SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
“Obviously it was another physical football game out there today. Good job of coming out and being patient. We’ve got some things that we need to clean up penalty-wise offensively. All in all, it’s good to get a win like that and get started off right against a physical team, a good defensive football team.
“We’ve got to do a better job of scoring in the red zone. We had a lot of opportunities, and we’re moving in a lot of pieces (in terms of personnel.) We’ve got to take a look at how we might be killing our own rhythm with a lot of the moving parts we’ve got going on now. I think guys will get better with it as we go, but it can be a little bit unnerving, to me at least, and I’m sure everyone else.
“Carson did a good job of taking care of the football, the defense came up with some big third down stops, and the special teams play is getting better. We’ve got some new guys, so we have to keep coaching their tails off.”
In the last series on defense you didn’t have Adam Jones or Johnathan Joseph in the secondary:
“You have to go to the next man up. We’re ready to go, and Chris (Crocker) has the ability to step up and play for us. Odom came in and played good snaps defensively. We do have some experience in the defensive group, guys who have played a lot. We’ll see how Adam (Jones) is, he’s got a shoulder injury, and J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) was cramping up at the end.”
How would you describe the pass defense your team played today?
“I wish it was 100 percent perfect, but it wasn’t.”
How close was it?
“Not close enough. You don’t want to allow a one score play and a touchdown like that. We’ve got to do better. We have good players and they can make those plays. On the other side of the ball we’ve got to get big and make those. That’s something we’ve got to keep hammering home.”
What kind of moving parts bothered you?
“We’re changing a lot of personnel, and we’ve got some young guys. But I know why we’re doing it and we’ll keep getting better at it.”
Nugent came through with 5 field goals, that’s what you were asking him to do:
“That’s why he’s here. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
What was the key in keeping Flacco from getting in a rhythm?
“The key to keeping Flacco without any rhythm is keeping No. 27 (Ray Rice) hemmed in. We’re not going to pat ourselves on the back much, it was a hard fought football game and we came out ahead.”
You bring in Terrell (Owens) and draft kids at wide receiver and tight end, but this game looked a whole lot like games last year. Was that the intention for today?
“The game’s going to look like whatever we have to do to win. Last I checked, that group (Ravens) gives up very few big plays. If you drop back you, better get ready to throw it in a hurry because they’re not going to let you sit there and keep it in your hand very long.
“Our backs did a good job today of manning up and blocking their blitzers. Cedric (Benson) and Bernard (Scott) did an excellent job, and that was a big part of the football game. When Jermaine (Gresham) and Reggie (Kelly) had an opportunity, they did the same thing, So that’s huge.”
You got some pressure defensively up front this week that you didn’t get last week:
“Last week the guy throws the ball pretty early. I go back and watch the tape, and he throws it early a lot. It was a different animal here this week. We’ve just got to keep getting better. It’s never as good as you think it was, nor as bad. Next week is a new week, we’ll get back at it tomorrow and go to work.”
Were you surprised by how well the defense played today?
“I wasn’t surprised. I was just happy to see them play that way. There’s a lot of talk about Baltimore’s defense. Everybody hypes them up, and they’re great, but I think our defense took that as a personal challenge, and they outplayed them today. They had four picks, stuffed the run game, shut down their receivers and took over the game. It was just awesome to see our defense play like that.”
Talk about your red-zone offense and your ball security:
“That’s the key. We’re good at playing in this division. We talk about it all week. When you play against Baltimore and play against Pittsburgh, they’re two teams that thrive off of turnovers. We harp not turning the ball over, (keeping good) ball security and making good decisions in the pocket. That’s the key to beating those teams. It’s tough to move the ball on them. They’re as good as it gets in their front sevens with good secondaries. If you can not throw (interceptions) to them, not fumble the ball and get a couple (of turnovers) on defense, then your odds are good at getting a win.”
You had your best drive with the no-huddle. Was the temptation to go back to that, or not for fear of turnovers?
