Initial Comments ...
"It's good to win, but disappointing to allow a football team back in the game with the two big touchdowns and the drives. We're still growing through some things, and we've got to continue to do it. We went through a lull there on offense in the second half, and with running, and being able to grind and dedicate ourselves to run the football, we weren't getting done. We've got to keep getting better, as we know. We've got a lot of work to keep doing."
Are you pleased with this win?
"I'm pleased that we won. I'm not pleased with how we played."
For a team that's as banged up as you guys are, does it really matter how it looks right now?
"The first thing is to win. We've got an opportunity to keep playing and make plays, and we're not making plays. Those are makeable plays we have to do and we have to understand. We've got to figure it out."
What do you think was the difference offensively in the second half?
"I can't tell you."
What did Dirk Koetter say to you after the game?
"He just said, 'Good luck.'"
Is it harder playing against somebody you know so well, like Koetter?
"I play against somebody every week, you know? Dirk (Koetter) and I are obviously closer, but we play against somebody every week. We play against Sean (Saints head coach Sean Payton) in a week. We played against Andy (Chiefs head coach Andy Reid) last week. These guys have been friends for a long, long time. That's just part of coaching and being in this as long as I have. Andy Reid and I came into the NFL in the same year, and I've known him because of Dirk since 1985. I've known Sean Payton for a long time. Every time we go out there, we know the guys. But we're in the business to win just like they are. That's part of it."
What were your thoughts when Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick came in?
"Well, we know he was going to scramble around, first thing. Then we know he's going to jack the ball deep, and we've got to understand that. That's what we told them, and we still allowed them to do it once."
When your defense gives up almost 600 yards of total offense, how do you spend the week assessing that? Is there something you can pinpoint?
"We have things we need to ... Guys have to do their job, plain and simple. I don't how long those touchdown passes were today, but I know they were far. And then we gave up leverage on third down twice. We let a guy scramble there at the end. Those are things you can't do. I don't care who you're playing against, you're going to lose football games in the NFL if you get out of leverage and everything. We're doing it with young guys, and we've got some other guys that are not as young, and we've got to figure out a way to do it. We've got to play better in the secondary. We've got to continue to play better up front on the offensive front and play through the third quarter and the fourth quarter. It goes around. We've got to get the quarterback on the ground when we get the opportunity."
Do you think the guys aren't understanding things on defense? Are they not communicating?
"They're trying to do too much at times. They're trying to get out of their job to do something else. Just do your job first and everything will happen. Everything will fit together. You don't have to (do everything). Make sure you understand the urgency of what (your) responsibility is on this particular play — plain, flat and simple, that's what it is. Just do (your) particular job with the urgency on this particular play, and let the other guys work and understand it."
It seems like missed assignments and things like that have hampered the defense over again the last few weeks ...
"This is the NFL. You've got 11 new things every play. Every play, the other team comes out with new formations and new coverage, and you've got to continue to adjust. It's how you become great. Young players have to mature quickly and get it right, and everybody's got to stay on the same page. That's part of it."
It seems like no matter how up-and-down the game is going or how your offense is doing, with one minute left, it's been a trend now all year that they've been able to get it done. Is that the most confident you can be in a team when they go out there and deliver in these clutch spots?
"The quarterback (Bengals QB Andy Dalton) continues to play at a very high level and run the offense and handle the situations and understand it. Live to play the next play — that's really important — and deliver accurate throws in those opportunities. Our guys came up with the plays there at the end to put us in range for the field goal. We missed an extra point before halftime, and we kicked a ball out of bounds. They had a couple miscues in the kicking game today, and they cost you. Randy (Bullock) kept the drama going at the end to make the field goal to win the game. I guess he wanted to be the hero."
Do you feel the bye week comes at an opportune time?
"We could have had a bye-week five weeks ago and it would have come at an opportune time. But we have the bye week this week, so it's a great time."
With the kicking issues you mentioned, were any of those due to the wind? How windy was it down there?
"Today, it was windy. It was as gusty as it's been. (The wind) bounces off the stadium back and forth. Where the wind was in the first quarter was different than it was in the second and the third. The second half was pretty consistent in which way it was going, though."
Was that one of the reasons you went for it on fourth down early, just because it was so windy?
"We were into the wind there."
Obviously 44 yards was inside Randy's range, but with the wind, what was that the distance you were looking for?
