BENGALS HEAD COACH ZAC TAYLOR
COACH TAYLOR: It feels great. This is the expectation for these guys. It's not too big for these guys. I know we haven't been here before but it sure feels like we have. You see the attitude of the team and the confidence that they have, that we're going to find a way to win. And just you can't replace the confidence that these guys have earned in themselves and hopefully that carries us through for another couple games.
Q. When you look at how the game unfolded with nine sacks on Joe (Burrow) and the way your team was able to continue and fight back, what does that say about the core group and their ability to (inaudible) no matter what the circumstances were today?
COACH TAYLOR: It's not something we want to do. Obviously they came in a lot of different ways. Some zero blitzes. There's a lot of reasons for them. We're all going to take blame in that. We don't want to have that. But the defense allowed us to continue to play the way we wanted to play. We were able to call some runs and completion plays. That's one of the best D-lines in football to be quite honest with you. We have a ton of respect for their team and their defense. And they can get after the passer. And they did a great job in coverage, mixing up some of the coverage looks. Give credit to them we found a way to win that's all that matters.
Q. Evan McPherson, eight for eight including the gamewinner. What can you say about this kid that hasn't already been said?
COACH TAYLOR: He's got ice in his veins. There's not much to be said. He's as cool as it gets. You have confidence he's going to nail it every single time he steps up there. He definitely could have gone from longer out than what we kicked it from. We felt confident to be on the 40-yard line there. So he just steps up and the moment's never too big for him happy to have him.
Q. Were you trying to get timeout before the play?
COACH TAYLOR: No.
Q. You talked about last week not celebrating too much and moving on. Are you going to let this sink in a little bit more?
COACH TAYLOR: You know, winning is hard. Winning is hard. I want these guys to be happy and enjoy it because we've been through some times when we didn't get a chance to enjoy anything. And you're miserable pretty much year-round. So, there's the whole, "Act like you've been there before," but our guys have earned this. They've earned the right to be excited. And we'll put it to bed early tomorrow morning obviously. But these guys, the emotion they feel winning a game like that, on the road in the playoffs. Some of these guys have played in this league a long time and waited for moments like these. It's going to be nothing to take away from our preparation this week, but I'm happy for them. They should enjoy it, players and coaches. They put in a lot of hard work. I want to see them celebrate.
Q. What Joe Burrow (inaudible)?
COACH TAYLOR: If I had the answer for why Joe Burrow is good at what he does, then I don't know, I'd sell, bottle it up and sell it. He's just special. That allows us to continue to call things the way we call because even after a sack or a negative play, you still feel like we're always going to get it back. With the weapons we've got, Joe (Burrow)'s ability to put a hit behind him and move on to the next play and find one of his freak shows, as he likes to call them, makes our job a lot easier as playcallers.
Q. What were you trying to do play the change (inaudible) or how did that...
COACH TAYLOR: That was an adjustment we had to make because of the protection. They were doing a good job -- they hit us with cover zero there that knocked us out of field goal range on the drive before. They had a free guy we can't protect and knocked us out. We wanted to make sure we were well protected. We gave our guys a chance outside to win some one-on-ones. They were starting to play some two-man. Looked like they got two-man to (Ja'Marr) Chase on that one. And Joe (Burrow) hit them on a bench route, a play we've hit a million times to Ja'Marr (Chase). It's fitting that that's the play that put us in that position, just one-to-one, Joe to Ja'Marr, two-man look. That's how it looks.
Q. [Question about starting the game].
COACH TAYLOR: It really set the tone for two reasons, because Jessie (Bates III) allowed us to go get some points right out of the gate and take the early lead. And in a game like that, when you're on the road and the crowd is into it, it kind of takes the crowd out of it for a moment at least. And Mike (Hilton) stealing points off the board. I know we didn't get a chance to do anything with it necessarily, but that was big because they were certainly in scoring position. Mike (Hilton) made a tremendous play, and really happy that those guys stepped up.
Q. You go back to that first game, Minnesota (inaudible) turnover ratio. How big is that versus this team?
COACH TAYLOR: Enormous, and that's on our guys. They've been working it since training camp. It's not something this magically happens. It's an emphasis that Lou (Anarumo) and the staff have put on those guys, that the veteran leaders really stepped up. We've had core guys here who have always bought into that -- you added the Mike Hiltons, the Vonn Bells, the Trey Hendricksons, Chido (Chidobe Awuzie), they've all jumped on that mentality and it's really served us well in the back stretch of the season.
Q. You said it was a lot about the (indiscernible). How important is this win?
COACH TAYLOR: This win is for everybody. Everybody's involved in this. I would imagine there's some pretty good celebrations going on at home. The Orange in the crowd was tremendous. Felt like driving into the game, it was so cool to see so many Bengal fans that came down. Let's find a way to get them either to Kansas City or Buffalo, we'll find it out tomorrow. But we have such a tremendous fan base that supports this team through thick and thin. Happy we were able to deliver some wins for them.
Q. Where are the game balls?
COACH TAYLOR: Evan McPherson today. We kept that one singular today. He stepped up big and got us where we need to go.
