HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS(Transcribed by Nathan Edwards)
What are your thoughts on today's game?
"I'm proud of the guys, the way they fought their tails off today. Just disappointed in not getting the win at the end. To make the plays down the stretch and get into position to win the football and then come up short. So, that's what's disappointing. We knew it was going to be a close, grind-out football game and we kept grinding all the way through. I thought the quarterback (Andy Dalton) played his tail off today. Guys really rose up and played. That was big. But not enough to win the football game. That's the disappointing part, allowing the touchdown there in the fourth quarter after we get the lead and let them go right down the field is disappointing. But, again, to be able to drive the football back and Andy (Dalton) put us in positon to kick the field goal to win. So, that's what it is. We'll mount up and get ready for next week."
How frustrating is it that the same things that plagued you early in the season are still problems, like the offensive line struggles and kicker?
"Well, again, the offensive line I think for the most part today did a good job. We had one sack that wasn't necessarily their issue, but, again, I'm commenting from the fly here so I can't comment on them right now. It's a hostile environment, they had a lot of pressure coming at them and I thought they held their own most of the game. More plays than not."
I know you say it's dictated by the coverage, but did you guys have a plan to see what WR Cody Core could do?
"You're right, it's dictated by the coverage. So, that was a lot of that. But he did a good job, and even when he didn't catch the ball he did a nice job breaking up the ball when the guy sat down on the ball early on one of the third downs early in the game, as I recall. I thought defensively they just kept playing today and kept us in the football game. They played really good in the first half, defended the field and did a nice job on third down. That was big."
Can you take us through what went into the decision to sit WR A.J. Green?
"I think Jack (Brennan) released something to you."
Can you tell us what you told NFL Network? You said he had some kind of scan.
"Well, he just had further testing during the week. As I conferred with the doctors and so forth, they just thought the best thing for A.J. (Green) to have a full recovery was not to risk him this week."
Was there any conversation about making a decision on WR A.J. Green before you guys flew here?"Well, we had a lot of discussions and so forth. A.J. hoped to play, but we ended up flying here and then making a decision, and he asked for the opportunity to go home."
Could you tell what happened on their touchdown drive?
"They made a play on the pass and then they had the third-down in-cut and they make another catch underneath Adam (Jones), miss a tackle and then they end up making the run. I can't tell you what happened on that."
They played pretty well.
"They did a good job. But, again, you got the lead and you want to defend the score still, and that's important to do. That's important. We had to lead in the fourth quarter and we failed to defend it."
K RANDY BULLOCK(Transcribed by Julien Demers)* *
Was there any extra emotion coming in today just given your history with the Texans?
"No there was no extra emotion. My preparation didn't change. My warm-up, my routine, nothing changed. It was another game."
*This is what you wanted right, the opportunity? *
"Absolutely, that was exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity, I did have the opportunity, I just didn't take advantage of it. That hurts for me and this team. Obviously, we wanted to win here, so it was incredibly disappointing."
Describe your emotions. What's going through your head after you saw the kick?
"It's just frustrating. It's disappointing. We were in a position where we want to win football games. The season's not over yet. I wanted to make that kick regardless of the game scenario or anything like that. I'll have to shake it off and go forward and finish up the season strong with Baltimore."
Did the timeout at all affect anything before the kick?
"No. We had just gotten out on the field. We didn't even get the free play. Didn't ice me or anything like that."
Can you walk us through the kick? Did it feel good? What went wrong from your perspective?
"I feel like I hit it pretty well. Timing felt off a little bit. I jumped a little bit, we were trying to hold it. Unfortunately, it affected the kick and that's on me."
QB ANDY DALTON(Transcribed by Alison Chastain and Crystin Practor)* *
How disappointing is it to come to your hometown and lose?
"Anytime you come here, there are a lot of family and friends and you want to win. You want to win every game you play, but it's cool to have everybody down here. Unfortunately we weren't able to do enough to get it done tonight."
How disappointing was it to end that way especially after coming back on the final drive?