"We would have been in overtime if we hadn't. At that point in the game, with the game-winning kick, we're going to take a whack. We would have taken a whack from 50, just as long as the wind waits and dies down at the time. It was gusting all day long, and we knew it was going to get stronger as the day went on. Again, it was a big kick and good job by the offense, but we shouldn't put ourselves in jeopardy like that, and that's the hard part."
Can you describe what was going through your mind after Tampa Bay tied the score?
"We've done it before. We had to put a drive together and give ourselves a chance, and that's what we did. Regardless of what was going on in the second half, we needed to make a play, and we did it. To give (kicker) Randy (Bullock) a chance at the end was huge."
Are there mixed feelings about the way you won today?
"Obviously we wish we would have played better in the second half and made the game a little easier than having to drive down and kick a field goal with no time left. We had an opportunity to do that, but we didn't. That is where it's disappointing. Offensively, we didn't play the same way we did in the first half and we weren't getting first downs. We had way too many three-and-out drives, and in that way, it's disappointing. But we won. To be 5-3 right now is huge."
Did Tampa Bay make any changes in the second half?
"We just weren't getting ahead of the chains. All of the three-and-outs, we were in third-and-long situations, and it made it tough. We kept hurting ourselves. It's tough to be in that situation, especially when you are the one controlling it."
Did the wind affect the way the team approached third downs?
What it is about the end-of-game situations that bring out the best in this offense?
"I think it's just one of those things that we want to go down and make the play that is going to win it for us. We have a mentality that we are just going to go do it, and it has worked for us. A.J. (Green) made two big plays on that drive to get us down there to kick the field goal. For him, who gets doubled and there is always a plan to take him away, he stayed with it the whole time and made two critical plays that helped us win."
How much progress has WR Tyler Boyd made since last season?
"He has played really well. He understands what we are doing. He runs great routes and he is playing with a ton of confidence. When A.J. (Green) is getting doubled — they can't double everybody — and he (Boyd) has been finding ways to get open. He obviously had a big day today."
Tampa Bay struggled early covering the slot. Did you notice that and is that how you wanted to use Boyd?
"When you get one-on-ones with him, and with the different things he can do, I feel like we are going to try to get him the ball. He is one of our big playmakers on offense. When A.J. is doubled and he is singled up, we feel very strongly about that match-up."
Is going for it on fourth down boost your confidence, and what goes through your mind when the head coach says stay on the field?
"It shows he has confidence in what we are doing, and I was glad he did. We have to convert the (first) one (next time), and A.J. made a play on the second one. We have to find a way to convert on the first one, but I am happy (we went for it)."
What are your plans for the bye week?
"Just relax and enjoy the week. That is the biggest thing — getting ready for the second half of the season."
Was there a communication breakdown that led to WR Mike Evans hauling that 72-yard touchdown reception?
"No. It was something I saw that they were doing earlier in the game, and they made an adjustment and (then) made a better play."
You were up 27-9 at one point. Does the defensive approach change when that happens?
"No, because you just got to play defense. The game isn't over yet. You obviously see there's been many games where we've been down (and) they've been up. It's the NFL. You just can't take an offense for granted when you get up just because you're up. Even when we're down, I always have faith in our offense that we're going to come back. In the Miami game, when we were down 17-0, never in my mind did I think we were going to lose that game. And you have to have that mindset that 'it's not over until it's over.'"
Were there miscommunications on the Evans touchdown and the long 60-yard touchdown pass to WR DeSean Jackson or no?
"There was no miscommunication. They made a play. They beat the coverage. If you want to stop every route, play Cover 0. There's holes in every coverage. There's no miscommunication."
You guys have to pride yourselves on trying to make people drive down the field and not giving up big plays in the gap? That must be frustrating when that's happening, no?
"Yeah, because we never want to give up big plays. We want to minimize those as much as possible. That's something I think we can fix. Like I said, there was no miscommunication. We knew what the coverage was. We play the same coverage, they just made a better play. There's a hole in every defense."
What were your thoughts on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick coming in to relieve starting QB Jameis Winston?
"I knew they were going to bring him to try and give them a spark and he kind of did that. He's a good quarterback and that's why he's been around so long. He'll continue to play."
What's the overall mood right now? You have to be happy with a win, but you gave up 576 yards of offense ...
