our shot and it didn’t work out on that one but we didn’t let it hurt us, we responded and defense did a good job of not giving up points after the interception.”
How much of
“When you’re running the ball well you get certain looks where it opens up to throw it and I think that kind of helped with what we did today but on that play in particular I think they just messed up the coverage.”
On what it means to have three straight years with 3000 passing yards matching only with the likes of Peyton Manning:
“It’s honor to be mentioned with a guy like Peyton. Peyton is one of the best in the league and has been one of the best in the league for a long time. For me to do something that only he has done is big and I take pride in that. It’s a great honor but I think as long as we keep winning games the most important stat is wins but it’s cool to be mentioned with Peyton in that regard.”
What gave you the leg up?
“Our defense caused them turnovers. We ran the ball great today. That’s the big thing we focused on this week, being physical and coming out running the ball great. That’s what we did.”
What allowed you guys to maintain the run game?
“I think the offensive line and just being more physical. We have one of the better offensive lines in the league and they showed it today.”
How important was this win for you guys?
“We have only won one game on the road. To come in and trying to beat them with all the momentum they had from Kansas City last week. They had everything running in their favor and they planned for a playoff spot as well. I knew it was going to be a physical game and we came with the mindset of running the ball and being physical.”
On the Bengals defensive play:
“I feel like we did great. There were times I felt like we busted overages and I don’t know how much (Philip Rivers) threw for, but overall we did pretty good, and overall I think we shut them down on certain occasions. I think they scored one touchdown on a blown coverage, but that’s just things we need to work on and get better each week.”
On the defense forcing turnovers:
“That’s Zimmerman. He’s always putting emphasis on going for the ball, even in practices. That’s just instinctive for our defense now.”
How do you feel about your professional growth and comfort within the defense?
“I’m doing good. I have so many leaders around me where I feel like I have to step up to the plate because they are expecting me to be great and a leader. I have great coaches also and people that want me to do good and care for me, so when I take the field I play for them.”
What was the key to shutting down the Chargers offense?
“I don’t think we shut down them down. They did the things they were able to do and we were able to do some things that we were able to. At the end of the day, we were able to do more than they were and we came out with a win.”
How much do you pride yourself on forcing turnovers:
“That’s defense. Our job is to go out there and stop them from scoring, create turnovers, and if you can, turn those turnovers into points.”
On the Bengals defensive play:
“I think we did good. Coming in we were playing a tough offense and they played like it. We kept fighting and fighting, and our offense backed us up (by) pounding the ball and we came out with a win.”
On Bengals defense creating turnovers:
“We always want to create turnovers and get our offense back the ball. It’s always good, but the main focus was getting off the field on third down, play hard nose football, and get after Rivers. I think our defensive line did a good job at that.”
On Vontaze Burfict growth as a player:
“That young dude is going to be a great football player. As long as he keep handling business on and off the field, I think he’ll play for a long time. His play speaks for itself. He’s a good football player right now, but as long as he keeps working on his craft and learning the game, I think he’ll be alright.”
“Against a good football team like the Bengals, we made too many mistakes. We had three turnovers offensively. It’s been a long time since we turned the ball over that way. It’s unacceptable. Defensively, there were 104 yards in the first half they gave up and then they fell apart. They gave up 250 in the second half. There were some key drives there when we needed a big stop. Eric (Weddle) got a big turnover on a positive note. But then we go down and get a field goal and unfortunately we had a penalty. It was a critical penalty that moved us back and gave them field position on the return game. There was a big play that was over our head early in that drive. Then they just ran the clock out. We have to do a better job as a football team in that situation to get the ball back to the offense and finish the game somehow. But there were too many mistakes overall. There were too many penalties, critical holding penalties there in the end. It was a hard-fought game but you can’t win against a good football team playing the way we did today.”
Are you surprised that two of those plays came against Antonio Gates who has been so sure-handed throughout his career?
“It’s part of the game. We have to protect the football. There’s no excuse. You can’t turn it over”
Do you feel the front seven were worn down in the second half?
“I just think that overall we have to do a better job of stopping the run. We’re going to watch the film tomorrow and evaluate it. What runs fits, who’s supposed to be in certain spots, if you’re getting knocked off the ball or whatever it is. But we’ll look at it as a staff tomorrow morning and try and fix it for next week.”
Are you surprised that you had such a tough time against the run when it hasn’t been an issue in the past?
“No, they’ve been decent against the run. They picked a bad day to have a bad day, I guess.”
What does it say about your team heading into December when many of these mistakes haven’t been corrected?
