What The Bengals Said After The Win Over The Jets

191201-Dalton-Andy_Dunlap-Carlos_Mixon-Joe_news_conference (AP)
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, above, hugs, quarterback Andy Dalton, lower left, alongside running back Joe Mixon, right, as they speak to reporters after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


DEC. 1, 2019



Head coach

Initial comments ...

"Great feeling there in the locker room. These guys earned this and fought their tails off for the last nine months, waiting for a moment like this. I don't know what the stats look like, but it felt like a complete game from all of our guys. In all three phases, I thought they did a really good job of controlling the game. For the most part, we felt like we were in pretty good control of it. That was a good team. That team has been playing well for the last couple of weeks. We knew it was going to be a tough game for us, but our guys responded the right way and made the plays. You look at both sides of the ball, there were some great plays made there in the first half that gave us that lead. We actually enjoyed playing with the lead for the first time all year it felt like. You can play a little bit differently. Our guys really did a good job of that. Proud of them, proud of the coaches, proud of the players for sticking together these 12 games and earning this win. Now, the pressure is off of you a little bit. Now, that it's off of you, you get a chance to go and be free and get some more wins and finish this thing out the right way."

How does it feel getting your first win?

"How do I feel? I can't even describe it! You know, good... I feel really good."

You hear the music from the locker room and you seem a little teary-eyed ...

"It's emotional. You go through it with all of these guys. And, to finally get it, it feels really good."

Running off the field, I thought you might jump into the stands with the fans ...

"Well, you know, my man (fan in the stands)... whatever outfit he is (wearing)... every week he's giving us encouragement. I'm not sure what he's supposed to be dressed like, but I hear him every time I run out of the tunnel, and see him when I run back in. It's fans like that... that stick with us through thick and thin... when you get a win like that, and good things that are going to come our way... it's those people in the crowd consistently, cheering you on no matter what, that you appreciate."

Is that where the emotion of the first win really hit you?

"Yeah. That seems about right."

You made the decision to go back to quarterback Andy Dalton. What did you see from him today?

"Played outstanding. Really had great control of the game. It's the windiest game we've had. We had a practice that was even windier than that. So, we felt like our guys were ready for it. I've played football in Kansas before, and Wednesday was the windiest day I've ever been a part of. It was really difficult to throw the ball. But, we learned what plays we were able to run and in which direction. That really helped us today, because in a windy game, you couldn't throw the ball towards the city, you had to wait until you were coming towards the river. I thought Andy did a really good job of handling that. Proud of the adversity he's faced. He comes back though and breaks these franchise records. And, for him to be the leader he's been, to come back and get this reward and this win, I'm just really proud of him and the whole group."

This was probably the best defensive game of the year. What did you see there?

"They did a great job. We stressed turnovers all week, and we didn't get any. But, those guys kept the pressure on the quarterback. I thought they were really tight on the back end... good tacklers. I can't think of many missed tackles we faced. It was really good communication from those guys. They hit us with some tempo early in the game, they were on the ball. And, I thought our guys did a really good job responding to that, and making the plays when we needed them."

Can you speak of the intangibles that Dalton brings to the team?

"Just his veteran leadership, his presence, his character, he stands for all the things you want in a player. And, so for him, when he's the backup quarterback, he's thinking 'I didn't get to finish with a win.' You felt terrible for that part of it. So, for him to come back and lead us the way he led us and get this win is just... you know, it says a lot about his character and the adversity he's overcome. He just kept being the leader through it all."

Halfback Joe Mixon was signing a ball with a message on it. Did you receive it from him?

"We had a couple of game balls in the locker room. I didn't see any... but, I didn't look close enough to see if there is anything on those. His energy was great. It was a tough day from a rush standpoint... but they're the number one rush defense, we knew it was going to be a challenge. They lost a couple of DBs inactive, they lost one early, so we had some advantages there in the pass game. His presence throughout the game was remarkable."

Typically, the coach gives out the game ball ... but, the team gave you one, right?

"Yeah, they did."

Is it possible to describe the strain that 0-11 put on you personally?

"No, you can't describe it."

Is this as challenging as anything you've ever gone through professionally?

