DECEMBER 8, 2013
“I’m pleased with our performance today. I thought we played well on offense. We were able to run the football, threw it efficiently and we were able to protect the quarterback. I think that was the biggest difference in the game. Defensively, we really played well on third down. We have to keep that up. We gave up some big-play-scores in the second half and we have some corrections to make, which is always true. I thought our effort, energy and execution of things were pretty good with the exception of a few snaps. It happens sometimes when you’re protecting a lead, you let them move the ball down-field. That happens. We have some stuff we can coach from because it’s good live football.”
What were you thinking about on the last score of the second half? Were you surprised they overturned the call?
“My thinking was to score a touchdown. If we left it short, we still have two timeouts and they have the ball at the one-yard line.”
Were you surprised when the call was overturned?
“No. He wasn’t touched.”
That was a pretty big play:
“We go for it on fourth down at times, and when we do, we expect to score. They’re always big plays. They always are.”
Does Giovanni Bernard remind you of anyone you’ve seen over your career?
“I think back to 2008 when Ray Rice was a rookie. Some of his runs — low to the ground with his hands down — that’s who we kind of liken Gio to as we evaluated him out of college.”
The offensive line played well:
“We have to be consistent. It’s quarterback, receiver, running back — everyone involved. Andy (Dalton) handled the pressure well. It was going to be a pressure day. You never know how someone will come out and play you. Today they brought some pressures early and we were able to hit some plays. We have to be consistent. We keep getting better, and that’s what we want to be doing right now. We need to keep that up.”
“I think every quarterback needs it, unless you’re going to run around and make things happen. That’s the alternative. Andy’s not that big. Some guys are able to run around and make plays. We just played one of those guys with Andrew Luck. You’re always going to have to be conscious of those types of guys. Andy isn’t that kind of guy.”
“It gives us another strong man inside who began his career there. He really likes being physical there. We have two very athletic guys side-by-side with he and Anthony (Collins). It’s been good.”
How big of a drive was it in the first quarter when it was 21-14 and you were able to score, putting you up by two touchdowns?
“It was big. Their run lists gets a little shorter when they’re down by two scores. They’re going to have to throw the football. Having the two-score cushion throughout the day was big.”
How important was it for the offense to keep scoring points throughout the second half?
“That’s just the way it was. You want to keep doing that and you want to keep controlling the ball. We were able to do both of those. We had some long drives and some big plays, and we kept scoring points, which really helped us out. Being up 14 going into halftime was big, but we needed to keep it going. The offense did a really good job of being balanced. We had some big runs and we had some big catches that really helped us win the game.”
What’s the difference in the offensive line with
“It’s just a little bit of a shuffle. Whit’s (Andrew Whitworth) really athletic, and for him to come in (after) not really playing much guard the last couple years and then play it right away, he’s done a really good job. We have to keep that going. He’s really athletic, and we have to keep using him in that way.”
Can you talk about the confidence of the team right now?
“We have a lot of confidence. We know what we’re capable of doing. It’s about going out and performing each week. We have to keep this going. We have a lot of momentum. We have to keep it going through these last couple of games. We are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
In the second quarter, you already had seven or eight players catch a ball. Was that a product of what they were giving you?
“I think it comes down to the personnel that we have here. We have a bunch of different guys that are capable of making plays, so we’re spreading it around and giving everyone opportunities. That’s just how this offense has been.”
The numbers say that you had one of your best games today. Do you feel like it was one of your best?
“I felt like I did some good things. I was consistent getting completions, I was finding the open guy, and guys were making plays. There were a lot of runs-after-catches, which is good. I have to keep playing like I did today, and good things will happen for us.”
The touchdown pass to
“Yes. It was one-on-one coverage. I think that was the key going into today. We were going to go against one-on-one coverage, and we had to win the one-on-one battles, and we did that. I gave Marvin a chance to make a play, and he made a big catch.”
You had your first 100-yard rushing performance of your career and a nice all-purpose yardage day:
“Yeah, definitely. For me, the biggest thing that I try to do is just (get) all-purpose yards. It’s not the rushing, it’s not the (receiving) — it’s just a combination of the two. And that’s something I’ve always wanted to concentrate on this entire season. It came through today. We just did a good job up front. Our quarterback dished it out to everybody. It was just a good team win.”