“I don’t think we fear turnovers in the no-huddle system. The main thing is just communication in the no-huddle. They do a lot of talking upfront. They do a good job of showing certain things and getting out of certain things, and in trying to confuse the O-line with different calls we make in the run game and the pass game. There was a lot of temptation to stay in it because we were doing some good things, but we also wanted to huddle up because we had some schemes that we thought were going to be better than they ended up being and got those off the call sheet. But it’s a great defense. Ray Lewis is all over the place, making plays in certain coverages where he’s not even supposed to be close to where the ball is and sniffing it out. Terrell Suggs, (Haloti) Ngata and all of those guys are tremendous defensive football players.”
What is the reason with your trouble converting on third downs?
“I think it’s a mixture of things. It definitely wasn’t one thing. We had a couple of silly penalties, (and) we had some things happen in the run game that didn’t go our way and, obviously, throwing the ball. To get a division win and to beat this team is big. To get a win off them early in the season gives us some momentum, but we’ve just got to keep working. We’ve got to clean a number of things up on the offensive side of the ball and just keep grinding.”
Why are you 9-3 personally against Baltimore?
“One of the key things is the mindset that I’m not turning the ball over. There’s always the temptation to take some shots, especially on third down, and try to throw the ball into certain holes. Baltimore and Pittsburgh (both) have a lot of guys with really good hands on defense. Ed Reeds is one of them. Even their linebackers somehow come up with picks. They’ve had Ngata with picks for touchdowns. They’re a ball-hawking defense. (Troy) Polamalu and some of the guys on Pittsburgh are the same way. They don’t drop balls. You’ve just got to play a field-position game, settle and be OK with kicking field goals. To beat them — I can’t say it enough times — you can’t turn the ball over. If you turn the ball over, the odds of winning go down drastically. Fortunately, we didn’t do that today.”
Is it tough to not get frustrated when you constantly have to settle for field goals?
“We want to score every single time. We want to score every play. Our two receivers want the ball in their hands every single play. And they want to turn a hitch, or a fade — whatever it is, they want to score on that play. You have to fight that frustration. Chad (Ochocinco) has been around for a long time. He understands there’s going to be some in-division games against some of these teams we play. Cleveland also plays good defense against us. You just can’t let it frustrate you. You can’t let it get to you. You can’t try to fit a ball into a certain hole just to get that ball to a receiver, or to get him going or to get him some confidence. You’ve got to take your check-downs and settle for field goals and punts. In saying that, the only way you can do that is you must have a lot of faith in your defense. We have a tremendous amount of faith in our defense.”
After seeing kicker Mike Nugent connect on all five of his field goal attempts, what kind of confidence does that give your offense?
“He’s done that since he’s been here. In preseason, I think he hit a 54-yarder. He had a couple of huge kickoffs where he kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone and didn’t give them a chance to return it. He’s been a great kicker since he’s been in the league. He’s just had some issues with injuries, and now we’ve got him here and he’s healthy. He hit five today. Five for five. That’s big-time. We expect that of him. We gave him some chances where they were makeable. We didn’t stick him out there with a 55-yarder and then give their team field position. We gave him chances once we got close to the red zone and inside the red zone. He just did a great job of putting them in.”
How long did it take you to accept that low-scoring games are likely in AFC North games?
“I’m frustrated right now. I tell myself that, and it’s preached all week long, but it’s hard to (accept). Being a quarterback, and having the two guys that we have on the outside with Jermaine (Gresham), you just want to throw it and throw it and throw it. We’ll look at this film and see some opportunities that we missed. But at the end of the day, a win is a win. At the end of the season, we won our home game against Baltimore. We still have to go there and play them there, which is a big task. You’ve just got to get past it. You’ve just got to understand that it’s so much more important to punt the ball and change the field position than it is to give them an easy turnover and give them momentum. When the Ravens’ defense gets its hands on the ball, it builds so much confidence in their whole team. You’ve seen time and time again where, if one picks it off, he laterals it, and then he laterals it, and then they end up scoring a touchdown. You see Ed Reed, and he’s probably got eight or 10 touchdowns on defense alone. Just not giving that momentum and that confidence up to them is big for your offense.”
What was it like your first three years trying to adjust to that?
“It was difficult. I can remember a number of games where I tried to throw balls into windows and didn’t understand why it got deflected. You’ve got to learn hard lessons fast. You can’t make the same mistake over and over again against these teams, because you turn it over once and it changes the game.”
What happened on your best chance for a touchdown — the incomplete pass to WR Chad Ochocinco in the end zone?
