POSTGAME QUOTES VS. CINCINNATI BENGALS 1/4/15
BENGALS HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS & PLAYERS
Head Coach Marvin Lewis
"Obviously this is a disappointing finish. I thought that we fought back in the football game and it just got behind. We never got the field position flipped in the third quarter and that seemed to be a big difference in the football game. We never could get the field flipped and get in a positive situation for our offense. We kept putting the defense in short field positions and they took advantage of it. Due to third down, we get a penalty that set us back 10 and then we don't make a first down, they got the ball at mid-field and it made for a difficult third quarter and we never transitioned out of that. Again, as I told these guys, I don't know anything different. This group, they fought their tail off, we came up short today. The only way to do it is just at some point whoever it is, wherever it be, whatever it'll be they'll go back to work and put their heads down and work to kick the door down. That's all you can do and there's no other words about it. There are a lot of young guys in that room, a lot of veteran players and they've experienced a lot of success but the ultimate thing is to keep playing and work towards a Super Bowl and we failed to get it done today."
Were the guys deflated when they found out A.J. Green and then Jermaine Gresham weren't playing?
"I don't think so, I think that's an excuse. This is professional football."
What was the biggest factor in not being able to score in the second half?
"Well again, we were behind in field position and so we had long fields and we didn't convert many third downs in the second half."
The touchdown throw by Andrew Luck when you blitzed him, was that the critical moment of this one?
"Well it was the score there in the third quarter that you obviously don't want to give up."
How much more challenging was creating a game plan when you were missing two significant components to your offense?
"Obviously you want to have your starting players as much as you can and we didn't have them today and we did some good things we just didn't get things finished out."
Were the Colts doing anything different today? Were they crowding the line?
"If we have two extra linemen in there, they're going to be crowding. We did get some movement at times but not consistently enough obviously."
With six playoff losses, what are your emotions?
"It's disappointing, but I don't know any other way. Whenever the opportunity comes to build back up and get working and fight our way back through it."
What kind of criticism do you expect Andy Dalton to get?
"Well, I thought Andy played a good football game, so I don't know what kind of criticism will be on the quarterback here. I thought he hung in there. I thought he made plays with his feet. I thought he made plays throwing the football, and I thought he played a good football game. He didn't, as far as I know, he didn't turn the football over. I thought he avoided the rush and came up, stepped up in the pocket and delivered footballs. He's going to be disappointed because we didn't win, but I think he did a good job at doing his part today, and that's all we can ask of any of the guys. You're not going to make any super human plays. He's got to get the ball out there. He got the ball down there and out there, and we've got to make some plays as well, we've got to pick him up as well."
Rex Burkhead was a part of the game early, but not late. How did this impact the team?
"When you don't make any first downs in the second half, it makes a big difference in the football game as far as your possessions."
Were you troubled by the lack of pressure on Andrew Luck, especially in the first half?
"We had a lot of two or three-man routes, and the ball didn't go down the field. He had to check the ball down, and we have to do a better job tackling the check down because they were able to make some first downs that way early in the football game. They checked the ball down to the back, they picked us coming across the field a couple of times because there were two or three-man routes. So they protected with seven a lot of the time in the football game. We had one free release in the first half when they were in the one spread. They were protection conscious, and we have to do a good job tackling those check downs. He looked for the vertical ball and when he didn't have it, he checked it down. We have to do a better job of tackling it."
Are you planning on being back for next season?
"It's my plan. It's not about me. I'm talking about our football team, wherever our football team is. Obviously every year you create a new football team and that's part of it unfortunately. Tomorrow is not promised for anyone and so that's part of the life in the NFL and what these guys have in the finality of losing when you lose in the playoffs."
Do you have to go back and tear it up or are you happy with the core?
"I think we've got to be happy with the core, but obviously we got depleted. That's part of it though and we've got to keep finding a way. I think guys got gained experience through this, and that's part of it. It's a learning experience for some to always be ready and move on, and move on to the next guy. We've done a good job of that, but today it wasn't quite enough for us."
