BENGALS HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS
"I'm pleased with our effort today. The thing was to come in here, put our heads down, go to work and have it be a hard hat and lunch pail kind of day for us. I'm pleased with the outcome and how we did it. First half we had a few drives we had to get finished off. Third down and some penalties on defense kept things alive but we had to settle down again in the second half and get it done and that's what's important. With our injuries eight rookies suited up today – eight of our draft picks, which was great for them to get some playing time and an opportunity for them to get out there and play today. It was a good opportunity for them, and I thought the other guys raised their level, which was what we needed with the guys out that we had out today to raise the level around the rest of the football team. I was proud of that."
On dealing with the struggles the Browns faced:
"I can't worry about them. Our thing is play football our way do what we need to do. I was proud of our guys. Execute the offense and the defense and get through the plan and special teams not to have any lapses. That was the key focus all day. It's just us. I think all three coordinators this week and their talks to their units are that we have to play our football our way. It's an opportunity for us to continue on our journey and to not lose sight of that. As we always try to say, nameless faceless. We have to go about it that way and really put our heads down and that was the battle cry. We have to outwork them. We had a good week. We knew we were down some guys this week and the other guys raised the level. If you want to be a great football team, that's the way you have to go about things. Every team has their very good players and we know we have to limit their exposure and do the best we can against them, and our great players have got to go play great and everybody else we have to just keep pumping."
On Bengals filling in for missing players:
"That's what we needed. We needed everybody else to come step up and (Bengals TE Tyler) Kroft and (Bengals TE C.J.) Uzomah, these guys to have been with us, and that's why we brought them here. They went out here today and demonstrated why we feel so good about those young guys as well."
On the message to the Bengals in the locker room after the game:
"We came quiet. Let's leave quieter."
On stopping the Browns offense in the first half:
"Those were big stops. Obviously, today with the wind a little bit and I think the range of the kicker, we knew we were going to be in some fourth down situations, and it's a good job of the defense of making those stops, giving the ball to the offense in that field position, which was key. When you flip it and turn it to points, it's outstanding, and then we had an 85-yard drive for a touchdown at one point, too, in the first half. That was the key of the football game."
On Bengals QB Andy Dalton's performance:
"His consistency is tremendous, and he keeps raising the level. The guys around him keep raising their level and it's great to see it. They know as well as they play, he'll play even better. That's the thing that we're proud and excited about all of the time. The better they play, the better he'll play because he'll keep raising his level with their levels."
On the Bengals' opportunity to be a great football team:
"We get a chance to write that script so we have a lot of work to do and we'll stay on point and get back to work tomorrow. Our No. 1 goal is to win the division so we have a big football game next week. From what I was told, I think we can clinch the division next week. We have Pittsburgh at home. We went out there last year, they clinched the division on us so we have a chance to flip the script."
QB Andy Dalton
On the win:
"We had to just come out and play our game. I felt that we did that. We took advantage of some opportunities, we made some big plays that allowed us to get this win. It was a good one for us."
On taking control of the AFC North with the opportunity to clinch next week at Pittsburgh:
"It is always one game at a time, but we understand they (Pittsburgh Steelers) are the next game. We just have to have a good week of preparation and we will put ourselves in a good position to play well on Sunday."
On getting his 50th career win in his first five seasons:
"I've been fortunate to be on some really good teams. A lot of hard work that has paid off."
On Bengals WR A.J. Green getting caught on long pass in first quarter:
"I kept telling him I was mad at him. I told him I might not throw him another ball. I didn't take me long to go back to him. He made a good play, I wish he would have picked his feet up just a little bit more, but it was a big play."
On A.J. Green playing against a mismatched cornerback:
"We had a couple plays dialed up where he was able to get behind the defender and make good plays. The touchdown he had was a big one. The big catch he had on the sideline near the goal line was another great play by him. We are fortunate to have a playmaker like him."
On his touchdown run:
"We had numbers and I got in there."
