DECEMBER 6, 2009
“My message to the team is we did what we needed to do today. I thought we did a lot of things better on offense today. We were able to get the ball moving. We took a little bit of a lump there at the end and gave up the last touchdown, but all-in-all, we played a good game. Defensively, we didn’t tackle very well at the start of the game. They (the Lions) had some runs where they were gaining five, six or seven yards, and (then there’s) the two pass plays that led to their two scores today. Other than that, we played pretty sound on defense. On kickoffs, we gave up one kickoff return before the half.
“I guess people would say this was a hard three-game stretch for us as far as keeping the focus. If it was, then it was. I don’t know if it was or not. It certainly wasn’t for me. Now we get to go do what we need to do, and that’s go play the Vikings. There will be no excuses now; it’s time to go play. We’ll go to Minneapolis this weekend, that’s what the guys have been looking forward to. It’s here now, so we’ll go.”
Q: How would you characterize your offense right now?
“I think we can be as good as we need to be, and that’s what we’ve got to get back into. The only thing that’s really slowing us right now is us. That’s the thing that we need to pay a little bit more attention to. We’ve got a lot of people involved, which is good. We’re settling into some niches, and it was good to see us go out today and throw the football the way we need to throw it. We’ll continue to stay on track with that because it’s going to be big going into these next four football games.”
Q: You’ve had three different running backs producing 100 yards in consecutive games. What does that say about the line, and overall what the offense is doing?
“They’re doing some good things, although I wish we were more consistent on offense.”
Q: Red zone the last four games ... you were leading the league:
“Yeah, we were leading the league, and we were a little better today, but we’ve got to do things to score. There’s no question about it. We don’t want to keep coming away with field goals.”
Q: That defensive touchdown really seemed to jump-start you guys:
“If you can score like that, it does make a big difference. It got us back in the football game after giving up the (big pass) play on defense.”
Q: You didn’t let Calvin Johnson hurt you all day; he just made a couple of plays:
“I wish we hadn’t of given up the two plays. But we did, so we’ve got to make corrections and go.”
Q: It’s been said that this team plays down to its level of competition. Do you buy into that?
“We need to be more consistent in the third quarter. I don’t know if it’s the competition, or the flow of the game, or what it is. But in the third quarter, we are not scoring enough points. We have an opportunity to set ourselves apart from the other team and make a huge difference, and we aren’t doing that. It’s important that we get that fixed.”
Q: You said the guys have been looking forward to going and playing the Vikings:
“I don’t know if they’re looking forward to it. I don’t know what we’ve been doing, but that’s what everybody keeps talking about to them. Now it’s here.”
Q: That wasn’t something you sensed from inside the building?
“No not at all.”
“He was scanned at halftime, but I don’t know what the results are at this time.”
Q: We realize you haven’t reviewed the film from today’s game yet, but can you comment on the performance of rookie
“It’s a little easier to see a guy back there (in the secondary). I thought he handled himself well today. He made a big breakup on the play near their (the Lions’) sideline earlier in the third quarter, and then coming up with an interception there at the end. He seemed to be in the right spots. I didn’t hear a lot of, ‘Why is Tom over there on the headset?’ (laughing).”
Q: I know you’re not one for milestones, but you tied Bengals founder and first head coach Paul Brown for second most wins in franchise history:
“Thank you. Obviously that’s an achievement to have your name next to Paul Brown’s name in coaching. It’s a great thing, and it’s all due to these guys in the locker room.”
Q: A couple of the throws you made didn’t look like you. Is everything OK?
“I feel great. I was off key on a couple of throws that I would usually make. It wasn’t a great day offensively, but we’re happy to get a win. When it comes down to it, a win in the NFL is a win. It may have been ugly, but we’re happy to be 9-3 and go into Minnesota next week against another great opponent.”
Q: You’re still winning even though you haven’t had another big offensive output like you did against the Bears. Is that reassuring?
“At this point in the season, you want to peak. You want to play your best football in late December and January. We have two big weeks ahead of us with Minnesota and San Diego. We have to go in focused and understanding the game-plans. We have to fight through, and be mentally and physically ready to play our best football.”
Q: Do you see signs of this offense being on the verge of a big game?
“Yeah. It just needs to happen. We need to keep working and keep trying to improve. We have to play fast and play without thinking.”
Q: How did
“He looked like Cedric. He didn’t look like he missed any time. He had his explosion and his quick cuts back. He was running powerfully and falling forward at the ends of runs. It was great to see.”
Q: The last three games have been against teams with weaker records. Is it good to have this three game stretch out of the way?
“I think so. If there’s anything we’re guilty of, it’s playing to the level of our opponents. When we’ve played good teams, we’ve played better. It was hard not to look forward to these two upcoming games. Winning today and knowing that we have to play great football is good for us.”