Running Back Rex Burkhead
From my understanding you were kind of like Wes Welker where everyone was watching you out there at the receiver position catching it, running routes and said this guy can play some wide out.
"With A.J. (Green) and Dane Sanzenbacher down, they needed someone else to fill the role and I was glad to step up. The coaches use me in different ways. We didn't get the win so there was kind of a damper on it."
You start the game off with the reverse, get the ball in your hand and you are a running back in that point in time it must have felt like you getting a handoff from Andy Dalton and doing your thing.
"It was a good start, we had been working on that play all week and it had been going well. I wish that it could have been more though."
That throw Andrew Luck made, as he is going to the ground and into the back corner of the end zone as accurately as he did is an amazing thing. There are not that many guys that can make that throw.
"He is a great player, he is from Texas just like me so I met him at Stanford before he even started playing and he is a great guy and I knew just watching him at Stanford that he was going to be a great player in years to come. He leads that team and they follow him."
Quarterback Andy Dalton
How tough was it to game plan with so many injuries?
"Yeah, I mean, there's some things we had geared up for A.J. (Green) but he wasn't in there. Like you said, we can't make that an excuse. I think at the end of the day we just got outplayed."
What changed up in the second half?
"We couldn't get a drive going. We'd end up in third-and-long situations and we couldn't get that one play to give us that momentum and whatever we needed. It's unfortunate that it happened, but that's just the way it was."
Can you sum up the frustration personally and as a team of getting to this point and not making it through?
"We worked really hard to get to this point. We had a good week of preparation and we felt like we were ready to go, so it's tough from that standpoint and you know all the hard work that's been put in. You feel like you're prepared going into a game. You feel like you've got an opportunity and again, it falls by the wayside. It's tough from that standpoint."
How much did the game plan change when A.J. Green was out?
"I don't know necessarily how much it changed from that standpoint. It is what it is. The game of football, injuries are going to happen, so guys got to step up, but it is what it is."
How do you feel you played?
"I felt like there were some good things out there, but I didn't play good enough. That's what it comes down to. I got to do more. I got to push our guys to do more but it all starts with me."
How hard is it to think about the fact that you have got to go into another offseason and wait another 12 months to have another opportunity?
"Yeah, it's what the offseason is for. You got to work. You got to do whatever you can to put yourself in a position where you can, especially for me, lead this team and get us back to the playoffs and get another opportunity. I think it's unfortunate we come in and we lose this first one. It's not what you want to have happen but that's what the offseason is for. You go in and you work to get better."
When they scored to start the game off that first drive, was there much panic?
"There wasn't any panic at all. I think the first drive or second drive we had went down and scored and answered. That's what you have to do in games like this."
Did they adjust to something you did on that drive?
"At the end of the day, they made more plays than we did. I think that's what it comes down to."
Four years and still in the same spot, what do you think needs to change?
"I think the preparation is there and I've been working really hard at it so you have to play your best football once you're here and today we didn't play our best."
Are people starting to question what this team's makeup is?
"It's tough to get to the playoffs. I think a lot of people don't understand that, but it's not about one playoff game. If you don't win all of the playoff games and win the Super Bowl, then you're going to be sitting in the same spot that we are now. Our goal here is not about one playoff game. It's far beyond that. It's about winning the Super Bowl and to put ourselves in a position where only 12 teams were able to do this year and only 12 teams were able to do in the last four years, I think there's a sense of accomplishment there, but you're going to be judged on what you do in the playoffs and we hadn't won yet and we are going to try to do everything we can to figure out what it's going to take to get us over this hump."
How much does that bother you being judged on 0-4?
"I mean it's tough, but it is what it is. I think until we win one, everyone is going to be able to say we haven't won it."
Did they do anything different back from October?
"There are some things that they did the same and some change ups that they did. I felt like we saw a lot of the looks and we were able to understand what was going on but we just didn't make enough plays."
