DECEMBER 2, 2012
“This was a good football game obviously. It was a good game to win. It was a hard-fought game which we really knew it would be. We started preparing for that all week. We were coming out here to play a team that we know is better than what their record says for right now. They are good players and it was hard-fought. Offensively, we did some good things but we didn’t get points. That was kind of the tale of the first half, then the turnovers in the second half on offense. Defensively, we allowed some third down conversions which were the biggest thing in the first half. We kind of settled down and played better in the second half. Throughout most of the day with special teams we were able to control the field and get position which was huge. I thought how we played in the third and fourth quarters is what we have to do. We kept overcoming adversity. We didn’t flinch, just went back out there and got to work. The defense stopped them when they needed to and they got the ball after the turnovers. If we had to punt it, we punted it and put the ball inside to make long fields for them. That’s what you have to do. That’s what NFL football is. It was good to win this one, going away like this and winning it in the fourth quarter.”
Was that a quarterback draw?
“It was a good job by Andy (Dalton).”
Was this one of those “don’t worry, keep playing” type of games?
“Yeah, don’t flinch. Don’t worry about the last play, just know the next one’s coming. Make sure that we’re in the right spot. We weren’t perfect - which we’re hardly going to be perfect - we just had to make adjustments and keep playing. They got the big completion which got them down in field goal position in the first half. In the second half, they ran that play a couple times and we were able to get the quarterback on the ground because the guy wasn’t there to throw it to. Those are the things you have to be able to do. You have to learn from what happens earlier in the game.”
Is there any other explanation how a team that goes: interception, fumble, three and out, three and out can suddenly go 14 plays and 55 yards?
“Well, we did 18 plays or whatever it was the first drive of the game. Then we came back and drove it again. You just keep playing. First down we got seven yards. We threw it on second down and we didn’t convert to third down on a couple of those. Those are things that are going to happen. We took shots down the field on second down and then we failed to convert some of those third downs. Those are things we have to look at. They pay their guys too. They coach their guys too. They jumped underneath us a couple times and made some plays on those third downs. There are things that we have to continue to learn from.”
“Andy doesn’t flinch. He is pretty cool and calm. He’s unfortunately had these one-play interceptions this year that the team runs back quickly. We seemed to overcome. That’s a great quality that he has. He’s able to turn the page and move to the next one. I think our team has gotten to the point where they know they can overcome it. That’s a good thing.”
“You know how happy we’ve been with Benny. There are things that we continue to keep doing. We keep blocking at wide receiver better and that helps those big runs. Today
“He adds a different dimension offensively with his quickness and his ability to understand the opponent and get his job done.”
Are the Bengals a young, up-and-coming team or are you ready to win now?
“I’m an NFL coach. You’re always ready to win now. There’s no tomorrow. Tomorrow’s not promised. We have to take advantage of every opportunity we get out there.”
“Again, I said the third downs in the first half. We came back in the second half and played better. That was the key to the football game. We had the two offsides penalties that hurt us today. We have to learn from that. This guy does a great job with cadence. We’re still growing and this sets up a new opportunity for next week.”
What is the difference between the team now and the team that lost to the Browns?
“The team that lost to the Browns didn’t make enough plays.”
BenJarvus Green-Elis has had three straight 100 yard games now:
“I am pleased for him because he’s the epitome of a pro. I would say when he runs for 100 yards we’re 3-0 too so that’s a great thing.”
Would you say good teams win this game, teams that maybe aren’t so good don’t?
“I would say teams that are rising win this football game. I’m not putting us in the good category yet. We’re good as a team. We’re not really good singularly. We play well together. That’s what I keep telling them. We’re not very good by ourselves. We have one really good player by himself and everybody else just has to keep playing together. With that we can play pretty good football. Eleven guys, that’s what it takes.”
Is this team better equipped to run the stretch given your experience last year?
“I think we are a far better football team than we were last year when we finished the season. That’s key. We have to go prove that we’re better equipped to finish out this last quarter of the season. That’s where we are now. We put ourselves back in position. We were able to overcome October which was hard. We’ve done this by playing one snap at a time. We can’t lose sight of that. We can’t worry about the big picture. We’ve done a nice job of focusing on the little things.”
You talk about not flinching, is that something you either have or don’t have or something that a young team needs to learn?
“It’s something that is a part of me. It’s something that a young team has to keep learning. When a bad thing happens you don’t get all out of sorts. The defense could’ve come unglued today but they kept going in there. You’ve got to go and stop the other team. That San Diego defense was taking the ball away and we weren’t and that makes a difference. If you want to be a good team, you outplay the other team’s area each and every week.”
