DECEMBER 4, 2011
First off, you’ve got to give them credit. They beat us in every area today. They beat us on offense, beat us on defense, and beat us on special teams. We got off to a good start offensively down the field. When you have a penalty that takes away points off the board, we got a delay on the field goal and got the field goal blocked; it was one thing after another in that first part. Defensively we did some good things early, but then Ben escaped us, he gets it off to the receiver; he gets the ball across the middle. They made some plays where we didn’t tackle very well in the second quarter. We had kicking game errors that put us really behind. I wish I could say much more, but the game was basically over in the second quarter. We never were able to get back in in the third quarter like we expected.
What factor made you pull
We got a chance to give Bruce [Gradkowski] a little bit of work and moved forward.
I don’t know. I have to watch the tape. I thought AJ made some plays early in the game. We’ve got to get everyone else to make plays all the way around. We’ve got to be able to effectively run the football and do better. We did poor today on third downs, I think 2-for-9 at some point when I looked. Things like that, we’ve got to do better.
On the penalties:
Critical penalties, you just can’t have that. Penalties were big plays today. We stopped them. We got a mysterious foul at the sideline there, even at the end. We’ve got to clean it up though. So we will.
The returned touchdown punt looked like there was a block in the back:
We’ve got to do better. That’s not going to change. We’ve got to do better.
People have doubted your team this year. Does this loss give them ammunition?
I don’t know. I don’t need to worry about that. We’ve just got to beat who’s on the schedule. We’ve got the Houston Texans coming in next.
Does this loss take anything out of the players emotionally?
I don’t think so really. I don’t think it has that kind of effect. I think we didn’t execute on the third downs, and thereafter we got a holding penalty, we got a pressure, we had to run and avoid pressure, we didn’t get a protection turned back over, and we just kind of got off kilter. We never really got going. They did a good job conversely on the other side moving the football. They had some receivers where we missed the tackle on the perimeter with the ball outside. It was long ago, so I wish I could remember more of the things. I’ll have a better idea tomorrow when I watch the tape. Those are the things I just wrote down. I thought number one, third down, I thought penalties. I thought the opportunities early in the game we let slip through our fingers. We dropped two balls, then three-and-outs after the missed field goal. We can’t do those things. Jermaine [Gresham] came back and made a big catch on the touchdown drive and some things that way. That’s the way we’ve got to play. But there was not enough of it for long enough today.
Your team hasn’t played this poorly all season. Do you believe this happens to all teams at some point?
I don’t know. I don’t know what happens all the time. You want to try to avoid them obviously. We didn’t avoid this today, but we’ve got to make the correction, swallow hard and put this behind us and move forward. That’s all we’ve got a chance to do. If we couldn’t handle it, it wouldn’t have been put in our way. It sure as hell was put in our way today.
Your team has surprised people this year. Are you pleased to be at 7-5 with a chance to make the playoffs?
We’re ready to move on. We’ve got to put this one behind me. We’ve got to get prepared for the next week. We still have opportunities to take care of business, but if we would have won this ballgame today, we would have controlled things better. We don’t control things as much now, but next week’s another week.
Was Dalton shaken up by the hit by James Harrison?
He’ll be fine.
Can Andy Dalton learn anything from this loss?
He continues to do some good things. We’ve got to do things better. I can’t comment on one individual’s play today. It’s hard for me to go back through. I’ll have a better idea once I watch the video.
How did the secondary perform with
We didn’t play well enough to win. We got a big pass interference penalty down the middle of the field on a ball that was uncatchable. We get a penalty, and it sets them up, just unfortunate things today. We’ve got to play better.
You have been in every game you’ve played so far. What makes this game different?
We missed some opportunities early on in the game. Getting down there, penalty on a touchdown, and field goal getting blocked set the tone for the game. That definitely hurt us and they managed to get down there and score. They played well, and we didn’t play good enough to win today.
Re: First possession:
Yeah, obviously we would have liked to score, but it didn’t happen. We had to try to find a way to get through it. Even on our scoring-touchdown drive, we came down and just ran our game and our offense. We were able to do some good things, but overall today we just got out played. We got beat.
