NOVEMBER 13, 2011
“Obviously we’re disappointed in the outcome today. We didn’t have a real good start defensively and gave up some big third-down plays. Not getting off the field and allowing drives to continue really made a difference in the game. We have to do a better job there. Offensively, we went three-and-out and weren’t really able to get our feet under us early on. We were looking at tying the game there in the fourth quarter, so really fought back. We would like to have the win, but we didn’t get it. I don’t think this team has to worry about being able to play with the so called elite in the AFC — we can and we will. We will go back to work and prepare and go beat the next team we have to play. That’s our key now.”
Was there any worry about being able to compete with the elite?
“No, but I think they had to listen to what everyone else had to say. I had no worries.”
How much A.J.’s injury impact what you were trying to do offensively?
“It’s an impact when you lose one of the best players on the team — on both sides of the ball. That’s part of the NFL. You have to move forward.”
Did you think it was hard to tell who was the better team today?
“They made plays early and we didn’t. We had a chance for an interception in the second quarter and didn’t get it. Another time the ball was up in the air being batted around, and we didn’t get it, and they ended up scoring a touchdown. You have to make those kind of plays in this game. Those are the things we need to continue to get after. We didn’t come up and make the plays when we had opportunities. We missed a couple of third downs on offense that should have been layups. We get the holding call or the illegal hands to the face, which was a big down. We’ve had that holding before, and it’s not holding and it won’t be holding when we get the tape on Tuesday, but it was called today. Those are things we have to guard against. It’s part of the game and we just have to overcome it.”
You were able to get good pressure on Ben Roethlisberger except for that one third-quarter drive:
“We had two third downs that they converted. That was a big part of the game.”
How much did Leon Hall’s injury affect you?
“When you lose players you have to adjust and move forward.”
How much do you think the first couple of drives for both teams impacted the game?
“They started fast. We didn’t let that bother us at all, however. We came out and got some drives together and put some points on the board and made it close. Even though they were up 14-0 we were still in the game. We were only down 17-10 at halftime. This game had so many opportunities in it and we just didn’t execute. It cost us in the end.”
Marvin said that you guys had to hear how you stacked up against other teams. What are your thoughts on that?
“We didn’t play our best game, and we were in this game the whole time. There are some positive things to take away from the loss, but it hurts to lose. There were some good things to take away, but were going to do everything we can to get ready and get back next week.”
Does that make this more frustrating then?
“The opportunities we had were so close. If a few things changed here and there, things could have been different, but that’s how football is. You have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
What happened on the second interception?
“The guy made a great play and jumped the route. My eyes were on the flat defender and when I let go of it he jumped it. He made a great play.”
You had said earlier in the week that they jump balls and bait you:
“They take chances. They bite on things and try to jump routes. On that play they did and it worked for them.”
How would you rate your performance today?
“I missed some things and I have to play better. I had two interceptions in good field position and we had a chance to win coming down. That’s not acceptable.”
“He did and he’s a great player. It’s just another example of a guy stepping up. That’s just how this season has been. It’s not been just one guy doing it, but there’s a bunch of guys stepping up and playing well. It was fun to see him come in and play well.”
Everybody talks about how Dick LeBeau is so magical and creative. Did you see anything today that surprised you?
“I feel like we had a really good grasp on what they were doing. Even with all the movements and shifts that they were doing I still thought we had a good feel. They did throw some things at us but I thought we adjusted well and handled it.”
How much did you miss A.J. Green out there?
“A.J. is a great player. But that’s how football is. When one guy goes down the next guy steps up. Obviously it would have been nice to have him, but that’s no excuse.”
Did you learn anything against that defense today?
“I felt like I saw things well and had a good understanding of what was going on. It was just a few little breaks and things here and there.”
The first interception was a little bit of a fluke. Did you think you had a good throw to Caldwell?
“The ball was a little bit high. I didn’t see what happened, but it was tipped up and they intercepted it.”
Do you buy into this being a growing experience?
“Sure. We are going to see how we respond after a loss. We had won five in a row and it feels like we haven’t lost in awhile. We have a big week this week again and we are going to prepare like we have been. We’ll see how we respond from this game.”
Did you prove today that you can play with the elite teams?
“I think so. Pittsburgh was in the Super Bowl last year and we had a chance to go down and tie or win with four minutes left. We played well, we just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
Do you think it was hard to tell who had the better team today?
