Initial comments ...
"Tough loss. That thing was a roller coaster. Sometimes I didn't know how we ended up in the situation that we were in. They probably felt the same way on their sideline. I know exactly what kind of football team we have now. If there's any questions about what type of fight we have, what type of energy we have, what type of love we have for each other — I know that the people that were at the game today, the people that are watching on TV, they should be proud of this team. It will come down to some last-second plays, and sometimes we'll make them and sometimes we won't. But this team's got fight to the end against great teams, great quarterbacks. I believe in our guys, and this going serve us well over the course of the season. We're battle-tested."
On the 57-yard FG attempt at the end of regulation, did you think of going for it?
"It was going toward the city, and that's the side we felt a little better toward in pregame with the little bit of wind that we had. We've got a lot of faith in Evan (K Evan McPherson) from those distances. There were some runs there before those kicks, just because, as you guys have seen, you don't want to get knocked out of field goal range with anything silly that can happen. We've just got a lot of faith in him going both ways. We've got a lot of faith in Evan, and we'll continue to do that going forward. That second one almost went over the uprights. It hit the top of the upright there from however many yards out. He's got a strong leg, and we believe in him. He's going to hit a lot of those."
From your vantage point, what happened on the Joe Burrow interception in overtime?
"I haven't talked to him about it because we just had to rebound and be ready for a missed kick there. It's just one of those plays. I'm sure he'd want to have it back. He didn't see the backside guy. We've got to move on from that play, but I'm sure we'd want to have that one back."
How would you evaluate the offense as a whole today?
"We made plays when we needed to. There were some lulls there in the first half when we were just trying to get a first down and couldn't quite get in that rhythm. We had the third-and-one stop right out of the gate on the quarterback sneak — just some things like that. We weren't in unmanageable situations. We just couldn't get quite in that rhythm. In the second half, it seemed like we had much longer possessions and kind of got in a flow and called the game the way we wanted to."
The offense had five or six third-and-twos or less but couldn't seem to get the first down ...
"Those are positions you want to be in. You want to keep it to third-and-five or less, and we certainly feel a lot of confidence there. Today, we didn't always make it happen."
When you're on the cusp of field goal range, how do you balance throwing versus running the ball?
"At the end particularly, when it's a game-winning field goal, that's the difference. Had it been in the normal part of the game, we'd be more aggressive because we want to go score the touchdown. We just felt Evan was going to give us an opportunity to win, so let's put him in a good position to do it. It just didn't go our way today."
On the third-and-one in overtime, Joe Burrow hit Ja'Marr Chase, who made a great catch on the sideline. Did Burrow check to that, or was that the call?
"That was the call. It was just a good route. Ja'Marr made a great play. We called a lot of go-routes today, and Ja'Marr made the play. He's a tough receiver to cover one-on-one, and Joe did a great job taking the opportunities that they gave him there."
Was Joe Mixon's workload today about what was expected, given his injury?
"He had a decent amount of snaps, they weren't all carries, but that was about what I had planned going into the game — 10 to 15 carries. And I think he was kind of in the middle there."
What was going through your head when Burrow took that big hit late in the first half when he attempted to run for the first down?
"You just don't know what it is. You don't know if he gets the wind knocked out of him or what. You just don't know. So I just tried not to let myself think of anything, and just get over there and assess the situation. It happens with a lot of guys — a lot of guys are down and end up getting up, so I just don't let my mind go there. He got up and he was good."
Given how close you were to beating a team with such an impressive track record, do you take anything away from this game besides just a tough loss?
"We expected to win this game going into it, and we expected as it played out. We didn't need a moral victory to show us that we're capable of beating great teams in this league. We just want to win them. We want to put ourselves in better positions. But again, sometimes when it comes down to something like that, that's just football. There are a lot of teams each week that walk off the field and feel like there was just an inch here or there that would have made the difference, and today it just didn't go our way. Again, it hurts to lose, but we've got to pick ourselves up and go on the road next week and go play great against Detroit."
How would you evaluate Burrow's play today?
"He was pretty good. He made some critical plays where he extended plays. He ran a quarterback draw at a critical moment for a huge first down, and overall was pretty accurate. Just like any game when you throw the ball 35-plus times, I'm sure there's a couple of throws that he'd want back. But again, he's just so consistent. That might happen once a half, maybe, but it doesn't worry you. He saw something that maybe didn't happen and went to somebody else, so we just move on to the next play. He's just a quarterback that is so consistent with how he sees the defense and his accuracy. There's never been a time this year that I've ever had concerns about anything he's seeing or throwing."
