Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
November 24, 2014
"It was a good football game to win (at Houston). There area lot of areas to continue to improve on. I thought handling the environment on the road again was good, but we can't have the turnover we had yesterday, obviously. That was a huge play in the football game. We had an opportunity to continue to kind of put the Texans away, and we let them right back in the game.
"We were able to continue to respond. We had some good drives yesterday, some long drives that played a part. We controlled the field position, which was a huge part of the game, and one of our goals going into the game.
"Defensively, we need to keep making sure that on every run and every pass, we do a great job of tackling and get the ball carrier on the ground initially, and don't let them fall forward to make an eventual first down or whatever it may be.
"Lastly, we can't have the penalties creep in, whether it be defensively or kicking game. We had one false start yesterday on offense. We don't want those things to creep into our play, so we have to continue to work to eliminate those. This moves forward and gets you ready for the next week."
Mike Nugent hit that kick there at the end. He's been so good since the big kick he missed in the Carolina game. When you have another one in a big spot like that, with a lot on the line, is that a hurdle for him to get over?
"I don't know what you call it. He hit a big kick in the game, and he makes a play and puts us up two scores. Obviously, taking a whack at the field goal at that point, I've got to have confidence Mike would make the kick, because I certainly don't want to give them the ball at the 40-yard line, down by a touchdown and a PAT to win. It was a big kick by Mike."
Mike credits you and Darrin Simmons and others in the organization for the unconditional support after the miss at Carolina. He said that helped him to move on. Was that the intent?
"It's not an intent, we have confidence in our players to get it done there, and that's the way it is. If not, you get new players. As I said that day, I have a lot of confidence in Mike Nugent, and I expect him to make any time I run him out there for a kick. I expect him to make it, or else we wouldn't run him out there."
Third down efficiency on offense has been really good these last two weeks. Is that a combination of Jermaine Gresham doing more now, Jeremy Hill running it well, A.J. Green being healthy and other factors?
"I think it is a combination of every factor. The quarterback has got to read things out. We're getting plus play from the runners, as well as the receivers. Gio (Bernard) had some third-down conversions, Mo (Sanu) continues to do that, A.J. had a bunch yesterday, Jermaine has had a bunch in critical moments. Guys are getting their job done, getting in spots, and the protection--both the protection as a function, and Andy (Dalton) as far as getting the protections right, that all has to work together."
Even when you don't score, stringing those together creates something positive ...
"Yeah, flipping field position is always positive, so any time you can make first downs, that creates a change of field position. Kevin (Huber) is hitting the ball extremely well. Those are all helpful things. Whether it be James Wright, Darqueze (Dennard), Dre (Kirkpatrick), those guys are all doing a great job of downing balls, and getting down the field, and forcing fair catches and limiting returns. They're making that first guy, that returner have to move, and the next guy is making the tackle. It all plays together that way."
Do you have any sort of update on Andre Smith?
"No, he has a triceps injury. Yesterday I thought it was a biceps injury, but it's triceps."
At this point, you don't have any long range idea on Andre?
"I do not."
The pass protection was pretty sound yesterday. You had a good game plan of getting the ball out quickly, but the blockers still seemed to do well ...
"It was a good job by the protectors, a good job by the quarterback to move. When he didn't have his first progressions he was able to move and find receivers. He's done a good job of that over the last couple of weeks, and we have to continue with that, as well as securing the ball in those situations, because the most important part is to maintain the football through those possessions."
There's obviously an energy level when you play at home but there can sometimes be a tension level when things don't go well. How nice has it been to maybe go on the road and it's just you guys as a group?
"Tension level, where does that tension come from?"
If a mistake happens and the crowd kind of starts to murmur...
(Laughs) "He said it, right? I didn't say anything (Laughs). I don't know, I think you're reading too much into it if you thought that would play a part in the guys' play. It might be an excuse that's given, if you ask the question that way. It might be an affirmative given to you that way. But I wish we could play 16 at home, to answer your question. Our crowd has been great. We've obviously had a good run at home, and we want to continue with that, and get back home here at the end of the season with two of the last four."