"The thing is we had an opportunity and we weren't able to make enough plays to get it done. It is disappointing because it is a loss."
What was going through your head during the final drive?
"Obviously we got down there and got in field goal range. At that point, you have to think it's going to get made. Unfortunately it didn't. That is just how that game goes sometimes."
Is it just one of those seasons where you shake your head in disbelief walking out of some of the games?
"Yeah. These close games like this we haven't been able to get that one play or that one score that's helped us win. This is another example of it and this is the way the season has gone this year."
What did you think about the new players on the offensive line?
"I thought they did some pretty great things. The guys played well and they played hard. I felt like they did a good job. They were not going against an easy front. These guys are really good. They do a lot with their guys and they are good at pressuring the quarterback. I thought our guys played well."
What were you trying to accomplish in the last drive?
"Get in field goal range. That was the idea. When you are down two, all you need is a field goal to win it. A couple of plays on fourth down were big and it kept the drive going."
The touchdown to WR Brandon LaFell, was that a play you thought could be broken down that way?
"I guess any play you could describe it like that. He did a great job after the catch just seeing the seam and just going. It was an unbelievable play by him catching it and making a couple of moves to get going. It was a great play."
At that point, did you believe you had a shot at winning?
"I thought down to that last second we were going to win."
Why do you believe Texans defense has been able to stay consistent without DE J.J. Watt?
"They've got good players. They've got a good scheme. The guys play hard. He's not the only guy who has made plays for this team. Obviously, everyone knows him because he is one of the best defensive players in the league. But he is not the only one on this defense."
How tough to lose WR A.J. Green right before the game?
"It's a decision they wanted to make. Things may have been planned a different way but we were able to adjust. Got out there and had a chance to win this game."
You understand the frustration of why WR A.J. Green worked a long time to try and come back. How much empathy was there on understanding both sides of the coin?
"A.J. is obviously the type of person that was going to do everything he could to get back for this team. I think it's one thing that he said from the beginning is regardless of the scenario, regardless of the position we're in I am going to do everything I can to come back and play this year. That's just the type of guy he is. That's the type of guy you want on your team and the type of teammate he is. He did that. He felt like he was in position. He made a decision. Would I love to have him out there? Absolutely but the decision was made."
*Is there something in the second half that maybe you all were able to capitalize on? They were kind of shutting you out in the first half but in the second half you seemed to start moving the ball more. *
"We kept drives alive and obviously we had the big play. For him to get that touchdown that we needed was huge. I feel like we just got into a little bit better of a rhythm."
*Was there a plan to try and involve WR Cody Core more or was that just the way it was setup? *
"Yeah I think it was just the way it happened. We weren't going in saying Cody is going to be our guy. I think with A.J. out, we were able to spread the ball around to a bunch of different guys. Today he had some more targets."
*Thoughts on TE C.J. Uzomah's big fourth down catch. *
"We had some big conversions. Third down, had a fourth down. Helped us get in range, in the first half too. I thought he played well."
Do you think it's the story of the season, you all are so close but you can't quite get there? It has to be so frustrating; you feel like you do everything to win a game and you can't.
"When we needed to make a play, we haven't been able to do it. It's not one thing that's caused it. It's gone this year. It's kind of been how our season has been and it's unfortunate that it's been that way."
WR BRANDON LAFELL(Transcribed by Hector Castelltort)* *
Well, just another frustrating lost for the team. I just talked to your Head Coach and he said he was pleased with the way you guys battle back, especially that last drive.
"Frustrating lost, but at the end of the day, I am proud of these guys for not just throwing the towel in, not giving up knowing we don't have a chance to make the playoffs. We went out here and tried to spoil somebody else's playoff run and we fought hard all game. When defense needed to stop at the end of the game, they gave us the stop, gave us a chance to go win the game. We just couldn't make the play at the end to win the game. All we got is battle, all the guys kept fighting, and we are going to do the same thing next week."
Take us through that 86-yard touchdown, the first quarter fourth quarter touchdown this team scored since London.