What were the Packers doing offensively that allowed WR Davante Adams to give the defense trouble? Also, is Jessie Bates OK?
"I don't have the answer on Jessie yet.
"Sixteen targets is a lot. He's one of the best receivers to play this game. I've thought that since he came out of Fresno. He's a tremendous player, and he's got great chemistry with that quarterback. And there were some times Aaron (Packers QB Aaron Rodgers) was able to buy some time, and it's hard to cover a premier receiver for some of the stuff he was doing down the field. That's life. And they've got one of the quarterbacks who is one of the great extenders of plays in this league. That's just what he does. He can see it, he can buy time, he can allow his guys to get open, and he has such a strong arm and is so accurate down the field. You saw it in their San Francisco game, to get them back in it. Some of the throws that he made were very similar to what Davante caught today. And that's life. We had our opportunities today, but he's a great player and they both made some great plays. That's going to happen, we just can't get frustrated. Move onto the next snap and try to get some stops, and our defense did. They held them out of the end zone like they've done all year. The red-zone defense was good enough to win today. Holding them to field goals, it gave us an opportunity to win. Again, we just didn't get it done."
What did you learn about your team today, despite the loss?
"Every phase stepped up. We had a good return from Brandon (Bengals S Brandon Wilson) in the kick return game. The defense bowed up and made some plays that were critical. The offense moved the ball and put us in a position to win. Guys made explosive plays when we needed someone to just step up and make a play. I knew that stuff — that's not a surprise to me. We're a good football team, and I don't care whether or not we proved that to anybody today. We've known it. We're disappointed that we didn't get it. We've just got to move on to next week."
Did this feel like a 'measuring stick' game, where you could figure out how the team would perform against a quality opponent?
"No. We had a lot of respect for them, let me say that. And we knew that we were going to have to play well, because they've got one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Any time you play one of those guys, you have to play well to win the game. And again, we gave ourselves an opportunity, it just didn't go our way."
Do you wish you would have been more aggressive in tough spots where you opted to kick longer field goals?
"No. If I remember, there were one or two where we punted, and one we went for it and got, if I'm not mistaken. So again, you wrestle with those decisions sometimes, but we felt comfortable at the time that we were making the right decisions."
On the deep touchdown you had before the half, were you kind of surprised to see how much time you had to complete that cross all the way coming back?
"No, it's just scramble drill – something we work on in practice. And then it happened in the game, and I saw Joe (Burrow) run out to the side of the field, and I just kept my eyes on Joe and ran to the other side like he did."
How tough was that to haul in? Did the defender touch it at all?
"I don't think he touched that at all, to be honest. It went straight through his arms. Just like a distraction drill really."
We just learned that Joe Burrow went to the hospital with a throat contusion. Do you know what happened, or did you see anything?
"I don't anything that's going on with Joe, honestly. I wish I did know, but I have no answer for that."
Could he speak during the game?
Did you talk to him after the game?
What was that conversation like?
"Just talking about the game, and just saying how we could've gotten better. We played a hell of a game, honestly. We were just talking about letting this game go. We played our hearts out. Let the game go, and go to the next game on the road."
Was he hoarse at all or having trouble speaking?
"I don't think he was, no."
I know you don't like to lose, but when you can go toe-to-toe with at team like the Packers, and you go into overtime, what positives can you take away from this game?
"The only positive I can say we can take from this is just the effort we gave tonight, especially against that duo we played tonight. I can't say nothing but congratulations to our guys for putting in that much effort."
Evan McPherson said he started celebrating a bit when he thought that second field goal was good. Were you celebrating at all?
"No, I wasn't celebrating until I've seen the refs hands up."
On that last catch you made, it looked like that was a back shoulder. What was that?
"It was a go ball. I'm on the same page as Joe. If he's over top we're thinking back shoulder. If he's behind then we're throwing it down the field. It was just a back shoulder ball and I adjusted to it really well."
Zac Taylor said the go ball was particularly effective today. Any reason why?
"We had a bunch of opportunities to take advantage of the go ball. I think I had four down field today. One of them the DB caught back up to me – he was beat – he was thinking slants. The other one was just a hard adjustment to get to it, and the other two I think were just back shoulders, and I caught one, and the other was out of bounds or something. We had a lot of opportunities to hit go's, and we were just mixing up what we wanted to do – stops, go's, in's, out's – just mixing it up to get the defender to come press us so we could go over the top."
Is there anything schematically that you saw that made you want to attack the defense vertically?
"I mean, we're thinking that every game, not just because of the team they have. We're thinking we're doing that every game – it doesn't matter who the team is."
You hit two of the four go balls?
Did that surprise you at all, on third-and-one backed up on your own end in overtime that they call a go ball?