"We gave up nearly 600 yards, but I'd rather do that with a win than give up that and lose. And I know it's stuff we can correct. It's not a lack of talent or lack of anything or lack of coaches; we've just got to correct (our mistakes)."
What are your emotions like after the roller coaster ride of this game?
"It definitely came down to the wire, but at the end of the day, we did a great job on offense and the defense, they did a great job. They had a lot of turnovers. The game went up and down. That's the league now. I'm just thankful and happy we got the win at the end of the day."
The offense marched up and down the field in the first half and then struggled in the second half. Were you eager to get one final chance in the final minute of the game?
"Definitely. Once we knew they scored and we had a minute left, we knew we had enough time with two timeouts. We knew we had the talent to push the ball consecutively. We just have to stay calm and (keep) pushing."
You had a career receiving high today as Tampa Bay was doing a nice job covering WR A.J. Green until the very end of the game ...
"I think I did a real great job of helping A.J. He was getting double (teamed) pretty much at the beginning of the game a lot, so we needed guys to step up and make plays. Once I made those plays, they stopped doubling him and playing a little bit of zone. Once the game goes like that, they start doubling me and vice-versa. We've just got each other's back. We've got guys out there that can make plays whenever it's crucial."
Did you watch Randy Bullock's final field goal attempt or were you too nervous to do so?
"Oh definitely. I had a front row seat right next to Marv (Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis) right on my knee. I was so grateful. It's fun times when you win. It's always fun when you win."
How big is the difference in getting to the bye week 5-3 winning the way you did today versus losing and going into it 4-4?
"That would have been a horror (show). That would have stung. None of us would have wanted to go home on a loss. I think it's great momentum for this team to come back and win and continue to win. Us not carrying any negative energy around helps a lot."
Your first reception in the NFL resulted in a big gain — take us through the play ...
"So they called the play, I just went into formation, saw the coverage they were in and said 'that's going to be my key.' I just ran the route. I really just had the easiest job in just catching it and I appreciate Matt (Lengel) for the protection, Andy (Dalton) for the ball and just trusting me with it and the line for the protection and A.J. for taking up some defenders."
You ran pretty fast up the field ...
"I guess that's my little forte. I can run a little bit. I just put my head down and looked up and the ball was coming my way, so 'see ball, get ball' as they say."
You had a lot of important snaps on special teams as well due to injuries ...
"I've got to do my job, so I appreciate it."
When the game was on the line, you and Andy Dalton made some plays to put the team in position to win. Take me through what you saw on that final drive ...
"There's nothing crazy. We just get in the match-ups. They tried to play zone, so they put me in the slot. It was nothing special."
What did Tampa Bay do to try and take you out the game early?
"For one, they 'viced' me in goal line, so that was different. There was just a lot of cloud, Cover 2, nothing I hadn't seen before."
WR Tyler Boyd and HB Joe Mixon stepped up and made a lot of plays since Tampa Bay paid so much attention to you ...
"Of course. That's what we try and do. When you try and take me away, guys step up and Tyler has been doing that all year and Joe had another good game for us. We've got to stay balanced."
How will you use the bye week?
"Recharge, refresh and then come back ready for business."
It looks like kind of a mash unit here lately with linebackers and defensive backs going down. How much do you need the bye just to get guys healthy?
"The bye week is going to be great for the recovery aspect. That's something we're going to need."
Your defense had four interceptions today, including a pick-six. Did you guys think that you were going to be able to get turnover opportunities against Jameis Winston today?
"We always go in with the mindset that there will be opportunities, because we want to force turnovers. It's not a shot at their quarterback or anything, it's just that we knew that coming into this game that if the opportunities presented themselves, we needed to take full advantage of it, and that's what we did today."
How nerve-wracking was it down the stretch?
"It was a little nervous. I gave up that touchdown, which is frustrating, and then I barely missed on the two-point play. On the sideline, I didn't watch the kick. I was praying the whole time. As soon as he kicked, I looked up and it looked good, so I was happy. Now we're all good and get to move forward."
How close were you to the ball on the touchdown?
"I don't know. I've got to see it (on film). I tried to undercut it — I saw it, I jumped and it just kind of kept floating. Next thing, he caught it and I was like, 'Dang.' He's a really good tight end — we knew that coming in. It didn't matter. He made a good play and I didn't."
