OCTOBER 10, 2010
“To sum it up, I wanted to go win the football game there at the end. I will take responsibility for that. I think we are good enough and can execute well enough to go win the football game. The third-down interception happened because I wanted to be aggressive. I put us in that situation, but I think we’ve got to play football that way. You can’t play scared. “It’s a game where we didn’t do a lot of things exactly right early on, but we kept it a close game. We’ve just got to keep pressing the metal until we get it right.”
Early in the game, you said you had to fight through a lot of stuff :
“We did. We didn’t do things exactly right, and we look no further than the end of our noses at what we’re doing wrong. We had five penalties in the first quarter. There are a lot of things we’ve got to do a lot better. I keep telling them to keep playing and things will turn your way if you keep doing it right.”
Seems like it was a game where you had an opportunity to finish but couldn’t get it done:
“No, we didn’t. We wanted to be aggressive there at the end and pick up the first down to put the game away, but couldn’t do it.”
It seems like you forced a number of fumbles and made it tough on the Bucs:
“We did. We had opportunities to build momentum early, but we couldn’t sustain it. We need to play better football.”
You had nine penalties on the day and five pre-snap penalties. I know that drives you nuts:
“We had five penalties alone in the first quarter. You can’t have penalty after penalty.”
It seems like this game came down to the team which made the most contested catches down the field:
“It always is. We have to get in position. We can’t be in a position where every catch is contested. We need to know where the ball is going to go and execute the play.”
You go into the bye week with a bad taste in your mouth:
“It is what it is. We have to drop the egos and get back to work. Bring your shovel and go to work. Quit worrying about who you are.”
Talk about the last couple of minutes of that game:
“We felt like we had the game in control, and those two plays sealed our fate in this one. We had an opportunity to go into our bye week with a win and we didn’t do it. We were a little bit off all day. We were a little off on the last couple of plays. And that summed up the game for us.”
Can you talk about the penalties?
“We started off with a handful of penalties in the first quarter and we never got those out of our system. They are not difficult things; they are easy things that we are screwing up on. We’re a little bit off. You can’t beat anyone is this league when you’re a little bit off.”
What happened on your first interception that was returned for a touchdown?
“He guessed and ran to the route that we were running. Looking back now, I shouldn’t have thrown it. I wish I wouldn’t have the thrown the ball, obviously. He made a great play on that one.”
What happened on the interception that you threw to
“I don’t think we’d run that play yet. As I said before, we were just a little bit off all game. When you’re playing teams in this league, those little mistakes can turn into big ones. That turned into an interception which ended up tying the game. We’re not going to beat people playing like that.”
Did you question that play call at all?
“No. We were trying to get a first down to run the clock out. When you make aggressive calls, we need to make aggressive plays to convert those into first downs. Had we not thrown that interception, we probably would have won the game. We would have punted and changed field position on them. It probably wouldn’t have resulted in a touchdown.”
Are you guys on the same page on offense?
“We’re just a little off and have been a number of times. I’m just speaking for the offense. But when you lose three times, we’re probably a little off all over the place. Offensively, we’re not playing good enough, and I didn’t play good enough today. Being the quarterback, its my job to find a way to win. That’s the No. 1 thing that you define a quarterback by. We didn’t win, so it’s my fault.”
Even though Marvin Lewis said it was his fault?
“Like I said, I’m the quarterback of this team. I need to find ways to win the football game.”
Thoughts on the last pass to
“We’re just a little off. That’s a routine play for us, and we didn’t make it. That’s one of the many mistakes we made today. We should have made enough plays today, but it ended up being a close game and we ended up losing. We need to find the way to make those little plays and make things happen.”
Is this a good time for the bye week?
“I think so. This is a good chance to go back, and look at what we’ve done after five games. It’s a good chance to look at our performances individually, and as a unit. It’ll be a good chance to look at third downs, chances in the red zone and our runs on first and third downs. We need to find a way to clean it up and make it right. It’s a good chance for us to still have a lot of season left. We still have 11 games left, essentially a college football season left. We have to get ready for that.”
Is it a must-win situation from here on out?
“You have to win every game. You can’t lose games to teams you shouldn’t lose to. You have to win big games, prime-time games and division games. You can’t lose any games, and that’s the way we’re going to approach the next 11 games.”
It looked like it was just one of those days:
“Yeah. It’s a tough loss for us. The two back-to-back losses really sting. It was a long game that didn’t go our way in any aspect. On a day when you’re doing things wrong, you’re going to get beat by anyone.”
