DENVER AT CINCINNATI
DEC. 22, 2014
BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES
Initial comments ...
"I'm very proud of our guys tonight for our resiliency, our ability to come back after negative plays and put positive plays and string them together. Obviously, the defense was huge with the takeaways. How we played on third down was huge. Offensively, we kept coming back and striking and making big plays. And, obviously, we did a great job on the return game tonight. Obviously, things to work on and do, but we're still in position, still controlling our destiny, and that's all we can ask for at this point in the year."
Do you think this was a hump game for these guys?
"We won another game that people had a lot of questions about, so that's all that counts. Hump — whatever — we've got another big hump next week. We know that."
How important was Jeremy Hill's 85-yard touchdown run after the interception return?
"Obviously, that's a huge play to get us right back in the football game after the interception. We go back to 0-0, just like the big play we get in the second half after we give up the kickoff return and the four or five-play touchdown drive. We were able to answer the bell and keep on answering it, and that was big tonight. Offensively, we did some good things, but we've got to play better. We did great things in the running game at times, but we've got to make it more consistent and better. And, again, we have to protect the football. We made this too interesting by turning the football over, and we've got to do a better job of that."
This is the fourth year in a row making the playoffs. What does that mean now with four in a row?
"You've got to credit these guys because they just keep on grinding. They hear the message and take heart and go to work at it. It's expected, but there's more out there. We want more. Obviously, you've got to climb the mountain to get this point, and they've done that thus far. They just keep doing it and doing it and doing it, and we've got to just keep going. We've got another big week that's coming up."
Peyton Manning got going in the third quarter and they put some things together. What changed in the fourth?
"Technique-wise, we did some things in the one drive that we just got out of balance a little bit, and we did a better job of staying back in balance."
All year Dre Kirkpatrick has played well when given the opportunity. But tonight, is that why you draft a guy in the first round, to be a playmaker?
"He has had a tough start to his career. This season, he's really made the best of every opportunity he's had. He got a chance to play last year and had some ups and downs, but boy this year he's done a great job. He's excelled on special teams, he's excelled now on defense when he gets chances, and he's just got to keep growing — that's the best thing for all of our young guys. He came through tonight in a big football game."
Talk about Adam Jones' play ...
"The returns just keep us going. They give us field position back, and those are huge plays."
A lot has been said that this team couldn't do this and couldn't do that. Does tonight prove a point by beating a very good team?
"Yes, it's what we needed to do. Until we had a win like this, people kept saying we couldn't win in prime time. So it was big for us to get this win. Regardless of what people were saying, this win meant more because it got us in the playoffs. We know what we are going up against next week, but this was a big win for us tonight."
The way you guys kept coming back from adversity with answer after answer ... how encouraging was that tonight?
"It was big. It's why you play all four quarters, and we knew this one was going to come down to the end. But, you can't let one bad play hurt you more than that one play. It was big for us to respond and get big plays, and to score points and get a win."
Why was that so different tonight that you were able to answer all those times?
"It was just the mindset we had. We came out and knew what we were going against. We made some big plays when we had to, and it just came down to execution. We trusted the play was going to work, and we went out and made it work. It was big for us."
As the weather deteriorated, you had to be confident in your ground game ...
"Absolutely. We've been able to run the ball really well here lately, and I think it comes down to us being physical up front and our backs doing a good job."
The defense also was super ...
"Yes. Whenever we needed a stop, they got it. Hats off to them; it was a great job by them tonight."
You practice against that secondary every day, and they are pretty solid back there and have a lot of depth. Talk about them ...
"We've got experience and we've got some young guys as well. You saw what Dre (Kirkpatrick) was able to do with two big interceptions. That was big for us. Our defense has done a really good job for us."
When you saw the match-up of Giovanni Bernard on their middle linebacker, what were you thinking?
"It was big. He was able to get across the field, and he got a stiff arm and was able to break it. Great play by him."
On his fumble ..
"It was just one of those things where I was just fighting momentum. My whole life, I've been coached just to go with it, in situations like that. I was just leaning (one) way and he was going the other way, and obviously with the way physics works, it's not going to be good for you. I just have to learn to cover the ball up. Sometimes you've got to go down and not fight for extra yards."
You showed a lot of emotion at times tonight. Was this game emotional for you?
"Definitely. Especially with the way we've been performing in prime-time situations, I just knew that somebody had to ignite the team, somebody had to inspire everyone else. If that had to be me, then so be it. I'm just a guy who plays with a lot of emotion. Guys tapped me early on in the game and said, 'We need you.' I tried to respond and help out the team."
