DECEMBER 22, 2013
“It was a big victory for us. Defensively, we did a great job on third down, and it really set a tone throughout today’s play. Offensively we were efficient with the ball, but we’ve got to take care of the ball. We can’t have the turnover we had because obviously that hurts us. We were able to take advantage of them (Vikings) when they came in and tried to stop the run, and we threw the ball effectively. We have all our eggs in the basket, now we’ve got to keep going. We can do what we started out to do, and we have the opportunity next Sunday.”
I noticed you were taking a look at the stats sheet:
“I can’t even see the stats sheet. I need glasses (laughing), but third down is the biggest difference. We had two bad plays on defense, but overall we played a solid game. But our kickoff coverage wasn’t great. We can and will do a lot better.”
What are your thoughts on
“Shawn did what he needed to do today.”
Still unbeaten after seven games at home, why do you think your team plays better at home?
“We have fewer turnovers at home.”
You talked a lot about the third-down stuff, I think offensively you converted five or six third and sevens:
“We did a good job on third downs. We were able to hit some plays against the coverage from Minnesota.”
Is there any way to figure how the way you play one week carries over to the next week?
“I think you have to put last week, positive or negative, behind you and move forward. You can get a certain degree of confidence from things that happen, but this is the NFL. You expect that every game is going to be close and tight for the most part, and we don’t get credit, good or bad, for what we did last week coming into this week.”
Do you think the performance on defense, despite injuries, speaks to the quality and depth you’re able to put together?
“I think that speaks a great deal to it. Players and coaches alike deserve a lot of credit for that. Everyone continues to fight through and play. We played today without James (Harrison), and
In this league, is there anything that consistently wins games?
“Taking care of the football is what consistently wins. Your best defense is when you’re on offense.”
This is will be your third consecutive playoff appearance coming up following today’s win ... That’s a major accomplishment, no?
“It is. To be in the playoffs every year since I’ve been here is huge. It gives you a chance to accomplish your ultimate goal (of a Super Bowl win). It’s big that we’re going to be back there this year. It’s a huge goal for us, so it’s great to accomplish that. We’ve got to keep going; there’s a lot in front of us.”
Every year you’ve gone up a win in the win total, from nine to 10, to 11 if you win next week:
“I think it’s just guys being around for longer, understanding how to play the game, guys getting better and improving and a lot of the same guys are around. It’s big for us. We’ve got to keep getting better and keep improving, but today we came out and played well and did some really good things.”
At the start of the year, the talk was ‘Can Andy win the big one?’ Now it seems as if you’re never not giving your team a chance to win:
“We’re in a really good spot right now. We’ve just got to keep going. We’ve done a lot this year; a lot the guys have gotten better — I think I’ve gotten better. We’ve just got to keep it going. We’ve got another big one next week at home, and then the fun begins that’s in front of us. I’m happy to be where we are, and we’ve just got to keep playing like we did today.”
Will you watch the Patriots-Ravens game tonight?
“I’m kind of watching it right now since it’s on (the TV behind you). So yes I will, I’m guessing.”
The offense was very effective on third down today ... I think you converted almost every one:
“We got some looks and guys made big plays. I think the line did a really good job of protecting up front, and we were able to convert. That’s a big part of scoring points — keeping drives alive whether it’s third and short or third and long. We were able to pick up some big third-down conversions.”
What’s the biggest difference playing here vs. on the road, since you’re 7-0 here. Does something just click here at this stadium?
“It’s tough to play on the road, so when you’re home, you’re familiar with everything. We’re here every day and the fans are getting into it. It’s great to not have to worry about crowd noise and have the fans on your side during the game. We come out and play well. One of our goals coming into this season was to be undefeated at home and we’ve got one more (game to go) to accomplish that.”
Are you guys just more comfortable at home? You’ve had four straight games of 40-plus points at home:
“I think guys are coming to play and I guess it’s being here. We’ve got to find a way to carry it over when we do play on the road again, but we’ve done some good things here and for whatever reason (it is), we’ve just got to keep playing well. There’s that extra focus, it’s a goal of ours and we’re going to accomplish that one.”