It seems like there were always a couple of guys out of sync:
“I think that’s the difference between winning and losing. When 11 guys execute a play the way they’re supposed to, you win the game. We have to find ways to clean that up and move on.”
Is there a sense that some guys are trying to do too much?
“We’ll have to figure that out. We’ll watch the film and see what we need to improve on. At the end of the game, we marched right down the field. But we had a penalty and an interception, and that was the game. We can do it. It’s not a matter of not being good enough, but when you don’t execute as a team, you’re not going to win many football games.”
Nine penalties on the day, and five of them were pre-snap penalties:
“You’re not going to beat any football team in the NFL when you play like that. You can’t put yourself in a hole.”
You go into the bye week with a bad taste in your mouth. Do you just have to put your nose to the grindstone?
“We have a lot of work to do. We have 11 games left — essentially a college football season — so we have to come back ready to win.”
Can you take us through the third-down play that you were fighting for that resulted in an interception?
“It was a deep curl route to the inside. When I came in, the ball was to my outside, and that pretty much was where he was. It was one of those battles for the ball, and he just made a great play on it.”
Can you talk about the offensive pass interference call?
“Obviously, I shouldn’t do that. But I felt like the guy was riding me pretty much, so I tried to swim and get his hands off me. They made that call. The officiating hasn’t been consistent. I don’t know what else it is that I should do when a guy is riding me. I’m more than five yards down the field, and if he has his hands on me, then at some point I have to try and get them off. I just have to be more conscience of getting up the field and getting in and out of my breaks. I thought that to myself. There were enough mistakes and penalties and things to make us look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we are better than what we are. I did an interview with Michael Irving the other day, and he asked me why we were two and two prior to this game. Most of it has been self-inflicted mistakes, whether they are mental errors, penalties or turnovers. There is no way today that we should have lost the game. At some point, we have to clean up those areas if we are going to be the team that is expected of us.”
What is it? Is it discipline?
“It’s all of it. It’s a matter of concentration. It isn’t anything that the coaches don’t harp on every week, and every week is pretty much the same thing. I don’t know how you correct it. We’re adults. We’re professionals. We just have to find ways to eliminate those mistakes. I think there are enough mistakes from the offense to go around to know that we are better than what we are.”
What happened at the end of the game?
“As a team, we just fell apart.”
Is it stunning to you how everything turned out?
“Yes, it’s stunning. As I look at it right now, we’ll have to win out. It’s as simple as that. We’re in desperation mode.”
Is this collapse similar to last year’s Oakland game or worse?
“This is worse. By that time, we had already secured ourselves. Right now, we’re playing for our lives and we’re not finishing.”
Not finishing, across the board?
“It’s across the board. As a team, we didn’t play with poise. We gave it away. Right now, we have to get a win. We’re in desperation mode.”
It seems like you all fell apart the last couple of minutes there:
“It was the whole game.”
The whole game was off for the offense or the entire team?
“The team as a whole. We had a drive here and there.”
Penalties seemed to hurt you guys:
“I think we had five penalties in the first quarter. When you get to the end of a game, you don’t want to be in a situation where everything is critical. In football, you will have games like that, but we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”
What happened on the interception at the end of the game?
“I tried to get to it but I couldn’t get my hands all the way on it. I did the best I could.”
Carson said that everyone was a little bit off:
“Just a tad. Regardless, I’m supposed to catch the ball.”
How surprised are you to be 2-3 at this point?
“Very surprised. It’s very frustrating. We keep saying the same thing after the three losses. I don’t know what else to say.”
Did they play the Cover 2 and let you run the ball?
“Basically. They sat back in zone.”
What are your thoughts about the running game getting going today?
“Well, it all starts up front. The guys up front made some big plays. They were moving guys around. We were fortunate that those guys were on their A-game. They made it easy. A lot of credit goes to the offensive lineman. They made it happen.”
What are your thoughts when you have such a big game and you lose?
“There are so many statistics that the coaches talk about, like running for 100 yards or getting so many touches to seal the game — I don’t know what the final stats were. But, usually, when you run for 100 yards and you move the ball up and down the field with the ground game, then you expect to win. Unfortunately, we stabbed our selves in the foot today. We were very successful in the running game, but there were a couple plays that we probably could have made bigger. We have to be there and make those happen. It’s always easy to find those things when you lose as opposed to if you win. Just thinking back on it now, there were a couple errors that we had and we could have made some bigger plays. I feel like I could have made some bigger plays.”