"It's been a while, it's been a while. These last three weeks we definitely didn't play good ball in the second half. On that play, they came out there and gave us a couple of more looks, they were going to press us. Andy (Dalton) checked it out, had a pick placed set just for that look. T.B. (Tyler Boyd) did a good pick on my man, got the ball in my hands quick, was able to split the defense and got one-on-one with the safety, and in my mind I was like, 'If I get him to stop his feet, I am going in.' He stopped his feet and I just went up the sideline."
CB ADAM JONES(Transcribed by Hector Castelltort)* *
You guys shut them down in the first half, what happened in that? They went a little up tempo in the second half?
"Yeah, I know I had the one miss tackle in the one, but besides that miss gap fit in the touchdown. They can make a play, they get paid, too. But for the most part, I think we played good enough to win the game."
*This season is almost hard to believe. At this point, it seems that you all did everything you could to win the game tonight. *
"You have to take the good away from the bad. Suck it up. Just keep grinding and stay focused. Stay a good teammate, just keep working hard. We have one more game, all we can do is play our heart out, and look at every play we played this year and get better from it. Make sure we remember this feeling that we got right now and remember it next year."
How do you feel you did against WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"I did good, I think. He caught the hitch, I was a little bit too far from that one; I should have been a little tighter. Besides that, I think I did a hell of a job. The one reason, basically zero on the dig, he caught that one but I was an inch short, but besides that, he had a quiet day."
Do you look at this as a game that you guys should have won?
"Yeah, of course. We just missed the kick from 30 yards."
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. McNair
*Tell us about that AFC South championship hat you're wearing. *
"Well, I'll tell you, that's two years in a row and it just shows you have to be tenacious and you just can't ever give up. You never know what will happen. We had the extra point kick blocked then it looked like that would be the determining factor. Then they're missed field goal."
How did you think QB Tom Savage played?
"I thought he held up well. There early on, we just gave him no opportunity to throw. He made some throws where he really got hit hard and I'm surprised he got the ball off. But he not only got it off, he made a big throw. So I thought he did fine. We just got to keep digging."
How special is the second consecutive AFC South title for you?
"Well, it's not the goal. The goal is to win it all but this is the first step. If we don't accomplish this, we have no chance. Now it's a new game and we'll have a chance to go after the brass ring and that's what we want to do."
What did you think about the play of the defense?
"They were outstanding. They had that one big pass play. That was the only breakdown. Absent that, we held them to like 200 yards. I mean, it was a phenomenal effort on the part of the defense. They were outstanding."
Take us through your emotions when Bengals K Randy Bullock missed that last field goal.
"I think I passed out and when they woke me up, he missed it."
HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN (Transcribed by Adam Rauch)
What does it say about this team to be able to pull out this victory?
"Great team effort. Very tough football team, great team effort to overcome things they've overcome this year. The players should get all the credit. The coaching staff and assistant coaches get some of the credit, but the players are a resilient bunch of guys. To be AFC South Champions two years in a row is a heck of an accomplishment for this team."
Can you compare QB Tom Savage's first half and second half?
"We went to no huddle. He's a passer. You've got to get him into a rhythm and I felt like we got him into a rhythm. We still are not very good in the red area, that's going to come back and bite us here if we don't improve that. We're going to keep trying to improve it. But, I thought he did a nice job in the second half."
The Bengals were hitting QB Tom Savage a lot in the first half. What did you do to offset that in the second half?
"Like I said, we went to no huddle and he was able to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker. The no huddle helped our pace, our rhythm and it was just a good job by the offensive staff of getting him into a rhythm."
Talk about being AFC South Champions for the second year in a row.
"Just proud of this team. I think that this team fights through a lot of adversity, we work them hard, we meet, we do a lot of different things to try and prepare them for the game. It doesn't always look pretty, but at the end of the day we're 9-6, we're 5-0 in the division and we beat a very tough Cincinnati team. I don't really care what their record is. They've got a great head coach in Marvin Lewis and they've got a heck of a team, a very tough team. So, I give our players a lot of credit. I think our players deserve a lot of credit for this win tonight and to be AFC South Champions two years in a row."
