Quarterback Joe Burrow
The first quarter of the game when the team is just rolling, I mean it's operating at such a high efficiency, did you feel like you were back at LSU in that 15-0 run? I mean with that type of performance what was it like in the huddle during that timeframe?
"Yeah, we started off well. That was good to see, obviously didn't finish well, but we did start off strong."
What changed? Did they make any slight tweaks or did they just execute better or lack of execution on your side of it or a combination of all of it?
"We got past the 50 (yard line) a lot and we just kicked field goals instead of scoring touchdowns and in a game like this you need to score touchdowns."
Can you take us through that last play? What did you see in that interception?
"They were blitzing and they were playing palms, which is basically quarters. We saw something. I just have to make a better play, make a better decision. A tough one."
You got A.J. Green involved on a more productive level. Between Tee Higgins and A.J., you almost had two 100-yard receivers going for yourself out there. Was that good for you to see and feel?
"Yeah. A.J. (Green) played really, really well. That was good to see. We need to build on that this week in practice."
Did you see Julian Blackmon on the interception at the end?
"No, I did not. I knew he was over there somewhere. I didn't know he was that tight."
The first thing you said after last week's game in Baltimore was you weren't very good with your eyes today. Do you feel like you were a lot better with your eyes today by what you saw out there?
"Yeah, I mean I played really well for three quarters and 14 minutes and then one bad play and wasn't able to convert."
You've got one win in six games now, which I know you aren't accustomed to. How do you personally digest a loss? How do you process this, how do you get over it? Kind of what's your process?
"Just put it behind you. Go back to work tomorrow."
How quickly does that play out for you? Is it one of those things that's pretty quick for you or does it take some time?
"We watch the film tomorrow and then we put it behind us, and in the afternoon get on to the next game."
At what point do you all need to win some of these close games in order to have conviction that you all are heading in the right direction?
"I mean obviously we'd like to win games. Yeah."
What do you guys have to do better in the fourth quarter on last-minute drives, etc. to convert some more opportunities at the end?
"Put the ball in the end zone."
Players say all the time, a win is a win, it doesn't matter how it happens. Is a loss a loss or does this one feel a little more frustrating, a little more sting?
"No more sting. A loss is a loss. Obviously you would like to win when you're up 21-0 in the first quarter, then we score six points the rest of the game. It's not great, but we've got 10 more (games)."
Have you ever been involved in a game like that before where you have a three-score lead and didn't finish it?
"I don't know, probably. Not sure."
Was there anything specifically that led to all the field goals when you all crossed the 50-yard line after that hot start? Is there anything schematically on either side of the ball that affected that?
"I'll have to watch the film – I'm not sure. We didn't convert on third downs the way that we needed to. We did stay out of second-and-long. We were efficient on first down, but we just got to finish those third downs."
Zac Taylor keeps talking about no panic and having positive momentum with this team, but when you have one win in six games, how much do you and your teammates need to see wins to kind of believe that things are trending the right way?
"We'd like to win games."
Head Coach Zac Taylor
Obviously to start the football game, your offensive line had real control of the line of scrimmage today in that first quarter. Did they tweak anything? Did they do anything differently or did they just execute better after that?
"No, we knew it was a really good defense that we were facing. We had some success early and did feel like later in the game we had some stuff as well to play off of it. We just didn't get enough points on the board in the second half, but I feel like our guys did a good job, made some plays there when we needed them."
Third down, defense kept themselves in pretty good third-and-seven or more situations there a few times. They let the Colts convert seven out of 11, they came into the game converting less than 35 percent of the time. That had to be frustrating.
"Yeah, that was a big part of the game obviously and they did a nice job. You give Philip Rivers some time and he can get a feel for what you're doing and he's going to dice you up. Everything together, that's the pass rush, getting to the quarterback and effecting him. We had no sacks and then just the coverage holding up there on the back end."
This team hasn't won on the road in two years. Do you get a sense that it's starting to get in the players' heads a little bit?
Can you go through the decision on why Samaje Perine on that key third down? Is it just the way the play was called? He hasn't gotten a lot of touches obviously this year.
"Yeah, it's third-and-one – fullback play. Just a fullback dive play. I felt like he was best suited for that job."
Geno Atkins didn't look like he played much at all. Did he regress?
"No, he played on third downs. He was in there on third downs, I know that."
You got production from A.J. Green today. You got production from Tee Higgins. You get over 100 yards from Tee, almost 100 yards from A.J. Is that what you're looking to get obviously?
