SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
“It was a good football game for us to win tonight. It was hard fought, very physical each quarter, and very close all the way through, with the game being tied at halftime. For us, we’ve still got to keep growing. We’ve got to coach hard and correct us. We’ve got to keep trying to minimize our errors. We had some careless penalties, particularly in the kicking game, that we’ve got to eliminate because it’s setting us back. We had effort and energy. We had some guys get cramps and get sore in there today. So we had other guys in there playing and they stepped up and played. So 46 guys got taxed to the moment today.”
You were down to three cornerbacks once
“It’s NFL football; you only have what you have. But the guys did a good job and fought back in there. It was good.”
You got some good production out of
“He did the things that we expect him to continue to do. He had the great catch-and-run. He had a big run earlier. And then Bennie (Green-Ellis) comes back and finishes it off. So it was a good job today by the two of them. I thought the tight ends did a great job. They did a nice job I think of catching the football. They were focused and made catches and runs, good yards after the catch. I thought the quarterback moved well in the pocket. He avoided the rush a couple times, stepped up and threw, and was making good decisions. I think he was a little jacked up the first part of the game. He was so excited. He missed his first couple throws (because) he was so excited.”
Taking care of the football was beneficial for you today:
“It makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? It does. You see it game after game in the NFL. You’ve got to possess the football. If you possess the football, good things can happen. If you turn the ball over to them, you’ve got a harder night.”
Did you make a concerted effort to run the ball in the second half?
“There were some positive plays we had in the first half. So we took a seat back and relooked at some things, and we did a nice job coming out (in the second half).”
Was it more of a momentum boost to get the first-half turnover with a replay challenge?
“Not really. I would rather them not have the ball down there when we’re getting it back down there. Adam (Jones) recovered from a not-so-good play to making a very good play in getting the ball out; good hustle by him.”
That turnover turned the game around for you:
“They had some momentum going there and we were able to get it back.”
The end of the game got a little chippy:
“We’ve got to keep coaching harder on that, eliminate that. You saw it in all the games this weekend that I saw. I don’t know what’s going on right now.”
Your defense has done well on third down against Pittsburgh the past two games:
“I know in the first half, that was our Achilles’ heel against them tonight. But I think we did a better job in the second half. That was good. That was the difference in the football game.”
You took care of the ball tonight, made some big plays on third down and controlled the line of scrimmage. Overall you have to be pleased:
“We did a good job. When you look at the games you don’t turn the ball over you have a better chance at winning the game. We won the turnover battle, so that was huge. I felt like we did a good job tonight. The first half wasn’t very pretty, but in the second half we played better. I played better. That’s what we need to do. We need to come out and hit some big plays. We had some scoring drives, and Giovani (Bernard) did a good job. Shoot, all over the board we did well. The line played good, and we ran the ball really well. It’s what we wanted to do coming into the game. I’m excited to come out with a win. It’s a big win for us.”
Was the adrenaline pumping a little too much before the game?
“I had a lot of adrenaline going, and the balls were sailing a little high on me at the beginning of the game. I came back and played a lot better in the second half and we did what it took to win the game.”
What kind of weapon is Giovani Bernard?
“Giovani’s done a really good job. We drafted him to be a guy that’s versatile; a guy that we can move around and catch the ball out of the backfield and make big plays. That’s exactly what we’ve got out of him. It’s exciting to see him come out and play big in a game like this. He did a really good job.”
“Like you said, he’s versatile and can move all around — outside, inside and line up at tight end. We feel like we’ve got matchups with both of our tight ends. Those guys have done a lot of really good things for us. We’re going to do all the things we can to get matchups with those guys.”
Did you feel
“He’s very passionate. For us at that point of the game you can’t let your emotions get to you at that time. We were in full control of the game and the only thing that could hurt would be a couple personal foul penalties or anything like that. They (Pittsburgh) were doing some talking and we did a good job not having any of those penalties. Whit’s a passionate guy. I love his heart and it’s good for him to be back out there.”
It seemed like this was a game where you really needed the tight ends, because
“They weren’t going to give us too many deep throws. The tight ends did a good job getting open. I thought all around the tight ends, receivers and running backs — everybody did a real good job. The line did a really good job blocking up front, and we ran the ball well. It didn’t really matter. We never knew what exact play was going to be called, run or pass, but I felt we could come out and execute. At the end of the day to come out with a win against the Steelers on Monday Night, it’s big for us.”
You had two touchdowns — one through the air and one on the ground:
“Yeah, the biggest thing is that we came out here and won, especially after the loss last week. We really wanted to get this win, and we got it.”