"No. I'm expecting for a go ball any moment – every moment. That's one of the reasons they got me – I'm a deep threat. Whenever they say going deep that's something I get happy for. That's my job."
Is it disappointing on third-and-two, and you guys are on the edge of field goal range, and they just run it up the middle right before McPherson's miss? Are you looking to be a little more aggressive there?
"I would like to be more aggressive, yeah. Could've done an easy little flat route to get the first and keep the chains moving. Maybe they saw something different – I'm not the coach. I'm not saying anything wrong."
Did Davante Adams say anything to you after the game?
"No, I went up to him and asked for his jersey because he's one of my idols of course. Randall Cobb told me great job. A couple more guys told me great job – Aaron Jones. A couple of the receivers, number 13 (Allen Lazard). A couple of the other guys told me I did good today."
What was it like watching Adams? I think you guys were double teaming him, right?
"Yeah. One of the best receivers in the league – it's hard to double somebody like that when he's the best receiver in the league and he just showed why. The only time I was watching him I was just trying to watch his releases coming off the ball. He gets so much separation which makes his route down the field that much easier."
Did he grant the request? Did he give you the jersey?
"I don't have it yet, how about that? (Laughs).
Did he want yours?
"I don't know, good question. Great question, I don't know. I'm going to give it to him anyway."
Zac Taylor said you all struggled to create rhythm on offense in the first half. What was the case with that?
"Yeah we did have a little struggle. They were getting pressure back there on Joe (Burrow) the first two drives. We just didn't get the opportunity to get Joe protected enough to make downfield throws, short throws and stuff like that."
When he takes that big hit on the scramble, what's going through your mind at that point?
"I don't know, I told him don't scare me like that again. I told him slide – he needs to start sliding."
Do you think he knows how to slide?
"Yeah, he did it later in the game, right? He knows how to slide – he's just hard headed. (Laughs)"
Even though you lost the game, how much better do you think this will make you later in the season when you're playing a lot of division leaders and teams with Super Bowl aspirations?
"I think we can go really far with this team, you know what I mean? Our defense is playing great ball right now, honestly. I want to say that because they're keeping us in the game with great teams – on the road at Pittsburgh, and this game. The defense is holding it down for the offense. They're giving us the ball back, and opportunities to make plays. We've just got to capitalize on stuff like that. When we have the ball we've got to take advantage of it, put a dagger in them, kill them, and go home."
Brian Callahan said you're a guy they'd like to get 10-15 targets a game. Today you had 10, and do you expect to get about 10 targets per game now?
"I don't how to answer that, honestly, because I'm just trying to play my role. I know I'm a rookie and all, I'm just trying to play my role, and make this team go as I go. This is Joe's team, I'm on Joe's back, so I'm just here to play my role, make plays, and hopefully that's making the team win, but I just want to play my role."
What is it like for you guys on the sideline seeing all those missed field goals giving you chances to win?
"It's just time to put a dagger in them like that. You're getting opportunities to get the ball back and punish them. That's the way we've got to do it. We've got to be disciplined enough to not hold, make the catch, and fight for extra yards sometimes. When it matters we've got to know what the down and distance is and take care of it."
It seemed like you guys had eight shots at third-and-three or less. Is that frustrating to you that you're so close but unable to keep drives going?
"We want to be close like that. Being close to the sticks are where you want to bring out some of your quick game plays, and then you can make out run plays. But you always want to be as close as possible to the sticks just to make it easier on your call."
What problems was Davante Adams causing the defense that resulted in him having 200-plus receiving yards?
"He's a good football player. It's his job to get open, and you've got give him props when he has a game like that in the NFL. That's special. On our end, we need to tighten that up — that's what film's for — so we're going to look at it on Monday and make those corrections so that doesn't happen again."
You knew coming in the type of quarterback Aaron Rodgers is. How elusive was he today?
"We had a good game plan. We executed fairly well, but I think we have things we need to correct. Like I said, that's what Mondays are for, so we look forward to getting after this tape, flushing it and moving on."
What was head coach Zac Taylor's message to the team after the game?
"We're in the right positions. We've got win games that are tight. That's what good teams do. We'll get after it and bounce back."
What does a game like this do for you guys when you're playing a team that's been deep in the playoffs the last two years? Or is it just another loss?
"To me, it's just another loss. And to this team, I think it's just a loss. I don't think anybody's celebrating this performance. It's just one of those things where we were in the right positions to win that game. It was back and forth, emotional — we'll do more on defense."
Were you guys as a unit able to do something to force the Packers to have to go for field goals once you got near the red zone?
