Marvin Lewis news conference transcript

Comments about Toys for Tots...

*            *"The first thing is this Sunday, at our game against the Steelers, the United States Marine Corps and the Bengals will team up again for the Toys for Tots toy drive. Representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps will be at all the entrances to collect new and unwrapped toys and cash donations. All contributions will benefit the less fortunate children in our community. The Bengals have hosted this event for more than 25 years. We want to remind all the fans that come out this week."

Comments about game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers...

*            *"Going back through the game, you can't have 10 penalties in a  game and be successful very often. The three turnovers, and the tackling on defense, were also disappointing. All three areas are areas where we need to have a quick turnaround and an improvement.

"It's difficult to win games when you fall off in those three areas like that, so we really have to pay attention to that and get better. I thought offensively we were close to some plays, but we just need to be more consistent and not fall off. We've got to finish things better.

"On defense, we continued the same thing, by flipping off the tackle, small gains became bigger gains, which played a part in the football game. We've got to be better at that. I thought defensively we did a better job, and we continue to get better at the four-man rush, continue to keep doing a better job of that. We're doing a better job of dictating where the ball is going in the passing game. We have to continue on that trend.

"Special teams-wise, we need to have more consistent play in coverage, better play in the return game, and continue to do a better job in certain areas of the return, particularly in holdup areas. We can't have the penalties. Those things set us back, and we can't have that in the kicking game. We've got to have great ball placement from our specialists all the time. That's kind of my summation and review from yesterday."

You haven't given up a lot of big plays down the field in the passing game. How much of that is the corners, how much of that is what George Iloka does on the back end, or is it just all of it combined?

*            *"It takes 11 guys combined in those situations all the time, no matter what. It's whatever the coverage is, and making sure we're playing the coverage to the best of our abilities, and everybody in the right spots. The rush has to work with the coverage, and the coverage has to work with the rush."

When you talk about the four-man rush being better, that doesn't always necessarily translate into sacks. How do they dictate where the ball goes?

*            *"You want to dictate where the ball goes based on coverage. Each and every throw, we want to dictate where the ball goes. There's a strength and weakness to every coverage we play, and we want to make sure we get the ball into the strength of the coverage and not the weakness."

You talked about the tackling. For a lot of teams, does that become an issue this time of year because you're so from removed from actually working in that regard?

*            *"That's not true. You're not removed from that. Tackling is a one-two, and it's a must, and it's a have-to at this time of the year."

How did Clint Boling look at his stint at the right tackle position after you had time to look at the tape?

*            *"He did okay."

How about the group as a whole? How did the offensive line do yesterday?

*            *"Not good enough. Not as good as we need. We had a couple guys play pretty well, but as a group we didn't play as well as we need to play. We need to play better."

Mohamed Sanu has made a lot of big plays this year, but he's had some drops. Is it something to focus on for him, is there one thing that he's not doing?

*            *"He's got to catch the ball before he tries to run with it. We've got to continue to focus on making the big catch, the big play, rather than worry about what happens after the fact. You've got to make sure you focus in and see the ball all the way, and make the catch and put the ball away. But you're right, he's made some huge plays, and huge third-down conversions. He had another one yesterday.

"But that was a big one that we let go down the middle of the field (on a Sanu drop). When you get those things, you've got the ball down in the weakness of the coverage, and that's what you want. When you've got the ball in the weakness of the coverage you stand to make a very large play."

A lot of the rookie draft class has played well. A guy that's kind of been under the radar is James Wright. His role is expanding. Is your confidence growing in James Wright?

*            *"Yeah, James with every opportunity has pretty much produced. He had a couple big plays in the football game yesterday: the big third down on the cross, the big third down on the boundary, the big run. He continues to block well. James' contributions yesterday in the football game were big."

The league is now saying they were about to buzz down anyway on the 12-man penalty. Have they called at all apologizing and explaining?

*            *"No, I don't need an apology or anything. I don't know all that, but so be it. What's done is done."

It's a good thing you did something, you don't want to take a chance on them not stopping the play...

*            *"Yeah, but I could have done it better."

It's Steelers week. Does this week feel any differently to you when it is Pittsburgh coming here?

