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Steelers at Bengals Postgame Quotes

Posted Dec 4, 2017

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals postgame quotes

MARVIN LEWIS

Head coach

Initial Comments ...

        “We’ve got to make plays there at the end to win the football game, whether it be driving and making another first down or getting field position back. And then be able to make a stop there on defense. We let them go down the field to score 10 points there in the fourth quarter, and it becomes the difference in the game. On the drive before halftime and in the third quarter, we don’t finish the doggone play. We made positive plays, but again, we needed to make critical plays in critical moments to win the football game, and we didn’t do it.”

 

How do you come back from a loss like this?

        “Well, we’ve got to go quick. We’ve got to erase it, we’ve got to go quick. We’ve got to go back to work, and we’ve got to grind it out.”

 

Can you logically make sense of what happened, especially since the momentum seemed to shift rapidly after the first half?

        “Momentum comes down to making plays together — positive plays. Don’t have dropped balls, don’t have a critical penalty — things like that. Those are things we can do better, if indeed there were (those factors at work).”

 

This is a brutal sport, but tonight was a particularly brutal game. Did that strike you to the point you look at it and think that certain plays went too far?

        “I’m not going to comment on that. It’s about what happened in the football game.”

 

This is a particularly physical game. Did any of the situations with injuries tonight feel like that was a part of changing the momentum?

        “Well, it changes. We went down some guys today, and we’ve got to have guys step up and make plays. That’s part of it.”

 

The league has tried to police injuries with penalties, fines and ejections. Is it up to the players to police themselves a little bit better?

        “Again, I can’t comment. I don’t understand your question. Yes, there’s things in place to police this, but I don’t know what play you’re talking about in your question. You’re making a general statement, and it’s probably not (best) for me to make a general comment.”

 

To rephrase, should players police themselves, since the league has done all it can do with suspensions and fines?

        “I think the game has changed. I don’t know what play in particular you’re referring to. There’s a difference. Football is a physical sport.”

 

This was a really long game with the injuries and stoppages. Do you think that wore on your defense, since they played so well in the beginning. It seemed like they almost got tired as the game wore on ...

        “We’ve got to stop them. We didn’t stop them. That’s part of playing defense: To stop the other team, whenever it is. First time, second time, third time — whenever it is in the game, go make stops.”

 

You guys seemed to be more aggressive early on in the game tonight, as opposed to being on your heels, which sometimes seems to be the case against the Steelers ...

        “I don’t know that we were on our heels, but that’s your observation. We go in with the plan, and whatever the plan is, that’s the plan and that’s what you go through and execute.”

 

ANDY DALTON

Quarterback

Was that one of the most disappointing finishes you have been a part of in a while?

        “It’s unfortunate for us. We had plenty of chances in this one and weren’t able to get it done. They kept driving and getting points.”

 

What changed in the fourth quarter?

        “We got set back on one drive. The sack, and then the false start hurt us. On that last drive, we weren’t able to make the plays when we have to make them. We’ll have to look at it and see what we can do better.”

 

Can you describe the level of contact you saw out there?

        “It’s always a hard-fought game with these guys. You never want to have any plays that can injury anybody. It’s disappointing that that stuff happened, but it’s a physical game. But you can’t have any of the cheap stuff.”

 

Does it feel like deja vu at all? Does it put you at a loss for words sometimes?

        “We had our opportunities and chances. If we don’t get the holding call on the long touchdown to A.J. (Green), that changes things. There are several plays that you can look back on and say ‘what could we have done differently?’ It’s disappointing we weren’t able to get it done.”

 

What changed in the second half?

        “We moved the ball, and I thought we made some plays and had some drives. At the end of the game when we needed to make plays, we didn’t.”

 

That last sack on third and two, was it good coverage?

        “Yes. They had good coverage and did a good job.”

 

Did they change the way they played A.J. Green in the second half?

        “There are some things that were different and some that were the same. If we can have that one back that got called for the holding, then the game could have been different. That’s just one play that sticks out, because it’s a touchdown.”

