Initial Comments ...
"I would say it was a good job winning the football game. The game didn't unfold the way I wanted, or expected. But, give them credit for doing a good job. We kept overcoming ourselves today, and obviously there at the end, it was a good (play) by Carlos (Dunlap) with the return.
"That is what happens. Everybody plays their tails off to win, and today we made plays when we needed it to down the stretch. The offense had moments where we drove the ball — seems like the length of the field a couple of times — and other times, it seemed like we couldn't get out of our own way. We have to look at that and get better. The same thing defensively — we allowed some third downs and some completions that we can do better, I'm sure. Then we had the fumble on special teams and the fumble on offense. We can't have the turnovers like that."
Joe slipping again; is that a cleat issue?
"I think he gets moving so quick, and just like he can make people miss, he lost his footing there."
When you have games like this, what is your take about the offense? Is it regression?
"I can't tell you. If I give you an answer, it will be better tomorrow (after watching the game on video) than I can give what I can say today."
How did you expect the game to unfold?
"Well I wanted us to come out and do a better job of executing from the start. I thought defensively we got off to a good start. Offensively, we got off to a good start there, but we don't put the ball in the end zone. That is what I want. I want to score touchdowns, and I thought we had opportunities to put more points on the board early in the football game, and we didn't get it done. We had the blocked field goal and those things. We stalled the ball at the 12-yard line, the 10-yard line, early in the game. That is what I can recall right now, and that is what I didn't want. I wanted us to exhort ourselves and put ourselves in good position right away in the game."
Isn't a win a win though?
"It all counts. There is no question about that. There were things that led us to winning the game — winning the fourth quarter (for example). Despite the two tight end catches there on the final drive, we were able to get them stopped on fourth down. We came up with the big sack, and (it forced them to have to convert a longer third down)."
How often do guys like Carlos practice the tip drill?
"(Laughs) Sometimes way too much — more than we want."
What do you mean by that?
"Earlier in the game, we were running a pass-rush stunt, and he stopped and jumped. I was like, 'Carlos, rush (the passer).' He was like, 'you're right.' And I said, 'I know I am right.' I see it. That is the thing — it obviously was a big play that happened just the way we wanted. If you are rushing and you raise your hands, when you are six-foot-six, you have the opportunity to affect the football. It was a big play by him, no question. The ability to return it — he could show Joe (Mixon) how to get in the end zone there (with those) last five yards (laughs). Just pick up your feet."
Coming into the season, Dunlap has more batted passes than any other edge defender in the last few years. What do you attribute that do? It is a height thing?
"He's got good range. It is also a timing thing. There are certain guys that have a knack for that."
On the challenge you won, did you see it or did you get help from upstairs?
"I get help from upstairs, but our (score) board was way slow today, and that is what I am looking to try to see there (from the field). I just got it (the red flag) out there at the last second. Upstairs has to get a replay from television, and they didn't get a replay from television. So I was kind of stuck, just (watching) our board."
So you just saw it at the last minute?
"The last millisecond."
What specific one or two areas can we realistically expect improvement over the second part of the year?
"Wow. I don't know if I can answer the question in the time we have here. We have to improve in a lot of areas. But, that is no different from any other season. If you ask me that in the last 14 seasons, I would tell you the same thing. We have a lot of areas to improve in."
Is there one area you are demanding ...
"I would never tell you."
Your quarterback was under duress today. How do you think he responded?
"We had some issues in there today."
The defensive line in the fourth quarter, does that speak to the depth you have — the ability to make play after play when you really needed it?
"It's hard for me (to know without seeing the video from the game). I think we made some plays. I don't know who was in there (or) who made them. That was good change-the-field position we had there with the defense."
How do you thing Andy Dalton hung in there? It looked like he made some plays?
"The touchdown throw to Josh (Malone) — we had an unblocked guy coming in (to pressure Dalton), and (Josh) beat the coverage ... (Andy) was able to hang in there and make the throw to Josh for the touchdown. Obviously they didn't have enough to cover and we didn't have enough to block. He was able to hang in there and make the throw, and that was big. It was a big play in the game."
Tight end Jack Doyle made a lot of big catches for the Colts. What were they doing to make that successful?
