BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES
Initial Comments ...
"I am extremely happy for our guys and how we came out and played today. For whatever reason, we still have that lull in the third and fourth quarters, but in all three phases, we did a very good job. That was important for the guys to continue to compete together, have fun together and enjoy each other. As we know when you move forward, nothing stays the same, and so that a great way to end this season and hopefully kick off 2017."
What does it mean to have your team come out in a game that really doesn't mean anything and perform like that?
"I've said all year that I've been pleased with what we are, the character and the work and so forth. Early on we just didn't create enough to make this thing meaningful. The way the schedule was set, these last three games were going to be meaningful and we didn't quite get it there."
You had a chance to get a long look at Rex Burkhead today. How pleased were you with the way he played?
"He has continued to do what I think everybody expected Rex to do with every opportunity he has been given. He did a really good job today of running the football. He was decisive and ran the ball downhill and that's what we are looking for. He stayed true to the plan all day and that was great."
Did that make you feel like he was a guy that you would like to have going forward?
"There is no question. We always like our guys (in free agency). As far as hard work, Rex is the epitome and what he does all the time and the professionalism."
Guys like Cody Core, Nick Vigil, C.J. Uzomah; seeing those young guys make plays, how encouraging was that for you?
"It's been a part of this season. No, we didn't get to where we wanted to go and we fell short of our expectations, but as go forward, I think it's the opportunity that these guys got and the experience they gained this season. We have to gain something out of this season and that is part of it. Those are the positives that will come out of this season; the fact that these young guys got an opportunity to play NFL football when it meant something, and that's important."
You mentioned the quarterback many times this year, but to get 20 points in the first half and he started 10 for 10, that was important.
"His biggest play was at the end of the first half to get us lined up correctly when those guys lined up incorrectly. Tyler (Boyd) failed to get out of bounds and our guys lined up incorrectly, for him to have the presence of mind to Rex (Burkhead) up on the ball to get us a legal formation, that to me is part of Andy Dalton.
"To me, he has had his best season, unfortunately, we as a team we haven't. He continues to grow and be the quarterback that we expect."
Did you ever have a thought of going for a touchdown at the end of the first half?
"No because of what they were going to do defensively. I knew what they were going to play and Andy (Dalton) was going to get stuck with the ball in his hand and we would be in a frantic mode trying to get him to throw it away. They are going to drop eight and make you hold onto the football. So we are going to get the same outcome if we are lucky. We aren't going to get an opportunity in the end zone, they are going to be standing there. That's your only hope in that situation with seven seconds left; you don't want to get caught with the ball in his hand."
What made this Dalton's best season?
"I think the things we did offensively with the checks, the things he has done and how he has handled it engineering the offense. He has gone through a stretch where he hasn't had the experienced players he has had in the past. He has had to mentor and bring guys along that way and that's been good. That is great experience that you gain as a quarterback that will be helpful moving forward."
Two times you held them without points in the red zone. How important was it to see that turn in the defense?
"That was important for the players and coaches alike. We realized we weren't getting it done early in the first half of the season and they did a great job in the last half of limiting points and not giving up explosive plays. We went through a stretch where we were having mental breakdowns early in the game and we fixed that and that's been good. We didn't get off to the start that way in the way we needed to get over the hump."
Andrew Whitworth is a free agent. Can you talk about how valuable he has been as a player and in the locker room?
"He has been tremendous. You get to the end of the year all the time and you have guys that are free agents and that's part of the way this league works. Andrew has been just a tremendous player, mentor, stalwart, whatever positive adjective you can give, that's been Whitworth."
It's important to end the season with a win, and to say focused and win like you did, that's a good feeling ...
"To end the year on a win was big for us — it gives you a better feeling going into the offseason. Anytime you're out there competing, you want to win, and we were able to do it today."
What worked well for you in the first half for you guys?
"There weren't a whole lot of third downs — was it two or three, maybe? We were taking big chunks off on first and second down, and we were able to stay out of third down situations. It just makes it easier to keep drives alive and keep going. I felt like we were running the ball well, and I felt like we were throwing the ball (well). We were connecting."
Was there anything in particular that was ticking for you? You completed your first 10 passes and looked real sharp ...
"I felt comfortable with what we were doing. Guys were getting open, and we were able to start fast."
It seemed, like for a while, this offense was looking for some other faces — some new guys to kind of step up. It had to be nice to have a number of different guys step up and contribute ...