Did you know when you went over 1000 yards?
"No, I did not know. That's a great thing too. The offensive line has done a great job blocking. You can go back and watch the film, and it's just big holes, big creases and they're getting a lot of push."
Does it mean something to you to hit that mark?
"Most definitely. It's not something I'll think about right now, but after the season I'll look back on it and really appreciate. Not too many people have gone over 1000 (yards) in their rookie year, especially in the role I've been in. It's really been a blessing."
On beating Peyton Manning ...
"It feels good We're not really worried about the fact that it was him, we're just glad we won. We needed this game. We really didn't want to go into next week having to fight for a playoff spot. Now we go into next week still fighting for the division. It feels great. Obviously, with it being Peyton Manning, it encourages you. He's one of the best — him, (Tom) Brady and (Aaron) Rodgers. And we've got a tough quarterback next week that lit us up for like 500 yards."
Is this a major confidence-builder going into Pittsburgh?
"Definitely. Monday night, everyone was watching, a lot at stake. It kind of had a playoff atmosphere, a win-or-go-home atmosphere. Through the ups and downs, guys just kept battling. They hit a big play, then we'd hit a big play. It's very encouraging and guys are happy about it."
How tough was it to keep your composure after the Jeremy Hill fumble?
"We were moving the ball so well that it was almost kind of like, 'They were lucky.' That was kind of our reaction. 'It's OK, we've got one more shot.' I thought our attitude was great. When they went down and returned that kickoff and scored, numerous guys said, 'It doesn't matter, we've got the ball now. We'll go down and answer.' "
In the past, you guys haven't responded to adversity like you did tonight. What was different tonight?
"We just have a new attitude. The running game has really sparked kind of a feistiness, a will to make something happen for us. At times, we haven't had that, for whatever reason. When you start to be able to run the football like this, you open up a lot of other things. If we continue to run it like this, teams are going to have to try and take that away eventually. Then we'll get matchups on the edge (with receivers)."
You guys seemed to control the game on the ground ...
"That kind of got started for us last week a little bit. We went up to Cleveland and ran the ball well, and we knew we were going to have to take that same attitude into this game. It's a mindset. We had our mind made up before we went into it, and we went out there and played well enough to win."
You guys seemed to have an immediate answer to adversity on more than one occasion tonight ...
"Absolutely. We talk about poise all the time around this team. We showed a little bit of poise tonight, weathered the storm and came out on the right end of it."
A lot of commentators are talking about how the Bengals delivered in a prime time game after this win ...
"A lot of people weren't expecting it. I heard before the game they moved our game Sunday (against Pittsburgh) to a late night game because they don't have much confidence in us. We take that as a slap in the fact and it's up to us to — I'm not going to say prove anybody wrong because we put the work in all week and we know what we're capable of doing — it's just a matter of going out and doing it."
What was the key to defending Peyton Manning?
"Getting to him. Getting to him and hitting him. If you let a guy like that settle his feet — you see he's been doing it his whole career — he's going to make some big plays. We just stayed on him and stayed on him and stayed on him and stayed on him — I'm not sure how many times we hit him or sacked him — but it was enough to cause disruption and give our guys on the back end times to make plays."
You intercepted him as a team three times in just the third quarter ...
"That's probably the first time that's happened to him in his career. But again, the guys on the back end did an outstanding job. Not just in the fourth quarter, but all day. They've got big receivers; they're going to make plays. We get that. But it's up to us to limit those plays and that's what we did."
Ten wins, you're back in the playoffs and you play for another division crown on Sunday ...
"Wouldn't want it any other way, you know? It's always good to be playing meaningful football in December. We put the work in from training camp to now and to see it all paying off, it kind of makes it all worthwhile."
Did you feel anything different going into the game?
"It was a playoff atmosphere. The crowd was amazing. Shout out to all our fans and even Denver fans that showed up. They sat through in the rain — I believe it started raining at the end of the second quarter, I want to say — and they sat through it cheering us on and that energy, man it felt good. It was electrifying and we played off of it."
How frustrating is it to be injured and want to be able to play and not be able to?
"Tough, man. Things happen ... I got a helmet to the bicep. That's about it."
Did you have a MRI to make sure there's no damage to your arm?
"Yeah. There was no fracture. It was fine ... They just x-rayed it."
Did it just stiffen up? Why'd they take you out the game?
"Yeah, yeah. I couldn't move it."
Were you out there as a decoy after you got injured or were you a legitimate target?
"I was just trying to fight through it, man and just go whenever they needed me."