"I have no idea. As long as 13 (Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton) isn't catching them, we are in pretty good shape. I would trade that any day."
There weren't many stats for WR John Ross. Was that the plan coming in, or was it how the game developed?
"John got to dress today because I chose to suit him up, and Cody (Core) couldn't go. He'll continue to practice and get an opportunity as it goes. But he was not part of the plan going into the game."
It seemed like things would go, and then kind of stop and start. What is your overall view on what you did as a unit today?
"Like you said, there were some ups and downs. They did some things that were a little different than what we had prepared for. At that point, you've got to adjust. With that, it's kind of how the game goes. Obviously at the end of the game the defense stepped up and made a big play to help seal it and get the win. Carlos, with the big interception for a touchdown, was huge. It's not always going to be pretty, but a win's a win."
On the touchdown pass to (Josh) Malone, the guy had a free shot at you. It didn't look like anyone picked him up. What was going through your mind at that point?
"I wanted Josh to get to the ball at that point."
Did you think he could reach it? I don't think you could take a step, right?
"I tried to do the best I could, and it was enough. Josh made a good catch. It worked."
Did you think the throw was going to get there?
"I was hoping it was. It was one of those things where you throw the ball in the air and you're like, 'Come on, come on.' And he made the play. It was a great play call for that situation. We had the look that we wanted."
What was the play call?
"It was just a post. He ran a good route and got open."
He was pretty wide open, wasn't he?
"He was. Like I said, he ran a good route. It was a good call for that situation."
Was it a trust factor on that one? I know the look was there, but did you just trust that you'd throw it and he'd run under it?
"At that point, once the ball is in the air, you've got to adjust. And he did. He made a good play."
After seeing Carlos' play tipping the ball to himself, do you lobby at all with Marvin Lewis to try and get him on offense?
"I'm sure he would try to lobby to get himself on offense (laughs). I think he does a great job at defensive end."
For a defensive lineman to do what he did — tip the ball, catch it and then run 17 yards without tripping — is he a really good athlete as well as a player?
"Yeah, he's a really good athlete. It's not the first time that he's done that. He does a great job of getting his hands up. He's so big, and he's got long arms. For him to be able to bat the ball up in the air and then make the play, and then run after the catch, that's an athletic play."
On the 12-yard run you had, you looked like you were moving pretty fast. Is that something you enjoy doing and would you like to do that more if you could?
"I'll let the other guys do the running, and I'll run when I have to."
Are you healthy?
"Yeah, I'm good."
On the snap before, Trey (Hopkins) had gotten hurt, and then they came up the middle with pressure. With a new guy in for Hopkins, was it tough to adjust to what they were doing?
"I don't really know what happened on that one. I just know I got pressure right up the middle. We can't let that happen."
Do you ever remember getting as much pressure as today?
"There's been different games — different flows to different games. We were able to overcome it. That's what it comes down to."
Joe Mixon showed a lot of what he's got with that screen pass ...
"He did. He's just got to score. That would have been a little bit better."
On the throw to A.J. Green for the touchdown, it looked they basically left him one-on-one ...
"At that point, everybody's got different plans for when they get down into the red zone. We were able to get behind them and he was open, so it was a great play."
Special teams had a couple fumbles and you guys struggled from time-to-time offensively and defensively. But in the end, is getting the win ultimately what you take away from today's game?
"Absolutely. You've got to win by one, and we were able to do that. We'll be able to look at the tape and see what we've got to do better. At the end of the day we got a win, and that's all that matters."
Is there anything you want to tell fans for the second part of the season?
"We've got a lot in front of us, and we have to use this as momentum to keep it going and find ways to win. If we do that, we'll put ourselves right back in this thing."
What happened on your interception return for a touchdown?
"We were ready for the quick throw because they were scared of our rush. We've got great pass rushers, so I tried to do the next best thing. Obviously I would love to rush. But when I see an opportunity to get my hands up and get them on the ball, I want to capitalize."
The Colts haven't turned the ball over much this season, but for you to get one at that time in the game made the difference ...
"(Jacoby Brissett) is known for holding onto the ball and not taking sacks. I just saw an opportunity and jumped on it."