Sorry if you’ve been asked this already, but what was working so well on third down today?
“I just think guys were making big catches. We got some looks, and a big part was the (offensive) line giving me time back there to throw and convert. That’s a big reason why we were converting and keeping drives going.”
On the touchdown pass to
“Yeah. We had the look that we wanted. A.J. ran a great route and made a great catch. I think it happened exactly how we wanted it to happen.”
“Gio’s done a really good job. It’s not just catching the ball out of the backfield. He and (Bengals running back
What have you learned these past two years in your playoff experience that you will take with you going into year three? Is there anything that you’re going to do differently based on that experience?
“I don’t think the weekly routine is going to change much; you do the same preparation you always do. You try to go out and win the game, so for us, we’ve haven’t taken advantage of some of the plays of the game. We’ve had a chance to take advantage of some shots and we’ve got to hit them. We haven’t done that in the playoffs in the last couple of years, so I think that’s the biggest thing you take away. I mean last year, maybe everything wasn’t going well, but we still had a chance to win the game at the end and we weren’t able to do it. You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get.”
Obviously this is a big win for you guys. Talk about how the defense set the tone early:
“This was a good win for us. Seeing that Miami lost, we are in the postseason, but our goal is to win the division, so we still have work to do. I think the coaches had a great game plan today. It’s good that we came out and did our jobs today.”
You very nearly had an interception, and I am sure that you wanted that one:
“Yeah, I dropped two today. I should have had one on a whip route ran by Jerome (Simpson), and another one on the deep ball. I have to make those plays. In today’s game, it didn’t mean much, but in the playoffs, those could mean a lot. I just need to keep working on my technique, staying humble and in the playbook.”
In a game where you guys win big, what do you see as some areas you all need to improve on?
“Special teams is the big one. We have to play better there. They had too many return yards today and we need to give Brandon (Tate) some more time back there as well. We can do some more on defense too. We’ll watch the tape this week and see.”
There is still a lot left out there to play for:
“I would like to be the No. 2 seed so we can get a bye. At this time in the season, your body is killing you, so a bye would be nice. I am in it to win it. I think we have a lot of good things going on, and we need to take care of business.”
You guys are 7-0 at home this season and have clinched a playoff spot, but there is still work to be done:
“We have our goals set. One of them was to be undefeated at home, one was to win the division and the other was to be a world champion. We just took another step that way. The atmosphere was great. The Jungle was rocking, the crowd was loud as hell, and we tried to give them a reason to be loud by putting up some points. We also held the best running back in the NFL to 54 yards, so that was good.”
The defense really set the tone early in this game:
“We knew we had to come out and show them that we meant business from the first snap. We showed them that, when you come to the Jungle, don’t expect to win. We got the job done today. A quick shout-out to all my guys — all the coaches, the staff, everyone — they did a great job of getting the game-plan in and executing it well.”
What are your hopes this afternoon into tonight with the rest of the games?
“It’s a real dilemma. Hopefully, New England will win and then we can take care of business next week. We just have to watch and see what happens. We’re in for sure now, so we have to take care of business next week against the Ravens. You don’t want to be on a downfall going into the playoffs, you want to be rising. We really are on the rise.”
Adrian Peterson is one of the best backs in the game and you guys really defended him well:
“Adrian Peterson is one of the best backs in the past decade, and we knew that coming in. The defensive line really played well and the front seven as a whole did great. That was a good game on our part, and the offense backed us up as well. If we keep playing like this, I don’t know any team that can hang with us. We need to keep our confidence up and stay hungry and healthy.”
You’ve won four out of five games after today, but there has been skepticism that the Bengals are collapsing after last week’s loss in Pittsburgh:
“It’s tough. The truth is they scored 14 points off special teams last week and got up on us early in bad conditions. We lost the game 30-20. It was just a tough loss. This week we bounced back and proved what kind of team we are, and we’ll have another challenge next week. We’re excited about that.”
As an offensive lineman, how big would it be for you if
“It’s an accomplishment. As an O-lineman, you’re not going to get a lot of credit for much. When you lose, you’re going to get all the credit. It’s a position where you go out there to try and win games. The truth is, every good football team across the decades that this game has been played has been led by good guys up front — defensive and offensive lines. It’s going to be critical for us to play well this next week and throughout the playoffs if we are to go where we want to.”
