DECEMBER 23, 2012
I told them thanks for bailing me out, plain, flat, and simple. I make decisions to try to win the game today. It kind of backfired on me a little bit. Again, guys made plays, and I believe in them to make plays. I believe in Josh to make the field goal. I thought we had an opportunity to make a play there going for it on the fourth and longer there in the fourth quarter. We didn’t make the plays. We just had to keep playing aggressive. We didn’t run the football particularly well. Today they crowded the box on us. We’ve got to look at some things that way. I thought the quarterback, other than the one throw early in the third quarter, played a very good football game today. We have to clean some things up. Defensively we had one bad play. We just have to keep hanging in there. It was a good win. We’ve made some good plays on special teams. We made some plays that we have to fix. All in all we played for 60 minutes which we knew it was going to be. It was a good win for us.
On the defensive effort:
The difference in this game and the last time we played is third down. I don’t know what they were on third down but I thought we did an excellent job on third down today. I thought they just kept hanging in there. Obviously when we give the team the ball at midfield with three minutes to go, you’re playing on a thin edge. Our guys went in there and they got a big stop. That was huge.
On your confidence in play calling at the end of the game:
It’s what we’ve got to do. I tell them all the time we’re not backing down. We’re going to keep coaching and playing aggressively. I can’t do that and then put my tail between my legs. We’ve got to be aggressive. They bailed me out.
On the difference in defensive effort between the first and second halves:
It was a great defensive effort today. We let some runs get up in there early in the game. In the second half, we limited that. They ran that open stutter. They got the ball spread out a couple times. We tackled better in the second half and that was the biggest difference. We lost the one leverage there in the last drive. All in all, I think when we’re playing against a quarterback like that, our emphasis is to try to limit his opportunities and then do the best we can against the run.
I thought AJ had a great game. He caught the first two or three plays of the game. He just kept playing. A tough afternoon from what you see and what I see is a whole different thing. You’re on that sideline. That was great game by A.J. today.
On the last play to set up the winning field goal:
It was a great play. It was a big play and that’s what he [A.J. Green] can do. He almost came up with another big play earlier than that. He has to keep going. We’ll see what happens later today. We’re still running.
On the magnitude of this win:
It’s a big win for the city of Cincinnati. I know they just think that there’s some complex. There’s no complex. You just have to come play and win. This group in there has very little history of anything. You play football out here every 60 minutes, their guys against our guys. That’s what it comes down to. We had some guys that were frustrated today at times. We did a good job of hanging in there and not flinching and making big plays. Jermaine makes the big catch down the middle. There were a lot of big plays today. Tate makes the big play on the shovel pass. A lot of guys came up with big plays. That’s what you have to keep having all the time.
Huber had a big day, a big punt backed up into the wind there.
On the impact of
Josh has been tremendous as a person and obviously as a specialist. He’s been great in every area. We were so fortunate. It was a good choice by Darron and myself deciding why Josh. He’s immersed himself in the football team. He’s one of the guys. He’s been big for us.
On the difference between not kicking the field goal in the first half and kicking it in the second half:
Their guy, Suisham, had a big kick there at the end. It almost went in. It’s difficult. The wind was blowing a lot harder in the first half. We came out of halftime and the wind had settled down. I think they realized that. That’s why they took the wind in the third quarter. With home field advantage, they know that the wind settles down toward the end of the day.
He’s a guy that does a great job. He does everything asked of him. Nobody works harder. Every opportunity he gets, he makes plays and catches. He’s a very important guy on our third downs and our three and four receiver packages.
We have to keep him going because he can do more. When he got isolated over there, he did a nice job going up and getting the football, coming back and getting the ball, and almost coming down with a touchdown. We just have to keep pressing those guys and keep going. I think he’ll keep growing and getting better. This is the first time that guys like him have played in games like this.
On defensive pressure on Roethlisberger:
We go as our front guys go. It was a good day today for them. I thought they were relentless all day long with the pressure starting the first series. That was big in the game because Ben moves around and holds the ball. It was a huge stop when he took off and scrambled there on third down. That was a big play to hold him from getting the first down.
I think anytime you’re away as long as he was and you come back from the injury he does, it takes some time. I would say the doctors and people would say it takes about a year to come back from that. We’re a little bit beyond that year’s time frame now.
On Mike Zimmer’s play-calling with Leon Hall:
They came in a different personnel on third down. It was a big play by Leon.
