NOVEMBER 8, 2009
“Today was a hard-fought win. Looking back on it, offensively we got off to a great start and were able to put points on the board early by converting third downs and converting on defense. The key to winning a football game is winning on the third down; this was an offensive unit that has been red hot with that. The guys did a great job executing today, and special teams did a nice job as well. We had a couple of things happen that we’ll need to work on like the substitution error that cost us a time out in the first half offensively, and one on defense at the end of the half. All in all, we’re still learning and growing. We’re moving a lot of guys in and out of the game, particularly on offense, so we’ve got to be a little cleaner and sharper with that in those situations, but it’s onward and upward.”
“I was told Chris has a fractured forearm.”
Q: Is it season-ending?
“I don’t know that.”
Q: Does it mean anything extra to the defense when they are able to shut down an offense like Baltimore’s?
“I don’t worry about what anybody’s reputation is. We come out here and play football on Sundays. A reputation doesn’t get you anything. It doesn’t earn a first down. It’s what you do out here on Sunday — not what you did last week.”
Q: How did
“He did a good job getting through some holes out there. He was zigging and zagging and hit some in the backfield, and we were able to get some good, clean runs. Ced did a nice job running through some arm tackles, and
Q: On the Bengals’ third-down performance:
“You’re just trying to get off the field on third down. They’ve got a very dangerous guy in Derrick Mason and they use Kelley Washington pushing in and out of the breaks inside, and they were able to work the ball to 27. On one drive, he got underneath us a little bit and that’s something we’ve got to clean up. They’ve got some guys that have lower body strength, and that allows them to go in and out of cuts pretty quick.”
Q: Are you pleased with the way your secondary is performing?
“The key in the two games against these guys, (we didn’t) give up big plays. We have to dictate where the ball is thrown, and the guys did a good job of that today.”
Q: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this team get three sacks in a row:
“You get the lead, and that’s what you want to have. We haven’t had many leads like that, so it was a good job by the guys.”
“They are playing both fundamentally sound and smart, and I put a big capital on ‘Smart.’ That’s key to playing cornerback in this league. Both guys have tremendous athleticism, speed and ability to play the ball in the air. What gets you in trouble at that position is when you try to do too much. Today those guys played a nice, clean game. They were able to play the coverages to their advantage and execute back there. Chris (Crocker), Chinedum (Ndukwe) and
Q: How good are things going when you can come in here and the first thing you nit-pick about is a substitution error that cost you a timeout?
“Things are going well. We’re a football team, and that’s key. We got some guys injured today, but we’ll have some new guys step in to play, and I think our team is excited about that. New guys will get an opportunity, but we have to keep the same frame of mind — be better at the end of the game than you were at the beginning of the game. We’ve also got to get Chad (Ochocinco) cleaned up with ball security.”
Q: When you’re talking about a veteran like Ochocino, how do you clean that up?
“You throw that term around loosely when you’re talking about 85 (joking) — I wouldn’t say ‘veteran,’ and I think you can start over every day with him (laughing). It’s just something that he’s going to have to do a better job of. We’re on him in practice about it, because not taking care of the football is how you get beat.”
Q: Slow, steady and consistent often wins the race:
“Yeah, it slowed down quite a bit in the second half offensively. Thankfully, our defense kept playing the way they did from the first kickoff to the end of the game. We came out and did what we set out to do, which was jump on them early. They are a team that is really built on their defense and controlling the ballgame, running the ball effectively and hitting shots down the field. We made them play from a 17-point deficit in the first quarter, and they are not really built to do that. That is something we talked about all week, jumping on them early. Unfortunately, we didn’t play well through the rest of the game, but any time you win a game in this division, especially against that team, you have to be happy. We are happy to win, but we have a lot of work to do and we have another big game next week.”
Q: Your execution in the first half was similar to Chicago, very crisp and up tempo:
“We did a number of good things, unfortunately we didn’t do all those good things throughout the entire game. But you are never going to go out and score 40 or 50 points against that team. Nobody does that. We didn’t come in with the mindset that we had to do that. We wanted to, but we just didn’t execute the way we expected to throughout the whole game.”
