Dalton,Lewis News Conference Transcripts 12/3

Andy Dalton News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 3, 2014

How are you feeling?
    "A lot better. A lot better. Yeah, getting some rest has been nice."

You're 10-4 in December as a starting quarterback. What's the key to winning in December?
    "There's a lot you're playing for in December. December usually decides a lot of things, so that's when you've got to be playing well. We've got a big December this year. There's a lot going in, we're in a good spot, we're able to control everything. So we know the importance of these games. We've got three division games in December, so this is big. But I just think it's the end of the season, and you've got to know what you're playing for."

Do you think your success in December has gotten overlooked?
    "I'm not worried about that. At the end of the day, you do whatever you can to win games. We've got to continue to do that. We've got to play well this time of the year, because everybody knows this is the time that the team that gets hot is usually the one that wins it all."

What did you learn about yourself from last week's game battling through illness?
    "You've got to stay the course with everything, got to keep fighting. Obviously there were some things that happened that I wished didn't with some of the turnovers and things, but the team kept fighting, everybody had my back, so it was good to come out with a win in that one regardless how it happened."

Do you guys embrace the role of having the target on your back in the division?
    "Yeah, I mean, that's what happens when you win the division last year, and you're leading the division now. Everybody's going to be trying to get that spot. So we understand it, and because of what we've done so far, we've put ourselves in that position."

What does it say about the team that you've won some games you could have lost?
    "It shows a lot. At the end of the day, you're going to look back and see wins, that's all that really matters, and however you do it, it doesn't matter. For us to be able to fight out and last all four quarters and get wins in these games has been big."

How different are rivalry games like these with the Steelers?
    "These games are always really physical, so we understand that. We know that's how they're built, and that's how we're built. These are important games. Because it's a division game, because it's Pittsburgh, and because it's rivalry, everybody gets up for these and they're really physical games."

For a long time, Pittsburgh was like a bully in this rivalry, but that has changed the last few years, with beating them in 2012 and what you did last year. Do you feel you've flipped the script?
    "Yeah, I think that's what we've tried to do since I've gotten here, and I think we've done a good job of really turning things around. I don't know how everything was before, but anytime you play a division game it's important. When you play the Steelers, the Steelers -- they've won Super Bowls, they've been really good in this division for a long time, so you know what you're facing. For us to do, like you said, the thing in 2012, won the division last year, we're seeking all the same stuff."

Do you remember and reflect back on the game at Pittsburgh last year or have you put it behind you?
    "Yeah, I mean, obviously you want to go in there and get a win and all that kind of stuff. But it's a new year, it's a new team, things are different. It just goes down to that rivalry, and what kind of games you're going to be playing in."

The last few games there's been some confusion at the end of the first halves. What needs to go better to get points there?
    "We've got to do whatever you can to move the ball down the field. I think that the big thing is, obviously last week had the bad turnover. You've just got to find a way to have completions, get the ball moving and put yourself in position where you can get points."

You looked a little harried, could you have used a timeout there?
    "Yeah, you can go back and look at it and say we could have used a timeout. But I've got to get the ball out of bounds; it just didn't get there."

Any indecision that needs to be rectified in those situations?
    "I think we've got to be sharp in what we're doing. And so, understanding the situation, understanding what's going on -- I wouldn't necessarily say indecision, but in those situations, you've got to know what you're going to be getting and how you're going to execute it."

Dick LeBeau is known for throwing some new things at you each game...
    "Yeah, there's sometimes you'll see some new stuff. They do a good job of moving guys around, doing all their zone blitzes and stuff that they do. You've got to know where guys are going, and where they're moving to, and who's going to be coming. I think the protection's key, and understanding where you're going, and if there's going to be a guy free, understand who's going to be the free guy."

Their defense is in transition with some young guys this season ...
    "Yeah, there's a couple different guys in there playing than they have in the past. They're trying to bring these young guys in and teach them the system and everything. You definitely see the speed that they have."

Giovani Bernard caught a lot of passes early in the season, but not so many lately. Are defenses keying on that?
    "I wouldn't necessarily say it's the way the defenses are playing him. I think some of the stuff that's been called just hasn't been necessarily for him, and other guys have been in there getting shots. I wouldn't necessarily say it's that defenses are playing him differently."

