How much of a relief was this win?
"You have to get that first win. It changes the week, the momentum. To hear them get a chance to sing the song in the locker room is good. It creates positive energy for the week, which we haven't had. You feel that hanging over you. Our guys managed this game well and it starts with the defense. They set the tone while the offense was getting their feet underneath them. To hold them to six points at halftime and then allow the offense to get momentum and play with a lead, (that) is the football we're used to playing."
How much did you work out Joe Burrow and when did you know he'd be good to go?
"He did a little bit this morning, just to take the place of his pregame stuff he usually does."
What were the conversations like?
"We were in good shape the last few days."
Ja'Marr Chase was vocal about getting the ball more. Did he exceed your expectations?
"No, because I have a high standard for Ja'Marr. We're trying to find as many ways as we can to get him the ball, that's not new. He stepped up to the challenge and made some big plays."
How much was Joe Burrow lobbying to play today?
"He's a competitor."
Did you know he'd be able to throw it 49 times?
"There were a lot of run-pass options involved in that. We'll watch and see how many we called. There's a lot of times we're calling a run and he's taking a completion. He is usually efficient at that. We'll look at how many calls we called. There was a three or four-series stretch where we couldn't get that first efficient play on a run or pass. They did a good job of setting us back there. We were able to adjust to that in the second half."
Can you assess the defense's performance and what it meant to finally play with a lead?
"No kidding. That's the whole key. We tried to start fast but stalled out with the missed field goal. But our defense kept us in it. Holding them to one of 11 on third downs, two interceptions, (six) sacks, and the run defense was all outstanding. That's understated because it forces them into situations where they have to throw it and then we can get the pressure. Lou (Anarumo) did a great job dialing up pressures at the right time."
How big was the turnaround moment with DJ Reader's sack?
"It was enormous. I'm not sure who made the play to help get him out on the reverse, but it's a big stand by our defense. To not be deflated when they think they got scored on, then have to go back out there with the ball on the three. Then DJ sets the tone right there. Our guys played tremendous on defense."
What was going on with all of those motion penalties?
"It was three different people on three different snaps. We can't have that because it affected our cadence going forward for a few possessions. They timed up their pressures after that. We have to rectify that, and it's not been us. We've been a disciplined team that wins the penalty battle."
Was there ever a moment you thought Joe Burrow wasn't able to go?
"You just never fully know. You just want honest responses from him, which he gave. You talk to the doctors and everyone gets on the same page, and he goes out there and delivers that type of performance."
What led to you putting him in the spot on the naked rollout to Ja'Marr?
"That was a discussion we had the last few days, whether we felt comfortable with it. I asked him a few plays before and he felt good about it. It's a quick toss, probably seven steps before he whipped out the bench route to Ja'Marr. He did a great job, stopped his head around and was ready for 97 (Michael Hoecht) on the edge. Ja'Marr did a great job coming out of it and selling it like he was on the backside of the run."
How important was the total team effort to pick Joe Burrow up when he's not 100 percent?
"There's no doubt. That's what this team is about. Joe's toughness, we're used to it, so you take it for granted at times. He's played through a lot these four years. It's appreciated when your quarterback goes out and is dealing with something and able to battle through it, throwing the ball 40-something times. He escaped a couple pressures and got the ball out, that was big time."
The third-down conversion where Ja'Marr Chase caught it behind himself was a big play...
"I couldn't see very well. I know Joe (Burrow) checked that play. I couldn't tell where the ball was going so it was surprising to see Ja'Marr catch it behind him. I didn't see the window but it put us in the red zone."
What was the thought process of throwing a pistol fake pitch play action deep ball?
"Try not to put your quarterback under center, so you have to be creative."
How challenging has it been to find the deep ball?
"Every game is a little different. First week was a rain game against one of the better fronts in football. Baltimore is pretty hell-bent on as much two-safety and helping on top of our receivers as possible. This week is the same thing, with Aaron Donald up front so they play as soft as humanly possible to keep everything in front and make you go the length of the field. Your defense has to play well then. We have to continue to be patient, creative, and take advantage of the shots when we get them. We may see a lot of that this year with the receivers we have. You have to get used to it."
Are you comfortable with the direction of the offense?
"No. I thought the first half was really poor. It starts with me not getting us in a good rhythm with the play calls, then the penalties. There's too much negative going on. In the second half, we played really well. Ahkello Witherspoon's pick was unbelievable. But we scored a touchdown, a field goal, and then we got into the four-minute mode with the 13 runs. We thought running two minutes off the clock was more valuable given how our defense was playing. The first half was really bad but the second half was really good."
You took the ball on the coin toss ...
"We hadn't played with a lead all season. We were down two scores in both games. We felt we wanted to attack early on and put some points on the board. Usually when our defense plays with a lead they play well."
Was this a must-have win?
"You don't want to go 0-3. That's a tough spot to be in; even though we're confident we can get out of anything and get on a tear, especially with a short week coming up. The crowd we have in these home games; I think we're 6-0 when the lights come on over the last four years. I just know the feeling I have when the lights are on, the fans are really loud. It causes a lot of problems. The Rams almost called timeout a few times with one second left. Even when they don't get flagged, our crowd makes a huge impact on these home night games. It was really cool to see all the fans turn out. It was a great night for them."
What does it say about Joe Burrow to be able to gut this out and maintain his composure?
"That's the key. At halftime, everybody has to respond the right way, because it's easy to get frustrated with six points at the half and no rhythm. Everyone was responsible for that. You can say a lot about this team with how they responded in the second half. The defense got turnovers, sacks. The offense moved the ball and ate up time. Special teams stepped up big with punt returns and field goals. The second half was a complete team effort."
Does it mean anything that you've finally beaten the Rams?
"We beat them in the preseason last year. That's like our only preseason win in four years. There's no significance to it. You play a lot of friends, family in this league."