"Like I said, from the beginning, these guys have gotten way more comfortable with what we're doing. And the more they play, the better experience we're getting. Cody (Core) had a big day today. And Rex (Burkhead), obviously — we relied a lot on him today with the guys being out and showed what he can do. I was really happy for him and proud of him. He's a guy that has deserved carries, and he's been behind two really good guys, and he's gotten his opportunities and made the most of them. I think we got a lot of guys involved, and they showed what we're capable of."
Talk about what Andrew Whitworth has meant, especially for a young guy like you?
"Whit, from the time I got here, has been the leader in this locker room — the guy that everybody goes to when they need something. He's a guy that's been a leader on this team for a long time, and a guy that's been around for a long time. Obviously, we'd love to have him back. He's a big part why this team made the big run to the playoffs that many straight years. So, (I would) love to have him back."
How tough is this for you to have played on a non-winning team for the first time?
"It's just different, especially going into this week. It's a different feeling if you didn't know the season was ending today. We kind of knew this was going to be the last game, so for me, it was just do what I can to finish strong."
You started the year with Super Bowl aspirations, and to end here, does it seem unbelievable this is the conversation you're having at this point, based on where you started and what the hopes were?
"Obviously, everybody starts the season with 'we're going to make it to the playoffs, we're going to make a run, we're going to go to the Super Bowl.' For us, ever since I've been here, we've had that opportunity. This year's just been different. Games didn't turn out the way we wanted them to. It's weird sitting up here now, winning the last game and it being the last."
Marvin Lewis said this was your best season in a lot of ways. Is it too hard to think about that now or do you feel that you did take some steps and advance off of it?
"I definitely feel like I did (take some steps). With some new guys, a new coordinator and some new pieces, I felt like I was able to get everybody on the same page and get everybody moving. I felt like I did some good things. Obviously, I want to keep getting better and I'm going to take this offseason to look at what I was able to do this year and the areas I can improve. I definitely felt like there were some things I did better this year than I've done at any time in my career."
You had 144 yards from scrimmage today. That's a very good way to close the 2016 season. What are your thoughts on your performance?
"I appreciate it. It was fun. I appreciate the opportunity to play with this team. A lot of credit goes to the offensive line."
You had two touchdowns today, both appeared to be situations where you were determined to score. Take us through both of those plays ...
"Regarding the first one, I honestly didn't know if I had made it into the end zone or not. I just looked to the referee and was awaiting his signal. As I made my way to the sideline, I was hoping they wouldn't review it. The play was just an outside zone read. I got to the outside and broke a tackle to get in. The second one was an outside run. I thought it was going to play out that way, but my vision caught (Ryan) Hewitt. He is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league, so I followed him."
With the conclusion of this game you become a free agent. I know that wasn't on your mind during the game, but now that today's game is over, has that thought started to sink in?
"That's really a lot to take in right now. I haven't thought too much about it up to this point. I love Cincinnati. I hope I can stay here, but we'll see how things play out."
The Baltimore Ravens' defense doesn't surrender many rushing yards to opponents. Can you speak to what helped you have success against them today?
"We did some different things to break tendencies and throw them off a little bit today. We were mixing up the interior and exterior runs. The offensive line did a good job sticking with their blocks, and also climbing to the linebackers at the second level."
A 17-yard carry was your longest of the day, so to get over a 100 yards in the game, you really had to grind through every carry ...
"Definitely. I felt like I was getting into a rhythm. When that happens, the game slows down for me. It's fun when we can do that. It takes you back to when you were younger."
You got a big win against a division rival today ...
"Heck yeah, It was a big afternoon for us. It was great to get after Baltimore and beat them the way we did. We came out ready to play. Defensively, we held our own. What a way to finish the season strong as a team. It wasn't the season that we wanted, but the last eight weeks we really stepped up our game. Defensively, we elevated our play and have really played well. We have a bright future ahead of us."
It looked like Baltimore still had a hangover from the Pittsburgh game, and you guys had none. You handled the adversity you faced down in Houston ...
"At this point in our season, we were not fighting for playoff position — we were fighting for each other. We simply went out today and battled our opponent. We went out and showed that we're still fighting for our coach, fighting for this team. We never gave up, and we're still here."
You've just completed your 11th season, and now you go into free agency. I don't think anyone can imagine the Cincinnati Bengals, or this defensive line, without No. 94, Domata Peko. How do you feel about free agency?
"Ah man. It was a really emotional game for me. I had my kids and family here with me today. I was happy they got to see me play. Hopefully we can get something (a contract) done, and I can wear these stripes until I retire. I feel like I've still got some gas in the tank left. God has blessed me with strength and speed. I have my health, and I'm appreciative of that."
