Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor
Another tough loss. We dug ourselves a hole there in the first half. Which is killer and two games in a row now. But again at some point this stuff is going to pay off the way our guys are fighting for each other in the second half. It was dark there we’re on the road, tough environment down 14 to nothing offense wasn’t getting a whole lot of good going even at the start of the 3rd quarter and the defense kept stepping up and making plays for us. Eventually the offense caught up and made some plays and got us in this game and unfortunate we couldn’t finish it off in the end. But again we are 0-3 and it sucks it feels terrible but I’m confident in the guys in the room and were going to get some wins out of this thing. It’s only a matter of time and they believe in each other and that’s all we can ask for right now. We know we got a big one coming up next week and we will be fired up and ready to roll.
Is it hard to explain the slow start?
It’s not hard to explain. It’s pretty easy to explain. Really I thought the defense played well in the first half but they were on the field too long. And yeah, sure they gave up a few plays but they were out there too long and they weren’t getting much from the offense. If we had a first down it would probably have changed that 2 minute drive at the end of the half. We put them in a bind and fortunately they held up long enough for us to stick in that game. And then offense in the second half generated more offense than the first half and Randy [Bullock] stepped up and made a kick. It just wasn’t enough for us to get it done.
What do you think is the reasoning behind the slow start?
Well first half efficiency was horrible. The second half we stepped up and got it going. But right off the back the penalty we had on one person 10 that already set us back to 1 and 15 again so just some silly stuff that kept us out of manageable situations and this defense is a good defense if you get in a 3rd and 5+ they are going to tee off and they got some really good stuff that comes at you. Those are the situations we are trying to avoid and we did not do a good job of that in the first half.
On Andy Dalton in the first half
Lack of rhythm in the offense. When you are going 3 and out, sitting on the bench, and we’re asking you to step up and make the throw it’s hard for the whole offense to get going it’s hard for the quarterback to get going when you’re throwing the ball every 15 minutes. He knows he needs to step up and react to make that play and we are counting on guys to make those plays but at the same time it’s on the whole unit to get things going so we can get to a rhythm and we can get a little more aggressive with the calls. The defense was really taking it to us and not letting us get a first down. They dictated where the game was going.
Joe Mixon was a big part of this game with what you guys got going. In the final drive was Giovani [Bernard] in there for mainly blocking?
Yes, just to give him a little bit of a breather and to get him back in there. We weren’t going to call many runs there at the end of the game so either one of them would have been just fine for just protections. But I thought Joe [Mixon] did a really good job. We could tell in the first half when we didn’t have a lot going we could tell it was close fortunately we were able to keep the game within reach to where we can keep calling those runs in the second half. That was really the difference between this week and last week. Last week it got out of hand so much this week we thought we could make these corrections and get it going and do a better job in the second half.
What happened with Bobby? It looked like you were upset about that?
Yeah, nobody touched the guy and he intercepted it and popped right up and into the end zone so I was looking for a safety but I guess he declared himself down and just because he gets up and runs around. But that is was we were all yelling for was to get the safety and get the ball back.
That last interception, was that Andy [Dalton] just missing a throw?
Yeah, I’d have to see it. There was a lot going on. I saw the ball get tipped up in the air they made a great play and to be honest with you so much happened in that moment that I will have to see a clip to remember exactly how it went down. I know what the play was I know what the coverage was but I just don’t remember where the location was.
Not many teams make the playoffs going 0-3, what is your message to the team right now?
We got a big one here in 8 days. I said in the locker room and a lot of people in that locker room know a lot better than I do how big this one is coming up. Our guys will be focused and ready to play. It gives us a great opportunity to get back on track. Our guys will be prepared just as they were for this one. We have to start faster obviously. But playoffs are so far down the road that we just need to win a game and it starts this week with our best foot forward and going to get one.
It looked like you had Josh Allen quite a few times how much was that just his escape-ability and how would 1 or 2 of those plays have made a big difference if you would have gotten him?
This was one of those games where one play would have made a difference. I thought overall our defense was… A guy that runs around and makes a lot of plays our defense responded more times than not. People remember the ones where he got away and made a big play but I thought our defense was running around giving him great pursuit and the coverage was holding up down field. When a guy scrambles 40 times a game you know there are going to be some guys pop up and down the field at some point and that’s what happened a couple times.
You had too many men on the field on the extra point, just something?
The Bills ran lot of misdirection plays in the first half, do you think both the offenses are keying in on that, and defensively are you having trouble moving side to side?
I thought our defense did a great job in the first half. They kept it to 14 points and they were on the field the entire time and I don’t know how many possessions Buffalo had but we weren’t putting our defense in a great spot so I’m sure they [Buffalo Bills] got some plays and some misdirection stuff and they certainly felt their advantage on stopping us on offense, so they were getting plenty of plays on defense. Our defense, I wouldn’t say they were tired, but they were on the field a lot, so it’s hard to pursue the passer as much as you want to. But I thought our defense held up and did a good job considering the circumstances.