Why have you been so successful at Paul Brown Stadium this season?
“We’re just a more mature football team that knows when we’re given an advantage. You look at it throughout this year, even the games we’ve lost, you can go in those games and find something that just fell against us — something that didn’t fall in our favor and really put us against the wall. We had kind of made a game of it, even though it really didn’t add up to something you would win. When things have been in our favor, we’ve taken care of business. And so, when you play at home, you’ve got to have that attitude that you have the advantage — the ball’s in your court — and you get the chance to dictate the tempo.”
This is the fourth time you’ve rebounded with a win at home after a loss. You’ve scored 40 points in four straight games at home, which a team record. What is it about Paul Brown Stadium?
“Obviously with the fan base we have here, we love playing in front of them in Cincinnati. It’s a great feeling to be home. All three phases — offense, defense, special teams — thrive when we’re at home. Especially after last week, we had to get that taste out of our mouths and we had to put something good out there on film.”
You guys are now 7-0 at home this season, and you just clinched a playoff spot. How does it feel?
“It feels good and it’s the third year in a row now. It’s now time to take that next step and win. Next week is a big week for us as we make a push for the division and get the No. 2 seed.”
It looked like Andy Dalton was able to stand back there and survey the field with plenty of time to throw:
“Definitely. He was really grooving out there today. We got everybody involved today: Jermaine (Gresham), Marvin (Jones), myself and everyone else. That’s how we have to play every week.”
Let’s talk about the confidence that you guys are playing with right now, especially after last week:
“We had a rough week last week, but that happens. We put that behind us, and we knew the task at hand. We had to come out and play well, and we did that.”
It seemed like your offense was clicking on all cylinders today:
“We had a rough game last week. We wanted to play really well this week, and we did just that.”
It seems like you guys are very mentally tough. You are able to put bad performances behind you time and time again:
“Like I said, this team doesn’t flinch. We have some great guys and some great leaders: Andy (Dalton), Andrew (Whitworth) and those guys keep our focus. We have been in tough situations before, and we managed to come out and get the win.”
Can you talk about how the defense really set the tone for the win this week?
“They are always setting the tone for us. They come to play every single week and get it done. We don’t even have to score that many points. They have been getting it done all year.”
On the Bengals offense:
“We’re taking what they’re giving us. They put nine in the box and manned us up on the outside with the receivers, and we were able to complete the passes. When they do the opposite and play Cover 2, we’re able to run the ball. So right now, we’re just doing a good job of countering what the defense has given us.”
You guys are banged up right now. How much would it mean to earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye?
“However it comes, we’re going to be ready to play. Whatever the game, wherever it is, however we’ve got to go out and get it, we’re going to try to go out and get a ‘W.’ ”
You’ve been in Super Bowl locker rooms. Does this Bengals team has a similar mindset after clinching a playoff spot?
“Clinching a playoff spot, I feel like we should’ve done that already. We had some chances that we let get away. You can’t regret it, but right now I feel like we’ve got to play well as a team each and every week. We can’t sit back and say, ‘We clinched a playoff spot’, and then quit. There are still things that we have to improve upon when we watch the film. And whatever those things are, we have to attack it at practice next week and attack it in the game. We can’t just get complacent and just say, ‘We clinched a spot and we’re pretty good.’ Now we have to continue to get better. Getting better every day is always going to be our goal, and we have to make sure we accomplish that. Whatever it is when we sit back and watch the film that we didn’t do something right, we have to continue to come out to go to practice the next week and try to get better in the game the next week.”
You guys had a nice bounceback week:
“Yeah it started off pretty good. The start the game was good for us. We didn’t get off to a bad start. We were able to get some points early thanks to our defense. At the end of the day, we just have to continue to go out and play well — whatever the defense is giving us, be able to counter it.”
How come you guys have been able to play so well offensively at home this season?
“Well, No. 1 — our defense always gets a score or something like that. We get good field position.
