DECEMBER 11, 2011
“That was a hard way to lose a football game. There was a lot of effort, and good plays. We also overcame a lot of obstacles and we made a team go 80 yards at the end to win. We didn’t get off the field a couple of times on critical third downs, and that hurt at the end. There were a lot of plays before then that didn’t help either — we ended up on the goal line and had a procedure penalty, and there were some others. We had some mistakes that we have to (correct) because we are taking points off the board. We made big plays and were not following them up and getting touchdowns. That’s the big difference for us right now — finishing drives and getting touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, we have to win on third down. Looking at all of the areas, those are the two that kept us from winning today.”
When you lose a game like this how does it affect the big picture?
“I can’t tell you right now. As far as the team goes, they are very disappointed and I’m going to have to pump some air in them. We have to make some corrections and get back on track. Before this game, we controlled our own destiny, and now I can’t tell you what is going to happen. We have to move forward and see what happens.”
Were you able to see the pass interference at the end?
“No I wasn’t.”
You called timeouts late at the end. What was the thinking on that?
“I just wanted to see their formation. The first time, the thinking was the ball was going to be further down in there. They changed personnel and we wanted to match up with them. We wanted to make sure we had the right people in there because they changed personnel three times on that last series.”
On fourth down with the false start, was the intention to draw them offside?
“Yes. We were going to punt the ball there regardless. The five-yard penalty didn’t play a part in the call. We didn’t get an especially good punt, and that needs to be better next time. We could have punted the ball through the end zone and not risk a return, but they would have had to go 80 yards anyway.”
Do you know what happened on the touchdown play for a guy to get so wide open?
“Yes I do.”
Can you elaborate on that?
“No I can’t.”
It seemed like they had a lot of guys wide open over the middle:
“I think that’s a big part of their offense. Depending on whether we were in zone or man, they got a lot of inside routes that they were able to move the ball with. They had the tight end running across two or three times to get first downs as well.”
How do you guys regroup from a loss like this?
“It is tough. To be so close to getting a win and then it doesn’t happen, it’s tough. But, we have to come in tomorrow and correct our mistakes and put it behind us. There are three games left and we have to focus on the next one. The next one is big. We need another win. We can’t focus on the things that happened in this game. We have to look at it and get better from it and then move on.”
Do you guys stop thinking about the playoffs and just focus on the St. Louis Rams, or do you still think about the playoffs?
“The playoffs are a goal, and the only way that we’re going to get there is if we beat the Rams. It’s our next game and it has to be our focus. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Can you nail down why you struggled in the red-zone today?
“We couldn’t get it done. They made a couple plays on the ball. They had a couple good coverages out there, and they played the run well. Obviously, we would have liked to get touchdowns. We have to get better.”
The Texans won a close game that was either team’s to win:
“They came out in the second half and obviously played better down the stretch than we did. Right out of the half we gave them seven points, basically, with that turnover. That hurt us. We were trying to get it back down the stretch with some field goals, but obviously we were one point short.”
It was surprising the Texans threw the ball 44 times with a rookie quarterback:
“It’s something we’ve got to work on as a team, both offensively and defensively, the whole game. We just didn’t close it out. It’s one of those tough ones.”
You guys were plus-two in turnover differential:
“The defense played really well. They gave us the ball back when we needed it. We’ve just got to capitalize on that and put it in the end zone. When they gave use the ball back, we came away with field goals. Three (points) is good, but seven is better.”
You had them where you wanted them on the last drive:
“Yeah, if you consider percentages, when a team has to go 80 yards to score, the defense is favored. Their offense did a hell of a job making plays and capitalized on our mistakes.”
The T.J. Yates scramble helped the drive continue:
“Yeah, we had guys around him but weren’t able to get him down.”
Talk about the fumble when you and
“Reggie and I were going for the ball and it just so happens that we both got our hands on it at the same time — one was pulling one way and the other was pulling another way and the ball squirted away from us.”
Did you realize that it was Reggie going for the ball?
“I didn’t know it until after the play. My head was down and I was trying to get the ball away.”
At the time, did it seem like a missed opportunity?
“It’s hard to say because anything can happen. It would have helped us a lot and given our offense great field position. If we would have capitalized on the opportunity, it would have put us in a better position.”
What did you see during the fumble at the goal line?
“The ball was on the ground and we were trying to get on it. It didn’t work in our favor. We didn’t recover the ball. There isn’t anything to elaborate on.”
Have you thought about the what if’s –if you had recovered the ball?
“I’m not going to think about the what-if’s. We didn’t get the ball.”
This must be a demoralizing loss considering how close you were:
“Yeah. It hurts. We have to come in and learn from the film and move forward to next week.”