"I thought the passing game was in good rhythm there. Everybody was involved really at every position. There were some good throws to backs too, some stuff that got us some good yardage. I know we had the two sacks, it felt like he had time back there in the pocket. He did a nice job. Again, ultimately it's just – there was a drive there I think at the end of the first half there that we punted, we felt like we should've gotten more there. Kind of shot ourselves in the foot and then obviously the third-and-two there – it was a third-and-long one, third-and-two there to start the second half. We had quit getting going, felt like there could've been a conversion that we just missed on so those were some key plays in the game."
How's Joe Mixon's foot?
"You know, he came back and played, so that's really the extent of what I know right now."
You guys have dropped a lot of one-score games. I mean, out of all of those, is this maybe the toughest to swallow because of the position you all were in at one point?
"Yeah, it's a tough one to swallow for sure. Again, we didn't earn it and you gotta challenge the team. Everybody could have done one more thing to help us get this win and that's all of us. It's the coaches and the players and everyone's gotta be accountable for that. We put ourselves in a tough position here with just one win and it doesn't matter if you feel like you've done better than that, it doesn't matter, your record is what it says you are and we gotta go and earn these wins man. It's tough to beat good teams on the road. I felt like we certainly had some opportunities and we just didn't do enough to make it happen and they did and that's the bottom line. You've got to give your hats off to them."
How do you guys feel like you did on the last series of the game and what happened on that last play?
"Yeah, they brought an overload pressure there and it looked like they played palms with two under and made a good play. The safety came up and made a good play. It looked like the protection was pretty good versus the tough pressure and they picked it up and again, just they made one more play than we did."
How do you make sure that this doesn't linger?
"Yeah, you gotta have those conversations with everybody on the team, it's not just addressing the team, it's making sure we're in great communication with the key leaders on the team and making sure everybody is pointing the same direction. But again, this thing, the way that we feel like this locker room is built right now, it's trending in the right direction to handle adversity. Sometimes it is tough sledding like it is right now, but I do feel confident. Again, we said last week, don't hit the panic button and we come out on the road against a good team and start strong and don't finish the right way necessarily, but we know that we're capable of doing it the right way, we just haven't done it yet. But again, I have a ton of confidence in the players in that locker room that they're going to pull together, be stronger and we have a big divisional game next week."
Maybe the game plan doesn't change, but does the mindset change at all?
"No, we made clear that the mindset didn't need to change. I knew that they were capable – he's capable of getting in rhythm, scoring points and just watching their tape, he can push the ball down the field and score quickly. They tried to a couple of times, they missed a few and they hit a few, but that's what you know about them. So not for one second do you relax and change the way that you're calling anything and I felt like we didn't do that. I should say, I felt like we stayed with the plan that we believed in and didn't alter just because we had a lead and again, we just didn't execute well enough."
At some point when you have one win in six games, do you feel like you do need to have some wins to prove that at least to you guys on the inside that you are trending in the right direction?
"Well it validates what you're doing and ultimately that's why we're here. We're here to win football games and that's what makes everybody happy. But at the same time, we're not going to compromise the way that we go about things because the way that we're built right now we feel like we should be winning some of these football games against good football teams and it just hasn't gone our way yet. But again, just like last week, we're not going to panic, we're going to keep coming to work. I do feel like a lot of the habits in the building are improving to where at one point the time is going to turn and we're going to gain some momentum and we're going to make believers of everybody outside the building because we got the guys in the building. Again, it's just putting our best foot forward and going and getting a win next week against Cleveland."
You went for it on a couple of fourth downs and then you obviously kicked field goals on a couple of fourth downs as well. What goes into that and what's the thought process?
"There's a lot of conversation that we have upstairs and down below. That key one, fourth-and-one to have a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Our offense had gotten two turnovers at that point in the game and I just believed in those guys that they were going to be able to get a stop for us if we converted that 48-yarder. We didn't, it hit the cross bar and that's the way the game goes, but it wasn't an easy decision when you're in fourth-and-one to have a chance to go for it. I felt like it was middle of the fourth quarter, we can go take this lead, rely on our defense to get a stop and then finish the game the right way. Again, it just didn't work out for us, but I don't know that I would change that decision."
You talked about Philip Rivers getting in a rhythm when he gets time. Would you have liked to see Lou Anarumo heat him up a little bit more and send pressure?
"We pressured we just didn't always get home. I say get home – they picked it up, they do a nice job. So it's not always as simple as just calling pressures and thinning out your back end. That can be tough if they do a nice job of picking it up, so there's a balance there. Again, it takes everybody on the defense. Sometimes just a four-man rush, you gotta go effect the pass rush well and we're counting on those guys up front to do that."