You and Gio had some improv plays early in the season for big plays. How does that change the dynamic?
    "Yeah, it's good. Sometimes when things break down is when you hit big plays. You can see the game last year when we played Pittsburgh, we were able to throw a check-down, and he was able to take it for a touchdown. He's one of those players that it doesn't always have to be right, just get it to him and he can make things happen when he's got it."

You threw some accurate passes in tight space in the third quarter in Tampa. What changed after halftime for you?
    "I just got into a rhythm and things were going well, I had good looks, and I was just hitting throws. That's what it comes down to. You've got to keep doing that."

What impresses you about Ben Roethlisberger?
    "Just talking about the improv stuff -- that's what he's made his career on. He's done so well, he's playing really well this year, and I think that's one of the big things you see from him, you can have free guys running on him all the time, but he's making guys miss and making plays down the field."

Talk about fans giving to the Marines for the Toys for Tots drive...
    "This time of year with the holidays and Christmas and everything, there's a lot of people that want to give. It's a season of giving. Hopefully everybody sees that, and wants to be involved, and wants to help people out. There's a lot of people in need. If you can give in any kind of way, that's big."

Have you talked in the locker room this week about what happened to Kevin Huber against Pittsburgh last year?
    "We haven't talked about it. There are a couple guys that weren't here last year, you kind of told them what happened. But we really haven't talked about it."

Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 3, 2014

Initial comments...
    "You can't begin talking about the Steelers without talking about Ben Roethlisberger and how good he's playing this year. We're going to have to play very, very well with his ability to control their offense at the line of scrimmage. Their running back (Le'Veon) Bell has played extremely well, already over 1000 yards this year. Both running and receiving he's playing at a very, very high level, and then Antonio Brown, so all three guys are at the top of the league offensively. They've got the young receiver in (Markus) Wheaton, who's done a nice job. The tight end is always a factor in the game.
"Defensively, they're trying to work through a transition, with some younger guys with a mix of the veteran guys that have been there, and through injury and so forth. They bring (Brett) Keisel back, and he's gets hurt now. James Harrison has had a great season for them since they added him to the team. From the time he's gone on the field he's made a real impact. He's as always the impressive player that he is. (Jason) Worilds has done a great job of rushing the passer.
"They're still as hard to attack defensively as they always are, because of their movement, and zone pressures and the things that you're going to see. We've really got to do a great job throughout the day. It's going to come down to those things. And then special teams, (they have) dangerous returners. It's a three-phase football game, and we've got our hands full in all three phases, and we've got to play very well."

Ben Roethlisberger is so good at making plays when plays break down. What's the biggest key for the secondary, what do they have do in that circumstance?
    "You can't take a nap go to sleep per se, you've got to stay in leverage, stay on your guy, stay matched and strapped to the back of your guy. You've got to be conscious of that. The play is not over until the ball is not in his hand, and you make sure that you can defend the ball down the field. Both he and the receivers do a fine job of working away and trying to find an open spot, and he's able to deliver the football."

Is he as good as you've ever seen in the scramble drill?
    "He's as good as I've ever coached against -- in my 23 years in the NFL -- that I've seen time and time again. He shakes the tackler off, everybody's relaxed a bit because they think he's trapped, and then boom. He hit one against the Jets in the fourth quarter where he had to throw the ball 60 yards in the air, and they just outrun the coverage."

And the receivers, the way they do the scramble drill stuff...
    "They generally break and move away, and they do a good job of that. There are times they'll come back, but generally they sit down and find the open spot. He's got the arm strength and the poise to find it."

Your guys have been so good at not giving up big plays. You're on a tremendous run. What's the key to that?
    "They key to that is be sound, disciplined, and just keep playing. It's important, you can't relax. In Baltimore earlier in the year, we relaxed and gave one up. You can't have that."

What does Eric Winston bring to the team?
    "He's such a veteran player, and in my opinion, a real dominant player for a long time. It's funny, over the last five years I've gotten to know Eric over the meetings we've had, conjointly with the competition committee and the PA (Players Association). We always sit by each other, so it's been great. I'm glad we were able to get him signed. He gives us an uplift. He gives us a guy that if called upon to play, he can do it at a high level. I thought he did a nice job in Seattle this year in the snaps he got there, so I was excited when Minnesota didn't sign him and we were able to get him here. We wish we could have just brought him on the plane from Houston, if we would've known where we were at that point (Laughs)."