"It is. It just speaks to the character of this staff and this team to get through it, when it's not easy. It's easy to give up, it's even easier to start pointing fingers. That's what we didn't see anybody do. It speaks to the leadership we have, throughout the building, really, that we have stuck together and find the positives. They see what we're building underneath. Outside of the stadium, we don't have a lot of wins, but everyone sees what's happening at practice and in the locker room. For everyone to stick together and not point fingers has been tremendous, and I think there's good things to come for us."

What did you say to the team before the "Who Dey" chant?

"Just told them how proud we are of them... for some of the same things I was just saying to (Cincinnati Enquirer Sports Columnist) Paul (Daugherty), for sticking together. You see teams that are having these types of seasons. I've been on teams that are out of the playoff race... where you see a couple of guys start to check out. Nobody. Nobody on this team or this coaching staff has done that. We knew how close we were and how it was going to feel when we got it. So, what a reward for everyone, to finally get to feel this... just keep building on it. You don't talk about it when it's happening, but of course everybody feels that pressure to go make a play... it hasn't gone our way. Is it finally going to go our way? To get that win, and do it the way we did it, it takes that pressure off. So, now these guys are free just to go make plays and let's go attack some people."

Who personally do you go to during these tough times?

"I've got a lot of good people that I've always leaned on. My wife, number one... tremendous. My parents, my brother, my sisters... a lot of good people out there that reach out and helped me through this."

How are you going to celebrate this?

"Well, we have some family in town, so that's good... get to spend it with those close to you."

You said your wife is picking out the wine...

"Well, you try not to jinx it. So, we'll see what she's got for me."

Where to from here ...

"Well, keep playing loose, because you do start to get a little bit tight in the second half of games when they're close and it seems like it's been the same thing over and over again. Now, that pressure is off. Keep working the way we've been working. We've gone into every game feeling like we're going to win because of the way we've prepared and the way we've practiced. So, for it to finally show up through four quarters and to get it done, we have to stick with it. That's what a lot of the players were saying there in the locker room. We have to stick with that. Again, we have to keep putting pressure on people, and go win some games."

With having a lead at half, was the feeling different coming into the second half?

"Yeah, correct. This one felt a little different at half. We started a little faster than we had, to be quite honest. Other than the field goal they got, we ended on three scores in our last four possessions, so we felt like we had some good momentum and we were getting the ball. The biggest thing was it's 0-0 right now, we have to go play, get turnovers of defense. On offense, we have to come out and put points on the board. I think we did a good job of that."

Is this proof that things are going to right way?

"We believe in the culture that we're building. You want yourself in the win column. It's a process, it always takes time. We wish we were in the playoff hunt this year and playing for championships, but that wasn't the case. So, we need to keep building on the consistency of that. One win doesn't make the season for you. We have to be consistent week to week. These type of performances have to carry over. Once we get that consistency, we'll be where we want to be. We know the culture is here, the leadership is here. And, we have to let that carry over from week to week."






(Mixon joined Dalton at the podium midway through Dalton's post-game news conference)

How does it feel to have the weight of 0-11 lifted from this team's shoulders?

Dalton: "You work all year to win. You prepare each week to win, and for it to finally pay off, it is a big relief. We got our first win of the season. We got Zac (Taylor) his first win as a head coach."

How does it feel to get some redemption after being benched?

Dalton: "This one feels good. Knowing that I was going to be starting again this week, I wanted to attack each day. I wanted to give my teammates confidence in me, again. I was confident in our plan this week going into the game. Also, we had one of the best weeks of practice that we've had this year. I just had a feeling that we were going to get this one done.

"Regardless of all the other circumstances that have been circling, the fact that I was back out here starting again ... I want to win every time I'm on the field. We were able to get it done today, and I felt we played well in all three phases."

At what point today did you feel that the outcome was going to be different than in previous games?

Dalton: "Once we got into the fourth quarter. Many times it gets late in the game when you're leading, and those minutes can't come off the scoreboard fast enough. I felt like we had control of the game for most of the game. We had rhythm, and this game just had the feeling that we we're going to get the win."

What has your relationship with head coach Zac Taylor been like as you have persevered through adversity this season?

Dalton: "Zac (Taylor) and I have had a ton of conversations this season. Coach has stayed steady through all the variables he has been faced with this season. He is a first-year head coach, and his consistency is a big reason this team has managed to stick together through all the setbacks. The way we played today shows that no one on this team has given up. A lot of teams in a position such as we have been this season could make the decision to pack it in. It is a tribute to Zac that we're still fighting for success. This has to be a huge relief for him to get this off his back. We don't have to think about being winless anymore."

