Andy Dalton News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 31, 2014
How different does Indy's defense look since the last time you saw them"
"There is some similar stuff that they're doing. They're really good up front. They get pressure on the quarterback. They're really good in their man-to-man coverage. It's going to require us to be at our best. We understand that. That's what happens when you get to the playoffs. It's good that we have some tape to see what they did, but we've got to go get them. It comes down to execution."
What has to change for you to reverse the course of the last three playoff appearances?
"Regardless of what's gone on in the past, this is a new team. We're here again. We were able to earn our way back here. We've got to take advantage of it. We understand that. Whatever little extra you can do to be more prepared and be ready to go, do whatever you can to play your best game on Sunday."
Personally, what would it mean to you to get that win in the playoffs?
"It would be big. It's what you want to do. You want to be playing well this time of year, but it's not about one win. That's the thing that everybody is talking about. Yeah, we need a win to get people to stop talking about needing a win in the playoffs, but that's not what we're playing for. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, and we've allowed ourselves that opportunity. Obviously if we get a win they can't say that we haven't won in the playoffs, so it would be nice to get the first one, because that's going to get us to where we need to go."
It is a team game but do you take any of it personally?
"Obviously I want to win when you get to the playoffs. You don't want to ever have anything hanging over you where you haven't done something. Like I said, we're trying to do everything we can to get a win this week.
Are there a lot of people here who have that in the back of their minds?
"Everybody who has been here, especially the last three years, and there are guys who have been here longer who haven't won one. We understand what we haven't done. We're doing whatever we can to change that."
If A.J. Green can't play Sunday, does what Mohamed Sanu did earlier this year give you confidence?
"We have confidence in our other guys besides A.J. We've got confidence in everybody. It's going to come down to those guys playing like they can, and if they do that, we'll be in really good shape."
Sanu's numbers have been down recently. Any reason why?
"Some of the scheme stuff, we've been going to other guys. The way plays have been called we haven't had looks for him to get the ball. That's the biggest thing. We know the type of player he is and what he can do. He showed it this year. We're not worried about his numbers being down and that type of stuff. When he gets his chances he's got to make plays, and he's done that."
A.J. has to go through the concussion protocol. How's he doing?
"I'm sure he's all right. That's all up to them. I'm not worried about that."
Two weeks ago A.J. was limited with the injury. Did you feel he was limited last week?
"No, he did some good things. He made some plays for us. That's what we feel we've got to make happen. Everybody feels like they could have played better last week. That starts with me. I wouldn't say that he was limited."
What's it like knowing people are going to ask about the playoffs?
"You answer the questions and then you don't think about it. We've had the same goal every year that I've sat here: to win once you're here. Up to this point we haven't done that. Right now I'm doing everything I can to change that. Yeah, I've got to answer these questions and all that kind of stuff, but as soon as I answer them I put them aside, behind me, and just keep going about my day to do whatever I can to help this team win."
Looking back on the past three years was there something different preparation-wise you've done this time of year?
"I don't know if it's anything different. You just want to make sure you're as prepared as possible. I've felt like I've tried to do that in the past. Whatever I can do now to make myself feel prepared, and feel like I know what we're going to see on Sunday, that's what I'm going to do. I wouldn't say it's necessarily all different. I'm just making sure I'm comfortable with everything."
Is there anything different in those 60 minutes of a playoff game compared to a regular season game?
"It's really important because if you lose you're out. I wouldn't say there's anything different except the importance of every little play. You can't let anything slip away because you missed on an opportunity. It can really affect everything."
How much has this team been just waiting to get back to this moment?
"Everybody is going to talk about what we haven't done since getting here. It's tough to get here. That's a big thing. We didn't get to just start right back in the playoffs. We had to earn our way here. We understand what we're doing and what we're going to be facing. We're doing everything we can to get a win on Sunday."
What do you remember about the locker room after the loss to the Chargers and how much of that resonated with you?
"It was just disappointment. We let an opportunity slip. That was the biggest thing from after that game. Hopefully we won't have that feeling on Sunday. We're going to do everything we can to not have that.
Does that stick with you over the course of the year or is there a moment where it went away?
"You're going to remember those moments, you're going to remember those feelings, you're going to remember all that kind of stuff. That's why you don't want to have those anymore."
