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Falcons at Bengals Postgame Quotes

SEPT. 14, 2014

Head coach
Initial comments ...
    "That was a good win for the football team, no doubt. The key to the football game — different than a week ago — was third down. We did a good job defensively throughout the day on third down, and offensively we did a nice job. Early in the first quarter, we weren't as sharp, but then we got better. We've still got to continue to get better in the red zone and not have the misses we had down there today early in the game. And then, obviously, we don't want to miss the two field goals. But throughout the football game, we stuck to the plan and handled the things the way we did. We had some guys go out with injury, and other guys stepped and played. We went through the roster today, so that was good."

Despite not having A.J. Green for most of the game, and no Marvin Jones or Tyler Eifert, you had about 500 yards of offense ...
    "We lost A.J., but Marvin and Eifert weren't suited up to begin with. The other guys did a nice job."

The running game seemed to carry the day. Would you agree?
    "We did a good job. We had good pad level and did a good job throughout the game. We've got to keep getting what the defense allows us to do, keep working at it and keep attacking the defensive look."

You won the turnover battle again. That makes a huge difference, doesn't it?
    "A huge difference. Taking care of the football gives you an opportunity to win — I don't care whether it's preseason or regular season. Look at our season so far this year, and that's the big difference. When we keep taking care of the ball, we have a great opportunity to win. We're doing good things, we've just got to keep it up."

You guys seemed to play with an attitude on both sides of the ball, whether it was blitzing or running the ball as effectively as you did. How important was that?
    "It was key. I told the guys on Monday after we got done looking ahead that we had to win the football game up front — both sides of the ball. It was going to be key. After looking at these guys and what they are, we had to win the game up front. We set the tone throughout the week that that's where things had to be done. Our guys up front on the offensive line sucked it up and played. They really did a nice job creating holes. Our tight end played a wonderful game today — Jermaine (Gresham) — with catches and blocks. It was an outstanding day for him."

How big was it for Mohamed Sanu to step up like he did once A.J. Green went down with his injury?
    "It was a big play — a huge play in the ballgame. The quarterback did a great job and delivered a perfect ball to Mo (Sanu). Mo did a big-time contested catch and run."

When was the last time you saw a wide receiver throw a ball like that?
    "Every time he lines up to throw one (laughs). He's got great ability."

What was the key to the game defensively?
    "Third down. You've got to get off the field. They won the game last week because they were so good on third down. Even last year, when they didn't win as many games as they wanted to win, they were still pretty good on third down. That's key. He (Matt Ryan) is a fine quarterback. He understands the looks and he knows what the weakness is of what you're doing defensively. You've got your work cut out for you against him."

How important was your tacking, particularly in the secondary, and not allowing the Falcons' wide receivers to get yards after the catch?
    "Obviously that plays a big part in third down. You tackle the catch when it's second-and-10, and now it's third-and-eight or third-and-six, as opposed to third-and-one. That makes a huge difference throughout the course of a football game. Even the situation today in the fourth quarter, where we've got the lead and we're tackling them, and they're not able to get the ball out of bounds when it's inside five minutes. Those are huge plays in the football game to keep the clock going. If we want to be a great defensive football team, we've got to continue to be a great tackling team. We're going to continue to work hard at it."

How important was it to get pressure from the interior of the defensive line and force their quarterback outside the pocket?
    "Pressure, whether it's inside or outside, we want to keep them off-balance. The key, again, was up-front on offense and defense."

Is it a tribute to this team's depth that it was able to withstand all of the injuries today and still win?
    "That, but I think attitude is most important. It really doesn't matter. 'If it's my turn, let's go. It's why I'm here.' They're all here for a reason, and they're all cut from similar cloth. They know what they're made of."

Could you tell what went wrong with any of Mike Nugent's missed field goals?
    "No. But I know he'll be better next time out. That's the one good thing about Mike — he's such a pro. We (had) a bad day, and we lived through it. Next time, I can go back and count on him, like we did a week ago."

You were able to get Devon Still into the game today. Did you say anything to him before the game? What did you think it meant for him to just get out onto the field and play football, today?
    "I said, 'Dev, you're going to be up' (laughs)."

Did you tell him before the game, or yesterday?
    "Before the game. That's about all I can share (laughs). I said, 'You're going to be up,' and you see this big smile. So it was good. I don't know how many snaps he played today, but it was great. It was good, because when Brandon (Thompson) got the injury, Devon was able to give us some good snaps in there."

Do you have any idea about the severity of the injuries that happened today?
    "I don't."