Xavier Williams comes off the street basically and gives you all of the snaps he gave you. What are your thoughts about him?
"You know, I'm not in a position to say that right now. I saw him out there on the field a lot. I'll watch the tape to get a better evaluation of those guys inside."
What are your overall thoughts on Anarumo and the defense in general right now after six games?
"I feel good. They've got one of the better offensive lines in the NFL and we know that we've had some issues. We've lost what, six guys inside now and so it is a challenge at times. I feel like our guys are believing in what we're doing and again, it's just a matter of we come out and start that game strong and put them in a tough position, our defense plays with their hair on fire and then a couple things didn't go our way. Again, if we would've put points on the board on offense at the beginning of the third quarter, late in the second quarter, then the defense kind of has that pressure off of them a little bit and can go back and play like they were in the first quarter, but it's on this entire team."
Wide Receiver A.J. Green
A real productive game, a bunch of catches and almost 100 yards receiving. How do you feel about it? How would you evaluate your performance?
"Still left some plays out there that I should have made. The go ball, I should have just went up over the top of him. We tried to get the pass interference, instead of trying to lay hands it. I felt good. That's probably the best my body felt, just getting my confidence back and playing like my old self."
How frustrating is it to have a 21-point lead like that and not be able to close it out? I mean I guess you have experienced something like that with Philip Rivers before. The guy is a hall of famer for a reason, but it has to be frustrating to be in that situation, isn't it?
"Yeah, it's tough, but this is the NFL -- tales of two different halves. I've been in this game a long time. I understand a 21-point lead going into halftime, or whatever it was up by 14 (points) going into halftime. It really doesn't mean anything. These games can turn around very quick."
You had some very big catches on third and fourth down on that final drive. What goes through your mind when you make a play like that, especially on that fourth-and-nine, where it was kind of a game saver so to speak?
"Nothing, I prepare every week, each week, so just another routine catch for me. I don't put too much thought into going out there. I just go out there and try to execute."
Wide Receiver Tee Higgins
Got off to a great start, had a lot of momentum, what was the problem? You have a 21-0 lead just seconds into the second quarter, and then it starts to turn. What was the turning point? What was the reason you think?
"I just feel like we didn't capitalize on offense. They started moving the ball. At the end of the day, we just have to capitalize when things don't start going our way and we have to make those plays on third down."
You and A.J. Green were a pretty good tandem today. You went for over 100 yards, A.J. went close to 100 yards. Is that what you expect and are hoping for?
"Yeah, that's what I expect every week. All of us in the receiving room – we expect to go out there and make plays for our team. I was able to make the plays that came my way. I only had one drop that really bothered me, but other than that I was just out there trying to help my team get a W."
You talked earlier in the year about getting your hands up too fast. It looked like on that deep ball you timed it just right. Was it a kind of lesson learned moment?
"Oh yeah, definitely. I should have scored, he caught me but it definitely was a lesson learned moment – shot lay hands and made a play on the ball."
Safety Jessie Bates III
On the interception, you made an aggressive play on the football and then you have a return taken away from you, by just a game of inches I guess. Your knee is down and he barely kicks you with his foot, how disappointing was that to have that return taken away?
"Yeah, I had no clue honestly. I was celebrating with my teammates and then I got down to the sideline and got ready for the next drive and I see we have the ball at the 15 (yard line) and I'm like what the heck? So it is what it is. I think our offense did a good job putting together a good drive there and I think we missed a field goal, which is unfortunate."
You have a 21-point lead and the ball is put in Philip Rivers' hands and he is getting all kinds of criticism. Did you guys feel like that's exactly what you guys wanted to have happen? Have Philip Rivers have to win the football game.
"I wouldn't say that exactly. Philip Rivers is a hall of fame quarterback. I know he is a little older now, but he's a hall of fame quarterback and I feel like the whole game, he knew exactly what we were in, every ball that he threw was almost out of bounds and only where their receivers can catch it. Props to Philip Rivers. I think for us as a defense, I mean we have to take that as a challenge. Our offense takes a 21-0 lead – 21 points should be enough in this league. I think they went a 31 to four run on us. I take all of that on the defense. Everybody is going to look in the mirror and look at what they can do better. I can be better, the leaders on this team can be better, the younger guys can be better. That is what it is."
Philip Rivers had a season-high 371 passing yards. Is that disappointing for your defense to allow him to have that many yards passing, considering he hasn't really had a great season to start?
"Absolutely. Your one goal is to stop the run and our up front, they did a hell of a job stopping the run. I think they had like 18 rushing yards at halftime. I mean it's up to the DBs. It's up to the DBs and that's all I have to say."