“I thought both teams played well. I think they did a good job of staying on the field and holding the ball. It was a big game and we knew that coming in. It was just two good teams going against each other.”
Was there a lot of electricity from the crowd today?
“Yeah. It was fun to see them get all excited and get up on third downs. It makes the atmosphere a whole lot better.”
What do you think you proved today by hanging in there with the Steelers?
“We’re not here to prove anything. We’re here to play football. We know what we can do. We’re a good football team. We go out there and play football, but that’s the only thing we can control. We’re disappointed in the loss. We came in here expecting to win. We’ll come back next week against Baltimore.”
How much do you think injuries affected this team?
“ I think it affected us. Football is a game where you face adversity, and injuries are a part of the game. When you lose guys like A.J. Green and Leon Hall, who are two incredible players who can match up against anyone in the NFL, it’s probably going to make an impact. We have guys who can step up and be ready to answer the call. I think a lot of guys did that. Hopefully, the injuries aren’t too serious and we can get them back.”
What happened to your leg on the TD catch?
“I just came down straight-legged and my knee buckled.”
When did you realize that there might be something wrong?
“I think at halftime when I came in and sat down. It got real stiff. I couldn’t really get any movement.”
Did you try loosening it up by riding the bike?
“Yeah, but it didn’t.”
Has it happened to you before?
“Yeah, it happened in training camp, but it was nothing serious.”
Did you think it was serious?
“No. I didn’t hear anything pop. I just hyperextended it a bit.”
So you don’t think it will affect your status for next week?
“I don’t think it’s anything that serious. I think I’ll be back. I’m getting an MRI after this, but I don’t think it’s anything serious.”
Is the mood different in the locker room?
“It’s definitely different, but we’re going to keep fighting. We didn’t have our best game today. If you want to be a great team, you have to react well after a tough loss. That’s what we have to do.”
Do you think you proved that you can play with the best teams in the NFL today?
“Definitely. We went toe-to-toe with them the whole game. They have a great defense, but we belong in that league. Next week, we’re going to have a big game, and it’s nothing but big games from here on out. It’s going to be tough, but I think we’re up to the challenge.”
How tough was it to sit and watch from the sidelines?
“It’s one of the toughest things — to watch when you know you can make plays to help your team. It happens, but we have another tough game next week so I have to be back for that one.”
Did you try to lobby to go back into the game?
“Yeah, but they told me I couldn’t.”
Health-wise, did your ankle affect you today?
“Not at all. I don’t think it hindered my performance. I was afraid I could get cut low and have my legs taken out, but other than that, I felt good. My wind was behind me.”
It seemed the game started to change in your favor when you started to get pressure on QB Ben Roethlisberger:
“I think that’s how it is. When they first start off, we want to see how their offense is and get a little feel of what they’re trying to do to us and what they’re trying to run. When we come back to the sidelines, we’ll get coached up and show where we’re supposed to be. And when the play happens again, we’ll get it right and not give up as many yards the next time.”
You guys were one play away from beating the Steelers, who were in the Super Bowl last year. Do you think that says anything about your team?
“Everyone expects to do good things. This team came out and expected to play the way we are supposed to play. We feel down because we should’ve walked off that field with a win. Like I said, we left so many plays out there on the field today. The good thing about it is we’ll see them again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully we’ll change things around.”
On losing a close game:
“It was a tough game. I liked our game plan. The coaches did a good job of getting everything ready. It was just a few errors here and there. Every team does it. You can’t help it. It’s part of the game. You just try to reduce them (as much as you can).”
Was it tough to come out of a 14-point hole against the Steelers?
“A little bit, but it’s tough to come out of a 14-point hole against anybody. It’s the NFL; every team is good. It’s a tough loss, but we’ll regroup.”
You were wide open on the reception in the red zone:
“I had the same route (on an earlier play). I told Andy (Dalton) that it was open and he trusted me. The next play, Andy threw a good ball to me and I just made the catch.”
Do you take anything away from losing a close game to the defending AFC champion?
“We know we’re a good team. When we play our ball game and play our best when we’re on the field, we know we can beat those guys. We didn’t play our best game, but we hung in there and were only a couple plays away.”
What’s the feeling in the locker room after today’s loss?
