NOVEMBER 21, 2010
On the game:
“I told the guys I wish I had a magic word to fix where we are, other than the fact that we’ve got to figure out a way internally and individually to not make the critical errors that we’re making at critical points in the football game. Today we had a first half where we did a lot of things right, and we obviously were down a little bit (with injuries) in the secondary as the game went on. We’ve got to figure out a way to limit their (the opposing team’s) production. Getting the receivers and the ball carriers tackled is the biggest thing.
“Offensively, we play, and then we have a critical error that really hurts us. We’re playing our tails off for most of the game. They’re playing right down to the (last) fibers of their bodies and giving everything they’ve got. Guys going back in when they’re injured, but they’re playing their tails off.
“We’ve got a game here upon us quickly. Somehow we’ve got to put this behind us and move forward. We can’t dwell on this one. Obviously there are a lot of corrections to be made, and we’ll see where we are personnel- wise, but we’ve got to move forward.”
What is your assessment of the first and second halves?
“Two different games. We obviously didn’t finish, and in this league it’s about finishing. Finishing football games is what wins, and obviously, we didn’t win and we didn’t finish the game.”
Is this team’s psyche fragile? When things go bad it seems to snowball so quickly:
“I don’t know if that’s the mentality, but that seems to be what you’re talking about with the snowball effect. It’s been one mistake turns into two, turns into three, and then you’re down 10 when you were up seven. That’s obviously a difficult place to be in as a team. As many football games as we have left, we have to fight that feeling, we have fight that mentality and find a way to believe in ourselves and find a way to build some confidence in each other and have that snowball, instead of the opposite.”
You said this week chemistry has been a problem with this team. Is that fixable in a season?
“I think so. The only way to fix something like that is repetitions and work. We did a better job today of, for the most part, guys being in the right spot, lining up in the right places and motioning at the right times and doing all those things offensively. But it’s too late in the season to be talking about building chemistry right now.”
Should we be talking about guys not lining up in the right spot after Week 10 of an NFL season?
“No. That wasn’t an issue today, like I said. But, no, we shouldn’t be talking about that or building chemistry. That’s what the off-season is for. That’s where you build that chemistry, over the summer going into training camp. That’s not something we should be talking about now.”
The guys in there (locker room) made the point of saying the effort is still there, but losing 35-0 in the second half at home to a 1-8 team might suggest otherwise:
“Yeah, I’ve played against teams that turned it in and have quit and I’ve been on teams one time where that was the case, but I don’t believe that’s the case with this team. For the most part we’re fighting to get back in the game when they took the lead, and we just didn’t make enough plays, or the right plays when the time came upon us.”
“I wouldn’t use that word, but we’re not a good team, obviously. We’ve won two games and we’ve played 10. I would use a different word.”
On the interception in the end zone, did that guy surprise you being there?
“He definitely surprised me. I knew where he was, and I tried to fit the ball in, and I shouldn’t have thrown it. I should have tucked the ball in and not thrown it.”
You said you wouldn’t use T.O’s word, but what word would you use?
“Not good. We’re not a good football team.”
What is it like to be part of a crazy game like this?
“Crazy? What’s crazy is the fact that we’re just terrible. That’s just plain and simple. When I say we, that’s me included. Let me look you in the eyes and emphasize — we are terrible. Terrible. I have no answers for you. I have no sound bytes for you. All I know is, right now, we are terrible. Maybe if everyone wants to blame me, it’s my fault. Maybe I am bad luck. At this point, it is unthinkable — unbelievable — that we can lose a lead like that. And by no means am I taking anything away from the Buffalo Bills. Those guys are talented. They put on their pads and uniforms just like everybody else does. You go into every Sunday thinking it’s an opportunity to win a game, and they took full advantage of that today. I don’t understand. I don’t know what it is. We find ways to lose the game. You would think that, having a lead going into halftime, we could capitalize and build off that. We may go 2-14 at the rate we’re playing.”
Do you know why you were so good in the first half and not so good in the second?
“I have no idea. We’re not good, period.”
Do you take any good out of the first half?
“Why? How can you? You play four quarters, two halves. You play two halves, four quarters, 60 minutes — however you want to look at it. We’ve made enough mistakes in the last (seven) games to last a lifetime.”
Did Buffalo make any adjustments, or was it self-destruction?
“It’s been that way all year. After our second win, it has been self-destruction. I have no clue, no answer for you. I can’t put a finger on it. I don’t know what to do. It’s not like we’re not putting in the effort in practice. We can’t win for losing.”
Is this a breaking point for you?