You must have figured you would stop them on the last drive:
“We needed to come up with a play on the last drive and we didn’t. That’s the game.”
Did they do anything differently?
“We have to make plays and we didn’t.”
Was that a miscommunication between you and
“No, it wasn’t any miscommunication. It was a good offensive play they ran. We just have to do a better job to cover it.”
I’ve never seen the locker room this quiet:
“Yeah. It’s very frustrating. We led the whole game until the end of the fourth quarter. We had it in our favor and seemed as if we were doing everything well. They found ways to get the ball downfield. The pass interference penalty really hurt us. They drew a good play and executed well and scored a touchdown. We wanted this locker room to be more excited and happy because we were in the game the whole time. It sucks because we know we had the game.”
Do you feel like you still have a chance?
“All we can do is prepare for the next game. That’s how we’ve been and that’s how the process goes. We have to get ready for St. Louis next week. We’ll watch film tomorrow and get better on what we did wrong and do better on what we did good.”
Marvin (Lewis) talked about you guys no longer controlling your own destiny. Do you think about the playoffs now?
“We need to look at things we need to work on and prepare for the next game. We have to focus on getting better and not worrying what’s ahead.”
Were there missed assignments on the last drive?
“I can’t speak for the things that went on. They had the nickel personnel out there so all I could do is sit and watch. We made some good plays but unfortunately they scored at the end.”
It came down to one or two plays and didn’t turn out the way the Bengals would have liked:
“Yeah man, it sucks. I can’t even describe the feeling. It sucks for everybody. It sucks for players, coaches, and fans. It’s just a tough way to lose.”
You’ve got to give Houston rookie QB T.J. Yates credit for making the plays needed to win:
“Yeah, like I said, it’s a tough way to lose. The defense played well all game. The offense was able to play well in the first half and move the ball. Like I said, it’s a play here or a play there. You can pick out five or six plays that make all the difference. It’s just a sucky way to lose, man.”
It’s got to be frustrating to lose a close game on the final play:
“It’s a defeated feeling today. I can’t even put it into words how bad this hurts, especially being in it until eight seconds left. We just had so many opportunities. I can’t event put a word on how much this hurts. It was just one of those games where there were missed opportunities time after time after time. It was our own fault. We put ourselves in bad positions. Offensively and defensively, we just made critical errors all day long. And that’s why we lost this game.”
You took Houston out of its normal routine of running the football:
“A rookie quarterback beat us today. He did it with both his arm and his feet. I don’t even know what to say. Wow. I don’t even know what to say.”
You’re still in the playoff hunt, but no longer control your own destiny:
“It’s not even about the playoffs anymore. It’s just about winning games. We can’t think about the postseason until we start winning games. It’s a remote idea right now. Just win. Just win however we can win. Stop killing ourselves.”
Life in the NFL, you’ve got to take games one at a time:
“We’ve been in them (lately). We just haven’t closed them. It’s just a bad feeling. We all feel bad. There’s nothing else you can really say. We can’t beat each other down. We’ve just got to come in here tomorrow and watch it on film, put it on paper, and then we’ll go from there.”
“It was an ugly football game for us, but the end result was great for the organization. We did not play well, we turned the ball over and did not stop the runs in the first half. It did not look like we had any chance of getting out of here with a win, but we have a young quarterback who believes in what he’s doing. I’m just happy for everybody.”
What did you tell Andre Johnson?
“I gave him a ball. I’ve been here six out of nine years with him, he’s a great player and he’s going through a tough time right now. I’ve watched him stick with this organization for nine years, and I wanted his teammates to know how proud we are of him. And he (Andre Johnson) was very proud of them too. He’s the reason, in my opinion, this organization has been able to keep fighting due to his leadership.”
What were you telling the team?
“They didn’t listen much. They were pretty excited, but I told them we didn’t really play (well). Believe it or not, at this point we were not on top of what we were doing, but we found a way to win and that’s what this game is about.”
Has what you all did out there today hit you yet? Winning a division championship:
“No not yet. It will probably hit me sometime on the way home. We’ve been close, but we couldn’t get over the hump. We just keep battling. We got over the hump because we refuse to let adversity take us the other way.”
Describe the feeling in the locker room when you all were watching the Titans game come to an end:
“They didn’t really want to talk to me. They wanted to watch the game.”
What about going 80 yards, two and a half minutes, with no timeouts:
“We went 80 yards the drive before. That was the unfortunate play that went all the way back to the one-yard line. That starts with the quarterback. You don’t do those things if someone doesn’t have total control of the situation. The young quarterback bailed us out of some really tough situations.”