Q. (Indiscernible) this is the first road playoff win in franchise history?
COACH TAYLOR: I think it's special for the franchise. It's special for the people that have supported this place for a long time. For us, it's what we expected to do. And so just winning in the playoffs is hard, home or on the road. Just happy to get the win.
Q. Anyone in that locker room happier than Ja'Marr (Chase)?
COACH TAYLOR: We're all happy. Trust me, that's the thing, something like that, it turns into an error. There's so many plays like that that could have been disastrous that maybe go unnoticed. His stands out more than others. But there's plenty of things I did, plenty of things a ton of other people did that could have been just as -- put us in the hole. And we support our guys and get their backs and found a way to win.
Q. What's the key to the (indiscernible) momentum swings, to get it back on your side?
COACH TAYLOR: Just weathering the storm, especially on the road. I thought our defense really did a good job. Just I know they ran for whatever yards they ran for. But you found they played the style of defense we needed to play today, came up with three big takeaways. Our team never panics. Seen us down by a whole lot. We weren't down today, but we've been down 22, 24 points and it never fazes our guys. Tie games down the stretch is something that our guys live for.
Q. You were talking about the two-point conversion in the first half?
COACH TAYLOR: It really is. And they get into heavy personnel, 23 personnel, whatever it was, give the ball to Derrick Henry and our guys found a way to make a stop. That's a big moment in the game that maybe goes unnoticed.
Q. How many yards do you think you needed there from Joe? (Indiscernible) got 19.
COACH TAYLOR: We needed a little less than that. I don't remember what yard line we were on when we snapped the ball, but the focus was to try to get the ball to the 41. The wind factors into that a little bit, so depending on the stadium and the direction you're going, but we feel we needed to get it around the 40.
Q. What was your reaction with the interception? What has he meant to your defense this year?
COACH TAYLOR: You just felt like something like that was going to happen, to be quite honest. I felt that game wasn't over, it wasn't going to go into overtime. Something big was going to happen. And Logan (Wilson) just has a knack for finding those balls, whether he's the one that just takes it away or gets them on the tips, he's been doing that since the Pittsburgh game and the Chicago game. He's done it all year, and he's a heck of a linebacker.
Q. Did you have that play, did you have that play in mind? It was a quick turnover --
COACH TAYLOR: We were talking about something very similar, had we gotten the ball in two minutes. Those were the conversations we had really before their drive starts. And, OK, you look up, there's 24 seconds or whatever it is. And so we're only going to have time for maybe two or three of them. We had two timeouts. We were in good position to hit all areas of the field, which we could have depending on the coverage structure. He just got a matchup with Ja'Marr (Chase) that he liked and he took it.
Q. (Indiscernible) why are you all able to bounce back and (indiscernible)?
COACH TAYLOR: Just a resilient group. They don't panic. They know that we've got a lot of talent. Someone can step up to make a play to put us in it. And that's what this team is all about.
Q. Turnovers, what about the fourth-down stop?
COACH TAYLOR: It's a turnover. And what yard line were they on, the 35? So, they had a chance to either, I guess, go for it. And so that takes three points off the board. They could have kicked a field goal, could have gotten the first down and gotten three or seven. That's a turnover that took points off the board. I'm proud of our defense for that stop.
BENGALS QUARTERBACK JOE BURROW
(on today's game)
Defense played unbelievable. We made plays when we needed to on offense. It wasn't always pretty but we got the job done. Like I said all year, we can win a lot of different ways and defense came up strong today. Unbelievable.
(on linebacker Logan Wilson's interception)
Yeah, I knew we had 20 seconds and two timeouts. That's enough time for three plays, be in field goal range, and based on what they'd been playing earlier, we kind of knew what coverage they were going to be in in that situation, and Zac (Taylor) called a great play, and Ja'Marr (Chase) made a great catch and ran a great route.
(on the play involving wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase)
Yeah, it was cover-two-man. So, they were playing man low-hip, so I knew I had an outbreaker to the boundary and that's usually good against that kind of coverage. Ja'Marr (Chase) ran a great route.
(on whether the team did anything with protection on the Ja'Marr Chase play)
No, they had a great pocket for me. That was the key to that play.
(on whether the Titans did anything to surprise the team that led to nine sacks)
They had a great plan. They had a great rush plan. They made it tough on us, made it tough on me, disguising coverages and blitzes and everything. They switched it up the whole game. They didn't stick to one thing. If one thing didn't work, they moved on to the next thing and that kept us on our toes.
(on whether today's game was the loudest this season)
That's always a tough question for me. I don't really pay attention to how loud it is or how loud it isn't.
(on safety Jessie Bates III's interception on the first play of the game)
It got us off to a strong start. Since that happened, I knew what kind of game it was going to be for the defense. I knew that if we protected the ball and put points on the board, we were probably going to be able to win.
(on his overall reaction to the win and if it feels normal)
No, it's not normal. This one was really, really hard. Intense game. This is what playoff football this deep into January is like. It was really, really hard.
(on how this was different from a game in September)
It was just you and just a really good team with everything on the line. Everyone's probably playing with the same intensity, but it's just, you feel the moment.