The offensive and defensive lines played well. How does that resonate with the whole team?
    "I think coming into this week it was one thing that Marvin (Lewis) and the coaches really put an emphasis on; winning the line of scrimmage up front. I thought we answered that really well. The offensive line played really well tonight. It's what you need to have. For the offense, we were really balanced today. When we got up to a lead in the second half, we really had a focus on running the ball, trying to get first downs. We did a good job of that."

The defense was getting the Falcons offense off the field quickly on third downs. That has to be good for your offense ...
    "Yeah absolutely. The defense has played well the whole year. To be able to get those, whether it be those three-and-outs or maybe one first down, and then get off the field for us to get back on the field, you don't have that lull on the sideline when you feel like you're standing their forever."

On the touchdown pass to Mohammed Sanu, did you have to get rid of the football a little earlier than you wanted to with the pressure in your face?
    "I knew they were bringing all-out pressure there, so one guy's going to be unblocked. We had a good check on and Mo ran a really good route. When you're playing cover zero and you make one guy miss, there's nobody else in the back end. When he fell off on the route, Mo had a pretty job in the end zone."

Do you spend any time with Mohammed Sanu on his throwing mechanics or release point?
    "Absolutely not. He doesn't even warm up. You just kind of get it to him and let him throw. I think he's three for three now on his career and he throws the ball well."

What was the offense's mentality with more red-zone problem early in the game?
    "You have to keep chipping away. I know the first time we were down there, I could've helped out. I could've thrown a couple better balls and given us more of a chance to score touchdowns. Eventually we're going to get down there and we're going to score. That's what happened — we got down there and we were able to punch it in and score some touchdowns while we were down there."

Why did you do so well on third down, despite missing some of your top pass catcher to injury?
    "This team and this offense has put it that the next guy's got to step up. Everybody here knows what Mo can do and obviously he had a really good chance to showcase his ability. He made some really big plays for us to help us win this game. When guys go down like that, that's the mentality that you have to have as a team, regardless of the position."

Having zero interceptions through the first two games has got to be one of the things you're most proud of ...
    "Turnovers are big and turnovers decide the game. So we've got to keep doing a good job of protecting the ball."

Are you approaching the game differently this year with regard to not throwing picks or is it simply execution?
    "I think it's a little bit of both. I think the way that I'm seeing the field and the way that I've kind of been directing this offense, I think I've got a better understanding of when to take a chance and try to fit things in and when to check it down. It's been good to us so far, we've got to keep that up and not try to turn the ball over."

Not only have you had no turnovers, you haven't allowed a sack yet. How big is that?
    "The guy's up front played really well. Talking about some of the biggest emphasis we have, it's not turning the ball over and protecting the quarterback. We've done a good job of that so far."

The running game was your best friend today and helped you control the clock ...
    "Yeah absolutely. When you get in those situations, second half with the lead or a four-minute situation, you've got to be able to run the ball. The backs did a good job. There were a lot of big lanes to run in that the line gave them. There's been an emphasis on the run and we did a good job of that today."

What do you think this win says about your team despite the injuries?
    "It shows the kind of depth that we have. We had several guys go down. The next guy stepped up and today we had guys doing it all over the field."

Running back
You guys ran the ball twice as much as you threw it today — what was that like for you guys in the backfield?
    "It's always fun, having the ball in our hands. We did a good job, I think. Jeremy (Hill) came in, and we switched it up a little bit, and we definitely think we caught them off guard. The offensive line did a tremendous job making those holes for us, and it all starts up front."

You lost a bunch of guys to injury today, and for you to come out and play the way you did, how great is it to win this way?
    "It's always good if we win, whatever way, it's always good. We knew A.J. (Green) was out, and he wasn't really going too hard, and things like that are going to come up unexpectedly, and we just had to go out and execute and have a good day."

How much fun is it for you to go out and dominate, hurdle guys in a regular-season game?
    "Yeah. It's always fun, especially in the NFL once you're winning. It's once you're losing and guys start to get down and all that, but we're winning right now and it's going good. Guys are going out there and playing for the team and not themselves, and it shows out there. It really does show, and we're doing a good job."

The way you've won these first two games — winning on the road and winning today despite a lot of injuries — what does that say about this team right now?
    "No matter what, we're going to fight and scratch to win. Even last game, we were down a little bit. Things happened and we weren't really scoring in the red zone, but we found a way to win. The defense did a tremendous job again today causing turnovers, and one of the things we've been harping ourselves (about) offensively is not turning the ball over. We know last year, that was one of the kind of things that kind of slowed us down a little bit, so right now we're not turning the ball over, which is always good."