You were deep in coverage on your interception:
“That was a Cover 2 pressure. I just got in between the hashes. The first thing that came to mind was, ‘Damn, I’m outside the hash.’ I’m probably going to get yelled at or deducted when coach grades the film. I saw the ball come up and I was like, ‘Please don’t misjudge this.’ Because I stood there for like three seconds before the ball even came in my hands. I got it and the first thing on my mind was to make sure I had it in my hands and not to fumble it, and end the game at that point in time.”
You guys did a solid job of defending Vikings RB Adrian Peterson:
“For sure; it was a good game plan all week — and making sure that we knew he was going to play for sure. It was a big test for us to see him come out. Who was going to make that big play to stop him behind the line of scrimmage? Coach Paulie (Guenther) showed us film of him last year and this year — all of his big runs and the success that he’s had, and all the guys that missed tackles. We can’t lunge, and it’s not going to take one person to take him down; everyone’s got to run to the ball and make the tackle. So I think everybody did a good job. There’s still room for improvement on the defensive side. One more week to go. We’re just going to enjoy this win.”
You’ve officially made the playoffs today and have a chance to win the division and earn a possible first-round bye as the No. 2 seed:
“One — we’re grateful. Two — we weren’t even worried about Miami and what they were going to do. What we worried about is how we’re going to come in and start fast and perform, due to the blowout loss that we had last week. Coach talks about the three goals that we need — undefeated at home, AFC North, and eventually be world champs. One more game at home next week. What a great opportunity for us to come in try to execute each goal that we want.”
How good was Vikings rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson?
“Everyone’s been talking about him and how good he is and what he can do. Until you actually see him in person, then you can finally judge for yourself. He’s a freak of nature. He’s going to be doing some good things for years to come, and we look forward eventually playing him (again) in years to come.”
You guys dominated early. Did you feel an extra desire to do that after last week’s loss?
“I think we thought if we win this game and a couple of other things happen, we are in the playoffs, whether it is the wild card or the division title. We didn’t want it to get to the last game where we had to beat Baltimore to get in. There is still a lot to play for. We are going to play for the division first and foremost, and then see what happens.”
Did you scoreboard watch at all?
“No. I just wanted to check after the game. It wasn’t until I got in here that I found out.”
Adrian Peterson had very modest numbers today. Was that the number one priority?
“Yeah it was. Personally I don’t think he is healthy. He didn’t seem like himself out there. We did a good job of stopping penetration and keeping him in front of us.”
Cordarrelle Patterson looked healthy though:
“That dude is fast. He hit the edge so quick you almost underestimate his speed. He did a great job all game on kickoffs and running the ball. Hats off to him.”
Can you put the attitude in perspective this week and the desire to bounce back from last week?
“Guys were just focused this week. We didn’t play like ourselves last week. We came out on national television playing for so much, and we didn’t represent well. From now on out, everything is for all the marbles. There’s no more room for errors.”
“Tough loss for our team. The Bengals were a better team. Our guys battled I thought, but we just didn’t have what it took to come away with a win today. I liked the fact that our guys battled, but (it was) a difficult, difficult loss in a lot of ways.”
How much does it surprise you the way you guys got beat so badly, because you have been playing a lot better football?
“Yeah, there are certain things you have to do to win on the road, and we didn’t get those things done today. I thought we played better early, but they made plays when we didn’t, and that’s what you’ve got to do — find ways to make plays. The early turnover that set them up for a score — that seemed like it set the tone for rest of the day and just made it difficult from that point on.”
The third-down defense seemed to be a problem today:
“We had really improved in that area, and then today, we had some difficulties on third down. We had them in some situations where you think you can get off the field — a third-and-16 they converted, and a third-and-10. We didn’t make the plays that were necessary to get off the field in those situations.”
The third-down offense — there were a couple tipped balls when things looked to be going your way:
“We had some early opportunities on third-and-short that you’d like to think you can convert and keep the ball in our hands and maintain possession, but we didn’t convert in those situations — and they usually come back to bite you when you’re playing a good team at home. Those third-and-twos, third-and-fours and third-and-fives — you’ve got to convert a high percentage of those, and we didn’t, and it cost us.”