On how the Bengals turned it around this game:
“It’s what we had to do to win. I think offensively we kept getting chances. Defense did a really good job and we just needed a big play. We had a long run by Benny (Benjarvus Green-Ellis) that just got things going. Once we got in the red zone we were able to put it in. To come here and get a win on the road is huge and it’s just what we had to do.”
On whether his touchdown run was planned:
“No, it actually wasn’t. It was a screen that they had defended pretty well. I thought I was going to be able to throw it quick somewhere but I wasn’t able to so I just found the lane and was able to get in.”
On if his touchdown was an improv play that Coach (Marvin) Lewis had been talking about for a few weeks:
“Yeah, I mean not everything is going to go exactly how you planned. It’s what you do whenever things break down. It was a big play and we needed it at that point. It was just great to get a touchdown right there.”
On whether the linebacker undercut the route that led to his interception:
“No, I was mixed up in my mind. I thought we had a different combination over there. It was all my fault and I should never have thrown it. He just dropped right into the zone and I never even saw him.”
On how much better it is with the offense running more:
“It’s huge. We want to be balanced on the offense and the way we have been running the ball has been big. We have been doing it for the last several weeks so we have to keep that up. Benny (Benjarvus Green-Ellis) has been doing a great job. The offensive line has been doing a great job up front. If we keep doing that it will help us out a lot.”
On how the Ravens loss impacts them:
“It’s big. We’re obviously in the hunt for this thing. We know the end goal but you can’t look too far ahead. You have to take this thing one game at a time. We have to come out and play our best this next week.”
On how much it helped to have (Andrew) Hawkins back this week:
“It was big. Hawkins is a really good player. Especially with Mohamed (Sanu) getting hurt this past week. Hawkins came in and stepped up and played well. It’s good to have him back on the offense.”
At 7-5 can you tell us where the team stands right now?
“This team is getting better each week. A lot of people said it was out of our reach to make the playoffs but I feel like we have momentum on our side coming down the home stretch of the season.”
What would you say the key to your success has been overall this season?
“I just go out there and try to be the best I can be every week. When I started playing this game I said from day one that I want to be one of the best when I leave this game and I think that’s my mindset. That’s the way I take each day, each practice, and each rep.”
On the play of the offensive line:
“It’s not just today but upfront on both sides of the ball, our offensive line and defensive line has been playing lights out for the last month.”
On where the team stands now overall:
“Right now we aren’t looking at the big playoff picture. We take it one day at a time and right now I’m just excited to get back to practice, go workout tomorrow and get ready for our next game.”
What would you say the identity of the Bengals is right now?
“Whatever it takes. Whether we have to throw the ball to any one of our receivers or whether we’re pounding the ball on the ground. We are a team that can do whatever we want and we just have to make sure that our talent is displayed and come out with W’s.”
What was the key for the turnaround of this team?
“It was just focusing. We knew we had a lot of talent but at times we would lose focus and get into a slump. We just needed to continue to fight back every day at practice and it’s panned out for us in the games.”
On the running game taking pressure off of QB Andy Dalton:
“That’s what we want to do. We want to take some of the pressure off of Andy and A.J. so they don’t have to make a play every time we get the ball. When we can do that it really helps the team out.”
Comments on the defensive play:
“We showed our heart today. They had a couple of long drives on us, but we didn’t let them get in the end zone. That is one of those things Coach (Mike) Zimmer has been pounding in us since camp.”
Comments on being back in California and winning a game:
“It always feels good to be surrounded by similar surroundings, family and friends. Despite coming down here three years ago and losing in a close game. Everyone had faith in one another. We believed in that last series that if we all played together, we were going to make something happen. Eventually we had a pick at the end to seal the game. There is no other feeling. I am speechless right now. Coach talks about that the fourth quarter is the quarter we play the best in. It was good that we did not give up an offensive touchdown. They did not score a touchdown on our defense. We held them to two field goals. We came out and tried to establish something very fast.”
Comments on being in the playoff race:
“We control our destiny. We can only control what we can. That is preparing for the next game. Show up and win. Be disciplined. Play with the same intensity and effort that we have been playing with the past couple weeks. I think that is all the coaches can ask for.”
Comments on being back in Junior Seau’s House:
“Right before the game when they announce the visiting team, I ran across the field and pointed at his number. I pointed at the sky. Basically he is my idol. Last time I was down here was for his funeral in this stadium. It was on bad terms, but at the same time I was paying my respects. It was me paying my dues for the guys that have paved the way for guys like myself to be able to play the game that we love. To grow up in his passion of play, makes me want to push myself to leave a legacy of my own.”