 

It feels like the running game started to click more ...

        “Yeah. I thought our guys played really well up front. On one of the sacks, it was just a miscommunication — that first one that happened. Our guys played really well up front in the pass game and running the ball.”

 

Did they bring less pressure in the first half because they’ve been beaten over the top a lot?

        “No, they brought a lot of pressure in this game. We were able to hit them over the top on a couple, but at the end of the day we didn’t make enough plays.”

 

How hard is it to witness something like the Ryan Shazier moment?

        “You never want to see anybody get hurt. This game is physical and there’s a chance of it happening. You never want to see it happen, especially on a clean play. That’s the tough thing, and you feel for him.”

 

Did you say anything to him?

        “Yeah. I just said I was thinking of him. I don’t know exactly what happened or what was going on, but you never want anything bad to happen to anybody.”

 

Did you see any plays out there that weren’t clean?

        “Obviously the personal foul on Vontaze (Burfict). You can’t have that kind of stuff. You don’t want that to be part of the game.”

 

With all of these violent hits, how important is it for players to take some responsibility for their actions?

        “It’s a big part of it. We’re the ones that are out there. You have to understand to play the game the right way. There’s a big part of this league that realizes that and handles it the right way. We’re the ones out there, so we have to police it.”

 

Does it wear on you that a game like this falls into so many narratives?

        “I wouldn’t say it wears on me. There were so many chances in this game; we could be sitting here talking about different stuff. With all the plays we made and the things that went right, it’s just part of the game.”

 

CLINT BOLING

Guard

That game was a tale of two halves. It was a strange game, with a lot of strange things happening ...

        “It was a frustrating outcome with the way we played in the first half. I thought we moved the ball great, the defense played great, and to come out in the second half and not be able to finish (the game) is just disappointing.”

 

Over 170 penalty yards for you guys, which is a team record. There are a lot of different ways you can hurt yourself, and that’s one of them ...

        “Yeah, I mean those kinds of things happen — there’s nothing you can do about it. We have to be more disciplined, we have to be tighter with our techniques, and those things hurt. It’s one of those things where we really have to eliminate those things.”

 

It was a really hard-hitting ballgame. With Ryan Shazier, Vontaze Burfict, and Joe Mixon all leaving the game with injuries, it was a physical game ...

        “That’s the way it has always been when we’ve played (the Steelers). It has always been a physical matchup — it’s just the way it is. Unfortunately, sometimes guys get hurt as a result of that kind of thing. It’s disappointing ... It’s tough to see guys get carted off like that, so our thoughts are with them. It’s just part of the game sometimes.”

 

This will be a game where you may be replaying some plays over and over in your head tonight. If one of those plays had gone differently, the outcome may have changed ...

        “Yeah, you continue to find yourself in this situation when we play these guys. Play here, play there, penalty here — that kind of thing. It’s just been the nature of what we’ve been doing against them, and unfortunately we just haven’t figured out a way to win against them.”

 

CHRIS SMITH

Defensive end

It was a tale of two halves tonight. The first half was great, but the second half, not so much ...

        “When we got up at halftime — hats off to them — you know they are going to make plays in the second half. We didn’t do a good job of finishing. It was a lot of little things that got us in the second half, but we just have to learn how to finish. You have to finish out on a good team like that.”

 

There were over 170 yards in penalties. Against a team like that, you can’t give them almost two football fields in penalties ...

        “Some of those I disagree with — I think everybody does. But, we have to not make those (plays). If they are going to call it, we’ve got to find a way to not be in those situations. They hurt us down the stretch. Every game — not just this game, but every game — we have to learn not to beat ourselves.”

 

This was a hard-hitting football game. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a game with two linebackers taken off in carts ...