"I just think it's relying on your brother. We have a tight group on defense. We trust each other in our assignments. We trust each other to do the job and do the job well, especially up front. I can't say enough about Sam (Hubbard) , B.J. (Hill), D.J. (Reader) and Larry (Ogunjobi), Josh (Tupou), Wyatt (Ray), Cam (Sample) — guys like that. It's a special group I get to play with and study film with."
Having seen Evan McPherson make so many kicks dating back to the preseason, how surprising was it to see him miss those two field goal attempts today?
"Evan's a good football player. He's going to bounce back. He knows what happened better than I do. He's going to fix that in two seconds. I've seen him make great kicks. I've seen him miss. He's going to bounce back."
When you were with New Orleans, what were the type of things you saw that show this is a team that can make noise in the postseason?
"I'm really focused on being a Cincinnati Bengal. But one of those things is that we were really tight, and I also feel that here."
Why is that so important?
"A lot of people don't have that — for somebody to rely on someone else and not think about yourself so much. You can put yourself in their shoes and do everything you can for them and not yourself, so it's a special place to be."
From a pass-rushing standpoint, do you feel you were able to create a push and pressure Aaron Rodgers up to your group's standard?
"After a loss, the answer to that question is obviously going to be 'no.' If we get after him on a couple more of those third downs, we change the game. And I like when it's on the defensive line. I like when it's on us. That's one of the things on Monday that we're going to get corrected and get after."
If someone told you this morning you were going to hold that quarterback and that team to 25 points, would you have felt pretty good about it?
"If they would have told me we lost, I wouldn't have cared. The NFL is a win/loss column thing. Everything else that happens between those columns, you can say this is the reason that every play is special. That's why you never know when it's going to come."
How do you rationalize games like these as players, where one or two inches can make all the difference?
"You don't know where that inch is going to come from in a week. Maybe it's in the weight room, maybe it's studying film, maybe it's covering a little better, what you eat or what you drink. There's stuff like that where being a professional is not just the time that you put in in the building, at least for me. But it's disappointing."
What was that last few minutes of regulation and overtime like for you, with swinging back and forth between potentially winning and losing and basically coming down to a kick?
"I can tell you our defense never thinks we're going to lose, even if the points are out of hand. I don't think we would ever look at each other and say, 'We lost.' The game's not over until it's over, the final whistle blows and we walk out. But that's a part of this defense I continue to say is special. Even when we're backed up against the wall, we've got that belief we can make them make a mistake. We can back them out of field goal range. We can do it. That's what we believe, so it's a special group."
What has stood out the most to you about Joe Burrow so far this season?
"His resiliency. He's a tough football player and highly competitive — it's everything I saw at LSU when I was down there (as a member of the New Orleans Saints). He's a very special talent."
Did he tell you as a group that he was heading to the hospital? What is the concern level in that locker room right now?
"That's the first I've heard of it."
The last play before the final kick seemed to sum up the game. You put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and then he just put it up where he seemingly flicked his wrist to make a completion. It seemed like you almost had him ...
"That's one of those things where maybe I need to get one more step to get him down. But he's a professional too. He's been doing it for a long time. It's disappointing."
How would you describe today's performance? What was the vibe in the locker room after the game?
"Obviously, people were disappointed in the result. But speaking for myself, a lot of what the guys were saying is how proud of each other they were. Personally, I think that was the toughest football game I've been a part of — just the length, the physicality (and) the assignment of going against a team like that. I think we learned about ourselves — it's going to be a great film to correct. (We're) disappointed, but I think everyone's looking in the right direction."
What do you think the team is learning?
"How tough we are. Obviously, it's a young team, a new team — a lot of the pieces were brought in last year, (and) we're starting to find out who we are. When you (have) games like that — we've already had a couple like that — where it goes down to the wire, we know that we're a tough team. That's one thing that we know we are. We're a tough team. We give everybody our best shot. It could be the first half, second half or a complete game, teams are going to get our best shot. That's one thing I know for sure about us. I think it's starting to come down to just execution, (limiting) explosive plays, especially on defense, those are the things we frown upon. It's a matter of communicating and then moving forward. We're starting to find out some of our weaknesses as well and things that we can definitely improve on."
What was it like trying to cover Davante Adams?
"He's an animal. Going in, obviously, you know he's an animal. But going out there, I'm an animal, too. I go out there with supreme confidence — supreme confidence in the people to my left and right — and accept the challenge, and you've got to show up. He had some plays, I had some plays. I think we could have done a better job on him obviously, just as a total unit, and ultimately myself. But I enjoyed it. That's what football's about — going against the best — so I enjoyed it, and I'm excited to see what he does the rest of the season, too."