Re: Coach’s remarks when being taken out:
I just think it was a little out of reach, so I got taken out.
Was injury part of the reason why you got taken out?
No, it was just that part of the game.
Re: Blitz packages:
There were a couple things that they did, but we knew what we were going to get for the most part. Obviously there’s always going to be a new wrinkle, a new thing the defense tries to do, but there were a couple times when they did something we weren’t expecting.
Re: How this loss reflects on the team as a whole:
I think the biggest thing is that this game only counts as one. Yeah, they are a division opponent and all that kind of stuff, but in the big scheme of things it only counts as one. We can’t let this hurt us. We can’t let this affect the next four. That’s the big thing we’ve got to go in and get ready. We’re going to play a really good team in Houston next week, and we’ve got to get ready to go.
Re: Not rebounding from field goal penalty:
That definitely hurt us and we would have loved to have points. I think they came out and drove down and scored a couple times. We just didn’t get anything going.
Re: Answers for opposing team’s second quarter points:
I don’t know what it is. I think we’ve got to start faster and continue playing in the second quarter. But, we haven’t played well in the second quarter and we’ve got to find a way to change that around for the last four games.
What’s the lesson for this game?:
I think even though the score was what it was, I think we’re still up there and trying hard. Things just didn’t work in our favor today, but good thing is it is only one game.
Re: More pressure versus last game:
They did a couple things that were different that we hadn’t seen on film, but for the most part, they were doing the same stuff.
Has this team surprised you this year?
I don’t think it surprised any of us in the locker room, but I think it surprised everyone else. We knew we had a chance to do what we’ve done. We just had to get it all together. I think that’s the biggest thing that everybody’s got the same goal in mind. We are just looking forward and taking one game at a time.
Reaction to Coach pulling you out:
I wanted to stay in there, but it’s just part of it.
Are you OK physically?
Re: Thoughts on the loss:
It’s a big game, and you want to come out and put your best foot forward. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to on special teams, myself included. There were a lot of plays out there that we should have made. It’s disappointing in a big game like this, but we’ll bounce back. We have four games left in the season, and I think this team is good for it. Obviously we’re disappointed but we’re not hanging our heads. We’re going to go back tomorrow, look at the film and come out next week against Houston trying to fire on all cylinders.
Has this team proven that it can play with the top teams?
What everyone else says doesn’t matter. All we care about is the win-loss column, and we didn’t win today. We have four games left, and our goal is to win all four of them. That’s what we’ll focus on. We’ll get in the film room and come back next week and try to get back on track.
Is the team surprised to be on the wrong end of a lopsided score?
That’s football. They’re a veteran team. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times. A veteran team is going to capitalize on that. A lot of things that we can’t do early, and get ourselves down. It’s tough to fight from behind. That’s one thing we have to work on down the stretch. It’s unfortunate that we lost, especially the way we did, but we’ll bounce back and we’ll keep it going.
Re: Drastic change of momentum in the second quarter:
There were a lot of plays that you’d want back, especially in that string of events. Hopefully we’ll get in there and correct the mistakes and put a better foot forward against Houston.
Re: Being on the losing end of a lopsided score:
It’s tough. We shot ourselves in the foot a few times on some drives. Being the very good team that they are, they capitalized.
Were you surprised when Dalton was pulled from the game?
No. He was hurting a little bit. We can’t risk him getting hurt. We’re still in the hunt for the playoffs, no sense in him getting hurt for the rest of the season.
Re: Stalling on the first drive followed by blocked field goal:
We shot ourselves in the foot. I had a false start and that really hurt us. That’s something I need to clean up, along with getting out of the huddle quicker.
Re: Marvin Lewis’s halftime reaction to multiple penalties in the first half:
He said we had to relax and go out and play our game.
Re: Disappointment in performance in biggest game of the year:
I’m not disappointed. It happens. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times. I’m not disappointed in my performance or anything like that. We really shot ourselves in the foot, including me, on the first drive. I felt like my penalty really shifted the momentum of the game. I take the blame on that drive.