        “Every time we play them it’s always ... I’ve learned, since it’s my first year being here, it’s a different football game. It’s a very physical game — two star linebackers (Steelers LB Ryan Shazier and Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict) got hit in the head, and stuff like that. It’s physical. We kept our heads in the first half, but in the second half, we can’t beat ourselves on the small stuff.”

 

Following Monday Night Football, you have a short week coming up against the Bears, with very little time to prepare ...

        “Yeah, you have to have a short memory. Anything can happen in this league, so we just have to maintain (composure) and have a short memory and move onto the next week. In the NFL, you have your wins and losses, and you have to learn from them and move on.”

 

KEVIN MINTER

Linebacker

Do you think this game is getting over-the-top with the violence? It was almost uncomfortable watching this game ...

        “I don’t know. A few years ago, all of those hits were legal, so I’m not sure that the game is any more physical than it was a while ago. It’s just that now they are calling it more. It’s like everyone was saying earlier — this rivalry is real. We come for them and they come for us, and obviously they got us this time.”

 

Was it as brutal as a game as you’ve seen in a while, though?

        “I feel like sometimes guys get caught in weird situations or positions. It wasn’t any more hard-hitting than any other game, there were just some awkward tackles. With Shazier (Steelers LB Ryan Shazier), it looked like his head was just too far over on the tackle. With Vontaze (Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict), he got caught off guard. It’s the game — whoever gets got, gets got. Obviously we’re praying for Shazier and praying for Vontaze, but at the end of the day it’s football.”

 

CARLOS DUNLAP

Defensive end

You’ve played in a lot of these Bengals vs. Steelers games. Do you think they’re becoming too violent?

        “Nope. It was a great AFC North football game. They were physical, we were physical, we know it was. The one with Vontaze, they can tell you what that is. The history will tell you why that happened, too. I don’t need to answer that question. But at the end of the day, that stuff doesn’t matter to me — I just want to win.”

 

A.J. GREEN

Wide receiver

Was there anything that you saw differently in the fourth quarter?

        “I dropped two balls that I should have caught. No excuses. I don’t care what the weather is like. I have to find a way to make that play.”

 

What was working early in the game?

        “We didn’t have any elements. We didn’t have to worry about the rain in the first quarter. It’s football, man. We have to make a play on that final drive, and it just went through my hands.”

 

Is it disappointing? It seems like the Pittsburgh games tend to end with disappointment like this ...

        “It’s very disappointing because we had it. We played well in the first half. In the second half, I didn’t make enough plays. It comes down to me; I’ve got to make that catch.”

 

On the touchdown that got called back, it would have put you up 24-10. Did you feel like you had it at that point?

        “Yeah, but things happen. We didn’t score on that drive.”

 

When did you realize that it wasn’t good?

        “When I turned around and I saw the flag.”

 

Did you see the hit on Vontaze Burfict?

        “Yeah, I saw it. It was a dirty hit, man. A dirty hit.”

 

As a receiver, you’re looking to block in that situation. But it seems like Smith-Schuster had clear intent there, right?

        “It’s not called for. We already play a dangerous sport. We all put our lives on the line when we come out here every week, and you don’t want anything like that to happen to a player, no matter what team you play for or how big the rivalry is. We have to protect each other. We already play a high-injury sport.”

 

After a loss like this, is there a feeling of, ‘What happens against these guys (the Steelers)?’

        “It’s rough, man. We put in all this work each and every week for six months. It’s just not working out. If you look at all of our games, we are losing by a small margin. But, that’s sometimes how the season goes. We have to continue to get better each week and try to go out and win the next game.”

 

WILLIAM JACKSON

Cornerback

How disappointing is this loss. After being up 17-0, I would imagine as a defensive group you’d be comfortable with that margin ...

        “It’s real disappointing because we came out and played so hard, and everybody was fighting to the end. We just didn’t pull it off at the end.”

 

What happened on the Le’Veon Bell’s touchdown?

        “I thought he was out, and I didn’t want to late-hit him. He’s a veteran guy. He turned it up, caught me slipping and scored a touchdown.”