Q: What does
“Consistency is the main thing. He is a guy that really understands how to play the game, how to block and his role within the team. He really understands the offense for being a first-year guy (in Cincinnati), and he makes big play after big play. He made two nice plays where he broke a tackle and got downfield. We had a broken play where I scrambled around a little bit and he made a really nice move to get open. He is just a veteran, really good football player.”
Q: What does the injury to Chris Henry mean to this team?
“It’s going to hurt. He is a big-play guy, a guy we depend on on third down and expect to come through in a number of situations. We have to roll with the punches and find a guy to make some of those plays he made and stretch the field the way he did. It’s tough; your heart goes out to Chris. He loves the game and was so excited with the way things were going this year. For him to have to go through that is going to be tough.
Q: You were high on this team in the spring when no one else was. Is this team as good as you thought it would be?
“Not yet. We have the potential to be as good as we want to be, but we are not firing exactly on all cylinders. We have some glimpses of greatness, but we have had some glimpses of immaturity and mistakes. The sky is the limit for our group. We have a defense that thinks they can shut out anybody on any day in any stadium, and an offense that wants to score 45 points every time we step on the field. That may not always happen, but we believe we can do it and if you believe you can do it and put the effort into it, anything is possible.”
Q: Did Baltimore change up their schemes at all?
“Yes, they saved some stuff for the second half that they didn’t do in the first half. They did some things we hadn’t seen and had some new things for us. They did a good job in the second half. We didn’t execute the way we needed to, and you have to tip your hat to them because they are a good football team. They are as good a 4-4 football team as you will see. They did some really good things, and you have to give them credit because they are a tough team to play against.”
Q: To sweep Baltimore and be 4-0 in the division is a good spot to be in:
“It is a good spot. In no way are we satisfied or patting ourselves on the back. We have played good up to this point, but there is still a lot of football to be played. We still have to play a lot of good football teams and some teams that are down that are hard to play. We have a tough schedule; it may not look like it on paper, but when you are on top and teams expect you to put up a good fight, they give you their ‘A’ game. We are going to get that every game out, especially this week in Pittsburgh. We have to keep improving and try to stay healthy as always.”
Q: It seems like the attitude in the locker room in very businesslike, and you expect to be where you are. Is that fair?
“I don’t think there was a guy in the room that didn’t think we were going to win. But we expected to win by more than one or two touchdowns and unfortunately we only won by 10 points. We expected this. It’s a quiet confidence that we had coming into this game. It wasn’t talked about or a rah-rah session, I don’t think anyone even talked about it. It’s a confidence that we have that’s not cocky or arrogant; we just expect to do certain things against certain teams. We are going to go into Pittsburgh and expect to beat them too.”
Q: Baltimore and Pittsburgh seem to have the formula to win in this division. Do you think you guys are moving towards getting that formula?
“I think Baltimore and Pittsburgh have set the tone for the AFC North and were the ones to come up with the formula, which is good solid defense, run the football and control the field position game. I think that is something we have turned into. We used to be an air-it-out, explosive offense, and when you play in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati, you get to those December games and you can’t throw the ball 40 times. You have to be able to run the ball. We are at a good point now where we have to continue to get better and run the ball better.”
Q: What is it like watching your defense right now?
“It’s awesome. I hardly get a chance to watch them on game day because we are always talking on the sidelines and going over pictures, but I always watch the film during the week, and the way they play. It’s inspiring and I think it inspires all of us on offense. We don’t want to let them down. When they come out and play the way they did, we want to go out there and score points and keep them off the field. We don’t want to let them down because of the way they are playing.”
Q: Do you feel it on the field that you don’t have as much time on the sidelines?
“We are kind of getting used to that, which is a great thing. It is nice to not set your helmet down too far away, because you might have to grab it real quick. We are kind of at the point now where when we are off the field, the offense gets together real quick because there is a possibility that we are going to be back on the field.”
Q: You go against your cornerbacks in practice all the time. What is your assessment of them?