“It wasn’t really a double move. They had us covered, he came in and came back out. I saw the corner outside, and I couldn’t see Chad. I had a guy coming right at me. I basically just threw it high into the back of the end zone. I didn’t see what happened, and I didn’t see the replay. I was just trying to throw it away from 31 and hoped that Chad would see the ball. I don’t know if he saw the ball until the very last second because there was a big defender in between the two of us.”
You ran the ball 31 times and passed it 35. Was the game plan going in to be balanced?
“We’ve tried different game plans against them. We’ve spread them out and tried to throw it. We’ve gotten big personnel, kept two tight ends and tried to run at them. I don’t think there’s a specific scheme that works; they’re too good for that. You’ve got to change up. You’ve got to do something different. We tried a balance attack this time. We’ve tried a number of different things other times. Some things work, some things don’t. You’ve just got to keep grinding, and when you do have run plays, you have to move the line of scrimmage because they’re a big, physical group. Sometimes they won, sometimes the line of scrimmage was pushed three or four yards back, and sometimes we pushed them three or four yards past the line of scrimmage. Thankfully, we were on the better side of that (most of today), pushed them around a little bit and got some running yards.”
What prompted you to go to the no-huddle at certain times?
“Really, it’s just a change of pace. It gives the defensive coordinator something to think about. It gives them something to talk about on the sideline. There are games where we use it a ton. There are games when we don’t use it at all. It’s something that takes up a good chunk of time on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday during the week preparing for it. It just depends on the team we’re playing. If we think we have an advantage in a certain personnel group against their personnel group, we’ll run it or we won’t run it. It’s just something that we figure out during the week — look at on film and (try to determine) if it will be effective.”
How did the no-huddle happen today? Did you suggest it or did offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski call it?
“No, we had a game plan and we were going to use it. When we use it depends on the coaches and when they think it’s a good time for it and when it’s not. It was definitely a big part of our game plan for this week.”
What are your thoughts on Chad Ochocinco recording his 700th career catch today?
“The guy’s the best receiver in the league. He’s playing like it right now. I know there’s Larry Fitzgerald out there, and a handful of other guys like Andre Johnson. I think he’s the hardest receiver in the league to cover and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Why is he the hardest to cover?
“He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s explosive and he’s smart. He catches everything. He’s experienced; he’s been around a long time. He’s played against every corner. He’s had success against every corner. He’s tough. It’s hard to find a weakness in Chad.”
How different is it playing Baltimore and Pittsburgh when Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu aren’t playing?
“It’s definitely nice not playing against (those guys). But both defenses are still good. It’s not like they lose their best player, and all of a sudden they can’t stop anybody. They’re still good with or without them. But Ed is probably the best ball-hawking safety in the league. Like I said earlier, I don’t know how many touchdowns he’s got on defense, but it’s more than anybody else in the league. He’s got great hands, a great understanding of the game, and a great understanding of your scheme. We’ve played against him so many times that he understands us. So it’s nice to get a break from him. He’ll be there next time. He’ll be ready to play next time we’re there.”
Is this the type of game you expected today?
“It has always been this way for the past 10 years. There has never been a blowout. It has always been close. I don’t know why it has been like that. It’s extremely frustrating, from a skill position perspective.”
What kind of message does the eight straight division wins send?
“People still don’t want to show us respect. We need to continue to be consistent, not only in the division but also outside the division. We have Carolina coming up this week. They’re a team that is not used to playing in a division like ours.”
How are you guys enjoying working together?
“It’s good. It’s not flowing the way we want to, but it’s something that we have to work on in practice. It’s only Week 2. It’s Sunday, but we haven’t gotten to church yet, only Sunday school.”
What was your thought of this rivalry?
“It’s really not about me. I’ve played them before, so I know they’re a smash-mouth football team. I’m a new edition to the rivalry. If you’re an interior lineman, this is the type of smash-mouth game that you look forward to. We wanted to throw the ball a little bit more, and there was some opportunities that we missed. That’s where the frustration comes from. From an offensive perspective, we played mediocre.”
How were you guys able to turn things around from last week?