On setting a team record with 24 road wins in his first five years:
"When we go one the road, we have that extra focus. We have been able to do that since I've been here and we need to keep that going."
On Coach Marvin Lewis's "nameless, faceless" philosophy:
"I think it doesn't really matter who you are playing, you focus on you and you set out to play your best. If you do that, I feel like we can end up with a win."
On playing without some key players due to injuries:
"I think guys stepped up and played well. I think all three of the tight ends came in and had a catch. That's the mentality we have to have, the next guy has to step up and be ready to go."
On Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's play calling in the red zone:
"Hue is so creative with what we have done. We find matchups and we are giving lots of different guys opportunities, and our guys have been making the plays. That's the big thing with Hue. If you can show you can make a play, he is going to dial a play up for you."
On what it's like throwing to WR A.J. Green:
"It's nice throwing to a guy like A.J. He can do it all. He can make the big catches, he can catch short routes and turn them into big gains.
On Green's catch near the goal line:
"That was a great play. He has such good body awareness. He knows when to get his toes down. That catch showed that right there. To go up and make that play and to get his two feet in, it was a big play."
On the Bengals being mostly the same over his first five years:
"I think we understand the guys and the guys are playing for each other, which is a lot of fun to see. We have to keep it up."
On setting career milestones with A.J. Green today:
"Coming in together and both of us getting a chance to start right away and for him to be our No. 1 receiver, it's what you set out to do. You set out to have A.J. have big numbers and you want him to catch touchdowns. With him doing that, it allows me to get the stats. It's not about the stats, but it is cool to see the work we have put in show up in the numbers."
On playing today's game with eight rookies in the lineup:
"This was a good game for us to do that, to get guys out there and get some experience. We know how this game works, and down the road, we are going to need some of those guys to step up and play. I am glad we were able to get some experience out there today."
On why the Bengals are better equipped to make a run in the playoffs:
"This is a new year. It's a new mentality for us. We have been playing really well. There are some new pieces. We have bigger goals than just making the playoffs. We have to keep the same process that we've had up to this point, keep the focus and put ourselves in a good position at the end of the year to be playing our best."
On the team being 10-2 for the first time since 1975:
"10-2 gives us a chance to be 11-2."
On not forcing the ball to Green:
"Obviously, I've gotten better at that over time. What's nice is A.J. is not our only guy. We have some many other guys that can make plays. Look at WR Marvin (Jones) today, he had a big touchdown catch. I have to understand that if he is covered, he is not really covered, but it's knowing when to take the chance."
On sweeping the Battle of Ohio:
"It's a division game, obviously, a rivalry. Anytime you can beat them twice, it means something."
LB Vontaze Burfict
On preparing for today's game:
"It's up to the coaches. They put us in the right spot for the game. They get us prepared and help us understand what the Browns will attack us with and what defense we're in. Hats off to Marvin (Lewis) and Coach (Paul) Guenther. They keep us ready."
On his progression this season:
"I feel like I'm getting better and better. We have so much depth at linebacker so I don't have to take all the reps. We have Vinny (LB Vincent Rey), Emman (LB Emmanuel Lamur), whenever I want to come out they come in and we have special packages for some of the linebackers that I'm not in. I'm doing good. Just looking forward to next week."
On defending fourth down:
"Our goal was to just keep them out of field goal range. We figured that it was going to be tough for them to score on us, so we just wanted to get them out of field goal range. I was kind of upset when they got that field goal going into halftime. It gets a little bit harder when teams are running the hurry up; there's more mistakes for them and for ourselves. I'm a little upset they got three points."
DE Wallace Gilberry
On getting out to an early lead:
"If you give a team like that (Cleveland) daylight, they will take advantage of it. You give them than an once of hope, then they will take it and build off of it. We wanted to start fast and just keep the pressure on them, which we did."