With Adrian Peterson coming off an injury, did you feel it was the best idea putting him out there?
“We ended up taking him out in the second half. I didn’t think it was wise to keep playing him. We’ll see how he is this week, but it just wasn’t the right thing to do to keep him in there today.”
How much did turnovers set the offense back?
“Turnovers ... that’s a big deal. We turned it over — I don’t know the number of turnovers we had, but that plays a factor in winning and losing for sure in our league. The turnover that we got early led to points. The turnovers they got, I think for the most part, led to points. Those are big plays any time you get turnovers.”
You had some great field position early on from kick returns by Cordarrelle Patterson:
“ We didn’t take advantage of that. We started with ideal field position to start the game, and we had a few others where we he set us up with good field position as well. When you don’t take advantage of those situations on the road, it’s going to come back and get you over the course of the game. It’s tough to win when you miss opportunities or you’re giving the ball away. We didn’t play winning football today for sure.”
What did you think of Matt Cassel’s performance today?
“Turnovers are always an issue in our league. If you turn the ball over, that’s hard to overcome. It’s just hard to win if you’re doing that. The pick-six — that also makes it difficult. But those are the things you have to avoid to try and win games. You don’t want turn the ball over; you don’t want to put teams on short fields. And when you do get opportunities and the field is short for you, then you’ve got to get points, and we didn’t.”
Do you expect Matt to be your starting quarterback in the Metrodome finale next week?
“We’ll sit down and talk about it, but my initial thought would be ‘yes.’ That would be my initial thought.”
Do you get to a point where you wonder if you have enough able bodies to make enough plays to win a game?
“It’s been tough, now. I’m not going to sit here and sugarcoat that. Where we are in the secondary and where we were today — you know, having to get Joe Banyard up with Toby (Gerhart) going down — we’ve tried our best to maximize the roster. With Shaun Prater getting injured today, Cook being banged up, having to play Marcus Sherels as much against A.J. Green and
Do you have an injury update on Audie Cole?
“They did an MRI. Ankle sprain. Not sure if it’s a high ankle sprain. I think I’ll know more tomorrow on that, but ankle sprain.”
“Obviously today was a bad day at the office. Our hats go off to the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s a playoff caliber team. It’s a tough team to play at home with the mistakes that I made and the inconsistencies throughout the day — that makes it a lot tougher.”
You had been playing so well. You kind of took a step back today:
“Well, we did take a step back. We knew it would be a good team and a tough place to play. But at the same time, whenever you go out, you want to perform well, and we weren’t able to achieve that today. That’s the part that is most disappointing.”
Can you take us through the strip/sack play?
“They brought pressure and we thought we had them picked up. They did a good job of getting to me and stripping it out of my hands.”
You had turnover issues in Kansas City. Why do you think they come in bunches?
“Sometimes you have those games throughout the course of the year. You try to do a good job of taking care of the ball, and today was one of those instances where we weren’t able to get much done offensively. On the pick six, the guy cut down and made a good play on it. The other was a situation where the ball bounced off a few people’s heads. And at the end of the game, I was trying to make a play and get the ball downfield. Unfortunately they all came in one game today.”
Coach Frazier said you’ll probably be his starter for the next game. Does it make you feel good that he plans to stick with you?
“I would love another opportunity to get out there and play. Obviously, you want to get the taste out of your mouth. It’s a bad feeling anytime you go out there and have a game like we did (today) offensively. I think every guy in here will put together a good week next week and get ready for the Detroit Lions.”
On the pick-six, it seemed like there was a lot of traffic in one area. Was everyone in the correct spot?
“I think there was some contact down there. I think that one of the DBs dropped off and cut down in front and did a good job.”
It looked like there was some pass interference on your second interception:
“It looked like it to me, but you have to go with the calls that are made, and unfortunately it ended up being a turnover.”
You guys didn’t win a true road game this year for the third time in franchise history. How difficult is that?
“It’s definitely disappointing. Over the course of the year, we’ve had chances. This game got out of hand early, and we were never able to recover. But throughout the course of the year, I think we’ve played hard but haven’t been able to finish.”
What are you looking to get out of next week?