The combo of you and
“We’ve just been working out. We’ve just been grinding all season. Last week against San Diego, everybody started to get a glimpse of what we can do together. It’s just going to continue. I think we’ve really hit our stride. I think, for us, we just want to keep grinding. No matter how many yards we get, no matter how many carries we get, we just want to keep grinding. That’s what we’re doing. Our focus is on next week right now, and we’re just getting ready for it.”
The offense was balanced rushing and passing with more than 400 total yards:
“Definitely, I think that’s the biggest thing is we want to have a balanced offense where if you’re running the ball good, you’re going to be able to pass the ball good. Today, it all started up front with the offensive line. Those guys did a great job — Whit (Andrew Whitworth) of course, A.C. (Anthony Collins) filling in for guys ... The guys up front, they really start everything and do everything for us.”
You’re 6-0 at home and have scored 40 or more points in three straight home games. That’s pretty impressive:
“I think one of our strengths is playing here at home. Our fans are great, giving us the motivation to go out there. We knew it was cold, and we knew the elements were really in our favor today. We just wanted to go out and play hard for our fans and continue to this undefeated home streak.”
You’re showing a lot, playing with a rib injury and leading all rookies in all-purpose yardage:
“I’m not going to call it an injury. Things happen for a reason. You’ve just got to grind through it. We all know playing in the NFL isn’t easy. Every day, every play — you can never take anything for granted. I feel healthier right now, just being able to go out there and play ... and winning is the biggest thing.”
How does it feel to know that you control your own destiny and don’t have to rely on other teams to make the postseason?
“It’s awesome. I’m really proud of my teammates and our coaches for going out there and handling our business. We (beat) another great team — they were 8-4 like us. They were leading their division. They could’ve clinched today, but we didn’t want them to clinch here at our house. We made that a special emphasis today — to get this W. We’ve been undefeated at home, and like you said, ‘Destiny is in our hands.’ We’ve got to keep working hard, and if I know my guys, we’re going to do that. We’re just going to keep working hard, keep our head down, keep grinding and we should be just fine.”
You mentioned that you’re undefeated at home. What is it about playing at Paul Brown Stadium that gets you guys so motivated that you beat everyone that comes in here?
“It’s been great playing here at home and being undefeated here. I think what really does it is our fans. They’re awesome. The Jungle is so loud out there when we’re out there on defense. They respond to us. It just feels good to be home. Our guys seem to be playing well here together. The Jungle’s loud and proud, so it felt good today to get that W for our people.”
Talk about the confidence the team has after beating some of the great quarterbacks of the league, including a young up-and-comer like Andrew Luck today:
“That’s awesome, man. Our defense knows that we can play with anybody. Like you said, we had Big Ben (Roethlisberger) early in the year, Tom Brady, and we had the dude from Green Bay, (Aaron) Rodgers. So we’ve been playing against some of the elite quarterbacks. I think our defense can hang with any of them as long as we do our job, get our game plan right and keep on listening to (defensive coordinator Mike) Zimmer, because Zimmer’s a hell of a coach. He’s been doing a great job of calling plays, and we’ve been doing a great job of running them. So if we just keep executing like we have, we should be fine.”
Does running the football effectively help create an offensive identity?
“I think it does. I think we feel like playing physical football and being able to build plays off of that is really the identity of this football team. Now we’re really in a groove in making the identity. I think this is where we’re going to operate well. We’re able to run the football and be physical with teams, and also build passes and all those things around it.”
You’re 6-0 at home, what does it mean to this locker room to have a home-field advantage like that?
“It’s just a confidence and a swagger that we have here. We feel like by winning, we’ve created an environment that makes it a little tougher on teams. We feel like in our home — in our environment — we can run the football and be physical, and do those things that we need to do. And defensively, they feel that way too. They tee off on people because they get off on the snap and things. Anytime you can create that kind of environment and you have a good football team, you’re going to have a chance. When you look at our road losses — other than one or two — you’re talking about games where they had to kick field goals in overtime to beat us. We’re obviously a good football team. We’ve just got to be able to go on the road and execute just a touch better — really just possess the football and not turn it over — and we’ll have an opportunity to do the same things on the road.”
You’re in position to possibly earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Looking from a player standpoint, is there any other offensive group with more potential and upside than the Bengals?
