Initial Comments ...
"Obviously, we didn't do enough to get it done. It's frustrating because we thought we were right there — the momentum was swinging there in the fourth quarter. All three phases were making plays to get us back in it. They (the Cardinals) just made the plays in that last drive to put them in position to kick that field goal to win the game. It felt like it was going to be a turning point. We felt like we were getting some momentum, and it's frustrating. It's a hard locker room right now. They guys are still banding together, pulling together. We are going to take some accountability, but that one is a hard one to swallow, when you think you have it in your grasp and you don't get it done. We are 0-5 and we have a big divisional game next week. That is where we are at. We are going to keep working, and keep fighting to get this win next week."
After a couple blowout losses, is this the toughest loss because you felt you had it in your grasp?
"They're all tough, and they all count the same, unfortunately. At this moment, yeah, it's tough."
How does a team that goes eight quarters without a touchdown score two in two minutes?
"Guys stepped up and made some big plays, they really did. That is what we are asking them to do, and they stepped up and made it. We had some opportunities in the first half — we should have scored some touchdowns on those two drives we got inside the 10-yard line, and we just didn't get it done. Late in the game, we had some guys step up and we got into a good rhythm."
Was there any thought to call a timeout after the David Johnson catch (on the final drive)?
"It's on (the referees) to stop the play if they think it's anything. I am in the refs ear. You can't lose a timeout in that moment to make them have to review it. We try to go our best. This has happened two weeks in a row, (where) you are trying to get them to slow it down so they can review it, and it hasn't happened."
Was the lack of pass rush frustrating?
"We have guys coming off injuries, and they are fighting out there. They are fighting a ton of plays, and you have a guy running around the pocket like crazy. They do a good job of spreading you out, and making you thin up there. But you are right, we have to generate a pass rush and put some pressure on these guys."
What was the thinking on fourth down?
"To run the ball and get a first down."
How much has inexperience been a factor in the 0-5 start?
"We are in position to win these games — we are just not getting it done. We have to get ourselves in the right calls. We have to step up and make some plays. It comes down to the end of the game, but there are plays early in the game that we have to make. There are points we are leaving on the (field), and we just have to get it going. The last couple of games, we have put ourselves in the hole early. Two games have gotten away in the second half. Two games we have fought back recently, and put ourselves in it. But it all starts with (the fact that) we are going into the half, down. It's on offense. We have to score more points in the first half to put ourselves in position to play with the lead, then get the ball in the second half and create some momentum. So far, we haven't done that yet."
Did they make any defensive adjustments after the first drive?
"They really didn't. They were playing base to our 11 personnel, trying to get us to throw the ball. We felt good early in the game, and found some runs we liked. They made some good adjustments, and it became a real game after that. They stopped us on a couple, but we wanted to make sure we kept the ball moving forward. We called some runs, some completion plays. We didn't want their edge rushers to get going because that have done that in some games. It hasn't shown up in the sack column, but (Terrell) Suggs and Chandler Jones have created sack-fumbles — some turnovers that way —and we weren't going to allow that to happen."
How do you think you did with that?
"We gave up one sack for no yards. We gave ourselves the opportunity to win, but we didn't score enough in the first half to take the pressure off our defense a little bit. I was proud with the way our line, tight ends and running back kept those guys off Andy."
At 0-5, what do you see as your biggest job?
"We have to find a way to win. I don't think it's hard to keep the guys pulling on the rope, heading in the right direction. I haven't found that to be the case. In that locker room I just left, I don't think that is a problem. When you face tough times, it's the people around you that matter. I think the players matter, the staff matter. I think we have the right group. We just have to flip the switch. I am up here every week talking about how we need to start faster, and that is the truth. Once we get that done, we will be heading into the right direction. Right now, it stinks, because it's 0-5. We have to keep staying together. It's going to come."
What do you, as the coach, have to do? What is your biggest task?
"Finding ways to score more points. It's really on the offense. I am the play caller, and we are not scoring enough points, so that falls on me."
What is the issue with the red-zone struggles?