The wind was obviously a factor in the second half and really started to pick up. Is that at all in your mind as you approach that final kick to win it?
"No. It's something that we had experienced throughout the game. You that figure out throughout the course of the game, halftime, or whatever."
These moments for you as a kicker, they don't come every week. To get a game-winning kick, what's that moment like for you?
"More than anything, I wanted the opportunity. I missed a kick earlier. If you miss, the opportunity you have is to go to overtime."
What's your mental routine, when you have a moment like that, to get yourself centered to where it's like any other kick?
"I think it's more of your routine, especially once you do the drills in practice. They all come up in a game."
I know you don't take those moments for granted to be a kicker and have a game-winning kick. Does this one mean anything to you in particular?
"They're all exciting. More than anything, we got a win today. Going into the bye week, that's important."
When you walked out there today and the wind was blowing, did you think this is going to be one of those games that could come down to a kick?
"I don't think you really go into it with that mindset. More than anything, you try and take advantage of every opportunity you get."
On the final drive, what is your thought process as the offense is slowly moving the ball down the field?
"Stay loose, relaxed and do my job."
It's only your second chance to kick one of these for the Bengals, and it's been a while since you had one. Do you look forward to those opportunities?
"Absolutely. More than anything, you look forward to doing your job and helping your team win."
There's no better way to go into a bye than with a win. The way you won today has to feel nice as well ...
"It's great to get a win, even though we need to get better on defense. We gave up a thousand yards on defense today. We've got to find a way to get more takeaways. It seemed like we had a pick every other series. We need to find ways to get off the field."
You mentioned how poor the defense was today, but does the win kind of cover up that stink?
"Not for me. A win is a win, so you feel good, but this one feels a little weird. We've got to find a way to do it on defense, but luckily our offense helped us out."
What do you need to do on this bye week to get the defense ready?
"We've got to look at ourselves and self-scout. Hopefully this week we can come together, find some of the things we've been doing wrong, do it right, and hopefully we can make these next eight games perfect."
What were you expecting on the play where you had the interception?
"I didn't know — I was just standing there. It wasn't doing much at all, and then the ball was just tipped and I looked at it and was like, 'Guess I've got to catch it.' So I just caught it and went as far as I could before somebody hit me."
How much pride does this defense take with the takeaways?
"The takeaways — I mean, if we didn't have those takeaways they'd have had 800 yards and Jameis (Bucs QB Jameis Winston) would have finished the game. When they're driving the ball, we've got to find a way to make a third-down stop."
Did this interception feel different when you saw the ball coming?
"No. I knew he was a little rattled, because just because he threw the first two interceptions to us. I think that kind of put the fork into him. It was just a good job by us as a defense, getting to him and making him feel pressure."
That play felt like it might have been the dagger, but then they came back. Is this group disappointed in the way you finished the game in the fourth quarter?
"We aren't very happy with how we performed. The first three quarters we played very well, and the last quarter kind of sucked for the defense. We're just going to enjoy this win, go to work these two days and enjoy the bye week."
You're 5-3 going into the bye week. Are you happy with your position?
"We're very happy. It could be a lot worse, and it could be a lot better. Being 5-3 going into the bye week, guys are going to be able to go home and see their families and kind of press the restart button and get this thing going. The second part of the season will be very special for us."
A lot of people in this room came in here disappointed because the defense didn't play well. You seem a little more peppy than everyone else, though ...
"I can't speak for everybody. I hope they don't feel like that. I wasn't pleased with how we played in the second half and gave up (500) yards. But at the end of the day, that's my game (to be positive). That's how I approach it. I try to flush everything out and reset every week. No matter what the outcome was this week, I'm going to be the same person next week."
Marvin Lewis used the word 'disappointed.' But it's hard to be disappointed with a win ...
"He said the right thing — we've got to work. The coach knows what's going on. He sees what we see, and we've got to be truthful about the situation. We gave up 500 yards. It's a win, but it's not a great win."
You've given up 500 yards in back-to-back weeks. Is that alarming for you guys to do that?
"It's something we've got to fix."
Do you care at all what a win looks like in the National Football League?
"Yes, I do. Today was a 'Whew.' One of those games. But it ain't pretty. I didn't like it. I'm not satisfied with it. At the end of the day, we can do better. I know we can."