OCTOBER 2, 2011
“I told the guys first thing on Monday that we are looking forward to the Bills, and we are going to have to play a 60-minute football game, and obviously that played out here today. In the first half we did little to aid our own cause and continued to shoot ourselves in the foot, so we have to take a look at a few things. We were able to gather ourselves at halftime and go back out there and get on point. It was a hard fought game and we made plays in the second half. We sit here feeling pretty good about it right now.”
How much does this speak to the resiliency of the team and their ability to get through past hurdles?
“We have to hang together. We can’t get ahead of ourselves and worry about too much. We have to stay focused and not lose sight of our goal each and every day. This is a game of making plays. In the first half they made more than we made, but we came back and made some in the second half. Jermaine (Gresham) made two huge plays. A.J. (Green), Jerome (Simpson), Andre (Caldwell) all made huge plays. The offensive line did a good job today. “No matter how euphoric we feel, these Mondays after games like today are important for us to keep getting better. We have to get in here and look at the tapes. We have new guys, young guys, and guys that are constantly getting better, and they are all learning to understand it together.”
“The only bad throw I can remember is he rushed a screen ball, but those are just things we have to keep working on. We have to remember we are minus about one thousand snaps we would have had before training camp with him. He is a tough young man and it is just like water off a duck’s back for him.”
Talk a little bit about the defense:
“We continue to play at a high level. We can’t buy an interception, but we continue to play well. We played great on third down today. Our guys competed out there, they (Bills) caught some and we (Bengals) defended a lot.”
What about the play of
“Thomas did a great job today. I’ve never been around a finer athlete at linebacker than what he is. He is a good football player and he is learning to fit in the spots. It is fun to watch him.”
How much do you think (Cedric) Benson’s running in the third quarter helped (Andy) Dalton and the offense?
“My point to us at halftime was we have to come out here and run the football. The first thing I do on Monday night and Tuesday is watch the other club’s defense, then I go across the hall and say, ‘Look, this is what I want to see us do.’ “They (Bills) gave us some different fronts than what we were expecting, but good job on the part of the offensive staff and our players adjusting. We were able to fit some runs in there – some went for two yards, but a lot of them went for eight or more, and that’s what we have to have.”
Two and two at the quarter mark, how does it feel?
“Disappointing. But it’s where we are, so we have to keep going forward.”
How did you feel at halftime and how did you turn things around in the second half?
“This game was a tale of two halves. We didn’t play very well offensively in the first half. Coming out of halftime, we knew we just had to stick together and play as a team. We were hurting ourselves. They weren’t doing anything to stop us, it was just a penalty here and there and everyone took turns. We got rolling and got some momentum going. We executed a lot better and we did what needed to do to win this game.”
Are you a rhythm quarterback, even more so than other rhythm quarterbacks in the league?
“Yeah, I think it really helps us out. In the second half, we had really good tempo up front. We were getting in and out of the huddle really well and we did some really good things. It really helped us out. We did what we had to do and we made some really good adjustments at halftime to come out with the win.”
Did you focus more on TE
“We knew we had a good matchup. He is a heck of a player and he came out with a big second half.”
Do you feel that if you throw the ball in the direction of
“He can do a lot of good things. We’re very confident in his abilities. I guess we are pretty confident in him and hopefully he’ll be the only one who brings it down.”
Did the running game really help you in the third quarter?
“For sure. Every quarterback would say that the running game is going to help you throw the ball. We were getting in and out of the huddle with some quick tempo and we were blocking unbelievable up front, giving him some lanes to run through.”
On your TD run, was that a running play all the way?
“It was a run all the way. They spread everyone out and it was a good look for it.”
It seemed like you were able to scramble and run more today:
“It’s something that they made a point about. I did what I could.”
Where does your poise come from as such as young player?
“I feel like I’ve played in a lot of games and have been through a lot. In a game of four quarters, you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. You have to go out and stay on even keel. Everybody needs to see that. If you getting too excited at times in can hurt you and if you’re too low it can hurt you. It’s just my attitude and it’s just what I do.”
What was your outlook like after throwing two interceptions in the first half?
“We were in the game and we knew we were coming into halftime. You just have to go out and play the next play.”
Did you guys think you would be 2-2 a quarter of the way through the season?
“It’s something that we’ve worked hard for. We knew we just had to play our game to get to 2-2. We’ve done a lot of good things, but there is lots of room for improvement.”
What have you learned about yourself after four games?