“I think it is the mindset. Last week, we did not get off to a great start. Its hard to play from behind. It’s hard to overcome the penalties and turnovers. It was hard to dig ourselves out of that hole.”
Thoughts on not getting open consistently:
“Those are things that we need to work on in practice. This is only my second week. We did have some work in during training camp, but I didn’t have any minicamps or OTAs. We just have to connect, and that will come as the season progresses.”
Are there any positive signs with the way you played?
“There are some things out there that we misconnected on. We just need to work at practice and keep progressing. As Chad said, we haven’t even scratched the surface as far as what we can do. We’re frustrated because we’re going three-and-out. We have the type of offense where we can march down the field. We have enough weapons to dissect defenses, but we just aren’t doing that yet. We just have to pick up the intensity as it translates to game day.”
What was the difference from last week?
“We just wanted to tone things down a little bit. We wanted to strike first and strike fast. We just tried to fly around, and we got our result.”
Why were there so many interceptions today?
“I think we had four today. I have to credit the defensive linemen on mine for getting their hands up. It was a good team effort.”
Was he hurried today?
“We definitely wanted to focus on getting a better rush. He has a lot of weapons and we didn’t want to give him any time to find them.”
Were you looking to the end zone after your interception?
“So close but yet so far away. There is no feeling like a win, though. It’s hard to win in this league. Very hard.”
You guys were embarrassed after last week. How does it feel to bounce back?
“It feels good to come out of here with a win against a good, quality opponent. We prepared hard for this game and it was a good team effort.”
What kind of message does this win send?
“That the Bengals are going to play hard and fight every week. That is the message.”
You had five field goals today. Tell us about it:
“I keep saying every week that what everyone else is doing on the field makes my job a lot easier. The snaps, holds (and blocking) are something I never worry about when I get on the field, and that’s probably 75 percent of the field goal. Mentally, that makes it a lot better.”
You said earlier this week that you are kicking everything like an extra point, and you aren’t worrying about distance. Can you talk about that mentality and how it has helped you?
“That’s it. As long as you can swing the same on each kick ... Mentally, you tend to think that the farther the kick is, the harder you have to kick it. But you want to get to a point where you hit the ball the exact same.”
Everybody in Ohio knows what you are capable of because you’re from Centerville (Ohio) and you went to Ohio State. How heartwarming is it to have a successful day like today near where you grew up?
“That’s it, right there — the fact that I get to be home and getting a lot of tickets for all of the games is something I love doing. Not only the support of family and friends, but the fans out there also. It wasn’t the prettiest game — it wasn’t 42-40 — so it wasn’t the highest scoring game. But I keep saying I’ll take three (points) on every series as long as we have one more than they do.”
You blasted your kickoffs through the end zone a few times, and it really helped contribute to the field position battle. Can you talk about that?
“There’s such a high percentage of games now ending within seven points or less, or three points or less. So it can come down to the punting and kicking — getting the best field position possible. I didn’t give the guys such a great opportunity last week against New England, so this week I had to make up for that and get them a good opportunity to get downfield and make some plays.”
You had some very long punts today. Can you talk about that and how it helped the field position battle?
“There were some punts I was pretty pleased with, but at the same time, my plus-50 punts need a lot work right now. So, I’ll put a lot of work into that this week. The coverage guys did a great job getting down there. Some of the punts didn’t have much hang time, but they still got down there and made some big plays. So with everybody doing their job, it helps a lot.”
You guys had a few players missing this week who usually play special teams — Keith Rivers, Brian Leonard — but you seem to have a “next man up” mentality:
“Right. Brandon (Johnson) has gotten some reps pretty much everywhere because he’s our special teams guy. I have total confidence in him going in there and protecting and doing his job.”
What does it mean that you guys have now won eight straight division games?
“It’s really important when you play a divisional opponent. We knew it was going to be a tight ballgame. They were going to get up, we were going to get up — just go out there and play ball, man-on-man. That was our whole thing this week — be the more physical team.”
Carson Palmer just said ‘they’ve got a good defense, we’ve got a better defense.’ What do you think about that?
“I appreciate that, but it’s still a long season. We really don’t measure ourselves against anybody.”
How much doubt was there in the locker room after last week’s loss at New England?