“When we looked at the match-up and looked at the things I felt we had to do against the Bengals, I was very concerned about them getting big plays in the passing game. I was very concerned about their pass rush. I think their four pass rushers are outstanding. They're second in the league in sacks. In the kicking game, they have been able to get big returns and that was a concern of mine. Their long gain came on a run, they hit it, and that was probably the worst play we had defensively – the 41-yard run. I thought we did an outstanding job on (A.J.) Green – eliminating and keeping him from getting the big play. I think the longest pass was 19 yards. With the revolving door kind of deal with the offensive line, it’s not what we want from a protection standpoint, but I thought those guys fought awfully hard and gave us, a lot of the time, opportunities to make some plays. Obviously, in the coverage and special teams, they had the one called back. I thought they hit a couple, but we managed it. We can’t run the ball right now. We’re struggling to run the ball against a front like that, so it certainly puts a burden on the offensive line, the protection and on Philip (Rivers). When we handle it, I thought we made some plays and moved the ball. Obviously, we’re not capable of making enough plays to score enough points to win right now. Defensively, I thought our guys were outstanding throughout the game.”
On run game:
“Well, we struggled to run the ball today against that front. We struggled to run the ball. They’re a good defense. They’re extremely well-coached. They can play a two-deep coverage-type scheme and are awfully physical upfront in the running game. Obviously, we struggled to run the ball today.”
On thoughts to stick with the run game:
“You’re in a game like that and certainly it’s easy to say after the fact, ‘run someone else’ or ‘stick with one.’ But I thought we did the things that gave us the best chance to win the game. You know, we’re in a post-game drought and in the fourth quarter we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make.”
On finishing close games:
“We just talked about it – the pass rush, the inability to run the ball, etc. We’re playing a very good team that put together a drive in the fourth quarter.”
On the penalty called prior to K Nick Novak’s 54-yard attempt:
“I don’t know. It’s disappointing that we had the penalty, but we did.”
On offensive line personnel:
“I love what those guys did. (Kevin) Haslam came in. He’s been here about a month. Rex (Hadnot) came in for Tyronne (Green). Tyronne was playing probably before he should of with the hamstring, but he went as long as he could. I’m not going to sit in here and be negative about anything. We were not able to run the ball against that front.”
Offense hasn’t generated a TD in six quarters. How has the inability to run affected the passing game?
“I would say, we were down in there a couple of times and they made good plays defensively. I thought we moved the ball well today under the circumstances we’re in. I don’t get caught up in those stats in terms of number of quarters and all that. Under the circumstances we were in, I thought our guys competed and, as I said, moved the ball at times better than I thought we would, and gave us a chance to score points.”
On defensive performance:
“I think our coaches in all three phases are coaching as hard as they can. Our defensive coaches, I thought, put a good plan together and I thought our guys executed it. That team’s got a lot of weapons and they’ve been playing at a real high level. Those are the types of games – when you look at Baltimore, Steelers, Cincinnati and those types of games – those guys play and we played in that type of game. We’re unable to finish it right now and put it away.”
On second half struggles:
“I think teams get a handle on who you are, what you’re doing and match-ups. We’ve seen people be much more aggressive with us in the second half. As I said, sometimes those problems you’re talking about come from an inability to protect or block and sometimes they come from guys getting covered. In this game, in the third quarter, I think we were doing everything we can not to make the big mistake and turn the ball over. We were backed up the first two or three times we had the ball, so there are a lot of things that go into it.”
On ILB Demorrio (Williams) and DE Corey (Liuget) stepping up on defense:
“I can’t break it down per guy. Obviously, when a guy makes a big play, it’s exciting. Defensively as a group, as I said, I thought the plan was good, I thought the guys were coached well, and I thought they executed it. We are a very physical defensive front against a very physical team.”
On extended play time:
“I’ll tell you what, the reason those guys got extended time who haven’t been playing is because some guys got hurt. It’s not based on making movements and decisions on that. I thought the guys that stepped up got an opportunity to play and I thought they played well. Obviously, you go in there and you play that game the way we played it. I thought a lot of guys played well in all three phases.”
On confidence in the offense:
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys. I have a pretty good feel of the match-ups – who we’re playing, where we have match-up strengths and where we have match-up weaknesses. Again, that’s part of what we’re trying to do in terms of that is coaching that. That’s something that, obviously, when you don’t win no one appreciates, but I appreciate what our coached are doing in all three phases, because we’re putting ourselves in a position to win games. Unfortunately, we’re not getting over the hump.”
