NOVEMBER 27, 2011
“One thing I told our guys was, ‘We’re consistent.’ We are 11 for 11 this year in taking (the game) to the last series. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. That was not the start today that we wanted. We fought back into the football game. We got close and then took over in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we did a good job today running the football. I thought we played the run poorly, defensively today. We didn’t tackle very well. It will be interesting to watch on tape. We have to play better defensively down the stretch. Offensively, we saw a lot of two-deep coverages. We have to be able to handle it and get away from it. We were able to run the football on the converse side, and that helped with that.
“Other than the one penalty that brought us back that took us out of a drive, I thought that was a good day. I think on the quarterback play before halftime (
“It’s my policy not to explain what we do on offense, defense, or special teams. That was a good job of getting the ball there on third and long. That was a big play.”
Do you have any idea why your team continues to fall behind early in games?
“I don’t have any reason why. I raised cain last week in the locker room about that. We seem to be comfortable being behind and fighting back. I know when that fourth quarter rolled; I said to myself, ‘Well, they let us stay close into the fourth quarter. Here we go.’ We certainly don’t panic. At one point, they had a second-and-three, and we ended up with a big sack to get off the field and switched the field position. We are going to work hard to fix that (getting behind). I would love to learn how to play with the lead. We have to work hard to reverse that if we can.”
Talk about how well your defense played in the fourth quarter:
“We settled down and played. We let the quarterback scramble for first downs in the first quarter. He scrambled for one in the third quarter that was huge. We cannot allow that to happen on third-and-18. We have to get better at that. We know that part of (Colt) McCoy’s deal is that he doesn’t get his eyes up and doesn’t look downfield to pass when he’s set to run. We have to understand that and do a better job staying disciplined in our lanes; don’t get pushed by, and so forth. Staying on our feet. And when he runs, get around him and tackle him. We know he’s not going to slide; he’s going to run until he gets the first down. I thought Andy (Dalton) did a pretty good job of that today on our side, but again he needs to take better care of the ball when he does run it.”
After the two losses and disappointment, did you like the emotion to start the game?
“I don’t worry about our ‘want-to’ and energy. We’ve got a lot of energy. I don’t worry about that. Our guys prepare their tails off. We were disciplined; we didn’t win and came up short a couple of times. We ran out of time, basically. Today, we didn’t run out of time.”
How much different of a quarterback is Andy Dalton now than he was in Week One at Cleveland?
“He has the confidence to get us out of whatever situation we are in. Yet, he has an ability to forget, whether whether it be a positive or negative play, and move on to the next one. I think that’s a great quality that he has. He’s been through a lot. He’s handling a lot of stuff. It’s fun to be around him. It’s fun to watch him deal with it. He gets us into the right plays. He gets the ball to where it needs to be. If he’s not quite right, he comes back the next play and gets it right. Whatever the situation, he’s doing well.”
In that process, how much does that 51-yard play with 1:08 remaining in the game help with the confidence?
“That’s what I’m saying. That’s one play. He’ll come back the next play. He doesn’t get too high or too low, one way or another. What you don’t want is him being careless with the football in that same situation. He’ll keep playing. If the play is there, he’ll let it fly and let A.J. (Green) go up and get it. Just like he did with Jermaine (Gresham) today (on a 22-yard touchdown pass play). He’ll put the ball right there where Jermaine can make a play, and that’s why we’ve got these guys. That’s a nice job by them all the way around.”
You say Andy can put the ball right there, but putting it where A.J. Green can get it is also a pretty big area:
“That’s a huge area. That’s why he was the fourth pick in the (2011) draft.”
Have you ever seen a receiver better than he is at getting to the ball?
“I have not. I said that after three days of training camp. He’s the best first-round draft pick that I’ve ever been around. He continues to amaze me every day. Practice, games, whatever it is. His demeanor. His abilities. Whatever he does. He came out to practice on Wednesday and it was like he had had a month off. The energy in his legs and the spring. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”
You’re not usually so gushing with praise:
“I’m turning a new leaf. They (Dalton and Green) are two special guys. They really are. I told the team their rookie year is over. I told the team a week ago, they are done (being rookies). We’re counting on them like veteran players and that’s what we need down the stretch. ”
Is it their confidence that translates to the rest of the team?
“I think it’s their ability to just be one of the guys, and the rest of the team knows they have to play up to their ability. These guys are playing a very high level. I think across the board, we’ve got to keep trying to work to play to that level. People say, ‘What about Andy?’ Well, we have to make sure that everybody plays to their abilities, so Andy can keep playing within himself.”