"That is a great question. We will watch (the video) and see. I know we had a third-and-goal (where) I felt like we had an opportunity and didn't make the play on the slant route. We had a penalty. We were first-and-goal from the eight and we had a penalty that knocked us back to first-and-goal from the 13. I have to see the third-down play were we didn't connect in the end zone. Again, we are leaving four points on the board on two drives right there. That's been the thing that has killed us the last couple of weeks."
When Alex Erickson went out with an injury, how did that affect your personnel groups?
"Those guys get ton of reps. Stanley Morgan and Damion (Willis) have gotten a lot of reps. Yes we are down a receiver at that moment. Damion has played a lot, and stepped up to make some big plays. Stanley has gotten a lot of reps — I know not with Andy (Dalton) lately, but he has gotten plenty of reps in our system to where we believe he can get plugged in there and get rolling. It's a group that knows what to do, but we have to keep executing"
What do want to tell the fans, who seem to want so badly to see you succeed?
"I (also) want so badly to see us succeed. (To) the ones that came out, we love the support, and we have to put some wins in that win column. I get it. This is every fan base I have been around. They want to see wins. They want to see production. They are frustrated. Check our locker room — we (also) are frustrated. We have worked so hard for this stuff, and it just hasn't come yet. The day that it comes, and flips, it's going to be good times around here, so just hang with us."
What do you think of the missed opportunities in the red zone?
"That's what we're going to have to go and look at. There definitely have been some execution issues. When you're down there, you've got to make a play, and you've got to score touchdowns. There's a huge difference between seven and three points. We saw that today. Kicking three field goals, that hurts you. It's opportunities to take a bigger lead or give us a chance at the end to win the game. We're going to have to take a good look at it, because it's obviously hurting us."
What was the difference between the first three quarters and the fourth quarter?
"We were in a different type of situation. Obviously, we were trying to get things going. We had to score two touchdowns to get it tied. We had good tempo. Guys were making plays, we were getting positive gains and it led to two touchdowns. That's all it came down to. We had that momentum going, and we made the plays when we needed to."
Was something else supposed to happen on that fourth and one play?
"We've got to make that play. I've got to be better, everybody has to be better. That's a crucial part of the game where you need to get a first down."
Was that a vote of confidence from Zac to go for it on fourth down?
"For sure. We expected to get it. Unfortunately, we didn't. It goes to show, this is the way we're going to play this game."
You ran the ball with success during the first drive. Did they change their look?
"I think guys adjust. We had some other runs and good gains that got set back with penalties. I think that hurt some of the runs in the second half. But, you're not going to hit big runs every single time."
You went 120 minutes with no touchdowns, then score two. Does that momentum carry over?
"We understand that we hadn't scored touchdowns. To get two in that fourth quarter put us back in the game and gave us a chance at the end. It definitely gives us momentum."
Are the red zone issues head scratching, given how good the team was last year in that regard?
"We're going to have to look at it and see what we need to do better. That's all I can say at this point."
Is there a sense of desperation?
"No. We understand the position we're in. But, for us, we focus week to week. Our goal is to get a win this week, and we're going to have to do it on the road against Baltimore in a division game."
Did they adjust and say "you're not going to run it" after that first quarter run production?
"Obviously, we ran the ball really well that first drive, and popped a lot of big runs. There's some things we'll look at and see why the run game wasn't the same. But, like I said earlier, you're not going to hit big runs every single time."
A lot of guys were talking about how close you all are. Do you believe that?
"Absolutely, we believe. We've had three games that have come down to four points or less. We have been close. One more play gets made in a couple of these games and we're not sitting here at 0-5. We understand that. The guys in this locker room are sticking together. We're going to put our head down and go to work. We're going to get our way out of this. We're going to do whatever we can to win a division game."
Are all of the injuries becoming noticeable?
"Guys are filling in, guys are playing in different spots. We've got a lot of young receivers, so we over communicate to make sure they know what they need to do. We've had guys who've stepped in and played well."
You had 10 catches for well over 100 yards, plus the touchdown catch that tied the game and energized the stadium, and you had a big play with the reception before that. It's tough to lose this one, isn't it? This is the third game where you either have a fourth quarter lead or tied in the football game and just couldn't close them out ...