“I feel like we’ve been in good situations because we’ve been in every game in the fourth quarter. I can’t try to do too much; I have to trust the guys around me.”
Were things working better today because of better third- down play and better red-zone execution?
“Yes, for sure. We put an emphasis on third down because we knew we had to get better on third down. I’m not sure what our stats were today but I feel like we did a better job of keeping drives alive and keeping drives going.”
Did you say anything to K
“He always says something to me after a good series or drive. So I went up to him and said to just do his thing. He’s really good, so I don’t think there was any pressure there.”
Is it more satisfying because everyone shared the load on offense?
“At halftime, we knew we needed to stick together and be a team. That’s what we were able to do. A lot of guys made plays that got us in position to win this game.”
How big is this for such a young football team?
“I was just talking to a lineman thinking, ‘Two and two sounds and feels way better than one and three.’ Winning a game at home is big. We played a good team today and hopefully we can remember this feeling and take it with us next week.”
You just knocked off the last undefeated team:
“Buffalo has been very good in the second half. The coaches reiterated that we needed to play well in the second half. The offense drove the ball down the field well and worked the clock. I was really excited to see our guys put us in a position to win the game.”
You guys played great in the second half:
“Yeah, watching Andy (Dalton) as a teammate and a fan, I’m really proud of him.”
The comeback seems to be the most important thing in this game:
“Yeah we have a great quarterback in Andy (Dalton) and he didn’t flinch one time out there. He had a couple of passes that were off, but he came back strong. We were out to win the game the whole second half, and we did it.”
What were the keys to winning this game?
“We played all 60 minutes as a team. We trusted in each other and never gave up and we were able to go out and get the win.”
What did you see in his (Dalton’s) eyes the last drive?
“I saw a winner. He is used to winning and I am so happy and blessed to have him as my quarterback.”
You are 2-2 and it has been a roller coaster ride the first couple of weeks. But this is a pretty happy locker room right now:
“We have to keep pushing. This team is willing to fight for each other and we have a bond. We are going to fight no matter what.”
When you watched that field goal go through, what did you think?
“It was a good feeling. We showed what we could do and we did it. We played good the entire second half, but we have to play the entire game like that.”
You were able to pound the ball on the ground very well in the second half:
“Coach Jay (Gruden) did a great job of calling plays and we just wanted to execute them to the best of our ability. It turned out really well for us today.”
When it comes down to it, you can’t beat a win at home:
“You can’t. A win at home against one of the hottest teams in the NFL was good. It was a great defensive game and the offense came through and the kicking game in the end.”
When you are down by 14, the defense had to make stops:
“We felt comfortable coming into the game and we knew what we had to do. It came down to us executing and we were able to get off the field on third down.”
They have a lot of good receivers, but there wasn’t a lot of explosiveness for them:
“We knew that coming in and we knew we couldn’t give up big plays. We knew if we did that then we would be in good shape.”
Do you watch the offense?
“Yeah, we’re pulling for each other. We’re making adjustments on the sideline defensively, but we watch. We know what to expect, we know how good they can be and we know the plays they are capable of. They watch us too. They know that we’re talented and that we should be taking the ball away and getting sacks. It’s a team game.”
In spurts, Andy Dalton looks like a veteran. Have you noticed that?
“He’s learned a lot of lessons through the first four games. In the Denver game, he learned that he couldn’t take a crucial sack. In last week’s game, he learned that he needs to keep moving the chains. Each week, he’s getting better and better. He’s mature. A lot of games will be won and lost by three points in this league. He knows that we’re going to get him the ball back and he needs to translate that to points, and he did.”
How much of a challenge was it to hold Buffalo the way you did?
“We felt that we could dictate where they had to go with the ball. We knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park for them. We knew that they scored a lot, but we’ve stopped a lot of third downs. We get paid too.”
It’s pretty cool to win at home:
“It felt awesome to come in and execute our game plan on offense, defense, and special teams like we did today. The atmosphere in the locker room is a whole lot different. Everyone has a bounce in their step and overall we did a great job.”
You guys had to come up with some big stops. The defense came up big:
“We knew as a defense that we wanted to be big. We knew their offense was very good, and this was a test for us. We wanted to come out and give it everything we had. We wanted to prove that we are a legit defense. We let some big plays get through, but overall I think we did a good job.”
They got you a couple of times with plays today, but you came through in the end:
“It’s all about coming through when you get a chance and the opportunity to make a play. Thank God I was able to make a couple today and the rest of the guys were able to make some too. It was a true team effort.”