“A win. That’s the main goal every week. It’s not about individual goals. It’s always about winning.”
You’ve probably had some severe mood swings from last week to this week:
“As good as last week was, then you come in here and it was as bad as it gets. We stunk it up here, quite frankly. But they dominated us on their side of the ball, and that’s what happens.”
What was the biggest difference between last week and this week?
“I can’t pinpoint it right now without watching film. We will have to watch the film and see what happened. We weren’t able to convert third downs and that created problems.”
On a positive note, Cordarrelle Patterson had a nice game. What do you see for his future?
“He’s got great versatility. He’s a special player in terms of his attributes. It’s just a matter of him continuing to grow as a player.”
What were you expecting going into this game?
“We knew going into the game that is was going to be tough. We knew we were going to have to keep our hands up and try to bat some balls down. We had to put bodies in his face because we knew the ball was going to come out quick. I didn’t foresee this, that’s for sure. I thought third-down defense killed us. I thought we were relatively good on first and second down, but our third-down defense was terrible.”
How difficult is it for this defense to see those numbers stack up each week?
“I can’t speak for the whole defense, but for me, it’s embarrassing. I don’t know what to say. I still remember the days when we thrived on defense around here. I think that’s still the attitude that we want to have. It’s not because of lack of effort. Guys are putting the effort out there. We practice hard, we work hard. We got to get it together. There is no consistency all year. There’s no consistency in what we do. One week we play lights out and one week we don’t. One week, we play well for three and a half quarters and we’re terrible the rest. We got our butts kicked today, but it wasn’t physical whooping.”
What do you need to do better at on defense?
“Some way, somehow, we need to find a way to get off the field on third-and -longs. You can’t let teams convert.”
Have you ever been on a team where you haven’t won a single road game all season?
“No. Not at all. Even the year when we went three and thirteen, we won one on the road. It’s very disappointing. We were hoping that we could come into Cincinnati, in a hostile environment and be able to get our first win on the road. Obviously it was our last road game, so it was our last chance to get one, and obviously we got nowhere near that goal today.”
What was going through your mind when you got hit on the pass play?
“It was scary because I kind of landed on my neck and head area. I credit my athleticism — sometimes you have to know how to turn and keep yourself away from injury. The medical staff took precautions to make sure I was alright and I’m fine.”
What are your emotions like, coming back here with a disappointing season with the Vikings?
“I had a good feeling coming into today. I thought we were going to do some great things, but that defense, they did what they were supposed to do. They are playing for the playoffs and they played like a playoff team today. It was great coming back here today — seeing those Bengals fans. I had a lot of love here. I went to a restaurant called The Precinct and they showed love there. They had a table for me and made sure it was taken care of. Major love here. It’s a great city.”
You knew it was going to be tough here since they haven’t lost a home game all year:
“They definitely know how to play at home. The coaching staff is doing a great job with those guys and they are playing for them and they are winning games.”
Do you think there will be any changes over the next seven days?
“No. I think that with this squad and what we have been through... We obviously don’t think that this is OK, what happened today. We realize that there is one week left in the fight. We need to get a win at home to put the Metrodome to sleep. We have to bring our best game.”
Are third downs the biggest issue?
“Yes. They are the problem. That is an issue. As we have been losing it seems like that is one of the things that has happened. Our third down production hasn’t been good. I think they were over 50 percent, which is what you can’t have.”
They converted some third-and-longs:
“They did. That’s a confidence builder for them and it really drives a steak in for us.”
How did the game become so lopsided?
“We spotted them 14 points real quick and we weren’t able to bounce back from that. We put them into a position to play a game that they probably really wanted to play.”
Because of the size of the defeat and the timing of it, do you think that there will be bigger repercussions because of it?
“There shouldn’t be. As crazy as it seems — we lost by 28 — this is my opinion, but I don’t think those guys are better than us. Now, the score didn’t show it today, but things didn’t go our way. Turnovers, our offense, we really weren’t able to get things going. It seemed like we were in a funk today. It falls back on the players. The coaches did a great job of putting the things that we need to see in front of us to be able to go out and execute. As a group we didn’t do that.”