Defensive End Wallace Gilberry
As you start to think about next season, will you think about this game at all?
"I'm not even worried about next season. All I am worried about is going back to Alabama, doing a little fishing and playing with my son."
What do you think the difference was today?
"They had numbers on us. At times we were rushing four and they were blocking seven. (Andrew) Luck did an awesome job at getting the ball out of his hands and the rest was on the scoreboard."
How hard is it to beat a team like the Colts when you can't consistently get in the backfield?
"Extremely hard because again Andrew Luck is a prototypical quarterback. He's going to make plays and make smart plays. We got to him a couple of times, but it did not rattle him. He honored the hit and lines up and got back in the center so he is one of those guys that you have to constantly get to him every play, but we were not able to do that today and again the scoreboard reflected that."
Four years in a row now, is it hard emotionally when they start to pile up?
"Not at all, you always put them behind you and learn from it, put the rest you put behind you and go on to the next play."
Running Back Jeremy Hill
How disappointed are you?
"It's very disappointing especially coming in. We work so hard day-in and day-out. Coming in the building every morning just grinding, doing everything you can to put yourself in a position to win the big one, and then you fall short. It's definitely disappointing. It's definitely heartbreaking. It's motivation. That's all you can do at this point. The season is over with, so at this point you just got to use it for motivation for the offseason and come back stronger next season."
Tackle Andrew Whitworth
Where do you think the game kind of fell apart for you guys in the second half?
"In the second half they had the lead and we had an opportunity to get some points on the board and we weren't able to get many yards on first down on the run plays and get long down-and-distances and they get a chance to tee off. Anytime you go up against a great defense, they are going to do that and we just didn't make a big play."
Your plan was to run more and you weren't that far behind. Why do you think you were having so much trouble there?
"The plan was to run the football well and run it a lot but I think we did a good job in the first half but in the second half really had a couple runs that should have been bigger that weren't and we took some shot plays to get yourself back in the game and put yourself in second-and-10 and second-and-nine. If you don't make a play, there you are left with third-and-10. We put ourselves in situations where they got the advantage and they got us in long down-and-distances and they are blitzing everybody that they got."
You have been put in this situation now where you come up short. What are the emotions where it starts to build on you year to year?
"I think the year to year thing is kind of for fans and media. For us every year is a new group of guys, new kids that I get an opportunity to mentor and be a great captain for. Every team is their own team so this is an opportunity where they did everything that they could and overcame adversity than some of the other teams have with some of the injuries that we had and we got to this point which is great but we didn't take advantage of it. Probably a little too much trying to overcome like that. We had two guys out today that are a huge part of your offense in playoff football, you don't very have much of a chance."
Did you feel overmatched?
"I don't think overmatched, I just think you have to make an exceptional play to win the game and you take away those big contributions you get from A.J. (Green) and Jermaine (Gresham) and now all of a sudden somebody not used to making the big play and that was the bottom line today. We just didn't make the play when we needed to."
POSTGAME QUOTES VS. CINCINNATI BENGALS 1/4/15
COLTS HEAD COACH CHUCK PAGANO & PLAYERS
Head Coach Chuck Pagano
"Okay from an injury standpoint we came out pretty good, I only have one to report. Jon Harrison, unfortunately was a freak deal on a field goal or a PAT try, went out with a concussion. He'll go through the protocol as we move through the week. Obviously very excited about the win. Hats off to the 12th man, our fans, they were outstanding. They've been outstanding all season long and can't thank them enough. Hats off to Cincinnati, they had a great year. Marvin's (Lewis) a heck of a ball coach and they've got a great staff and a great team. They played extremely well and they're a tough, tough team. Proud of our guys finding a way to get the win. Defensively, another outstanding job. Coach (Greg) Manusky and the defensive staff and his players did a great job, pitched a shutout in the second half. The running game, you look at it and there was over 100 yards rushing but 22, 23 yards came on the first play of the game on a reverse. So they did an outstanding job, held them out of the end zone. Three sacks, limited Andy (Dalton) as far as passing, tackled well; did a lot of great things. Offensively we had a bunch of yards. Andrew (Luck) threw the heck out of the ball. There's a lot of opportunities, we're going to come in tomorrow, we're going to look at that tape; a lot of opportunities missed in the first half really. You look at a drive that stalled on the 20, a drive that stalled on the 11. We're going down before the half, we have a costly turnover which ended up, defense went out and forced a field goal right before the half. Penalties, we've still got to clean up that stuff. It's a great victory. Proud of everybody. Proud of the coaches, proud of the players. Now we're on to try to take the next step."