You had two hurdles today — most running backs don't have one in a season ...
    "I just try to make plays, man. At the end of the day, as long as you can make plays whichever way you can, whether it's with a spin or hurdle or just running through people, you just have to be able to make plays."

You've won 10 games in a row at home in the regular season, tying a record — what does it mean to you?
    "Coach (Marvin) Lewis has really been talking about defending our home, defending this home turf. When we come here on a game day, it's just different than any other day, than just a regular practice day, and it's showing. We've just got to go out and keep executing, really. It starts up front with the offensive line, and they've done a great job so far."

Wide receiver
Which was a tougher play — your pass or your TD catch? How can you put a pass so on the money like that?
    "I think they were both tough, I was just able to make a play when I had an opportunity. You've just got to have that confidence in yourself to be able to make that throw."

What's it like when the play is called and you know you're going to get to make that throw?
    "Just excitement when you know you get to make a big play for the offense. When you make it, it gives us the extra boost to get momentum into the drive and go down and score."

How big a role do big plays like that play in this offense and getting momentum together?
    "It's big because once you make a lot of big plays, you're more likely to win games. The more big plays you make, the more likely you are to win."

Did you make a conscious decision "It's more on me" with all the injuries to the receiving corps coming in and during today's game?
    "Yeah, I've got to try to make a play when we've got a number of guys down, and we have to have guys step up. I've got to be one of those guys."

Offensive tackle
Last week, it was a pass-heavy week, and this week was run heavy. What does that say about the offense?
    "Well, I think we've said all along we feel confident whoever we are and what (offensive coordinator) Hue (Jackson) is going with. It's the effort, it's the attitude, it's the intangibles and we feel like there's not a phase of the game we can't do if we play that way. We just know there's a focus and an attitude, and that's how we have to play."

How fun is it to run the ball that successfully?
    "Oh, no question — it's always fun. Any time you can control the football game and move the ball; it's just like I said last week. If some of those things are touchdowns, that's a rout. It's not a close game at all. You know, we moved the ball last week, and we'd like to move it better, and there will be things we'd like to clean up, but for those to be first steps, they're definitely positive.

You had nearly 500 yards of offense without several key players. What's that say?
    "That's what I'm saying. Without (some of) our offensive weapons, to still be able to do that, like I said, I think that goes back to what Hue (Jackson) preaches every week. It's the mindset, it's the attitude, it's the intangibles for the game. And if we continue to play with that kind of attitude and that kind of force, when we're a full arsenal, we're going to be a tough football team to beat."

You won the turnover battle again — that's a sign of a mature team that knows what it's doing offensively ...
    "We've said all along, the biggest thing that Hue talks about every single day is 'Don't turn the ball over and play with great intangibles.' That's the effort, the finish and doing that every single week and not worrying about anything else and (the game) will basically play itself out. As long as we keep that type of focus and that's the way we play, to be honest with you, in the NFL we make it a lot more complicated than it is. You possess the football, you drive it and push on people, you're going to win a lot of games."

A lot of guys went out with injuries, but last year you went through all this ...
    "We have a lot of athletes on our team, and whenever someone goes down, the next man steps up. I just think Marvin and Mr. (Mike) Brown (and the front office) did a good job of putting the team together ... I can't speak on injuries, but whenever you're number is called, you've got to be ready."

Do you remember the last time you had sacks in back-to-back games?
    "(Laughs) No. They just call your number, and we executed as a defense."

Is it just a matter of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther calling up more plays for you off the edges?
    "I don't know if that's his game plan or not, but it's working out pretty good for us, and everyone (else) playing within the defense. We faced a good quarterback today, and we expected that with (them being) the number one offense or something like that coming in, we just had to play good defense today."

What was the key to shutting Matt Ryan down?
    "Just putting pressure on him and just getting after him. I think our defensive line and backs just had tight coverage today and we came out with a win. We definitely don't want too many missed tackles as a defense and that is (our goal) every week."

Running back
What was that moment like, when you scored your first touchdown?
    "That's something you dream about your whole life and as a kid when you're growing up and playing in the back yard. It's surreal, but I don't think about it too much. I just go out there and play football. I think that's what keeps me level headed and keeps the game speed down as well. I tried to just go out there and have some fun. I think I did a great job of that today."

Does the touchdown dance have a name?
    "It's something from my home in Dallas, maybe the 'South Dallas Swag.' It's something for my boys back home. I just tried to have a little fun, which I always try to do."