“I’ve said it for the last couple years. To be honest, I’ll take us in any formation and set that we have against anybody. I feel like we have all the guys to make it happen. And I’ve always said that we’re young, and every time we get out there, it’s probably the first time they played this guy or the first time they played that guy ... With the way the schedules change every year, a lot of these guys are so young, they haven’t played every team in the league. So as they play these guys and get another experience against them, they’re just going to be that much better. (That’s) because everybody knows that the second time, the third time, you play a guy, you really start to know him and know how to adjust. So with our young offense, I’ve said before, we create matchup problems. And we have a lot of guys that, as they grow and mature, they’re continuing to do more and more stuff for us. It’s definitely a positive and something where the sky is the limit.”
You’re 9-4 after today’s win and another step closer to the playoffs:
“Growing up, you watch playoff football, and you can always sense that super feeling once you get into the playoffs.”
You’ve been great at home this year improving to 6-0. Is there a big difference at home when you play here?
“We love playing at home and having our fans behind us. Offensively, it helps a lot with the snap count and getting off the ball and things like that.”
Another big win today at Paul Brown Stadium:
“We ran the ball, took care of the ball and made plays. With the way our defense has been playing this whole year, we put up couple touchdowns, you know, we can win games.”
Your quarterback, not only did he throw for three touchdown passes but he also had a nice run for one:
“He’s our quarterback. He takes a lot of heat for it — it comes with the position but he’s our guy. He’s going to take us to that next level.”
How much did the run game set up the pass today?
“It helped. Last week we ran the ball extremely well. The Colts play a lot of man-to-man and it opened up the running game.”
You’re now 6-0 at home. What is it about playing at Paul Brown Stadium?
“The coaches are always preaching to us to protect our house, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
You’ve beaten a lot of really good teams. The Colts came in 8-4, and for the most part you dominated them. What does that say about your team?
“This is a team that’s going to keep getting better each week — that’s the biggest thing for us. We’ve got another big one next week in Pittsburgh. These last four weeks can set us up for a possible (playoff) bye, and that’s what we’re playing for.”
Everything seemed to click today offensively with the running and passing game:
“I’m very excited about our offense stepping up to the table. The running game, passing game, Andy (Dalton), all the receivers — A.J. (Green), Jermaine (Gresham), Tyler (Eifert) — I’m very excited about where our offense was going today. You don’t see many games around here where our defense gives up 28 points, but we put up 42, so it was enough to win today.”
You have scored 40-plus points now in three straight home games. How tough is this team at Paul Brown Stadium?
“We have a 12th man. They’re doing a real good job making it hard on our opponents, and we’ve done a good job feeding off their energy as far as our offense is concerned.”
Are you surprised it was overturned on the fourth-and-one at the goal line when you scored the touchdown?
“They have enough camera angles in the league; they can settle anything nowadays.”
Did you feel the guy hit you or did you just trip or could you even tell?
“I felt my left foot get hit, but don’t know if tripped on my own or was hit. That’s something I’ll have to watch film on and see how it went.”
You were up 7-0 and if you don’t get the touchdown it’s still a seven-point lead. How big of a play do you think that was?
“It was very crucial. They still would have had to go 99 yards or whatever, but right after that it was halftime and we went into it with a 14-0 lead. They came out and scored 28 points in the second half, so at that point in the game it was very crucial.”
You’re playing without your top two guards right now, but this reconfigured offensive line with Anthony Collins at right tackle, Andrew Whitworth inside and
“The fortunate thing we had in the start of training camp is we had a lot of guys who played a lot of football. Mike started 40-something games at left guard for the Colts, you look at Whit going back to ’08 or ’07, and A.C., obviously, playing a lot of football at both guard and tackle. We’ve got guys that can come in and play. Obviously, the guys we’ve got are doing a good job.”
What did you think of the replay reversal?
“I didn’t know what to think to tell you the truth. It was obviously a great call. If I would have had to make that call it would have been a tough one. I’m glad it went our way. I thought the hole was there.”
It had to be good for you guys to see Andy Dalton have the kind of game he had today, considering he had his tough moments in the month of November:
“It’s always great. You know, obviously he can bounce back. Even when nothing was there, he took off and ran with it, which seemed to seal the deal. It was great for him. He seems to do better when you guys (media) doubt him, so just keep doubting him.”
Another big game coming up with the Steelers Sunday night. How motivating is that?