“People are mad that we lost. We wanted to win the game, but we all believe and we truly know that we’re a good team. So we’re going to strap it up next weekend and try to get a victory that week.”
How hard is it to come back against a team like Pittsburgh when you fall behind by 14?
“It’s tough. They’re a good team. They make a lot of plays like (the ones they made) today. So it’s tough on offense and defense. We just can’t get in those situations.”
Did A.J. Green’s injury shuffle things around for the wide receivers?
“Yeah, it shuffled things around, but we all practice and work every day right along with him. The next man has to step up and make plays.”
For the young guys, is it important that they know they can play head-to-head with Pittsburgh?
“Yeah, it’s a confidence booster for those guys. When you’re young coming into a ball game like this, making plays is a big confidence booster.”
Is it tough to lose this game after winning five straight?
“No, it’s not tough at all. Of course it hurts. We played a good football team. We went out and fought. Look at our schedule; it’s not going to get any easier. We’ve just got to keep fighting back like we’ve been doing.”
What did you do after they took a 14-point lead?
“In the second half, we just made a few adjustments and the defense executed.”
Did they do anything special to score those first two touchdowns?
“No. Pittsburgh is a great football team. Of course they’re going to score touchdowns. Our job is to not to let them score. That’s Pittsburgh; they’re going to score touchdowns. We’ve got to stop that. It’s not like we played a sorry team. It was a good football game out there today, and we just have to come in and look at the film and look at what we did wrong.”
How does it feel to know you did not play your best game but were close to beating the defending AFC champion?
“You can say, ‘What if?’ all you want, we’ve just got to come out and play hard from the start and continue to play hard in the first half and second half. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got Baltimore next week. This is going to hurt right here. We’re going to chew on this for a little bit and come in on Monday and look at what we did wrong and go from there.”
Critics have said they wanted to wait and see you guys get tested against Pittsburgh and Baltimore:
“Those are outsiders. I’m not worried about what they’re saying. They can talk all they want. As long as our team stays together and keeps playing football, that’s all I care about.”
How much did Leon Hall’s injury shuffle things in the secondary?
“It didn’t shuffle anything. This is what we get paid for. When you’re number is called, you’ve got to go out and perform. Period. And we did a good job of that. That’s what we get paid for. When your number is called, go out and play. Of course it’s going to hurt our secondary, but when your number is called, go out and play.”
Is it hard to overcome a 14-point deficit against Pittsburgh?
“As good as Pittsburgh is, yes. Each game plays itself out the way it does. We were down 14-0, but fought hard to get back in it, we just ran out of time.”
What do you take away from today’s game?
“I think we’ve proven we can play with anybody. We were 6-2 going into this. Pittsburgh was in a must-win game. They had no choice but to win this game. We took their best shot and were really a play or two from getting out of here with a win. We’ve got to go back to work and we will and we’ll be ready.”
Do you think you’ve proven anything today in this performance against Pittsburgh?
“Definitely, when you’re playing a division team and you get down 14-0, it should get ugly. It didn’t. We stuck with it and the team played well. We got back in the game and were one play away from winning this sucker and moving to 7-2. We’ll go back to the drawing board and win a game. We won five in a row and lost one. It’s time to go back and win another one.”
“Good bounce-back performance for us in many ways. The sufficient plays from the defense particularly down the stretch to preserve the win, in lieu of how we finished the game last week — we are excited about that. If we are going to be the kind of team we desire to be, we have to get back on the winning side of things when we don’t get the job done. That’s what this game was all about. I liked the overall effort of all the men today. “We had a few minor in-game injuries, but nothing that I think will be problematic coming out of the bye this week. Ryan Clark had a shoulder (injury) and Max Starks had a stinger. Some other minor bumps and bruises, but we are just excited about having an opportunity to come out and get our first AFC North win. If you are going to win the division, you’ve got to win some division games.”
Talk about the swing of emotions for William Gay. He gives up the game-winning touchdown last week, and comes away with the big pick this week:
“That’s football. Hopefully it’s not as big a swing of emotion as you let on, because he is a professional corner and that comes with the territory.”
People have talked all year about the lack of turnovers, and to see it come up especially in the fourth quarter:
“It’s timely plays. You can anticipate all teams playing better execution-oriented football. It makes those types of splash plays even more important because it will be less room for error.”