When you deflected the ball, what was going through your head?
"I just wanted to make sure I caught it before I ran with it. I wanted to make sure I looked it all the way in and finish the play."
Every week the defense talks about the importance of turnovers. How did the sideline react to your big play?
"The sideline exploded. Everybody tackled me in the end zone. It was a great moment to spend with my guys. We worked all week. We know if the defense scores or special teams blocks a kick, the percentage to win goes up. I saw a moment and jumped on it."
The defense made a big stand at the end of the game. What happened on that last drive?
"We've got a whole slew of pass rushers at any moment, and any one of us can come free. Chris (Smith) saw his moment and jumped on it. Paul (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther) always talks about having closers, and I feel like I'm a great closer. So I have to capitalize on plays to close out the game. I said that to Chris before the play. It was all smiles after that."
It seems the pass rush was effective most of the day. Would you agree?
"That was a great way to close the game. The best play in football is when the quarterback takes a knee. On defense, we always want to get it back to them so we can see that executed, and we'll come in here all smiles."
What did you see on the long screen pass you had in the first half?
"Coach called a great play, and the linemen executed and the receivers executed. I was a little short of finishing, but it worked."
What were you thinking when you hit the 20-yard line?
"Man, I thought it was touchdown. I came up a little short, but hopefully next week I can bounce back."
The running game seems like it's still a work in progress. Is this going to take a little more work?
"Yeah, we're still working on it. At the same time, we're going to continue to get better and keep pounding. That's all we're going to do."
Did the Colts show anything defensively that you weren't expecting?
"Not too much. The only thing I'll say is they brought a lot of blitzes."
It seems like you've improved a lot in pass protection. Is that something you feel you've improved?
"We've got to protect Andy Dalton. There are 96 million reasons."
What was the sideline like when Dunlap returned that interception late?
"It was a big play for Carlos. He made a hell of a play. We're always hyped for him."
It seemed like it was a crazy game on special teams...
"Yeah, from my standpoint I had a pretty good return, and then I muffed a punt. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We just have to eliminate those plays. Those are big swings, but luckily the defense stepped up and they only got three points out of it. Those are the plays you want back."
How big was the blocked punt by Jordan Willis?
"It was big. Any time you get the momentum plays like that, those are huge."
Did the Colts do anything differently, as far as special teams?
"Their kickoff team is difficult with the motions they do. But we knew what to expect, and they played the way we expected them to."
How did your first career touchdown feel?
"It felt amazing. Scoring your first career touchdown in an official NFL game is amazing and a dream come true."
How are you going to celebrate such a huge moment?
"I'll probably celebrate it with my family. My family came up to see this game, so I'll spend time with them and enjoy time with them."
How special was it to make a play with your family in the stands?
"It was really special to get the opportunity to have them see me play at this level, and then I go out and have my first touchdown catch. It's amazing and a moment I'll never forget."
You aren't at all surprised at how well your team's defense played today, are you?
"That defense has been good for a long time. In the 7 years I've been here, we've always had a good defense. We need them to bail us out (sometimes) and they did (today)."
You saw Carlos Dunlap score a touchdown in high school, right? You were on special teams, but you weren't on the field for today's touchdown ...
"Yeah, it's special. But you've got to know that Carlos never beat us in anything — just a side note (laughs). But he's a freak. Carlos is a freak of a talent with how big he is and how fast he is. We needed that (today)."
You had the game against Green Bay earlier this year where the offense played well and you didn't win. Today, the offense was a little ugly but you did win ...
"Right. That's all that matters. If you can play bad and still come out with a 'W,' we'll take that. We know that we left a lot of plays out there. There shouldn't have been plays like that."
The offense obviously isn't happy needing the defense to pick up any slack, but I'm sure you guys were thankful they did ...
"It's like I said man, that's why there's two sides of the ball. We have a great defense. Carlos made a heck of a play, getting that and returning it for a touchdown. But as an offense, we've got to do better in protecting Andy (Dalton). We can't have him taking shots like that every week."
This seemed like a team you could have taken advantage of on offense, given their defensive rankings on paper ...