Were you chomping at the bit to have a breakout game like this?
“No question. I have been kind of disappointed in what we have been able to achieve in the run game — disappointed in myself. I was beginning be become a little embarrassed. I knew it had to change soon. I was poised to turn it around, regardless of what the situation was or how many touches, I was going to turn it around today.”
Was there a difference with the way
“Running backs are the same as us. They are momentum guys. Once they get some momentum, they really feel confident and they run the ball successfully. We were able to give him holes, and he got confident and was able to move the football.”
Do you think today was the best for the running game this year?
“As a team running game, yes. With the line and him, things were really rolling. We really felt like we could run on them at will. We felt like we could run the ball successfully each time we ran it.”
You guys let this one slip off the hook:
“That’s an understatement. I think that we really felt like we were in control of the game for a second, and then we messed it up. If we were better in the first quarter — if we were better in the first half — then it’s not an issue. Continually, penalties and silly plays are hurting us. You just can’t continue to do that.”
Can you explain why five weeks into the season there are still so many pre-snap penalties, and why, for some reason, this team can’t overcome them?
“We had some key penalties. Some drops on third down and some mistakes that you just can’t have. You start to dig too deep into it and you start thinking that you’re not playing too well. That’s not the issue. The issue is that we are killing ourselves. We have got to stop doing it. We have got to stop jumping on the knife ourselves and be more efficient.”
Freeman was really inconsistent in the first part of the game. Did you see a difference in him from the first half to the second?
“Not really. He was able to run around a little bit and he got some first downs. I really didn’t notice a big difference. He started to connect on some passes, but nothing drastically different from the first half to the second half.”
Can you talk about your pass interference play?
“I’m going to go back and look at it. The referee saw my hand around him. They made the call. I just have to learn from it.”
Is the bye week a good or bad thing for this team?
“It’s a good thing. It will give us time to reflect on these five games that we’ve had — especially this last game, and how everything unfolded at the end. We’ll have to reflect and go from there. We’ll practice and recuperate and come out strong in a couple weeks.”
“Obviously, it was a really exciting win — a good win for our young football team. They were resilient. They played big ball in the face of adversity. They’re maturing every single snap. We kind of started off sloppy. It could be from the bye, but they’re a resilient football team. They’re young and keep getting better and better. That’s what I’ve been talking about all week when I talk about the ascending football players on our football team. With that I’ll open up for questions.”
Talk about the emotions in the final two minutes while down by seven points:
“You know, I’ve really got to go back and reflect on that, to be honest with you. We were all locked in. I was in a place where we got to get the ball back and stop them. They threw the ball, we got an interception and got the ball back for our offense. Josh (Freeman) went out there and executed like he (should have) executed all day, and he hadn’t been. He knew exactly what to do with the football, and we were able to execute there. That’s a big-time win. Talking about emotions, I really didn’t get involved with them then. It was more emotional after I ran off that football field and tried to catch my breath. But it was good, man.”
What’s going on in your locker room right now?
“Just exuberance. It’s a young football team. They’re going to be happy. They’re going to be humble. There’s nothing better than that. We brought everybody. We brought our practice squad. We brought everybody we needed to come to this game and help us win. And they all did it. It’s an effort of 61 in that room — the effort of ownership, management and coaching.”
Talk about the resiliency shown in the final minutes of the game:
“We talk about it the time. Aqib (Talib) gave up a big play early. You can’t put your head down and feel, ‘Woe is me.’ You’ve got to have confidence in your players. You’ve got to be able to talk to them. They’ve got to be able to stand up and be ready to go out there and play. That’s the difference in our football team this year and last year. We had down phases. We lost our cool in certain situations. This year we’re playing better. We’re playing smarter. We’re playing wiser, despite our age.”
Are you surprised with Marvin Lewis’ decision to throw the ball on third down in the final minutes?
“It’s not my job to make decisions for the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s my job to go out and coach the best game that we can play. That was the (choice) he made. We’ve got to go out there and make a call. He had a lot of faith in his quarterback. I’ve made those (choices) before in the past, and that’s on him. We’ve just got to go out there and defend.”