Do you believe winning in the playoffs is validation for a quarterback?
"Winning in general is how quarterbacks are judged. If you win a lot in the regular season, but you haven't won a lot in the postseason, then they're going to say that you couldn't do something. There's always going to be something that you haven't done or couldn't do. That's just the nature of it."
It's not a home game but it's pretty close. Are you encouraging any fans to make the trip up 74?
"Absolutely. We want as many fans as we can get. I think with it being close we'll be able to get more people there. It should be nice."
Is there any advantage to playing a team again?
"You understand what you're going against. You have the film, you have the different things, you kind of have an idea of what they did and what they're doing. They have the exact same thing on us. I wouldn't necessarily say there's an advantage to it, but you have more things you can look at."
Do you think this team is built better for the playoffs?
"I wouldn't say we're built better. I would say, like I said earlier, the last couple of years we didn't take advantage of our opportunity. Regardless of what has happened last year and what's gone on this year, we're going to do everything we can to win. To say that we're built better, sure, I want to say we're built better because this is our team this year, and this is the team we're going in with. We've got full confidence in everything we're doing and in all the guys here. Now we just got to go do it."
What was your biggest takeaway from facing that defense the first time?
"They do a good job of getting to the quarterback. In their man-to-man coverage I feel like they've done a good job in having a guy around the receiver, so it makes you make tough catches and stuff like that. We got to be at our best."
Do you get a sense of how much this means to the city?
"Absolutely. There are a lot of people here who take pride in their sports teams. We're not just doing this for us. We're doing it for the whole city of Cincinnati. That's why we want everybody behind us for that support, because we're trying to do this for them."
With things going as badly as they did in the first game, did you walk away wanting another shot at them?
"You knew you could if you got to the playoffs, because it's a good team to go up against. We're excited about having another opportunity."
Seeing Indy rally in the playoffs last year shows that you have to keep your foot on the pedal ...
"It's a four-quarter game. At this point you're playing good teams, and teams that can do different things even if they're up or down or whatever the situation is, so you've got to play the whole game, because you never know what can happen."
Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 31, 2014
"In preparation for Indianapolis, we know that it's a football team that earlier this year really handled us, and we didn't play very well. They played very well, so we've got a lot to rectify. We didn't run the ball very well, we didn't make any first downs on offense, and we didn't defend their offense very well. So we have a lot of work to do. They've changed a little bit since we played them before, but we've got our hands full."
How's A.J. Green doing?
"A.J.'s doing fine."
Will he be able to play this Sunday?
"He's in the concussion protocol."
Knowing that all these guys are going to get asked about past playoff...
"I told them not to answer your questions, and just tell you it's not me. It's got nothing to do with them. You know what I mean? There you go. That team was last year's team. It's a different team, different people, different circumstances. What we have to do in order to win the games, you have to not turn the ball over, and you have to play good on defense. Pretty simple."
You answered my question before I could even ask it...
"Well I'm tired of answering the dumb question, all right? Excuse me, not a dumb question. I'm tired of answering the very important question that I knew was going to be asked (laughs). It's a very relevant question (laughs)."
Why are you tired of it?
"Because we have to wait until Sunday to answer it again. There you go."
There's only one way to get rid of it ..
"That's right. You have to wait until Sunday to do it."
Is there that feeling that talking about it just does ...
"It does zero for you."
How long did that San Diego loss from last year hang with you?
"It hangs. Anytime you lose, it hangs. Anytime you lose in the playoffs, it hangs. That's regardless of when you lose. Unfortunately every year I've been in the NFL but one, I've lost in the playoffs."
Was there anything about that San Diego game in particular?
"On offense we turned the ball over in critical moments beginning at the end of the second quarter, and on defense we failed to stop them at all in the third and fourth quarter and get the ball back. They were whatever they were on third down to finish the football game out, and we failed to get off the field, and get the ball back for our offense. Those things stick with you."
Do you feel that with the last couple of games you've played -- night games, premiere games -- you're tested tough going into the playoffs this time?
"I think we've been that way regardless. This group of guys just has to handle this situation at hand, which is coming up at Indianapolis on Sunday."
Why is it that stopping the run and running the ball takes on a heightened importance in January?