"Those numbers really don't matter. They're all NFL players. They all have pride. I'm pretty sure they're looking at the same stats of ours and thinking the same thing. We missed some opportunities out there, like I said. We can't have Andy getting hit like that; we've got to do a better job with that."
Just how big was Dunlap's interception for a touchdown?
"Huge. Huge. Before that series, we were telling each other, 'We're going to have to score. We're going to obviously have to get the ball back to the offense in good field position.' We always tell Carlos, 'Stop jumping. Stop jumping. Stop jumping — go rush the quarterback.' And now we can tell him to keep jumping, I guess."
You guys all just kind of jumped on him after he scored ...
"He wanted to celebrate, and I know what he wanted to do — he wanted to use the field goal post. And I was just grabbing him like, 'No, you're not getting up, you're not getting up.' And he was like, 'Let me go, let me go — I'm trying to go celebrate!' I knew what he was going to do, and we didn't need it at that time, so I held him to the ground before we could get him to the sideline."
Before that series, the game didn't look that great ...
"No it didn't, but we've got so many leaders on defense (that remind us to) keep our head down and just get a three-and-out. We kept telling each other 'This is the time we need to pull the game out' and the offense was struggling today, so we just figured we need to boost it up and obviously get the ball back or get a score."
It seemed like you guys were OK if Colts TE Jack Doyle had his catches, as long as Colts WR T.Y. Hilton did not ...
"Yeah — we just knew we needed to stop (No.) 13. That was the guy we were more concerned about. No. 25 (Marlon Mack) is pretty good too, but he wasn't going to beat us."
What happened on the screen pass to Mack for the touchdown?
"It was just a good play call. We were in some type of coverage where obviously only one guy has the running back, and they got two on one blocker, and obviously, it was a score. I guess we could have played the coverage better. But it was a good play call for them. The good thing for us is we went to the sideline, corrected it, and it won't happen again."
You were very excited for Dunlap on his INT return ...
"If you ask him, he'll tell you I called it. I said 'Carlos, you've got to get a pick-six.' Where it came from, I don't know. I was like, 'We've got to get a turnover. They're not throwing the ball outside, and somebody's got to make a play.' I told Carlos 'Get your hands up, boy — you're about to get a pick-six.'
"It was right before (the play), in the time you go from the huddle to the line (of scrimmage). I just had told him that. I try to encourage everybody. That's why we were tackling him and wouldn't let him up. Man, God is good. God is good, because we needed that."
You showed some toughness today; when your arm got rolled up on. It looked pretty bad ...
"Yeah, I've been going through that all season — shoulder problems. But at the end of the day, if it ain't broke or it ain't out of place, I'm going to continue to go because I want to go out there and do everything I can for this team, no matter what. Playing football, you've got to put your body through certain things, and I just felt like I want to stay out there. No matter if I have to skip reps to whatever, I wanted to be out there today."
Since you're 1-for-1 on predictions, did you have any others today?
"No, I just take it one day at a time. Next week, we've got Jacksonville, and they're a tough opponent. I don't want to look ahead; I just feel like we've got to go out there and stay focused."
When did you realize the pass over-the-middle to Jack Doyle was incomplete, before it was challenged and overturned?
"I heard the crowd. I heard the crowd, but I kind of got my hand on it a little bit to distract him. I should have picked it. I felt it, I saw it, but I didn't want him to whip out on me and be the guy who was greedy and cost the team anything, so I just played my technique. Not to say it was a great play by me; I just felt like I was in the right position to distract him."
How much of a relief was it after Carlos' big play, since it seemed like the defense was waiting on one all day?
"I had talked to Carlos all week, and I felt like this is midseason; this is where we have to make our turning point. 'Big-time players make big time plays' is an old saying, but we struggled a little bit through it and we knew we needed an opportunity and that we were going to get an opportunity. That's one thing about it: Offense helps us, and we help the offense sometimes. We work together as a team."
You guys got sacks on the opening drive and then didn't really get any again until late in the game. Did the Colts change up the way they were protecting Jacoby Brissett?
"A little bit. Coach has an old saying: 'What we watch on film is how they're going to turn it, but at the end of the day, we don't have no contract with them' We got them more in third-and-long situations — that's when we could really tee off as a defensive line."
