What did you think were the biggest keys to the game were?
"I think it started out how we how we assumed it was going to. Against a team like that, 7-3 coming in the half. I talked to the team about this, when we get opportunities with the ball in the red zone, we have to come away with points. We had an opportunity at the end of the half to pin them down there deep, as opposed to a touchback — we've got to take advantage of it. When we do pin them down there at the 11-yard line, we can't let them pop out on the first play. I think you look at the entirety of the team there. There were some situations that we certainly could have handled better, that in a one score game can end up making a difference. Credit to Pittsburgh, they handled those situations, and I thought we could have done a better job of that today."
Why was Pat Freiermuth able to have such a game?
"He made some one-on-one plays. I thought that there were a lot of times we were tight on coverage. There were some times he's over the ball and (we ran) zone coverage, and they put it on him and it goes down quickly. We'll watch the tape and see really what the issue was there."
How much of the inability to run the ball really hurt you guys and what was the issue in the run game?
"That's life versus Pittsburgh. You know that's what's going to happen, it's going to be tough. When you run the ball, we need to get more production out of that. It takes the pressure off the pass game. That's what they rely on, taking off the run. We've got to do a better job managing the drives as we go and put ourselves in a little bit more advantageous situations. If you can put yourself in a situation where you call more runs and you're not at second and 10, second and long, third and longer, you get more runs off, and eventually some of those runs start to get you bigger gains. We didn't get an opportunity get enough runs off."
Is volume an issue right now in the run game?
"We only have 40 plays. You're going to look at a lot of them in the two-minute and third downs. At the end of the day, you have to look at normal-down plays from the past. We tried to do our best to keep some balance there but there wasn't a lot of opportunities in this game."
What is your confidence level in Joe Mixon right now?
"This has nothing to do with Joe Mixon. This is the entirety of the unit coming together. Don't make this about one person. It's not like there was missed opportunities there from what I could see. He continues to run hard and he's given us what we needed this season."
What did you think of Jake Browning's first start?
"I thought he handled some things really well for us. It's a tough task to play a divisional game versus a good defense in your first game. There's going to be plenty of things he can learn from. I told him this is just the first chapter in his story. He's getting to play in a real football game and getting a chance to assess his performance and rebound, and still have all the confidence in the world."
Why wasn't Chase Brown able to run the ball today?
"We just didn't have any opportunities. (Joe) Mixon had eight carries. We need more snaps, we need to get more first downs that give us more snaps. That can be defensively getting them off the field a lot quicker so we get more possessions, but at the end of the day, I think the offense has got to find a way to generate more production, get points on the board, keep the defense off the field, and take some of the pressure off."
It looked like there were some miscommunications and penalties, can you pinpoint why that's been happening?
"The ones that stand out to me — there was no P.I. (pass interference). That's a bang-bang play. We are going to be blocking downfield after the catch, it's just a timing issue of when you can do it. I think they dropped a defensive end and so it happened a little quicker than you're planning for it to happen. That's unfortunate there. I know we had a false start on a third-and-five which pushed it to third-and-10. We cannot have that. That's a communication issue that we've got to be better at. We've got to continue to just assess them all as a whole and see. Some of them are just going to be part of playing the game and some of them we can certainly clean up and we can assess."
Are there reasons that strengths in the roster last year have not carried over into this year?
"I think we have a really good football team. We just have to find a way to get wins here. We're on a three-game stretch now where we haven't found a way to do that. We had a great stride going into these three games. That's how the NFL season goes. You're going to hit stretches and you've got to find a way to overcome them and regroup. I told these guys Monday Night Football is the perfect opportunity to be able to put your best foot forward and change the narrative of what's happened these last couple weeks. I've got confidence this team will rebound the right way this week and put in the work they need to do."
There was a flag called on their only touchdown and picked up, what did you see on that play?
"The initial call was holding and they decided it wasn't holding. That's all there is to it."
Is it frustrating when some of the same themes continue to happen on the defensive side of the ball?
"They keep points off the board and that's what we want. They held them to three points in the first half. I feel like offensively, we can do more on that first drive in the second half to build a 10-3 lead or 14-3 lead. Then the defense can really play the style of ball that they want to play. We'll assess the performance by everybody and what we need to continue to improve on. I saw some really positive things from our defense."
Would you say that interception is where the game turned a little bit?
"I think just the turnover battle in general is something we preached all week. We ended in a tie. We've got to find a way to get one out on defense or special teams, that was a big part of it. That factors in as well. We've just got to do a better job protecting the ball."
How much of what you called was similar to what you would call if Joe Burrow was able to play?
"It's a hard question to answer. Sometimes when you play these divisional opponents, the whole game shifts. These are some of the best defenses in the NFL. You have to play a certain way against these teams. We didn't have to this week, so I didn't make game plays with Joe, so I can't really answer that question. We've got to be situationally sound. We have to win the turnover battle and can't have the calls that we had today in order to win games like this."
Logan Wilson got injured at the end of the game, do you have any word on that?
"I think it's an ankle, and we don't know the severity of it. There were only a couple plays left in the game, so unknown whether or not he would have been able to come back."
Big picture-wise, how much of a dent does this put in to what you want to do and where you want to go?
"We just have to move our focus forward. There's nothing we can do to change this one. It's important that these guys just continue to step up, these guys are going to remain close. Our attention to detail is going to continue to be sharp, and we will find ways to win in December. This team has shown the ability to do that in the past. I assume that we're going to play a lot of teams coming forward that have a lot of adversity of their own. No one is sitting around feeling sorry for (us). We're going to pull ourselves up and find a way to get wins down here in the stretch."
How do you think Jake Browning managed the aggressiveness part of the game?
"I thought he made some great throws that allowed us to move the ball down the field. That's all going to be part of the experience process with him. The more he gets to play, the more comfortable he's going to be. That's one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. They pose a lot of issues. When you get behind and they get to really play to their strengths, that becomes a challenge. We've got to do a better job of taking that pressure off of him and finding a way to play through."
Can you confirm that Joe Burrow is going to have surgery on Monday?