You guys got off to a good start again yesterday. Obviously playing from ahead is a much easier way to do it, but has this team in particular been that much better at playing ahead?
"Number one, you want to establish field position. Obviously we're playing against a quarterback that does not have much experience, so making him have a long field was part of the plan. We don't want to have our offense backed up where the crowd noise has a bigger effect on things. It was important yesterday to establish field position early. I think we got the first first-down, one or two first downs, and we were able to move it some off the 20, but not as far as we like it to get them backed up in an opportunity, then we make the stop, and get the ball back, and we're able to drive for a touchdown. That was big."
You've been in there when their roof is closed, and it was open yesterday. Was that to your advantage?
"The environment in the 2011 playoffs (at Houston with the roof closed) was their first playoff game in franchise history, and you couldn't duplicate that environment anywhere, anytime. That was a special environment they had there. It was not quite the same when we were there for the next time for the playoffs.
"What I was amazed at yesterday when I looked up there at kickoff, all their people were in the stands. It was amazing. I was shocked. I said that to Mike Brown on the bus last night on the way to the airport, 'I couldn't believe their crowd was in the seats at kickoff like that.' It was amazing. People come out there, and they come out to have a good time, but I guess they come out to watch the game too, which is good (Laughs).
"And nowadays, these stadiums are constructed with acoustics and noise in mind. So whatever engineers constructed that stadium, they engineered it so when the roof is open, they're not going to lose that much in terms of noise. There's a lot smarter people than me designing those things, to make sure they still have an advantage with that roof open."
The back end of your defense continues to play at such a high level. They were just so confident with jumping everything ...
"Don't ever use the term "jump" when talking about a DB. They have a direct duty to cover people and be in the right spots. Hopefully they're not jumping anything."
Well, they were in the right spots in reading things...
"Actually we thought we could play better in the back. We allowed some completions back there that we thought we could defend better."
What about Terence Newman, did he play as well as it looked?
"Terence did a good job yesterday. He played well, and it was good to get him back in there and playing."
You were talking about excitement in Houston. What about going into these final five games where you have three in division? Do you miss that when you're coaching because you have to worry about Tampa Bay?
"The only one that matters is the one right here, because we control everything, and that's all we have to worry about. This is what you play for. This is the way it's supposed to be every year. That's the only thing we can control. Our guys have earned an opportunity to be in this position, and now to take advantage of this position. It's to their credit."
You guys have had a good blueprint going on this three-game road trip about the process, and to respect and enjoy the process and to prepare ...
"We know what it's going to be this Sunday. It's going to be tough football. We're going to go to another environment, and it will probably be even a little warmer than it was yesterday. We've got to adjust to that. It's a football team that will muster up and play great football. We know they're a well-coached team that will play very, very good football. They'll play tough, and they'll play physical, so we're going to have to be able to go and play our style.
"The preparation and the study during the week, it plays so much of it, but Sunday we have to go out there and execute it and put it out there. We can't leave it in the bag. We've got to go out there and do it on Sunday, and over the last two weeks we've done a good job of going out there and doing it for the most part."
What has Rey Maualuga brought to the defense the last two weeks?
"He really has come back and has brought the intelligence of knowing what to do, how to do it all the time. He brings a calmness to the other guys in the huddle, and then obviously he has made plays. He's made plays in the running game, he made a big play in the passing game, he's been in on a lot of plays and tackles, and it's been great. He makes those guys in front of him better, and the guys on each side of him better. That's good."
If and when Vontaze Burfict comes back that will be another lift and another boost at an opportune time. Obviously Rey has lifted the intangible part as well, hasn't he?
"He does. He lifts them from the mental standpoint, and basically the physicality and the playmaking up there, and he's done a good job."