*            *"Since I've been here, I think Baltimore is a bigger rivalry, because that's where I came from most recently. Cleveland is a rivalry. It's a division game. I think for some reason fans make a bigger deal out of it than we do as a football team. All of our division games are important games, we know. This is a very, very important football team this week. It's at home, so the fans will be out and excited big time and have a lot of fun on Sunday. It's a really important game for us."

You guys are 10-2 in your last 12 games in December. How different is December football?

*            *"We keep talking and being repetitive about this, but all the work put in by the players since April, it now comes down to these four weeks, but most importantly this week. That's big. All the plusses and minuses and all the good, it keeps going. It provides one opportunity, provides the next opportunity, so in December is very, very important that you play well. Obviously you want to play and continue through January, but we've got to take care of December first. We had a good September, not a very good October, a better November, and we need to have an even better December. That'll be important."

If you look what Andy Dalton has done on the road and in December, it seems like he doesn't get a lot of credit for that...

*            *"You earn credit and you earn opportunity every chance you get. Everything you do, it all comes out, whenever you do what people wish you would do, and then you have arrived."

When you were decompressing after yesterday's win, were you monitoring the Baltimore and San Diego game at all?

*            *"I don't have any idea who won or anything (Laughs). You guys think I lie up here, but I really don't care what happens other than with us. After the game, do you think I have any time or any emotion left to spend on anyone else? (Laughs) I needed a cart to get from the sidelines (Laughs)."

Did you guys give Adam Jones some advice about fair catching?

*            *"I did try to give him advice. Those aren't kicks you can return. We're going to get good field position, so don't risk yourself getting injured over this thing that you don't want to fair catch. That's not smart. We want to play smart football. The other thing about December, let's play smart. Lets be the smartest football team in December. Lets play smart football now down the stretch. If we do that, and we can execute and do it right, we've got good opportunities ahead."

After beating Tampa Bay, you've now beaten every other NFL team. Does that mean anything to you?

*            *"I knew there was one left. I actually remembered that this morning because Wallace Gilberry asked me Saturday evening, and I couldn't remember what it was, and there we were in Tampa. That was ironic. Yeah, that's good. I've been in the job too long (Laughs)."

Speaking of irony, did it strike you at all the game in Tampa in '06 with the Justin Smith sack was the same exact spot on the field where their 12-man call was?

*            *"Yeah that's what (Andrew) Whitworth told me. It was his rookie year. It was the same score, right?"

Any update on Domata Peko?

*            *"He was able to come back in the game. He felt basically after the game that he should be fine. He got in a situation where he wasn't as comfortable as maybe the doctors were. We've got to go with how the player feels. They felt that he would be okay for this week."

With respect to putting Jayson DiManche on IR, is that something you think you'll be able to fill come Wednesday or so?

*            *"We'll see. There's some options available, and we'll see what's best."

Other than the normal bumps and bruises, nothing significant with anybody else in terms of injuries?

*            *"We'll see. It was a 14-13 game. There wasn't a lot of margin for error. There was a lot of bumping going on, a lot of right-angle football, so you get some sore guys. We were sore all the way around, I think both teams were. For us it was really hot. That's a game where you'd like to get out and get a little bit of a lead, but we didn't.

"Our guys were a little spent. We knew we would be. I talked about it all week, that we had to hydrate beginning early in the week and make sure we stay hydrated all the way down …  on Friday, on the plane, on Saturday and so forth, and before the game and everything. I thought our guys reacted and responded pretty well to that. I don't think we needed an IV at halftime -- our quarterback had his couple before the game, which was good."

Speaking of Andy Dalton, what do you think about what he did yesterday?

*            *"I thought he did a great job coming back in the second half after having a very, very poor first half. He missed throws, he missed things that he's supposed to do within the offense, and he heard about it at halftime. I thought he responded to it. We had two drops in the second half, we had a throwaway and a tipped ball. He came back and played a great second half."

How close did you come to making a switch at QB?

*            *"I did not come to that conclusion to switch. We were where we were in the football game. We had lived it. They got one field goal off of the three turnovers. We were in the football game. I was hopeful that he would continue to come around and feel better and he did."

Vontaze Burfict was working on the field before the game. Do you have any sense that he'll be able to practice this week?

*            *"I don't know. He's kind of day-to-day, and we'll see how he goes."

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