Head Coach Marvin Lewis
"That was a four-quarter football game. Obviously from the tackle Andy (Dalton) makes in the first quarter to the play there at the end of the game, the return for a touchdown. Front to back, four quarters of football. I think getting in the fourth quarter, gaining the lead and then going through there - we did a nice job today. A lot of stuff that we can do better, too many penalties in critical situations. Things that way, understanding the plays – how the quarterback plays with the helmet and so forth. We did a nice job with that all summer and now today it cropped in there so it could have really hurt us today but we got through it."
You guys talked all offseason about turnovers. To win it like that, is that about as gratifying a way to finish a game considering that has been such an emphasis?
"No, I mean it's always an emphasis. Just to make the big play at the end of the game obviously is big with the strip and then the return. But a lot of positives out here today. Our ability to run the football was big today and Andy took some throws out of that at times, but for the most part we were able to talk him into handing it off some."
What was your thought on the Shawn Williams' play and ejection?
"Well you just can't – you've got a quarterback running, he's in the grasp and you just got to be careful. You can make sure he's down, you've just got to tuck it. It's a point of emphasis and you don't want to leave it in the hands of other people."
Do you think an ejection was warranted there?
"That's not my words – my word to comment on."
On the Carlos Dunlap hit that was called roughing the passer.
"Again, it's a point of emphasis. You can't land on the quarterback with your body weight. Now, I thought there were some the other way too, but we understand that. You've got to nestle him to the ground and turn to the side. That's what we're asked to do and we got to continue to understand it all the time."
After that penalty, Carlos had a sack a play or two later. It seemed like he came out really fired up and so did Joe Mixon. Was that a momentum swing at all for the team?
"Well, I think to get the stop there and then the missed field goal obviously was a huge momentum swing right there."
How do you feel about the way the team responded after all the stuff that did happen?
"Well, we just kept playing and that's what the plan is. You don't get time to hiccup or flinch. You've just got to keep playing, the games on. Andrew Luck, as I told him after the game, 'You're back,' because he was throwing that ball today. They didn't chuck the ball down the field much, but they threw underneath, intermediate routes and so forth and he did a nice job."
In the case of Carlos' second penalty there, it seems like an awful lot of work for him to avoid the penalty. Is that realistic?
"It's part of the rules."
Is it realistic to expect him to be able to turn?
"It's part of the rules. I don't get to comment on whether it's realistic or not."
It seemed like your depth really showed out there today. Clayton Fejedelem being able to make the play at the end of the game and then I know Nick Vigil was kind of in the starting rotation anyway. But some of the guys that aren't the known starters in this defense really kind of showed up.
"Well, I think again the d-line – Sam Hubbard, I believe was on the field there at the end. (Ryan) Glasgow had big snaps today and as well as Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson obviously. But that group up front, those eight guys, have to be able to continue to kind of be the engine around here."
I think it was mentioned a lot last week how young this team is. Do you think this game taught them a lot?
"That's the epitome of it. Yeah, when you get the penalty by Brandon Wilson - he's just trying and we got a penalty. We got it knocked back and we get a penalty on that. We've just got to do things correctly. We're trying hard, but we've got to try right, correct all the time. Be right and correct all the time. When Alex (Redmond) gets the kick out block - he can kick that guy out. He doesn't have to grab him more and do it. A lot of learning here and that's a good thing. That's what you want. We've got to be able to learn. We've just got to learn the lessons quickly because we have a quick turn around."
Quarterback Andy Dalton
Can you describe what's going through your mind as Clayton is running the other way to steal the win for you guys?
"Yeah, it was relief at that point. You know, Andrew (Luck) driving the ball down there like that and [I] was a little nervous, but the guys made a huge play. Clayton did a great job of – I don't know, is he the one who knocked it out, too? Did he cause the fumble?"
Him and Hardy Nickerson.
"Yeah, so to do that and then to return a fumble for a touchdown is a big play to end it."
Can you take us back through that 38-yard touchdown pass? I mean, I feel like that relied a lot on trust that A.J. was going to get to the end zone at that time that you threw it, because he wasn't even close. So what route was he running? I mean, what was going through your head when you made that pass?
"I mean, we had a good design on there. It's just one of those things that as soon as I let it go, I was hoping he was going to get there and knowing A.J. Green he can. It's funny, on the sideline we were talking and it was kind of like the play we had our rookie year against the Rams, it was similar. He made a similar diving catch, this time he scored. But it was a great play by him. He did an unbelievable job getting open and under."