So basically you had a dead arm? You couldn't lift over your head or anything, right?
If you had to play Sunday, do you think you could play right now?
"Yeah, I think I'll be fine ... It's a little bruised right now."
What was it like coming into the game tonight for you guys as a team?
"Coming in the game, nobody believed in us except for the guys in the locker room. I take my hat off to the guys in the locker room, the coaches, people upstairs (in the front office) and the city. This is a good win for the city. Everyone's (been) talking about what we can't do at night time and this and that ... It worked out for us today. We played good and it showed the growth of the team and everybody kept their head down and worked."
You had a big kick return after Denver had one to start the second half. Was that kind of like a counterpunch?
"Every time I get back there, my mindset is to score or make a big play — you know me. Every time I'm back there, I'm trying to score. It don't matter if they had a big play or not. But we dialed that one up and take my hat off to the 10 guys up front. Cedric Peerman had an unbelievable block up front and Marquis Flowers ... Those guys did good."
How much does this win help you guys' confidence going into a division showdown with the Steelers next Sunday?
"A lot, you know, knowing that we're definitely in the playoffs, knowing that we could at least be second place. If you don't have confidence after this, you might as well stop playing this damn game. It's hard to win like this late in the season against good teams; this was a playoff game. I hope we can take this momentum, learn from the mistakes but we've got to enjoy the moment so we can know what it feels like when it comes back around again."
What did you read that helped you on the first interception?
"Man, I just played leverage. We were in a man-to-man, so I saw Peyton give him a signal, so I kind of knew that he was coming my way, but I just played my technique and everything fell my way."
What about the second interception?
"The second one was just the same (thing). I just pretty much played my technique and pretty much saw the plays all week. I just — my coach (Bengals Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph) just told me 'Go outside — go out there and stay outside' when we were in that certain coverage and that's just what I did; the ball just fell in my hands."
It seemed like Thomas had some different release tonight at the line of scrimmage because of your height ...
"I don't know, but I know him. We hang out — he's a good friend of mine in the offseason — so I'm kind of familiar with his body and as I said, I just played outside leverage. All his releases on those situations were outside and by me being outside already, it kind of made it kind of difficult for him."
It seemed like your route recognition was key to both interceptions ...
"On the second one, I kind of looked through him and I saw Peyton kind of getting pressured and rolling out and like I said, I just tried to stay outside on coverage and the ball just fell in my hands."
Defensively, the pressure was tremendous — you guys hit him a lot.
"Like I said, a big credit goes to the guys up front (on our defensive line). They go out every week and work hard during the week in practice and like I said, we've just got to keep grinding because it's starting to show up in the game."
You've had three interceptions in two games ...
"I'm just blessed and (have) great technique. That's all I can say. Coach works on me daily with it. He always reminds me about my technique and that's what I went out there to do — play with great technique and trust the man above."
The Broncos got hot in the third quarter — what changed in the fourth?
"We just said 'We're not going to be beat' and I think as a secondary, we did good at keeping our poise. We just didn't want to give the game away period because they've been down numerous times and came back on teams like Miami and numerous teams, so I think we did a good job. And the defensive line did a good job at getting pressure on them."
What about the play of Dre Kirkpatrick tonight?
"We need everybody, man. Our young guys just kept stepping up and making plays. He's been making plays for the past couple weeks. We need our secondary and our young dudes. Anybody can go in and play at any moment.'
The defensive seems to be coming on strong at the end of the season — what has led to the increased pressure and turnovers?
"Early in the season, we were just getting the ball ran down our throat and I think the D-line took that to heart and they've been doing a good job at getting the run stopped and letting the secondary work and just getting cover sacks for them."
A lot's been made about this team not playing well and "stepping up" in prime time. Did you guys talk about that coming into this week and if so, how did that affect your preparation?
"I mean, we never talked about that. It's a game and we knew that we hadn't won many around here, so we definitely wanted to get that under our belt and put that beside us."
BRONCOS POSTGAME QUOTES
Initial comments ...
"T.J. Ward left the game with a neck injury and didn't return. He'll be evaluated when we get back to Denver."
Did he have a concussion?
"No. It's not concussion-related. It was his neck."
Did he lose feeling at all?
"He was moving around fine in the locker room. We'll evaluate him in depth when we return to Denver."
It seems like you opened up the passing game a little in the second half. Did the rain interfere with the game plan?