“There wasn’t any doubt; it was just really humbling. It just showed us that you can’t win games in the press. You can’t just talk about it; you have to show up and do it. So this week, we said we weren’t going to talk — we were just going to go out there. As far as the first week, we just sucked, so we wanted to right the wrong.”
You had a good day returning kickoffs. Can you talk about some of them, particularly the big kickoff return in the fourth quarter?
“On the kickoff return, the guys did their jobs up front. I just hit the hole and tried to make a play — get in the end zone or get good field position for the offense to start their drive.”
This was yet another game where you had a big impact on the game, solely from returning kicks. What is it about your confidence returning kicks that seems to be working for you?
“I’m just trying to go out there and make plays when my number is called. I feel like the more times I get the ball in my hands, the more times I can make plays. Like I said, they did a great job up front. I was just running with the ball.”
You guys seem to have a “next man up” mentality with all the injuries on special teams, and even in the secondary. Can you talk about that?
“Right, we’re deep all around the board. We’ve got a lot of players. That’s a good thing in case anybody goes down. The next man’s got to be ready. That’s what we’re here for. Like you said, guys like (Brandon) Johnson and (Morgan) Trent stepped up. It’s football, and that’s what we get paid to do.”
“Congratulations to the Bengals. Obviously, that’s a big, home divisional win for them early in the season. We played well enough to get it done. We played very well on defense. Special teams has yet to be determined. We’re disappointed. It’s not going to make us. It’s not going to break us. We’ve got a lot to work on, just like we did last week when we won.”
How much did the roughing-the-passer penalty against Terrell Suggs impact the outcome of the game?
“That’s ridiculous to even try to figure out. There were a lot of plays that played big roles.”
What was your opinion of the penalty called?
“It’s hard for us to determine right now what roughing the passer is. If that’s roughing the passer, I don’t know how you are supposed to bring Carson Palmer or any other 250-pound passer down, other than to tackle him. We hit him in the strike zone and took him to the ground. There were plenty of other times we couldn’t get him to the ground. It takes effort to get the guy to the ground. He’s a strong man. They (the NFL) are going to have to explain that to all of us this week and maybe we can figure it out.”
Do you think Joe Flacco’s performance was a collective effort of the offense?
“Yes. It’s always a collective effort. We’ve all got to do things better. You can not win in this league — it’s been proven time and time again — with minus-four (in turnovers). It’s not going to get it done. We got it done last week with minus-two. We’ve got to get it straightened out.”
What happened on Bernard Scott’s long kickoff return for the Bengals?
“I need to see the tape. Obviously, we didn’t do a very good job of squeezing and getting in front of him. I thought it looked like we were there, but we didn’t squeeze him and make a play. We need to get there quicker. We need to get there fast and get in front of a faster target. I didn’t think we squeezed fast enough.”
How do you think Lardarius Webb responded in his first action of the season?
“I thought he played well. From what I could see on the field, it looked like he was in pretty good position. They beat him on one out route; he was anticipating an in route. All in all, I think he did well.”
Your thoughts on the play of Fabian Washington?
“I thought he played really well. I thought he was in position. I thought our guys covered well.”
Did you feel that the Cincinnati cornerbacks covered your receivers well?
“Yes. I thought their defense played very well. I thought we had chances to extend drives when we committed turnovers. They played very good defense.”
Do you feel your defense’s effort was as good this week as it was last week?
“Yes. Any time you keep the offense out of the red zone, that’s tremendous red-zone defense. They had to come onto the field after sudden-change situations. We had a couple of things here and there, but they played pretty good.”
Talk about how you feel after holding the Bengals to five field goals and not winning the game:
“Any time you have four turnovers, you’re not going to win. Maybe we could have pulled it out in the end, but we would have said the same thing. We shouldn’t have won the game.”
What did you think of how Ray Rice ran the football?
“I thought he ran the ball well. Their run defense is pretty good. He broke a couple of tackles. Ray is going to be a factor for us.”
Can you talk about the interceptions today?
“The one I would like to have back is the second one. I threw it right into a crowd. The other ones, I was just trying to make plays and they picked them off. Any pick is bad. Any interception is bad, you don’t feel good about them.”
Coach Harbaugh said Cincinnati was playing a base defense most of the time. Is that what you were seeing out there?