The offensive line played well:
“Definitely. We came prepared. We wanted this win. We knew we needed it and we wanted it — especially against a rival like the Steelers.”
The offense passed a lot in the first half and ran a lot in the second half:
“Coach Gruden does a really good job with his play calling. He gets the balls into the playmaker’s hands. We have Green Bay coming in here next week, and we’re already changing the focus to them.”
You did a good job pass protecting:
“It’s either that or allow the big investment behind me get hurt. We don’t want that. We take pride in blocking. We don’t want our quarterback to get touched.”
You were really knocking some heads around out there:
“I was just doing my job, man. Anyone with a different jersey, I was going after them like (former Bengals fullback) John Conner to ‘Terminate You.’ ”
You held their offense to minus two yards in the second half up until the fourth quarter:
“Yeah, we executed our game plan. Coach Zimmer put together a great game plan. We went out and stopped the run and were able to get after the QB. It was a great night for the Who-Dey Nation.”
How good does it feel to get a division win at home tonight?
“It was big. Pittsburgh is a tough team, and they always bring their A-game. It was really good to go out and get the win in our hometown.”
You put consistent pressure on the Steelers. Do you feel like you had a good night?
“We did a good job stopping the run and making them one dimensional. We have great guys up front and were able to get after the quarterback.”
It got a little chippy out there. The rematch in Pittsburgh is going to be a tough battle:
“Every time we play them, it’s like that. It’ll be another tough match when we play them in their house.”
On seven of Pittsburgh’s first 10 possessions, they did not have a first down. What did you do to stymie them?
“They went out and they were going to go three-wide (receivers), so we stayed in a lot of nickel defenses. The guys that were out there, they played stout.”
Now that this game is over with, were there any extra emotions for you?
“No. It’s no more of a game than it was any other game. Except for it was a divisional game, and then a little more. But that’s about it.”
What does it mean for this team to get the Week 1 loss out of its head?
“It’s just good to get that taste out of your mouth and put us back where we want to be, and that’s on track.”
You gave Ben Roethlisberger a quick handshake and hug at the end of the game. What did you say to him?
“We just talked.”
Did you get a chance to see Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau?
“I saw him before the game, and I’ll see him after — as soon as I get done talking to ya’ll.”
You did not have any sacks, but the team got constant pressure. Are you pleased with that?
“Yeah. There were some things that could have been done better, as it is in any game. No one plays a perfect game, but you strive to do that. But we’ll go over it and correct everything and get ready for next week.”
When you were in Pittsburgh, you had teams that were able to grind games out by running the ball at the end. What is it like to be on a team here that can do that?
“It felt good to see the offense come through at the end with a few first downs to keep the clock rolling and give the defense a little bit of a breather.”
It seemed like you guys had a lot of pressures, but maybe not as many sacks as you’d like. Is it one of those things where you’re so close, but he’s just hard to bring down?
“Personally, you just have to finish. I know I had him a couple of times and couldn’t bring him down. But you just have to finish. There’s no excuse for that. You’ve got to find a way to get him down.”
Was it a typical game of attrition? You were out for a little bit getting your head checked, and there were shortages in other places, like corner, but you guys seemed to find a way to grind through it all:
“We talked about that earlier in the week that it was going to be a tough, physical game. That’s what it was. We were able to finish. We were in the same position we were in last week, where we were up and they kind of hung around. But this week, we were able to put our foot down and shut the door on them.”
How satisfying was it to end the game on offense, sort of on your own terms?
“It was good. I was happy to see those guys go out there and move the chains like that and run some time off the clock. As a rusher, you kind of want to get another shot to get at them some more. But overall, I was just glad we were able to run time off.”
Was it good to do it the way that you did it, though, with
“It was just good to get that taste from last week out, because we were on the other end of that. So this week, to be on the side we were on, it was nice. Hopefully the rest of the games can end like that.”
You had a big catch early in the game:
“It was pretty easy. I ended up being wide open. I was just praying I didn’t drop it. I would’ve liked to have scored. I’ve already caught some flak for that. It was a big play that allowed us to score.”
You did a great job opening up the holes for the running backs:
“We wanted to show some different looks. You have to read the play as it’s happening and we saw some good things come from that.”
It seems like they lined you up in a lot of different spots — flanker, slot, H-back — everywhere. You’ve got that playbook down:
“Yeah, I’m expected to have it down. They brought me in to be versatile and give teams a different look, and that’s what I’m doing.”
For a young team, how much does a prime-time, National TV win like this mean?
“It means a lot. Just coming out after that big loss we had the first week, then coming back on prime time TV with a win. It feels great.”
Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard added a lot of production tonight. Is this just a glimpse of what the offense can be?