Q: Do you think the new “run first” offense is hurting the passing game, and do you feel like you’re lacking some sync?
“Definitely. When you’re a ‘run first’ team, that’s your mentality. It’s a little hard to get in sync when you’re used to throwing the ball all of the time, but we still need to execute in the passing game. We are what we are. If a team tries to make us throw the ball, we might change a little bit, but we’re still going to be a ‘run first’ team up front.”
Q: Have you noticed opponents focusing on stopping the run over the past few weeks?
“Definitely more this week than the previous weeks. They knew that we were going to come out and run the football, and they tried to bring safeties down and hit plays in the backfield. They got us a couple of times and they did a good job, but it’s good to know that, even when they come in with that mindset, we can still run the ball. That’s tough to do against teams that load the box with eight every play.”
Q: When you carry the ball a bunch of times and beat on a defense, that has to be a great feeling:
“It is a wonderful feeling. It is always good to have the football in your hands. I am always looking to make a play and contribute to the win. Usually, if we are running the ball like that, it is because we are getting some movement up front. It is always a fun deal to get the running game going like that.”
Q: The Raiders beat the Steelers today so your magic number is now one and you have all of the tiebreakers to win the division. That is pretty strong:
“Yeah, that is big time, but of course we are looking to win them all from here on out. It gives us a bit of confidence (knowing we have the tiebreakers) under our belt. But like I said, we are looking to win them all. We definitely have to get back to work next and tighten down.”
Q: When you guys have more balanced offense, you seem to have success. I think the passing game still needs to sharpen up, would you agree?
“Yeah, there have been some protection situations that we haven’t picked up on and haven’t given Carson a chance to be as comfortable as he probably was early in the year. He is moving around a lot, which can be good for him, but at the same time, we want to make sure he feels comfortable in the pocket. I think we need to tighten up a little bit there to give him the opportunity to be as good as he can be.”
Q: The next two games are road games, but you guys control your own destiny. That is all you can ask for as an athlete:
“Absolutely. Next week is going to be fun. You know they are going to have a sellout crowd and the dome is going to be loud. They have one loss under their belt, and it is going to be a fun deal. They are a team that is similar to us on offense. They run and they throw. It is going to be fun.”
Q: You have five 100-yard games this year and are within a whisker of 1,000 yards. You have had a great year:
“It has been fun with a lot of hard work in the offseason. I have to contribute it largely to the performance of the offensive line.”
Q: Do you feel more comfortable out there and have the opportunity to be more disruptive?
“I just try to go out and do what the coaches want us to do and execute that to the best of my ability. As long as I can do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
Q: Did you feel that one turnover was able to get you guys going today?
“I am not going to say all that, but anytime you can get a defensive score, it is big because it is a lot of momentum. I am just glad we had all 11 (guys) to the ball like we have been preached to all week, and it paid off.”
Q: It seems like getting your hands up on defense has been an emphasis this year:
“Like I was telling someone earlier, Coach (Jay) Hayes works on that with us. We have a drill where we have to get our hands up, and we just try to carry it over to the game. If you aren’t sacking him, but getting close to him, you just try to get your hands up in the throwing lane and do whatever you can to disrupt him.”
Q: Were you guys worried about playing down to your competition? And, were you worried about your offensive balance against a team that you were supposed to play well against?
“No worries. Playing down, we tend to do that a little bit, but that is a good team over there. Their record doesn’t reflect the talent that they have over there. That is a good team, and they will do better things in the future. We left a lot of plays out there. We could have performed better with some penalties, and we have to clean it up if we want to think about anything in the postseason. This week we have Minnesota, and that is the main thing on our minds — to clean up the small things to get ready for them.”
Q: You have said every week that you need to clean up the little things, but you keep having problems with pre-snap and holding penalties:
“That is true, but this is a process that we take week by week. The main thing is we got the ‘W,’ and we will learn from that. We will come in tomorrow, watch this film and take it one day at a time.”
Q: You guys have struggled in the red zone a bit lately. Is finishing drives in the red zone something you need to work on?
“Absolutely, and that goes without saying. Seven points is better than three points. We have to find ways to get into the end zone when we are down there, because we are leaving a lot of points out there, and that could be something that comes back to haunt us in the future.”
Q: Oakland beat Pittsburgh today, and your magic number is now one. You control your own destiny, and that is all an athlete can ask for, right?
“Absolutely, and we put ourselves in a good position to do that. Our main thing is we need to take it one week at a time and not think about anything else. This week coming up is huge, with a lot of bright lights and a lot of good players on the other team. I think we will be ready. We will be amped, and we will answer the bell when it is ringing.”