Marvin would like to see you all play with the lead every once in a while:
“I would like to see us play with the lead also. We’re just finding a way to win. It doesn’t matter what goes on or when it goes on, we’ve been in every game that we’ve played in.”
Where do you get the feel for how close you have to get the ball to a receiver like A.J. Green? You don’t have to be precise, just get the ball in a general area:
“Those guys make big plays. You just get it around them and they’re going to go make a play on the ball.”
Is it the exact same thing with Gresham? Just throw it up there and he’ll go get it?
“Yeah, we like the match up out there. We took a shot and just let Jermaine (Gresham) use his athletic ability.”
How flexible is Jay Gruden’s offense?
“There’s so much diversity in the offense. We can do so many different things and put guys in different spots. We’re trying to find the best match that we can.”
The body language you had going into the huddle before that last drive was like ‘ok, this is going to be fun’:
“That’s what you have to do. You have to step up and show them we’re about to win this game.”
Did you feel like the protection was a little better in the second half as opposed to the second quarter?
“Yeah, I felt like the protection was great in the second half. There were some mistakes early on, but we got those corrected and guys came out and played hard and physical. It gave us a chance to get back in it and win the game.”
Do you throw a different ball to A.J. Green than you do to other receivers because of his ability?
“You can take chances with him. If I put the ball around him he will go and make a play on it.”
Have you ever had a guy with the catching radius of A.J. Green?
“I haven’t. It feels like all my receivers in college were shorter guys. A.J. (Green) is a special player.”
How much did that third quarter touchdown drive lift you guys up?
“We knew going into halftime we were down ten and were still in the game. It set the tone early on for us.”
It seemed like Cleveland was playing the way you guys wanted to play in the first half, then the roles switched and you guys were able to execute your game plan. What was the adjustment?
“We had to focus. Go out and play and not worry about anything else.”
How aware were you of Joe Haden? Is he one of the top two or three cornerbacks you have seen this year?
“He’s a great player. I definitely had to know where he was. He was running around with A.J. (Green), but we knew when we could take our shots.”
Was there any competitive talk from A.J. Green during this past week?
“Not really. I think it was just a matter of him going out there and playing to his potential. He made big plays for us, and we expect that out of him.”
Are you at the point now where you’re surprised when he doesn’t catch the ball?
“Yeah, I think a lot of us feel that way. We all think if we give him a shot he’s going to come down with it because that’s just the type of player he is.”
“He did a great job today and the offensive line was doing a good job of giving him some holes to run through. It was great to have the running game the way it was, and he was a big part of it.”
What does this win today do for the mentality of the team after two back to back tough losses?
“It’s big. We knew we had to get a win today. We have to keep the momentum rolling because our goal is to get to the playoffs.”
Describe your feelings going from your first rookie game, at Cleveland in September, to the point you’re at now:
“There were a lot of unknowns going into that game. Obviously I had never played a regular season game in the NFL, now I’m very confident. I feel like I know what I’m doing and I’m able to see things out there. I’ve come a long way since that first game.”
When you come back on the field and you’ve had a chance to look at photos and maybe things that are going on, what are some things you wanted to change in your own game?
“Trust in my technique. That was it, basically. Just use my technique more.”
Talk about the play late in the game from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green:
“We called the right protections and picked it up really well, and then Andy to A.J. You know how that works, usually. They’re a tremendous duo together. Those guys are phenomenal.”
You’ve got four catches against these guys now for over 150 yards — three of them today for 110, including the one catch for over 40. You’re just a big play waiting to happen. What’s the deal?
“Just give me chances. Whenever my number’s called, I’m going to try and make the play.”
You went after Cleveland CB Joe Haden today, blocking and getting physical with him. It’s a friendly rivalry, isn’t it?
“Oh yeah, it’s friendly, man. Joe’s a great player. I had the privilege of playing with him in college. He’s going to be a good one. I look forward to that challenge two times a year.”
I know it is killing you, and Bengals fans, that you missed a game and a half against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Fans are already looking to the rematch when you’re available, hopefully, for every snap:
“I had an unfortunate injury with my knee, but I’m healthy now and ready to get back next week.”
It looked like Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron was playing a lot of Cover 2, and maybe Cover 1 every once in a while, but he always had a safety deep in the middle of the football field. It looked like you guys got it solved:
“Yeah, definitely. At halftime, we came in and made some adjustments. I told Jay (Gruden) and Andy (Dalton) what I saw, and they gave me some chances out there.”
Jay Gruden made some nice formation use of TE
“I feel like they can’t just key on one of us, with Jermaine and Ced (Benson) back there. I feel like we have a powerful offense. We get better each week.”