 

Were you surprised that he wasn’t out?

        “I was definitely surprised. I just knew he was out of bounds, but obviously, he wasn’t. It is what it is.”

 

The last drive of the first half, did that turn the tide?

        “That hurt, because we were really competing hard. I think it was a screen route, and it kind of went for longer than we expected. So they got three (points) before the half, and that was disappointing.”

 

You have played in two Bengals-Steelers games, but you know how tough it has been against the Steelers historically. Is this a gut punch to lose a game like that?

        “I just hate that we lost, because we started out so well. We had them down, and we just had to keep fighting. They just pulled it off at the end.”

 

Did you see the hit on Vontaze Burfict?

        “It’s football, but I thought it was a dirty play. If Tez (Burfict) would have done that, he would have been kicked out the game. So, I just feel like they didn’t do justice for Tez, because they would have kicked Tez out if he did something like that.”

 

GEORGE ILOKA

Safety

You have obviously played some crazy games against the Steelers. Is there a feeling of, ‘What do we have to do against these guys?’

        “I wish I knew. It kind of feels like déjà vu; not to the extent, but it has the feel of when lost the playoff game. That playoff lost was more like we imploded, this wasn’t like that. The playoff game was like a sudden ... we imploded out of nowhere. This one was like slowly, slowly, and before you knew, we were playing for the game. It’s frustrating, because we put our hearts into this, and you could tell we wanted this game bad. There were people writing us off going into the game, but you could tell by how we came out, we really wanted this game. It’s frustrating to not get the end result we want, year after year. As a professional, you have to keep your head down and keep working. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. It’s frustrating, trust me, but we have to keep working.”

 

What did you think of the hit on Vontaze Burfict?

        “I am going to keep it short. I am going to say, the hit ... I’m not going to go into all of that, because it’s the heat of the moment. I can’t tell you what’s going through someone else’s mind — in terms of at the exact given moment — so I’m not going comment on the hit. It is what it is. Obviously, it’s a penalty, but I don’t know the intent. I wasn’t a fan of standing over a player, especially one that is hurt. That is something they have complained about, so if they do it to ... It’s neither here nor there. We didn’t lose the game because of that. I definitely wasn’t a fan of that. Someone gets hurt, and you don’t know the extent of their injuries, and you are standing over them for five or six seconds after that. It’s kind of bush league, but it is what it is. You know how these games go. You can keep it physical, but you don’t have to do all of that.”


 

MIKE TOMLIN

Head coach

Initial Comments ...

        “I can’t say enough about the mental toughness of that group that’s in the locker room. We faced a lot of adversity tonight, a lot of it created by us turning the ball over early and a lot of it created by Cincinnati. They came to play and they got after us in the first half of the game. They dominated and won possession downs on both sides. They converted third downs with their offense and we weren’t able to get off the field. It was difficult for us to win third downs on our side. You also probably have to acknowledge that it was difficult for those men to stay focused and play with their brother laid flat. That’s an element of ball as well. Thankfully, the guys stayed on task and we able to do the things necessary in the second half to have us march back, and that needs credit.

        “Make no mistake that this is a tough game and a tough business. (Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier) is our brother, and our thoughts and prayers go out to him. I don’t have any updates in terms of his status. Obviously, he’s receiving quality medical care. We’ll release an update at the appropriate time. Right now, we’re just happy that he’s getting the necessary medical attention that he deserves. He’s got a lot of brothers in there that are thoughtful of him and wanted to honor him with a performance. Other than that, I’ll be happy to address any questions you might have.”

 

Was it hard for you to focus after seeing something like that?

        “Yeah, you care about that man. You care about all the men, but that’s just a tough element of our game and one that we all understand. We had to get back on task, and we were able to do it. We made enough plays to win the game.”

 

You could see he had movement in his arms ...

        “I don’t want to speculate. Like I said, at the appropriate time, we’ll have certain medical information that we’ll share with you. I’m not going to try to articulate it because I’m not a doctor. That’s probably not appropriate.”