After giving up the long field goal just before halftime, how key was it forcing a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half?
"It was huge and kind of set the tempo for the whole second half. We talked about it at halftime, just calm down. We were a little unsettled, a little anxious in the first half. You saw some uncharacteristic things, a couple false starts and dropped balls, things like that that obviously we can clean up. We said, 'Hey, just calm down. Relax. Go out.' Pat (McAfee) did a great job. Vinny (Adam Vinatieri) obviously did a great job, four-for-four on field goals, the point total was the second-most in franchise history; had 14 point scored in the game. Again, Pat kicked the ball well. But that three-and-out was huge. Again credit the defense, they played well all day."
Was Andrew Luck pretty flawless today with his decision-making?
"Yeah, he was outstanding. He was outstanding and he just took what they gave him. That's why I think Boom (Daniel Herron) was targeted 11 times, had 10 catches looking at the stat sheet. They wanted to defend and they weren't going to let our game-wreckers get behind them so there was a bunch of things underneath and he did a great job and he bought time. The one magical play to (Donte) Moncrief was Andrew at his finest. He's a maestro back there. He's unbelievable. He made great decisions today and he made them all day long. It was a great game for him."
How have you seen Daniel Herron grow and come into his own the past month or so?
"He's gaining confidence. Obviously there's some plays out there that he'd like to have back and you've got to clean up, but the guy's a playmaker. He can create when there's not much there. He's got the ability to create his own yards and make people miss in space especially on the check-downs and things like that in the pass game. Proud of Boom and where he's at, it's coming at a good time."
With the injuries that you've had on the offensive line and missing Trent Richardson today, how much of a luxury is it to have a quarterback like Andrew Luck who seems to be able to roll with the punches no matter what he's got?
"It's huge because I think this was our 11th starting lineup when you talk about the offensive line. Credit the offensive line coaches and those players for sticking to the process and those guys staying ready, and having a quarterback that, he's unflappable that way. It doesn't really matter, as long as we've got five guys in front of him, he doesn't really care who the jersey numbers are. He knows those guys are going to prepare and they're going to practice well, and they're going to go out there and give it their all down after down. Having a guy that's big and strong like Andrew and can create, moving forward looking at next week he's going to have to do the same thing. He's going to have to create some plays. He's going to have to move around and get some first downs with his legs and those type of things. Obviously it's a benefit."
What was the reason that Trent Richardson didn't play?
"Trent, he was out. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday, and then he left after Thursday and he was dealing with an illness and missed Friday. Boom (Herron) and Tip (Zurlon Tipton) got most of the reps Friday and Saturday so we just went with those two and held him."
Are you expecting to have Trent Richardson next week for Denver?
You had a short period to adjust to the Bengals without A.J. Green, and then Jermaine Gresham was ruled out today. Were you prepared for the big package they put out there with all of the linemen? I thought your defense handled it well.
"Yeah, again they did a good job, and we were preparing for both. Whether those guys played or didn't play, you obviously prepare for them to be out there. Then when they're not out there, the contingency plan is to try to run it and do those type of things. I thought our guys adjusted well and handled the different formations, the different personnel groups, the jumbo package, those type of things, extra linemen. We've had some issues and it looks like we kind of cleaned that up today."
What are your initial thoughts on facing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos again?
