Not the day that we anticipated having. Came out, we were ready. We felt like we were ready. As the game got started, I felt like we were moving the ball well on offense. Defense was coming up making stops. I really felt like this was a game that we were going to really take advantage of, score points, get a lot of stops, win this ballgame. We didn't get it done. You know, the opportunities we had in the first half, we just didn't get it done.
To be quite honest, it starts with me. I've got to make sure the standard is higher than what it is right now because I haven't done a good enough job, and there's certainly things that I've got to improve on, and so I look in the mirror, the players look in the mirror, we come back tomorrow and we fight because we've got a game six days from now. We didn't expect to be an 0-4 team, but that's what we are right now, and so there's no excuses we can make.
I told the guys, we're going to turn this thing around with the guys that are in that locker room. We've just got to keep them back and fight another day, and it was disappointing, and we feel like -- feel awful right now. But it's the way it is. It is what we are. We're 0-4. No one feels sorry for us. We've got a game in six days, we've got to turn around, be ready to go and try to get our first win.
What's been the most concerning thing?
Well, just the inefficiency on offense in the first half. Our first drive of the game, we drove down, we had a miscommunication on a protection and we gave up a sack, knocked us out of field goal range. Second drive, felt like we had an opportunity there, and we didn't get it done. We kick the field goal. Then the third drive, again, another drive, we were driving the first half, and we had an issue with the protection and we had a sack fumble.
Those were things we felt like in the first half if we can make those plays we can get up on a big lead and maybe this thing goes the other way than it just went. But unfortunately we can't get our defense off the field right now because our offense isn't giving them opportunities to do it. They're fighting, and we just haven't done a good enough job. We scored three points in the game, it's unacceptable, and we just got to do a better job because they're out there fighting their tails off, and they're out there for too long, and they end up giving 27 points, whatever it was. But to me, we're not helping them out on offense.
Andy Dalton was sacked a career-high eight times tonight. Why is your offensive line struggling so much this season, and what was --
They were winning one-on-ones. We challenged our guys to win one-on-ones, and Pittsburgh won the one-on-ones. That's what they did.
Can you do the sort of things you want to do with the offense with the offensive line you have right now?
I believe we can, yeah. We've got to find our rhythm. And again, if you go in the first half and we take advantage on those three drives that we had, then we feel like we've got 14, 17 points right off the bat. And then this game goes differently. But when we don't take advantage of that stuff right now, we've proven that it's put us in a hole that we haven't been able to dig ourselves out of yet.
So again, we've got to take advantage of those opportunities that come at us early in the game. But I do feel like I believe in the guys that we've got in that room, and a team like Pittsburgh, they're physical up front, they've got talented guys. When they get a lead, they tee off. They're not worried about the run, they're worried about sacking the passer, and unfortunately we put ourselves in another position where we didn't help our linemen because we're having to drop back and throw it every snap.
What do you tell Dalton? He's just getting healthy.
Keep leading us. I mean, he's back there with his head held high. There's not much to tell him. He's back there fighting trying to make plays. That's all you can tell him.
You guys got that turnover, you're right there in the red zone, and then -- can you kind of walk us through that series?
Yeah, we took a shot in the end zone, took two shots in the end zone, two one-on-one shots and didn't make the plays there, so ended up kicking a field goal on that drive. It was a three-and-out.
No, I feel like every game to be different to be quite honest with you. Early in this game we felt like we were moving the ball. Last week we weren't moving the ball at all. I'm just up here making excuses is what it feels like to be honest with you. We've got to get it done. We've got to figure it out. The players have got to figure it out. We've got to come together and we can't all be up here making these excuses for not scoring points and not getting stops, and it's just on us to get it figured out.
Since Andy got hit that much and the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, any thought of taking him out?
There wasn't. Andy is our leader right now and he's fighting. We wanted to get some momentum going. Yeah, the game might be out of hand, but we've got to generate some momentum going into the next week, so we left him in there.
Was that first sack you mentioned the only one you saw was a miscommunication? Were the other ones the one-on-one losses?
I'll have to watch them all, but I know the first one for a fact was miscommunication.
Do you feel like you can still accomplish what you want to in your first season here?
You know, it's important for us right now to take it one game at a time. I mean, I know that sounds like coach-speak, but it's the truth. We've got to go out and find our first win, and then we've got to build off of that and keep building, but right now we don't have that winning feeling, and so we've got to get that before we talk about anything else that goes on this season.
Their offense, they seemed to come out and they did a lot of different stuff with their motions. I think we all were thinking, kept throwing that jet sweep thinking running backs had 16 catches. Was that something that surprised you guys?
I wouldn't say -- nothing with a young quarterback should surprise you. You, know there's going to be some wrinkles to help get him on track. You know, he got on track today. He was 18 of 19 in the first half, and found his backs quite a bit. Again, if we're scoring points on offense, then that's okay for him to check it down occasionally and us make some stops, but again, we're not moving the ball enough on offense, not scoring points, and our defense is out there too long.
How do you feel as though your defensive line performed?