On The in-division rivalry with the Steelers:
This is a very good football team we just played. We have to play at our best. When you do that and make plays, you have an opportunity. We knew it was going to be a close football game. They do such a great job of playing defense. Today Dick came up with some new stuff in there. It put the pressure on the outside guys. Our guys were able to perform. We just weren’t consistent enough to keep moving the ball down the field. We did get some plays outside because they were going to make it difficult to run it in the inside today.
How does it feel for you personally to get through the Pittsburgh thing? What does it mean for you personally to finally get over the hump and beat these guys?
It’s good to get a win against them. Marvin Lewis said everybody has talked about how we haven’t beat the Steelers since we have been here. It feels good to get a win especially coming down to the last play. We were able to convert and get us a chance to get a field goal. It’s a tough place to play here. For us to come here and get a win in this place is huge. Not only get a win but get us into the playoffs. It feels really good to have all that and to be able to achieve it.
Did you think the Steelers were just going to let it go into overtime at the end and just run out the clock?
Yeah, you never know in that situation. We saw that they kept trying to throw the ball. They kept trying to get down so they could try a field goal or score. You never know in those situations. You never know what to expect but you have to prepare for all the situations. Big play by Reggie getting the interception. It gave us a chance with 14 seconds left to run one play, get in field goal range and kick the field goal. Huge teamwork. To get what we needed to have happen we needed to have everybody play well. The defense played great giving us good field position and different things. Obviously the offense there are areas where we could improve, but it feels good to get the win.
They jammed the box and you couldn’t run the ball. A little bit about when that half of the game isn’t there a lot of that is thrown on you:
They did a good job taking away the run. When they were doing that they gave us chances to throw the ball. We were able to move the ball. We had some good drives. Just at the end we couldn’t get over that hump. That’s why you stay the course of the game. It’s four quarters. You can’t get too high. You can’t get too low when there are things going on. You just have to stay the course, and we did that today.
Trying to make something happen without doing something silly and keeping yourself in the game:
You have to know that especially at the quarterback position. You have to know that, but you have to relay that same mission to the guys. We did that today. At the end we were able to get the win.
It has been 30 years since this franchise has gone to the playoffs two straight years. You have been here two years. Where this franchise was, even two months ago, how satisfying is it now?
It feels great. Obviously now the history is that we haven’t been two years in a row for the last 30 years, but since I have been here I haven’t known that. My class, me, A.J., some of these other guys. We come in and we expect to get to the playoffs. We are in the right position at the end of the season. You want to be in position to control your own destiny, and we were able to do that this year. And now it’s time to really make a run at it.
What was said in the huddle before the last drive? What was the game plan?
It’s a big play. You have 14 seconds left. You need to get at least a first down if not more. Great play call. That’s on those guys [giving me time] on some of these deeper throws. It just gave me a little bit of time. We did exactly what we wanted. We made a huge play. AJ made a great catch. The line did a good job, put us in position to win the game.
The cornerbacks playing off the line of scrimmage on the play before the field goal:
They weren’t on him. They were soft. He was able to cross the corner’s face and when he did that I was able to put the ball in a spot where only A.J. could make the play.
And Green was able to get out of bounds:
He was able to get out of bounds, yeah.
Confidence level during the game:
Yeah, I was confident the whole game. There were some highs and lows in the game. We turned the ball over a couple of times. Same with A.J. After A.J. had the fumble, I went up to him and said, “Hey, you’re going to make a play that’s going to help us win this game.” He did that. I have full confidence in our guys. We’ve done a good job and hats off to everybody on this one. This was a full team win and it feels really good.
Do you feel like you took a step during the game?
Yeah. We’ve been in the playoffs the first two years I’ve been in the league. Not a lot of people can say that they’ve done that. I feel like we’re in a really good position now. We have full confidence in everybody. Marvin [Lewis] has a lot of confidence in the offense. He was going for it on fourth downs, we’re being aggressive and things like that. We’ve got to take this attitude into the playoffs.
Will you be able to sleep easy tonight?
We’ll be able to sleep easy tonight and we’re going to have a Merry Christmas.
Getting a win in Pittsburgh:
You want to get that behind you. You want to put a game together and get a win against some of the best teams that have been in this league for a while. Not only here but in our division. It feels good to get a win.
