"To recap yesterday, the outcome of the game rested in what we did in the second half, after a good first half. We failed to convert two of five third downs in the second half. We didn't make enough first downs or put ourselves in position to score points. We had some negative plays; the turnover and four other ones that contribute to that. You can't have that when you have a lead. You want to keep moving the football forward.
"Defensively, they made first downs and got it to third-and-one, and then the center hitches the ball and we move. They (officials) miss it, so we get called. Then we get called for two other penalties we don't want to have, and then we have a penalty with supposedly unnecessary roughness. Those are things you can't do. They contributed to the touchdown on the very next play. We have to defend touchdowns.
"At the end of the game, we still had an opportunity, but we have to make stops. We allowed a big third-down conversion. All of those things contribute. We don't get a takeaway yesterday; that matters. We set up some field position with the kicking game, but we set up one of theirs, so it's a wash in that. In a close football game, it's going to come down to plays like that.
"We have to move forward. We have two games, and this one against another team that is fighting to go to the playoffs in the Texans. We know they'll be prepared and ready to go. It's a short turnaround for us, so we'll get an opportunity to wipe this taste clean pretty quickly."
Was Pat Sims a victim of circumstances on his penalties?
"It doesn't matter, but I do think the center hitched the ball on the hard cadence with the head snap. It was missed. You can see it on our video, you saw it last night, and on the TV copy. That happens. We have to move on the ball and make sure we're prepared for that situation, because it's the kind of gamesmanship that can occur. Later on, we have to understand the situation that we had him stopped. We can't put ourselves in that situation. We had him wrapped up."
That's tough though with a player like (Le'Veon) ell ...
"We can't put ourselves in that situation. (Tyler) Eifert makes a catch on third-and-five and takes a big shot from behind as well. They are similar plays, but the timing of that millisecond makes a huge difference."
George Iloka praised Vontaze Burfict for his composed play yesterday …
"Vontaze is at the tip of the spear, all the time. He has to understand that and keep playing."
Is that an example of showing maturity?
"The less I say about those things, it dies down."
What was Big Ben (Roethlisberger) on the play where Vontaze was called for roughing him? A quarterback? A runner?
"If he's deemed a runner, he's not afforded the same protection as the quarterback in the pocket. That's at the discretion of the referee. We have to understand the situation, wrap the quarterback, make sure he doesn't have the ball, and move on."
Is there any thought with the playoffs out of the picture of playing the young guys ...
"No. My thought is to win these next two football games with the best players we can put out there to play. That's what we owe to everybody. This isn't junior high school."
Will A.J. Green play?
"We'll see when we get later in the week. He's hopeful to be able to play. Just like last week, but he didn't quite make it. He's a week closer than last week."
So you're a firm believer in Herm Edwards' philosophy to "play to win the game"?
"Yeah. We have to play to win the game. That's what it's for. We owe it to everybody. The guys out here put their neck on the line all the time. We have to make sure we're all doing it in the same direction. If we have somebody that's not quite in step with us, then we'll have someone else in there."
Will there be any consideration for players who are banged up?
"I think we're in pretty good shape physically. If they can't do their job physically, they're not going to be out there anyway."
Does a season like this fuel you more?
"It pisses you off. If I'm allowed to say that. (Laughs.) It really does. It gets you upset, and you stay upset. It doesn't sit well. Unfortunately, I've got a little bit longer to be upset than in the past. Whenever the final day comes, unless you're the last one standing, you're always upset with it. That's the way it is.
"We'll get to work immediately in righting it, and making a new way. A better way, with everybody understanding it. We have to be better, because we weren't good enough this year. We fell short scoring, fell short early on in stopping scores, and we haven't made any explosive plays in special teams, or very few. We continue to do a good job on the other side of special teams, but we have to complete it. We fell down in making field goals and PATs, and that hurt us.
"We failed in a bunch of ways that hurt us. We didn't protect the quarterback early on well enough. We gave up explosive plays on defense early in the season. All of those things we can look back to as to why we are where we are. We never got it all the way turned around enough. At the eight-week mark, when we had a chance to do it, we didn't get it quite turned around. We still lost these games and were behind in the fourth quarter. That makes a difference. That's the quarter you have to go win."
Are you surprised at all of these issues?
"You're surprised, but that's part of it. That's shame on me. You can't get surprised."
What is one fourth-quarter issue you can take away from it all?
"We're not making the game-winning plays."
Is a different mentality needed for the fourth quarter?
"There is. We always remind them of that. You have to play with your mind, eyes, and feet. You have to play smart, let your eyes and feet and work. You have to beat the other team to the spots. There's an urgency about it it that has to get done. Whether that's the big block, the big sack, the big interception, the tipped ball, the big tackle, the big coverage. Whatever it is; deflection, breakup, completion, catch, block. It all has to rise up to a new level. The big punt, the big return, whatever it may be."
How tough is it to change that midseason?
"It moves around. You don't get to start over and go one through 16 again. We are where we are this year."
How long do you dwell on a season like this?
"I have to be over it tomorrow. I have to pump life tomorrow. I'll be blowing air tomorrow. Today I can be upset."
Do the players share that pissed-off mentality? Does that make it easier?
"Yes. We have a good group of professionals, and they'll be ready to go."
What pisses you off the most?
"I'm not going to sit and talk about anything that matters that way. It's not fair to the players. We'll fix it."
Does the message change at all these next two games?
"I think they understand it. We'll carry it and get prepared to play. We haven't won in Houston often, so that matters to me."
If you win out, you finish 4-1 in the last five. Is that something to build on for next year?
"We have some players that will be here next season that have never experienced a non-playoff season. That will be good for them. We have this young group of guys who have never been out of the playoffs. To win four out of five is a big thing for them, and it will matter."
Do you feel like you still need to remind the players about that?
"No I don't think I need to say that. They understand where I come from."
Is all of this a big fix? Or a tweak?
"We have to be better in a lot of ways. We have to do a better job of things. (Laughs.)"
That sounds like a big fix ...
"We have guys that can do better than what they've done this season. They have the ability to do better. We have to pull it out of them and get others and bring them on board."