That's something I'll have to watch. You know, we don't have a lot of bodies right now. We had three D-linemen inactive. Those guys were out there for a long time. Again, it goes back to we've got to get them off the field, but there's just not a lot of depth right now because we've got three D-linemen inactive, so they're out there playing a lot, they're dropping back, throwing to the backs, having to chase them all over the place, there's jet sweeps, screens, and they're fighting their tails off. I've got to watch the tape. I can't say if they played well or played poorly, but they're in a tough spot.
That first touchdown to Connor, it looked like a lineman might have been down the field --
There was two linemen downfield. They don't -- no comment.
The long touchdown that he threw, it looked like it was a miscommunication --
Yeah, it was, miscommunication on the back end.
What was going on?
Well, I mean, it's no different than miscommunication with the protection on the sack and the offense. It's unfortunately for DB's, it happens on a much grander scale. It really is the equivalent, we take a sack that knocks us out of field goal range, and unfortunately when you're a DB back there, you have miscommunication, the whole world sees a wide open receiver, and so yeah, we'd prefer that that doesn't happen, but that's what happened on that route.
Is that the toughest thing for you right now is this stuff, miscommunication stuff like that?
It is because those are things that we can take care of. It's not things that the opponent is doing to us. You know, and there's really only one example of I think on offense where it's clear miscommunication and then one on defense. But unfortunately both of those probably cost us 10 points.
Do you feel like when you have the (indiscernible) problem, do you feel like maybe the accumulation of the losses over the last 12, 13 games takes a toll?
I don't think that anything having to do with the past affects us right now. We're 0-4. We're the 0-4 2019 Cincinnati Bengals right now. It's a test of our character. That's what I told the guys. Your character as a man and your character as a football player, how are you going to respond right now? Are you going to feel sorry for us, because nobody else on this planet feels sorry for us right now, and it's going to be opposite. People are going to take shots at you right now.
So what are we about? I think it's a group of guys that's going to step up and respond, and it just hasn't been that way yet.
It's definitely been tough, but where we're at right now, we have to understand that every game is important at this point, and for us, we've got to figure out who we are. We've got the guys here. We've got the guys on this team, and we just have to go out and get our minds right and have all the attention to detail. All the stuff that you have to have to be successful.
You know, this will be a big week for us.
Do you think with the change, with the coaching change, the overall change in the system and the way things have gone, you're still going through that transition do you think, new coach, new program, new offense?
I think for us, we just have to make plays. We've got to execute better. That's everywhere. You know, it starts with me. So like I said, we've got to look at what we're doing and what we can do to improve upon what we've done up to this point because it's nowhere near the level that we want to play.
Do you feel like with the amount of losses going back to the middle point of last season has had a cumulative effect?
It's a new team, it's a new year. We've lost four games. Our goal is to win this week.
Can you think of one play -- on the play to Kyler down in the red zone, did you think you had that? Did you guys talk about that play afterwards at all?
In the beginning of the game?
Yeah, we had an opportunity there, yeah.
Do you feel like this offense is being hindered by the offensive line?
You know, we feel like we have the guys on this team that can play really well, and so for us, I think everybody has got to look at what we're doing. I've got to look at what I'm doing, see what I can be doing better. You know, we've got to move on, and we've got to move on quickly to this next week.
You were sacked a career-high eight times tonight. How does your body feel?
I feel fine.
A couple of guys said to you at halftime, a couple of linemen said that you kind of rallied them up. What did you do, talk to them a little bit? What happened?
Yeah, at that point I felt like we needed something, and so I talked to the guys. Stuff that we had to have going into the second half.
Zac said the first sack was a miscommunication --
Yeah. Yep, it was a miscommunication. That's why he was a free runner. That's why I said, we've got to look at everything. We've got to make sure everything is on the same page because when it's not, it looks like that.
Seemed like the pressure was coming from everywhere, or was it just one guy getting beat? How tough is that on you to get things going when you don't really know where it's coming from?
Yeah, you've just got to play. You've got to trust that everybody is going to do their job, and you can't let the last play affect the next one. I tried to just keep playing throughout the whole game.
What did Zac and the players say in the locker room after the game?
Zac talked and guys spoke when they felt like they needed to. Yeah, our focus is to get a win this week. That's all we can think about right now. The level of play hasn't been up to our standard, and it's got to get better.
When you get hit that many times and when the game is that out of hand, late in the game, do you still want to be in there? Do you still want to be taking snaps?
Yeah, I'm never going to give up. Regardless of the situation. It's just how you have to play the game. It's how I play the game. So yeah. Regardless of the circumstance, you're going to try to do your best out there.
How do you start (indiscernible)?
It starts this week. It all starts with one win. It starts with the preparation that we put in for the Cardinals this week, the attention to detail, and everybody has to play their best. We haven't done that up to this point.
How do you keep it together? How do you keep the team together?
We have the right guys here, like I was saying. We have the right type of people here. Everybody is going to stick together. We have this from the beginning, regardless of the circumstances of these games, we've stuck together. And so I don't expect that to change.