SEPT. 13, 2020, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT CINCINNATI
Initial comments ...
What is the message to the team after a game like this?
"We didn't put them away when we felt like we had the opportunity to in the third quarter. There were some situations offensively and defensively where we could have put points on the board. We let them hang around. It's disappointing how the third quarter went."
What did Joe Burrow do down the stretch in your eyes?
"We believe in him. There's never any doubt on that. He verified what we already knew. We felt like our offense should be more explosive than it was today, especially in the first half. We found a better rhythm in the second half. But that's what we want going into the game. It just took us a while to get going."
You had two fourth-down stops, but turnovers were key, weren't they?
"(Turnovers) killed us. We went into the second half saying, 'If we're going to win the turnover battle, we're going to win the game.' And it didn't work out that way. Hats off to the Chargers, but that's disappointing."
What are your initial takeaways from Joe Burrow's performance in his debut?
"Some good, and some things we have to improve on. There were some missed opportunities but overall, he kept his composure. He moved onto the next snap, which is important. He made some critical plays down the stretch that put us in position to tie or win the game. I thought his decision-making overall was really good — where he went with the ball. In the first half, he was running for his life there. We did a better job of minimizing that in the second half."
What did you do to minimize that? How nervous were you about him taking those hits?
"There are some ways that you want to attack them (the Chargers). Unfortunately, that puts you in some one-on-one situations. We had some plans to help those guys, and we did as best we could. That's two of the best edge rushers in the NFL. If you're going to keep two or three receivers out, it's going to be a long day. We tried to help those (linemen) the best we could. I thought they really rebounded nicely in the second half."
Was Burrow's TD on the QB draw a called play or audible?
"He audibled it. He saw the look he wanted."
What were your thoughts on the nullified A.J. Green touchdown?
"It was a tough one. It was a tough view for me to see."
Your run defense was an issue last year. The Chargers rushed for 155 yards today. What did you see today?
"We had some missed tackles. I know in the second half those showed up. In the first half they did a nice job, and gave up only one play there in the two-minute drill that led to a field goal. But for the most part, we put them in some tough spots with those turnovers. We left them on the field for a long time, and that's when a rush defense wears down. They had to keep going back out there."
Did Randy Bullock hurt himself or get a cramp?
"I have not heard yet."
On the last play to A.J. Green, it looked like two guys making a play ...
"That's what it looked like."
Joe Burrow struggled in the first half. What did he do better in the second?
"Our whole offense struggled in the first half. I wouldn't put that on one person by any stretch. There were a lot of plays he was running for his life; getting hit, trying to get the ball out of his hands. I wouldn't say it was a struggle (for just him)."
It seemed like you won the field position battle in the first half ...
"That's the most disappointing part of the game. Our defense and special teams won the field position battles. We didn't capitalize on it on offense. We had some opportunities in the third quarter that we didn't connect on. That's what it comes down to."
What was your view of Burrow's interception?
"I had a great view — he was trying to make a play, and Melvin Ingram made an outstanding play. For a defensive end to peel like that and then bring the ball off, it was a heck of a play. Joe would like to have that play back, I'm sure."
It looked like Jonah Williams almost blocked him so well that Ingram just decided to peel off ...
"That's wise by Jonah."
What was communication like with Joe Burrow during the game?
"I usually talk to him through (quarterbacks coach) Dan Pitcher. It may not look like it, but we're having all of these conversations through the headset."
Was the last timeout you took in the fourth quarter a communication issue?
"Yeah, it was a critical third down. If we don't get that third down because we're unsure of what play we're running, we're in trouble. It felt like a critical down and distance where we had to get the right play off."
What offensive adjustments did you make in the second half?
"We just settled down. We were doing some silly things. And it was a different person on each play. It was two pre-snap penalties just when we were getting momentum, and some other things. We did a better job of settling down in the second half."
Did you consider taking one more shot at the end-zone at the end of the game?
"Getting bumped back there with the rush that they can get you with, (if you) take a sack there then the game's over. We wouldn't get the chance to tie it. We felt like we had the momentum heading into overtime."
What are your thoughts on the deep shots that appeared to be a bit off?
"We have to capitalize on them. There's plays there to be made, we have great players. We just have to connect on them."
What does it say about Joe Burrow to have the interception, and then come back and complete seven of 10 passes on the last drive?
"That's what you expect. He just moves on to the next play. I'm sure he's disappointed he had the turnover, but you don't sense that from him on the sidelines. He's focused on what he can do to fix it. He went out there and put us in a position to win or tie the game."
With the short week, will it be tough with some players injured?
"We'll find out more on that later. I don't have all the information quite yet."
Joe Mixon fumbled, and then didn't see much playing time after. Was that just a product of the game script?
"Yes, 100 percent. That's all it came down to. We have full faith in Joe, but we were in a situation where we had to get the ball down the field."
Do you think the officials could or should have called off-setting penalties on your pass that would have scored the go-ahead touchdown near the end of the game instead of the offensive pass interference since A.J. Green appeared to be being held before the push-off?