“A lot of weapons, man. That’s the biggest thing. Gio is so explosive. We put him at any spot on the field and get him the ball in space, and he makes things happen. Tyler is a great catcher and great blocker. He did a lot for us today. And Jermaine (Gresham), he had another big game. So we’re clicking a little bit. It was a grinder too, so we had to take what they were giving us.”
Marvin Lewis said
“No. I couldn’t see it. There was something about he was throwing the ball. But it happens like that. He settled down and got us the win.”
Can you talk about things getting a little chippy toward the end?
“It’s AFC North Football, man. It’s physical, it’s nasty, getting after each other. We were in a situation at the end of the game where we were trying to run the ball to win it and eat the clock up. We were getting after it. They’ve got guys that played that way all day, and you’ve got to match it. It’s just the emotions of the game.”
Was it Jarvis Jones the second time, when you were walking off the field?
“No, it was (Troy) Polamalu, again. After that play, I guess he was mad. They got him down, so he came running over there to hit me or something. I don’t know.”
Did you throw him down?
But he was coming over to hit you?
“He was just coming over there to give me a little love, man. He’s a great player. It’s a battle man. It’s Steelers-Bengals. You wouldn’t expect anything less.”
How did you run on their defense?
“We’ve got a solid group, a great group up front. AC (
“Obviously, we are a frustrated group right now. I just told them that being frustrated is a natural response. However, we have to accept and acknowledge that we weren’t good enough tonight. However, I emphasized ‘tonight.’ There is a certain amount that we need to swallow with this, and rightfully so, but we have to keep continuing to work and move forward. It starts with that acknowledgement — that they were the better team tonight. Our margin for error was minimal tonight. We had the splash play there in the first half and then turned it over. Afterward, we didn’t have the appropriate response on defense, and that sequence of plays was probably a 10-point swing. Then, early in the second half I thought we had a good third-down conversion that was going to flip the field, and we had a big penalty. Obviously, we didn’t move the ball enough in the second half to remain in the game. We have work to do. We aren’t going to hide from that fact. We are going to embrace it and accept it, and understand that there is some misery that comes from the position we are in right now. We won’t like it, but we will wear it. More importantly, we are going to continue to work and get better as a football team.”
It looked like Ben wanted to run up and run a play after the fumble. Is that a call he makes or a collective call?
“That is always a collective thing. Obviously, sometimes when you are on the grass you have a better view of what happened than those on the sidelines. Honestly, when you get those types of plays — particularly on the road — they aren’t going to allow you to get up there and snap it quick. Their replay booth is going to work in conjunction with the sideline to make sure they get the necessary looks. The bottom line is that the ball was on the ground.”
You called last week “unacceptable”. You seem to have a little softer tone this week:
“This is unacceptable too. We step in stadiums to win, and we didn’t do that tonight. I started by acknowledging that fact.”
Do you think the answers are still in that room or do you want to look elsewhere for help?
“I believe honestly that the answers are still in that room.”
Could Markus Wheaton be part of that?
“He will be.”
What are your thoughts on the offensive line tonight?
“I thought they battled all night. Obviously it was a hostile environment, and we got down by double-digit points and became one dimensional. That titled in the favor of the defense. Largely, I liked the look in their eyes throughout the remainder of the game. We didn’t have the type of success that we need to have to win football games. That is the most important fact.”
That tripping penalty was a pretty tough call:
“I referred to that earlier when I said it looked like we had a big third down and instead had a penalty.”
Were there any particular problems with the Tyler Eifert long catch and Giovani Bernard long touchdown run?
“They were good plays by them. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that. They are a good football team. They executed well.”
Did you see better line play in comparison to the Tennessee game last week?
“I hadn’t really looked at it in that way. I am focused solely on the fact that it wasn’t good enough to win tonight. I am not thinking about the broad brush at this time.”
What happened on the play where David Paulson lost the fumble?
“It’s hard because we don’t know if it’s a fumble. You see the crowd start going crazy and their sideline start reacting like they’re going to challenge it, so at that moment you start thinking, “OK, we’ve got to hurry up and call one of the hurry up plays.” So that’s what we were trying to do, and (Bengals Head) Coach (Marvin) Lewis threw the (challenge) flag.”
It seems like every time you get something going, there’s a penalty or something happens. Is that making the offense worse than you think it actually is?
“It’s frustrating. We had some big plays called back because of penalties, and just give them credit. They threw a lot of different looks at us and we didn’t — I didn’t— make enough plays to get it done tonight.”
How much of a momentum killer was the tripping call on Marcus (Gilbert)?