Are you giving any credit to the defensive line on that interception?
“I always give it (credit) to my D-line — that’s the only reason why we get interceptions. With the pressure they give, it’s awesome. They’re doing a great job.”
Did you feel maybe Browns QB Colt McCoy was going to throw the ball out of bounds if he hadn’t been hit?
“I figured that’s where he was throwing the ball — out of bounds. Obviously, McCoy didn’t get enough on it to throw it out of bounds.”
What kind of coverage where you in on that play?
“It was just a good call by Coach Zimmer. (
That touchdown at the end of the first half to Browns WR Greg Little was a tough one, right?
“That was very tough. That definitely can’t happen at the end of a half, especially when we get the ball back. We didn’t want to give them any type of momentum, or anything like that. We have to watch the film and go to practice and work on that.”
Was that a miscommunication between you and Adam Jones?
“No, it wasn’t any miscommunication. It was a good offensive play they ran. We just have to do a better job to cover it.”
How important was it to establish the run?
“I don’t know. I don’t know how important it was. We had it established, and then we got away from the run. I don’t know.”
You had a big 33-yard run:
“It was good. We hadn’t had a run over 20 yards in quite a while. We talked about that a little bit earlier in the week. We know we have the potential and talent to do that, but the situation hadn’t been there. When the opportunity opened, I took advantage of it.”
You wore down the defense with the run and also got involved in the passing game:
“Yeah. I got a couple of passes. Not a lot of positive gain. At this point it’s whatever I can do.”
You’ve made a lot of progress. How important is that to you?
“I give credit to the coaching staff for putting us in the position to make plays. During the lockout (Domata) Peko and some of the vets set up a mini camp for us to work on our technique, and I think that helped us build chemistry.”
Have you started seeing more double teams due to the fact that teams are game-planning for you?
“Yes. You just have to continue playing fundamentally sound and it will work out.”
Is your goal to have the most sacks of an interior defensive lineman?
“My goal is to help the team win. If I happen to get it, that’s great, but I’m just trying to win.”
You’re within two sacks of beating the Bengals’ all-time defensive tackle sack record. Does that mean anything to you?
“It means a lot. If I do get it, I’ll be engraved in Bengals history. That would be an honor.”
At any point did you think that you guys were playing flat?
“No. I didn’t think we were flat. I thought we made mistakes because we were being too aggressive. I never thought at any point that they had our number. We were being too aggressive. When we calmed down, we did a good job.”
Browns RB Peyton Hillis is a tough running back to bring down when he gets going:
“Yeah, he’s a good back. They got the ball to him early. He looked healthy, so I’m sure that from here on out, he’ll be up for the rest of the season.”
You held them to three points in the second half and had several big stops:
“That’s what it’s all about. You have to fight for 60 minutes, regardless of the score. You have to continue to fight, get stops and chip away at the score, and that’s what we did.”
You’ve had several come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. Does it help having done it before?
“Yes. It gives us confidence. We know what we have to do and know there will be critical stops. Special teams played great today by stopping WR Josh Cribbs, because he’s the best returner in the game. A win is a win. We’ll take this and move on.”
It must be exciting seeing AJ Green back out there:
“He’s the rookie of the year by far. He’s a good guy and makes big plays. He does it every week in practice and it translates to the game. That’s what good pro football players are able to do.”
You are 7-4 with a Steelers rematch coming up:
“Yeah, we’re right back where we wanted to be. The good thing is that we just saw them two weeks ago. We know what they want to do, and they know what we want to do. It’s going to be a good game. We just have to lay it all out on the line.”
Today was a big day for the special teams. You were able to neutralize Josh Cribbs and also kicked the game winning field goal:
“Josh Cribbs is a guy you really have to prepare for. The coaches did a great job getting us ready for him. I’m a little disappointed that I gave him the opportunities to return the ball, but the team did a good job stopping him.”
Take us through the process of kicking the game-winning field goal:
“The fact that the offense moved the ball down the field like they did was the real game winner.”
When you’re behind in the fourth quarter, do guys on the sideline have a feeling like ‘we’ve been here before’?
“You never want to say that, but it shows the resilience of this team. As long as we finish the game, we’re doing a great job.”
“Obviously it is a very disappointing loss to be up at halftime by 10 points, and we just couldn’t finish it off. The Bengals did a good job of coming back on us. If we won the game, it would have been a team victory. But we lost, and it is a team loss.”
Was the snap at the end just a bad snap, or was it something else?
“It was a low snap. It rolled back from what I could tell.”
