NOVEMBER 17, 2013
“I guess we will continue to major in thrilling at this point. We showed great resilience, perseverance and the ability to come back today. I thought the defense really did a great job of getting some turnovers and getting us jump-started on offense. At some point, you have to rise up and play in all three phases of the game. Our defense and special teams gave our offense a lift and got them going today. That was really a great sight to see. We finally got going in all three phases, and what special teams did throughout the day was tremendous. When we needed to move the ball in the second half, our offense was able to get it going.”
Have you ever been involved in a game where you have 31 points in a quarter and only three first downs?
“I don’t think so. I expected us to play good today on defense and I thought we really did.”
Can you talk about the interceptions with
“I can’t tell you at this point.”
Could you feel the momentum turn right away after
“Yeah, you could. Right after we got the points you could start to feel it. We got out of the first quarter and settled down into the second quarter. After that, the tide changed a little bit.”
Is this your ultimate “no-flinch” game or what?
“The defense was put into a couple of tough situations today. There were a couple of places where we were able to hold them to a field goal. Then we got back on the field on offense and still couldn’t get it done. After that, the defense came up with a big play. It was a good win, and an important win at a good time. This win gave us an opportunity to look back and reflect on ourselves. Over the next week, we are going to give some players some time to rest up. We can lick our wounds and come out of this healthy now.”
After two straight overtime losses, Cleveland jumps out to a big lead. They were doing everything right. Suddenly, you guys were able to flip it. Is that the point when you look back at the end of the season and consider that the moment of truth?
“I hope I am looking back from somewhere in New York City. I think that is the thing that our guys have in their mind — to win every game that we can. This is an urgent month for us coming up. First, we had to take care of November. We have bigger fish to fry. This was an important game for us, and next time we come out will be an important game also.”
You got a real lift from two guys on special teams —
“Yeah it was Tony’s first NFL game. So he did a great job making an alert play and picking it up and running it in. Shawn continues to do well. He and Jason (DiManche) are doing what we expected them to do on special teams. They keep getting snaps on defense and it is going to make us better. We keep gathering injuries and it is only going to make us better. It’s going to make us a better football team as we continue on.”
Have you heard anything about
“He was fine. We seemed to come out of this pretty good today, at least so far. There are always a few surprises afterward.”
How bad do you need this bye?
“We always do, and there’s no doubt it comes at a great time for us. We have to put our head down and go to work now. We have five games left. We have to get after it.”
You have a bye week then three games at home:
“When the schedule came out, we knew we were on the road to begin the season. We knew it would be tough. We have weathered that storm, and now it flips back our way a bit. Now we have to roll up our sleeves and go to work.”
Is it important that, no matter what, when you come back from the bye, you will have the division lead?
“I don’t worry about that. I just worry about the end of the year. I don’t sit and look at those kinds of things. I know we have to take care of ourselves, and if we do that, it will get us to where we need to be. We have played a lot of good teams this year and we keep playing them. We get teams’ best efforts, and we have to understand that. We have to keep going.”
You got off to a rough start. Were you able to keep your composure on the sideline? Take us through your emotions after the two early interceptions:
“There was so much game left, and you can’t get down at that point. It’s kind of how I’ve been and how I am. I try not to get too high or too low with whatever’s going on in the game. We didn’t let it affect us. We came and we kept playing. We got some big plays on special teams and defense that helped us out and gave us some spark. We were able to overcome those two turnovers.”
At this point in the season, every game is a big game but rank this. Coming off back-to-back overtime losses, being able to come home and overcoming early adversity, how big is it in terms of the season so far?
“It’s a big win for us. Cleveland, they’ve done a lot of really good things. They’ve put themselves in a position in the division and things like that where this was a big game for both teams. For us, we’re coming off two close losses in overtime. For us to come out and get a big win in this one and kind of do it with a bunch of different ways of scoring points was really good.”