The Steelers defense:
They did a good job of stopping the run and they had a lot of guys in the box. Good play calling. Troy [Polamalu] was all over the place. He was hitting it in gaps and things like that. They were able to take away the run but also left some lanes to throw the ball.
The team rebounding after struggling earlier in the season:
We’ve got a lot of confidence. At that point, we weren’t playing like we’re playing now. We knew something had to change. We had to go out and make plays. We weren’t converting on third downs. We weren’t keeping drives alive offensively. It’s just an attitude thing that we’ve got to keep and we have to keep it going.
Did things seem dire earlier in the season?
Yeah. Even at that point we knew that if we just handled our business that we would put ourselves in a position to get back to the playoffs. We were able to win games. We won four in a row, five in a row, I don’t know. I think we won six out of the last seven. In this league, at the end of the season you want to have a chance to control your own destiny. We were able to do that. Getting a win here today was huge to get us in the playoffs.
Getting into position for the game-winning field goal:
My mindset was, ‘I made that fumble.’ Terrance (Newman) came to me on the sideline and said, ‘Who’s going to make that play’ and I said, ‘I’m going to make that play.’ I’m going to make big game-winning plays.
30 years since the Bengals have gone to playoffs in back-to-back years:
I told everybody that I wasn’t here 30 years ago. This is only my second year, and we can only control what we can do. That’s playing sound football and beating the great teams. That’s the next step that we have to do, beat the great teams and we can build from that.
Catch on the final drive:
It was just a corner route. Andy laid the ball up there and I just tried to make the play, and we got it close enough for a field goal.
How tough was it to play offense today?
It was a grind today. Pittsburgh is a great defense. They’re number one in run-stopping, number one in pass-stopping, so we just went out there and played sound offense. Our defense played great, lights-out today so we made plays when we needed to.
Interception for touchdown:
It was some stuff that we’ve seen before, but before the play I didn’t really have much in my mind. I had my guy and was able to step in front of him.
Physicality of the game:
It always is like that. Sometimes offenses open it up a little bit more, but for the most part anytime you come to Pittsburgh it’s going to be a physical game.
What does this win mean?
It means a lot. Obviously the win propels us into the playoffs. I don’t know how the other games are going, but we have a chance at the division. We’ll see. It’s definitely big just to get this win in Pittsburgh.
It was great. I didn’t think he (Ben Roethlisberger) was going to throw it, but he did and I’m thankful that Reggie was there to take it from him and put us in position to win the game with a field goal.
Defense stepping up when needed:
We wanted it better than they did. We knew it was going to be on us. Coming into the game we knew it was going to be a physical type of day. Coach put it on us early in the week, and we definitely tried to rise to the occasion and answer the call.
Were you thinking overtime with 20 seconds left?
Not at all. We’re thinking win. We don’t want to leave it to chance, don’t want to give them another opportunity. Reggie Nelson came up with a heck of a play by picking that ball off and putting our offense back on the field. Andy and A.J. did what they do best and gave us a chance to seal the deal.
Not getting rattled in a difficult place to play:
It is, it is. This is my first time in Pittsburgh, and I can honestly say that these fans, they get you going. There were times there when you couldn’t even hear the call. We knew if we played well up front and we played well as a defense that we could keep it quiet. That’s what we tried to do and for so much of the game we did that. That’s a good team. They made plays and but at the end of the day, we wanted it better than they did.
Win today a great feeling:
Yeah it is amazing. I think it’s been since 1980 since we had back-to-back playoff berths.I couldn’t ask for anything better. We are so excited to get to the playoffs we are trying to get further.
Both defenses played out of their mind today it was a tremendous defensive struggle:
Coach Zimmer told us last night that the best defense would win today, and we went out there and played our tails off. Nobody thought in the beginning of the year after losing four in a row that we would have this opportunity.
You guys punished Ben Roethlisberger today:
That was our game plan. It seems like when you get pressure and rattle him early he tends to overthrow balls.
How did it feel today to be a big part of the game?
I had a good week of practice. The last couple of games I haven’t been playing as well. I needed to make better hits. I hit the ball nice and clean today seemed like it carried very well.
Second consecutive year in the postseason, how does it feel?
It’s great; I grew up in Cincinnati so the city should be buzzing and ready to go. We have a big game next weekend. Now we have to get ready to go to the playoffs.
How satisfying is it to come to Pittsburgh and get a win:
It’s very satisfying quite honestly. I’ve had some bad runs against Pittsburgh, including a bad game with the Rams last year, so really I just needed to exercise some demons. It’s a good Christmas.