Did you tell the guys Tennessee lost today or do you think they just knew it?
"These guys are bright guys. They knew what was on the line. They knew if we won that we won the division. You didn't have to say too much to them. It was more about preparation for Cincinnati and making sure they knew what their job was against Cincinnati. That was the biggest deal."
Talk about the defense's performance.
"They just did an unbelievable job. Except for that one play, they really did an unbelievable job of getting pressure. They kept us in the game. It was 3-0 at halftime and we were terrible on offense and they kept us in the game. You can't give our defense enough credit. They've done a nice job all year."
What did Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel do differently this year as a result of all the injuries?
"Romeo's been around a long time. He's just a very experienced guy. He's dealt with all kinds of different issues in his career. If you really think about his career—I mean, think about all the things he's gone through. So, maybe losing a player here and there to injury, that might not be the biggest thing he's gone though in his career. I think the other thing about Romeo is he'd be the first one to tell you that, as far as coaching goes, he's got an excellent coaching staff underneath him. Mike Vrabel, John Butler, Anthony Weaver, Anthony Midget, Will Lawing and nobody talks about Will Lawing. This is a quality control guy whose dad is a defensive line coach at Florida State, a football guy who does a lot of stuff for me. The defensive staff does a great job—Shane Bowen, another quality control guy. I think all of those guys, they have a good room and have done a nice job all year. Like I just told the team, now we have to keep it going. That's the key, we've got to keep it going. But tonight, we're going to celebrate tonight, no doubt about it."
Can you talk about how RB Alfred Blue played tonight?
"I think he's a big back, a tough back. My first year here, we drafted Alfred and he's had some really good games for us. Maybe the stats don't always look the greatest, but he's a very tough runner, and what I think happens is the more you use him, he tends to wear the defense down after a while. I thought he did that tonight, especially on that last touchdown run. He made a nice cut, we collected the blitz pretty well on the blocking and he was able to break free into the end zone."
Do you think winning close games like the Texans have is a skill?
"First of all, I don't think that this team or this coaching staff really cares about what some might say. I don't think that really matters in this room. What matters in this room is the work we put in, we try to correct the mistakes that we make and I think we're very good at situational football. I think whether we're behind or we're in the lead, we try to get a feel for the game. All these games are close. I think we have to just count on the fact that these are going to be close games, next week, the week after, they're going to be close games. So I just think that—I don't know if it's a skill—but I think our coaching staff and our players work very hard together to try and win these close games."
How do you feel after winning this game? How do you feel for yourself?
"I feel great for this team. I don't care about myself, I feel great for this team. I think that this team is a tough team, I think that they work hard in practice, they've given us everything that they can give us and I just feel great for this team."
T DUANE BROWN(Transcribed by Allie LeClair)* *
What's the personal gratification for you after your injury and now being selected to the Pro Bowl and being AFC South Champions?
"It's beautiful. I remember last year at this time in this locker room, guys celebrating, me putting a hat on with an air cast on. That was a horrible feeling, being happy to win but sad that I had to sit for the rest of the season and rehab the whole year. Here I am a year later, same position, guys putting on hats again and I'm part of it standing on my own two feet and being able to go out there and finish the game, it's an incredible feeling."
*The team has a lot of work to do before next game, but you guys put a lot of work in today. *
"We got a lot of work to do. A lot of cleanup, a lot of cleanup. It's not going to get easier. The season really starts now for us. You have one more game to close it out and after that we know we have to play our best football ever to be able to compete and advance."
*What was it like in this locker room after the game? *
"Just complete joy. We put so much into this season. The work we put in the preseason coming into this year, the adversity we have had to go through, a lot of ups and downs and be able to get to this point and put these hats on as AFC South Champions going into the playoffs – can't get much better than this right now."
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY (Transcribed by Brianna Cantu)* *
So tell us what you think about winning the division?
"Hey, it feels great man. We started from the bottom. From OTAs, training camp, that's what we do it for; to win the division and going to the playoffs. And you know, anything happens in the playoffs."