You are a leader on this team. What is your definition of a leader, in your mind?
"For me, I follow a leader who leads by example. Someone who just talks, but doesn't follow through with action isn't a leader in my mind. That is how I lead — by example, always trying to be on-point and doing things right. Someone who always goes 100 percent every play."
This entire team looks up to you and holds you in such high regard. That has to make you feel great ...
"It's a blessing. I appreciate everyone in this locker room just having my back. This team knows that I'll do whatever it takes for them. I love this team, and I love this City. Who Dey!"
Today seemed fitting that you would finish the season doing battle with Terrell Suggs. That had to be emotional ...
"Yeah. Me and him have played against each other a number of times. It's always tough when the season comes to a close, especially at this point in my career."
I don't think anyone in Cincinnati can imagine this team without you on it. You're an anchor on this offensive line ...
"There is nowhere I want to play more than here in Cincinnati. These things take time to figure out. Hopefully I'll have an opportunity to be back. If not, I want to play football no matter what. I feel like I was put on this earth for one thing, and that's to play this game, to be a warrior. That's who I am and what I love to do."
What's your definition of a leader?
"It is someone who inspires people to want to be better. It's not the person who is yelling the loudest, or is the most flamboyant. It is someone who can lead everyone in the room, and that the others are willing to follow that lead."
What are your thoughts on your performance in today's game?
"You never know when your opportunity is going to come. It's been a long road getting to this spot. You have to be ready to play when your number is called. People get hurt, and opportunities can come at any time in football. That's part of life in this business."
This team hasn't had many 100 yard rushing games this season. Is that something you take pride in when it can be accomplished, like it was today?
"I know Rex (Burkhead) went over 100 today. He had a nice afternoon running the ball. I'm proud of him."
How proud are you of the way the defense played in the final game today?
"It was good. We need to figure out what the difference was between the first eight games and the second eight games. I think we've got a lot to build on. I'm excited for next year. Hopefully we can keep the group together with free agency and all that stuff. It didn't go as planned this year, but we've got to take the good with the bad and keep playing and keep winning."
How would you characterize a six-win season?
"Very disappointing to not make the playoffs."
Do you think this team, as professionals, can take this kind of year as motivation into the following year?
"I think any professional will take any motivation if you didn't have a good year. It's the same thing with your job. You're not actually competing physically, but every day there's somebody that's trying to replace you. We're getting older, there's always younger people coming in. It's all a part of the game, and that's how life goes. We have to prepare ourselves to compete and expect the unexpected. We've just got to keep working."
You went against Steve Smith a lot in your career and it could be his final game. What are your thoughts on playing against him for what could be the final time?
"I've got a lot of respect for the dude."
What did it show in you guys as a team to play as hard as you did with nothing on the line?
"It showed the men that's in this locker room. It all starts with Coach (Marvin) Lewis making sure we're doing our due diligence, making sure we're studying, even though we don't really have anything to play for. It just showed the character of the locker room."
What did you see on the interception?
"Specifically, they're down by 17 points or so with about a minute or so left. So you're not going to do much with curl routes or under routes, so I figured it was going to be a deeper route. As I was back pedaling I noticed he was coming back kind of fast, so I opened up inside so I could see the quarterback and I could see it was going to be a deeper route. As he threw it, I felt the receiver, I was shielding him off a little bit, and I was reaching for the ball the whole time."
Your first defensive snap in the NFL is an interception ...
"Yes sir. I like the story. I like the start of a good story. I like that (laughs). It's nice, it feels good, man."
They said when they picked you up on waivers it was going to be a developmental deal and that it's for next year. Now next year is here ...
"Yeah, next year is here. I still take it like I'm at the bottom. That's how I take it. Even if something good happens and I become a starter, I train as if I'm always a starter. That's just me. Coming into this year — developmental or not — I still train and practice against A.J. Green to prepare for moments like this. And when they call my name, I want them to know I prepared for this as if I was going to play every single snap. I'm not preparing like I'm only going to play three snaps."
What are your thoughts on what could be your final year as a Bengal?
"At the end of the day, I try to embrace every moment. We don't know if it's going to be my last — hopefully it's not. I was just trying to show my teammates that I love them, I appreciate them. Even the older guys, with everything they taught me. I'm very blessed to be in this situation."
What do you think you learned about this team, with the way you approached the final few weeks of the season?