(on if he said anything to (inaudible) after the drop)
No. Stuff like that's going to happen. We've been really good the last five weeks on protecting the ball and sometimes like that's going to happen. I thought the defense did a great job of responding and that was really the key to the game.
(on if he was surprised by the Titans clock management at the end of the game)
I don't know. I kind of thought that I'd probably still get a chance there at the end. Whether it was our defense coming up and making a big play, or they're going down and scoring and then it's all on us. Either way, I was expecting to get the ball.
(on the Bengals locker room)
It's got a lot of tough people within the locker room and I think guys that have gone through a lot of adversity in their careers, whether it's in college or in the NFL. We have guys that are battle tested.
(on his performance)
I thought I played well, really well in the first half, but obviously there's always room to improve. Couple of throws that I would probably like to have back but I made plays when I needed to.
(on what he saw on the third down that he ran for and set up the touchdown)
Well, they gave me – they were showing zone and they ended up playing man. So, they kind of fooled me a little bit there. Then, O-line did a great job of blocking up front and giving me a pocket. I knew that if I was able to escape, there's nobody really accounting for me, so I was able to kind of make my way through there and run for the first down.
(on the history made tonight for the Bengals)
We'll think about that after. Right now, we're going to celebrate this win. We're really excited about it and then go watch some more football and see who we're playing.
(on the Bengals)
I think, number one, we've brought in a lot of guys that have been in this kind of moment in this game, and two, we're also a really young team that doesn't really don't know what we don't know. So, we're out there playing football with our friends, so that's what it's like.
I wouldn't call it a one-on-one. They still had the safety help over top, so it's called a two-man. So, it's cover-two with a man underneath, and like I said that route usually beats that coverage.
(on kicker Evan McPherson)
That guy is unbelievable. He was talking to Brandon (Allen) as he was going out to kick, and he gave a little warmup swing and he said, "Ah, it looks like we're going to the AFC Championship," right before he went out there and kicked it. And when you have a kicker – we knew exactly what we had as soon as he walked into the building in camp and we just saw how he carried himself. You know exactly how a kicker is going to perform when obviously everyone at this level can kick through the uprights, but it's how you handle yourself in the locker room that shows us that you have the confidence to go out there and make a kick like this and perform the way he did in a game like this. We knew exactly what kind of guy we had in camp.
(on if the team feels like 'Cinderella')
No, I'm tired of the underdog narrative. We're a really, really good team. We're here to make noise and teams are going to have to pay attention to us. We're, like I said, a really good team with really good players and coaches and we're coming for it all.
(on his message delivered to the team)
Yeah, I talked to them last night about how I don't really like that. Like I said, I'm tired of the underdog narrative. We're a really good team that has worked really hard to get to this point and we make plays. Whether it's defense, offense or special teams, we go out there and get it done.
Zac (Taylor) wanted all the captains to speak to the team. He usually addresses the team on the nights before games, and he wanted all the captains to do it because he said the players got us here so the players are going to talk to the team the night before. So that's what we did.
I thought he played really well. I think there are probably a couple of catches he'd like to have back just like I'd like to have some throws back, but I thought he played great. He really battled through.
BENGALS KICKER EVAN MCPHERSON
EVAN MCPHERSON: Nothing too crazy. Just out there doing our jobs. But I mean, this team, we're all fired up, and we get another chance to play together and that's what we wanted to happen coming into this game. And one more game together, or I guess two more really is our goal. Just to come out here and get this win was big. And obviously not just me. It's our whole team. Worked so hard the whole game. Got turnovers when we needed them. And we just executed whenever we needed to, and it just so happened at the end of the game it comes down to a field goal. I just go out there, do my job.
Q. What was going through your mind before the interception?
EVAN MCPHERSON: I was sitting on the bench with Kevin (Huber). I wish those mic'ed-up people were right beside me. I was talking to Kevin, I was, like, 'All we need is an interception or fumble recovery.' I know we'll get one play in field goal range and I know we're going to end it there. Because honestly I didn't want to go five quarters. I think this team deserves kind of a rest. And so, anything to keep them from having to play more football. I'm just going to go out there, make the kick, and we'll go home to Cincinnati, heading to either Buffalo or Kansas City.
Q. Are the kicks for you fun, or are they not?
EVAN MCPHERSON: I'd say they're probably fun for probably every kicker. It's a kicker's dream, is to have the game on your shoulders and just to go out there and execute the way that we have all practice.
It's what I told Kevin (Huber) right before the kick. I'm like, 'All right, we did this in practice, let's do it one more time.' That's kind of what was going through my mind. And all I knew was, just hit it clean and it was going to get there.
Q. Playoffs are a little more nerve-racking, though?
EVAN MCPHERSON: I would say it's honestly the same. We're just out here playing football like we have all season. So I don't feel any added pressure. I don't think the team does either. We're kind of just going out there and playing how we have all season.
Q. How is it different than the 54 -- was it different than the 54-yarder?
EVAN MCPHERSON: No, obviously 54 is on the left. This was on the right. But other than that, there's not much difference. I knew going that way we're into a little bit of a breeze. And so, my aiming point maybe moved right a little bit. But other than that, it was pretty much the same.