"Great opportunity. After Week 1, it seems like a lifetime since that ball game. We came out of that one and we dug ourselves a hole if I remember correctly, and found a way to get back within a touchdown. But we got in that locker room and we said, 'Hey, we're going to stick to the process.' Even though Week 2 didn't work out, this group is, like I say all the time, they're a resilient bunch. They found themselves a way to get in the tournament, win the division, all those type of things. Find a way to win a home playoff game and give yourself an opportunity at another shot at their place. It's always a challenge to play the Broncos and play a great team. They're a great football team and obviously they've got a great, great quarterback. It's always a huge challenge and at the same time, we're going to embrace the opportunity, embrace the moment. It's exciting, it's fun. It's always a great chess match. Hopefully we can play just a little bit better than we did in Week 1."
Running Back Daniel "Boom" Herron
You set the record for catches by a running back. Talk about the use of you in the receiving game?
"Like I said, Andrew (Luck) made some good decisions today, offensive line did a great job, Pep (Hamilton) called some great plays and we just got to run our offense and did a great job with it."
What's the ambition with the run game? What do you all want to accomplish?
"Honestly, we definitely want to get the running game going, try to execute some good runs and try to help Andrew (Luck) out. I think we did a pretty good job today, balanced some things out. Like I said, Andrew did a great job, made some good decisions, more of all, I think the offensive line did a great job, protecting him and doing some run blocking."
Opening drive, they gave you the ball. Were you surprised about it? Were you excited for the opportunity?
"I was very excited for the opportunity. It's just one of those things when you get the opportunity to take full advantage of it and like I said, Pep did a great job making some great calls, the offensive line did a great job and Andrew did a great job. We just put it all together and it all worked out."
Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton
How key was it coming out, establishing the run and then able to punch it in there and kind of jumpstart everything from the opening possession?
"It was very key. We started to find our groove and got back to ourselves, made a couple plays early and basically did what we wanted to do all up the field."
I know you were upset with a couple of drops. What was it? Was it the hamstring bothering you?
"No, it was just the little things, not looking the ball in after the catch. Basically, I was just trying to make plays and it kind of hurt me."
What was the difference between the first and second half?
"The difference was we just stayed on top of things. The defense made a lot of good plays for us and offense, we just kept it going, kept the tempo up and they were getting a little tired."
How key will these fast starts be the rest of the playoffs?
"It's very key. For us, just go out there, keep our tempo up, teams are starting to get tired. Right now, we know it's going to be a different game when we go back up there. We know what to expect from them, they are going to throw a couple wrinkles at us, but we'll be ready."
Defensive Tackle Ricky Jean Francois
All you heard about all week was Cincinnati's running game. You slammed the door on that?
"We had to. We knew they were going to run the ball. They're a great team, they can run the ball whenever they want to, but today, that was the first thing we had to stop. We had to stop the run game."
Getting this victory, what can you do with it at this point?
"Enjoy it for 24 hours or probably less than that. Now we got to worry about the Denver Broncos. We understand we want to enjoy it, but we don't want to roll into the next week with it. Enjoy it for today and let's get to work tomorrow."
A quick start was critical, wasn't it?
"Had to be, you had to have a quick start, this is the playoffs. You can't start slow and then start digging because a good team like Cincinnati, they can stay in the game and get that win."
Quarterback Andrew Luck
*What did you see and feel on the touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief? *
"They brought a blitz. Boom (Daniel Herron) did a great job of aborting his fake on the play-action going to pick up the safety. I sort of stepped up in a crease there, saw Donte running his butt off and tried to put it in a spot where only he could get it. He does such a great job of running underneath those balls and made a heck of a catch."
You guys came out more aggressive than the past few weeks today. What were your thoughts on the tempo?
"I think the tempo was great. It was great. It helps us, it helps with the rush, it helps with the defensive linemen I think seeing things, and I think our guys love it. They love going out there and making plays and making them fast. I thought the O-line handled that very, very well. It was good to get some of those nice, long drives going."