"We just keep grinding. At the end of the day, we're a team full of winners. Don't worry about what the record shows, we're a team full of winners. We always want to compete and finish strong. I feel like we did a great job out there with the focus and the mental prep. It was a good week this week. We went out there and got the job done."
How would you characterize this season?
"Not enough. Too many ups and downs. We had opportunities, we had the chance, I just feel like it's luck. When I won my National Championship at Alabama, we didn't win them all just dominating guys. Everybody's good — we had to have luck. I just feel like the ball didn't go our way a lot."
Do you think having a season like this could stick with the group and kind of fuel you to next year?
"It's 2017. That was 2016. We won today. 2016 is over with. We're going into 2017, so I feel like this is something we can go off from this game. We can look at film, and make sure how we played them, and look ahead to 2017."
You've been spirited in your matchup with Steve Smith over the years. It could be his final game. What are your thoughts on playing against him for what could be the final time?
"He broke the ice today. He talked a little bit. But it was more respect than anything. I kept the trash talking down. I didn't want to take away from his day. I feel like he's going to put that (Hall of Fame) jacket on some day, so I just wanted to show respect to him and let him do his thing while still competing at a high level."
What do you think you guys showed today, going out there and still playing good football?
"We showed what type of team we can be when we go out there and play a complete game. The offense went out there and took care of the ball, scored points in the red zone. The defense got off the field on third down, and special teams won field position. We showed what kind of team we can be if we do all those things. I just wish we could have done it sooner."
You came in with the expectation that this team would still be playing at this point. How would you characterize a six-win season for this group?
"Disappointing. With the amount of talent we've got on this team, we're way better than a six-win team. We're at least a 10-win team. We could've been there. But the ball didn't bounce our way and we didn't take advantage of the defense getting turnovers and we didn't score points. We could have been that, but obviously we weren't."
How do you feel like you played today and this season?
"Today, I think I played pretty good. Andy got me the ball, and I made plays. As far as the season, I just feel like I wasn't consistent enough. I started off hot, and then I hit a spot in the middle of the season where I was getting one or two catches a game. When A.J. (Green) went down, I kind of turned it on again. I wasn't consistent enough for this team, and I wish I could have been playing like that all year."
How do you approach this offseason by not knowing where you're going to be next season?
"I'm just going to stay in shape, stay healthy and not do anything stupid to jeopardize free agency. I just want to go somewhere where I'm going to get the ball. I'd love to be back here with A.J. and Andy (Dalton). I just want a good situation where I'm going to get the ball and have a little security."
So it sounds like you think this team is pretty close to getting back where it needs to be ...
"If we bring guys back and keep guys healthy, I feel like we can be back in the playoff hunt next year."
RAVENS POSTGAME QUOTES
Initial comments ...
"I appreciate you guys being here. Congratulations go out to the Bengals, who played really well, especially that first half. They earned the win. We did not play well, especially in the first half, and that was the result. In the end, I was proud of my guys — proud of how they fought all year long, (and) the way they work — and we move forward from here."
How unhappy are you with the result of the game?
"I'm never happy with any losing result. Maybe I am pleased with the work and the effort, but never the result. I was just disappointed with the execution. We really didn't have the edge in the first half like we normally do. We ran to the ball, we were finishing blocks — going hard in the routes. From an effort standpoint, the effort was there. But the execution was not, and we got run on like that. Credit to the Bengals, as they did a really good job. Rex Burkhead is a really good player. He's really special, and he showed it today. It was just a great performance by him. For whatever reason, its hard to put a finger on it. On the emotional level, (the team) wasn't where it had been in the past. It has to do a lot with what happened last week. Our guys came back and really worked hard. They didn't sulk; they didn't pout. We came to work, but to get to that level, you have to play to the level the way we usually do in order to win football games"
Are you disappointed going forward?
"I just think it was human. I'm not necessarily disappointed, because I know how tough our guys are. I know where we are going to go forward. Its just human. Its real. We fought and we tried. We just couldn't put our best foot out there."
Is C.J. Mosley OK?
"I don't have an injury report on him. I don't think it was anything major though. We will know tomorrow, but I don't think there was anything serious."
What can you say about Steve Smith?