“I don’t know. I can’t speak for everybody. As I mentioned earlier, we are terrible. I don’t blame the fans for booing us. I don’t blame people for not wanting to come and see the performance we’ve put up the last (seven) ball games. I don’t blame them.”
It’s a short week with a game Thursday. Can the team bounce back?
“I’m going to pray we do. I’m hoping so. I hope we don’t take the disappointment into the game against the Jets. They have a great defense, and their offense is explosive. If we play with the performance that we played with today, it’s over — it’s lights out. We’re playing for pride. We’re going to see what everybody’s made of, myself included.”
What happened to the game plan out there in the second half?
“The defense came out and shut them down to start. A few guys got nicked up and we weren’t able to find our rhythm. I’m at a loss for words right now.”
Did the Buffalo defense do anything different out there?
“Yeah, they made some adjustments. We were doing OK getting some pressure, but once the ball got in their court, we weren’t able to do what we did in the first half. In the first half, we made them play our game, but in the second half, we played their game. We couldn’t execute the things that worked well for us in the first half.”
What were the adjustments they made?
“They converted on turnovers. If you have a turnover, you get momentum. At the end of the day, you have to play football.”
What does this defense have to do in order to get better?
“Play like we did in the first half (of this game) and finish all four quarters.”
You put up a lot of points, but didn’t come away with the win:
“It’s hard to put into words. I’ve played 12 seasons, and this has to be one of the more disappointing games I’ve played in. We’re a team, and we’ll continue to fight. We’re not going to give up, and that’s a promise.”
This team had high expectations. Is there a way to explain how things have happened this season?
“Every day, the guys come in and practice, regardless of our losses. Everyone is still working hard and that’s not going to stop. After you put so much work in and put your heart into it, it’s disappointing. It takes your breath away. We’re not going to give up. We have six more games to go out and fight hard. We can still turn this around and end the season on a high note.”
It was a drastic change in the second half:
“It was a drastic change. I still felt like we would come back and win the game. I remember starting to pick back up. I really don’t know what to say, but we’ll keep fighting.”
You say ‘everyone will keep fighting.’ Are you confident that will apply to everyone as a team?
“I’m confident. I think the veterans owe it to the younger guys to show them that we need to keep fighting. The NFL is full of ups and downs. You can’t just fight when you’re playing well.”
Reggie, is it hard to describe what just happened?
“There aren’t words. You have to come out and play football. You can’t play football for one half.”
Did they spread you out in the second half?
“They spread it out the entire game. At the end of the day, we just have to line up and play football.”
Did they spread you out more in the second half?
“I don’t know if they did more than they did in the first. They were down, so they had to put the ball in the air.”
What did the injuries do to you?
“It’s unfortunate when you don’t have your starters out there. But you have to make plays, regardless of who’s one the field.”
It looked like there were some communication issues:
“None that I’m aware of. We had some guys that were left open.”
Steve Johnson was particularly effective:
“Yeah, they did a good job getting him the ball.”
How did they do it?
“They just put him in different areas.”
Did you slip on his last touchdown play?
“It was a false step early on. That was the go-ahead touchdown if I’m not mistaken. You can’t have that in the red zone.”
What about the touchdown after that — it looked like you slipped:
“He came from the other side. That wasn’t my guy, but he was wide open. You can’t have those as a defensive backfield.”
Are you surprised at what Ryan Fitzpatrick did to the defense?
“Considering how we have been playing on defense — yes. We had high expectations. The injuries didn’t help, but that doesn’t matter.”
This being a contract year for Marvin Lewis, are you concerned that there may be a coaching change?
“I don’t see it happening, but I don’t make the rules. We have to put this behind us today and come back tomorrow to work on the Jets.”
With regard to the second half — it’s a matter of adjusting to adjustments, isn’t it?
“Yeah, but it’s also turnovers. The last couple of games, the early turnovers killed us. In this game, the late turnovers killed us. With a big lead, the only thing you shouldn’t do is give the ball back with a turnover, and that’s what we did. We continue to bury ourselves.”
What did you think of the holding call that negated the Terrell Owens touchdown?
“It’s terrible. There was nothing I could do. I got my legs kicked out from under me and the guy drove me over the top of another guy’s legs. I didn’t hold the guy — I got pinned and basically fell down. There was no way I could have pulled him down.”
You went down because your legs were pinned?
“He hit me and my legs got kicked out. He actually got up and said ‘Wow, what a catch’ and started to run down the field. Next thing I know, they called a holding penalty.”
This is Murphy’s Law, isn’t it?