"At the end of the day, that's my job to go out there and make plays and catch footballs. I'm still not satisfied with my performance this whole game. I'm sick of losing — sick of not finishing the game the way we want to. We always finish strong, but we never start it (strong). We just stayed the course and started believing in each other the whole fourth quarter, man. (We) just (have to) continue to fight and execute, and don't wait until the last minute to try and get it going."
It seemed like with the two edge rushers they had, they were keeping a lot of guys in like Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. That one you caught, it seemed like it was only a two-man route to try and protect Andy Dalton ...
"Yeah, we had plays where we stand those guys. We had to respect their edge rushers because they're among the best in the game, so we've got to keep guys in to deliver the football. At the end of the day, it still wasn't good enough. You know, we didn't get the win. We've got to continue to hit the film room, and study and figure (out) ways to win."
The red zone seems to be a real difficult area right now. Can you point at anything?
"I can't really put my finger on it, but you know, that's the difference in the game. Not scoring touchdowns — only getting three points — that's not cutting it. That's not how you win football games, and that's not how you get to the playoffs. We've just got to find ways. We've got to continue touching up our plays and executing them better. We've just got to figure out a way to score, man, as much as possible."
The touchdown before you scored to tie the game up, they were blitzing and not sitting back. They were bringing pressure and Andy's getting rid of the football right before getting hit. So what was it? What clicked for you guys down the stretch that wasn't clicking for you earlier in the game?
"I can't really say that, but I know that every guy on this team wants to win. When the pressure is on, when the game is on the line, I know all the guys that the coach puts on the field, that they're going to go out there and do whatever they can to help this team, and that's what we showcased. If we start fast the whole game — outscore those guys — we're unbeatable."
How disappointing is this one?
"It's disappointing because we put ourselves in position to win, especially at the end of the game, scoring twice in that short period of time when we needed it. To go down like that, it's disappointing. We've got to start fast or early and we won't have no problems."
Is it a head scratcher that you can go three-and-a-half quarters without scoring a touchdown and then two straight drives right down the field?
"Yeah, it's definitely like you said, a head scratcher. We put ourselves in position to win. We've just got to make more plays."
Have you noticed in some of the slow starts inexperience being a factor at all with this team?
"It's not necessarily inexperience. It's just making plays — not making enough plays. I think that's the biggest thing."
How do you change that, going from a team that's one play short to making plays at the right time?
"Like you saw in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points in less than two minutes, we can do it. It's going out there and doing it."
You have three losses now by four points or less. Is it frustrating that you're out there grinding and getting no results out of it?
"You know, when you think about it, in games that (could have swung the) other way, we (could be) 3-2 right now. You can't go back in the past and change stuff. You've just got to move forward and work on the things that you need to do."
On the slant on the first drive, what happened?
"Drop ball. I've got to catch that. He (Andy Dalton) put that in perfect position. I've got to catch it."
What was the message after the game from a Zac Taylor?
"We're all in this together. I think that's the message. I don't know what he said to everybody else, but overall, the message is not anything secret. It the same as when he brought it up with us — that we're all in this together. The season hasn't been going like we wanted it to and how we would have liked it to, but we're still in this together and we have to fight together."
Where does the team go from here?
The only thing we can do is get ready for the divisional game next week. We have to build on the stuff we're doing well and correct what we're doing wrong. It's going to be a process. It's not going to happen overnight. We have to stack the days and put the pieces together. Once things start to fall, it'll be fun. But until then, it's a grind."
How do you add more pass rush?
"They were doing a lot of play action today, and we wanted to stop the run. We need to get off blocks better."
What is the glue that's holding the team together right now?
"There are a lot of games left to play. It's a team game; you can't win it by yourself. We have to stick together and keep fighting to get wins. That's all we can do."
Can you describe what it's like to contain Kyler Murray?
"It's tough. If you pick a side on the pass rush, he sees the lane and is gone. You have to rush with vision, which slows down how you rush. It's a tough task."
Is that what held the pass rush at bay?