It’s been a long haul at his point but talk about the bye week coming up:
“It comes at a good time. We’ve got five games after the bye and it’s going to be a good stretch. For us, we’ve got to get guys healthy and get some good rest during this time and come out firing. That’s what the plan is and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Now that you’re here so late in the season, is it an advantage to have the bye at this time?
“We’re in a good position right now. For us to be leading the division and having this bye right now and a chance to get healthy and a chance to get some rest, it comes at a good time for us.”
Can you go through the two interceptions?
“I think there was a little miscommunication on what exactly what we were doing. Unfortunately it happened right there where Joe (Haden) was able to make those plays. We didn’t let it hurt us. We bounced back and found ways to score points and helped us get the win.”
How hard was it to pick up that fumble?
“It was pretty hard. I’m not going to lie. I guess that’s why I didn’t get it the first two times.”
You guys redirected a couple of punts:
“We had a good game plan going into it. We executed very well and were able to change the game.”
You had a special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown in the same quarter. That must give you guys some momentum:
“It gives your team a lift. When other guys see it, it picks them up. It was a great team effort today.”
How does it feel to go into the bye week with a win?
“After losing two in a row — two games that we could have won — we kind of had a chip on our shoulder because we knew our backs were against the wall. If we lost this game, things wouldn’t be right, so we knew we had to win this game. Things didn’t start off the way we wanted them to — they had that 13-point lead — but it just shows the type of team we have, man. Coach said it after the game: We never give up, and that’s something that’s really good to have — to have that fight, even though you’re down by 13 points, that we’re able to push through that adversity and get the ‘W.’ It’s a big win for us and a big win for the city, because our backs were against the wall and we really needed this win.”
Is it fair to say the win started with defense?
“It was a number of things. The defense played a hell of a game today, but it was also those blocked punts, man. Special teams did a great job, man. Shawn coming off the edge and getting a couple of blocks for us was huge. Tony Dye scooping (up the fumble) and scoring, and getting points for the defense and the team, it’s big man. I think we have a lot of things to learn from this tape (of this game). It’s a big win and big step in the right direction to give us a cushion in first place.”
Have you ever seen a game where things went as wrong as they can in the first quarter and then turn out the way they did?
“That was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that before, man. So many points in a couple minutes in a game, and the momentum switched so quick. It was awesome to have our special teams and defense step up where we really needed it, and offense also. If we just keep getting better and keep looking at the tape — this bye week is a big time for us to look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves and see what we’re doing wrong, and what we can improve at. We’re going to do that this bye week, but it feels good to be in first place, get a big win in the Battle of Ohio and to be at home.”
Take me through your interception:
“I just happened to get my hands on the ball. I think it was tipped at the line. We had a penalty, but the offense was able to go out there and punch it in.”
You showed some versatility out there today:
“They’re starting to put me in some extra roles. We’ve had some guys go down, so I have to go out and expand my role.”
The Bengals scored 31 points with only three first downs:
“We felt like it would be a defensive battle. We were able to force some turnovers and turn them in to touchdowns.”
You’ve played for Dick LeBeau and Mike Zimmer. How similar are they?
“They both care for their players and make great calls. They have a great understanding of defense. The only difference is that Coach Zimmer has a little bit different language.”
Was this a big win?
“We let some people back into the race with our losses, so this win was big. From here on out, every game will be crucial.”
What’s the emotion of this game after a big win?
“We’re happy that we won. We will have time to get healthy over the bye and be ready for San Diego.”
Is it nice to send Cleveland home with a loss after what happened up there earlier in the season?
“You have to defend your home turf. From here on out, we’re going to try to win every game and win the division, so that we can set ourselves up for the playoffs.”
Does it feel nice to contribute?
“Absolutely. We have so many talented guys, so anytime I can squeeze in and contribute, that’s what I’m going to do. Whenever my number is called, I’ll get in there and try to make a play.”