Is that the type of role you envision on this team?
    "Yeah, I think that is what they envisioned when they drafted me, for Gio (Bernard) and I to be a one-two punch. I think him and I complement each other well. Anytime he got a little tired, I came in and spelled him, and he did the same thing for me. I think we did a great job of that. I think we are really starting to build some chemistry together. We are roommates at the hotel. We are going to be a duo to be dealt with this year. I'm excited and looking forward to it."

How were you guys able to score without some of your best players on the field?
    "I think it just goes to show our preparation that we do throughout the week. Coach Hue (Jackson) does a great job as well. If someone goes out, we just have to step up and make plays, and that's what we did today. I think the sky is the limit with this offense. Once we get some of those guys back, it'll be exciting."

You had two interceptions today. What was this day like for you?
    "It feels good. I left two out there, which I could have got. One of the things I tried to focus on this offseason was getting my hands on more balls, make plays and get our offense back on the field."

How were you able to hold them to only 150 yards passing today?
    "They are a top five receiving corp. It was actually a collective effort, with the defensive line getting good pressure and the linebackers rerouting."

How do you keep a consistent level of play defensively?
    "It starts with practice. You practice how you play. Whether its Vontaze (Burfict), or a guy on the practice squad, they just keep pushing us and focus on the details."

You guys have won 10 straight regular season home games at Paul Brown Stadium. How hard is it to play here?
    "That's key. You want to win every game at home and win about half of them on the road. Defending our home has been one of the focuses this offseason as well."

Defensive tackle
Things seemed to get a bit chippy today...
    "Yeah, it was. They seemed to be doing a lot of things after the whistle and not too much during the whistle. That's just part of the game sometimes. I'm really proud of our guys, as we kept our composure. I think they had a majority of the flags. Good teams keep their composure in times of adversity, and that's what we did today."

How do you feel about where you guys are after two games?
    "I think we're heading in the right direction. We've got off to a quick start and we're 2-0 after two games. We had a great win last week against a division opponent. We just won against one of the better offenses and we just have to keep getting better and keep doing our thing."

It seems like you guys did a great job of taking them down immediately after they caught the ball today ...
    "The coaches really emphasize that, tackling and being physical. Last week when they played the Saints, they missed a lot of tackles. We were well prepared for this game."

What that the key for you guys today, when they catch it, you bring them down?
    "I'll take my hat off to them. That is one of the best receiving groups in the NFL, but we have got some good guys on the back end too. I think we have one of the best combinations of guys up front as well. I think Paul Guenther has done a great job of making them throw the ball where we want them to throw it."

How much pride do you guys take in shutting down opposing offenses when they come to Paul Brown Stadium?
    "It feels good, especially with them being the number one offense. We held them to 10 points and it probably should have been three. We all have stuff that we need to work on. I think we just need to keep getting better, then we'll have a good chance to get to the Super Bowl in Arizona."

Thoughts on safety George Iloka's two interceptions today ...
    "I feel good for him. He's worked his tail off and he's come in here and done everything the right way."

Defensive tackle
Did you see any encouraging posters or banners today?
    "The fans here are just amazing. I saw three and this one right here that they just brought to me. The fan support has been incredible."

You have sold more jerseys than previous Bengal OchoCinco ...
    "I know. That's big, huh? I think they sold roughly 4,000 jerseys, which means that's roughly $500,000 that was raised for pediatric cancer. That is huge considering the limited amount of funds from the government."

Could you hear the fans today?
    "How could you not? They were so loud today. Every time we had a tackle, you could hear them cheering. That's what allows me to focus on football — all of the support from the fans."

What was your game plan and what did you guys want to do on the interior?
    "We wanted to keep him in the pocket. He's a great quarterback and he likes to step up and make big throws. Our game plan was to get after them as much as possible."

What were you feeling when you found out that you would be active today?
    "When he told me, I smiled real hard on the inside. But I kept a straight face on the outside of course."

Is your daughter watching back home?
    "Yes. She got released from the hospital today. She was excited from seeing herself on NFL Countdown. She said, 'Dad, I'm on TV.' I told her to make sure to turn on the game when she got home."

SEPT. 14, 2014

Head coach
Initial comments ...
    "I think it's fairly obvious that this is not the type of performance that you have to have to win a football game. I thought we got beat in every phase of the game. My hat's off to Cincinnati — they did an outstanding job in game-planning. They beat us in offense, defense, special teams and coaching. We've got to get back to work as quickly as possible. We have a short week with a division game coming up at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so we're not going to get an opportunity to make the corrections that we need to address like we would normally do on a seven-day week, but we've got to get going and get moving on our next game."