“We don’t really have a lot of things going our way. You have to be a competitor and you have to fight. When guys have their backs against the wall, they have to fight together. If we can’t do that, this will keep happening.”
They fought back on the road and came from behind:
“Yeah, you have to give them credit. They fought their tails off, came back, and won the game. We made it easy for them with the turnovers. When you do that, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
The players said you were very emotional in the locker room after the game ... “I was excited for our players. They kept fighting. We talked about, at halftime, not finding a way to win, but going and making a way to win. And they believed that they could do that, and they went out and did it. We don’t have a lot of superstars or prima donnas, we’ve got a bunch of guys that have great character and fight every time they walk on the field. I’m going to tell you, it’s great to be able to coach a group like that.”
At the end of the half, you had a call go against you that allowed another second on the clock and a field goal for Cincinnati. You guys seemed upset with the call. Was there anger in the locker room at halftime after that kind of call?
“Yeah. What I told the players was, ‘Hey, I understand how you feel. I want you to be mad, but don’t let it be a distraction. You’ve got to focus and go do our job in the second half, rather than letting that become an emotional part of the game and feeling like you have to go out there and beat the officials. You can let that become a distraction, and it would be a problem. They didn’t do that.”
Can you talk about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance, coming back into Cincinnati and leading his team from behind?
“I don’t know what he was in the second half — it had to be amazing. But he managed the game, as he does every week, amazingly well. He knew the safeties were having a hard time overlapping. They had some new secondary people in there. I felt like he took advantage of those guys on some critical third-down throws. And, of course, the next-to-last touchdown (crossing route to WR Steve Johnson) — that was a big throw.”
What did you like about that crossing touchdown to Steve Johnson?
“What happened was the corner bit, and Lee (Evans) ran a great route and took both of (the safeties). Stevie ran and beat the safety — which was what we were trying to do, attack that front-side safety. Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) just stood there, hung in there, the protection was great, and we were able to get the touchdown.”
Did you say anything to Ryan Fitzpatrick on the sideline after his pick-six in the second quarter that made it a 28-7 game?
“Yeah. I said, ‘Hang in there. Let’s just get ready for the next drive.’ That’s what I say when he throws touchdown passes, too: ‘Let’s go, we’ve got to go score again.’ But he knows I’m not going to lose confidence in him, and I didn’t. It happens. It’s part of it. The greatest ones ever have done that.”
Did your play-calling gravitate more toward the middle of the field once the Cincinnati safeties went down?
“Not really. There were a couple of things I thought Fitz took advantage of. When they were trying to play the pass and roll the corners up and the safeties had deep path, he would hit them on a little hole on the sideline. He had a huge completion on third-and-six on the first drive of the third quarter — it was in that hole, to Donald (Jones). I thought we just felt like we could take advantage of some of the things they were doing there.”
What did you think of your defense’s performance?
“An amazing second half. To shut a team like that out in the second half, that was a great job. And to score, on top of that. We ended up with two turnovers and a shutout in the second half. That’s a talented football team to shut out in the second half. It would have been easy for this team to fold their tent. I would have been easy, and they didn’t. That tells me something about the character of our football team.”
Usually, the front seven sets the tone for you, defensively. Today, it seemed like the secondary set that tone. Do you agree?
“Yeah. I don’t know how many balls they caught, but I know we were banging the around and disrupting some routes and disrupting some balls. And when you do that, they start getting a little frustrated. And when they get frustrated, that really helps us.”
Some of your players mention how there are no big names on this team. Does that contribute to your team’s identity?
“It could very easily be. I also think they’ve got a little bit of something to them, down inside, that makes them that way, too. They’d like to be great — who wouldn’t, everybody likes to be great — but we haven’t done enough to get to that point, yet. The last two weeks have been a good start.”
Is Eric Wood’s injury serious?
“I don’t think so. He could have gone back, in a pinch. But we didn’t put him back in.”
How sweet was that?
“Awesome. The biggest thing was that everybody believed the whole game, even when we had that big deficit. We came in at halftime and everybody believed. This was a big win for us. Like I said, when you get that first win, then you start learning how to win and everything starts falling into place. What a great team effort today. The defense really stepped it up in the second half. I can’t say enough about the guys up front and about Freddie J (Fred Jackson). Stevie (Steve Johnson) had another big day. The guys were getting in there making plays.”
You guys couldn’t have predicted a worse start:
“Yeah. I mean it was a tough start. Definitely a tough start. I think that’s kind of how our season has gone. Obviously, going 0-8 — you can almost compare that to what happened there in the first half. The fact is that we are going to continue to fight and play hard for each other. There’s no quit in this team, and I think you really saw that in the second half.”