You had a 15-yard penalty against you today. Do you like to play with a fire or edge?
“Yeah. I like to play with a fire. One of our linebacker’s was getting pushed. I’ve got everybody’s back on defense, and if someone’s pushing me, they’ve got my back. I retaliated and pushed him, and I think that set the tone. Everyone was like, ‘OK, let’s go. They want to play like that?’ We stopped them, they got three points, and think that set the tempo. If they push my teammate, I’ve got their back.”
Did you think if you stopped their run, you guys could sit back in the passing game and sit on their plays?
“(Bengals defensive coordinator Mike) Zimmer called great plays and we executed ... he knows when the run and pass is coming. He knows the tendencies on that team. He understands what the Browns are trying to do to his defense.”
How much is Bengals LB James Harrison rubbing off on you, and how much have you taken from him this year?
“(I’ve taken) a lot. He’s a leader ... I crack jokes with him all the time, and I enjoy having him on the team.”
Can you see yourself as a younger James Harrison, since he’s always played with that aggression and edge?
“You know, sometimes he rubs off on me ... Sometimes I feel like I’m in his element. I take the same energy he does and sometimes it makes me go crazy on the field.”
Do you think his interception turned the game around?
“Yeah. I told him, ‘that’s a momentum changer and hopefully the offense can get some points,’ and they did.”
What did the offense getting on track after the defense started making big plays say about this team?
“Resilience ... resolve ... we’re some fighters. We’re some dog soldiers. All we can do is fight when we’re told to fight. That’s it. I don’t get too high; I don’t get too low.”
What happened on the play where you came down with the ball?
“(I was) just playing hard. Someone made a good hit on it and the ball shot up, and I was just able to catch it. Is that an interception or a fumble? ... I was just trying to get the ball down and get to the bye week feeling good.”
What happened on the play you tipped the ball that James Harrison intercepted?
“The one I tapped? I just got my hands up. We have a big front, so we do a good job of getting our hands up. It’s to our advantage to get our hands up.”
What does it say about this team to turn the corner again with a win going into the bye?
“We know we have a talented football team and it just felt good getting back home — we’re not going to lose at home. Simple as that.”
You seemed to have some strong feelings about the fans booing early in the game?
“I don’t appreciate that, speaking for me. I don’t appreciate it. Stay with us and believe with us. That’s what you’re here for (if) you’re here to support (us). If something bad happens, that’s not our plan to go out there and have something bad (happen). The negativity doesn’t help. Stay positive, stay encouraging — we’ll fight. They’ll know we’ll fight. Just stick with us a while.”
Did the offense notice the defense was trying to pick them up?
“It goes both ways, you know? When they’re feeling down, we try to get them up. When we’re down, they get us up. We’re a team, a family. We fight for each other. We’ve got each others’ backs, and that’s what it is around here. We’ve got each other’s back in the locker room, no matter what’s going on. You’ve seen us on the road — down all those points, and we fight back. We know what we can do. We just (need) to stay locked in and focused, and continue to stay positive and do it, because if you play hard and you continue to do it, good things will happen. And I believe that. That’s going to take us a long way.”
Let’s talk about the game started because you guys had to come back from behind again to win today as this team has a few times this season:
“It didn’t start off good — we finished good, (however). Didn’t nobody flinch on either the offense or the defense. We just kept saying, ‘Somebody has to make a play.’ We made a couple plays and put (ourselves) in a position to score, and it turned out pretty good for us.”
James Harrison’s interception was tremendous. What did that play do to energize the Bengals sideline?
“It changed the whole momentum of the game. This was a well-played game by the special teams, the offense and the defense. They didn’t start off fast (on offense), but then we got them into position to make plays and then they picked it up. (Those are the) signs of a good team — working together to be great.”