What has been the issue with the snapper? There were a few high snaps earlier in the game:
“We have been working on it because it has been something that is going on. We have tried a lot of different things to get him back on the mark, but we will keep trying.”
Was there any temptation at the end to punt?
“We were kicking a field goal to win.”
What about the catch at the end by Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green:
“We put pressure on him, and I don’t know what they were trying to do, because it looked like they had two guys running vertical. We had guys in coverage and the ball was thrown up. A.J. (Green) just went up and caught the ball. It looked like (DL) Ahtyba (Rubin) was on him when the ball was thrown, so he just threw it up. A.J. made a nice play and a nice run to get them into field goal range.”
Was there anything you could have done on that play?
“I’ll have to see the specifics of it. From what I could see, they were matched up man-to-man and the ball was thrown up. A.J. (Green) recognized the ball was in the air and made a nice play.”
How much did QB Colt McCoy’s interception in the second half change the game?
“I think we came out and played well. He was trying to throw the ball away and he got hit, so the ball stayed in play.”
What was the difference between the offense in the first and second halves?
“Seventeen points in the first half and three in the second.”
Your field position at the end would have been better if WR Greg Little would have caught that ball. Do you think that was a catchable ball?
“I do. I thought they would bring pressure, so we blocked seven and it was designed for him to run an option route. Colt went the right place with the ball, but it just wasn’t caught.”
Greg Little had a rough day and it looked like he had been improving:
“I think he did have some drops.”
What impact did Peyton Hillis have on the game?
“He’s a hard runner. I thought he had some production and helped us move the football. Overall, he helped our cause. Unfortunately, Montario (Hardesty) couldn’t go. Late in the warmup sequence, he felt his calf move and we were concerned about it. We changed midstream and used Peyton more than we thought we would, and Chris (Ogbonnaya) too.”
Did RB Peyton Hillis appear fatigued in the fourth quarter?
“No, I don’t think so. He played hard front to back.”
The Bengals moved the ball well in each of their first two series in both halves:
“I think they are like most teams and want to run the football. It looked like they had some successful and efficient runs which got them in position to do what they wanted on second down. They are a good team and they executed well. There were times in the game we stopped them, and times that we didn’t.”
Is closing out games an important part in the learning process for young teams?
“It’s important for all teams. It’s important to play well front to back, and get ahead of a team and then finish them off.”
Was the execution down the stretch more disappointing since you have ended well in the past?
“We found a way to be better to start the game. But you have to play well the whole game.”
Did K Phil Dawson give you a distance he was comfortable with in that direction?
“We were within range.”
When you went up 20-10 in the third quarter, did you feel like you were in pretty good shape at that point?
“Yeah I thought we were. I thought we really played well early on in the game; (we) came out with some tempo. We haven’t done that in a while, and I thought that was really good for us. We fought hard. I just thought we let it slip away from us.”
What happened during your interception?
“It was a special play that we put in, and I was honestly trying to throw the ball out of bounds. I thought I had protection in front of me, which was the design of the play. When the guy came through me, I didn’t even see that ball. I got the wind knocked out of me. The ball just sailed straight up. I didn’t have anybody downfield; I was trying to throw it away. I didn’t even know what happened. I knew the ball was going to go out of bounds, so that was pretty unfortunate.”
What did you see on the third-down pass to WR Greg Little just prior to the missed field goal?
“That’s just an option route by Greg. He was (covered) man-to-man and I thought we had it, but I’ll have to go back and look at it.”
How tough does it make your job when there are a lot of dropped passes?
“It’s just important not to lose confidence in your guys. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in the receivers, and I know they have all the confidence in the world in me. On a day like today, where we are getting drops, you just have to continue to show them that you’re confident in them, continue to bring them along. That kills you, especially on third down. I thought our offensive line did a really nice job most of the game picking up the blitzes, because they were bringing a lot of stuff — a lot of heat. Skill position-wise, we’ve got to be able to play along with that. The offensive line was playing hard. I thought Peyton (Hillis) ran the ball well. I thought we did some really good things. Just in crunch time, we’ve got to be able to make some plays.”
How did it impact the game to have RB Peyton Hillis back playing today?
“I thought Peyton did a nice job. We thought Monterio (Hardesty) was going to play, but he wasn’t feeling right. So I thought Chris (Ogbonnaya) and Peyton, when they were in, both did a really nice job of running the football. I think we finished with over 100 yards rushing.”
Did the running game open up the passing for you at all?
“A little bit I felt, especially early. I felt like we were moving the ball at will, pretty much. There in the second half, we shot ourselves. When we’ve got third downs and opportunities to stay on the field, we just have to (take advantage of them). It helps the defense, it helps the time of possession, it helps a lot of things.”