“I love going there. They’re a tough team no matter what. We’re going to be ready to go out there and fight.”
What was the defensive game plan coming in?
“Our plan was to just make them a one-dimensional team. We came out and did a good job in the first half. In the second half, we kind of slid away from what our main focus was and if we’d have lost the game it would have been the defense’s fault. Hats off to our offense. They came out and moved the ball down field and put points on the board. It’s our job to go out there and get the ball back to our offense.”
“The only injury to note was Chris Rainey. He went out with an ankle injury. He’ll have an MRI when we get back, and we’ll see what the severity of that injury is. Obviously, it’s a very disappointing loss. Credit Cincinnati — they played extremely well in all three phases. We couldn’t get off to a fast start, like we had talked about. And then when you don’t convert on third down — I think we were 0-for-five again in the first half, offensively. They converted, and we couldn’t get off the field. We gave up too many big plays in the run game and pass game. On special teams, we were doing a decent job — as a matter of fact, a really good job — in the first half. We pinned them back at times, and we gave up plays and long drives. Then there were some returns in the second half that hurt us. There were certainly a couple of penalties that we committed. You just can’t beat yourself. It’s too hard to win games on the road in December football, playoff atmosphere, playoff type of football, when you’re trying to win to seal your division up. You just can’t beat yourself like that.”
In the second half, you got some things going offensively, but at that point it seemed like you were simply matching scores:
“Right before the half, it looked like we were going to get out of there with a seven-point ballgame, but it didn’t turn out that way. Then, they come out and have a scoring drive to open the third quarter, and you go down 21-0, then you’re battling uphill from there. But we always try to look for positives in every ballgame. We had some young guys step up. It was good to see Trent (Richardson) make some plays. Da’Rick Rogers had a huge play. LaVon (Brazill) had a couple touchdowns. So it was good to see. As far as moving forward with young guys, with only four guys (wide receivers) on the roster, as you know, it was good to see those guys make some plays.”
What was your take on the reversed call at the end of the first half that gave the Bengals that touchdown?
“They reversed it.”
What did your guys say?
“We thought we had made a play, you know. We thought we had made a play and held.”
You can still clinch the division title tonight, if the Titans lose to the Broncos:
“We came down here to... When you have an opportunity to control your own destiny, that’s what we wanted to do — get in because we won. But these guys have done a lot of great things to get to the point that we’re at, regardless. Winning the division is the easiest way, obviously, to get in and give yourself a chance. We’ve got some things to clean up, but we certainly came down here with the mindset that we wanted to win this football game and certainly win the division that way.”
Were there any specific areas of the defense where you saw breakdowns?
“It looked like we had the run taken care of early, then they popped a couple on us. It just comes down to all 11 guys being on the same page and doing their job and being consistent. You can credit them, they made some plays. (Giovani) Bernard and (BenJarvus) Green-Ellis are darn good running backs. They did a nice job.”
What did you think of the defense today? There seemed to be some missed tackles and lapses in coverage:
“They’ve got good receivers. They made plays. We had chances to make plays and get off the field when we were in position, and they made them and we didn’t. We’ll continue to work and grind. We’ve got a lot of football left. We’ve got a lot of things to come back to work for and try to get this ship right.”
The Bengals are one of the better teams in the AFC. Do you measure yourself in games like this? Where do you think you are?
“We try to measure ourselves every week. We’ll take a look at the tape, obviously. Walking out of here, you have certain feelings in all three phases and the outcome and those types of things. But again, we’ll go back to work, and we’ll grind. We’ve got resilient bunch, a tough-minded group. They don’t ever quit. Those guys, they play 60 minutes of football. And they care. They’re hurting right now — everybody is. But they’ll go back to work. We’ve got a home game coming up, and we’ll get ready for that.”
You guys had a slow start to the first half and then started clicking in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough, was it?
“It wasn’t enough. We got beat by a better team today. The Bengals beat our butts fair and square, and there’s no way to mince those words. The slow start hurt us ... (we) got going a little bit there in the second half but not enough. They beat us.”
Can you talk about the contributions of wide receivers LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers today?
“Yeah. I was happy for them. You get some good positive stuff going, and maybe we can keep that (going) as a whole offense. We need that positive play early. I know I need to play a lot better a lot earlier in games, you know? But I’m happy for them. It’s good to see them get in there and contribute. Those were some special plays they made — some really nice plays.”