 

You talked about the mental toughness of the team. Is that what takes over in a game like this or is it executing?

        “We have a no-blink group. We’ve been under duress in that stadium against that team before. Maybe that past experience helps us in some way, but largely it’s the men and the belief in each other — belief in our approach — and making the necessary plays to make that belief reality.”

 

We saw a member of the medical team come down to talk with you. What was it like to have that conversation?

        “Guys, I’m not getting into that. I’ll keep that to myself.”

 

Talk about the decision to insert Cameron Sutton in the second half ...

        “He’s a guy that’s worked extremely hard and deserving of an opportunity. It wasn’t like there were a lot of positive things going on. That’s no slight against Cody (Sensabaugh). We were just looking for a spark or a combination. Cody served us well in relief of Joe (Haden). We gave 34 an opportunity and he made some plays. We’ll see what next week holds for us. We appreciate the efforts of all the men. We’ve got some options there.”

 

Antonio (Brown) didn’t practice all week long and he had a great game. Is that surprising?

        “He’s easy to believe in. You leave a light on for Antonio Brown. I can’t say enough about his effort and detail. A lack of physical preparation — and that’s a guy who’s confidence is steeped in physical preparation — and for him to perform the way he did, we don’t take it for granted and we appreciate it. A big-time squeeze down there in that end zone and absorbing that hit. Quintessential Antonio.”

 

We saw the players after what happened with Ryan Shazier. What do you say or do to get those guys to play again?

        “Guys, I’m not getting into that. It’s the job. That’s what I’m required to do.”

 

What did you see on the JuJu Smith-Schuster personal foul penalty?

        “He shouldn’t have stood over him. Sometimes the detail of the hit and the nature of the hit when you look at the video ... you coach off the video. Obviously, we don’t want to be penalized and we want to play within the rules. We respect player safety. I can access judgment on the fact that he stood over him, and that’s not how we play. That’s not reflective of the sportsman that he is, and I’m sure he’s sorry for that.”

 

BEN ROETHLISBERGER

Quarterback

How hard was it to watch Ryan Shazier and then how much did that affect the emotion in the first half?

        “It’s tough anytime anybody goes down. It’s scary, sad, emotions are running like crazy. It’s one of our leaders, a guy that calls defense and things like that. It’s a scary situation. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family, (Vontaze) Burfict and his family — anyone that gets hurt you have to feel for their families at home, not knowing what’s going on. You feel for the player, and so we just want to pray for everyone involved.”

 

At halftime, how did things settle down?

        “I think halftime, we came in here and it felt like there was no panic. We got three points at the end of the half, which is nice, but we kind of came in and just said hey we didn’t play well in the first half, let’s go play better and see what happens. That’s what I’m most proud about this group is that we’re resilient, we fight all to the end of the game, literally. So I’m just really happy about all that.”

 

After all the speculation all week about Antonio Brown, he comes out and has a typical A.B. kind of night ...

        “Never a doubt, right? That’s A.B. — special football player. He made a lot of great plays for us. His touchdown catch after getting hit really hard was just pretty special. He’ll probably be the first and he already told me, he wished he’d have made even more plays out there. To go out there and play through the injury, a guy that’s so good with his feet to have a toe issue, I’m just happy to have him out there, obviously. A lot of guys stepped up tonight and made plays.”

 

Talk about another away game and Steeler Nation turning out in full force for you guys?

        “Once again, what’s new? That’s Steeler Nation, and we love them. We’ve got the best fans in the world. We didn’t give them much to cheer about early, but I know they were out there waving the towels at the end and I know they’re happy about that.”

 

You’re the eighth quarterback in NFL history to reach 15,000 passing yards. Does that mean anything to you?