What was done differently today in terms of getting over the hump as opposed to games in the past?
“Getting over the hump is a good sign. As disappointing as it was to walk in at half time and I think we had put three or four balls on the ground, we knew it wasn’t a pleasant place. To still be able to win a game through all of that shows you what you’ve got. In a few weeks, you won’t be able to get away with that, but we’ve still got to be proud that we rallied together and got a win today.”
Was there an adjustment at the half? It seems they ran so much better in the first half of the game:
“They (Cincinnati) were playing with a higher level of intensity, and we had to come back out and match that same level of play.
Talk about the play from Connor Barwin:
“It’s his hometown, and I know it was a big game for him, but our defense has been the catalyst in everything we have done.”
What is the status of Joel Dreessen?
“All I know at this point is his knee was swollen. He was able to come back. I think he’ll be fine.”
You came into the year with your job on the line and struggled at the beginning a little bit under a lot of pressure. Describe how you feel, personally:
“I don’t feel any different. I work the same way. I believe in what we’re doing and how you have to go about things a certain way in order to be successful. We’ve been able to get those things done this year. I’m happy for Mr. McNair, the players and coaches, and our city.”
How has T.J. Yates done in practice?
“He has practiced extremely well. He’s a great player. There’s nothing he can’t do. It’s just a matter of him getting the repetitions and playing in a hostile environment.”
Talk a little about the game-winning play:
“I was trying to call something that would give us another chance if it wasn’t there the first time.”
What is this whole experience like for you, given that it’s your first year?
“It’s pretty crazy. I know a lot of people in this organization have been wanting this for a long time. I’m happy that we achieved this, but this is just one small step in achieving the teams’ goals.”
What were you thinking before that final game-winning drive?
“I knew we were moving the ball well all game long, but we just weren’t converting. Whether it was turnovers or something else, we just weren’t getting the job done. We were moving the ball great, but we just knew we had to finish. When everyone went out there, we were calm and we were ready to go. We knew that we were going to move it down the field. We just had to convert when the time came.”
What happened on the first-down scramble on that final drive?
“I felt like I was running forever. I bet I looked so slow. I was pretty gassed at that point. They were playing a lot of two-man defense. Coach Kubiak told me that if nothing is there, just get out and go. We just happened to get the right man coverage, and we just made a play.”
Can you describe what happened on the game-winning touchdown?
“It’s a play we put in this week. We ran it earlier in the season, but we thought it would be good against these guys. He was coming underneath the coverage in a pivot route and he just flashed wide open, and I just hit him.”
Where does this moment rank in your football career so far?
“This one is up there for sure. It is a special day for this team and organization. Hopefully I’ll look back at this one as a good thing later in my career.”
Did you know that your parents were being shown a lot on television today?
“Yeah, I saw it in the locker room. My mom had her head in her hands and she couldn’t even watch. I’m used to that, but I’m happy that they were here.”
What was it like in the locker room watching the Saints beat the Titans, giving you the division title?
“It was pretty cool. Everyone was huddled around the television making sure we weren’t celebrating prematurely. They got the job done. That was pretty cool having everyone huddled around after the game.”
Does this feel unreal for you personally?
“A little bit. After I got the sideline after we scored, it hadn’t hit me. It probably hasn’t hit me yet either. After I have some time to relax and think about things, it should be pretty cool.”
You didn’t seem to be bothered by the pressure:
“Earlier in the game, we just weren’t playing well on offense or defense. We gave them the ball a couple of times. That’s not like us. We knew we could move the ball up and down the field, and that they couldn’t stop us. We made a lot of mistakes to keep them in the game, but we knew when the time came, we had to score some points. That first long drive, we were OK with getting three points because we knew it was going to take two possessions to get the win. That last drive was kind of a whirlwind, but we converted when we needed to. The guys did a great job up front giving me enough time to find our receivers.”
Has it always been a strength of yours to remain calm under pressure?
“I think so. I’ve always been a low-key guy. Sometimes I feel that I don’t get up enough for certain situations. But in times like that, I’m pretty level-headed.”
Were you overly excited at any point during the game today?
“In the first half, I was a little uneasy. I wasn’t playing too well and I sailed a couple of balls too high. I just needed to calm down and play my game. The coaches told me to have a short-term memory and just play my game.”
Was there much said in the huddle before the final drive?
“Not much. As an offense, we were pretty calm. We knew that the defense had done a great job giving us the ball back. Like I said before — I knew we could move the ball and we just had to convert when it was needed.”
How helpful is it to have a head coach who was a former quarterback?
“It’s awesome. During timeouts, he is always filling my head with reminders and little things that help me calm down. He’s sees the game through a quarterback’s mind. He’s knows what I’m thinking out there. It really helps because he has the right thing to say, which gives me confidence.”