Q: You weren’t worried about the long run in on your interception?
“I was excited, so when the ball was in the air, I just grabbed it and took off running. I wasn’t worried about slowing down or anybody tackling me. I just tucked that thing away and started running.”
Q: Defensively, did you guys feel like you needed to put the pressure on Stafford today and that would be the difference?
“That was one of our keys today — to put pressure on him. Mike (Zimmer) told us that he is not a runner. He would step up in the pocket, but if we put pressure on him inside, he might make mistakes.”
Q: You guys have talked about getting your hands up if you don’t get to the quarterback, and
“Yeah, the whole offseason, we’ve worked on that, and Michael did a great job putting his hands up, and I was right there. It was a third down, so we were just trying to execute the defense and get to Stafford, and we came up with a big play.”
Q: When was the last time you scored a touchdown in a game?
“The last time I had a touchdown was my senior year at Utah. I had a 75-yard touchdown.”
Q: Detroit struck first with the big play in the end zone. What was the defensive mentality after that?
“That we had to fight it out — we couldn’t let it linger — and get back to playing our brand of football.”
Q: There seemed to be some tackling problems today. Was it guys not being ready to go, or playing down to the competition — any of that?
“It is hard looking at it from my position on the field. We won, and we’ll correct it this week. The biggest thing this week is that we came out with the ‘W.’ ”
Q: Oakland beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh today. How big is that for you guys heading into the trip to Minnesota?
“That’s big. It kind of shakes things up a little bit. It is a good feeling to see Oakland knock those guys off. Where we are sitting right now, I think it helps us out a bit.”
Q: Through 12 games, you guys are 9-3. Pretty nice feeling?
“Yeah, it puts us in a great position. We don’t have to depend on other people to win, and we control our own destiny. That is a very, very good feeling for us as a team and the city. It is pretty cool.”
Q: Carson found you a lot today. Any special reason for that?
“No special reason. I like the running game, and I think that might have been the focal point for the Lions — to stop the run — but Ced was still able to get free.”
Q: Nice slide on the touchdown, and Carson put it right in there:
“That is just like it was drawn up. That is what it is all about — the finished product — and we got a touchdown out of it.”
Q: Carson alluded to one thing — that this team may be guilty of is playing to the level of the competition:
“We got the playing-to-the-level-of-the-competition speech at halftime. Whether or not we continued to hurt ourselves with penalties and things of that nature is all part of the game. We are all human. We are not perfect. Penalties are going to occur. But if we can keep them to a minimum, I think we will be fine. Going into the dome next week, it is going to be very critical for us to be at our best.”
Q: Playing to the level of that competition would be a good thing then?
“I am sure that is what we are going to do anyway. I think next week, it will be the other way around, where we are playing to level of our competition and not below. I am really excited to be going to the dome and playing against the Vikings.”
“I think time of possession played a big part in this game. All year, Cincinnati has done a good job of controlling the clock. They basically have an extra series each game or a three-minute time-of-possession advantage over most teams this season. This game, the time of possession was closer to seven minutes. They also converted third down situations, and we didn’t. They were able to make positive plays and keep the chains moving. “We got an early lead and gave that back on a free play with the tipped pass. Then we were looking at a seven-to-seven game. The guys didn’t stop fighting, and I am proud of their effort. I am not proud of a loss, but I am proud of our effort.”
Q: Comment on Matthew Stafford’s shoulder:
“He banged the same shoulder that he injured earlier in the year. It is probably too early to tell, but I don’t anticipate it being anything more than just banging the same sore shoulder. I don’t think it is any worse than before.
“There was no more risk having him out on the field this week than (there was) out there last week. It was an injury where there is going to be pain, and our doctors felt he couldn’t do any more damage by playing. We will do some tests and reevaluate his status to make sure he didn’t hurt the shoulder in a different place.
“We got the quarterback hit too much today. We cannot allow this to continue happening. There are going to be situations where the quarterback is going to take some shots when we are attempting to stretch the field throwing the ball, but they must be minimal. He got hit in some plays for no reason. He got hit in situations where we were not throwing down the field.”
Q: Do you think about sitting him sometimes to minimize his risk for injury?
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it. Our indicator in judging someone’s injury is based upon the potential to become injured worse by continuing to play. Ernie Sims was inactive today because he has a hamstring injury, and with the weather being cold, we did not want to risk playing him and injuring him worse, with the potential for losing him the rest of the season.
“Matthew Stafford’s shoulder hurts him when he gets hit. We are obviously going to work hard to limit the amount of times he is hit. I don’t feel it is causing him to throw poorly.”
Q: Why did Derrick Williams get benched?