Q. I think you had started 60 from there early in the pregame, right before the end of pregame?
EVAN MCPHERSON: Yeah, I think I tried 60 a couple times. I didn't make it. But I knew in the game, adrenaline pumping and all that I probably could make it from 60.
Q. Was it tough to stay cool right before that?
EVAN MCPHERSON: I wouldn't say so. This is my job. This is what I do for a living. So it's my job to stay cool, calm, collected in moments like those. And I'm just so happy that my team put me in the position to succeed and give me the opportunity to win the game.
Q. After the kick, was there something anyone told you that maybe (inaudible) the season?
EVAN MCPHERSON: As the kick was sailing through the air, like I do, normally, I guess, which is good and bad. I turn to Kevin (Huber) whenever I know I hit it good. I don't even watch the ball go through. And we've seen that be a bad thing. But this time it was a good thing. And I looked at him he was like, "You did it!" All that was going through my mind was we get one more game, guaranteed one more game. We get another chance to go out and win another game. And we're one step closer to our goal.
Q. You're running off the field with the ball in your hand, how did you get the ball when it was 55 yards away from you?
EVAN MCPHERSON: So our ball guy, yeah, ball guy, Tyler Runk, 'Trunk,' as we call him, came up and gave it to me. We have a guy standing under the field goal to catch the ball. And he got it, gave it to Trunk, and gave it to me. Super special ball. One that I'll always have. I'll always remember this game, but it's time to move on and go play the next one.
Q. Biggest kick of your life?
EVAN MCPHERSON: So far I would say so.
Q. You hit one to win the opener; you hit one to win Thursday night; you hit one to clench the division, and you hit one to win a playoff game, what's next?
EVAN MCPHERSON: I mean, like I said, we're going to take it one game at a time. We're going to go into this next game with a great gameplan, and I'm going to go through this week of practice, have my best week of practice and get ready to go into the next game at the best of my ability and to help this team win.
Q. Can you talk about some of these young teams, that historical value of this win? The first road playoff win in team history. I'm sure you guys heard that all week. What does it mean now that you've accomplished it?
EVAN MCPHERSON: It's really special just that our team is kind of creating our own legacy, obviously. And I think this Bengal team will be remembered forever. And just the excitement that we brought to the city of Cincinnati I think is awesome. And I mean, the city's on fire. Probably burn down tonight. And then it will definitely burn down next week. And then we'll have a whole city fly out to California, hopefully, and support us in the Super Bowl. Like I said, we're going to take it one game at a time, go wherever we have to go next week, execute, and hopefully come out with a win.
BENGALS LINEBACKER LOGAN WILSON
Q. Five interceptions you had this season was that your favorite?
LOGAN WILSON: By far. That was a great play by Eli (Apple), obviously, to break up the pass. That's what happens, good things happen when you run to the ball.
Q. Logan, did you think there would be opportunities for picked balls and picks things like today? How did that thought process change after Jessie (Bates III) picked off the very first play?
LOGAN WILSON: We preach all week, we are trying to get the ball. Same thing last week with Germaine (Pratt). As many times as we can get the ball back to our offense and give them more opportunities to score, that's just what we're trying to do as a defense. And yards do not equal points. If you get a turnover, then they're marching down the field, and Mike (Hilton) got the turnover in the red zone. Everyone thought they were going to score, but that turnover was huge. That's just kind of been our mentality on defense.
Q. Joe (Burrow) was talking about how you guys don't have the underdog mentality anymore. When did that switch flip when you realized you weren't the underdog?
LOGAN WILSON: Joe (Burrow) talked about it last night just in our captain's meeting. Well, it was with the whole team, but the captains were speaking. And that's just kind of what he preached to everyone. And everyone -- he's our leader. So everyone's going to believe anything he says. And he's our ride or die.
Q. What's Joe (Burrow) like speaking to the team? Is he a fired-up guy or more quiet what's his tone like?
LOGAN WILSON: Calm, cool and collected, that's the best way to say it.
Q. What was the team reaction to him saying that?
LOGAN WILSON: I mean, everyone spoke. So everyone had good things to say. But I don't need to get into all that stuff. That's for us. But it was all good things, all the belief in our culture, what we have in the locker room. And then just guys just believing in each other and playing for each other.
Q. Did you think you guys had enough time? You had like 20 seconds left when you got the pick, did you think --
LOGAN WILSON: My initial reaction was when I got the ball, I knew there wasn't much time left. I knew we had the ball near the 50-yard line. I just wanted to make sure I came down with the ball and just gave our offense an opportunity to move it some yardage. That's why we drafted Evan (McPherson).
Q. Were you thinking of him when you were at midfield? Were you thinking --
LOGAN WILSON: I wasn't thinking of him like that. Maybe after the play was over. But I was just trying to keep the ball, not let the Titans get it back.
Q. It's one thing to win playoff games. And obviously that's why you're here, to win playoff games. But to win them in close games like last week and now following up with this one on the road at the gun. How much does that go in the bank going forward?