Was there an example of that during the last two drives?
“On that scramble, he said if they were playing two men deep, that I should just take off. That really helped me to make that decision quicker.”
Was that also the case on the final play, in whether or not to throw it away?
“We knew that it had to be in the end-zone or out of bounds. We got down there after the penalty with 14 seconds, so we had a chance for two or three plays.”
Were you personally tense during those final plays?
“Not really. I was just kind of in the zone. At that moment, you can’t think about what’s going on around you. You have to get things organized and communicate as much as possible, even if you take a big hit. You just have to keep moving.”
How do you like your new attire (division championship T-shirt and cap)?
“This is a good look.”
What is that feeling that you’ve been waiting for six-plus years to get to?
“It’s an amazing feeling — a great feeling and big sigh of relief. Six years is a long time to wait. I’m even more excited for Andre (Johnson). He’s been here nine years, and for us to have an opportunity to play in the playoffs is big for us.”
You weren’t playing well in the first half. The intensity wasn’t there. What changed in the second half?
“In the first half we can came out very flat. It wasn’t the team that we’ve seen for the past few weeks. At halftime, Gary (Kubiak) talked to us and told us basically we need to step our game up and show up in the second half and find a way to close this game up. We came out in the second half and had the energy we’re supposed to play with, stepped up and made some huge plays. None were bigger than our young quarterback. T.J. (Yates) stepped up and made huge plays for us, especially on third down to get the first down. That was big.”
You can you talk about watching the end of the Saints and Titans game in the locker room and what that was like?
“It started to feel like our game. We were sitting there waiting for the Saints to stop the Titans on the goal line, and they made a play. The next thing you know, everybody’s cheering in the locker room and we clinched our division.”
How does that feel for you after being through so many tough times?
“It’s a great feeling. We’re in. For us, this is just the beginning. It’s a start for us. We still have another goal to reach.”
The last possession, they (the Bengals) received the ball with 5:31 to go. You got them off the field. Otherwise, your offense doesn’t have a chance. Can you talk about that possession?
“We made a play when it counted. It was still close there. They ran a little shuffle pass and almost got the first down. We were able to get them to jump offside on fourth down and got our offense the ball back. We got them to punt the ball, and gave our offense a chance.”
You’ve been here as long as anybody, and through a lot of bad times. What emotions are you feeling right now to win the division?
“I don’t know if it has really sunk in yet, but it feels good to put on that hat and say the world champs. It’s an unbelievable credit to everyone in the organization and to everyone that has fought through the hard times, and all the players that fought through today to make it happen. You just can’t say enough for how much everyone has worked to get to this point.”
You have a third-string quarterback, 80 yards to go, and no timeouts … how do you do it?
“We realized what was on the line right there. It is unbelievable what T.J. (Yates) was able to do, finding people down the field, avoiding the rush and making plays with his feet. It was so smooth. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
How does it feel to win the division?
“We’ve turned that corner. We’re a playoff-bound team — a Super Bowl-contending team. That’s what we’re looking for right now.”
Talk about the play of T.J. Yates in the game, especially late:
“The kid’s performance speaks for itself. I’m lost for words. All I can say is, T.J. … T.J. … T.J.”
The game ball was given to Andre Johnson. What did you think about that?
“The guy has been here since the start. He’s one of the biggest leaders on this team, emotionally. When I dropped that ball on the first play of the game, he came straight to me and said, ‘Don’t let that play make you. Go make the next one.’ If you let it linger, you won’t be able to overcome the adversity. I let it go and the game went on.”
Other than Andre Johnson, you’ve been here longer than anybody. How’s it feel it to finally be in this situation?
“It has been six long years. We’ve been swinging and swinging. We were stuck in neutral for a little bit there, it felt like. We’re over the hump. You knew eventually it was going to happen. Everyone kept working through those (tough times). You knew at some time we were going to break through.”
Assess the play of T.J. Yates:
“I’m proud of T.J. A few weeks ago, he wasn’t even dressing. He was thrown into the fire. I am proud of the way he’s playing. He’s been doing some good things.”
Was it special to clinch the division here?
“Going on the road, into someone else’s stadium, is one of the toughest things to do in this league. Nothing is ever given to you in this league. We talked about that at halftime — nothing is ever given to you. We have to go out there and make our plays and execute. We didn’t do that in the first half. In the second half we did, and that’s what it’s all about.”
What was that last drive like?
“You have to execute or you lose the football game. That’s what it’s all about. We made plays as a group. Everybody. It’s tough. We were grinding all game. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to in the first half. We got it done when it counted.”