One of the most important tackles on the tackle sheet is yours, after the interception to make that play. Seven-point play. I mean they don't make that point if you don't make that tackle. That's a big deal in the game.
"Yeah, Shawn (Williams) was out of the game. I had to kind of… He obviously needed it."
Your inner safety stuff.
"Those plays make a big difference, and so for us to have that turn around and for them to not get any points out of it was big."
What were you trying to do? Were you trying to get him inside? Or were you just trying to get him down any way you could?
"Just laying the hammer."
Speaking of that hammer, on that third drive scramble you took a hell of a shot and you didn't get down.
"Yeah, that was dumb on my part. That's what it was. There was no reason to take a hit."
But if you slide there, it's not a first down.
"Yeah, I felt like if I could have kept running to the outside and maybe tried to cut back the – But we got the first down, and that's all that matters, right?"
Did anybody say anything to you? Like don't do that again?
"No, I was mad at myself, and they [said] 'you got the first down,' yeah but I took a hit."
Speaking of hits, what about the ones that weren't called? I mean you get hit in the head, facemask, and you get hit. I mean if Andrew Luck is rightfully being protected, but where is your protection?
"I felt the same way. To get hit in the head, pretty obviously, if he's supposed to be looking at me and that wasn't called. You know you just kind of have to deal with it."
That was the first one?
"Yeah, that was one of the first third downs as we were driving down there to kick a field goal. I thought it was pretty clear that I got hit in the head, but I guess he missed it."
I think, half seriously, Andy, after the Pittsburgh game a few years ago where you broke your thumb, you weren't going to tackle people again. But in the heat of the moment, you do what's got to be done.
"Yeah, for sure. I think in that moment I was the last guy and it turned out to be a big play in the game, so you never how those plays matter, and this one made a big difference."
How about the Olympic sprinter speed you had? 18.8 miles per hour to run them down. That's fourth fastest of the game.
"Yeah. Again, another thing I let the guys know in the huddle was that I was on the big board for that. One of the fastest ones in the game."
What was the response?
"They were giving me a hard time."
You talk about turnovers and all the things that happen, things that were called and not called, you still came back and won by 11. How do you feel about that? How has that helped these guys grow?
"I think it wasn't a pretty game. There's a lot that we're going to be able to look at and we're going to do better. But to come out with a victory like that, to win by two scores, is big because it wasn't that way going into that last drive that they had. I think it gives us confidence and we just got to keep pushing."
Do you feel like there was a momentum swing after Carlos's penalty in the sack, and then Joe Mixon comes out and makes a couple of good plays after that. It just seems like from then on, you guys kind of were on fire?
"I felt like we did some good things and we made plays when we needed to, we had big drives when we needed to and scored points. And that's big for this team."
Do you feel like…
"I just felt like in the moments that we needed a player – those moments that we needed to have a drive to answer, I felt like we did that."
How about Mixon? You guys kind of seem to feed off of him a little bit. Is he that type of player?
"For sure. He made some explosive runs and he is so talented, he can do it all. I thought he played really well."
Defensive End Carlos Dunlap
So down 13 points, down two scores. You ended up winning by two scores.
"Yep. Doesn't manner. We just go to work. You know, we going to take it one job at a time. We're not going to try to win the game on one series. We know we're going to put it together, do what it takes to get back in the ball game and win, anytime."
What's going through your mind after the roughing the passer penalty? Because you seemed pretty fired up.
"Yeah, I was upset. I mean, I tried to do the next best thing and keep all my weight from taking him to the ground. Like, I planked and rolled off right away and, you know, I tried to let the referee know that I'm not trying to be malicious and drive him into the ground because I know it's Andrew Luck, after two years. So, they're going to call it tight, regardless. So, I tried to do the next best thing. There was no other way for me to try to avoid on the front side. So, on the backside, I just tried to keep my weight from driving him into the ground, which is the terminology they use."
You talked about a lot of bad things that happened earlier in the game. But you guys overcame that. What's does that say about… and you have a young team. I know you're a veteran, but there are a lot of young guys.
"Yeah. We just kept resetting. We didn't dwell on any bad plays. We just kept resetting and going out there and worrying about what's coming next, worrying about the next play and making that our next best play."
Tight End Tyler Eifert
Physically right now, do you feel like you are at 100 percent getting back to what you used to be?
"Yeah, this is as good as I've felt in a long time. I'm 100 percent (and) feeling good."
What are your feelings about the production you guys had offensively today? Are you pleased with where you guys are at right now?
"It took us a while to kind of get into a flow, into a rhythm. We overcame some turnovers and some penalties to be able to strain together a couple of drives and get some points on the board. Obviously, the defense was a big part of that."
