Initial comments:** ML: "Looking back at the game yesterday, in all three phases, our execution wasn't where we needed to be. It was evident last evening, and it was evident again this morning. We had a lot of good things, but not consistently enough, and we didn't finish it enough when we had opportunities. We lost a second straight game in overtime. We got down again and fought back, but we just need to not get down and put better plays together earlier on. The question came up last night about (pass) protection. I thought we protected pretty well to begin the football game, and we just had a little stretch where we didn't do it very well. It's a combination of things, but we have to continue to be better at that, and we have to communicate in every area offensively with the noise and handle all those things. Defensively, not allow the penalties to unnerve us, and keep on our job and our assignments, and keep finishing the coverage. We had the quarterback on the move a few times, but we need to keep finishing the coverage and keep doing our jobs. Special teams-wise, not our best day of ball placement and kicking the football in any area, so we need to be better there."
It seemed like this officiating crew was allowing a lot of handsy stuff in the secondary. Is that something you need to make an adjustment to?
ML: "The officials are just a third element out there that we can't worry about. We've just got to play."
Is Vinny Rey one of those guys that when opportunity presents itself to the next man up, he took full advantage of it?
ML: "Yeah he's gotten an opportunity to slide over to Vontaze's (Burfict) spot in the nickel defense and he's done a good job. With Vontaze playing in his normal spot, Vinny slid into the other spot where the other guys have been playing throughout the year, and he did a nice job. He did a good job yesterday."
How did Brandon Thompson play in his first extended stint?
ML: "I thought Brandon did some good things."
Going back on the fourth-and-one:
ML: "I think I covered that last night. I should have called a timeout."
On the interception with Marvin Jones, was that one of those cases where they did review it after the turnover?
ML: "They did not. The biggest thing was that as you know, they called holding on No. 21, and then pulled the flag (said there was no foul after initially throwing the flag."
Did you get an explanation for that?
ML: "No, but our players did, because they overheard the conversation. One of those believe-it-or-nots."
Was it simultaneous possession at the last second?
ML: "It really doesn't matter. It is what it is. They called it what they called it. I don't ever let any of our guys to do that. Our players, I don't want them to second guess anything that way. It does no good for us to do that. We've got to make plays. On the other side, let's make some of those plays. Let's make some of those contested interceptions like that. We had another ball yesterday in our hands that we didn't catch. Let's make sure we catch them all."
How bad was the wind yesterday?
ML: "It affected some throws. You were really going to have a hard time kicking field goals back towards our locker room. At times it was pretty strong and whipping. It knocked the ball down and changed the trajectory on some kicks. You saw it on that one kickoff that started on the far number and ended up way on the other side. It moved the ball quite a bit. At times it was very strong. At other times it seemed like it was laying down pretty good, but it came and went throughout the day."
You've been in that stadium plenty. Is that the wind pattern normally there?
ML: "I don't remember. It's been a long time since I've been in that stadium plenty. Longer in this stadium than I was in that stadium, actually (laughs).
Do you think it affected Andy Dalton's throws?
ML: "Well it affected one throw. It moved one ball pretty good."
How do you think Andy played?
ML: "We thought he played inconsistent. We thought he had some marvelous plays, some great audibles and some great checks. He had a couple things that we wish he could have done better, and guys have to do a little better for him too. He's got their eyes and they've got to finish the play. He'll continue to play better. We put the pressure on him always to play better. He is the offense, he runs the offense. When we're going good, he gets all the credit. When we're not as good as we should be, it's us that needs to be fixed. He had some plays he could have done better like everybody did, including the head coach. The head coach should have called timeout (before the early fourth-and-one try) and taken the pressure off the offense."
On that last drive before the Hail Mary, is that a case where Andy needs to have better awareness?
ML: "Well, you'd like to, but again, there's another brilliant play, because we get the ball spiked and killed so we have an opportunity for the Hail Mary. So again, it just talks about the kind of player he is, that he can go on to the next play, and he did that, and a great job by our players in doing that to be able to get the ball killed, and have the opportunity for the fourth-down play to make a play. So again, it just talks about the qualities of Andy. That's huge. Not many people have that kind of calm and makeup to handle that situation, where I'm sure everybody was shutting off the TVs and going to the refrigerator. He's calmly killing the ball and giving us a chance at another play."
Have you ever been involved with a Hail Mary like that on either side?
ML: "I don't know that I've had one come to the positive. I think that's my first one ever to the positive."
That just shows how rare they are:
ML: "They are rare, very rare. Well, we saw one against Denver (in 2011), but that wasn't really a Hail Mary as a Hail Mary. But it was (like) a Hail Mary, you know what I mean? So I've been to the negative of some bad plays like that. But it's a good teaching moment for our players, offense and defense. You don't get many opportunities to teach from those things and it's a great teaching moment for everyone."
Hindsight is always 20-20, but do you think you should have run the ball more?
ML: "Well, we were down some points, and we needed to score. We had five drops in the game. For the most part, we were pretty productive throwing the football. And we were timely with it, and we had the dropped passes. They were catches we've seen our guys make. It wasn't like they had to be circus catches or anything. They were balls in our hands that we can catch and make plays. One was for a touchdown, others for first downs. We've just got to keep going. So that's why I say the quarterback always gets to be the focus of things, but his day would have been helped out by some of these other things, finish what we're doing and making sure guys are 100 percent on everything on their jobs. He cleans them up a bunch, which is good. He bails them out a bunch. But we need to be better. We pushed things forward very positively, now we've dug a little bit of a hole, and we've got to climb out and play better this week against the Browns."
You've seen these AFC North races before. It's just beginning:
ML: "We'll be fine. If we take care of our business, we'll be fine."
Do you still feel good about the team going forward?
ML: "I feel great about our team."
If some of your other teams had been down 17-0 at halftime in Baltimore, would they have quit?
ML: "(Laughs) I probably shouldn't answer that question."
But with the team you've built the last three years, with the reboot, isn't it a valid question?
ML: "Yeah, this team's not done, no matter what the situation. They're not sitting on the bench pouting and all of that kind of stuff going on. It's: Let me make the next play. We've just got to keep making those plays through our responsibility. The offense was upset because I allowed the clock to run out at the end of the second quarter, but I just think it was good for us to go in and regroup. We did a good job of regrouping at halftime, getting refocused on what we needed to do, and I just felt it was best to do that. They came out, and we drove for a field goal. Again, we got the ball in the end zone and we didn't come down with the catch. It would be a great catch by Tyler (Eifert), but one that we've watched him make. But the great location of the ball by Andy, just where it needs to be against a defense he saw. Again, another great play by Andy. We've got to help him out and finish the deal and be sitting here feeling a little better about things."
Vontaze Burfict had another interesting game. Did you think his sideline hit on the quarterback was late?
ML: "I did not."
You can't tell him to do anything different, can you?
ML: "I don't think so. It's just unfortunate. Luckily it didn't kill us. Again, that's what I say, we've just got to keep playing. He just leaves his feet to push the quarterback out of bounds. It's not like he went over there, tackled him and pile-drived him over. The quarterback's running down the boundary, and Vontaze leaves his feet. The QB is going to get hit, so he steps out of bounds right at the same time. I don't think you do anything different. We've just got to keep playing. We can't make excuses, we've got to play."
How much did the comeback against Green Bay show these guys that they're down but can still pull it out?
ML: "I think the thing you've always got to look at is the other team scored 17 points against us in the first half, we can surely score 17 points or more in a half. As I told them, we can score a lot more than 17. We didn't get quite there. And that's all the point is. I think the only thing that you gain from that kind of experience is the fact that if we go out and do our jobs, things will be fine."