        “Well, it means more when you win. It wouldn’t have been the same if you don’t win. I think it means that I’ve played for a long time, it means the Lord has blessed me with some amazing abilities that not many people can say they have, and he’s also blessed me with some amazing teammates. Not just receivers, tight ends, running backs, but linemen. I know that those guys get a lot of the credit, but none of it happens without the guys up front. I’m just so thankful for all the people I’ve been blessed to play with.”

 

ALEJANDRO VILLANUEVA

Offensive tackle

Did the field goal mean much at the end of the first half?

        “Yeah, we weren’t moving the ball. I think we had around 20 plays in the first half. I still hadn’t broken a sweat, which is pretty demoralizing for an offense that can do so many great things. We’ll take the three points. Obviously they helped us win in the end.”

 

Were you guys affected by Ryan Shazier’s injury?

        “Always. He’s a great competitor, unbelievable teammate and a great football player. To see him go down, especially after the campaign he has put together this year, is very unfortunate. Hopefully we get some good news about him.”

 

Was this game as rough as it gets?

        “I have to speak from my end and the Bengals are an unbelievable defense. I have to go against Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson — and those guys are professionals and very clean. They play extremely hard and it’s a very physical game. In my opinion they have the best defense in the NFL. You have to give them credit. It’s crazy how football games develop over 60 minutes.”

 

JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER

Wide receiver

Did you see Vontaze Burfict the entire way and go for the big block?

        “I was just playing to the whistle. I didn’t mean to stand over him. I was trying to get a big block for Le’Veon Bell for him to get up field. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn’t have done that. I hope he’s okay and I hope he gets better.”

 

Was Burfict’s history with the Steelers part of this?

        “It just so happened that he was the first player I saw. I didn’t know it was him until after. Like I said, I hope he gets better and I’m sorry for standing over him. That’s very unsportsmanlike conduct.”

 

What is it about this team and coming back?

        “At halftime, coach said we have to stop the run and have to make plays on third down. We all believed each other and believed in Ben (Roethlisberger) to lead us and we believed in the defense to hold them — and that’s what they did.”

 

Was tonight as physical as you expected?

        “I pray for Ryan Shazier to get better. Tonight was a very physical game. It’s crazy. We came back and won by a field goal.”

 

Take us back to the hit you had on Vontaze Burfict ...

        “I saw Le’Veon catch the ball and I was looking for the first person I could to tackle. I saw a Bengals’ jersey and I didn’t even know it was Burfict. I apologize for standing over him. It was very unsportsmanlike conduct. I hope he gets better.”

 

VINCE WILLIAMS

Linebacker

What are you thinking about after this game ...

        “All I’m thinking about is Ryan (Shazier).”

 

What can you say about this team coming back?

        “That’s the kind of team we are. We’ve been in this situation before and this is nothing new to us.”

 

What does Ryan Shazier mean to this locker room?

        “Ryan is one of the biggest players on this defense. When we need a big play, he’s one of the guys we look to. He’s the middle linebacker and our signal caller. It’s going to be tough.”

 

CAMERON HEYWARD

Defensive end

You threw your helmet off on the sideline. Why?

        “It was a different situation.”

 

Did you catch yourself trying to help Ryan Shazier when he was injured?

        “I just let the doctors do their job. I’m not a doctor and I don’t know what I’m doing. I was just trying to keep him breathing. I know he was frustrated in that situation.”

 

Did you catch yourself asking Coach Tomlin for updates on Ryan Shazier throughout the game?

        “Not at that time. He told us to lock in and play football. It was more about getting everyone on the same page and understanding we had to play for number 50.”

 

Have they given you any reason to be optimistic since it happened?

        “No. They didn’t give us an update yet.”

Is it hard not knowing what’s going on?

        “Yes. Obviously we’re all going to reach out to Ryan. We understand that this is a huge injury and it’s not something you play around with. We’re going to pray for him and hopefully he comes back healthy.”

 

Have you ever been on the field with someone who had temporary spinal shock?

        “No. I can’t recall. We might have, but I can’t think of anyone at the moment. It’s really shocking. You don’t expect it at all.”

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