From your perspective, what broke down on that 49 yards for the winning touchdown?
I’d have to see that one. At that point in the game, my visions up there and we’re also talking about what we have to do in the four or two minute to turn around the rebound so we’ll get with that. That was a big play in the drive that put them in scoring position. We’ll have to see what the issue was.
You sounded pretty animated in there, what was the basic message of that?
We believe each other and the message was the wolves are coming. They’re going to tear us apart and that’s what they tried to do but this group is too strong to allow that to happen. We stay connected and that’s what we’ve talked about all week and when adversity strikes, we point the finger at ourselves and learn ways to improve themselves and picking up your teammates and that’s what these guys have done. Put themselves in a position. It’s just so disappointing because we were right there at the end, we need to make a stop on defense and make another play on offense and come out of here with our first win in a big game and we just couldn’t get it done.
Did you agree with that Auden Tate holding call on the 93 yard return?
I didn’t get a chance to see the replay but I’ll have to check that out but it sounds like it could be a tough one going against us.
Auden Tate played a lot, is Damion Willis okay? Or was that just a change?
That was a change we did earlier in the week so Auden has done a good job, he provides some stuff for us. Damion has done a good job. We feel like we have some guys that can play, Alex Erickson jumps in there. You don’t really miss a beat with anybody coming in the game but that was just a decision we made and moved John [John Ross III] to the other side over to “x” and then we moved Auden over to “z”.
How hard is it to sustain that belief, that self-confidence as you start the year the way you have?
When we watch the tape and we know exactly what went down in this game, we know that it’s errors that we’re bringing upon our self and once we can fix that and just catch a break occasionally, then we’ll be in good shape and so again, it gets hard right now because now is where the onslaught really happens and people start questioning everything that’s happening so we have to hold strong and we believe in each other. I wouldn’t trade out one of these players in this locker room for somebody else. I wouldn’t do it. We feel like we put ourselves in a position to win some of these games that have not gone our way. Thank God we play sixteen games and not three, because it would be a long year but have thirteen more to go and we’re going to be headed in the right direction and everyone in that locker room believes it and there’s no doubt about it.
How do you correct those errors?
Those were the points we tried to make all week with our guys. That game should’ve never gotten to where it got last week. It was silly errors. They took that to heart this week and they buckled down, even when things got tough, and if I’m a defensive player it looked bleak there at one point, when the offense isn’t getting the ball but they never once pointed a finger, they just kept making plays and they gave us a chance and that’s the NFL. All the games combined: 21-17, that’s a score we see every week from everybody so we just have to hang in there and keep doing the things you believe in, and eventually the damn will break and you just have to compliment all three phases and I thought the guys did that today in the second half.
You commented earlier about ‘the wolves,’ who are ‘the wolves’?
Everybody outside the building. It’s friends, it’s everybody. It’s media and we have to stay on course and our guys believe that and we feel like we’ll be in good shape going forward.
Is that what you get from the second half? These guys can get a break and do something with it?
Yeah, I think we finally did. The offense kept creating turnovers and finally, the offense put it in there and cleared some points and unfortunately, we couldn’t make that last stop on “d” and we couldn’t get that last play at the end.
Safety Jessie Bates III
Why was the second half so different?
I don’t think it was different, I think they were just having success on both sides of the ball and then we came in at halftime and made adjustments. We preached about being a connected team and we came out strong [in the second half].
What is the mentality in here?
You just have to take it one week at a time, we just keep coming up on the short end. We have to continue to be a connected team and keep fighting, come in and dominate every week.
When you almost have somebody, how do you mentally stay strong and fight against the feeling of “It’s always going to end up this way.”?
You see the potential. You see what we can do and we just have to do it for four quarters. You see how good our defense can play when we get going, then it feeds into the offense and special teams. Everyone sees that we have a lot of potential and that’s the mindset we’re going to continue to have.
Is it frustrating that the defense played well enough for you guys to win yet you still wound up losing?
It doesn’t really matter how well the defense plays. They scored more points than our offense scored points so that’s a loss on our end.
How much did the defense have in the tank after being on the field for so many minutes?
Our mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter how many plays we play, the mindset stays the same.
Quarterback Andy Dalton
What do you have in terms of what the offense was able to do?
We weren’t hurting ourselves in the second half. First half we weren’t able to get positive plays early, third down we had chances on a couple of them but weren’t able to convert. We couldn’t get that one play that got us that first down, that got us that momentum and that hurt us. In the second half we came out and we played a lot better and played at times like we know that we can play. We’ve got to put a complete game together; we can’t have the performance we had in the first half and expect to win. The good thing is we got ourselves right back into it and had an opportunity to win this one but it’s unfortunate we didn’t come out on top.
From your perspective, what happened on the play at the end?