Do you come out of this game saying "A win is a win" — it doesn't really matter how it looks?
"At the end of the day, it's the NFL. They get paid, too. It's a new team each week, and what you saw last week might not be the team you get this week. That's one thing about it — we have to come in and play each and every play and take one play at a time, and we were victorious today."
COLTS POSTGAME QUOTES
OCT. 29, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS AT CINCINNATI
Initial Comments ...
"We had a really good week of preparation. Because of how we worked and responded, it gave us a chance to come down here and win. We did a lot of good things in this football game but came up short again. We have to keep working. The defense played a heck of a game. We got pressure on the quarterback, we stopped the run. We had a couple of hiccups here and there; we didn't get off the field on a third down and then gave up a big screen. We stopped the run. We limited A.J. Green, who's a great talent. Offensively, we ran the ball well with 28 rushing attempts. We had 25 completions. It was a good combination of rushing attempts and completions. Obviously there are things we have to get better at. We have to work on eliminating big plays. The guy (Carlos Dunlap) made a heck of a play down there. That's usually what it comes down to. We gave great effort for 60 minutes, but sometimes it just doesn't work out."
What could have been done to prevent the pick-six?
"You have to be firmer. He's a big long dude. If you're not solid at the point of attack and there's any push under the center or gun, there's a 6-foot-9 guy sitting there. You have to be solid there and try to get guys hands down."
What explanation did you get on the challenge with the fumble?
"He said he didn't have his second foot in."
What take-away do you get from this?
"We came up short. It's like anything else; you go back to work. We'll keep looking for answers, the same thing we did last week. We'll look at how to eliminate a couple plays here and there. Special teams got off to a rough start but rebounded. We gave up a block, gave up a return, but then responded. Then we forced a turnover. We have to score touchdowns. We had to settle, we were one of four. We had opportunities, but there were plays to be had down the field. We had a big one down to T.Y. (Hilton) that we could have executed better."
Are the wide receivers helping Jacoby?
"It takes all eleven. Guys are doing their job and playing hard. We just have to make plays."
What do you say to the team after this?
"The way they responded after the Jacksonville game, they came in and worked. We have to do it again. You stay together and work and fight. You sign up for 16 of these. If you play well enough, and win enough games, you get to play some more. We fought, we played our tails off, but came up short. They made just one more play than we did. It happens. Unfortunately, we didn't get the job done. Now we go back to work."
What did you see on the fourth down?
"We had leverage on the guy, but they had some pressure on twists up front. He got hit right as he threw it, and the ball sailed on him. It was a missed opportunity. Again, it takes all eleven, every play. It comes from protection, route running, blocking, throwing, all of the stuff. Credit Cincinnati, they're fighting for the same thing we were; trying to get a third victory. Coach Lewis had his team ready to go, and it was a hard fought battle. Credit those guys, they made just enough plays to get out of there with a win."
What went behind the decision to replace Le'Raven Clark with Kyle Kalis?
"He played in practice with the first unit. We wanted to get him some reps there."
Any update on Andrew Luck?
"I don't know."
Can you put a finger on the ability to not make that one extra play?
"No. We have to keep looking and searching. That's the simple answer; I can't put my finger on anything. We'll keep going and keep working. As long as you do that, you'll give yourself a chance to compete. Whether it's at home or on the road, it gives you a chance to go deep into the fourth quarter and have a chance to win a game."
Does this feel like a recurring nightmare?
"That's how life is. That's how football is. You have to keep fighting. If you don't give up, it will turn. When that is, I don't have a crystal ball. But I know if you go the other way, I know what the outcome will be. That's not this team. They will never do that."
Was Vontae Davis expecting help on Josh Malone's touchdown?
"We got great pressure on the quarterback, the ball kind of fluttered back. I have to look at the tape."
With the interception, who was the target on that play?
"Outside, T.Y. (Hilton)."
What did you see with Carlos Dunlap — did you not see him drop?
"He just made a good play. He made a good play."
Did this feel like this probably was your best game both offensively and defensively, but sort of feel like a recurring nightmare at the end?