“He is our fourth receiver. We generally don’t use four wide receiver sets. He was on the field for Calvin (Johnson), who got shaken up on the play before. It was an inexcusable error for him to penalize the team with an alignment error. This cost us from progressing with the drive. This would have put us into position to continue the drive and possibly score when it was still early in the game. Numerous penalties hurt us today. Committing a penalty one time is too many, and two times is inexcusable. The player who did this was replaced. We did not play smart. We played hard and tough, but we did not play smart.”
Q: How would you access Kevin Smith's effort today?
“I thought he ran very hard today. He ran the ball the way we expect him to run it every week. He ran physical and picked up yards on his own. He did not go down easily. I thought that was a bright spot for us today.”
Q: Did you see signs of progress in your team today?
“No. We lost. Our progress is based on winning games. We need to win, and we must win on the road. It has been way too long since we have won on the road. We must find a way to get that done.”
Q: In the situation where it was fourth-and-two, and you elected to kick the ball — any consideration to go for the first down instead?
“That was a gray area there. That was basically as far as our kicker can kick the ball. We have a lot of confidence in Jason Hanson. He has been proving himself for many years. I considered going for it, but we decided on the field goal.”
Q: Take us to when you got hit and went down, and what it felt like:
“It felt about the same as it did in Cleveland. I don’t think I’ve injured it any worse or anything like that. It hit me just right.”
Q: Do you feel you are at any more risk of playing with this injury, or hurting it worse?
“No, I don’t think so.”
Q: Do you expect if nothing is worse that you’ll be playing next week?
“I don’t know — we’ll see. I have to get back to Detroit, look at it again and see what the doctors think.”
Q: Are they going to do more tests?
“I would imagine. They didn’t here, but they may end up doing it when we get back to Detroit.”
Q: Any thought of just resting, maybe for just a week or two?
“It’s something I’m going to have to think about. Who knows? I may be playing next week. I have no idea right now, to tell you the truth.”
Q: How would you assess your play out there today?
“It started out pretty (well). I threw that touchdown to Calvin (Johnson). The interception that went for a touchdown, the guy (Michael Johnson) made a heck of a play. We were trying to throw a screen pass. I played against that guy in college and he always did that — he puts the breaks on and jumps. He’s a good player when it comes to that. The other one (interception), it was a two-man and I was trying to get the ball down the field to the tight end on the back shoulder, and we just weren’t on the same page. We weren’t as good as we needed to be on third down. They did a good job holding us on third down and putting pressure on me.”
Q: On the screen, were you trying to get the ball over him?
“It’s the same play we ran in Cleveland for the touchdown, where I threw it to Aaron Brown. The guy (Michael Johnson) made a good play. I think he’s 6-foot-7. You just cut it loose, and hope it misses him.”
Q: I know it’s not your throwing shoulder, but at some point does the pain affect you?
“It doesn’t affect my motion. It’s one of those things you just deal with. When I am handing off or throwing, I’m fine. Anytime I get it on it, it dings it up.”
Q: Does the constant pain wear on you having to deal with it every practice and every game?
“Obviously, everyone wants to be healthy. I dare you to find someone that feels great right now at this point in the season. It’s one of those things you have to deal with. It’s a tough season and a long one. You have to come ready to work every day.”
Q: Coach said the Lions played tough and hard, but not smart. Can you think of specific instances of when that occurred?
“No. I just go out and play ball. Whether it’s smart or dumb, we’ll look at that after the game. He knows. He watches the game. I just play.”
Q: Is losing 18 road games in a row and having two wins this season deflating?
“If I said it wasn’t frustrating, that would be a lie. Deflating ... that sounds like you’ve given up, and that’s not my path. I’m very disappointed, but the coaches don’t play. I can be disappointed with myself and keep it to myself.”
Q: Do you sense the entire team — specifically the offense — feels that same disappointment?
“I can’t speak for anybody but myself. It’s tough because I want to win. I’m used to winning. Losing is not fun.”
Q: Talk about Matthew Stafford’s injury:
“I had the same thing. Anything you do, you feel pain.”
Q: Is he an inspiration for the team?
“Yes. When you think about who we are and look at our record, it’s easy for a lot of guys to shut it down. He’s not one of those guys. We show up early and put in the work. He’s right there next to us. When you see that, you appreciate it and try to give him the same in return.”
Q: When Matthew Stafford went down, you were the one waving to the bench to send the medical staff. Why?
“I was trying to get help to him. He was done. He has a bad shoulder. I didn’t see how it happened, so I was trying to get help to him as soon as possible.”
Q: You said you had the same injury. Talk about what you endured:
“I had the same shoulder problem. Some mornings, I didn’t think I could deal with it. It takes a while to get it moving in the mornings before it feels better. For him to be doing what he is doing, my hat is off to the kid. I respect him.”