I’ve got to throw up a better ball. He’s just trying to make a play, he got a hand on it. When the ball gets tipped up in the air like that in the NFL, that ball gets picked.
So that was on you, you think?
Yeah. I’ve got to throw a better ball.
Is there a timing or chemistry issue at all? You haven’t played with a lot of these people a lot. Does that play into it there?
No. He ran a good route and the ball was behind him a little bit and for him he tried to make a play. I’ve got to throw a better ball there, we get the first down and get a shot at trying to score a touchdown there.
Did they catch you flat footed in any way in that first half, that you guys weren’t expecting something? It just seemed like the offense was just so completely different in the second half.
We were hurting ourselves, we were doing too many things on our end that weren’t allowing us to get he yards that we know that we can get. We didn’t feel like we were surprised by anything. It’s on us, we just weren’t playing well.
You’ve been around this league a long enough time to know how hard it is to win. How much does losing start to snowball and you have to find a way to stop it?
We’re trying to find a way to win. I think that’s what it comes down to. To have two road games to be close the way we had been, close isn’t good enough though. For us, we’re not satisfied with anything. Yeah, there’s some good things we can take away but you’ve got to make the plays that are going to allow you to win these games and in these three we haven’t done that.
What’s the biggest difference in the locker room between this start and the start in 2017 when you started 0-3 as well?
I feel like everybody’s staying together. I’m not talking about the years past. I know this team’s staying together and fighting for each other and that’s the attitude we have to have. We stay connected like we know we are and we know that we can and we’ve just got to put a complete game together and we haven’t done that yet.
Is that about as animated as you’ve seen Zac [Taylor] after a game?
Yeah, I mean it’s one of those things where it’s frustrating, because at times the offense isn’t playing well, but the defense is playing well. When the offense is playing well the defense may not be playing as well as they have been. For us, we have to put it all together. We have to do it at the same time, and when we do that we’re going to allow ourselves to- opportunities to win these games. Not saying that we didn’t have an opportunity today, we did, we drove the ball down there in the end, and had a chance; but, we didn’t make the play that got us in there. Zac’s animated, he should be, but the biggest thing is that we have to stay together.
That last pass to Tate, could you walk us through that last interception?
Yeah, I have to throw a better ball.
You guys were rolling, did you think you were going to be able to punch it in?
Yeah, I thought we- even on that last drive- we had the momentum. We had everything going. We were making plays, we were moving the chains and we got down there. Tip balls end up interceptions.
How is it when you are so out of sync in the first half, how do you come back out in the second half and just start playing like you know you can play?
I felt comfortable in the first half, it just wasn’t working for us. In the second half, we had to get in a rhythm, and get that first play. Get that first, first down or completion. Whatever it takes. It’s a long game. The way it felt in the first half, it felt like we were losing by 30 points, but we were down two scores and we had the ball coming out at halftime. We knew if we could score early, and the defense could get a stop, than we would be right back in this game. That’s the thing, you can’t get too emotional with these games. Things didn’t go exactly how we planned it in the first half, but we were down two scores and we fought our way back into it, and took the lead at one point. So, there are positives to take away from this game today, but we have to win.
Did you make any adjustments at halftime that allowed you to play better in the second half?
Positive plays early. I think that’s what it came down to, and it came down to momentum. If you have momentum than you feel like you’re able to put pressure on the defense and do some things, and that’s what we did.
First play, ball goes off John Ross’s hands, few drives later he fumbles it. A lot was made out of his bounce back game against Seattle, do you feel like he didn’t do that today?
Obviously we can’t have those plays, and he knows that he can’t have those plays, but we still went back to him. It’s not like – he didn’t tank, he didn’t go down, didn’t get down on himself, so he just kept playing. That’s what he has to do and that’s what everybody has to do if you make a mistake.
Andy how do you get your team back on track after a mentally draining game like this?
It’s a long season. Its three games. Three games we can’t get back, but its three games. You have to get momentum going. You have to find a way to win that first. Once you win that first, momentum can carry over to the next week. We have a big week coming up, we have to find a way to get a win in this next one and we’ll go from there.
Check out game action photos from the Week 3 contest against the Buffalo Bills.
Linebacker Preston Brown
Was it different for you coming back to this place having started your career here?
Yeah, it was a little weird. Seeing some of the same things you saw for four straight years, it was fun to come back and see some of the old guys and people working in the building.
What were they doing on offense at first to get past you guys and move the ball a little bit?
They were doing a lot of jets [sweeps] and a lot of pullers. The pullers [offensive lineman] were taken to the ball on film but this week the pullers were the misdirection. We just have to adjust and once we adjust I think we’ll start to slow it down.
Did they do anything to fool you or anything different that you didn’t see on film?
Not really, once they went back to what they were doing it was the same stuff. They just did a good job of running it.
You guys came up with some big plays in the second half, did the defense seem to settle down?
Yeah, once we settled down we found ways to get the ball off of those guys and we had our chances to get a couple more.