On playing the Pittsburgh Steelers next week:
"We have to go out there and take care of business. We have a chance to do something great and that is to clinch the division in front of our home fans. I am sure that they are going to pack the house and we are definitely going to put on a show."
RB Jeremy Hill
On being able to get the running game going:
"I think it is really just a team effort. The running game is starting to get a little bit better. Everybody is doing their job on the line. They're also protecting (QB) Andy (Dalton), I don't think he got sacked once today. Everybody is coming together and it has really been a team effort."
On having the opportunity to clinch the division next week:
"At the beginning of the season, we said that we wanted to win the AFC North. That is our number one goal. Obviously next week is going to be big, but we just have to continue to work and practice hard. I think our practice intensity has been up and that has translated over to game days."
WR Marvin Jones
On today's game:
"It's always a tough game. It's always a hard fought game. We always respect them because we see them two times a year. In this league, they get paid just like we get paid. It's all about us controlling our opportunities, capitalizing on opportunities when we have them, and establishing a running game. We were successful."
On continuing their journey:
"It's always a good game. At the same time, if we control what we have to do, and we capitalize on what we have to capitalize on, we'll be successful. It's always about us first. If we go out and play the way we played today, we're going to be hard to beat. Going forward, that's what we have to do is just work on us."
On how they feel after the win:
"We've always thought we were a great team. Anyone can win in this league and we know that. We know we're a great team. We know what we have to offer and everyone got to see it today."
S Reggie Nelson
On the importance of next week vs. Pittsburgh:
"It is big. It is always a hard-nosed football game when we play Pittsburgh and (QB) "Big Ben" (Roethelisberger). He does a great job of leading his troops and we just have to prepare for them."
On leading the league in total defense:
"It's our defensive line. The front seven have been doing a good job stopping the run which makes the secondary's job a lot easier. When they stop the run, it gives us the chance to make plays out there."
On improving to 10-2:
"It feels great. It is hard to get to 10-2 in this league. We just have to keep on preparing and take it one game at a time."
DT Domata Peko
On today's game:
"Every week is a challenge. We made sure we stopped the run. That was a big key to the game because we wanted to be one dimensional. We wanted to put pressure on their young quarterback. I think we did that today. We stopped the run for the most part. Our defensive line and defensive backs did a great job of covering and getting their quarterback on his back. If you look at the back of his jersey today, he's going to need some wash or some bleach because it's stained. We did a good job of getting to the quarterback today."
On preparing for Browns QB Austin Davis:
"We saw the game last week when he came in. Then we looked back at when he played for St. Louis when he had a couple starts there. We knew what we had to do. We knew the challenge ahead of us. It was a big win for us. AFC North game, a big division win, away; it was great."
On preparing for the Browns:
"We knew coming in here they had a tough loss last week. We're not going to let their problems be our problems. We come into every game thinking we're going to win. Our team right now is playing with high confidence and that's what we want to see. It was great to go out here and take care of business. (WR) A.J. Green on offense he had a great day along with (QB) Andy (Dalton). The defense was really getting after them today. We were down today with some guys, so some of the younger guys had to step up into some bigger roles and they did a good job."
"From an injury standpoint, (OL Joel) Bitonio – ankle injury; (TE Gary) Barnidge – ankle; (FB) Malcom Johnson was a groin; (WR) Travis Benjamin – shoulder; (WR) Marlon Moore – ribs; and (WR Brian) Hartline had a thigh bruise that he pushed through. We'll know a little bit more about it in the morning.
"Tough day on all fronts. Frustrating. There are some positives to take out of it, though. We had some guys that had to step up and made some plays. I commend (QB) Austin (Davis). They were able to generate some pressure. I thought he hung in there. I know he had to get rid of the ball a couple of times and had a couple of penalties, but I thought he was poised. He was into it. (WR) Darius Jennings is a good example of all of our guys. He's a guy that's been on the practice squad all year and he's done everything we asked. We tell guys prepare like a starter, and this guy prepared like a starter. He was on the practice squad. We knew there was a chance he'd be up. He's a good football player and he went out and he showed it. Overall, we're going to have to regroup from this one quickly and put it behind us, and we're on to the next one. In all three phases, it was a tough day."