What happened on your penalty (on the first drive)?
I took a tiny little flinch. A little flinch. I was trying to time the snap and get off the ball quickly.
Re: Difficulties stopping the run:
I think we just didn’t get off blocks. We just have to do better. We didn’t go into this game thinking that this would be the outcome. We put a lot of work into our craft, and we didn’t get the job done. There are no fingers to point at anyone but ourselves. We have to be better.
Did injuries play a part?
I can have excuses, but we’re all professionals. If one person goes down, someone else has to step up. I don’t think that should play a factor. We just have to do better, make plays, and win ballgames. That’s what it comes down to.
Re: Frustration with worst performance coming in biggest game:
It’s very disheartening. We put a lot of work into our craft. Week in and week out we preach about things, and we just didn’t get it done today. All we can do is get back to work and fix it and put the fire out.
Re: Sequence of events on the first drive (two penalties, blocked field goal attempt):
I think it was good for the offense, they really moved the ball down the field. It was a great start for us. Until we get to see what happened on film, I can’t really say what happened. Everything felt like it went as planned. I’m a little confused about the delay of game. We didn’t change anything. The coaches made their decision right away, it’s not like that took a while. Everything seemed like a normal, everyday Sunday field goal. I’m still confused as to how the clock ran down so fast. It’s one of those things, we have to make sure we learn from it.
Re: Tough day for special teams unit:
I think it stings a lot. Darrin (Simmons, Special Teams Coach) doesn’t get enough credit for the work he puts in. Not just Darrin, all the coaches. These guys make sure we have everything prepared before we go on the field. We were definitely prepared for their personnel and the things they do, but I feel like it all started with the delay of game and the field goal getting blocked. It set it all in motion, and they had a great day on special teams.
You’ve been in every game, how did it feel to be on the losing end of the lopsided score?
It’s exactly like that. Every single game, win or lose, it’s always been close and we’ve given ourselves the opportunity to win the game. I think today you have to give a lot of credit to the Steelers. They did a great job all the way around, including special teams. We just have to watch it tomorrow.
Re: Thoughts on the game:
A little saddened, of course, but you have to move on to next week and not worry about this game.
Re: Boot on his ankle:
I’m alright. My foot’s not broken. Everything is good. I’ll be out there next week.
Re: Facing the Steelers defense:
We just have to play better as a team. As Bengals, we know how well we can play. The way I feel is that they put us to the test, and we flunked the test today, but what are we going to do next week. That’s how I see it. We’ll continue to work on technique. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore.
The Bengals have been in every game this season until today. How unexpected is it to come in and be on the losing end of a lopsided score?
If you look at the game, we were going to score early. It just happened. The ball didn’t roll our way. Murphy’s law. Everything bad that could happen, happened. We just have to move on to next week.
Re: Drastic change of momentum in the second quarter:
Yeah, the snowball effect. The team, the organization, we can bounce back from this and become victorious.
It was great to get the win in our place. It was a very necessary AFC North winning performance by our guys. We fell short in some areas but we always will. We aren’t going to complain about that. I loved the energy of the group in all three phases. I thought our special teams really provided a shot in the arm for us in the early going, blocked a field goal attempt and recovered the kick, and late in the second quarter we returned a punt for a touchdown. We made splash plays in all three phases. It’s what you have to have. I thought our special teams anteed up in a big way today. We have a short week. We have some more AFC North football waiting for us. We will celebrate and rest quickly, and move on in preparation for Cleveland. There were some minor injuries, bumps and bruises along the way, many of which I won’t mention. Ramon Foster did have a left ankle sprain. He was not able to return to the game. We will see where he is for Thursday night. LaMarr Woodley felt a little tweak. There’s no major damage. He might be in play for Thursday night but we didn’t want to do any further damage to him today. We will see where we are. We will move on to preparing for Cleveland. Our guys have to do a good job above the neck, preparing and taking care of their bodies on this short week.