Overheard you coming off the field and saying that one is for Super Bowl 40:
That was my only opportunity to possibly win a Super Bowl. Now I get the opportunity to take something from them. That is something that is probably a small chip on my shoulder.
Obviously, not our day and, thus, not our year. Just not enough significant plays at the moments. Sounds like a broken record but reality as we sit here. We accept responsibility for it. On the injury front, we’ve got a number of things. Baron Batch has got a broken arm. Heath Miller has a PCL and MCL injury. Curtis Brown has an Achilles strain. Mike Wallace has got a hamstring. Maurkice Pouncey had an MCL sprain but he was able to finish the game. We’ll take a look at where he is. Just in general, disappointing but I appreciate the efforts of the men. Obviously, just was not enough.
Did the Bengals do anything special up front to confuse the offensive line?
No, it really wasn’t assignments. They were beating us physically some. They’re a good front. I think they’re second in the league in quarterback sacks and for a reason. They have quality rushers. I’ve got to acknowledge that and compliment them in terms of how they were able to rush the passer, particularly in definitive passing downs.
Bengals shutting down the running game in the second half:
They did a nice job. Neither team ran the ball. It was that type of a football game and it was going to be about the significant plays and get-off downs, and they made a few more than we did.
Was QB Ben Roethlisberger improvising on offense? Did that effect the offense?
I wouldn’t characterize it that way. Obviously, it wasn’t effective enough for us to win, I’ll acknowledge that. The things that we aspire to do and the process in which we went about it in the early portions of the season are the same as they are today. Obviously, with different results. We’re not looking to make excuses for those results. They are what they are. We’ve got to coach and play better than we did.
Was the loss disheartening because the offense had chances in the second half?
It’s disheartening because we had chances as a football team.
Was there a bad snap on the missed field goal in the first half?
Yeah, it looked like a bad snap. Of course, it made it difficult to get the ball down. When he did, Shaun [Suisham] was probably too close to the ball and pulled it. It was a low kick because of it and it was tipped because of it. But I think it all started with the snap.
Did you think about punting rather than attempting a field goal at the end of the fourth quarter?
No. We’ve got a great deal of confidence in Shaun and rightfully so. We wanted to give him an opportunity to do the job.
What have you been doing in practice to get better on third-down conversions since you have struggled converting them for most of the year?
For most of the year, we were number one in the league in conversions, offensively. At the very least top five for the better part of the year. So, re-phrase your question for me there.
What has been the issue with third-down conversions the last few weeks?
We just haven’t executed in the manner in which we’d like to.
Decision to dress RB Rashard Mendenhall:
Just like we talked about a week ago, if he came back in the right frame of mind and ready to contribute we’d give him an opportunity. He did so and we did. I thought he was a positive contributor to our efforts today.
What you were feeling, as you were leaving the field:
Disappointment, pain, letting a lot of people down, and it doesn’t feel good.
Tell us what happened on the final interception?
There is nothing to talk about. You saw it, I threw it to them.
The offense starting out slow, and how the rest of the game developed:
We have to do better. We have to start moving the ball, and stop getting behind the chains making it hard on ourselves. I have to play better.
On the Bengals Defense today compared to Week 7:
They are a good team that played well and we didn’t.
On trying to do too much on one play instead of getting on a role:
It was hard to really get going, we never make excuses. I had a lot of injuries to deal with, but we have always done well with filling in. We did things to give us a chance to win the game, but I blew it.
Do you think that the talent on the offense was better than what it performed?
I feel that we have a lot of really good guys out there on offense, they played well. They need more play, and better play from the quarterback.
Were you improvising on that throw to Mike Wallace? And were you thinking that he was going deep or did it sail on you?
It just came off my hand high and as soon as it left my hand I knew it.
What happens with the team going into next year?
I don’t know we still have one more to play and they are going to get our all.
On the first interception did he just jump the route on you?
Yeah, I didn’t see him. I asked Heath Miller and he said that he didn’t see him either. He made a good play. He hid behind Heath and at the last minute undercut it and made a good play.
Was there any discussion to kneel and play for overtime on the last possession?
I didn’t hear anything, so I don’t know?
Was there any discussion to go for it before the 53-yard field goal try?
Once again I do not know what the discussion was. I was not in that discussion so I don’t know what the coaches were talking about.