Josh Freeman got hit a lot today:
“There’s no question about it. I talked about it earlier in the week — about having the (Bengals’) exotic blitz package that we hadn’t seen. They’ve been getting to the quarterback and are getting the kind of rep that we had. They came out with the double-A package, which I know is phenomenal, because I studied it in the offseason and stole stuff from them. They pulled it out the bag today. They were able to get home and get Freeman. Thankfully for us, he’s 6-6 and 250 pounds. He’s a big, tough human, and he’s understanding how to throw balls and make it happen in the NFL.”
You ran a lot of blitzes yourself today:
“We were trying to get to Carson (Palmer). Man, he is a savvy, young man at quarterback. He’s similar to Freeman. He’s big, and he can move around and get the ball out of his hands. And you’ve got to get to him. We were fortunate enough to get a couple interceptions. I don’t think we got a sack at all. But I don’t look at stats. That’s for losers. We’ll get back and ready to go.”
On Terrell Owens' touchdown reception, was there supposed to be safety help?
“Aqib got beat. We’re not going to make excuses. He was guessing a soft corner conversion. It wasn’t a soft corner conversion, it was T.O. going deep, and he’ll be on SportsCenter for the rest of the summer again.”
Can you talk about the hit you took early in the game that forced you out for a few plays?
“I went to throw it away and he caught me right up under my chin, and it was kind of an impact deal where I fell and it kind of knocked the wind out of me. It just hurt, straight-up. I got my bell rung a little bit, nothing too bad. I just needed a little time to catch my breath. (Quarterback) Josh Johnson stepped in, did a good job, and we were able to move forward.”
You bounced back from the hit, and your team bounced back from a deficit. Your team has talked about resiliency a lot. Can you talk about how you guys bounced back?
“Yeah. We’re a young team, but we feel like we have an opportunity to win every game. It’s a long game — Raheem (Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris) stresses it all the game. So it’s just a matter of who can make the most plays that lead to those points on the board. It’s not who’s leading the longest, it’s who’s leading at the end of the game. Today, we had a number of guys step up and make huge plays — you look at Sammie (wide receiver Sammie Stroughter), you look at Cody Grimm. Earnest Graham had a great day, and (wide receiver) Mike Williams. Mike Williams stepped up big for us at the end, and that was awesome because we hadn’t gotten him all that involved early on.”
Mike Williams had a costly fumble early in the game then stepped up late in the game with a few very big catches. Can you talk about how that goes along with Coach Morris’ theme of resiliency, and how the young players seem to be wise beyond their years?
“That comes, obviously, down from Raheem. We’ve got a good group of guys; we’ve got a good group of hard-working guys. We all have a lot of faith in each other, and we all encourage each other. I remember when Mike (Williams) fumbled and he was in the tank a little bit. I was kind of like, ‘We’ve got this, man. I mean, you made the catch. It was just one of those things. Things like that happen. Just get ready to go, and I’m going to come back to you.’ I ended up throwing it to him a lot in the second half, and he made the plays that counted.”
Can you talk about the final two minutes of the game? When you were down seven points and the Bengals had the ball and were driving, did you think you were going to get the ball back?
“You’re just hoping you do. We knew we were going to get the ball back unless somehow they miraculously converted on third-and-13. But getting the ball back right around the 50-yard line was awesome, awesome. Quib (cornerback Aqib Talib) set us up for a great opportunity to go down and get that touchdown.”
What kind of adjustments did you make on offense throughout the course of the game?
“We have certain built-in protections, built-in inside adjustments. When they bring certain blitzes, you have to get rid of it because you don’t have enough guys to block. The thing about Cincinnati was they were bringing too many people to block, anyway. So it was kind of a tough deal where Pac-Man Jones (Bengals cornerback
You took the shot at the end zone and had about a minute left. Can you talk about that decision and the route?
“It was really a one-on-one backside. There was a little bit of safety help, but it looked like I could hold the safety long enough that I’d have a true one-on-one. And when you have a one-on-one with Mike Williams, I’ve got all the confidence in the world in the guy. I’m going to take that shot almost every time. Sure, sometimes it goes the defense’s way. Today, at the end of the game, it went our way.”
What did you say to Mike Williams after the fumble?
“Just ‘Keep your head up, man.’ It’s a long game. I remember coming from college into the NFL, and the games just last forever. And everybody’s good, so there are so many opportunities you are going to have throughout the game. There’s so many opportunities to get the ball and, I guess, atone for any mistakes that you’ve made. Today’s a great example. We got more opportunities, and we had a lot of guys make plays for us.”
Earnest Graham said that when you guys look at this down the road, this win might mean more than any other. Do you agree?