Sometimes special teams don’t get a lot of attention — but two blocked punts (one for a touchdown) and a 27 yard punt return by you that set up a field goal ... That phase of the game was huge today:
“We just keep working, man. (Bengals special teams coach) Darrin (Simmons) does a good job putting a game plan together. Some people take special teams for a joke, but over here, special teams is just as important as the starters on offense and defense. I tip my hat to those guys out there blocking those punts, and my buddy (Bengals safety) Tony (Dye) got himself a touchdown. That’s good for him coming off the practice squad, getting released and coming back — just having the confidence to go out there and trust and believe in what he sees (us doing). And Darrin put us in a great situation to make good plays.”
Did you guys see stuff during the week that made you think you’d be able to get to the kicking game?
“No, we just came out and executed our plays. We had that mindset going in. Even though you’re not going to come free, I’m not going to give up and say, ‘I’m not going to block you.’ You just have to keep that mentality that if you come free, (you tell yourself), ‘I’m going to block the kick.’ ”
What happened on the one you blocked?
“I just kept coming in and tried to run by the guy before he could get his head up — that’s all it was. There wasn’t secret to it.”
What kind of feeling is it to finally make an impact like that when you’ve been trying to all season?
“It feels good just knowing you can contribute to the team’s success. That’s all it is — you’ve got to keep making big plays like that.”
“Good afternoon. It was a disappointing game for us today. We were not able to overcome the second quarter, and the game got away from us at that point. I felt good about how we came out and played the first quarter, although I wish we could have put the ball in the end zone the two times we were down there. I give Cincinnati credit because they stayed with it and continued to play. We did come back in the third quarter and were able to make it a game, but could not come up with the plays we needed to make. Anytime you turn the ball over and the opposing team is able to score off those turnovers is big. We’ll go back and take a look at those plays and see what went wrong, but that is unacceptable. Our protection has been solid up until now, and we’ll see what happened in this game and fix it. We did not protect the quarterback the way we needed to. Our defense played outstanding for the most part. This was one game. We still have a lot left to play in this season and we’re going to play hard the rest of the way out. I challenge our guys to dig deep. We have the (Pittsburgh) Steelers this week and we will be ready to play.”
What do you think caused the total breakdown?
“It comes down to plays that were not executed effectively.”
Do you think the moment was too big for some of the younger guys?
“I don’t believe that. You have to play every play. When you don’t, that turns the game. We’ll look at the tape, coach and make the necessary corrections and move on.”
How do you assess Jason Campbell’s day?
“He had a tough day. The protection wasn’t as good as it has been, and we missed some connections.”
Is it hard to stomach Cincinnati had three first downs in the first half with 31 points?
“It’s something you don’t see very often, for sure.”
“Sometimes if the protection isn’t there, or he doesn’t see a particular guy, he’ll check it down. Sometimes the guys weren’t open, so it’s a variety of things. You’re looking to get completions to move the chains.”
Does this game make a grander statement in terms of one team on another level and the other still working to get there?
“We all are working to get there, and we’re going to continue to do so. Again, it’s one game. We have to accept the outcome and get better from it.”
Did the weather have any factor on Jason Campbell throwing the ball or any of your decisions?
“It wasn’t really a factor until later in the game when the rain got heavier and the wind started picking up.”
Early in the game when you decided to kick down at the two, what went in to that decision?
“You never want to settle for field goals, but it was a full two. I felt in order to get points on the board, it was what we needed to do. If it had been any tighter I may have thought differently.”
Did you think settling for field goals in the first quarter would come back to haunt you?
“Anytime early in the game like, that you want to get touchdowns instead of field goals. I put the onus on my shoulders. It was an opportunity for us to get up early in the game, at least 21-0 and make it a different ballgame.”
How close were you to getting touchdowns on the two early drives that ended with field goals?
“We were close. One time the ball got tipped; it would have been a touchdown to Greg (Little). Maybe I should’ve thrown it a little higher. The next time, we missed it by a half a yard. Those opportunities, we can’t let them slip through our hands, especially on the road against a good defense like this. We knew they were going to get it together at some point. In a big hostile environment like this, you’ve got to weather the storm early. I thought if we could have punched those in for touchdowns, it could have been a different outcome.”