Safety Clayton Fejedelem
I know they're protecting Andrew Luck and rightfully so, he's a great player. But it seems like anytime you hit Andrew Luck you're in jeopardy for a penalty.
"Yeah, I mean we kind of knew that was coming. Andrew Luck is a great, great quarterback coming off of two years of not playing. We knew they were going to protect him. He's a tough guy and the refs were going to - it's hard when the game is put into the refs hands a little bit. That one play earlier that I think Carlos (Dunlap) – someone landed on him - it was questionable but it's a quarterback driven league. They're going to protect the quarterbacks. We just have to be aware of that."
That play you're talking about, when Carlos sacked Andrew Luck and he had a backward pass. You picked up that one and you were taking that inside the red zone.
"Maybe I was just due for one then."
Then Carlos comes right back with a big sack on that particular drive. Then Adam Vinatieri misses the field goal. Then you make your play. So in other words, you guys didn't fold.
"Yeah, I mean that's the biggest thing. Just keep calm, play the next play and you've got to have a short memory there. If you're thinking about the last play, you're just going to get bombed over and over again. So short memory, go out there and do what you can control and today we came up on top so that's a good thing."
You guys came back after being down 13 points.
"Great team win. Great to comeback like that - comeback that's 13 points - and we finished with a little bit of a spread there at the end. So, a great way to come in here at halftime, regroup and go out there and take care of business."
Wide Receiver A.J. Green
The way you guys responded, how good do you feel about it? A lot of things happened in that game that didn't go well.
"Right, it was the first game. The first game is always an up and down roller coaster ride. At the end of the day, you just have to ride that wave. You have to make the play whenever your number is called and that's what we did. We had numerous guys that made plays. The offensive line played great. The receivers made plays when we needed to. Andy (Dalton) played unbelievable."
You guys bounced back after Dalton throws a pick and you fumble the ball. I don't know what else could have gone wrong in the first quarter.
"It was a pretty rough first quarter for us man. Like you said, it's the first game - opening week and emotions (are) running high. A lot of adrenaline running so you expect that stuff. For me, I just have to clean up my part."
On the fumble, he came from behind?
"Yeah, that's me. I just have to tuck. I'm trying to do too much."
Running Back Joe Mixon
With the way you guys won, what do you think that says about the team?
"Pretty much that we'll go all four quarters and do whatever we can to grind it out from start to finish, come through and try to execute like I said, from start to finish."
It's one thing to say that, it's another thing to kind of have that built inside you. What do you think it is about this group that's able to kind of rally and comeback against a good team?
"I mean, at halftime we came in and did corrections. In the beginning we were beating ourselves. We came out, settled in and just executed. The line did their thing, receivers were balling out and the running game was taking care of itself also."
You had 149 total yards. How did you feel about your role today and the way the team kind of fed you?
"I thought we did a great job upfront. Like I said, they did a great job executing blocks. Receivers, they did a great job making plays on the perimeter, whether it was running the ball, receiving it, making plays and making the big blocks. I mean we pretty much came together as a team today. We left some yards out there, but we will get it fixed."
Wide Receiver John Ross
When you see Shawn Williams go out very early in the game and then you see Clayton Fejedelem do what he did in this game. And especially the last play. What does that mean for this team?
"I mean, just how much talent we have and you can tell in practice, and throughout camp and spring. Shawn (Williams) going out, you know, we're still confident. We've got guys like Clayton (Fejedelem) to back him up and things like that. And that's just how much confidence that we have in each other. You know, when one goes down we know we're well prepared enough to go out there and make more plays."
I know you don't want to talk about the Combine and being the fastest guy. But coming back to this place, it's a place that, just kind of, established your name on the national scene. So, to be able to come back and to be able to get your first catch here and it to end up being a touchdown. How's special of a moment was it?
"It is, definitely, special. I mean, it kind of felt like it was supposed to happen. You know, it was supposed to happen this way: I do something big in this stadium and then come back again for my first full game. You know, first time being healthy. And my first catch is my first touchdown, in this stadium. So, it kind of felt like it was supposed to happen."
Where did this game shape back up for you guys? Get down 13, come back. And the way that it ended. I think Marvin Lewis called it a fourth quarter win.
"Right. And we talk about that all the time: We've got to play four quarters. That's a big emphasis for our team because, you know, in preseason, a lot of the guys don't play four quarters. So, we get out here and the margin of error is very small. So, you definitely have to play four quarters and make sure everybody continues to fight throughout the whole game."