We heard that you told the team that you didn't drink enough water, and that's what happened with the cramp in your hand. Can you walk us through what happened? It looked like you got hit and we didn't know what happened ...
"No, my thumb, forearm just all started cramping. My thumb was just locking up on me. I couldn't throw. Then, I came in and got an IV and was fine. Yeah, it's pretty dumb, but I just have to drink more water and electrolytes, I guess. I think sometimes when it's cold, you just aren't thirsty. So, yeah, that's probably the main take away from the game — hydrate better."
Have your teammates already given you a hard time about water? Do you think that's coming?
"Yeah, I'm sure it will be, but I think everyone is just happy we won. I mean, it's kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is."
After Monday night at Jacksonville, you talked about following it up with another good performance. You did that today. What does it feel like to go back-to-back?
"It feels good. It feels like we got some good rhythm going. I think as well as we played on offense, I thought our O-line had a really good game. No sacks, a couple explosive screens, ran the ball for 100-plus yards. I think for all these post-game press conferences, you kind of go back to the same thing of, 'It's never as good as you think, it's never as bad as you think.' So, I know there are some things that I can improve on, and so that will kind of be my focus. But it feels better doing that when you won and trying to keep getting better, instead of losing and trying to get better. So, we'll take it."
Just like the other night, you had a bad 20 seconds where suddenly the game changed. But just like on Monday night, you guys didn't fold. Why is that?
"I threw a bad pass to Tanner (Hudson). He tried to make a play on it. I need to throw it to him in the chest. Then, they return it for a pick-six. So, that was tough, but I think coming into halftime my thought process was, 'The only time that they haven't stopped us is when I threw it to the other team. So, just don't do that, and we'll move the ball well.'"
On the throw to Tanner Hudson, did you just throw it too far inside of him?
"Yes, I thought he was going to sit, and then he kind of sat and broke out a little bit. I'm sure he was right; I might have just thrown it too far inside. He goes out and tries to make the one-handed catch and it kind of goes into the guy's lap. I think if I just throw it to him in the chest, then we'll avoid the whole problem."
What is the key to a 92-yard scoring drive and three others of 70 or more yards? What's the key to having long drives?
"I feel like our offense is doing a good job of running the ball well, having some plays off those runs, then some explosives. It all seems to kind of be flowing well. We're doing a good job of complementing each other. I think, like I said, our O-line played incredible. I think they were really the consistent force throughout the game, and I think when we do that, there's an opportunity for some explosives. We obviously have the guys on the outside to do that."
Why has the screen game been so good for you guys?
"I don't know. I don't spend that much time on screens, just kind of do my part on it and try to sell passes. I think part of what they do on defense is limit the explosives. So, part of that is playing soft; they're running everybody out underneath to try to stop the intermediate to long pass game. So, when you dump off a few and let some O-linemen get out in front, that's kind of the game you play when you play defense like that. Some of the underneath stuff is going to be there. I thought Chase (Brown) had a really good run after the catch. I didn't get the best view of it, but it went for 50-plus (yards), so we'll take that in the stats. Then, the same with Joe Mixon. (It was) the second week in a row where Joe Mixon has had a big-time screen to spring an explosive."
You guys have found a style that fits your strengths as an offense. Why has that worked? What is the process between you and the staff?
"I'm not sure, but I keep going back to it starts up front and with Joe (Mixon). When we're able to run the ball well and you have to dedicate more resources to stopping the run, then we have really good skill players on the outside. I feel very comfortable with how everything is going, Zac (Taylor) calling the game, feeling like we're staying a step ahead as far as run-pass, having everything kind of look the same, mixing in some screens. It makes my job easy."
How much does going under center maybe help everything kind of look the same?
"I think the more you can do, the more looks you present to the defense and the more that all those looks have multiple things you can run out of those formations or those sets, I think it makes it difficult. I feel like we're doing a good job of that."
Did you know that Chase Brown is this explosive? Have you seen it in practice, or have the last two weeks been a surprise?
"Yeah, I knew that Chase was super fast. When he's running the ball in practice, he does a good job of getting vertical, putting his foot in the ground and being explosive. So, it was awesome to see him. I think you saw a little bit of it last week with a couple big runs, and then today with the screen, it was obviously a huge play. I think he'll continue to do a lot for us. It's kind of nice to have the one-two punch of him and Joe Mixon. I think every good offense needs two legit running backs, and I think we have that."
Do you think that they complement each other well?
Joe Mixon was just asked if he thinks this is a playoff team, and he started off his answer by saying, 'Damn right.' What do you think, is this a playoff team?
Your family got some serious airtime. I know you didn't see that, but they were very proud of you. What did it mean to have them in the box?
"Well first of all, it is not my box. I did not buy that in the preseason — it's very expensive. So, Joe Burrow was nice enough to give them some tickets so they didn't have to sit up in the cold. We're all from California, so I'm used to it, they're not. I'm sure they were much more excited in the box. It's awesome to have them here. I think it was two friends from back home, my girlfriend, and then my brother, my sister and my sister's boyfriend. It's always nice to have people there, and it's mostly nice after you win to go grab dinner or something somewhere."