LOGAN WILSON: I mean, every game in the playoffs is going to be close. It's going to be a dogfight. That's just the nature of this league. Everyone's good when it gets to this point. And you just got to find ways to win, whether it's ugly, whether it's pretty. And today we found a way to win. And obviously we have confidence in that that we can find different ways to win throughout the course of the game.
Q. Is there a confidence you guys have in close games like tonight, even on the road?
LOGAN WILSON: Yeah, absolutely. I think that before that drive, we as a defense knew we needed to get a turnover, or just allow, just prevent them from scoring. And we ended up getting the turnover and giving our offense a chance to go down and score.
Q. You all have been able to get to the turnover late in games. Are you looking for them, why has that mentality existed really late in ball games?
LOGAN WILSON: I just think it goes back to like Germaine (Pratt). He's obviously the biggest one. It's just something we always preach. It's like you can give up yards, but if you get a turnover it's huge. Gives the ball back to your offense. And we've looked at statistics. Turnovers win games, especially late in games and in the playoffs for that matter. If you win the turnover battle your chances of winning go up severely.
Q. Zac (Taylor) sent you and Germaine (Pratt) out for the pregame flip. Was that a sign that you guys and the defense as a whole, it was going to be on you to stop Derrick Henry, that was a key to the game?
LOGAN WILSON: I don't know if that specifically was. I just think that that was a cool opportunity, I've never done that before. So it was a little nerve-racking, but it was cool for Germaine (Pratt) and I to go out and do that.
Q. What was the key on that fourth-and-one stop?
LOGAN WILSON: I mean, you just got to get downhill and beat them to the spot. I think that's the biggest thing because if he gets going everyone knows what he can do.
Q. You said (Joe) Burrow is calm, cool and collected. How do you describe Evan McPherson?
LOGAN WILSON: Shooter McPherson. No, I think he's the same way. Truthfully. His demeanor never changes no matter how big the kick, no how small the kick. He's got all the confidence in the world and we as his teammates have all the confidence in him.
Q. Does it feel surreal that you're one game away from playing in a Super Bowl?
LOGAN WILSON: Very. That was the first thing I said in the locker room, I said, 'Dude, we're one game away. One game.' Now obviously we've got a big game in front of us, but it's a huge opportunity for us.
Q. I know you all said (indiscernible) but does it seem feasible? When you started in July was that something that would actually happen?
LOGAN WILSON: It's one of those things, like, everyone wants to do it but you just got to take it one day at a time. And one of the things, one of our captains said last night in the meeting was when we had guys come back in for OTAs there was no one complaining. Everyone bought into coming -- volunteering to come back for OTAs, because we knew the potential this group had. And I think that just said a lot about the culture of the guys in the locker room that we bought into what the coaches are coaching us to do and here we are.
Q. If it's no longer what about us, what is it? No longer about us, what's it now, what do you say now?
LOGAN WILSON: I'm not the quote guy for that. I don't know. What's our new quote for -- since our quote is not "why not us" anymore, what's the new one?
> It is us.
LOGAN WILSON: You heard him.
BENGALS DEFENSIVE TACKLE D.J. READER
Q. Can you elaborate on your quote? (Indiscernible).
D.J. READER: Why not us? I feel like we've been getting slept on all year, disrespected. It's something we take pride for in this locker room. We've got a lot of guys that go out there and fight every day. You all see it. We take it as disrespect every time. All year it's been something. 'We won't do this, we won't do that, we won't do this.' We don't worry about outside noise. We read it. We're not worried about it. We're confident in us. We feel like we're the people. We're going out there every game feeling we're confident, we need to be the ones to be beat.
Q. Logan (Wilson) was talking about the buy-in and OTAs. How did that translate in a game like this? Where do you see it?
D.J. READER: Everybody competed, put in blood, sweat and tears with each other. And we hold that true. In times of adversity, you've seen it. Two-minute, we get the ball back because we're confident in us as a team. We knew our offense will go out and do their thing. And if they don't, we don't worry about it because we play defense and our job is to get the ball back for them.
Q. In the (inaudible) and as defense did you guys say this guy's won us the game so many times, it's our turn to put him on our backs?
D.J. READER: Every week we go out there try to get the ball back to 9 (Joe Burrow). That's what we believe in as a team. That's who we're trying to get the ball to. No matter what's going on with him, we'll go out there and get the ball back to him. That's our jobs. He's the toughest guy in the league, though. He's tough. Just gritty. Love it. I love that about him. He's a super tough guy. He doesn't complain. Goes out there does his job. I really appreciate Joe (Burrow).
Q. Why was there so much buy-in since the beginning of the season?
D.J. READER: Because there's so much doubt every year, year in and year out. There's doubt. A lot of guys came to this locker room wanting to change it. That's what they're doing.
Q. Did you feel the doubt throughout the week that you all would be able to (indiscernible)?
D.J. READER: You've seen the clippings. You've seen what's on Twitter. You all see what's going -- the NFL, what is it, Good Morning Football, where only one team -- you know what's going on. It's not a surprise. I get it. I get it.