Did any special teams play stand above the others?
The guys made plays. We’ve gotten solid contributions from guys in that group. They take a great deal of pride in what they do. They are a legitimate phase of our team, and we appreciate their efforts.
Re: Running game, especially in the red zone:
I was pleased but there are new and greater challenges that lie ahead. It’s about sustaining it and improving it moving forward into December.
How were you able to defend
I think more than anything, we were able to break the pocket down with pressure. It didn’t necessarily manifest itself in terms of sacks but we broke the pocket down. We got Andy Dalton moving a little bit. I think that helped us from a coverage standpoint, whether it’s Andrew Hawkins or any of the others.
Re: Team having a sense of urgency in December:
I am kind of an idealist and a football purist. I’d like to think we are capable of having that sense of urgency in September, because we only get 16 opportunities to state our case. Acknowledging that we all fell short of perfection, the picture is a little bit clearer this time of year.
On the win today:
It was a good team win today. It’s always fun to put a lot of points up on the board. It’s good to get a win against a divisional opponent.
Is that what happens when the offense clicks, the defense clicks, and you get some plays from the special teams?
Yeah, we said going into this game that we needed a total team effort. We were a little slower at starting on offense than we wanted too. The defense did a great job, as well as special teams and we ended up playing pretty well.
Can you talk about your thumb, and how it feels in comparison to previous weeks?
It’s there, it hurts a little bit, but when you get the win it makes it feel a lot better.
Re: On breaking Terry Bradshaw’s team completion record:
It’s obviously an awesome honor. I didn’t know anything about it until everyone came up to me. Anytime you break a guy like that’s record it’s a great thing.
Talk about the importance of this win after losing two to the Ravens, and now winning two against the Bengals?
For us it is just about taking care of what we can control. Every week trying to come out here and give it our best, and that is what we did today. It’s a short week against another divisional opponent. I don’t think that the weather will be quite as good on Thursday, but we’ll be ready.
What happened to Antonio Brown with his stomach?
I don’t know, I told him he was just doing that for the girls.
Is the short week such a huge factor?
It’s a big factor. Obviously it depends how healthy everyone is. It’s a bigger factor if people are banged up and hurt. If we got out relatively healthy hopefully we can just carry this over, that’s the goal.
What are your thoughts on being able to run against a pretty good run defense?
That is something that I know that our offensive lineman take pride in, our running backs as well. It was awesome to see it really get going. We didn’t need a whole lot of attributes from the passing game. I think it was because of the secondary coverage that they gave us, a lot of two-man, and that opens up the run game.
What did you think of your consistency in the red zone today?
I thought we did pretty well, I think we were almost perfect down there, I’m not positive. We have to put seven points on the board when we are down there. The defense counts on us to do that, we need to do that, and it feels good to do it when we are down there.
The last time you played them you also got off to a fast start, was there any talk of not letting off the gas?
I felt like we started slow, so I don’t think that there was any worry about that. Offensively we didn’t get going early, so it was talk of when are we going to pick this up and get rolling.
Re: Their first touchdown being negated, and then getting the blocked field goal:
It was huge, we went three and out on offense, that was not good. They go down the field and go for a touchdown and didn’t get it. Then we get a blocked field goal. I don’t think that we have had one yet this year, and that is always fun. It brings a new energy to a team. I think it is what got us rolling.
Do you think December and January bring out the best in this team?
It better, that was my emphasis in talking to the team. Offensively we had to play our best football, there was no time for the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. We had to get it done.
Do you feel that the team is peaking right now?
I hope not, hopefully we are not peaking for a couple of weeks yet.
Re: On Hines Ward reaching one of his milestones today:
It’s awesome to get a guy like that, that has meant so much to this team and organization this, I’m not sure which one that he got, he’s on the doorstep for a couple of them. He has a couple more that we have to get him, and it is fun to get it to him.
How did the hamstring feel today?
“I feel good. It just got a little tired. I wasn’t expecting to play the entire game anyway. Once the score started going up a little bit, I took advantage of it. I just kind of walked the sidelines and let Jason Worilds go out there and do what he’s been doing every week.”