“I don’t think they were doing anything that we didn’t expect them to do. They did a good job bringing guys that we didn’t account for. We just never got it going.”
What was the difference on that first drive in the second half? It looked like you were able to get it going then:
“Yes, it felt good. We put a couple good plays together. Derrick (Mason) did a good job and we scored that touchdown pretty quickly. It looked good from there, but we were never able to get it going.”
Are you confident you can bounce back from a game like this personally?
“Yes, you just move on. You have to take it game by game. I don’t think anyone feels good about it. We just have to make sure we bounce back and get ready to go. I think everyone will.”
How tough is it to lose a game where the defense does not allow a touchdown?
“Everything about it is tough. We didn’t do enough on the offensive side of the ball to win the game, and we know that. We have to get better.”
Were there adjustments made at halftime? It looked like you had changed some things up a bit to start the second half:
“There were a couple things we did differently. We let our guys on the outside go one-on-one a little more. We got it going that drive. There were just some little things here and there. We just never got it going again.”
Did you feel like when things went bad, it was difficult to get any momentum going?
“Usually when you have some 2-minute drives like we did, you can get some completions to get going. We never got it, and they kept the pressure on.”
Did you sense a level of frustration from the other guys on offense?
“I think everyone was a little frustrated when you can put points on the board. At the same time, we were open-minded and ready to go when we started a drive. We just never were able to get anything going.”
Did Cincinnati do something special in terms of how they were covering your receivers?
“We’ll look at the tape and see. They did an okay job. We just can’t turn the ball over that much and expect to win a football game. There are situations that we need to capitalize on and take advantage of so we can win a game for our team.”
What is it about Cincinnati and their defense that often causes you guys to struggle against them?
“They’re a good team with a good defense. They’ve shown that they play good defense over the last few years. We tried to come in here and play a physical game with them. I think we did a pretty good job, but not good enough. They did a good job against us. We need to get going and expect to make plays.”
Do you think you could have challenged them a bit more in the middle of the field?
“I don’t know. We did some things where we tried to isolate guys. Their corners did a good job, Pac-Man (Adam Jones) came in and did a good job. We just have to execute better.”
Is this one of the tougher losses you’ve experienced, based on the play of the offense?
“Yes, I don’t think anyone feels good about it. It was a tough one for me. Turning the ball over is tough. We’re 1-1 with 14 games left. We feel like we have a pretty good team, we just have to go out there and prove it.”
What makes Carson Palmer so tough to get on the ground?
“He’s a big guy. He’s a big athletic guy. He’s a guy you have to wrap up — you have to form-tackle. He’s not a guy you are going to grab with one arm and pull down. We try not to hit quarterbacks, but form-tackle them.”
How much do you think the roughing-the-passer penalty on Terrell Suggs affected the game?
“Anytime you lose 15 yards — whether it was a run or a pass — it’s going to hurt us. Suggs is going to play that same play the same way, just as any other one of us would. You have to play that way.”
When you are in the position that Suggs was in on that play, what can you do differently?
“I don’t know. We’re not talking about Pop Warner athletes; these are big strong guys throwing the football. They’ll embarrass you if you’re not going in there hard, so you have to play it the same way. I thought Suggs did a great job.”
Is it tough when your defense doesn’t allow a touchdown and you still don’t win the game?
“It is frustrating. We played a lot of snaps, and a lot were our own fault. There are going to be times when I stand on this podium, and you guys are going to ask me how frustrating it is to be on defense because the offense played so well. So, there are going to be times when the roles are going to be reversed. The offense is going to have a great game and we are going to stink it up. That’s why this is a team game. I thought that today was a frustrating game, but it doesn’t break us. We still have a lot of talent, and we have a long way to go.”
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About the roughing the passer call on Terrell Suggs?
“The roughing the passer as I defined it in my opinion on that play is the defender who has driven his body weight onto the quarterback as he’s tackling him. He’s applying his body weight on there. It’s a judgment call and in my opinion I felt like he had driven himself into the ground with the quarterback.”
Extra effort then to bring him down?
It was the body weight and not steps?
“The step aspect is not part of that judgment. It’s another category but to apply your body weight on the quarterback as you drive him into the ground is a judgment call and that’s the way that I looked at it.”