CINCINNATI BENGALS – LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
FRIDAY, JANUARY 2, 2015
You've been here a few years and have been through the playoff preparation process before – how do you think you guys have handled this week?
"I think we handled this week very well. We had a great week of practice and preparation. We've studied harder than we've ever studied before, and we practiced the best I've seen in a long time. I think we're ready and prepared. We're going to go out there and do what we know we can do."
What's the mental approach – do you try and do extra things? Do you handle it like a regular week?
"Well, you have to do extra; it's a playoff game. It's win or go home. It's do or die, really, so you've got to make sure you're prepared or (even) over-prepared with all the little keys and details that you need to make sure you have that little advantage that you need in that key situation."
Given what happened the last time this team went to Indianapolis, how much motivation is there to remedy that with a win this Sunday?
"It's a lot of motivation to fix that, but there's more motivation for the fact that it's a playoff game and it's one step closer to our goal (of winning the Super Bowl if we win). We got to do everything we need to get there."
The quarterback is always a lightning rod for fan and media comment. What has Andy Dalton looked like in practice this week and how has he handled all the talk about his play in recent weeks?
"Andy's looked terrific in practice. He's firing the ball around. He's taking command in the huddle, commanding the offense and leading us the way everybody knows he can. He's doing a great job."
With A.J. Green on concussion protocol this week, you may be called upon to fill his role as the 'number one' receiver. How are you preparing for that challenge if you are called upon to fill that role?
"I prepare every game the same way, and when you're number is called, you've got to make the play. If A.J. plays, that's great for us. If he doesn't, I'm just going to play the way I can. That means I'm going to get more targets and I'm going to take advantage of those throws. A.J. and I always have each other's backs, and when he's out there, we help each other big time. When he's not, when he's there on the sideline, he helps me out big time. That's what it is and hopefully, we have him for Sunday."
How has this week gone? Does it feel the same as it was during your rookie season last year, as the team prepared to play San Diego in the playoffs?
"I think the mentality hasn't changed this entire season; we know what we have to do. Last year is last year. We're focused on this year. We know what we have to do. We know where we have to go in there and accomplish."
What did you learn from your game vs. the Colts in October?
"You've just got to learn from your mistakes. Converting on third down, I think that was one of the biggest things that we have to improve. We have some great things in plan for them; we just have to go out and execute them."
How you would describe the mindset of the offense now, given how you and Jeremy Hill have been running the football so well recently?
"We've just got to run the ball. Run the ball and figure it out from there. We have to help Andy out, give him some time in the pocket. I think the first game, we really didn't do that too well, so we've got to help him do that. Everything else will take care of itself."
How sharp has practice been this week, not just for Andy but everybody in general?
"It's been focused. Guys are really in tune. They know what we have to do. They know what we have to accomplish this season. Our season's not going to end. We want to keep going. We want to keep riding (high)."
Given the two big hits you took during your previous game with the Colts, how excited are you looking to playing them again and possibly returning the favor this time?
"It's always better going back and just enjoying my time."
How would you describe this week of practice? What's it been like?
"Very intense. I feel like everybody is very focused this week. I feel like this is the most focused I've ever seen this group. We've got a job to do and everybody knows the job."
You've been here a few years and been to the playoffs each of the years you've been here, but would you say it feels different this year?
"Yeah It feels different, just the mindset of not winning a playoff game for the last three years, and we know what the goal is. We just have to go out there and do our job, and I feel like everybody is focused on the job at hand."
What did you learn from the game film of the first meeting with Indianapolis?
"Like I've said before, it wasn't anything that they did to distract us; it was all about us. We go out and execute, go out and play the right techniques, I feel like we have a great chance of winning this game."
The running game hasn't been producing real well for the Colts. When you look at them in terms of what concerns you as a defense, what is it?
"You know, we've got to isolate (Colts receiver) T.Y. (Hilton). He had a great year this year, and Andrew Luck is one of the better quarterbacks in the league, so we just have to go out there and get those guys a little rattled, kind of get them off their game a little bit and pretty much stay on the gas pedal."
How do you think the team has handled this week of practice and preparation?
"I think we did great. Guys practiced hard. The attention to detail is definitely there, and there was a purpose all week. For me, driving to work, there was a purpose, so I'm excited."
Does it feel different than recent years? What have you learned from those experiences that has helped in preparing for Indianapolis Sunday?
"What have we learned from the past to help us this week? You can always take a little bit from it, but for the most part, every year is a different team. I'm definitely excited about the chemistry of this team as opposed to the teams before. Guys are more cohesive this year. We understand the defense a little bit better. We understand what each guy is doing in the defense, so that allows us to play even faster.
"So I'm excited about this weekend. I'm excited about the rematch with these guys. The first round of the playoffs, you've always got the biggest struggle in the first round of the playoffs, but we definitely have a different mindset. Guys are focused and ready to get this thing underway."
It seems like every year, I'm hearing guys say 'This year's going to be different." Why do you guys believe that?
"You have to believe it. You have to believe for it for the simple fact that we put a lot of work in. From the off-season until now, guys have literally dedicated everything they have to this moment.
"You take a guy like Devon Still and the things he went through this year. Anybody else would have folded. But guys have stuck with him, we stuck to the program and it's gonna pay off for us."
What did you learn about the Colts from your previous game against them this October?
"We have to pay attention to detail. Just because the offense turns the ball over or things aren't going our way, you can't lose focus. You can't forget what we're here for and what we came to do and that's kind of what we did (last time). We kind of lost focus and we learned from that, so hopefully this go around it will be a different story."
What do you think has been the problem in previous years of getting over the hump and winning a playoff game?
"I don't know, man. I don't have the answer to that … That's old stuff. This is this year. We just have to go out there and get it done.
"First of all, we can't be having that in the back of our heads. We just have to take it one play at a time, one series (at a time) and finish the game. That's all I can say on that."
If you did break through and get that playoff win, who in this locker room would you be happiest for?
"I'll be happiest for myself (laughs) and Marvin (Lewis). It would mean a lot for Marvin and this organization, period. We've done a good job of having some consistency and getting over that hump, so it would just be good for the organization and Coach Lewis."
Is it frustrating to get criticized for the playoff performance, given how you guys have reached the playoffs four straight years and not a lot of teams can say that?
"Yeah, I mean it's pretty impressive, but nobody … You get to the Super Bowl and nobody remembers who lost the Super Bowl – you got to win. Getting over that hump would be big for him and the organization."