There are a lot of extra things added on to this game. It's Monday Night Football. You're playing against Peyton and the Colts. They've been one of the best teams in the AFC the past couple years. You're playing in the dome. It's fun to play in domes. It's loud. You can spin the ball in there. There's no wind, no rain, and no snow. We have a chance to go to the playoffs. They're trying to win the division. There's a whole bunch of extra things on this game. Not that this game needs any extra hype, but there are a number of extra things going into this game. It's an exciting week. Today's only Thursday and you just can't wait until Monday.
Q: Was Peyton a role model for you?CP:
Yeah, as far as a player. He's somebody I've looked up to, watched, studied and admired. I've seen him play on tape, seen him play in person, and watched him play in college. He's been in the league for maybe 10 years and been the best for 6-7-8 of them. He's definitely somebody I look up to.
Q: What makes him so special?CP:
It's a number of things. He's a great leader. He understands the game inside and out, offensively and defensively. He's competitive. He knows how to win. He makes big plays, big plays under pressure and wins a lot of games. There are a number of things that makes him the best of the league.
Q: What does your defense expect from him?CP:
He's going to move the ball. When you play him, you don't shut him out. You don't take him out of the game. He's going to make his plays. He's going to make big throws. Defensively, you just can't get frustrated. Defensively, you've got to expect he's going to make a big play on third down when you think you've got him wrapped up or moving off the field. He's going to make a big long deep throw. He's going to make a throw that you just watch a couple times on the big screen and say 'wow'. You can't let it frustrate you. Our defense can trust our offense that if they do put a bunch of points up, we've got the defense's back and will do the same thing.
Q: Is your offense limited compared to their playbook?CP:
I have no idea. I have no idea what's in their playbook or how many plays they have. I know what we've got and what we do. He does a good job directing his offense and obviously has been effective. He's moved the ball a lot, scored a lot of points and won a lot of games.
Q: Does last week's barrage on their run defense change way you approach this week's game plan?CP:
It doesn't. They gave up a lot of big plays and got the ball run all over them. We've done the same thing. We've given up a lot of plays. We've had the ball run on us. Offensively, we've struggled to run the ball. We've struggled to pass the ball. You can't play your best football every single week. It's why teams don't go 16-0 any more. We're not changing our game plan. We're going to attack these guys the same way we've prepared to attack every team every week. Obviously, there's going to be some emphasis on the run game. We're expecting and leaning on Rudi to make big plays and move the ball for us. But we're still going to attack throwing the ball and with no-huddle in a bunch of different situations.
Q: If you had to have a three-interception day, was it good to get it out of the way against Oakland, in a game you still won?CP:
I don't ever want to throw three picks. I don't think that ever comes at a good time for me. It's just frustrating for me. If anything, it just illustrates you have to be perfect with the ball every single time. You can't have a mental lapse here or you can't an accuracy issue here or there, because teams and players in this league are good enough to take advantage of it. You just hope that you keep the multiple picks to a low, and hopefully it won't happen again.
Q: How much fun was it to be in a shootout against the Colts last year?CP:
It was fun. It's stressful, too. You feel like you've got something going when you score a couple times in a row and then they go up the field and score again. It's fun to play in a shootout, but it's a lot more fun to win it. It's stressful when you think you have to be perfect on every drive, because you know they're capable of being perfect on every drive.
Q: What does it mean to teams to have number two receivers like T.J. and Reggie Wayne?CP:
It's huge. You just named probably the two best No. 2 receivers in the league. They could play for a number of teams and be the No. 1. I'm sure Peyton is just as happy and feels just as fortunate as I do to have a guy like that be a No. 2. They have a Marvin Harrison and we have a Chad Johnson. When you take him away, we're both fortunate to have a guy on the other side who can beat you and win games for you and make big plays.
Q: What does T.J. do that most of the average people can't see?CP:
I think what he does is really easy to see for the average person. He's physical and fast. I compare him to a halfback when he gets to the open field because you don't tackle him with the first guy. When Rudi Johnson gets the ball on a check-down, you don't tackle him with the first guy. When Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai get the ball, it rarely happens. The same thing happens with T.J. He always seems to make a stutter move, or stiff arm somebody. Someone seems to have him wrapped up and he spins out of it and keeps going. T.J. is probably the best athlete on the field every time he gets on the field. He's not the fastest or the biggest, but I think he's more athletic than anyone else on the field and it shows. He can run too. He's a complete player.
Q: With what happened last year, do you guys get extremely pumped up for this game?CP:
I think we're all extremely pumped up for this game especially after what happened with this game last year. Anytime you see a team that gets the ball run on them in film, your eyes light up if you're an offensive lineman. When you see a team get outplayed physically, it lights you up. We consider ourselves a physical football team. We consider our offensive line and running back extremely physical. We like that situation.
Q: With things going good right now, why are you playing so well and what's working?CP:
What sticks out in my head is our defense has been playing great. They're getting turnovers, stopping people on third down and playing physical in the run game. I know offensively, that fires us up when they get a big stop on third down. Sam Adams had a big play on fourth and short last week. Those things get you fired up. I still think we're not playing to the best of our capabilities: offensively, defensively, and special teams. That's exciting because we have a long way to go and hopefully we keep winning. We are going to get better and better and hopefully get on a roll.
Q: Is this the best time to have that string of wins?CP:
Definitely, especially when you are in the spot we are in. When you're fighting from the bottom up and you get a couple wins in a row that are good, you hope that the momentum keeps rolling through the last three games.
Q: Do players look and see that you might be catching a team at the right time, maybe when they are vulnerable?CP:
A little bit. You obviously notice the rushing yards they've been giving up. This league is too good to count anybody out or walk into a game and say we're going to run the ball for 200 yards. Teams are too good, coaches are too good, schemes are too good and individual players are too good. You can get excited about seeing a couple stats and you can get fired up about that, but you still have to come out and play your best football because teams are too good.
Q: How much of an impact does the increase in offensive third-down numbers have?CP:
Anytime you can stay on the field, it obviously creates more points. I keep saying that we've just executed better. We struggled on third down earlier in the year. We've been better and we can play a lot better still. We've made some mistakes and I've made some mistakes on third down, but if you out execute the defense then you're going to stay on the field. When you stay on the field, your defense gets a chance to rest on the sidelines and you create more opportunities to score.
Q: Why is T.J. so good on third down?CP:
It's partly scheme. We have a good scheme trying to get him the ball. He always seems to make big plays. He's one of the best second receivers in the league. He does a good job of finding holes in the zone. He does a good job of beating man-to-man coverage. He's just a complete player.
Q: How much does the passing game define this team in terms of confidence of ability to make plays, get things going and get on a roll?CP:
Obviously, in the run game, we only have one guy that is making the big plays. In the passing game, you have T.J., Chad Johnson and Chris Henry. We also have Rudi, and Jeremi Johnson made a 20-yard play last week. Obviously we have more options in the passing game. We consider ourselves a running football team. We think we're one of the best in the league at that. Obviously the running game opens up the play action game and we do a lot of play action. We have a lot of playmakers who can catch the ball. Then we have a big, physical back in Rudi behind a big physical offensive line.
Q: Who did you vote for in the Heisman?CP:
I voted for my brother (Jordan Palmer), Troy Smith, and Darren McFadden.
Q: In what order?CP:
In that order. He was a long shot.