On if WR Terrelle Pryor was inactive for disciplinary reasons:
"No, not at all. He had been here for three [practice] days."
On if QB Austin Davis will start next week:
"We'll make that decision tomorrow. Get a chance to watch the tape and we'll all circle back, circle up on it and see where we are with it."
On regretting not activating WR Dwayne Bowe after multiple WR injuries in the game:
"Anytime you get below a position minimum, you're going to question how you have it. This was a game we felt they were going to run the ball a lot. We wanted to get six D-linemen up. With Marlon playing a lot on offense, we felt we had to have (DB) Don Jones up in order to subsidize his [special teams] reps. Like I said, you have your position minimums and you always backfill based on special teams. That was one of the reasons we wanted to get Jennings up. We knew he could return for us and give us some special teams contribution. Marlon had played over 40 plays the week before so Tabes (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) didn't want to use him, obviously, in four phases so that's how we rolled."
On losing four consecutive division games:
"That's tough. It's frustrating. We talked about it throughout the week, we talked about it at the team meeting last night – you find out who you are. You find out who you are. It's a healthy dose of adversity and guys respond to it in different ways. Some guys, you'd never know whether its 9-2 and 2-9 you'd never know the difference and those are the guys you take you hat off to. They come in every day, professional and they do their work. They come out; they play hard. Like I said, you find out, you find out real quick. From a coaching standpoint, again – I've said this before – when things aren't going well and you have losses like this, the questions come up. You just have to make sure as you question everything that you realize this is our core, this is what we're doing well, these are areas we need to improve. If you have something wrong with your heart, you don't want to operate on the brain. You want to make sure that you have a good understanding of what's wrong and how to get it fixed."
On what gives him hope the Browns can salvage the rest of the season:
"The character of the men in our room, the character of the coaching staff – more importantly, the character of the players, the leadership of this team. We have some injuries – we're going to have some young guys out there. We talk about embrace the opportunity, and it's an opportunity to go out and compete in a game that we love. When things finally do turn the other way, this is what you remember. It's easy, the good times, but it's the bad ones that you remember because you know that that's when we found out who we were going to build it on. That's the message now for us is that we're going to find out a lot about ourselves in these next couple of weeks."
On if he was satisfied with the Browns' effort:
"Was I satisfied? Absolutely. Pull up the film and find me a guy that didn't play hard and then go in the locker room and ask him if he played hard. That's one thing: I thought our guys were flying around, but I give them some credit, too. It's a good football team."
On LB Christian Kirksey's penalty after the Bengals RB Jeremy Hill touchdown:
"I never got a full explanation of what it was. I don't know if he was upset that an opposing player jumped into our stands. I thought for a second, from the word I got up top, there is a chance it was going to be offsetting and then they called it against us."
On if this game illustrates how far the gap is between the Bengals and Browns:
"It is clear we are not playing with the roster we expected to play with on opening day. That is clear. They're a team that is playing well. They have been in their system a long time. They have continuity. They have chemistry. That is what you strive for. That is what you strive for. You could see a lot of their guys – that team has been together for a long time, and it is paying dividends for them."
On if the Browns decided before the game that Davis would play the entire game:
"If the performance had gotten to the point where we felt like it warranted a change, then we have considered it, but it never got to that point for us."
On if there was confusion at the goal line on Bengals QB Andy Dalton's rushing touchdown and if he wants players calling timeouts:
"I do not, but in a critical situation like that, I do not have an issue. If we feel we don't have enough on the field or whatever it was – we were misaligned. We needed to slide inside. We need to recognize that the quarterback was under center, which is a sneak indicator, and slide inside."