What was it like during halftime to be down by three?
"Man, you must have not been watching us all season, we've been here before. We didn't get discouraged. We stay in our game plan, stayed together. Went out there and fought the second half and did what we had to do to win. It ain't pretty, but we got it done. "
What was the game plan defensively?
"Stop them. All means necessary to get a stop and get the ball back to our offense. Try to get a turn over and good field position and try to get a stop."
What was the key to shutting down the running game?
"We played physical upfront with the offensive line and not getting knocked back and you know, boxing the man to make them stay inside and that's what we did. Everybody got to the ball."
Could you describe what it was like inside the locker room after the game with the coach and the players?
"Oh, it was a great feeling, it was a great feeling. You know, this is what we play for, to win the division and go on to, you know, do bigger things. It was a great feeling. My teammates are happy and everybody is happy, that's what we do it for."
What's it going to mean to do to get the to play a playoff game this year?
"Man, it's going to be great. I was mad last year when I missed it. I was real upset that I couldn't be out there with my teammates but this year I said I'm going to try and get out there with them. Trying to help win another game and keep going forward."
Could you describe the tension at the end of the game when they went for the field goal and went far right?"Like I said, we've been there before and we just try to keep playing til the game is over, til the clock says zero. Anything can happen so we were on field goal block and we were like they're going to miss this field goal. Just rush hard and hopefully he misses it."
What was your immediate feeling when you saw the kick missed by the Bengals?
"Champs. That's what I was thinking right there, we did it. We won the division and we're going on to something new, man. Get ready for the playoffs. Next week we've got Tennessee, we have to get ready for that and then get ready for the playoffs and try to make a run.."
QB Tom Savage said that since y'all were playing so great he wished that he could make it easier on you guys, so he was trying to come over and encourage you all by saying, "we've got your back", were you paying attention to that?
"Nah. I really just be focused on defense. I don't really try to get into the offense and everything, so I just stick with the defensive group and we fight. We talk all the time on the sidelines about making plays and trying to get the ball back to the guys to do big things with the offense. And that's what we did, we stuck together and fought the whole game".
Did you think you were going to catch WR Brandon LaFell?
"I did for a second. I reached my top speed and he still picked up speed and I was like "nah, that's it, no more". But
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS(Transcribed by Allie LeClair)* *
*How does it feel to wear that hat? *
What was it like for you when you watched Bengals K Randy Bullock set up for that field goal and miss it?"Besides sensational, it felt great. Randy (Bullock) is an old teammate of mine, but he missed that field goal. It was meant to be."
You made some plays late offensively to get the win. Talk about what you did late to scratch it out."It's really not how you start, it's how you finish. We came out and finished strong. Left some plays out there. Anything come my way, I want it. I take me messing up harder than anyone else. We came out and finished strong. Some guys had some injuries they fought through, but that goes to show how much this team is trying to get over that nine-win hump."
*What did Head Coach Bill O'Brien say to you after the game? *
"He was almost in tears. Win the AFC South, back-to-back. A lot of people talk down on our division, but this is a very competitive division and it's only getting better."
*What did you see out of QB Tom Savage from the first half to the second half? *
"He was relaxed the whole game. There are some things that he can't control that happened, but he kept his head in there, stayed in the pocket, took some hits, made some great throws like the end-cut to me. He stayed in the pocket and the ball barely made it there. But, that goes to show how much he wanted to win today."
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS (Transcribed by Adam Rauch)
How were you guys able to get pressure on Bengals QB Andy Dalton?
"We just did our deal. We have an aggressive group. Just being able to work moves, work gains, get in his face, force some bad throws, especially our DBs, they did a great job."
Did you have a sense of how good CB A.J. Bouye played tonight?"Yeah, definitely. It was a good deal. I'm just very proud of the entire group."
Talk about being AFC South Champions two years in a row.
"Just being a resilient group, taking advantage of the opportunity we had in front of us. We knew coming into this game it was a must-win game and we definitely wanted to lock it up tonight. That's what we did."
What's it like on that last drive knowing it was going to decide the game?