You’ve talked about Jerricho Cotchery really becoming a part of this offense and making some good catches:
“He’s a savvy, veteran guy. A guy that we’ve been excited about having since the day we acquired him. He had some things to slow him down early in the process (hamstring), but he’s been a consummate professional throughout all of it. He’s prepared himself and you guys are just starting to see the signs of that preparation, but we’ve been extremely pleased with him.”
Hines Ward didn’t play much. Were you holding him back a little bit because of the head:
“No, I think he was ready to go, but we were just looking at some personnel groups and looking at ways we wanted to attack these people. We’ll do that from week to week. It may not be any indication of his participation moving forward, it’s just an indication of his participation today.”
Antonio Brown seems to be making huge strides:
“He’s got a great group of guys that provide a blueprint for him in terms of how to work. That’s the place to begin when discussing his play. I don’t think you will find anyone in our locker room that will question his work. He works on a day- to-day basis, and you’re able to see it in stadiums.”
On Jerricho Cotchery’s touchdown pass that was called back did you get a good view of the pass interference?
“It was a good call by them.”
Given the way this season began, are you pleased with where you are going into this break?
“I’ll take it. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m pleased. I’d be pleased if we were 10-0, but we’re not. We are what we are.”
Does the bye week come at a good time?
(laughing) “I haven’t run across a bye that I didn’t like. You get it when you get it.”
James Farrior came back, but Jason Worilds was the guy who started out there at linebacker. Your thoughts on how he’s playing…(Lawrence) Timmons also played there for a while:
“He (Worilds) did a nice job. What we have because of the position flexibility of Lawrence (Timmons) is a group of guys that can play winning football for us. Once we can get everybody healthy we don’t have to have guys playing 65 to 70 snaps and can keep everybody fresh.”
Talk a little about play down the stretch:
“They (Bengals) did a nice job of running the ball on us and limiting some of the ideas that we might have had.”
How important was it after last week to come out and get back on track?
“It was a divisional game, so it was huge for us to get out here and come to a hostile place with a team playing great football. It was a good one for us. A good test.”
How do you feel about how you played?
“We won. Truthfully, I’m sure there are a few things that we would like to have back — some plays that we’d like to make here or there. But, without looking at it, we’ll take it.”
Can you talk about the late third-quarter drive when you went no-huddle?
“That was kind of the mentality — ‘Let’s go no-huddle and try and get down there. Let’s answer.’ We take pride as an offense in wanting to be the best. It’s our time to do it, so let’s step up and score. We always want to answer. If I remember right, it was a pretty long drive, converting third downs. That’s huge. It gives our defense a break, wears their defense down, and when you score at the end of it, then it’s good.”
Can you talk about why you were so excited when Jerricho Cotchery caught that touchdown pass?
“I don’t know. I’m excited for him to get his first one. He was a little amped. It’s not like me, but I couldn’t hold it back.”
How do you feel about William Gay after getting so much criticism last week and then coming up with the big interception?
“You know, I don’t see that stuff because I don’t read the paper. But, he stepped up big. Byron Leftwich was standing next to me and he said, ‘Come on Will, undercut this.’ Next thing you know, Byron’s hitting me saying, ‘I told you, I told you.’ It was a heck of a play. It was a game changer for us. We love it when the defense gets us turnovers.”
You guys were running the ball when you went three-wide, but in the base-set the running game struggled. Why is that?
“It’s tough. We were talking about that, too. The second-to-last drive when we went three and out, we brought in three tight ends, and we were running the ball in that. They’re downhill and filling holes and it’s really hard to run it in that situation. We’ll still want to do that, but it’s hard. We were saying, ‘Let’s go three or four- wide and run the ball.’ It just spreads them out a little bit. We’ll go to the drawing board. Not that we need to change anything, but we’ll look at the film and see what we can do to hold on to the ball better. The last drive we did it, but the second to last drive, we need to do it.”
Can you talk about Antonio Brown? Did he just have the hot hand today?
“Mike Wallace was getting double-teamed. That opens up the back side. He’s coming along. He’s done some great things. I’m really proud of some of the throws that I had to put on his back shoulder — adjustments that he had to make, he made. That’s just awesome on his part.”
How were the wind conditions out there?
“It was really windy. That’s the only reason I went with the glove, because you can spin it a little better. It definitely affected some throws, but you know me, I’ll never make excuses.”