What was the problem with stopping the running attack?
    "They won the line of scrimmage, and we did not tackle well. They were running downhill, we had a very difficult time tackling No. 25 early in the ballgame, and we have got to improve our rush defense, and we have to improve our total defense. You can't get give up 485 yards week in and week out and expect to win. You've got to get stops, force punts, you've got to be able to change the field position, you've got to get some three-and-outs, and we did not accomplish that today in the ballgame."

Talk about the explosive plays, like the (Giovani) Bernard play over the middle ...
    "We did not tackle well, and tackling is not always just about the contact. We took some poor angles, we got out-run, and there were times that you would think that those would not be big plays. We did not pursue well; I don't think we used our teammates in terms of leveraging the ball. As well as we thought we tackled last week, it was not a very good performance this week."

Robert Alford on his play (the Mohamed Sanu TD catch), it looked like he took a gamble there ...
    "Yeah, there was no middle of the field defender there — that was an all-out blitz. He undercut and didn't win. There was a sequence there where we were very fortunate to be down 10-3 at halftime. There was a sequence there where we got a stop defensively. The second time we come out, we get them in third-and-long, we give up the explosive touchdown, and then we turn right back around and give them the ball back on the turnover on a pass that was tipped in the air. And then we couldn't get the stop. They kept fighting, but it wasn't good enough."

To win a game like this on the road, you have to play pretty physical. How concerned are you that you were pretty much dominated on both lines?
    "It's a concern. That's a good football team. They've been to the playoffs the last three years. They've won their division. Experts talk that it is probably the most physical division in all of football when they talk about the AFC North. I think that our pad level has to be better across the board, and we've got to be able to knock the running back back. There were too many yards after contact from standing on the sideline. By the time I get back to Atlanta, I will have a much better idea because I will at least got to see half that game."

How was Matt Ryan's protection? It looked like he had to bail out a lot today ...
    "I think the protection was not as good as it was in Week One. They've got some guys that can run at you, they did some good things schematically, and it wasn't as well. Obviously, we weren't able to get the ball down the field and create explosive plays. They did a very good job of mixing up their pressures — two deep, three deep. Like I mentioned earlier, there wasn't really anything that you can say we won that in this game."

Julio Jones was slow to get up in the second to last series. Is he OK?
    "He went back in and played. I have not had an opportunity to visit with the trainers, but he did go back in and play. The guys played hard. We just didn't get it done."

Talk about the end of the game penalties ...
    "You can't be frustrated in this game. This is a game in which you've got cut it loose, but you've to play within the game. We just did not do the things that we needed to do, and that's something that will be addressed. We cannot have positive plays taken back because of personal foul penalties. The game's chippy, whatever, you've got to turn your ears off."

What are your overall impressions?
    "Tough day. We certainly didn't play the way we wanted to. We knew coming in here that they were a good football team with a very good defense, and we felt like when we had the opportunities to make a play, we needed to make them. We didn't do that today. It was a tough loss, but in this league it's about bouncing back. It comes quickly for us this week — we play Thursday. We'll take a quick look at this game and try to make some corrections and move on."

Do you think it's a good thing to have another game so quickly?
    "Sometimes after a loss, you like to be able to move on. Maybe it is a good thing we're going Thursday."

On one of the pressure plays, it looked like the defensive lineman was going for your knees. Did you interpret it that way?
    "When you're out there playing, you just keep going. There wasn't a penalty and it's not for me to decide."

What was the biggest difference between last week and this week?
    "It's hard to pinpoint one thing. We just need to play better and the way that we're capable of. We didn't convert on third downs, and you have to be efficient on first and second down. We didn't play well across the board, but hats off to them. They had a good plan and came out and played really well."

What did you talk about at halftime?
    "We were right in the game at the half. We came out and turned the football over three times in the second half. You're not going to win, when you do that. I've got to be better than that, and hopefully we can improve that for next week."

Did you get hit on one of the interceptions?
    "I don't know. The ball didn't go where I wanted it to. That's the way it goes sometimes. I felt like we had a good chance on the ball down the middle for Harry (Douglas). I didn't put the ball where I wanted to. You've got to be able to overcome those mistakes, and we weren't able to do it today."

Your offensive line got very upset when they felt that (Carlos) Dunlap hit you late. Talk about that ..
    "It's one of those bang-bang things. It's not for me to decide if the play was legal or illegal. I appreciate the guys having my back, as always. It is what it is — you have to move on"

How will you get off to a quick start versus Tampa Bay, considering the quick turnaround?
    "We'll have to look at the film on Tampa. The biggest thing for us right now is getting rest and putting this behind us. We'll get to the facility tomorrow to watch film and find a way to start fast and play better."

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