What did Taylor say to you before and after the game?

Dalton: "I think we both had a feeling that today was going to be a good day. Our conversations this week have been rooted in going out and winning this game. Obviously, it's been hard to get that first win this year, but it finally came, and it feels good."

Where does your personal motivation come from in a season like this?

Dalton: "I think you treat each week of the season the same. You go out there wanting to win. Regardless of any of the variables surrounding us, you still have to go out there and play each week. You work year-round to win. We're still out there competing, and we want to get it done.

What did you say to Taylor out there on the field after the game?

Dalton: "'Congratulations.' We've been working to overcome a lot this year, and we finally did. I am just really happy for him to get his first win."

Who got the game balls during postgame?

Dalton: "Zac (Taylor) gave me a game ball. I think a part of that was due to breaking some of the franchise records today. I appreciate him. I've been a leader for this city, team, and organization for a while now. I'm doing everything I can to make this team the best it can be."

Does setting those records mean something to you?

Dalton: "You don't think about it when you start your career. Obviously, I've been here a long time. It means a lot to me to have the opportunity to break Ken's (Anderson) records. I've known him a long time, and it also show my consistency here for a long time. I've been lucky to have played on some good offenses here. It is cool to break those records, and it gives me bragging rights now."

(Joe Mixon walks up to the podium here and joins Andy Dalton)

Speak about Joe Mixon's leadership on this team through adversity this season ...

Dalton: "Joe has been great. He has helped keep this team together. He is so competitive. He plays every down of every game as hard as he can. His attitude is positively contagious."

Where does this win rank for you?

Dalton: "It's memorable, and very satisfying with everything I have been through this year. Not having played the last three weeks ... this one means a lot."

Joe, did you guys welcome Andy back to the huddle?

Mixon: "We definitely gave him a warm welcome. The crowd did as well. From the get-go, we went out there and got after it."

Joe, it looked like the offensive plan of attack this afternoon was for Andy to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Can you elaborate?

Mixon: "We did have some play calls today where the goal was to get me out into space so it would help our receivers. Andy got the ball out quick, and then it's my job to make guys miss in space. I think we did a great job of that today."

How much of a boost did Andy provide the offense today?

Mixon: "A great boost. He played with a chip on his shoulder all week. He was ready to go, all week in practice. He got us ready. He had great attitude and swagger in the game today. I commend him on his play today. You lean on God in situations like this."

Andy, what are your thoughts on the wind conditions during the game today?

Dalton: "Yeah, the wind was blowing, but it wasn't comparable to what we practiced in on Wednesday this week. I think there were gusts around 50 miles-per-hour that day. After experiencing that, today wasn't too windy. If it is blowing actively, it most certainly does affect some things."

Andy, that was quite a throw to Tyler Boyd that you made to break the TD record ...

Mixon: "That was a dime."

Dalton: "It was one of those things, where I knew that play was one that was going to be there. For T.B. (Tyler Boyd) to make that catch in that tight window was great. I was able to get it in there, but it was a contested catch, and he made it. That was a huge play — and we (practiced) a similar look in practice this week. That one feels really good."

(Dalton leaves the room)

How good did it feel to come into the locker room with a win?

Mixon: "It feels great. I'm excited for the players. We come to work every day and work hard. We fell short all those weeks, but we kept coming in. We put the time in."

How will you end this season on a positive note?

Mixon: "Keep showing up to work and doing the things we have to do. We have Cleveland next, and we have to go up there and take the division game. We're looking to win against anybody — we don't care it is. We just have to bring that same mentality we did this week."

Explain Andy's "swagger" ...

Mixon: "First off, he's starting to dress up. He came out there in something that made you look good on the field. And then it's leading the huddle, saying 'let's go, let's get this.' I haven't really heard that much from him in my three years being here. He did a great job leading us all week. I'm sure he's looking forward to next week now."

How big is this win psychologically?

Mixon: "It's the biggest win of the year. At the end of the day, we have to keep coming to work. We need to keep putting it together. The defense played lights out today, made a lot of plays. The D-line was very disruptive, and the defensive backs made plays too. Football is an 11-man game, and our defense did a great job. Our offense did a great job of making them pay for the turnovers they created. It was great team ball."