Q. Does that matter to you?
D.J. READER: It's personal. Yeah. It matters to you all the time. You're a man, human -- man, woman, anything. You want somebody to doubt you, your ability to do your job? As a journalist, you want somebody to doubt you to do your job? No, it's disrespectful. You've got to go out there and take it. You got to earn respect, so we get it. We'll keep chopping at the wood like we've been doing.
Q. Did you feel like you guys have earned the respect?
D.J. READER: I don't worry about what everybody else (has) got going on. We respect each other in the locker room. Everybody respect each other and that's what matters. I know the guy next to me respect me. I respect him.
Q. How happy were you to (indiscernible) have that interception?
D.J. READER: That's my dog. That's my dog. He called it earlier this week. He said it was going to happen. I believe in the power of words. You've got to speak things into existence. He did that.
Q. What did he say?
D.J. READER: I can't tell you the direct quote but he said he's going to get one. That's what he said.
Q. You were talking about (inaudible) and talking about a guy that flies under the radar because of your position. Having a game like this (inaudible)?
D.J. READER: It don't matter to me. I know who I am. I'm confident who I am as a player. I know what I do. You all seen it. Everybody's seen it. I know what I do as a player. I don't worry about it. I read it. I go on Twitter all the time. Read it, type in "D.J. Reader" to see what's going on. But I don't worry about it. It's just fuel to my fire. Been doubted my whole life. I spent seven, eight years old running around in a trash bag trying to make pee wee football weight limits. People don't grind like me. That's what I care about.
Q. You were the first guy brought in. Seems like they built it around you. Kind of the thing (indiscernible), fourth-and-one, (indiscernible) two-pointer. You guys (inaudible) defense that is?
D.J. READER: I think the guys who were on this team when I came in, we brought in an attitude of, 'We're going to play defense and worry about our job and worry about what we're going to do, we're going to go out there every day and grind.' And it translates. You're not complaining, you're not this, you're not that. We don't have an indoor. Nobody out there complaining. Four degrees couple weeks ago. Nobody said nothing. It's what we do. Guys are out there playing. Guys want to play football. They want to go out there and grind. There's a lot of guys on this team who have been passed on or moved from team to team and whatever, not good opportunities. You know how many free agents we got -- the old team didn't want them. So that's where we come in and take the attitude with it.
Q. How important is a win like tonight on the road against No. 1 seed, knowing you're going to into Kansas City hostile environment, or Buffalo which is a hostile environment?
D.J. READER: It's good to get a win. In the playoffs, we're still dancing. So we're going to keep going out there dancing, being on the floor and just doing what we do. We're going to see who wins, see who we've got to play and prepare for them.
Q. Do you think the disrespect is still going to continue?
D.J. READER: Yeah. Yeah. You've been around the franchise. You've all been around here. It's going to continue. But we don't care. We don't care.
Q. On that, Joe Burrow said that he's tired of the underdog mentality, and that you guys are a really really good football team. Do you stick with the underdog narrative?
D.J. READER: I've been an underdog my whole life. I was a three-star recruit. Told I couldn't do this, couldn't do that. I ain't worried about it. A lot of guys in there with me been underdogs. They don't look at themselves that way. How can you look at yourself as the underdog when you overcome all that? You can't. I tore my quad tendon last year. I'm back in the playoffs. This is great. I don't look at myself as an underdog. I'm overcoming everything.
Q. (Indiscernible) rolled their eyes at kickers. Probably don't do that now. What's your thoughts?
D.J. READER: I love Evan (McPherson). I never rolled my eyes at kickers. I've been around some good ones. I came in with a pretty good kicker in Houston. And I saw Evan. I saw him in camp. I see his demeanor. Kickers are about demeanor to me. I see his demeanor, his confidence, how he feels, how he is in the locker room. He's one of the guys. He's not on no weird stuff. He's not finicky. It's appreciative. So we appreciate him. We've got all the confidence in the world in him.
BENGALS WIDE RECEIVER JA'MARR CHASE
Q. Talk about that last play before the kick. What did you see? What did you guys feel like you could do?
JA'MARR CHASE: I had a bench route. (The defender) jumped inside me. I thought that was a good job by him. That's what I wanted him to do, jump inside me. Gave him a good inside stick. Stacked him. Gave him a step at the top to create separation and keep the angle high. And Joe (Burrow) threw me open.
Q. You've been looking for that big catch all game. Was there a difference why you were able to execute as a team on that play compared to maybe some other ones?
JA'MARR CHASE: No, Joe (Burrow) just saw a signal. Joe saw a signal. He told me after the game he immediately knew where he was going with the ball. That was all on Joe on that play.
Q. A presnap signal?
JA'MARR CHASE: Yeah.
Q. From the sideline?
JA'MARR CHASE: Players on the field. I don't know where. I'm assuming the safeties.
Q. What was your vantage point on the sacks? What did you see?
JA'MARR CHASE: I just saw him on the ground, honestly. I was trying to get out. We were actually trying to run quicker routes to get Joe (Burrow) – to get the ball out of his hands, but they were getting back there still sometimes. And we were just trying to get the ball out of his hands and trying to do the most. But he was getting rushed very fast. I just couldn't see him, about that. He was just on the ground a lot.