"I don't know. It was a bang-bang play. At the end of the day, I made too many mistakes to win the game and we just didn't make enough plays to win the game. So, whether that call goes our way or not, a lot of calls are going to go in a lot of different ways throughout the game. I missed A.J. on a deep ball and John (Ross III) on a deep ball (in the end zone earlier) and then I threw the interception — that just can't happen."
Your teammates said your confidence in the huddle was as they expected; do you feel you were going to go down on that last drive and win the game as you expected in your mind the whole time?
"Yeah, we weren't playing very well on offense, but we started to get a little rhythm there in the two-minute drill, and I felt like we were going to go down there and win the game. And if we didn't win, (that) we were going to score some points and go into overtime. But things didn't fall our way, like I said. We just made too many mistakes."
There are certainly some plays you'd like to have back. How would you assess your individual performance today not having seen the film?
"'D.' I can't miss that throw to A.J. (in the end zone). A high schooler can make that throw. And I can't throw the ball right to Melvin Ingram when we're in scoring range, so it was a tough way to lose."
Did you see Ingram as you threw the interception?
"Yeah, I saw him. It was just a bad shovel (pass)."
You were getting hit relatively consistently in the first half and it seemed to level off in the second half. What did you guys do to change that adjustment-wise?
"The offensive line really stepped up. In that second half, they played really, really well and gave me time back there and gave Joe (Mixon) some running lanes, so I was really happy with the way they bounced back in the second half."
Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor said you audibled your touchdown run. What happened, and what did you see that led to that call? How did it feel to score your first NFL touchdown?
"You know, it felt good at the time. (It) doesn't matter now, but we were in (an) empty (formation and) they didn't put anybody in the box, so we just went to (a) quarterback draw and ended up scoring, but I'm not too worried about that."
Your last drive of the game was also your longest. What were you guys doing well to get in that position to possibly score and win?
"We just got them on their heels a little bit. We got in a good rhythm ... I got in a good rhythm with my guys a little bit — it was the first rhythm I felt all day, and we started moving the ball pretty well. Unfortunately, it was too little too late."
What's going through your head when you saw the field goal unit come on the field at the end of the game?
"I'm obviously upset we didn't score a touchdown. I thought we played well enough on that particular drive to put it in the end zone and then they made (the officials) the call. I'm not sure what happened on the kick, but it doesn't matter what happened on the kick. We should have put them away a lot of times before that. I shouldn't have missed the throw to A.J. and thrown the interception. A lot of different plays affected the game."
Do you wish you had a chance to have done for it yourself on fourth down?
"I think we've got to kick that with six seconds left. That's not enough time to get a play off really, so we've got to kick that one."
Did you see yourself gaining confidence or more awareness as the game went on with the conversations you were having with the coaching staff on the sidelines?
"Yeah. You know, it was good on the sideline. We were struggling a little bit, so everyone was a little frustrated, but they were positive conversations and there was never any negativity."
Odds makers would have likely loss money wagering on how you would score your first touchdown and unfortunately make your first turnover. It was kind of a weird game, wasn't it?
"Yeah, in a lot of different (ways) ... Football is played a lot of different ways, and there's a lot of different ways to make plays. We just didn't make enough of them today."
You said you wanted to get it and you did today, especially in the first half. How difficult is it to go up against that Chargers pass rush?
"Joey (Bosa) and Melvin (Ingram III), like I said before, are two of the best in the world at what they do. That's why they get paid a lot of money to sack guys like me, and they lived up to it today."
Did you talk to Bosa on the field after any of those plays where he put you down on the ground?
"We talked after the game (and he) was just like old Joey. It was fun to play against him for sure. Not a very fun ending though."
How confident are you that this team can bounce back in just a few days before you take on Cleveland with what you saw today?
"I'm confident in our guys. (I) always have been. We have no choice. We play in four days, so we're going to have to get healthy, get our bodies right and get ready to go."
Do you have any plans for the ball with which you scored your first NFL touchdown?
"No, I'm not really thinking about that right now. Probably give it to my mom or something."
Did you feel the impact of not having a preseason?
"No, I don't think so. That's kind of what I'm used to. In college there's no preseason — you just have scrimmages — so I don't really know what a preseason looks like."
When the final timeout was taken with 6:22 to go, did any communication difficulties arise as the game progressed when it's a tight game in the fourth quarter?
"I can't really remember why, when we took that time out. Obviously, you'd like to have a timeout or two (available) in the two-minute drill, but I think we executed pretty well."
You took a timeout at third-and-two with a triple-tight end formation, then came out of the timeout with three wide receivers and went deep to A.J. Green. Did you see anything in particular in the Chargers' defense that made you want to take a shot down the field?
"Zac called the timeout. It was just a bad look for the play that we were in, so we (reloaded) and he made a great call. I've got to finish that play. (If) I finish that play, we win the game. It's pretty simple."
Did you talk to John Ross about the deep ball that was missed in the end zone that likely would have been a touchdown? It didn't look overthrown ...
"No not really. The way I see it, I overthrew him. I've got to put it on his chest. I'll watch the film and see what happened, but I've got to make a better throw."
Check out some of the best images from the Bengals week 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. Who Dey!