What do you want to tell the loyal fans?

Mixon: "At the end of the day, it's been a rough patch, but it's going to get better. We definitely appreciate every single one of you all that came out and supported us, even the ones that watched it on television. It's been tough, but stick with us."


Wide receiver

You seem to catch everything that comes your way ...

"I was always taught when I was younger to see the ball and bring it in."

Were you and the cornerback trash-talking?

"Yeah, he was talking. I was talking too. We were laughing. It was good competition. It woke me up. It was good competition."

How happy are you to get an opportunity to show you belong?

"I just appreciate the coaching staff trusting me. I just want to follow through with it."

How comforting was it to have Andy back?

"He said it before the game. In warm-ups, he kept preaching swagger. He wanted to see it. We came out with energy and started fast on offense. He brought that swagger."

All three phases played well today ...

"We (on offense) have things to work on, but it was our best game together as a unit. I think we only had two penalties on offense."

One was on you. Thoughts on that?

"It was soft, but I'm not trying to get fined."



This win must feel good ...

"It was bound to come. What a day Carlos (Dunlap) had (three sacks). I'm happy for him. It's a good day."

Holding a NFL team to no touchdowns is impressive ...

"We've been climbing. We just have to keep working, but I'm glad it paid off today. We got the 'Red Rocket' (Andy Dalton) back out there, or 'Red Rifle,' it doesn't matter. We just have to keep working and getting better. We have everyone healthy on the D-line, so we can go hunt now."

The rotation helps things out ...

"It's huge. We just have to keep working."


Wide receiver

How good do you feel for Andy?

"Unbelievable. He's my guy, no matter what happens. It's bigger than football with Andy and I. For him to go out there after getting benched — and then to break all those records — it's unbelievable."

When was the last time you've seen the locker room like this?

"A while. The first few years (I was here), we were so used to winning. I feel like we took it for granted. It felt good. And me not playing ... it felt good for the guys, because I know the work they put in."

Was it bittersweet for you?

"It's always sweet. No bitterness at all. I'm doing my part to get ready, and that's all I can do."

Does the win make the ankle feel better?

"The ankle is the same, win or lose."

How is the ankle?

"When it feels good enough to play, I'll play."

How is the swelling?

"Everything is trending up. I have to be effective to be out there, and right now I'm not."

Is there a timetable?

"I don't know."

Does the win help prove Zac's message?

"It's always believable. We don't go out there and try to lose every game. We still prepare every week as hard as we can. Sometimes we just come up short. We've been on the short end of the stick the last few weeks, but it was great to get a win this week."

View photos from the Week 13 matchup as the Bengals host the Jets at Paul Brown Stadium.


Defensive end

What was the key to keeping the Jets to six points?

"It was just a combination of putting a couple of good weeks together. We've played really good football the last two weeks, and we're finally playing like we know we can play this last week."

Even though Andy Dalton is on offense, did that give the defense a lift?

"Oh yeah, for sure. Andy broke two franchise records today. He's a great leader. With all of the adversity he's faced, he's stayed up and never changed who he was. He stepped right in and led us to a victory today. I've got even more respect than I had before for him."

Can you put into words what this win feels like?

"It's an enormous weight that's been lifted off our shoulders. It's an amazing feeling and the start of something really good."

What did you guys do to limit the Jets so much today?

"We just constantly kept applying pressure on both ends. We started off fast getting to the quarterback and making third-down stops. The offense kept moving. It was a complete game for the first time this season that we put together."

Carlos Dunlap had three sacks today. It seems like he's really played well lately ...

"Carlos, he's going to break the Bengals franchise sack record. He's a great person and a great player. It's the first time we've really been up on a team the whole season, where we've been able to tee off and get after them. That's a defensive lineman's dream."



What do you think you did well to shut the Jets down?

"I don't think they had any explosive plays today. That's something I've been preaching every week, that we've got to stop giving up explosive plays. I think we did that very well today. Another thing that we did is we got them behind the sticks, so they were in a lot of third-and-longs. We've got really good guys up front that can rush the quarterback. We're going to be arguing tomorrow if it's a coverage sack or they're actually back there getting after them."

Is that something defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been getting on you guys about?