Q. Defense played a huge game. Three turnovers. What's going through your mind when Logan Wilson grabs the ball, falls to the ground and gives you guys one more shot?
JA'MARR CHASE: What was going through my mind? Win the game. Win the game. That's all that's going through my mind. Keep your poise and win a game.
Q. How excited were you?
JA'MARR CHASE: I wasn't excited. I wasn't excited after the game, either.
Q. (Joe) Burrow was talking about speaking to the team last night. What's Burrow like as a public speaker (inaudible)?
JA'MARR CHASE: I feel like Joe (Burrow), when Joe public speaks, that's when he gets a little shy. But he still knows how to talk, talk to the team. It's his team. He knows how to talk to us. We feed off him. He brings the energy. He stays calm, that's when we feed off him. Whatever he's doing, that's how we're going to respond.
Q. Has he done more of that this season or was last night maybe a different thing?
JA'MARR CHASE: You know what happened last night?
Q. Joe was talking about it.
JA'MARR CHASE: I was going to say, you guys all got a spy on us, huh? I mean, it wasn't just from him. It was all the leaders in general. Just glad for those guys to get up make a speech for us.
Q. You said you weren't excited for this. What will it take to excite you?
JA'MARR CHASE: Super Bowl, AFC Championship, those two.
Q. Ja'Marr, your ability to make yards after the catch, today's specific (indiscernible). Were you surprised that the Titans weren't able to bring you down when you were able to kind of extend some of those plays?
JA'MARR CHASE: No, I don't expect nobody to bring me down on my first tackle.
Q. Did you think you were (indiscernible) 57 yarder?
JA'MARR CHASE: Yeah, I should have -- I should have just pushed TB into the dude, honestly. That's what I should have did.
Q. How big was that with Joe (Burrow) not having a lot of time to throw, to get explosive plays?
JA'MARR CHASE: We just gotta, as receivers, we've just got to speed our routes up, run shorter routes and try to make plays after the catch. Get some YAC.
Q. [Question about hundred yard].
JA'MARR CHASE: Awesome. Awesome.
Q. How much fun are you having?
JA'MARR CHASE: It is fun, actually. It's been fun. We're winning. So, cool. Cool with that. That's fun.
Q. It's called bench because you're on the bench, right?
JA'MARR CHASE: Basically. Basically. We can go with that actually. That works perfectly.
Q. When Evan goes out there, as a (indiscernible), have you guys gotten to the point where, he's got this? Is there any (indiscernible)? What's it like when he's booting a really long field goal in the AFC Championship?
JA'MARR CHASE: I'm calm. I try to be as calm as I can watching that kick. But I know he's going to make it. Just having faith in our kicking, you know what I'm saying? Everybody loves our kicker. Evan (McPherson) is a cool dude. We support him. As long as he's going out there kicking his best field goals, we love it.
Q. (Indiscernible) talk about the impact you guys had. When you came in, when did you know it was a good culture going on in the locker room?
JA'MARR CHASE: I never knew there wasn't good culture.
Q. How did you know there was good culture?
JA'MARR CHASE: When we started winning, I guess. When the fans wanting to start to come to the game.
BENGALS HALFBACK JOE MIXON
Q. Your thoughts on clinching an AFC title berth?
JOE MIXON: I'm still dreaming right now, to be honest. I'm still dreaming. I feel like I'm on the highest cloud you can ever imagine. I'm so blessed to be here, be a part of this something special. So thankful for my teammates. So thankful for the fans, for all the support. They came down here. Like I say, I'm on an all-time high right now. Words can't even explain it.
Q. Your touchdown run, what did you see, and how big did you see (Joe) Burrow running for that third (indiscernible) conversion of the game?
JOE MIXON: That was a big first-down conversion, or third-down conversion to make it a first down. Came back on the field and called stretch right, and all of a sudden I just remember the boys were running over the top, the linebackers and safety, they were flowing hard. I put my toe in the ground. I put my toe in the ground again and I just seen backside, it was like open, like the Red Sea. And I ended up going, trying to explode and get to that zone. And I was fortunate enough to find daylight and everything worked out on that play, and I thought that was a big difference in the game.
Q. What was your personal frustration level at halftime?
JOE MIXON: It was definitely a rough first half. It was tough getting started, really, at least on the ground game. We came back up in here, adjusted, and Coach (Frank) Pollack was, like, 'We'll find a way to get you going.' Zac (Taylor), he was calling them plays, and the boys was blocking up front. Them guys, they're good, very good on the other side of the ball. They were one of the best defenses we faced all year. But we've got them guys in our locker room, and we feel like we've got the best of all locker rooms that you could ever think of. Like I said, we're on cloud nine right now. We're going to celebrate this win tonight, and tomorrow we've got to look forward to scouting whoever we're going to play. I'm just very excited for my teammates, excited for Paul Brown, Mike Brown, excited for Katie, all of them Elizabeth, Coach. This is just a hell of an accomplishment. And we've got a lot more football left, and we've just got to keep going each and every week.