On having to deviate from the game plan:
“Obviously, we are. We’re a team that wants to run the ball. We’re trying to do everything we can to find way to generate some first-downs and move the ball, and keep our defense off the field. I thought the first drive was as good of a drive as we’ve had and it finished with a field goal. It was very similar to their second time down in there, they went play-action on a 1st and goal on the five, it didn’t work it and they settled for a field goal. We went play action on 1st down and took a ten-yard loss on a tip ball and that kind of took us out of the best chance we could have to get the touchdown. The look that we thought we needed was a play-action pass. I certainly didn’t think it would end up with the quarterback getting hit and the ball doing backwards ten yards.”
On run game issues:
“Again, the questions that get asked sometimes are pretty obvious. When you start moving people around in there – you see Jeromey Clary get helped off in the first part, you’ve got a young guy in Michael Harris playing left tackle who has been outstanding in terms of what he’s capable of doing, you see Tyronne (Green) come off – then that probably would answer the question for you. If I need to spell it out better, that is probably a big part of it. I’m not going to take away from the effort those guys are giving or how hard they’re competing. Again, I don’t know that I’m going to look at that and say Ryan (Mathews) had a lot of room to run. When we got him out in space a couple times, when they weren’t playing him man and hugging up to him, he got out in space and made a couple nice runs on a screen and a swing pass.”
On a personal level, how tough are these efforts:
“As I said, it’s hard because I know the effort these coaches are putting in in terms of putting the plan together. I know the effort the players are giving. As I told them today, if I felt there was someone that wasn’t doing their job in terms of preparation or someone that wasn’t putting the effort out that they have. I think there are a lot of guys that are playing about as good as they can play right now. As I said, we need to make a play in a critical situation. It’s not because of lack of effort. It’s hard for me because I know what they’re going through. I think the effort they’re giving, the preparation they’re giving; they deserve to win a game. This is a tough league. It’s a competitive league and that’s a good football team we just played. We played a good football team last week. We’re playing as hard as we can to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter and right now we’re not able to do that.”
What was the read you saw on the last play?
“It’s fourth down, you want to make sure it’s in bounds. Fourth and 10 is rough and in that situation obviously, we needed to make some plays prior to that. But, that fourth down play the last thing we want to do is throw it out of bounds. I was hoping Malcom (Floyd) would maybe have a chance. There were a lot of plays in between that one that really decided it.”
On the delay of game:
“That makes it obviously an easier kick, and then if we could just get a completion after that instead of a throw-away there. I just didn’t want to take a sack obviously either to put us completely out. We were trying to get it off. I didn’t want to waste a time-out either. That’s the balance and deal – in the third quarter we burned one. I was trying to beat the clock, but we didn’t.”
On the job of the offensive line:
“They fought hard. I thought they did a good job. We had our opportunities offensively. Anytime you go in a game and don’t score a touchdown, it’s hard to win.”
Did you find that the offense had to do a lot of changing from the original game plan as the game progressed?
“Not necessarily. You always tweak as you go depending on what you’re getting and how the game’s going. We did not necessarily make any drastic changes.”
On moving the ball well at times:
“Yes, we got down there twice. One, we obviously couldn’t help it because of the clock and two minute (warning), and we got three (points). The other time we got three, we would have also like to…you need touchdowns. But, yes, we moved it okay at times. Again, when you don’t score touchdowns in a game, it’s hard to win. We still had a chance. That last drive we would have liked to tie it up. We had to score a touchdown either way. The turnover, down 17-13, we still had to score a touchdown. It was either going to be a win or a tie. Four straight downs, four straight incompletions down there. It’s kind of the way it’s going right now. We’re making it go that way, but that’s kind of the way it’s been. We have to keep fighting.”
On the second half and offensive struggles:
“We don’t want to be struggling; we’re trying not to be. In Atlanta, we turned it over. Tonight for the most part, we didn’t turn it over until the last two. We’re fighting like crazy to score. I don’t have one thing to give you. We’re in a rut and all we can do is keep playing.”
On the boos when you were introduced. Are they just part of the business?
“I reckon. I don’t know. I’m kind of finding out. I don’t know if it’s part of the business or not.”
Did you hear them?
“I heard boos occasionally throughout the game. If you throw a ball away here, you get booed, so it’s tough. A throwaway is better than an interception. I’d hate to hear what those are. You have to appreciate the passion, but I don’t give it a ton of thought or listen really hard. I really can’t say I’ve heard them one way or the other.”
What can you say after this really tough loss?
“It’s tough. We had a chance at the end but we just didn’t get it done.”
What do you make of a team that seems to be in a position to win almost every game in the fourth quarter and it somehow just doesn’t come out in your favor?