With the amount of talent on this team, can you believe that you are not going to the playoffs?
We should be if it wasn’t for me. We have a lot of talent and it shows. We have some good guys.
How would you say the defense played today?
Pretty good, I guess, some times. They just came out in the last minute [or] two minutes of the game and made a play for their team. They’re going to move on.
Knowing that you can’t make the playoffs, any thoughts about that?
It hurts bad, not going to the playoffs. We’re going to be home with the rest of them, watching.
Your play today:
I felt like I left a couple of plays out there. I feel like I can get better. I just need to watch the film and go out there next week.
Confidence change because of the job you did on A.J. Green:
I take each week the same. The only person that can beat me is me. It’s about your technique and your focus. I had some ups and downs.
Disappointed despite the way the defense played:
It’s extremely disappointing. We really needed this game to have our hopes for the playoffs. We didn’t make enough necessary plays to take the victory. We have work to do. We have things to work on, like how we prepare and execute. We will continue to grow.
There is a lot of hugging. Does it feel like people saying goodbye already?
Nobody is saying goodbye. It’s the end of our chance to win the Super Bowl. We hug all the time. We have to be the hugging-est team in football. So don’t read too much into us being affectionate. There’s just a more somber tone to it. It’s tough. It’s why you play. You play to get the opportunity to win the Super Bowl. And when that is gone, it’s a tough reality, especially when you are one of the teams that expect to play for it every year.
You kept them out of the end zone all game long. What ultimately turned the game?
They just made the plays when they had to. If you look at A.J. [Green]’s catch at the end. It wasn’t an easy catch. It was a Pro Bowl player making a big play. I think we did a good job on him all day, but when it was time for him to make a play, he did. When it was time for Reggie [Nelson] to make a play, Reggie made a play. It’s how you win the game. They did what they had to do [and] we didn’t.
Is it fair when you have short field all the time when the offense turns the ball over?
We have no control over how we take the field. We have no control over where we take the field, But we do have control over how we defend it. It’s with all-out effort; it’s with 100 percent tenacity. I think we did that today. I think we went out and we played well. I say it every time we lose, but it’s the truth. We needed one more play. We needed to not let them get in field goal range at the end of the fourth. And they did.
Over on their side, they are talking about taking the torch and the ending of a reign. Is it premature to say that, and do you worry about that?
I don’t worry about next year. I barely get through today to worry about tomorrow. If that’s how they want to focus on it, you can do whatever you want when you win. When you win, you can make everything rainbows and pots of gold. For us, we didn’t get it done. I take nothing from the Cincinnati Bengals. If that’s the way they want to look at it, it is what it is.
Low snap on missed field goal in first half:
It stabilized, but it wasn’t going to go in anyway.
Did you feel good on the long one?
I did, but it obviously didn’t go through. I own it; that’s mine. I missed. I should have made it.
Were you kicking from that long before the game?
Certainly. It’s part of football. It’s part of kicking field goals. It’s my job to make every single one and that’s what I strive for. When it doesn’t happen, obviously, I accept it and I should have been better. I should make a field goal.
When you made contact, did you think it was going to be enough, or did you think it was going to be close?
I knew it was going to be close. That’s, unfortunately, part of being a kicker in this league. Everything I do is to prepare to be perfect. And when it doesn’t happen, it is a tough one to take, especially this late in the year when it could have been the difference in the game and our season.
Does your heart sink at that point?
Yes, obviously. Everything I do goes into making that kick. It’s been a long year. A lot of preparations go into that. I failed.
Defense doing well in the second half:
We stayed with the game plan throughout. We tried to do the best we could throughout the whole game.
Using different looks to defend A.J. Green:
I think we handled him the best we could throughout the game. We had to fight through, and I think we all stepped up.
Cortez Allen’s second interception giving you a chance to win the game:
That was a good play. Plays after that didn’t define the game. We just had to play 60 minutes and we didn’t today.
Final “Hail Mary” attempt:
I am the main read. He threw it to me and I tried to hold it as long as possible and pitch it to Mike Wallace. It just didn’t work.
What was the offense saying on those drives when the ball kept coming back to you from their turnovers?
Our defense was making the plays they needed to make to win the game. We just didn’t help them out at all.
At what point did you think you could crack through in the second half?
I just felt like we couldn’t make any plays. At every crucial moment in the second half, they made the crucial plays.