Did you guys make adjustments after their two safeties and their corner went out?
“I think it obviously hurt them. They were depleted in the secondary, but at that point we had to throw the ball. We were losing by so many points, that no matter who was in there, we were going to go after them. That probably helped us with the injuries that they had, but we still had to go out there and make the plays, and we did.”
What was said when you went to the sideline after you threw the second interception to
“He was a great teammate of mine for two years. He’s a really good player. The first one to Lee (Evans), he just made a really good play on. The second one, they caught me in a blitz and I had to throw hot and J Joe (Joseph) jumped it and ran it in to the end zone. You have to shrug it off. Quarterbacks have short memories, just like everyone else has to. I wasn’t going to stop throwing. I wasn’t going to stop giving my guys opportunities to make plays. That stuff really doesn’t affect me. I have to limit it. I can’t do it. We came back in the second half and they ran the same blitz that they ran when I threw the interception to J Joe, and that was the touchdown I threw to Stevie (Steve Johnson). We adjusted. They gave me the look for the second time. It’s not about hanging your head, but it’s about doing what your coach (says). It’s about going out there and reacting to what you’re seeing and everybody believing in each other.”
Steve Johnson, for the last couple weeks, has been getting wide open in the secondary. What has he been doing?
“I have no idea. I don't know how he does it. There were a couple of times where I threw him a five-yard route, and all of a sudden he just takes off. It’s an ability that he has that no one can really put their finger on, and that’s what makes him such a special player.”
The fact that there are so many players on this team that aren’t established in the league and are trying to make a name for themselves — is that the reason why there’s no quit in this team?
“I think so. I think that’s part of our identity — kind of the no-names. We are all in it for each other. It was a great team win for all of us. Today was a great stepping stone to hopefully some more wins.”
Was the fade route to Stevie (Steve Johnson) pretty satisfying?
“Yeah, it was. ‘Stevie, go make a play.’ That’s what it was. That was on
Do you think the Baltimore game helped you out a little bit today?
“I think it did a little bit. To be honest, I think the game last week helped a lot in terms of everyone’s spirits being high. The defense today, I can’t say enough about the plays that they made. That was awesome.”
Have you ever had a bigger comeback in than you did today?
“Yes. My first game ever, when I came in during the second quarter down 21 and we won.”
When you were with the Rams? Do you remember who you played?
“We played the Texans.”
You said that this wasn’t just another game for you. Now that it’s over, how sweet is it?
“Sweet. It wasn’t just another game for me. It was such a rough start, but I knew the guys would stick with me and that huddle was confident the whole time. Freddie (Fred Jackson) had such a big day again — I don’t know about numbers wise, but in terms of the way he fought out there. We did some really good things today.”
Did you say anything to
“Yeah. Obviously, he’s a good friend of mine. I’ll probably talk to him more in depth as the week goes on here. He’s a competitor, just as I am. We both said good game and stay healthy. He’s a great guy to play against.”
Talk about the pass coverages in the second half and the Bills’ ability to limit Carson’s options in the passing game:
“Early, (the Bengals) came down and scored on their first three drives. We got a little rattled. We had to settle down and go about the game plan to press those guys on the outside and disrupt their timing. Carson (Palmer) gets a little jittery when he gets pressure around him. We were unable to do that in the first quarter like we should have. We did it in the second half and shut them out.”
How long did it take the team to calm down at halftime?
“The five seconds on the clock seemed like 20 seconds. I don’t know how you can run three plays in five seconds, but that goal line stand started it. We carried it over to the second half. The offense took advantage of the coverages (the Bengals) were in with Steve Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick making a lot of good plays.”
How did it feel to win the turnover margin and turn the game on defense in the second half?
“(Ryan) Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger. He’s going to try to fit the ball in tight spaces. Sometimes it’s going to get picked off, and sometimes it’s going to go (as a reception) for 40 or 50 yards. He’s been doing it all year. We have to come out fast and not have to wait until the second half to make those plays.”
Did you see the ball come out on the 27-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown?
“I saw Marcus Stroud going in and trying to pull the ball out (from
How nice is it for the defensive backs to end an interception drought?
“It’s about time. They come in bunches. Last year, we had 29. Right now, we have four or five. This is the first week the DBs have come up with one. George Wilson had one in the end zone. I was able to come up with one late. It’s good to get interceptions, but it’s better to get W’s.”
What is it about the mentality of defensive backs who love to play press coverage?