It was nice how you guys came back. It wasn’t just one play, but you were under pressure to come back:
“No question. We just have to stick to what we know. We came out in the second half and made some adjustments so we could execute. It ended up a good result.”
You guys went out there and played a really good game on defense:
“Yeah we got the win, but this is only one game and we have to play again. We’re going to celebrate today, but on Monday we have to focus all of our attention on Jacksonville.”
Did Zimmer give you guys any extra challenge this week going against an offense that was rolling?
“He gave us a little challenge by saying ‘Let’s see how good this defense really is,’ and I think we proved ourselves. I think we did a good job but next Sunday is another big test.”
You’re 2-2, what are your big-picture feelings for this football team?
“I think we are on the right track, but we have to take it one game at a time. But I like the feeling right now.”
How do you feel?
“I’m excited about the way we played in the second half.”
How does this help the team’s morale?
“With young guys, there’s a lot of talking, guys trying to keep each other’s heads up. These guys are learning that they’re good enough to just go out and play and stop worrying about talking to each other and amping each other up and just go play football. That’s what we did in the second half. We quit worrying about what was being said and went out and played football, and you saw some of the talent that this team has.”
It was a tale of two halves. What was said at halftime to fix things?
“In the first half we felt like everything was there, but we were getting some unlucky breaks. In the second half, we put our heads down and played football.”
The Bills come in as the last undefeated team and you knocked them off. Can you build on this?
“Oh yeah. The talent in the room is not an issue. We have to put our heads down and play football the way we know how. People who see us practice every day realize how much talent this team has. We need to carry that over to game day and let guys display that talent on the field.”
“That was a game of playing average in the first half and poorly in the second half. We have got to do a better job of executing when on offense. We’ve got to stop the run and big plays on defense. We didn’t do enough of either one of those to win the ball game.”
How did your team handle playing with a lead?
“We didn’t play well in the second half, so we didn’t handle something. I don’t believe it was that. I believe they wanted to go play hard. You can’t miss that many tackles, not execute on offense, not be able to run (the ball) the way we did and win a football game. I don’t think it was that. That was not the feeling I got at halftime.”
Talk about how the officials’ instant replay review of Stevie Johnson’s catch that resulted in an incomplete pass changed the momentum of the game:
“I was a little shocked at the call, to be honest with you. I had a pretty good vantage point. You’ve got to be strong enough and good enough to overcome that. We’ve been in worse situations than that before and played better. You’ve got to be able to handle that.”
Would you do anything different with your running game if you could go back to the game?
“No. They were just out-physicaling us.”
Talk about what may have been off with the Bills’ offense in the first half:
“When you can’t run it and you’re having to throw it on every snap, that’s all it takes is one play to stop a drive. We never could hit a big play. We took some shots. That’s the one thing we’ve done in other games is being able to hit a big play.”
Talk about how you plan to utilize running back C.J. Spiller:
“We’re trying to let Fred (Jackson) be the ball carrier and use C.J. in other ways right now. We are trying to use him as a change-up in the running game — put him out wide (on offense) and do some different things with him. That’s more the plan right now where we are.”
What changed in the defense between the first and second half?
“We stopped the run in the first half and didn’t stop the run in the second half.”
Do you think there was any hangover from the win last week over New England?
“No. I don’t think so. You’re never sure as a coach. You do everything you can to fight against that. I certainly hope not. We need to be stronger than that, if we are going to be a successful team.”
Do you think it’s important how your team bounces back for the rest of the season?
“I expect, with the character that’s been displayed prior to this, that our guys will come out and work and try to get better in practice each week. I would be shocked if anything different happens. You’ve got to play better. It’s not just practice, but you’ve got to play better. You’ve got to execute in the games. We’ve been able to before, but we were not able to today.”
One play that looked like it turned the game around was the catch/drop by Stevie Johnson that was overturned. Up to that point you had control, but you never got control back:
“We thought we were going to go down and score. That was a big third down — what we thought was a conversion. But they called it an incomplete pass, and we just have to move on from there. It’s not just one play. Offensively, we played very poor today. You have to give a lot of credit to them — to their defense. They did a good job, and I think when our defense plays that well, especially in the first half, we have to win games like that. The offense didn’t come to play today.”
The defense was able to contain your running game with six guys. What did you think about that?
“They did some different stuff, but not anything out of the ordinary. I think it was more that we didn’t execute and they made more plays than we did.”