Were those audibles on those plays to Antonio Brown?
“I can’t tell you that (joking).”
Is he getting open, or are you just going to him no matter what?
“Honestly, sometimes he’s open and sometimes he’s not open, but to me he’s open. If he’s one-on-one and the DB’s back is to me, then he’s open. That’s the confidence that I have in him and all the guys, really.”
Is it a good time for the bye week?
“It’s perfect timing for guys that are banged up. We’ll get some guys back. Guys that just have nicks here and there will get rested up. It’s a good time for us. You definitely want to have this long time off after a win. When you go into it with a loss, you are ready to play again. For us, it’s a good time.”
Do you feel good about the team heading into the bye week?
“Yeah. I think we’re getting by. We are doing enough things offensively and defensively to win, but I still don’t thing we’re playing to our full potential. As long as we’re winning games, that’s all that matters. Hopefully when we do hit it full stride and we’re actually playing really well — who knows where we’ll go.”
What do you see in
“He’s a good player. He spins the ball really well, especially with the wind. He was spinning it really well. He seems to be very cerebral. He knows what’s going on out there. I think that he is playing the best out of all the rookie quarterbacks. The other guys have numbers, but he makes some great throws. We were on the sideline, Byron, (Leftwich) Charlie (Batch) and I and we were saying ‘Oh, that’s a good throw.’ He makes good throws, he anticipates and I think he’s playing really well. I told him, ‘We’ll see you in a couple weeks, but you’re playing lights out.”
What are your thoughts on the AFC North? Is it going to be tough?
“Always. It’s always the toughest division. It’s always a slugfest. It’s never going to be easy, no matter what the teams are.”
The long Cincinnati touchdown to A.J. Green, it looked like you and Ryan Clark were there. Was it not seeing the ball?
“I saw the ball pretty well, actually. I just wasn’t aggressive enough.”
Did you feel you could have made a play on it?
“I felt that way, but obviously I didn’t.”
You’re 7-3 and won a division game for the first time. How do you feel the team is right now, especially going into the bye week?
“It comes at a good time. A lot of guys are beat up. We are 7-3, but I wish we could be better. It comes as a good time for us as far as injuries are concerned.”
Does the bye come at a good time for you personally?
“They’re always good for me.”
Andy Dalton. Can you assess him as a young quarterback?
“He kept them in the game today. They play good team football. They obviously don’t make him throw 40 to 50 times. They play good special teams, play good defense and run the ball. When you do that, you’re going to be in every game.”
You hadn’t been getting many turnovers and today you end up getting two:
“We’ve been talking about it a whole lot, and guys came up big and made plays for us.”
Is it good to see William Gay get the deciding interception?
““It’s good to see anybody get it, especially with us not having many. It’s good to see anybody get it.”
How good was it to finally get some turnovers?
“That’s what we needed to win this game. It is difficult to win games without getting turnovers.”
Good to get your first division win?
“We had our work cut out for us today. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Every time we play Cincinnati it comes out to a dog fight like this. Luckily, we came out on the good end.”
Feel good to get a couple turnovers?
“Good to get those, man. We’ve been lacking in that department all year long. Those plays helped change the game.”
Take us through the play when you had the interception:
“If you go watch film, we just all around just played some good football.”
Anything more difficult this week after the Baltimore game? How did you put that one behind you?
“You’ve got to. We’ve got to put this win behind us. We have to move into the bye week and get some rest and then come back and watch some film on Kansas City.”
How much momentum does this win give you going into the bye week?
“It just gives us a 7-3 record.”
What did you think about Cincinnati?
“Shoot, we’ve got to see them again in a couple weeks. We just have to buckle down, keep pressing on and just come play some football every Sunday.”
How do you think the offensive line graded out today?
“I think we could have done better in the run game, especially in the last six minutes of the game, we could have been more efficient running. Getting a two-yard run isn’t our style of football, especially when it comes to that point (of the game). We have to do a better job of run blocking.”
You guys are only the second team to run for over 100 yards against Cincinnati. Does that have any credence?
“We didn’t have a 100-yard rusher, so that doesn’t matter. As an offensive line, you’re graded on how well you have a single rusher over that plateau of 100 yards, and we didn’t accomplish that today, so we have something else to work on.”