“I don’t know of a better tandem. The two guys in Green Bay are really good, but I don’t think I would take either of those guys over our guys. Our guys are young, fast and physical and they both have been working on their hands to make big plays. Johnathan Joseph was always getting his hands on the ball, but he worked hard in the off-season and he is converting tipped balls and interceptions. I don’t think I would take any two corners over our guys.”
Q: You talked about the quiet confidence. Do you remember a different feel before you played the Ravens earlier in your career?
“I think we have always matched up pretty well against them and we have always created some mismatches against them. We have given them some fits and made them have a difficult time deciding if they were going to pressure us or sit back and cover us. I think they are a team that we enjoy playing because it is such a difficult challenge, but we also have won a number of times against them.”
Q: Baltimore seemed to give you some opportunities to scramble a little bit:
“When you have Andre, Chad, Laveranues and Chris Henry and some other guys, you want to double some guys and try to play some other guys man-to-man, and it leaves some lanes. We are so good up front at finishing blocks. Our guys do such a good job of blocking until the whistle blows. There are so many teams where a tackle will know where the quarterback is setting up and will let the guy rush around him. Whit and whoever is playing right tackle keep going until the whistle blows and that gives me the opportunity to step up and run.”
Q: How do you think
“Great. Nate was a starter at the beginning of the season and had a little injury, and Evan came in and played great. It was a tough situation for Nate because he wanted to be on the field playing. He has been healthy for a couple of weeks now. It is what we are about; one guy goes down and another guy fills his shoes and makes plays. We are sorry that Evan is going to be out for a couple weeks, but we have all the confidence in Nate. He loves playing next to Whit, they have been since college. They have a good chemistry and we didn’t skip a beat when he came in.”
Q: The coaches said they haven’t seen you or the team more relaxed then they are right now. What about this team is making that happen?
“I think it’s work. We came in during April when we started OTAs and even before that, we started working out, and there was just a difference back then, a work ethic without complaint. We won four games last year and we have so much to prove and so many guys playing for so much. This is a team that wants it so bad and we talked about the only way we are going to do that is by putting the work in. This team is built on hard work, and it has been paying off so far.”
Q: What about you personally?
“I think it’s because I have been around awhile and I consider myself a veteran. I have learned a ton. And I have a great quarterback coach that kills me during the week and grills me on every single look, even if it was a look that was in the third preseason game of the year, and we are in Week 8. I just have a lot of time on task with some of the receivers in this offense and the more I play, the more comfortable I get.”
Q: Do you feel better about 6-2 with this team compared to the 2005 team?
“Definitely. We are much more mature and we are a better team. We were a good team back then, but we were young and kind of dumb. This team is more guys that understand how rare this opportunity is, not just happy to be here. We have guys that take a lot of pride in where we are and will take a lot of pride in finishing this thing off right. I don’t know how many guys are the same as far as the roster is concerned, but it’s a different team.”
Q: Your coach, before the game said that he was happy that you were so concerned with the Ravens hype and that whatever you were doing, he was good with. Why does it work for you to do those types of things?
“You know how I am ... the trash talking — the things I do — it forces me to play at a high level. A lot of people question it, but it’s the only way I know how to play — talking and going out there and backing it up. I think I did that today except for losing those two balls, but those are things that I can fix. I have another gift package, and it’s going out this week to the Steelers.”
Q: When do we get to find out what’s in there?
“Wednesday. I just want to say hello to Troy (Polamalu), Willie (Parker), Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark. I’m not sure if he (Clark) will be healthy yet, but please get healthy fast. This is a very important game for us. I was seeing it as a two-game season. We’ve got one down. Now it’s a one-game season, as far as solidifying the division.”
Q: You were walking around with a dollar bill at one point when the officials were reviewing a play. What were you doing there?
“You saw that? I was going to give them a dollar just to bribe them — just give me the call — give me the catch. We need this one. I might get fined. Mr. Goodell, I’m sorry. I’m just having fun.”
Q: How much pressure does it take off you guys on offense when the defense is playing so well?