“I feel I can press any receiver in the league. It doesn’t always work like that. The coordinator doesn’t always call for us to be in press coverage. When he does, we have to be able to take advantage of it. We did a great job of jamming T.O. and Chad up at the line of scrimmage. They made some plays early on us. That’s what’s going to happen when you have two Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame-type wide receivers, and a good quarterback. If we win more battles than they win, we’ll get more W’s.”
Talk about your touchdown in the first half:
“We had some good blocking. They put me one-on-one against the cornerback and I felt like I had to beat him to get into the end zone. Anytime you get blocking like that and it’s one-on-one, you have to get into the end zone.”
Talk about what you had written on your shirt — “Why So Serious?” — from the Batman Dark Knight movie. Were you sending a message to Batman and Robin on the other sideline?
“I was having fun with it. They play the Batman and Robin thing, so I wanted to come in and be the Joker. I wanted to have fun with it, but I’m going to get in trouble for it.”
Talk about the touchdown catch on the fade pass:
“It was all (Ryan) Fitzpatrick. I did one slow move off the line (of scrimmage) and ran to the back of the end zone. Fitz put it there. If he had put it in front or high, it probably wouldn’t have been completed. He put it in the right spot and I caught the ball.
Did it feel to you that you had beaten the Bengals in the fourth quarter?
“You never know. We have had games that have gone down to the wire, so there is something in the back of my mind that maybe they will come back. We kept fighting on defense and made plays when we were supposed to, and held on.”
Looking back to training camp, did you imagine this type of season for yourself?
“I’ve always expected to play big in big games. It definitely wasn’t me. It was the coaches who called the right plays and the right time. It comes down to (Ryan) Fitzpatrick, who was putting the ball wherever he wants to.”
Talk about your elevation to being one of those guys that defenses must account for. It says a lot about your development:
“I wasn’t playing last year. Defenses don’t know who I am. They know who 83 (Lee Evans) is, so it’s easy for them to roll coverages over there and leave me wide open. We play off each other. If they roll coverages to me, it’s going to open it up for Lee.”
Did you enjoy being the first Bills player to get a pick today?
“I definitely enjoyed it. A couple of weeks ago at Kansas City, I let one go right through my hands, and that’s something that has haunted me in my sleep. I had let a big opportunity pass that day that could have really helped us win that ball game.”
Can you explain how you bounced back from 28-7?
“I can tell you exactly how we bounced back. At the very end of the first half, there was a questionable call during our goal-line stand. They came back and said that there was one second left on the clock, and (the Bengals) got the chance to kick the field goal, and they got it. Obviously, guys were upset coming in at halftime about the refs. We were upset about how we were playing as a team, and frustrations were boiling over at halftime. Guys were complaining, complaining, complaining. A few guys in the locker room, including myself, said, ‘Hey, forget the first half. We’ve put ourselves in that position, but we can’t worry about the refs. We have to overcome any adversity that may come up against us. We can’t worry about the first half. We have 30 more minutes to go to determine the outcome of the game.’ That’s what we did. Forget everyone else. We were going to continue to fight and believe in the scheme, believe in the man next to us, and continue to believe in ourselves. What you saw in that second half was a total team effort. The offense kept the chains moving and put points on the board, the defense pitched a second-half shutout, and special teams won the field-position battle. There was celebrating in the locker room after the game. It shows the true character of this Buffalo Bills team.”
Describe the interception:
“We had a chance to get off the field earlier in that drive, and I missed a tackle on the slant by Chad (Ochocinco), and I knew had to make a play to try to keep points off the board. They ran a bunch set to the right side of our defense, and (Jermaine) Gresham, the tight end, was the point man. He ran what we call a crease route, trying to go up the chute, which is what we’ve been hit with the last couple of weeks. I saw it, and I took a step down for Carson (Palmer) to read me because he’s throwing it off of me. I took a step down on the seam, up the chute on the Mike linebacker and then I jumped out on the post — they ran a double post right there on the goal-line. They ran a quick seam and I stepped down on it, and then I saw Carson looking outside and I jumped it. I caught it and I saw that I was deep in the end zone, but I saw nobody out in front of me. I just wish I would have cut back on Carson to get into the end zone.”
Was there anything said about how Cedric Benson was carrying the ball?
“With our film study throughout this week, we saw the vulnerability and the inconsistency in the ball security with their running backs. We all talked about the first guy that goes in, wrap up and hold him up, and the next two or three guys go in and rip at the ball. We had some great opportunities on some fumbles that weren’t called fumbles, but we kept playing and kept hammering away and we were able to come away with the victory today.”