“Very. That’s a big play. I’m not sure where he got tackled, but I think it’s on the other side of the 50 and we’ve got all the momentum in the world going there and next thing you know, you’re backed up. I just — looking up at the JumboTron — I quickly got to see it.”
On the drive at the end of the first half, that was the best drive that you had. Were you calling the plays there?
“Yeah. We were in like a two-minute mode, so I was calling all the plays there to try and get down the field, and all the guys did a good job of getting into windows and making plays after the catch.”
Is something off with the offense, like the timing?
“If you asked me right now, my knee-jerk reaction is giving them credit for making it difficult for us. I’d have to watch it on film to see why we were off on some of our things. I know there were a couple times receivers who said they couldn’t see the ball in the air with the light. Those are kind of fluke-y things that can happen.”
Being 0-2 is an unusual situation for you — how frustrating is it?
“Very frustrating. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to let this sink in for a day or two and then get ready for Chicago.”
Is this offense in trouble?
“Don’t think so. Nope. But the quarterback’s got to play better, and he will.”
Are you lobbying to go to the no-huddle more? Is that something you’ve talked about with (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley?
“We talk about it. Coach Tomlin, Coach Haley, Coach Randy Fichtner, we all communicate and we all talk about it, and if we think it’s in the best interest of the offense, we’ll get into it.”
Do you need to do something passing-wise to help the running game, or does the running game need to do something to help out the passing game?
“We got into a two-minute mode tonight where we were just trying to hit passes and hit them quick, and we didn’t have much of a run game going for whatever reason. We need to be balanced, and I’ve always said that from Day 1.”
If you’re looking for positives to take out of this from the offense’s standpoint compared to last week, what are you looking at?
“Not a lot of positives right now. That’s a negative. If anything, it’s going to be how upset guys are, myself included that this is happening to us. We need some guys to step up, older guys to step up and younger guys to get it going and avoid the road we’re going down.”
Was the big play of the game — the tripping penalty on Marcus Gilbert on your big 33-yard gainer in the third quarter?
“That’s the point of emphasis. We’re looking at first down near the red zone, but it ended up with fourth down, and we punted. We took points off of the board. That allows us to not get points. That allows us not to be on top.”
Do you feel the offense is making progress and getting better?
“A little bit. I thought we made strides in some areas. We’ve got to continue to develop and get better.”
How frustrating is this loss?
“It’s absolutely frustrating. You work hard over the course of the year. To come out and lose ball games is always disheartening.”
What was the process immediately after David Paulson’s fumble?
“We knew he had a chance for a fumble by the replay. We tried to hurry up and get a snap off, so they couldn’t challenge the play.”
“It’s not a lack of focus. It’s not a lack of studying. It’s not a lack of anything to do with preparation. It’s a lack of getting on the field and doing your job. I think when teams can’t stop the ball on first down — that’s when teams start to guess. Someone has to make a play. You have to do something. When you start doing that, that’s when you get out of position. You leave a gap on first down. You give up four yards on first down. For us, it’s about doing what we’re taught. No matter the score. No matter what’s happening, we can’t scoreboard watch. I think we heard a lot of let’s go make a play, when it used to be ‘Let’s go play’. Things happen. For us, we can’t start pressing to do things.”
The Bengals had two big plays where their receivers were wide open. One was Tyler Eifert’s catch:
“That’s my fault. Period. They had been running hitches to the outside a lot. Last year, I felt like on film Andy looked somewhere and that was where he was going. That play was a called pump. He’s going to the seam. They were throwing hitches. I was waiting for a hitch-and-go. It was an extremely good play call. I have to do better.”
Talk about Bernard’s touchdown catch:
“That was underneath coverage. They ran four verticals. He was a check down and we didn’t contain. We didn’t keep him inside where guys could pursue.”
Any reason why the offense couldn’t pick up the defense or vice versa tonight?
“No. I’m just a free safety. If I had all of the answers, we wouldn’t be 0-2. Right now, we’ve got to keep playing. We can’t panic and abandon what we have learned. We do have to shore some things up. We do have to be a lot more sound. If we don’t, this is going to keep happening.”
The way this offense is going, are you in trouble?
“We’ll see how the character of this team is with our backs against the wall. I feel like we have the team to bounce back. We have the players to win this game. We shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties. Big plays could have changed the outcome of the game. We have to stop doing that to ourselves.”
Talk about the penalties and turnovers from the last two weeks:
“That’s the frustrating part. We move the ball down the field, and there’s that one big play that happens — a fumble, interception, or a penalty. It feels like there’s always something holding us back. Every time we get the ball rolling, it sets us back. It keeps happening and it’s déjà vu.”