"No. Like you said, I think we played all three phases well today — still little key plays (matter) here and there. On the last play, you've just got to ... it's what the NFL is, man. They make plays, we make plays. Unfortunately we came up on the wrong end of it this time."
On that fourth-down play, I assume T.Y. Hilton was your target again, when the pressure came up the middle?
"There were a couple fourth downs. The last one?"
Your last play offensively ...
Were you trying to get the ball out of your hands quicker this week? It seemed like quicker passes ...
"Yeah. I was just doing what the defense gave us and letting our playmakers make the plays."
What was it about today finding TE Jack Doyle so often?
"Like I said, they gave us the opportunity to get him the ball. He made good plays. You know, he's a good player. He's going to be a part of the process of us winning."
On that Dunlap play, do you see the guy there and the odds are he's not going to be able to get his hands up that fast, or do you not even see him?
"No, it's just one of those freak plays. He's one of those freak athletes that make those plays, you know. He made it, but we still had a chance at the end."
Were you ever teammates with him in college?
You had it going with Jack Doyle today, but why do you think it was more difficult to hook up with your receivers?
"Just whatever the defense is giving us. There's only one ball — everybody understands that. Whoever has the opportunity to get the ball, you just got to make the play. We got a couple people involved today and made some plays."
What does this team need to do to finish games?
"Finish — that's what we've got to do."
How much did it happen having the run game? I think Frank Gore was five or six yards per carry ...
"It helped out a lot. It slowed them down a lot. Our O-line did a good job, and our backs made plays, and the receivers did a heck of a job downfield blocking and helping out a lot of those runs. It allowed us to open up a lot of other windows."
Was there a run/pass option on the play where Dunlap made the play?
It was a pass?
How do you hold off the frustration when the endings keep going the other way?
"The sun's going to come up tomorrow."
You did have a few drops today which you can't control. As a quarterback, do you address that in the huddle? Do you just move on?
"You've got to move on. The game goes by so fast you can't really harp on that. People know the key catches that we've got to have — the key throws we've got to have, everything. We're getting better, we've just got to make those critical plays in those critical situations."
What felt different for you out there today compared to other games?
"I don't know. The ball was finding me. That's the way it goes sometimes. I just try to catch the ball when it comes to me."
Another frustrating game ...
"Yes, it's very frustrating. It's tough. We'll keep working. That's all we can do."
Why do you think this team has trouble finishing games?
"I don't know. We work hard at practice. We just have to keep working. It's the way football goes. Sometimes things don't go your way."
How important is it for you guys to stay together as a team?
"I'm not worried about that. I know we will. We have the right guys in the locker room."
(inaudible question) ...
"We're not in the business of moral victories. It's not about being close. We have to find a way to win."
Three losses in a row. How can you stay positive?
"We're professionals. We'll come to work every day and put our best foot forward. We have to be better in all three phases."
How frustrating is it not to be able to finish games?
"It's tough. We have to find a way to close games, regardless of the situation."
How do you block out the outside noise and stay together as a group?
"It's not an issue. When you're on the field, you fight with the guys who are next to you. We have to be better individually and collectively as a team."
Any positives you can take away from this game?
"It's tough to lose. There's always positives and negatives you can take from a game, but the biggest factor is winning or losing, and we lost. It wasn't good enough."
How frustrating is this loss?
"It's frustrating. We played hard. We're a team who isn't afraid to play hard and be physical. We just couldn't put the game away."
Why do you think you haven't been able to finish games?
"I can't really put my finger on it. We played hard and played physical. We played with enthusiasm. We just need to close it out in the end."
How would you assess the defensive performance?
"The defense played hard and played physical. We got after it."
How important is it to stay together as a team?
"It's very important. If we make anything happen from this point forward, it will be as a team, and not as individuals."
What happened on the last play when you were trying to convert on fourth down?
"They just guessed right."
Why do you think you're unable to get over the hump?
"I don't know. We played really well, but it didn't go our way today."
You seemed to do everything well but you still couldn't finish ...
"We did everything right but we couldn't come up with a win."
Were you happy with your involvement today?
"Yeah. I didn't play really well, but we still had a chance to win the game. I need to make more plays and help us win."
With the trade deadline coming, do you want to be a Colt?
"Is that a question?"