The opening drive all year hasn't really went as well as it did today. How did that drive today set a tone?
"Obviously, I think points. I think just positive plays. If we had an incomplete or if we had a negative run, we were able to bounce back and get a first down, convert the third downs. I think just taking it one play at a time was the key."
Did you think you guys were cleaner offensively today than you've been?
"It's hard to say. We weren't perfect and obviously that's where you want to be. I think it certainly felt like we weren't shooting ourselves in the foot too much, but those penalties, we can't survive that forever. When we get down in the red zone, we need to score touchdowns."
Was not trying to get too much in the red zone part of the struggles there today?
"In the red zone, it has been and always will be touchdown to check down in a sense. A field goal is a lot better than a turnover. I think Vinny (Adam Vinatieri) is a stud down there. It's great to get three but we'll keep working red zone and try and get touchdowns."
Talk about Boom Herron stepping in the past month at running back.
"He just does his job and he does it well every play. He's ready to roll. None of us are perfect. Mistakes happen and he bounces back like that. He's just such a playmaker."
How did your offensive line do today?
"They did great, they did great, incredibly well run blocking, pass blocking, handling the tempo and handling everything. It was fun to be out there with them."
Is the 24-hour rule a little different now because it's the playoffs?
"Absolutely, absolutely and preparation starts I think when that game ends because it's a really good Denver team. We'll have our work cut out for us, but I think guys are excited and up for the challenge."
What are your thoughts on facing Peyton Manning next week?
"I think we face the Broncos in a sense. It's not the quarterback versus quarterback thing. We're not on the field at the same time. I have a lot of respect for him, what he does, what he still does is amazing. He's a stud. I'll worry about the Denver defense, that's what I worry about."
Can you talk about how hard it is to get that first win and move on? A lot people don't get that opportunity.
"I think you appreciate every win and you don't take it for granted. At the same time, we're on to next week. The playoffs have a different feel. You've got to move on and you've got to keep that journey alive."
When does the preparation for Denver start?
"We'll be in meetings tomorrow per usual. I think a lot of guys take a jump start to get their bodies right tonight. You try to watch the film and clean up this game as soon as you can."
Talk about this next game being your first road playoff test.
"As a team, I think that we're excited about the opportunity, and hopefully we can get it."
Was this a better effort from you today than the win over Kansas City last year in the postseason?
"Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, I'd like to think so. I'd like to think I'm more prepared this year than I was last year, as well as my rookie year. You hate to compare games from last year. I think things are different. I think the playoffs are when you realize you know if you win, that's good. If you lose, you're at home. That's what matters."
Why were the check downs so effective today to the running backs?
"Yeah, I think Cincy does a great job of getting into their zones and sinking off, not giving you the deeper throws. Our running backs did a great job of checking their work, making sure we were secure in the pocket then getting out and getting to the spot. It turned out well today I think because of the depth of the zones."
Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne
Can you take a look at T.Y. Hilton's t-shirt and describe it on a scale of 1-10?
"Best t-shirt in the world, there's nothing better there. He said he was going to show me some love today and he did a great way of expressing it."
This is about winning and advancing. Is that all it is, winner moves on?
"Yeah, we know what's at stake, we know how the terms go and it's just another step on the journey. It's on to the next round and see how we do."
The next round is Denver. Can we ask you about Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning?
"I'm not even worried about it right now. It's adult beverage time, not worrying about it, we're going to enjoy this victory the next few hours and if the big man upstairs blesses us enough to open our eyes in the morning, that's when we'll worry about that one."
Andrew Luck's touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief with players wrapped around him and he still got it off. How rare is that to see?
"It's not surprising. We see him do stuff like that all the time. He's stronger than a lot of people think. He has a nice young arm and he can make all the throws. Honestly, I've been saying since day one, I think he throws better when he's on the run. For him to shake those guys off and still put the ball on the money where only Donte can catch the ball is outstanding. I'm definitely blessed and happy to have him as my teammate."