"It's been a privilege and an honor, and a heck of a lot of fun to be around him every day. From the very first time we met back at the combine and at the Pro Bowl, and every time I saw him at games, we had a great relationship. But to have a chance to be around him every day, we developed a friendship, and that's a rare thing. That's a special thing. I hope we will be pals for a very long time. He's been in my house and talked to my daughter. I've spent times with his kids. I've been around his wife and (so on). He's a great family man. It's been a special thing. The competitiveness too, it's special as well. He's shown our guys a lot. He showed our guys a way to compete and how to play the game. He never took anything for granted. He made a point to make a play every single game. He wanted that to be some advice to the rookies and younger guys, and I think that's great advice. When you think you have arrived in this league, and then next thing you know you're out. If you're veteran football player, you're around for a reason. He's been here for 16 years and continues to play at a high level every game. One of the highlights in my coaching career."
How difficult will it be not having him here anymore?
"Whenever you lose a great player — he is one of the all time great players — (you) are going to have to fill the void. Guys are going to have to step up, and we're going to have to find a way to be better next year, but he doesn't have to worry about that."
STEVE SMITH SR.
Can you process your emotions right now?
"It's a little bit of a relief. You know, playing this game (and dealing with) expectations that are expected from you, it's a lot of pressure. I haven't really concerned myself with the pressure. The pressure I'll have now is getting kids to school on time. Do I eat a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream? Do I want to work out on the treadmill or the Stairmaster? It's going to be different, but it's something I'll look forward to."
Do you think you'll miss that pressure?
"No, I'm not going to miss that pressure; I'll miss the competiveness, I'll miss the guys. I'll miss playing, but then there's some other things (that with) my makeup I'm looking forward to, not putting it on myself."
What does it mean to you that you've gotten kudos all year from not only guys you've played with, but against as well?
"This week, I just wanted to take the opportunity to appreciate things. I'm always, always, always looking ahead. I've said it before and I'll say it again — I grew up in Los Angeles and there's a highway, the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway ) you can take up north and for a long time, football has been (the) PCH highway. I've just kind of gone and done it over and over and over. Yet very rarely have I pulled over, and I appreciated looking at the sunset with my wife, with my kids, with friends (or even) just myself. That's what I'm doing. That's what I took this week (as).
"Part of it's emotional, but I'm just enjoying it. I'm never really seen myself as anything special; I've always worked ... This week there were a lot of emotions and a lot of anxiety, a lot of things coming into this week and I just said 'You know what? I'm just going to play.' I'm not going to concern myself with getting more passes or going out like Kobe (Bryant). I'm just going to go play. That's what I did.
"We didn't get the win — I saw Breshad Perriman do some great things — I was encouraged to see that. I'm going to miss these guys. I'm going to miss them but when they're in training camp and I'm not and I'm hanging at the pool. I'll be doing a lot of other things, going to Disneyland in September. I've heard it's really slow then with kids going back to school, so I'll be able to ride some rides numerous times — there's a whole lot of things to look forward to. Also, just being a dad. My kids miss me and I miss them, so I look forward to that."
What were some of the thoughts going through your head during the final minutes?
"Am I going to eat a gallon of rocky road ice cream? To be honest. I just tried to not to get emotional."
Did you start to get emotional? It looked like you did on the bench?
"Yeah I did. When (Elvis) Dumervil came over and Joe (Flacco) and the other guys, yeah I did."
You've made a lot of close friends here — do you anticipate stopping by and continuing your relationship here?
"Absolutely. Me and guys (on the team) have talked about taking family vacations together, coming back to Baltimore, going back to Baltimore and going to games and stuff. But I also want to take that time and get away from football a little bit. I'm going to have fun. I will be myself and I'll have a lot of free time, but at the same time, I'll get to be with my boys and come back to Baltimore and see some games and see Joe throw touchdowns. It'll be good; I'll mooch off some other guys that mooched off me for their seats, so I look forward to that."
Was there one moment today when it hit you the most?
"This morning my wife sent me a text. My family wasn't here. If my family had been here, I would have lost it.
"I enjoyed it but it's over, it's done. I know it's my time. Some people say 'Could I play another year?' I probably could, but what I would lose, I'm not willing to risk (it)."
How tough is it to see Steve Smith walk out of the locker room for the last time?
"It's tough. What a competitor, what a player. He did so many things for this team. It's definitely a tough reality."
Do you have the same feeling about this season and the way it ended because up until last week in the last couple of seconds, you had visions of being in the playoffs?
"It's disappointing, but we've had a week to think about it already. We came up short last week, really, and we came to work this week and got after it but didn't go out there and perform well today. We didn't play our best football, and it's definitely a little bit disappointing."
Did the Steelers loss take an even more emotional toll on this team than you expected?