"It depends on the nature of your football team, and I think that's the nature of our team. Obviously when you can control the line of scrimmage on offense you open up throwing lanes and so forth. Defensively, if you can make the offense one-dimensional, it puts a lot of stress on you."
You've mentioned many times that the up-front guys are big strengths of the team. Is that even more paramount for this game?
"It is. It's important, both sides of it. It's very, very important we do an effective job with the guys on both sides of the ball, and all 11 players in every situation that we do a great job physically."
You mentioned that they've changed a little bit since the first game. Has Andrew Luck changed much since then?
"The number of the times he's been sacked has gone up, his interceptions have gone up, but so have his touchdown passes. They've become a little bit more of a throwing football team. Not a lot more, a little bit more. They have effective receivers, they've got both tight ends up and running and healthy now. I guess one guy missed a week ago, but they're doing those things, and they've got the pieces fit together. They lost (Ahmad) Bradshaw, but they've gone forward with Danny Herron and the other things they're doing."
What has Herron's addition meant to their offense?
"I think Danny's done a great job. He's been very productive. Obviously that's what we expected him to be as an NFL player."
How much have you guys changed in stopping the run since that game, especially with the guys that you didn't have the first time you played?
"Well, it'll go out there on Sunday."
What have you done the last couple of games to be better than that day?
"It all starts new on Sunday."
Do you feel a sense of urgency among your coaching staff and players for this game?
"Any time you're into the playoffs there's a sense of urgency, yes."
Did you go back and watch or show guys the comeback by Luck last year against Kansas City when they were down 38-10?
There's probably a sense of knowing that there's no safe lead in this game...
"No there isn't. He's a great quarterback, he's done a great job, he's got a great ability to put bad play, a bad series behind himself and move forward, and I think that's been a lot of the key to his success, and he's done that very well."
How is the health of the team this week? Has this thing stopped spreading?
"I think we're a little better."
The Colts have kind of changed defensively with Chuck Pagano to be more like an AFC North defense, and they have a bunch of different guys contributing...
"They do. They do a good job schematically and a good job pressuring the quarterback. Their sack numbers have increased on defense since we played them the first time around. They had 17 at that point, or something like that, and I think they had 24 to finish their year over the last eight football games, so an average of three per game."
How do you keep them focused on the distractions of this being an important game to the city, etc.?
"Ignore the noise."
You talked about the importance of taking care of the ball. You forced seven turnovers in the last two weeks against pretty good offenses. In your mind is forcing the turnovers as important as not giving away the ball?
"Forcing turnovers is very important. It goes back to the question about finishing off the playoff game a year ago, and the one before that, and the one before that. You have to get takeaways defensively. Those are huge parts of these games, and any game when we play against good football teams, the team that can come out with the giveaway-takeaway battle is generally going to have an opportunity to win.
"We got some on Sunday night, but we give up the punt return, so that's kind of an equalizer back the other way, where they get kind of an unscripted score. We have opportunities we're going to have to make. Those are game-changing plays, those are field position plays, it puts our offense on the field, it puts our defense on the sideline drinking Gatorade, and those are important plays all the time."
You mentioned the turnovers. In your five previous playoff games that's the glaring thing: 13 giveaways, only one takeaway, going minus-12. It's tough to beat anybody like that...
"Right, the essence of defense is get the ball back for your offense."
When A.J. Green was out earlier and Mohamed Sanu stepped up, did he earn a level of trust in you that if you have to do this without A.J. this week, that Mo can be what you need him to be?
"Obviously, Mo did good things. It's not an individual as much the offensive focus, the offensive group, and the pieces fitting together, and the quarterback reading out the coverage, the play, and the execution of the play. We did some things there, and we were productive in that without A.J. in some football games, so that's a part of it. He ought to continue to be confident with that."
You have two new coordinators, and have had a lot of injuries on both sides of the ball, but have come back to win after some big losses. What is it about this team that you like and enabled you do have the opportunity to get to the end and carry through to this Sunday?
"The biggest thing is, the team has got to continue with the short memory of things. We've got to refocus, and retool, and regroup, and get refocused on the next series. That's important in any football game, that you focus on the next series and on the next play, and we've been able to do that throughout most of the season, and that's important to continue to do."