“We just have to get over this hump. We have to keep preparing and coming out every week and we have to have some plays go our way to get a win.”
Knowing that your playoff chances are slim, what is the mood in the locker room at this point?
“We’re all upset and everyone is down, but this is the NFL and we have another game coming up next week. We have to come out and play and try and get another win. We just have to look forward to playing in our next game. It’s not going to stop. We have to start finishing games to get some wins.”
After working and playing so hard, do you sometimes wonder what you have to do to get a win?
“We’re looking to see what we can do to get a win. Coach takes care of us during the week and we take care of our bodies. As far as a message goes, us players just have to go out there and do our jobs. Sometimes it’s a couple of plays that turn the outcome of the game. We just have to have to get those plays going our way and we’ll get the ‘W’.”
Has the team reached the audition phase for next year?
“No, we’re still playing for this year. We’re not going to give up on this season. We have to go out there and finish it.”
What are your thoughts on the tough loss?
“It’s disappointing. We just have to get back out there next week.”
How difficult was it when you have two starting offensive linemen go down?
“It was hard. The o-line is such a cohesive unit and it’s hard to put one together. But the young guys played hard.”
How do you feel about the performance of the defense and how they kept the team in the game?
“They played hard and they gave us opportunities to win the game. We just didn’t execute when we needed to execute. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays.”
What does this team play for the rest of this season with your playoff chances so slim?
“We play for each other. We play for the organization and the guy next us and his family. We play for the head coach. It’s just very disappointing. We’re heartbroken right now.”
On his interception return for a touchdown:
“I look at stuff like that, it was a good play and all but if you don’t come away with the win that play doesn’t really mean anything.”
On the coverage:
“It was just a great call by our coach. It was just a buzz coverage. I was just doing my job. He just threw the ball. I guess he did not see me. Like I said again, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t win the game.”
On the tragedy in Kansas City:
“It is hard because Jovan (Belcher) got to Kansas City and I had been there for two years. He was a free agent guy that just came in and started to grind. I saw him grind. I saw him get knocked down and get back up. For four years I spent a lot of time with him on Thursday nights during the week. It was horrible because I knew both of them. He met his girlfriend at my house on Thanksgiving. He was a strong teammate of mine. I had a lot of respect for him; a lot of love for him. I can’t believe this situation could happen.”
On how he found out:
“I got a call in the morning. DJ (Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson) called me and told me that it happened. I just could not believe it. Especially on a Saturday morning, they just told me what happened. I just turned the TV on and it was a horror.”
On whether he is surprised that the Chiefs played a game today:
“Being around those guys for a long time and just seeing the things that the team has been through. I know those guys out there and I knew they were going to go out and play for #59 (Javon Belcher). The deal was that I was happy to see them win. They needed that. It is going to be hard for a lot of those guys. Especially guys that worked with him for a long time, the coaches and stuff like that.”
On whether he played for Javon Belcher today:
“Yes I gave it up for No. 59 (Belcher) because he was a little brother to me. When I was released he called me and he said, ‘D-mo man, I’m going to miss you. I love you. You taught me a lot.’ I hate it for his family, I hate it for his girlfriend and I hate it for the baby. You never know which direction the baby is going. It is going to be hard for the baby to grow up knowing that his daddy took out himself and his mother. It is going to be hard. I just pray to god that they put the baby in the right place.”
How do you guys get over this loss?
“You can’t get frustrated. You’ve just got to just keep playing football. We signed up for 16 games. We’re going to go out there and play for 16 games. The only thing that’s guaranteed is next week and that’s all we can worry about.”
Were you proud of the effort from your team today?
“We’re never proud because of the fact that there are no moral victories in the game. The bottom line is that we need to win. Did we play hard? Yes. Did we compete on the field? Yes. Did we win? No.”
On the young players who stepped up today:
“We’re always going to play. We’re never going to have a bunch of guys that lay down. We’re never going to lay down. Sometimes we just don’t finish. We need to finish. We’re going to keep on playing, go back to the drawing board and figure out what we did wrong and just try to find a way to get one more because that’s all we’re looking for.”
What does the team have to look ahead to next?
“We get paid to play 16 games. We can’t just quit. We can’t throw the towel in. Every chance you get to go out on the field, I don’t care if we were 0-15 or if we were down 100. I’m going to go play. Me and the guys here, we’re going to go play. We’re going to play like it’s our last game. The next week is never promised. It’s football. You can’t win every game. There’s only one team happy at the end of the day, and February and everyone else is going to be miserable. That’s the way it works out. We just need to go back to the drawing board and find out ways to get better.”