“We have to find a way to eliminate them. No one is trying to turn the ball over. Protect the football. We work on it every week and have drills to go through it. It’s part of the game, but we have to eliminate it. We can’t have it happen. It’s a critical time of the season. But that’s any game. It’s any game we play in, we want to protect the football.”
Is this particular loss as tough as it gets?
“They’re all hard, you know. They’re all hard. We have to move on and we have to learn from it. We have good football team coming in next week. We have to clean up all the problems, fix the mistakes we made today and move on.”
What was your thought process in choosing to punt inside Cincinnati’s territory?
“I’m doing what I think is best for the football team looking at what the down and distance is, what the situation of the game is. All of those things come into consideration. We have a starting point for where we want him (Nick Novak) to kick a field goal, every game and in each direction. And if we’re outside that within a certain down-and-distance, we’re not going to do it.”
Why did you accept that penalty down there on the 10-yard line?
“Why did I do it? Because with the down and distance, I thought that was the best thing for our football team right there.”
How do you feel about the offense not capitalizing on big plays made on the defense?
“There are things that you have to do during the game. You have to play complementary football as a football team. And when someone turns the ball over or creates a turnover, whatever it’s going to be, you have to feed off one another. Or if the offense turns the ball over, there’s got to be sudden change defensively. So there are number of things. They have to feed off one another. We have to do a better job.”
How do you feel Richard Marshall played in place of Derek Cox?
“We have to evaluate the film. Tomorrow we’ll go over the film as a staff and go from there.”
What went into the decision to start Richard Marshall?
“Same reason we talked about during the week.”
Do you feel this game was an opportunity lost?
“We lost a game. Any time you lose a game it’s a lost opportunity. It doesn’t matter what week of the season, when you lose, you lose. We have an opportunity to win every football game. We didn’t make enough plays today. It comes down to that.”
How do you feel you played against A.J. Green?
“Like I said, we’re going to go back and watch the film and evaluate it. There are some little things that he did. He had the one big play at the end and it was critical. We got beat over there. But other than that, I think we did a decent job against him. But we’ll watch the film and look at all the little details.”
What about the touchdown?
“It was just blown coverage.”
Do you feel you have to win the rest of your games to make the playoffs?
“We’re going to worry about next week. If you start worrying about too far down the road, you’ll get caught in the trap. You have to take it one week at a time. You can’t worry about four or five games down the road, you have to worry about this next one. We can’t control anything else. We can control here. There are a lot of teams that are in very similar situations. We have no control over what they’re doing. We have to play better football here.”
Did you see this loss coming at all?
“No. I don’t expect to lose any game.”
Why don’t you see the Chargers throwing long passes on first down?
“We’re doing what we think is best for our football team. I think our offense has had a pretty good season this year. I think they’ve had plenty of success. If you look at our first down rates, I think it’s pretty good.”
On the three turnovers:
“Yes, when you play against a good defense like that you can’t score ten points and win in this league very often. I thought our defense gave us plenty of opportunities, but as an offense, you score ten points, I bet the percentage of winning is not very high. That’s what it came down to. Obviously the turnovers did hurt us, but we still had some opportunities. I thought the possession after [Eric] Weddle’s interception was a bad possession. I thought the possession – I think it was the one before that – I missed Vincent Brown on a stop route that would have got us another first down and kept our drive alive. There were a couple of those possessions where we just didn’t capitalize on anything. Getting one of the defense guys the ball back and then the turnovers obviously hurt us. But, you score ten points, you’re going to lose most of the time.”
Are you surprised by the turnovers?
“I don’t know ‘surprised’ is the word. We never want to turn it over. We’re talking about a guy that never turns it over on one of them. It was kind of a fluky deal on the other one. The ball kind of gets ripped out on one, then a young player fighting like crazy. Keenan [Allen] hadn’t had a turnover. Those happen, and obviously we do all we can to make them not happen. We hadn’t had many this year. I think that’s what has kept us in a lot of games, but obviously, they hurt us tonight.”
We haven’t seen the offense not score this few of points all season long. Was it something that they did or was it the turnovers that really made the difference?
“I think those obviously contributed, a couple of the turnovers were down in there. But, that’s a good defense. They’ve got good linebackers that tackle and really run. The secondary is very experienced group that plays well. I thought we did some good things against them but we just weren’t consistent enough. We had crossed the 50 [yard-line] – I don’t know how many times – we didn’t finish drives. It’s not just the turnovers, those we know. There were other drives that we just didn’t finish and ended up punting right around midfield that are critical.”
With the team battling for a playoff spot, do you feel that you let one slip away here?