“You know what? Truthfully, if I had the game ball, I would give it to the defense because they played phenomenal throughout the whole game. Seven points. Those guys last week put up big numbers against Denver. The defense — kudos to them and to coach Zimmer and that whole staff over there on the defense. They are playing hard, and they are making it easy for us on the offense. Good job to the defense today.”
Q: Toward the end of the game, when the Ravens had to put a drive together, you sacked Flacco three straight times:
“That’s what we dream of. When they only have one option — and that’s to throw the ball — we live for that (moment). We got that today, and we took advantage of it.”
Q: The defense as a whole played really well:
“We can be a pretty darn good defense if we do what we are supposed to do and are consistent. We came out today and were consistent. We played sound defense.”
Q: What does this mean for this team, now that you are 4-0 in the division and 6-2 overall?
“We have to put it behind us. We have the Steelers coming up. It’s a new season. One game at a time.”
Q: How did you hurt your arm?
“I don’t know. When I caught the ball, I looked upfield. I tried to split the guys and turned toward the end zone. I was about to get up and I felt my arm (hurt), and then I noticed it was broke.”
Q: Do you know how it happened?
“I don’t know exactly what happened, to tell you the truth. My adrenalin was flowing and I was just trying to score.”
Q: What are your feelings now looking forward?
“I’m just going to try to stay on top of it and stay working. I’m going to try to get it better so I can get back out here with these guys.”
Q: How long do you think it’s going to be?
“I don’t know. I have to go to the doctor tomorrow.”
Q: You look like you had Joe Flacco flustered. How did you accomplish that?
“We had a really good game plan. We didn’t really show our hand a lot. Me, Chinedum (Ndukwe) and the corners stayed put. We knew they were going to go no-huddle and disguise things to see what we were doing. One time it backfired for them — they ended up false starting because we were coming with something. That’s the whole thing — just don’t show them what you’re doing, and go out there and play.”
Q: What was it about the defense that allowed you to confuse them so much?
“I don’t think it was anything to do with confusion. It was about everyone being it the right position, doing what they are supposed to do. We go to work every week knowing that people are going to change up what they’ve done in the past, much like the Ravens did today. We have to make sure we adjust, and we have to know where (we’re all) going to be so we can make that proper adjustment.”
Q: Was this a statement game for the team?
“I think every game is a statement game. I don’t think that there’s one in particular that you can rest your hat on and say, ‘This is it.’ Because the league is the way it is, things happen week to week. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen with the other team. We just come out and fight — we come out and sacrifice. We come out and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Q: The Ravens this week and the Steelers next week. It never seems to end in this division:
“It seems like this year it has been back-to-back-to-back. When we come to practice Wednesday after looking at the film on Monday, we are reminded every day of what we’re supposed to do. We can’t rest on our laurels because of what just happened. We have to move on to the next game.”
“I want to give credit to the Bengals. They came out strong from the get-go. They jumped out to the 14-0 lead, and they finished strong too. They played well throughout. It was a heck of a win for them, so give them credit. They earned it.”
Q: Your identity has become a slow-starting team. Do you know what’s causing that?
“I’m not going to let anyone define our identity for us. We started off slow today and we started off slow a few weeks ago against Minnesota. We need to start off fast, and we weren’t able to do that. They were.”
Q: There looked to be some missed tackles on defense today:
“I don’t think the tackling is an issue the way you want to make it out to be an issue. I think we had him (Benson) in the backfield a few times, but he’s a strong back. That’s why he’s leading the league in rushing — because he does a nice job of getting out of tackles — but we have strong players that get guys down. Sometimes, when you’re a defensive back alone in space, it’s tough. These guys can make plays. Can we tackle better? Sure. But the issue is not tackling, per se. We’re generally a good tackling team.”
Q: How much did you miss Haloti Ngata and when did you make a decision on him?
“We made it right before the game. We tried to get him in, but he just couldn’t play. Of course we miss him. He’s a great player. I thought Justin (Bannan) filled in nicely and played well, but of course we want Haloti in there if we can.”