“It’s big. It’s 3-1, three of four for this year. It took us 15 weeks to win this many last year. I think it just gives us a lot of confidence to show us that we can win a tight game. If it’s a tight game going into the fourth quarter, no matter what the situation is, if we stick together as a team, we can come out and (win). We have the playmakers to get it done, it’s just a matter of getting it done. Today we were able to do it. Big props to everyone on the team — offense, defense and special teams.”
You have a number of fourth-quarter comebacks. What is the key to keeping your head in that situation?
“I just want to win. A lot of people go into a two-minute drive and are just afraid to lose the game. I want to make the play to win the game. I love to win more than I hate to lose.”
How long did it take you to shake off the hit early in the game?
“I probably could’ve gone back in that drive had we gotten a first down. Really, by the next series I was pretty good to go.”
Talk about stepping up when called upon today:
“It’s my job to always be ready. I’m a professional athlete. I’ve got to take the highs and the lows that go along with that. When my number is called, I have to help the team win in any aspect. Whatever it is — special teams or defense — whatever they ask me to do, I’ve got to do it. I think we have a lot of good players at one position. I think we all compete and stay on our toes. We push each other. I think that’s a good job from having a lot of good players.”
Did you think the defense would be able to create turnovers against the Bengals today?
“Our coaches do a good job all week of telling us that.
Did realize your interception return could set up a field goal?
“When I caught it, I was thinking of Roddy White’s (Atlanta wide receiver) last week. I watched Roddy White’s play last week (against San Francisco) when he hit the ball from behind. When I caught the ball, I got as far as I could to get a field goal right there as close as I could to the sideline. Josh (Freeman) did a great job for us.”
Talk about the feeling of redemption of this team:
“You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to make big plays in the course of the game. You’ve got to take them one play at a time. None of us put his head down. None of us gave up. We wanted to capitalize and make a play.”
Talk about your role on this football team:
“I’ve been playing football ever since I was a little kid. Every time I step on the field, I want to make a play. I want to make a play to keep a drive going, or make that big play to help win the game.”
This game had some roller-coaster moments with ups and downs today. How did you keep going?
“This team wants to win. That’s what’s going on right now. Last year was very disappointing. With all of the hiccups we had between coaches and what was going in the locker room, this team is together like family. That’s the characteristic of these guys in the locker room.”
Did you envision yourself in training camp being a starter and making a key play on a 3-1 football team?
“I could have dreamed, but that’s all it would have been. Dreaming. We had injuries early in the game. When somebody goes down, someone has to be out there on special teams and defense. I did that in college, so I’m used to it. The way we won, everyone kept going for the full 60 minutes. Last week, I gave up a touchdown and people were second-guessing me. The coaches put me in the right situations today. They stuck with me and had confidence in me. My teammates had confidence in me. It’s a great team vibe. Everyone is enjoying it. I hope we can keep winning.”
How much does it stick with you when you make a good or bad play?
“Not very long. As a defensive back, you have to learn to let that go. If you think about it too much, it can affect your next play. You’ve got to do what you’re coached to do. Stay in position. And if you can do that, the plays will come to you.”
Coach Morris gave you high praise after the game. Talk about that:
“I hope he’s happy with the way I played. We’ll see in the film review. I’m sure I can improve on a lot still.”
On Cincinnati’s final offensive drive, was your defense sitting back waiting for another big play?
“We were doing what we were coached to do. We weren’t trying to jump passes. We were staying calm. No one panicked. We stayed on our landmarks. Everyone stayed in their zones. When you do that, you’re going to have the opportunities and plays will come to you.”
The hallmark of this defense has been to give up some rushing yards, but come up with big plays. Was that the case today?
“This is the NFL. Everyone has good players and coaches. It’s going to be like a roller-coaster ride. In the beginning, we were stopping the run. They started running the ball. We had to make adjustments. Then, we started stuffing the run again. That’s how football is. It’s a game of chess.”
What was going through your mind on your interception return for touchdown?
“I knew I only had 10 yards to run, which was nice. I didn’t have to worry about getting caught. I saw the ball in the air. I knew I had to make the play.”
Talk about overcoming a fumble early in the game and making the big catch to set up the game-winning score:
“This was about our team. We’re maturing. The fumble was one of those plays you can’t have to allow a good offense like the Bengals an opportunity to score and put our defense on the field. My attitude was to put it in the past and play the next play. Hopefully, I would get another opportunity to make a play and redeem myself. I did and it came at a great time.”