"Hey, any time you play a big game there's — win or lose — you're going to have to deal with a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and that's what this league is about on a week-to-week basis anyway. Dealing with your emotions and coming to the field Sunday and having them in check and being ready to go. It would be too easy to use that game as a reason why we didn't come out here and play well today. Obviously, we had some emotions there, but we came to work this week and really got after it and expected to play well."
Is there something you can pin down as to why you weren't as sharp today?
"We had a bunch of drives today that were a bunch of plays; we just couldn't convert any points. Listen, it's a tough deal. You can't completely discount the way we played last week and leaving it all out there and coming up short, you know? It makes you feel certain ways. But come Sunday, there's so many things — bullets are flying — all kinds of different things and you want to go out there and prove to yourself (you competed). You want to be able to look in the mirror and say 'I fought in a NFL football game,' which we're all very fortunate to be able to do. Like I said before, you just can't use last week's game as an excuse."
You passed Vinny Testaverde for the most passing yards in a single season in Baltimore Ravens history this season — does that achievement mean anything to you?
"No, not really. I'm sure 20 years down the road nobody will really remember what the season was exactly like, but those things don't really mean too much to me. I'd rather be sitting here at 12-4 with a division championship in my mind and going on to the playoffs and playing next week — or maybe not playing next week but playing 2 weeks from now (off a bye). So yeah, it really doesn't. I don't feel too much about it."
You rehabbed hard to get ready for this season. What are your emotions right now? Do you need a break to get away from football?
"Well hey, we're definitely going to be living with this season until we get together in the offseason and get going for next year. That's just the reality of it. You have to live what you put out there this year. And no, I don't have to 'get away from it. I have to go back to work and get back in the weight room and continue to throw the football and do all the things you would normally do in a regular offseason. I still think I have a little bit of work to do with getting everything back to the way it was, and this offseason will be a huge opportunity to do just that."
How big of a challenge will it be to replace a guy like Steve Smith and what he does?
"Reality is going to hit us at some point that we don't have him on the field anymore and to be able to be the guy that he is on Sundays. Nobody has to do anything spectacular; we've just got to go to work and get better and better each day. Guys just have to be who they are. We have guys that can step in and do the job and they don't have to be Steve Smith. They just have to be themselves, and that's the most important thing."
What's your assessment of today?
"Well, Pittsburgh took a lot out of us when we lost that game. In a game like this, there's nothing to play for but yourself. We came up short and didn't make enough plays. That's why we got the loss."
Do you feel like the team let up and didn't play as hard as usual?
"I wouldn't say we didn't play hard. They made more plays and we didn't make plays. They made more plays than we did."
You guys ran a lot of short routes ...
"They were playing a lot of cover-two and zone. They didn't want to give up the deep ball. They were letting us have all the stuff underneath."
What has Steve Smith meant to you?
"At 37 years old he comes back and plays another year after an Achilles injury. To be able to come back and attack the game the way he did — I should never have a day of me complaining."
How did your opinion about Steve Smith change after playing with him?
"I was his fan growing up. I used to watch his YouTube videos all the time. I didn't care what people said about him, I liked his style of play. At first, playing with him was a shock because I had grown up watching him."
This was a tough way to end the season ...
"Every time we step on the field, we expect to win. We didn't get it done today. We'll remember this loss and use it for hunger next season."
What did it mean to play with Steve Smith?
"It was huge. Having Steve in the room, and him being one of the greatest of all time and giving you tips and pointers, it was great. I never imagined playing with him. It's a blessing."
Were you hoping your touchdown would stand?
"I was hoping I was (in the end zone), but once I saw the replay, I saw that my elbow hit before crossing the goal line."
What's your assessment of today?
"You can't expect to win when you have a terrible first half on all levels of defense. We had a great week of practice, but we didn't come out the way we should have. We came back in the second half and played our style. It's unacceptable. It will give us more motivation."
Was the emotional toll from last week still lingering?
"You can say it is, but it's not an excuse. Everything came crushing down on us last week, and it's hard to overcome. That falls on us, as older guys. We still have to go out there and compete and play together. We didn't play Ravens defense. Hopefully we can use this as drive during the offseason and come back better next year."
How disappointed are you?
"Well, we lost an emotional one last week and we're kind of banged up. We came in and tried to win. I don't think it was lack of fight. Cincinnati definitely executed, and I wish we had executed better and played a better game."
What are your thoughts as to what it will take for the Ravens to get back where they need to be?
"We have to address some issues. We may have to take some hits — hopefully not — but we have to get healthy and address the issues that hurt us this year. We have to be honest with ourselves and address those issues if we don't want to be on the outside looking in. We have to get healthy and go to work."