Does this affect you at all for Thursday? Will you be good to go?
“I should be good on Thursday. It’s a short week, but we knew coming into the game that it was going to be a short week. So the approach this week was just to be smart about the hamstring, period. I wasn’t going to play the whole game and once we started putting points on the board, [we decided] to let the guys go in and take care of it.”
Did it tighten up at all?
“No, it just got a little bit fatigued. It’s been a full month – 35 days since the last time I played. We knew that it was going to get tired. So that’s why the game plan was not to go in there and play the entire game.”
How nice was it for you guys to breathe easy in the fourth quarter for a change?
“Finally. We always make it harder than it has to be. Today we came out with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy. The guys just wanted to win. We knew what we had to do. It’s getting closer to the playoffs and it is time for us to get better.”
Your win today helped give you a bit of space in the Wild Card race and a lot of the teams behind you for the Wild Card lost:
“We can’t really worry about those other teams. They are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of how we are playing. We have to go out and just take care of what we can and win our ball games, and let the chips fall where they fall. Hopefully, those guys lose.”
General comment on team’s good play:
“It’s even more important in December. These are the games that count. These are the games that are going to put you in place to make your run. We’re just trying to keep up in the division. We’re behind in the division right now, so we have to keep winning. That’s all we can focus on. “We’re in it now. Right now, is our time. We can’t afford to lose any game. So we’re going to have to play every game like it’s a playoff game. We already started our playoffs.”
Would you take us through the punt return for a touchdown?
“My guys gave me a great block. Bryant McFadden on that last block was key for me to get around the corner. And once we did that, I was able to get in for the touchdown.”
Nobody touched you, right?
“Nobody touched me.”
General comment re: punt return for TD:
“I’m just thankful that my teammates provided me with great blocks. Bryant McFadden did a great job on the last block, allowing me to get the corner. And from there, it was me and the punter.”
Talk about your complete game today:
“We were on rhythm. We did a good job as an offense. We still want to be better, but we have to continue to just come on week in and week out.”
Re: the big hit he took along the sideline in the fourth quarter:
“That was one of my first NFL big hits. You have to be able to get up. That’s what it’s really about. Guys are going to take shots.”
This was a very balanced day for the offense:
“Yeah, everybody had to contribute. Everybody put their hand in the pile today. Today was a total team effort. We were on the cusp of doing something big on special teams. And those guys blocked their tails off for [Antonio Brown]. Our defense, of course, shut them out. And offensively, we were trying to work on the red zone. When we got down in the red zone, we ended up putting up touchdowns rather than field goals. That’s what you have to start doing in the month of December – playing good, all-around football. Today we displayed that.”
You got to 12,000 career yards. Is that one of those goals that you wanted to hit before the end of the season?
“It was great. To surpass 12,000 yards, to do it at home and to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, today was a trifecta. It was a good all-around day. Twelve thousand yards [is] not bad for – Mike [Wallace] was teasing me on the sideline – that’s not bad for a lot of option routes and choice routes. That’s a lot of passes, considering I don’t really go deep all the time. It was an amazing feat. Ben [Roethlisberger] gave me an opportunity to make plays. And the offensive line gave him enough time to pass the ball. It was just great to do it at home. Twelve thousands yards is 19th all time. That’s crazy.”
Does the two wins over the Bengals give you a bit of an easier feeling heading into December?
“Coach Tomlin always talks about just playing. Don’t look at Baltimore. We just have to worry about what we can do [and] take it one game at a time. We are going to enjoy this one. We have a short week. We have the Browns coming on Thursday night. We just have to keep playing. We can’t control what Baltimore does. If we do what we do, at the end, we might be there in the hunt of things.”
Do you see this as one of those big weeks where everything got put together at the right time?
“I think so. Coming off a disappointing showing in Kansas City offensively, I think we were very balanced and made some plays. Everybody helped contribute to some plays. And that’s what you have to do. You have to start playing good, all-around football, and today we displayed that.”