“To me when you say ‘let one slip away’ that means you’re playing an inferior opponent. This is a good team. Now, letting an opportunity pass us by? Yes. It wasn’t like we had it in our grasp and they came in here and just stole it from us. It was a good opponent. We knew we were going to have to play well. I thought defensively, arguably, the best defense we’ve played against. We helped them some, but they had a lot to do with it. We obviously know the circumstances, but I think we just keep plugging along, keep fighting. We got four to go and we’re going to play all four of them.”
On red zone scores:
"It's been a problem for us all season, not converting and executing in the red zone."
How do you fix it?
"It comes down to execution. We are just not executing properly."
On the Chargers defense:
"We came into the game with a good plan. I think that game plan went well, but like I said, we have to finish."
Was it more of what they did or what you guys did not do?
"I think it was more what we did, three turnovers, one of which was mine. That definitely cannot happen, especially when we are this close to our season ending. We definitely have to come out and play our best game. We just need to execute better and try to score."
Where do you go from here?
"We are going to go back and correct the mistakes. We'll come back next week still fighting.”
The second guy always gets caught, right?
"Most definitely. It was a learning experience for me though. It won't happen again."
Is it something where you just have to keep your temper in check?
"You definitely have to keep your temper in check and just don't react when guys do dirty stuff like that."
You guys were on the fringe of field goal range, but had to punt. Is that frustrating as an offense?
"It definitely is. Every time you get the ball, you want to score points. If you don't do that, it's frustrating."
When you get that close and are deciding whether to go for it or not, what is the thought process?
"For me, it's above my pay grade. I don't really pay attention. I just go with the call. If he wants to punt the ball, we punt the ball. If he wants to go for it, we go for it."
About the talk in the locker room during halftime?
“It’s about having everyone do their job on the field and we will be successful that way.”
About having difficulty being tough to the finish?
“It’s just one of those things where it goes back to everyone doing their job. Unfortunately, they had some big plays and critical positions during the game. We just didn’t make those critical plays.”
Were you surprised on how the Bengals ran the ball for 164 yards?
“No, we knew the type of team they were.”
Do you think the team did what was expected of them?
“Well, at the end of the day, we didn’t win the game.”
What was the locker room like after the game now being 5-7?
“We still have a shot. We have to look at the tape and fix what we need to fix and get the job done.”
On what the team needs to do to improve:
“We’ve got to work on consistency and that’s what we’re going to work on.”
On the difference in the team’s play in both halves:
“Like I said before, our good plays are great and our bad plays are really bad. Football is a game of mistakes and the team that limits those mistakes usually wins. We’ve got to come back and work and make sure the good plays stay good and that we continue with those and limit the bad plays. That’s football.”
Did their offense wear the defensive unit down at the end?
“We wore ourselves out. We had opportunities to make plays and to execute. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to fix those things. That’s what practice is for… We’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve got to come back, get better, execute better. We can play better. That’s what we’re going to do this week. We’re going to bounce back.”
On A.J. Green’s performance:
“He scored a touchdown and he had that big play at the end. Two big plays really. That’s all they really had today. It was a combination of throwing, running, throwing and running.”
What’s the mentality moving forward with the need to win out to have any playoff hopes at 5-7?
“That’s been our mentality since we came back off of that game in Kansas City, to just win every game. We’re in a perfect position. We’ve got three more home games. We’ve got to go to Denver and take care of them and win out. We’ve been thinking that for the past two weeks. It’s nothing new with this loss, we’ve just got to stick it out.”
Are you surprised that the emotions from Kansas City didn’t carry over to today’s game?
“You always wish it does. We expected to come out and play better than the way we did. We just didn’t get it done. Too many mistakes. Like I said before, not winning the turnover battle against a good team like this, that does a pretty good job.”
At the end of the game, when you know they’re going to run the football, but they’re still ripping off 3-, 4-, 5-yard runs, are they just wearing you down or how does that happen?
“We’ve got to toughen up in that situation when we know they’re going to run the ball. If they’ve got run formation in, we’ve just got to stop them.”
What is the team playing for now?
We’ve got to compete for each other. Even though we’ve only got four more games left, so far. We still can’t come in and play soft or give up. We’ve still got to play hard and play our game and just let it come to us.”
On getting another start:
“Like I said, I got the nod and the opportunity for me to be able to come in and play, I just feel comfortable coming out here. I just wanted to show my teammates that they can count on me when my number is called.”
On how the momentum shifted toward the end of the game:
“At the end, they just got some plays on us. We couldn’t really stop the run. We’ve got to look at film tomorrow and correct those mistakes. Of course we had mistakes and that’s where the breakdown happened in the defense. Right now, I don’t know or I can’t say. But, tomorrow when we watch film, we’ll have a better understanding of what was going on and what happened.”