Did you see the catch by Bengals WR A.J. Green at the end of the game?
“I did. Yeah, it was an amazing catch. That won the game for them.”
What happened on the first-half scramble on third down when the Bengals challenged the spot of the ball?
“To be honest, I thought I had the first down. I really thought as I was running I was past the first-down marker. I don’t know if I missed it in my vision or what. I guess I just missed it.”
What was running through your mind when K Phil Dawson lined up for the potential go-ahead field goal?
“Well, Phil told me where we needed to get to and we got there. I would’ve liked to, obviously, convert on third down. But Phil told me his range. Phil’s the best kicker in the league; he comes through in the clutch. He made a huge field goal earlier in the game. At that point, you think you have it. Now we’ve lost on two field goals like that. It’s pretty frustrating.”
How disappointing is it to lose after the offense looked its best in the first two quarters as it had all season?
“As a young team, we have to figure out (how to play with) a lead, which we haven’t really done all year, and go finish. Don’t stop. Let’s continue to make the plays that we’ve made. The defense was playing well. It’s just one of those things that flashes by. It’s really frustrating.”
Could you sense a mentality change after the Bengals tied the score?
“I didn’t sense that. We moved it right up the field and had a big third down to Greg. We ran the ball when we had time. We needed to make a play and we didn’t. I love for it to come down to having the ball in our hands on offense, trying to go score and win. That’s exactly where I want it. We’ve just got to be able to do a better job.”
What was the frustration level of the offensive players at the end of the game?
“Overall, it was disappointing. You play pretty well, and then you just can’t finish it off. I can play better; I think we all can. I think if you interviewed every guy on the offense, they’ll come in and say, ‘Hey, I can play better.’ That’s the hard part. It means a lot to everyone. It means a lot to me. I mean, my goodness. All I want to do is win; I don’t care how we get it done. This was a big game for us — one the road in the division. We had an opportunity and we let it get away.”
What happened on the missed field goal attempt?
“It was a bad snap — really bad. It was a very bad snap.”
Was it because of the pressure by the Bengals line, or did they do something differently that time?
“No. There was nothing different by them, and it was nothing on my guys. It was 100 percent me that time. It was just a bad snap.”
Is it more psychological because of the previous issues with bad snaps? Is that sticking with you?
“I’m in a pretty tough slump right now. I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to get out of it. Unfortunately, with my position, you’re sort of in the spotlight when it comes to field goals. If I mess up, you know it. I’m just trying my best to get out of this slump.”
How do you overcome this one psychologically?
“We just have to go back to practice and learn from our mistakes. We’ve got to get this one out of our minds and just move on. We have another big opponent coming up this week, so we just have to have a short memory and get ready for next week.”
Did it seem like the Browns’ defense was bailing out the team, but it got to be one time too many?
“We’ve been doing a good job defensively of holding teams to zero points or hardly any points in the second half. I guess you could put it on us or put it on me. I could’ve had a better rush. We just have to work on it this week and make some better plays.”
Why did you think you could make the 55-yard field goal toward the end of the game?
“Because I made a 60-yarder in warmups going that way. That’s what pregame is for — to go out, evaluate the conditions, and tell your coaches what your range is.”
Was the wind pretty consistent?
“It was pretty much toward their bench the entire game. There were a few gusts as the rain bands came in, but we had it pegged.”
So the special teams coach was aware of what your range was today?
“Absolutely. I tell the special teams coach in pregame and he communicates that to the head coach. The communication was clear and very good on the sideline.”
During the last kick, was there a crosswind?
“Yes. I was playing the wind like I always do.”
What was the whole operation like on that final kick?
“The whole operation was not what it needed to be to make that kick.”
Can you put into words how frustrating that final kick was?
“No. I’d care not to comment on all of that.”
What was the difference offensively between the first and second half?
“I think we still moved the ball well in the second half. When it came time for us to make the play on third down, we just didn’t do it. If you want to keep drives moving and score points, you have to make plays on third down.”
What effect did having RB Peyton Hillis back have today?
“I thought he did a nice job. He hasn’t been out there in a long time. He did surprisingly well as far as timing and making the right cuts. I think he’ll really happy watching the tape.”
Did you feel the momentum changing in the second half?
“They definitely came on in the second half and moved the ball pretty well. They got points when they needed to. I think we still moved the ball well in the second half. It was just a matter of making plays on third down when your number is called.”
Is the next step figuring out how to close out close games?
“I think so. The Bengals are a good team. You can see the improvement that we’re making, but we still need to learn how to close a team out in the second half.”