It seemed like you thought you had opportunities to go deep in the first half. How did that play out?
“Whatever the coverage dictated. There were some times when we thought we could take some shots down the field and that was just how it was presented in that moment.”
You were up 17-3 at halftime and then the game turned around all the sudden:
“Yeah, it’s like I said, really disappointing — coming out from halftime and not being able to put some more points on the board. There are different types of winning and different situations. The last few games we have done a good job of coming from behind, and this time with the lead, we have to do what we did the first week and continue to put the pressure on them and score points. We didn’t do that today.”
Do the Bills have to learn what to do after beating a team like New England?
“I don’t know if it had anything to do with all the emotion from last week’s game. It had more to do with us flat out not showing up in the second half. Again, I don’t want to take away from what they did because they did some good things on defense and I thought they outplayed us on that side of the ball.”
Were you pressing at all going up against your former team, or was that not an issue?
“There are so many guys that are new faces over there for me now, that it’s almost like I wasn’t on that team because of all the turnover that they’ve had.”
How about their blitzing? There were some plays in the first half where you just missed by a little:
“We knew going into the game, especially with their front four, they are good. They are going to provide some pressure on the quarterback. I don’t know what plays you are talking about in particular, but they do a good job. The one sack today, I held the ball. I think guys up front did a good job holding up again this week in pass protection.”
How much did not getting the running game established early play a role later in the game?
“We approach every game different. Every game has a different game plan. We’ve gone both ways this year. We’ve done some stuff early with the run game where it has really opened up the pass, and we’ve had it the other way too where we have really done some good things with the pass game early where that opens up the run later on. It was just one of those days where we couldn’t get anything going, pass or run.”
Did you guys sense a little bit of the shoe being on the other foot, where the other team felt like the underdog? Did you get the sense of that at all from their guys?
“I think with the way they celebrated, they were pretty motivated in being the underdog. But for us, we are the underdog every week in our minds, because nobody wanted us or thought we could do anything this year. I think we probably both had that mentality going into the game.”
Is the way you guys bounce back next week going to set the tone for the rest of the season?
“Each game is different. Every week you approach it differently. Every week is just one game. So I wouldn’t go so far to say our season rides on next week. But it’s something where we have to go back to the drawing board and address what issues we had today, refocus and get ready for next week.”
On today’s game:
“We just didn’t finish. Give them credit — they made plays and we didn’t.”
Stevie Johnson was talking about some of the close calls by the referees that didn’t go your way for the most part. How did that factor in the outcome?
“It was huge. You know, there were a lot of calls we feel didn’t get called (correctly), but at the same time, we played through it. You know, give them credit — they made plays and we didn’t. I think we were holding them on third down — I don’t know what the percentage was — we didn’t make plays, we didn’t convert those and not getting calls (and) getting calls overturned, that hurt, too. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
It seemed like it was difficult to get the running game going in the first half:
“We knew it would be a tough day. But, given the opportunity, we relished it and I just didn’t make enough plays for my team today.”
“Good player. That’s expected. We expected him to make plays today. (He did) good film study. He knew what we were doing, so hats off to him. He made some plays when he had an opportunity.”
Were they doing anything with the way they handled your 4-by-1? You guys like to run out of the 4-by-1. Were they doing anything to close down the lanes for you?
“No, I wouldn’t say they were doing anything different. Maualuga just made some plays for them, and I think that was one of the things they wanted to do — shoot gaps, and when he got that read, he was able to do that and make some plays for them today.”
Stevie, just describe in your mind the reversal of that call on the field that it was a non-catch. How did that reverse the momentum for you guys?
“It was clearly a catch. I don’t know what the refs were looking at. They went in and reviewed it and still said it wasn’t a catch. I caught the ball, secured the ball, (and) my knee was down. The (Bengals defender) grabbed my arm — my knee was down — the ball was still in the same spot, got up, the ball was still in the same spot and I handed the ball to the referee. How is that not a catch? It changed a lot. We still had another opportunity out there, but that call definitely changed the game. “It was a catch and they overturned it and said it wasn’t a catch, and then we had to punt the ball.”
Did they call it a catch at first?
“Yeah, it was a catch, and the back judge — who missed about three or four pass interference and holding calls — said it wasn’t a catch, and that’s what it was.”
That put the burden on you guys to prove it wasn’t a catch, right?
“Yeah. You go under that hood and I guess they see everything, and they said it wasn’t a catch.”