"The biggest thing is stopping the run, getting turnovers, and no explosive plays. That's something we did today. I guess you can count the safety as a turnover. I feel really good about how we're continuing to go in the right direction as a defense and as a team."

It looked like you blitzed more than usual ...

"I got two blitzes in — the second time I've ever blitzed my whole life. It was pretty cool."

Lou changed up stuff more than usual today, didn't he?

"Yeah, he had a really good feel. These past four weeks, he's had a really good feel for calling plays, and players are really believing in what he's calling."

Did you get a chance to talk to Zac Taylor on the sideline?

"When we got that last fourth-down stop, I ran up to him and I gave him a hug and said congrats to him. I know as players we've put in a lot of hard work, but Zac also does and he deserves it."



How was Zac Taylor after the game?

"I know he was happy — he was like a kid in the candy store. He was excited."

The Jets came in having scored 34 points in each of their last three games. How did you guys hold them to two field goals?

"We just executed, and we dominated. We played good up front. I don't think they had more than 65 yards rushing at one point. We've just been playing good the last three or four weeks. We haven't given up a touchdown in a couple quarters now — I don't know how many it is, but we've just been playing good football. We've been playing sound, fundamental football and going back to the basics."

What did Andy Dalton's return mean?

"He gave us the best chance today. That's all it means to me."


Wide receiver

Describe your emotions after your first win of the season ...

"It just feels good. I knew it was going to come, it was just all a matter of when. Each and every week, I was going to go out there and play hard, fight hard and never quit. Good things come to those who wait. We want to take this one and run home with the rest of the wins the rest of the season."

It seems like you and Andy Dalton had a conversation about getting you the ball. How big was that connection today?

"It's always that huge. Today wasn't the first time. Andy's been my guy since I got here. He's developed me in a way I couldn't imagine. I learned a lot from him. Just to see him, with his determination starting here Wednesday until today, he showed his leadership."

How much did not winning hang with you on a daily basis?

"I mean it hurt. For me, I hate losing. At the of the day, I'm going to continue to preach about it, and I'm going to continue to go out there and play my hardest. I'm here for a reason, and it's a blessing to be in the National Football League, so I want to go out there and just take advantage of it."

What was it like when you guys did the "Who Dey" chant in the locker room after the game?

"It felt good. It's been a little while since we won. There's been a lot of games this year where we should have won, but at the end of the day things didn't go our way."

What did it mean to be on the receiving end of that touchdown that put Andy Dalton in first place in franchise history for touchdown passes?

"It was great. Initially, I just thought I was making a great play for the team. And then I looked around and it was Andy, really, that was the guy that we need to go celebrate with, because he broke the record for the most touchdown passes. That's huge. I'm happy to be a part of that. He helped me get to where I am now. I'm going to continue to go out there and make plays for him. I know it means a lot for him as it does me."

Zac Taylor says you guys gave him one of the game balls after the game. What did it mean to see him get his first win here today?

"Everything. He always continued to push us. He never lost his mind, he never snapped, he never felt like we were a losing team. In spite of the record, he knew we were better than what our record shows. He continued to be a great head coach and got us in positions to win. And he'll continue to do that. If we go out and apply the game plan, we'll keep getting wins."


Defensive end

How does it feel to get the first win of the season?

"It's a big burden lifted off of our shoulders. We've been working for this for so long and came up short so many times. One thing about this team, we kept coming in and kept going to work — whatever it takes, just focusing in on that week. Not looking back, not looking forward, just focusing on week in and week out. And now we get to celebrate."

The Jets had scored 34 points in three straight weeks. How did you hold them to just two field goals?

"Great defense — that's pretty much it."

It looked like Lou Anarumo mixed it up a bit today ...

"He keeps drawing things up in the sand. He's pretty creative with his defense, and today we out-executed them."

Was it just a matter of having a lead? Did that make things easier for you guys?

"That helps a lot, too. A defensive line rushing after the quarterback the way we were, with the coverage complementing us as well, it all plays together."

What was Zac Taylor like when you walked in the locker room after the game?

"He was excited and relieved. We've been working hard. His childhood dream was to be an NFL head coach, and we started off the way we started. But we all kept working, we all kept fighting, kept doing what we had to do to try and get a win and today we came out on top. It's a big burden lifted off our shoulders."