What kind of role do you see for him, do you think he'll play?
    "He'll play as soon as we get him ready to play, but I do think he has the ability to play. That's why we brought him here, to help better our football team."

He's got smarts as well as football smarts. He's a quick study guy obviously ...
    "He is. Just observing him in the walkthrough period today, how alert he is to things and so forth. Whit (Andrew Whitworth) has had a great relationship with him, and so that's been good. (Secondary coach) Vance Joseph obviously knows him from their time together in Houston. We played against him a couple years ago when he was in Kansas City. We've played against Eric each year over the last four or five seasons."

So do you think he can eventually start?
    "I don't know about starting, that will be how we play. We've got to play the best players, and whoever the best players are will be who plays."

Any thoughts on the threat that Le'Veon Bell is as a rusher and receiver?
    "I think I addressed it early on. He's very, very good. With 60-some receptions this year and 1,000 yards rushing, 9.9 yards per reception. He's got to have pretty close to 600 yards receiving. He has been a great football player and is having a great season."

The first couple weeks of the season there were lot of receptions by Giovani Bernard, and there haven't been as many since then. Are teams keying on that more?
    "Well, or that four or five games he missed, too. I think offense always evolves as you go. I thought he had two or three receptions last week, right? They can be based on coverage, and where the ball needs to go, based on the quarterback, guys get opportunities."

How different is Steelers Week than others?
    "I think it's bigger for you (media). It's a division game we know, an important division game. They all count the same in the division. We know how important it is. It's December now. We haven't played the Steelers yet this season. They are right there with us. It's an important game for us. If we want to win the division we've got to win this football game."

The media and fans get too amped up for it?
    "I think so. That kind of went away a while back. I think our football team has grown way beyond that in recent four or five seasons."

As tight as the division is, has that helped with week-to-week focus?
    "I don't know what's helped lately, but we've got to continue on that trend. Our goal, our initial goals of the season are still out there in front of us. We've got to continue on this trend and preparation, but again execution on Sunday has to show out there as well."

When you first came here was it a big deal to go through Pittsburgh and start to be the bully a little bit more in that direction?
    "I thought when I first came here there was more (of a rivalry with Baltimore) because I came a year removed from Baltimore, and we had built the rivalry -- Pittsburgh and Baltimore -- when I was in Baltimore. Because I had come from Pittsburgh, and I grew up there, and when I became the coordinator in Pittsburgh, the principles I learned with Bill (Cowher) and Dick (LeBeau) and Dom (Capers) in Pittsburgh were what I brought to Baltimore, and I kind of had to carry over some of Coach (Brian) Billick's things
"We had to continue with some of the coaches that are there, so it's kind of a conglomeration of things. But the principles were what I knew and built upon from my time in Pittsburgh, and we continue with those today. They continued in Baltimore, and obviously everybody puts their spin and stamp on things, but still there is some carryover in terminology of things and everything that go on from what I learned from Bill and Dom and Dick. But I think as far as players go, not many guys in that locker room know I ever even coached there right now. Their players might know more than our players, because they've got some guys that are more experienced than ours."

You talked about how over last four or five years Pittsburgh is not the big deal it used to be here, which is probably what you wanted it to get to when came here...
    "For us, all three of those (division rivals) are big deals, man. Every time we play all three of them. The Browns, the Steelers and Ravens are all big deals for us, all the time. The best way to win the division is win your division games. They are all big games for us. They are big deals."

When you got here the Bengals had been awful in division. They've been very good since you've been here, what was the thing you tried to …
    "We had to build a physical football team to match the physicality of the teams in our division. That's what these guys know. You can't come here and not be a physical football player, because you stick out like a sore thumb. If you are not willing to strap it up and go to work, you can't stay here. That's what I knew from my time in those places."

When you looked at schedule way back and saw three division games and Denver in the last four, what was your first thought?
    "That it was going to decide our fate, basically. Hopefully you have some distance, because these games are going to really matter. And they are. It has come down to this. Regardless of what we've done in the previous 12 games we've played, now it comes down to these four football games, but the most important one is the one this week. That's what counts right now."

How does Vontaze Burfict look? Do you think he'll practice?
    "I don't think he'll practice today, no. He's doing good. He's doing fine."

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