Why the struggles in the first half offensively? There were six or seven three-and-outs. Why the struggles?
“It’s the NFL game. They play ball just like we do. I don’t know. Sometimes we’re hot, sometimes we’re not. We played a full game. I think my team brought it, you know what I’m saying? We played hard, we did what we were supposed to do. It just came down to calls. That’s how I feel. Personally, I feel like it came down to calls and the referees. They did their part.”
How much did you feel that catch/no-catch call affected the game?
“It was big. We could have kept the ball, the clock could have been running down as we were driving. (Instead) we punt the ball, it’s in their possession and they can do what they do.”
Did the Bengals knock it loose?
“No. It was in the same spot the whole time. It was low, I caught it, secured it, the guy grabbed my arm, the ball was still in my arm in the same spot. My knee was down before the dude even touched me. Therefore, I should have been down anyway, and then the guy said it wasn’t a catch. I don’t know how (that is).”
Did you notice a difference in the Bengals in the second half?
“I think that’s true. They came out and they adjusted to what they needed to do better, and by them running the ball, they were out-physicaling us up front. We’re disappointed, obviously, but we’ve got to figure out what we did wrong, come back and correct it for next week.”
It just seemed like it was so easy in the first half, almost like they were going to replace Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, and the next thing you know, they were making plays:
“Yeah. Like I said, they came out and made some adjustments that were key, and we didn’t adjust to them. Point blank, we got out-physicaled up front, and we’ve got to do a better job with that.”
Was it a little jarring? The run defense was a big issue coming in, and you guys had been doing well, but it looked like you guys took a step back today:
“Yeah. Like I said, it goes hand-in-hand with getting out-physicaled. When (the other team is) more physical than you up front, they’re going to gain those yards. That’s one thing — they came in for the second half and made some adjustments, and we didn’t. They set up a lot of things for them off the run — they started passing the ball quite a bit. You know, give them credit — they came out in the second half and played well.”
A Bills coach said today wasn’t a hangover. How do you feel? Do you think it was a hangover from the New England win last week?
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I think that he’s right from the standpoint that we need to play better. But they made some big second half adjustments and came out and were ready to play. And on the opposite side of that, we weren’t.”
What was the biggest adjustment? You’ve mentioned that several times. Was there one specific thing other than just running the ball the way they did?
“Yeah, just starting to run the ball a lot more. By them running the ball, it just set up the pass for them, and you go from trying to play run stop to play action and doing some stuff like that. We just have to play better.”
Did you think you were going to be able to hold the Bengals, and at the very least, force the game into overtime and give your offense another chance?
“Yeah. This game is about winning the situations — third down, red zone (and within) two minutes (of the end of each half). We were able to get off the field in the first half with that turnover and not give up points before the half, but it came down to a late fourth-quarter stop that we needed, and we didn’t get the job done. You have to tip your hat to those guys for finishing the ball game.”
What did you do that was successful in the first half that you didn’t do in the second half? Bills head coach Chan Gailey talked about tackling, but you were able to get a couple turnovers in the first half but not the second half:
“You know, like I said, they did a good job of winning on first and second down. They kept the game simple and made easy, manageable throws for the young quarterback and ran the ball well. We didn’t tackle, and we didn’t get off the field when we had the opportunities to (do so).”
They had over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the second half. What happened?
“Yeah, it sucks. We have to win these ball games. We’re on the road, we have a lead at halftime, and we have to come out and execute in all phases — offense, defense and special teams. They made more plays than us in the second half, and that allowed them to win the ball game.”
Did you feel the momentum swing during the game?
“You could feel the momentum swing, but even when we came in at halftime, we were like ‘Guys, don’t let up.’ We have to come out in the second half still swinging. We know what it feels like be on the other side of things. And when things started to not go well, we were like, ‘C’mon, we can pull it together. We’ve been in this situation before.’ We just didn’t get it done today.”
Can you talk a little about your recovery of the loose ball that was later not to be ruled a fumble by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton?
“I just saw it out there and I just tried to go get it before anyone else, and I was able to get into the end zone and when it was taken from me. It was like, ‘Dang!’, you know? I was able to come back and make another play, but in the end, it doesn’t matter because we didn’t get the ‘W’.”
Did it look to you like he tucked the ball since they called it a tuck rule-like situation?
“I didn’t see the replay. I wasn’t even looking at the (video) board. But you know, the refs, they have that HD system in place to take it a look at it, and if they saw he tucked it, then he tucked it, you know?”