Q: It seemed like Lardarius Webb was very active out there. How do you think he played?
“He played well. He flies around the ball and is a good tackler. He covered well and took advantage of his opportunity due to an injury.”
Q: Steve Hauschka bounced back last week but missed one today. Is there concern in that area?
“There’s concern about everything. We have so many things to be concerned about right now, so we have to look at everything. We have to take every area and try to make it as good as we can. We’ll take a look at the kick. I was disappointed he missed the kick. He has kicked the ball a lot better than that, so it’s something that needs to be better.”
Q: Did you see everything you saw on film or did they mix it up a little bit?
“They mixed up coverages. They do a good job of that. They mixed them up on third down, and they have a nice pressure package when they get you to third down, especially third-and-long.”
Q: How concerned are you about these slow starts?
“The slow starts are not good. It’s got to be an emphasis. We did it last week — we came out strong. We wanted to come out aggressive and making plays, but we didn’t do it. We’ve got to find a way to start the game better. We’ll look at it and try to figure it out.”
Q: Did they do anything new or different because of having their bye week to prepare?
“They did a lot differently. A lot of their routes were different, a lot of their tendencies were different. They did a nice job of executing. Some of the throws and catches they made, especially on the sideline, were very impressive. We couldn’t get off the field on third down in the first quarter, and a lot of that had to do with changing up what they normally do.”
Q: Regarding the pass interference calls against you, is it just a case of not touching guys?
“I’d like to know. You look at every penalty on its own merits. There’s jostling one way and it’s gets called, there’s jostling the other way and it doesn’t get called. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to teach our guys to cover. I’m looking forward to seeing what the interpretation is and we’ll learn from it.”
Q: It seems like Cincinnati gives you and your offense more problems than any other team in the league:
“They’ve done a good job against us. We just weren’t able to make the plays to get it done today.”
Q: Coach Harbaugh mentioned they made a few changes. Did they change a lot of defensive looks?
“They aren’t doing anything that’s very complicated. They just do things well. They make good plays, and that’s what they did today.”
Q: It seems like they took away your outside receivers:
“They did a good job. You have to give them credit. They stayed around the ball and on the guys. As soon as the ball got there, they were ready to hit them.”
Q: Once you guys opened it up, you seemed to be able to move the ball better. Do you think you should have opened it up a little earlier in the game?
“When you’re down by 17, you have to go out and score points. Our defense did a great job in the second half; we just weren’t able to score enough points.”
Q: How tough is it going to be to pick it up at 4-4?
“It’s not going to be tough. We just have to go back to work and get ready to be 5-4 after Cleveland.”
Q: What’s your theory on all of the slow starts for the offense?
“You’ve got me. We didn’t have much tempo to our offense and shot ourselves in the foot and got ourselves into a hole.”
Q: Did they disguise coverages a lot?
“I was seeing it well. They just did a good job of playing.”
Q: Do you feel like it was just one of those games where everything was out of sync?
“They did a good job. We’ll look at it tomorrow and see what really happened. I think we’re going to be disappointed in ourselves.”
Q: There wasn’t any urgency in the first half, but there was in the second. What was going on in the first half?
“I agree. I don’t think we had the urgency we needed to be successful, and we realized that we needed to get it going. We came out in the second half with some urgency, but weren’t able to get it done.”
Q: Where does the team go from here?
“We’ll we have to go and win football games. Take it one week at a time. It’s about how you respond to losses. When the season’s over, we’ll look back and see how we did.”
Q: How concerned are you with the slow starts?
“Well, today it was concerning because we didn’t win the game. You have to have some ownership to the offense, and we never really did that during the first half.”
Q: Are the matchups with the Bengals more problematic than other teams?
“I don’t think they’re more problematic. They’ve played well all year. They play good team defense. They stay around the ball to make plays and give themselves chances to make plays.”
Q: You had trouble moving the ball. Was it Cincinnati or was it with you?
“We just have to come out playing fast, and that’s in all phases. The two-week rest helped them out, but we have to come out ready to play. It was a similar situation in Minnesota. Playing from behind is always rough, and they’re a good team and you have to give them credit. Any time you have to play from behind is rough in this league, especially from two scores.”