"All we're thinking is just try and get a stop. Try to get a three-and-out, try to cause a turnover, something because we know this is a critical drive that we need to make sure and stop the offense and solidify this AFC South Championship."
QB TOM SAVAGE (Transcribed by Katie Karsh)* *
Can you talk about the first half and what you changed when you went into the second half?
"You know, started off a little slow obviously. There's not much to say about it. We got to go out there and we got to execute better and that starts with me. I'm glad we got it going, but I think ultimately we need to put some more points up for the defense and make it a little bit easier on them."
You've been with the Texans for three years all under Head Coach Bill O'Brien. What does it mean for this team to be in the playoffs for back-to-back years?
"It just says so much about that locker room. For the three years I've been here, that's what it's been about. We got a resilient group and it's exciting. I mean going forward offensively we got to just be a little bit better. Make some plays. Obviously work on the red area, but ultimately a wins a win. It's tough to get in this league and we're going to take it."
What made you more comfortable in the second half?
"You know I think it was just taking a deep breath, realizing what we have on defense, they're doing for us. I mean all week it's just protecting the ball and let's find a way to win. That's what we did and the guys really rallied around again and made some huge plays for me."
Can you talk about the no huddle offense and if you felt it immediately?
"I thought it was getting into a little rhythm you know. Completed some balls. I mean obviously first half it was just, to be honest with you, I was just missing people. Missing some reads here and there and that's unacceptable, so you just have to go out there and work on it. Try and build from the second half and let's see if we can put some more points on the board."
Given everything you've been through up until your first NFL start tonight and being able to win the division, did you feel that you were able to sustain the disappointment of the first half?
"Absolutely. I mean I think that journey I mean made me who I am today. Obviously been through the ringer a little bit. Not knowing where I'm going to go to college next week or next year and all that stuff, but ultimately it's a team game and those guys really did a great job of rallying around me, making some plays and not once in that game did I think that we're out of it or offensively we weren't going to make it. I was pumped to get back out there each drive and I'm happy we could move the ball a little bit but ultimately we've got to put some more points on the board."
How will you build on this win?
"I think we can build obviously I think it's a good thing that we protected the ball – not put the defense in a tough situation. I think just going out there and I know I just sound repetitive, but it's going out there and keep executing what we need to do and it's good to go out there and get some experience for sure."
Can you take us through the 11-yard run that you had?
"I just saw a little opening there. Felt like it took about 18 seconds to get that 11 yards and I was hoping I didn't break my leg on the way."
It was impressive the way that you hung in and delivered some of the throws that you were able to, but other times you got smoked. How will you manage that moving forward?
"Well, you know I think some of them are self-inflicted. Just maybe it's the point, maybe it's a hop. Ultimately I mean that's just what it is about. You got to be able to stay in there and take a couple hits and those guys are smashing their heads together all game and it's the least we can do as a quarterback to try and sit in there and deliver a good ball and let those guys make a play."
Can you talk about how the Texans defense boosts your confidence?
"It's just kind of been the theme here since I've been here. It's this dominant defense and you see right there if you protect the ball, we're going to find a way to win and that's ultimately what it comes down to. Obviously, we'd like to make it a lot easier on them, you know, put some more points on, not bank on a missed field goal or something, but like I said a wins a win and we're going to take it and we're going to celebrate."
What does it mean to know that the defense always has your guys' back?
"Yeah, I mean what I said to them at halftime, I said just keep doing what you're doing. We're going to pick it up offensively and I mean hey, 12 points is 12 points in this league and the whole goal of this game is to score more points than them and we did that and we won. I think we can just keep building off that second half and ultimately put some points on the board."
When you were limping what was wrong?
"Nothing. Just un-athletic."
Did you go over to the defense at some point during the second half and tell them you have their back?
"Absolutely. I mean I went up to every single one of them and said, 'Hey we're going to get something going for you guys. Keep doing what you've been doing this whole season really. I mean you guys kept us in this and we're going to go out there and we're going to try and make some plays and put some points on so we can get this win.'"