"Yes. We wanted to keep him in the pocket and make him throw the ball. We wanted to get rid of those lanes, because as soon as he sees something, he's off."
What happened on his final scramble?
"He saw a lane. The coach was probably telling him if he sees daylight, to take it. He made a big play."
How do you contain Murray?
"Any time you play against a scrambling quarterback — which you don't see it every week —you have to stop them from getting outside the pocket."
Can you describe the challenge of tackling him?
"How short he is plays a part. We'll see someone similar to him next week with Lamar Jackson. We'll continue to make adjustments."
How did they execute those final plays?
"Pharoh Cooper made a great catch, and Kyler made some plays too. It's the NFL — there are a lot of athletes making plays."
Is this the toughest loss of the season?
"I think this and the Buffalo one hurt the most. We were down the whole game but fought back. That's frustrating."
How do you keep the same mentality, despite being 0-5?
"(Bengals head coach Zac Taylor) throws in a lot of energy week in week out, whether we win or lose. We're a connected team, and we're building something special here. We can't keep patting ourselves on the back for having close games though. We have to win — that's what everyone wants. There will be a lot of people bashing us, but all that matters is what's in this locker room."
How frustrating is it to not find consistency yet?
"It's tough. We have to bring it all together. We'll be a good football team when it's all as a whole. But we have to keep believing."
What is the glue holding the team together?
"The foundation we built in camp. We'll keep coming back to that. It won't get mixed up. The locker room will stay the same, we just have to keep believing in each other."
What does this team need now?
"We need to stay together and figure it out. There are no special answers."
How does this kind of stretch weigh on you?
"We just have to keep pounding and keep getting better. We can turn toward the division and focus on those games."
Is inexperience a factor?
We're very young. We have great guys out right now. A.J. Green and Cordy Glenn are (two of) our main leaders. We need those guys, but 'safety first.' We don't want to rush them back and get hurt again."
Do trade rumors about Green frustrate you?
"A.J. isn't going anywhere."
Is this the toughest stretch of your career?
"It's the most frustrating it's been since I've been here. It's not about me, it's about winning games. It hurts. You can't be yourself when you lose. I like to be energetic, smile, and have fun. But it's hard to do that when you lose."
What did it mean to rally like you guys did in the fourth quarter?
"It's nothing to me until we win. At the end of the day, we lost. We're a good team. The team needs the veteran guys like me to step up."
How did you and B.W. Webb feel those last two snaps?
"We felt good. We said on the sidelines that we had to get stops. But it felt good to hear the fans at the end. That felt good. We need more of that."
How hard is it to break Kyler Murray down?
"When he figures it out, he's doing to be very good. He has a young coach to grow with, and he was the bigger man today."
How much does the rally change the aftermath of a loss?
"It just shows the fight the guys have in this locker room. There's no letdown in us, no matter the score. The way we fought back is amazing."
What could that mean going forward?
"We'll keep fighting. No matter our record, we're going to come in ready to fight."
What was the difference between the fourth quarter and the rest of the game?
"We have to break that down in film. Scheme-wise, we'll find out tomorrow."
What does it mean to you to make a play denying a future Hall-of-Famer like Larry Fitzgerald in a key moment?
"It's big. But they're just another guy when I play against them. He's a great receiver, but I try not to make anyone bigger than they are."
What did Murray do that you guys struggled with?
"He runs and has a great arm. It's tough. You always have to keep an eye on him. He got a couple big plays today and (converted) third downs. It's tough, but we have to get him on the ground."
Is learning how to win part of the equation with a young team like this?
"We're still coming together as a team. We have to get better each week. We have to trust each other. We also have to show the young guys that we're not a losing team so that no one has that attitude. We'll come in next week ready to fight."
Is it frustrating to be so close in three games like you have so far this season?
"It doesn't feel good at all when you can't get a win. We'll correct the film, and hopefully that rolls over to next week."
Zac Taylor came up to everyone individually after the game. What was his message?
"It was to keep fighting. Nobody hung their heads. We're 0-5, and that's the reality, but we have to keep grinding and act like we're undefeated."