Why do you think the wheels came off the wagon after your first interception?
“I’m just now sure. You give them credit. You can’t take everything. You’ve got to give them credit. They did adjust and did some great things defensively. They made some plays, tipped the ball in the air and got interceptions. That’s to their credit.”
Were the Bengals trying to take away the deep pass?
“They were pretty much taking it away, trying to make us work everything underneath. especially when we got behind. They were really trying not to give up the big plays. They were going to make you work the ball 10-12 plays down field and score.”
How disappointed were you to not score those touchdowns early in a big division game like this?
“I’m very disappointed. I’m more disappointed in myself more than anything. The opportunity, we let get by. I thought I was being a leader coming out here. I’ve got to set the tempo early in the game. Like I said, I’ve got to finish those drives down in the red zone and give us some points, especially early, so we can put some room between us and them a little bit. It’s very disappointing. It’s frustrating. At the end of the day, it is one game. We still have six more left and all of those are going to be very important. It’s all about bouncing back and don’t beat yourself up too hard. We’ve just got to get ready for next week.”
Do you think the first interception turned the momentum of the game?
“I definitely feel that way. We were up 13-0 at that point. The next thing you know, the D end got his hands up and tipped the ball in the air and it landed right into (James) Harrison’s hands. Those are the ones that are frustrating the most — when you don’t throw it directly to them and it gets tipped and they get an interception. Like I said, give them credit. They made plays when they had to. We’ve just got to bounce back.”
Did you sense from some of the younger guys that maybe they weren’t ready for the moment of a game of this magnitude?
“I though we were ready. Our guys came out, the emotion pregame I thought was there. When we first started the game off, I thought the emotion and everything was there. Like I said, when you’ve got a chance to put a team down in this league, you’ve got to get them down while you can. I thought just us settling for those field goals, they thought they were still in it. You know 21-0 instead of 13-0 is a huge difference. It puts the pressure on them and makes them have to change their offense a little bit. When you’re down 13-0, you’re still in the game.”
Was the first blocked punt a snap issue?
“No. It was a clean operation. My head is down as soon as I catch the ball. I’m not sure what happens up front. I believe in our guys. It just wasn’t good enough today.”
Was the snap off the mark on the second one?
“No. I caught it clean. Walked up field. Hit my line, but their guy got a piece of it.”
How disappointed are you?
“I’m disappointed for my team and the special teams perspective. It’s not good enough. I’ll get after it on Monday.”
Did you have a chance at halftime to review the plays?
“No. As a punter, you try to block it out and go to the next one. You can’t sit there and rehash everything that happens in a game or it will drive you crazy.”
Explain what you saw blocking on the blocked punt:
“From my eyes, I was looking in the middle. I won’t know exactly what happened until I see the tape. I felt a guy coming from my right side. I don’t know if there was a miscommunication on the line. We’ll get that sorted out tomorrow. Coach Tabor (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) is a great coach. He’s done a lot of great things in making us a great special teams unit.”
Talk about only coming away with three points after your 43-yard blast:
“That’s just how the game goes sometimes. We have to continue to do our job on offense and execute.”
Talk about your interception return for touchdown:
“He ran a deep comeback on the second one. I came out of my break and undercut the receiver, caught the ball and scored.”
Talk about the Browns’ fast start:
“I felt like we were doing a good job. I was excited. One thing led to another and the next thing you know, we’re down big. Sometimes, you need to be able to stop the bleeding. You need to make a play to stop momentum, and (the Bengals) were doing a very good job on special teams. They created turnovers.”
Were you ready to play this week?
“Absolutely. Our defense speaks for itself when it’s out (on the field). We’re not going to allow people to walk over us. It wasn’t a good performance for this whole team.”