You knew this would be a test — do you think this game is an indicator at all about where you are as a team?
“That’s a good question. You know, I don’t want to get into where we are — who we are as a team — but I know we are what we put on film, so we’ll have to go back and look at that. Today they were the better team, again. It would be great if we could see them again because that means we’re in the playoffs. But they were the better team today.”
Those special plays you mentioned from Da’Rick and LaVon seemed to be what’s been missing in the passing game over the last few weeks:
“I thought they did a great job. I don’t know if that’s what been missing or not, but with them, and DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey), and T.Y. (Hilton), and the way the tight ends and the running backs are playing ... I thought that was a really good game by Trent (Richardson) and Donald (Brown) back there. We just need to understand that we need to build off of some of the positive things we did in the second half and get headed in the right direction.”
Pretty good pass protection today?
“Yeah, against a very stout defense. I think the offensive line did a great job, but again, as an offense, we didn’t do enough, and we didn’t do it early enough.”
It seems like we’re asking about the first half starts each week. Do you think it becomes a mental thing at some point?
“No, I think it’s only mental if you let it get to that stage. I know we haven’t; I don’t think we will. We’ve just got to execute. We’ve just got to execute better.”
Did the weather hamper you at all today? You’re apparently not used to playing outdoors in cold weather:
“I’m apparently not, I guess, but you don’t think about it when you’re out there. I think people can blow those external factors out of proportions, whether it’s fan, weather, travel ... They’re all sort of the same — external factors. I think (Colts head coach) Chuck (Pagano) does a great job of not letting us let those seep into your mindset.”
I know the focus is one week at a time, but as you get down towards the end of the season, is that even more the case?
“Yeah, I think so. What I’ve learned in this league after a year and some games is that every week is its own challenge. You sure can’t look past anybody. You can’t look back. Once you play, we’re looking for the next one. It is one week at a time, and we know we’ve got to play better ball, and we’ll be excited to get to practice and get at it.”
Depending on what happens today with other teams’ games, the Colts could still clinch the AFC South division. Would it be bittersweet to do so in that fashion?
“Yeah, I think so. But I’m not going to suppose on something that hasn’t happened, so I won’t think about it.”
What does today’s two-touchdown performance do for your confidence?
“I can make plays out there. T.Y. (Hilton) was hurt. I was trying to make plays and be an asset to this (Colts) offense.”
How were you so effective in avoiding tackles on the 29-yard catch and run for touchdown?
“I was running with anger there. Da’Rick Rogers inspired me with his two touchdowns. I caught the ball and was running hard. I was able to break tackles and get in to the end zone.”
What did you think of Da’Rick Rogers’ two-touchdown performance?
“Da’Rick did a great job. He wanted to be there. He stepped up today.”
All year long you’ve been trying to get in to this offense. Are you feeling comfortable that you are getting to where you need to be?
“I’ve been getting up extra early for meetings to make sure I know what I’m doing.”
Talk about having your team goals still in place for the Colts:
“We’re still fighting for a (championship) hat and shirt. We are still coming in to the building on Monday morning ready to work.”
It seemed you were able to control the Bengals running game early. What happened later in the game?
“The goal was to keep them below 100 yards today. We didn’t get the job done. It’s back to the drawing board for us.”
Talk about still having your team goals before you with the Titans loss today:
“We never like to backdoor your way in to the playoffs. You want to get momentum. Get things on the right track and keep things on the right track. I’m not going to sneeze at a division title.”
What should we judge from the Colts’ defensive performance?
“Judge that they (Bengals) came out and executed. That’s pretty much what it was. Don’t take anything from them. They played a pretty good game.”
Were there differing views among the officials about whether BenJarvus Green-Ellis was down initially? “There was discussion about whether the runner was touched down at the goal line or not.”
What did you see in the review?
“When we reviewed the video at the goal line, there was nobody touching him there, and then he bounced into the end zone.”
What about the nose tackle? It appeared he might have had a shot at Green-Ellis:
“I don't know about that, what position ... There was nobody that touched him at the goal line.”
So you didn't look at whether anybody touched him in the backfield?
“We looked at the goal line, (those) were the shots that we looked at.”
There was a question about whether the nose tackle initially swiped at him and started him tripping:
“We reviewed the goal line.”