Did Joe Burrow say anything when you came back onto the field from the cramps?
"I think he was just laughing, and I was just kind of like, 'Yeah, that was kind of embarrassing.' Drink more water."
Did you know the whole time that it wasn't broken?
"Yeah, it was slowly cramping on me, and then I tried to start chugging water. I think it was too late — I don't know. I should start getting an IV at halftime, I guess. I'm not sure."
In terms of the concept on third downs, it seemed like there were seven- and six-man protections ...,
"Yeah, I don't think that they pressured us a ton. That's not really what they do. There will be some games where it's all the sudden a pressure game, but I don't think that they pressured us a ton, particularly probably because they're working in a new linebacker and they want to make sure that everything is sound. I thought our third-down plan was good and our overall scheme was good."
Jonah Williams said that the team has been playing looser since you took over as the starting quarterback. Are you cognizant of how much the way you handle situations weighs in the locker room?
"Yeah, I think my relationship with guys on the team kind of goes back to being here for a while, and not really being in a (starting role) ... People are going to approach Joe (Burrow) differently than they approach me when I'm the backup, so I kind of get to know all of these guys really well on a pretty personal level. So I think, now that I'm playing and all that, we still have that same relationship. I still feel like the exact same person. I think also, I'm just genuinely being myself. I struggle to get outside of that."
You said this week that you haven't been riding the roller coaster of all the emotions. You showed some emotion walking off the field with the crowd cheering for you after your first home win. Was that a little extra meaningful for you?
"Yeah, I think it was. I mean, yes and maybe not. I don't know. It was cool to get a win at home. Last time we had a home game, we put up (only) 10 points. So, it was nice to put up some points and get a win. I think enjoying those moments is part of it. So, it wasn't really well-thought through, it was just something that kind of happened."
The biggest difference in the offense since you took over seems to be the run game, and your reliance on the run game ...
"Yeah, like I said a couple times now, our O-line is playing great football. I think there's a lot written about our guys on the outside, and obviously they're some of the best players in the NFL too, and Joe Mixon is a great running back. But, our O-line and our tight ends have been blocking their (tails) off, and I think that's a big part of why we've been successful."
How important was that first drive in the second half, to go and score?
"Very important, just because I felt like they probably had the momentum. I don't really feel that that much as the game's going on. I don't know if maybe I'm the outlier there, but I just feel like the more I focus on doing my job and holding my attention to each play and executing each play how I'm supposed to, that's kind of when I play my best. So, I just like to stay right there."
So, you don't come out of halftime saying, 'We get the ball here, we have to make an impact score"?
"I think on every drive, I'm just, 'Let's go score.' Everybody just do their job, and we're plenty talented enough, we have a great play caller, a great scheme, and just do your job."
The first time you got the ball to Tee Higgins was on one of the first plays of the second half. Was there anything you saw?
"I can't even remember which play that was. Sorry."
Over the past few weeks, you've focused on handling what's immediately in front of you, whether that be the next play in the game, whatever. Winning on a short week, winning two times in a row in very different ways, can you feel momentum building among this team in the locker room?
"Yeah. This was our first short week; the last one was kind of a long week. The Thursday night game was a long week. So, now we have the two short weeks, back-to-back. Honestly, it's kind of nice, because you just kind of stay in the moment and you're so busy trying to prepare on a short week that you don't really have any free (time). The worst thing that happens with a lot of this stuff is an idle mind and free time. So, I don't really have either one of those on short weeks, so it's probably an advantage."
On the play before you took a knee to leave the game, it looked like you had a receiver down the right side and you pulled it down and scrambled. Was that in the moment, feeling a cramp?
"No. I was going to throw a hitch to the right, and he converted it to a 'go,' so I was kind of in scramble mode at that point. I really just started to feel it when I threw the one to Tee (Higgins). I should've given him a better ball, and then he would've had 100 yards. I just kind of started feeling it a little bit, but it's kind of too late at that point. Then, it got to third down, and it was, 'Alright, we need to throw it here,' and my thumb is just completely locked up, so I went down. I need to hydrate better."
Zac Taylor refers to you as his veteran quarterback. Do you feel like they are treating you as a veteran quarterback in terms of freedom, and play calling and things of that nature?
"Yeah, I don't think there is much put into the game plan that's just, 'Hey, let's just protect this guy.' I think it's, 'We're calling what gives us the best chance to win.' I think that's how it should be, and that's kind of been my communication throughout the whole thing. There are certain things that I like — more maybe than some things that Joe (Burrow) doesn't — that I do, or whatever. That's just personal preference. I think that gets taken into account when we're putting together the game plan. I think you see a lot of backup quarterbacks go in, and maybe there's not a lot of confidence in them, so you kind of try to protect them with, 'Let's get the ball out quick,' or 'Let's call a lot of screens.' We called a lot of screens, and they all worked, but I think that was mostly because we thought they were going to work. So, yeah, I feel like I'm going to keep getting better, but I feel comfortable. I don't even think I answered your question."