Q. Talk about the value and impact of the locker room. How do you see that trend out on the field on a given play?
JOE MIXON: I mean, man, it was crazy, because when we were down, they were marching and they were trying to do whatever they can. I'm sure they were trying to play for a field goal at the end of the game. I was talking to Tyler (Boyd), Tyler was like, 'Man, we came too far to go out like this.' I was just like, 'Believe, bro, defense is going to get us a turnover and we'll go into overtime.' Sure enough, literally one play later, literally one play later we got a pick. Logan (Wilson), he came up super big. Seemed like when I was watching on the sideline, the pick was just in slow motion. It was like, 'Man, it's already written. It's written for us.' And we've just got to seize the moment and seize the opportunity because, like I said, we're building something special around here and we've just got to keep on pushing and keep on going.
Q. What's it like in the locker room, the meeting room yesterday, feeling like the underdog?
JOE MIXON: I felt like all of the captains spoke. And to be honest, I think that when Vonn (Bell) was speaking and when Tyler (Boyd) was speaking, started getting us up. Then after I spoke, it seemed like them boys were like, 'Man, let's go, I'm ready to play.' When Joey B (Joe Burrow) came out and spoke to us, it was like, 'OK, it's that time.' And everybody was just ready. Went through the whole day.
We waited, waited. And like I said, we came out here and got the dub. That's what we came to do.
Q. You talked about Burrow. Pretty tough season. How did that maybe even change after what you (inaudible)?
JOE MIXON: Man, that boy, Joey B (Joe Burrow), he's a bad man, to the say least. He's a bad man. I'm so happy for him because all he's been through, he's overcome. He was in a slouch with us. It wasn't like multiple years like me Tyler (Boyd) and C.J. (Uzomah). But he's been here. He's witnessed it. And when I was on the sideline, probably about like 10, 15 seconds left, I believe, when we took that ball back, Joey B went out there, and I tell everybody all the time, what surprised me the most about Joe Burrow -- and at this point it's definitely not surprising because he does it time and time again -- is his poise under pressure. And I'm just so happy for him because of all the work that he put in his offseason, getting his leg right, working on his arm and building his body up so he could take whatever happens to him. You just don't know. He got sacked a couple times. We've got to clean that up. But by him overcoming all that he's been through, I just can't do nothing but say that I'm proud of that man.
Q. Joe does a lot really well, is there one thing he does best? Joe does a lot really well. Is there one thing he does best?
JOE MIXON: I told you, his poise. That's one thing that -- everybody talks about his arm, his swag, the way he approaches the game. No, like to me it's his poise. And that boy, he's got ice in his veins. Real life. Him and Evan McPherson. When a play is called and we've got to deliver and we've got to answer, them boys, they own it. They own it and everybody's bought in around here. Like I said, it was a huge victory. We're going to celebrate tonight and get ready for whoever we've got to play next week, scout them out and hope for the best.
Q. What's it mean beating a No. 1 seed on the road, their house, given what you guys were facing in the fourth quarter, what does that do for you going forward?
JOE MIXON: I mean, to be honest, it was as expected. It wasn't no surprise to us. We got the dub. We came out here, did what we said we were going to do. They're a very good football team. I've got a lot of respect for them guys over there. Like I said, for us, we just came out here, came out here and executed.
We had one mishap. But at the same time, for the most part we were on point all game. And we've just got to continue to have the little things take care of the big things each and every week with the execution. And then from there everything is going to work out.
Q. Now that you are one game away essentially from playing in the Super Bowl, what are you feeling heading into that?
JOE MIXON: It's just you got to go out there and give it your all. Can't hold nothing back at this point. We're in the playoffs. We're in the AFC Championship, and we had a long year, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity we went through and overcame. And I'm just so happy for, like I said, our players. And the boys, they come to work, they show up. People in the locker room, all the camaraderie that we've got going on in there, the chemistry, just with the players and the coaches, and even with ownership. Ownership, they're down with us. And they come to practice each and every day. And they are supporting us. And we're doing everything that we can, just go out there and put on for the city. Put on for our teammates and put on for the city of Cincinnati, all the fans. They showed up big tonight.
I know they tried to limit our count and whatnot and up the ticket prices. I'm just so happy for the fans because it's been a drought here. And like I said, it's already written. It's written for us to go ahead and make this happen. And it's no surprise to me. But at the same time it's very emotional. So we've just got to keep on keeping on. That's really the thing. Everybody is saying why not us. But we're going to make it happen.
Q. What's that last sentence of "What's already written"?
JOE MIXON: Us. Us and where we're at. Where we're destined to go. Like I said, without God being in this position, it just seemed like it's meant for the Bengals to go to that bowl. We've got literally one more game to do whatever we've got to do, however we're going to make it happen, to go out there and get one more dub to go to the Super Bowl. It's the biggest game you could ever imagine. As a kid, I didn't imagine it as a kid. And even right now it still feels like I'm dreaming, literally feel like I'm dreaming in front of you all. It's crazy. But at the same time, we're ready. We're ready. And I believe in my team. I believe in our coaches. They're going to put us in the best position to win. And players just have to stay bought in, keep on fighting, keep on grinding, keep on doing that extra that got us here, and hopefully we'll come out on top.