Q: Talk about the preparation for this game:
“I don’t think anything was wrong in practice. Everyone came out and practiced hard. Collectively as a group, we didn’t come out playing fast enough. That’s just us as men. It has nothing to do with the coaches. It has nothing to do with them. That’s just us. We have to come out with our mindsets together and go out there and play fast. I think it would be a totally different game if we did that. When the light switch went on, we were able to move the ball. You can’t get behind against a good team. They’re a good team. They’re not the same team as last year. That’s quite clear.”
Q: Is there anything in your mind that can account for this stuff?
“Nothing can account for it. That’s just us. The coaches can’t do anything about that. We as players — this is what we get paid to do. We get paid to come out and play fast. ... When we were able to move the ball, we moved the ball up and down the field, (but at) a point when it was too late.”
Q: Was this a frustrating loss?
“Yes, this was frustrating. I’m not going to be naïve about it. It’s very frustrating, but in this league, if you stay frustrated, you’ll be frustrated the rest of the season. We have a game next week against Cleveland. Great win by Cincinnati, and I wish them the best of luck the rest of the season. But I’m sure, when this team’s hot, we’re hot, and when we’re playing good football, we’re playing good football. We just need to get on that.”
Q: Talk about Cincinnati’s defense:
“They’re stout. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They keep everything in front of them and don’t give up the big play. They played the ball well whenever it was in the air. That’s what good defenses do. They came out and fed off their fans. They played a home like it was a home game.”
Q: Is there a reason why the team is starting slow?
“That’s a loaded question. I don’t know what you mean by ‘starting slow.’ I don’t think we played well. None of us played well. But it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.”
Q: There looked like there was some flatness, or just a lack of execution:
“No, we just weren’t using our techniques right, and some stuff got away from us. They’re a professional football team. When we beat them last year, I don’t think they got the same ‘Was there something wrong with you guys?’ They played well and we didn’t — it happens. Those guys get paid.”
Q: How much of it was technique or strategy?
“Technique and physical play. They are a very physical team — don’t let anybody tell you different. They practice like that. They have big, tough, physical guys, and their running back is really good. If you come in and not do the things you’re coached to do the right way every play, that’s what happens.”
Q: John Harbaugh felt like they changed tendencies, and maybe caught you by surprise:
“Yeah, they threw on first down, which is what a good football team does. Our team does that all the time. You catch defensive lines flat-footed, not rushing the passer. That plays a huge part in it. They changed tendency. They had two weeks to work on us. While we were playing the Broncos, they were preparing for us. That kind of showed a little bit. But it’s still football … chase the ball.”
Q: How do you regroup from here?
“We have eight games. We have to make the most of it. We have to win the ones we’re supposed to win. That’s what it is right now. That’s reality. That’s where we put ourselves.”
Q: How did Cincinnati play today?
“They came out and had a game plan that was solid. We gave up a lot in the first half. It’s possible to win a game in the second half, but that team is rolling right now. You don’t want to give them too much too early.”
Q: Do you have a theory on what’s going on with this team right now?
“No. You win some and you lose some. Some days we can beat a division leader, and some days we just get beat.”
Q: When you talk about game plan, coach John Harbaugh said they changed their tendency, especially on third down. Were you guys surprised by some of the routes they were running?
“Well, not really. We expected them to change some, especially coming off the bye. It didn’t surprise us. They’re professionals, too. Carson (Palmer) is one of the best in the business, and they made some plays.”
Q: You got behind quick:
“It always surprises me when we don’t come out and play well. But at the end of the game, I think, both (our offense and defense) still made enough plays that we could have put ourselves in a position to win. We just didn’t win. Like I said, they’re professionals, too. They’re not only in the same division as us, but they’re in the same professional league. We gave them a lot of help with the win, but also don’t take any credit from them.”
Q: You’re 4-4. How do you regroup from here?
“Just get better each and every day. We have to come out with a chip on our shoulder.”