A lot of people outside this building were looking at this as a statement game, where you could prove you can hang with the best teams in the league. Do you feel you guys proved that today?
"I think the most important thing is proving (that) to ourselves, and, again, building an identity as a team (and) as a defense, and I think we're still striving through those moments. This was a close game, a very close game. I think we lost the game three times and they lost the game three times, but we ended up being the loser ultimately at the end of the game. If we make a couple of plays, now we're having a whole different conversation (entirely), so yeah, we'll look at the film, see what we did right, and there's definitely stuff we're going to be proud of on the film and stuff that were not going to like at all. But we just have to keep going."
Can you describe the emotional roller coaster at the end of that game?
"To be honest, I don't want to go through that too many more times, but that's why we love the game. Obviously, being in it, you get to feel the raw emotion, but as a fan of the game and as a fan of competition, you don't want to be in that position. You want to be the ones in a close game closing it out. Obviously we fell short, but that's why we love the game: The emotion that comes with it, and the adversity."
How many different ways did you guys try to slow down Rodgers passing to Adams?
"We tried a lot of things. Obviously, (they're) great players, and there's a great connection between those two. We had some roll coverages, double coverages, some single coverages, we had quarter, we had man, we had zone — we had everything. I think that's just the type of defense we are. We have to focus on doing what we do, and so far, we've been able to do it all. That's just going to help us later in the season playing these different coverages."
What did you see on that last field goal?
"Honestly I was celebrating before the ball, I guess, curved to the left. But for me, what I saw is I struck it very well, and I saw it going right down the middle. I guess you could say I know whenever it's going to go in, and that was one of those moments, and so I was kind of celebrating with Kevin (Huber) when it hit a hard left. I couldn't really tell you – maybe a big gust of wind caught it there at the last second. I struck it well. I'm upset about it, but there's really nothing I can do about it now, just kind of move on to Detroit and the next kick. We're preparing for Detroit, and go up there and get a good road win."
What were the conditions like down there? Was it particularly gusty?
"No, I mean, the wind wasn't too bad. I know today it was supposed to stay around 10-15 (MPH), and what I felt if anything it was a little into my face. It didn't really feel like it was right to left, and I thought there was no chance I was missing left. If anything I thought the wind was blowing left to right. I guess you could say when the ball turned left it kind of caught me off guard, and honestly I thought the refs were playing a game with us. I looked down there and they were doing the no good motion. Honestly I thought they were playing a game, because I struck it real well and I was confident that it was going through."
When did you know for sure that you had missed it?
"Whenever I looked down and saw the officials is I guess when I realized it, and then I watched a replay. If you watch it, right at the last second it just turns hard and hits the flag."
They say it swirls down there, and it's not really a sharp directional wind ...
"No, I mean I had a pretty good game plan with the wind. I knew what it was doing, and going into that kick I thought I knew what it was going to do, but obviously the ball had different plans. But, it's alright. Tough loss, but we'll move on and bounce back from this."
Has there ever been a time in your career where you did celebrate and this happened? Because it's probably a weird feeling...
"I mean, it is a weird feeling. Definitely celebrating, and it's like bringing you back down to earth 'Oh I actually missed it.' Last year in my senior year I had one against LSU that I thought I made. That was to tie the game, and it just kept drifting. But I thought it went in, and maybe celebrated a little too soon again. We'll bounce back for sure."
What about the 57 yarder – did you feel like you struck that one well?
"Honestly, off the foot I knew I pushed it a little bit right. Didn't get all of it that I needed to, so that one was not as much of a surprise you could say. I expect myself to make those, and I pride myself in making big time kicks. Hopefully next week if we don't blow them out and it comes down to a kick I'll be ready to come through for our team."
You can appreciate Mason Crosby and where he's at and what happened to him today. What are you thinking when he gives you three different chances to win?
"I'm just thinking let's make the next kick. I had a lot of confidence in myself. I just couldn't put the ball through the uprights. We shared words after the game there, and I congratulated him. He was like 'That was a weird one to say the least. Kind of couldn't figure out the wind out there, and that results in missed kicks.' So it was definitely a weird game is what me and Mason were kind of talking about. It's definitely going to make us better, and we've got to move on and learn from it."
Did he offer you any advice?
"Just stay focused, and don't let this game effect my career down the road. Just stay focused really."
Do you pay attention as the offense in driving down the field? What do you do and what's your routine and process like?
"I'm kind of normally just in the net – practice kicks. Then when it gets down to second and third down is whenever I kind of just walk towards the offense, and get ready just in case we kick. That's my routine."