On removing OL Cameron Erving from the game in the fourth quarter:
"He was struggling a little bit, and (OL) Austin Pasztor was a guy we have wanted to see play. That was one where we actually discussed before that we want to get Austin in there at some point. For Cam, it is not for a lack of want-to or effort, but he was having a tough day. We felt like we wanted to get Austin in there."
On assurance from Owner Jimmy Haslam that this coaching staff will finish the season:
"We haven't had those discussions. Jimmy and I had good conversations. We talk every week. Frankly, there is a lot of football left to be played. We are evaluated every day, whether we are evaluating ourselves or whether it is coming from him. We are just going to fall back on what we know how to do. We are going to come in every day, prepare relentlessly like we do, we are going to coach our players hard and we will see what happens."
On Bengals WR A.J. Green's touchdown catch:
"Just a quick note because I wanted to make sure it was out there, too, since no one asked. On the (DB) Tramon (Williams) touchdown, he should have had top help. Sometimes, you see a guy get run by, but he was supposed to be in trail coverage with help over the top. I wanted to make sure I got that out there."
QB Austin Davis:
On the Bengals' pressure put on him:
"We just went against a really good defense today. Their ability to get pressure with just the front four makes them really tough, but for the most part, I thought our guys battled pretty well. There were chances to get rid of the ball, and as always, a couple times those pressures are on me for not getting the ball out. I thought we battled and tried to keep moving forward."
On his performance:
"I think we are judged on wins and losses so you saw how the game went. It is disheartening to put so much into a week of prep and then you go out and have a game like that. Whatever my performance was, it wasn't good enough. We have to continue to push and continue to work and, I thought a lot of guys stepped up. We had a lot of injuries. That was pretty neat to see to see guys who hadn't ever had reps of certain things come in and the things they did – (WR) Darius Jennings being the first one who comes to mind. That was good."
On WR injuries adding to the challenge of starting:
"It certainly wasn't part of the plan, but it is NFL football and guys get hurt and the next man up has to be ready. I think that is the encouraging thing. All the guys that had to step into roles that weren't familiar with or didn't necessarily get the reps all week did a really good job, in my opinion. Obviously, the outcome of the game is not anywhere close to what we want, and I think we are better than what we showed. At the end of the day, you are only as good as the final score."
On if the Browns still had a chance to win when he was sacked on fourth-and-11:
"I think you always feel like you can win the ball game, especially that early in the game. You're only a couple scores down. I do appreciate Coach Pett's (Head Coach Mike Pettine) confidence in me and the offense any time he goes for fourth down. A lot of times, he'll ask us how we feel, what we're thinking and things like that. He puts a lot of confidence in us, and that as a player is what you want and that's what you appreciate. It doesn't matter if its fourth-and-20. If they call a play, we've got to go execute and get the first down."
On if a player broke free on that same play:
"I'm having a hard time remembering specifically that play. There are a lot of plays in my head right now."
On if he knows who will start at QB next week:
"No, we'll figure all of that out as we go."
On if he played well enough to get another start:
"That's not my decision. The situation that we're in and me specifically is keep preparing and keep playing. That's what I tried to do this week. That's why it's so tough is you put so much into the game and then to go out and have a performance like that where the game just gets away from us and towards the end you feel like you didn't have a chance, it's really hard, but we have to play next week and the team that's coming in here is not going to feel bad for us. Whatever we have to do this week to get healthy, one, and to get prepared and to go play. I don't know what else to say."
On the interception intended for WR Brian Hartline:
"That was a classic example of just two guys on different pages. We talked about it in the huddle, and then he was thinking one thing and I was thinking another. After we talked, I was like 'That's the throw we make in OTAs, and it gets picked off and me and you go over to the sideline and talk about it and it never happens again.' I said the problem is I wasn't here during OTAs so we didn't get to do that and it happened on Sunday, and that's not what you want, but again, that's the situation we're in. Hartline was playing a different position at that point. He didn't run that route all week, and that's just how it went today that was the game we were in."