"We were behind 20-7 heading into the half. We came out and scored on three straight possessions, but then we had a few turnovers. The kicking game — as far as coverage — kind of broke down. I think we gave up nearly 200 return yards, which didn't help our cause. We didn't play well enough in all three phases. They busted off a big run early, and when you play a good football team, especially this time of year, you have to play better."
Did you see the facemask on the Demaryius Thomas' penalty?
"We didn't have a great view from the sideline, so I really can't comment."
You have a chance for the No. 2 seed ...
"I told the guys a long time ago that it really doesn't matter where you start, but where you finish. We had a set-back tonight that we'll learn from. We'll go home and get ready for the Raiders next week."
Peyton Manning seemed to be a little inconsistent ...
"I don't want to evaluate him in front of the media. The Denver Broncos didn't play well enough to win the game."
You played well in the third quarter. Can you tell me what was going well and what changed?
"I think our execution got a little better in the third quarter. We were able to put together some first downs, second downs — back to first downs. We had a lot of three-and-outs early in the game and we never got into much of a flow. Give them a lot of credit. They out-executed us there. In the third quarter, Omar's (Bolden) kick return gave us some momentum and we were able to capitalize. We had two good drives after that. Obviously, in the fourth quarter, I made some bad throws and they really put us in a bind."
Can you tell us what happened on the pick-six?
"It was a bad throw. Their guy had good coverage. I had a little route to D.T. (Demaryius Thomas), their guy covered it well and I shouldn't have thrown it to him. I probably had Emmanuel (Sanders) open over the middle, and I might have even had Julius (Thomas) — I think his guy may have fallen down. I definitely picked the wrong guy to throw to."
Do you think the rain had an effect on the turnovers?
"I can't necessarily say that. I can't necessarily say that."
How would you rate your night, good or bad?
"It wasn't good. With four interceptions, you're not going to beat many good football teams. We did some good things in the third quarter. We gave ourselves a chance and we had the lead in the fourth. The field position wasn't very good, and we couldn't flip it. Of course, turning it over at the end for the touchdown put them up two scores. That's definitely a throw you can't make in that situation."
Are you OK physically?
You didn't have any problem with the leg?
You still have a shot at the two seed. How do you bounce back?
"Well, we have to. We have no choice. We have to find a way to learn from this and correct the mistakes throughout and find a way to play better next week and try to get a win against a division team. That's all you can do. It's disappointing. We had an opportunity to win this game tonight. We would have preferred that. We have another opportunity next week and that's all we can do is put this one behind us after we learn from it and try to get a win next week."
What is the one thing that you will take from this game to help guys improve next week?
"We just have to be more consistent for four quarters. You can't play well the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third quarter — not play well in the first and not play well in the fourth. Against good football teams, you have to be more consistent and I have to play better as well."
You were able to score some points after halftime, but it didn't work out for you in the fourth quarter ...
"We came out after halftime and put some points on the board, actually took the lead. Like you said — the fourth quarter, it just didn't work for us. We had opportunities, but we didn't take advantage of them. A couple of the passes that got picked off, I think I could've done a better job of trying to knock it down or trying to look after my quarterback. The two picks — the one at the end — that really hurt, so I could've done a better job of just trying to take care of him."
In the first half, why were you guys not able to get anything going offensively?
"We just played terrible. We've got to get better, watch tape, get better next week."
In the third quarter, you bounced back and scored some points ...
"We played terrible. We've got to get better, look at the tape and get ready for next week."
There is a lot on the line for you next week ...
"We just played terrible tonight. All we can do is try to get better next week."
Any talk in the locker room after the game?
"We played terrible. Got to get ready for next week."
Were you surprised by the personal foul called on Demaryius Thomas?
"(We) just played terrible. We've got to get better. Got to play next week."
The last four games, your defense was dominant. What changed tonight?
"I would say a lot more errors. There are lessons that we can learn from on how we need to play. So we have to go back to the drawing board and work on fundamentals. ... Learn the personnel and just go from there."
You stepped up for a while when the offense was struggling ...
"At the end of the day, we've got to be able to close out better. There are no excuses. So we have to play better next week."
CHRIS HARRIS JR.
How tough was the 85-yard touchdown run by Bengals RB Jeremy Hill?
"That was just a big play by him. We've got to try to get him down before he breaks. He ended up breaking. That's something we try to eliminate every week — big plays from the run game. We didn't fit it right, and he ended up breaking on it."
You've got to bounce back quickly next week ...
"Oh yeah. It's a rivalry game versus the Raiders. We want to finish off strong. We know that they're going to try to come in and spoil our run right now — try to take us from getting a first-round bye. We know we still have a chance to get that, so we know that this game is huge."