NOVEMBER 4, 2012
“Losing is bad. We’ve lost four games in a row and we have a hard road to go. But this team came out here today and executed a lot of the game plan. Not consistently enough, but a lot of the things we spent a lot of time on this week, I thought we came out and showed. We did some very good things. Obviously, the penalties set us back on offense. When you have penalties like that, you have to do a better job of moving your feet and getting position, and those hurt us. We did some things defensively taking the ball away. That is a tough offense and you have to win on third down against them. In the fourth quarter when it got down to winning or losing, they converted a couple of third downs that ended up being the difference in the football game.
“When you give up a kickoff to start that second half, that puts you behind. In this streak, we’ve given up some plays on special teams that have hurt us, kind of opposite of where we were to begin with. So we have to do a better job of that; it’s disappointing. I will find a lot of positives because we played hard, we will be alright. It’s a tough road ahead of us and we have to hit it hard. The teams ahead of us play each other and we get a chance to play some of them, we just have to go. But, we’ve dug a hole, no question about it.”
Andy (Dalton) made a really nice unscripted play on third-and-long that was called back. But on the very next play, it looked like he made a very bad play:
“I think he got hit on the throw, it looked like it, glancing up at the replay later. So he didn’t get the ball out well enough. It comes to we all have to do well on every play, because otherwise the quarterback ends up looking bad. I think he got hit just as he set his feet to throw the ball, but it was obviously a huge play there.”
Before that, it seemed like Andy took pretty good care of the football:
“Yes, I thought Andy did a pretty good job. He had some unscripted plays, he ran for a first down today, he hit the crosser when he scrambled. He did some of those things and that is good; even the drive before halftime for the opportunity at the field goal. Those are the things he just needs to keep doing. That is what we are asking him to do and I thought he did a good job of that today.”
On the kickoff was it a matter of good blocking or a breakdown on your part?
“I don’t know. I can’t tell you, it’s hard for me to see from there. But anytime you return a kickoff for a touchdown, it’s going to be a bad play by your covering unit. I will offer that up.”
You talked about the long road to go, but how do you not let this spiral?
“Well, we’ve let it spiral for four football games. I don’t know anything to do but grind harder. We need to grind harder, put guys in a better position, be more competitive at things we are doing and keep going. We have to look at the errors that were made and correct them and then continue to expand upon players making plays. I thought we did a good job today of coming out and running the football straight at them. I thought the tight end did a nice job of receiving the football, then we dropped a ball. We get in that one series where we drop a ball, then get a penalty and those things set you back. So we have to play consistent football throughout the football game. We are offsides on the kickoff and Mike (Nugent) makes a big kick that is called back. It doesn’t end up hurting us, but it could have. Those kind of corrections, you have to keep making and make sure those things don’t creep in and hurt you in a close football game.
“We are playing good football teams, and we know these games are going to be close. We just have to keep firing at them. There is nothing to be satisfied with. They played hard, they played physical, but we have to make more plays with the game on the line. We settled for a field goal early on. We got an opportunity inside the 10 on first down; we have to find a way to make a play. We have to find a way to get open, make a play, convert and get a touchdown. We stopped them once in the red zone and then we need to stop them again. We had third down, and we need to get them stopped. We hold them to a field goal and it’s a different game at the end.”
Going with (Jeff) Faine in the second half instead of (Trevor) Robinson. Did you just not like what you saw from Robinson?
“Both of them are nursing hamstrings. Jeff has been nursing his, so we started Trevor. Trevor got one at the end of the first half and so it was better to just go back with Jeff. Jeff is in just a little better position at that point then Jeff was.”
So Robinson suffered a hamstring injury this game?
Talk about the four straight losses. You’re still out there fighting today. Coach talked about how you guys were just that close to finishing. What’s the difference here between that effort and getting enough effort to get a victory?
“It comes down to a couple plays. We played hard and played well at times, but we still have to put more drives together, score more points and get more stops. We left some plays out there today. I think that’s what he’s talking about. The effort was there, and it’s close. That’s the main thing that he was talking about. We have to make one more play — two more plays. We have to do whatever it takes to win these games. We were close today, but we fell short.”
What was the mood like when you were down 17-3?
“We knew that we had to score against these guys, come out and get our tempo going. When we were moving quick and were in any kind of a high-tempo offense, we were moving the ball well. We kind of stuck with that for the rest of the way. It was working for us.”
What will it take? What is the team lacking right now to maybe get over the hump?
“A little extra focus. We know these games are going to be tough. You know when you play a team with Peyton Manning on the other side, it’s going to be a tough game. We just have to find ways to make more plays.”
Down 24-20, you had back-to-back plays. The first one was one of those unscripted plays that Marvin Lewis was suggesting you made a really nice side arm throw that got called back. The following play you make the interception. Can you talk about these two plays, specifically the second one? Marvin suggested you might have been hit as you released the ball:
“We had a go-route and were trying to get A.J. (Green). It’s one of those where you can take a shot with A.J. and either he’s catching it or nobody is catching it. I had pressure in my face, I threw it and couldn’t get enough on it, and was getting hit. It was unfortunate that it happened at that time.”
It affected that the throw?
“Yeah, it definitely did.”
Seems like you got a good game out of
“He played well. He had the one drop early, and then he came to play. It’s good to see. We need guys to step up like that. He’s making some really good catches. He’s a good part of this offense. When you see him have a game like this, you expect it out of him every week.”
Marvin kind of put a challenge down this week. Did it feel different today or same as any other day?
“I’m being myself — I’m being me out there. On my game days I’ve got a fire, I’ve got a passion, I’m a competitor and want to win every single time I am out there. It shows in the way I am on the sideline, huddle and things like that.”
You seemed a little more animated out there when you scored the touchdown to take the lead:
“It’s a big game. Losing three in a row and then you put a lead on the Broncos, it’s clear passion.”
It seemed like the guys responded around you and
“The coach challenged us. He expects big things out of us. It was a good week of practice and we did some good things. We’ve just got to keep that going the rest of the season.”
The reality is you’ve got eight games left and you’re three back of the Ravens and 2-5 against the AFC. The uphill climb is in front of you. Realistically does it look like it’s too much to climb at this point?
“No, there are eight games left. There’s no reason to even think that. Our next focus is going to be against the Giants for this next week, and we’ve got to come to play. They’re another good team. We’ve got to come to play. If we play with the effort we had today with a little more focus and make a couple more plays, we’ll put ourselves in position to win. We have to take it one game at a time right now. It’s a focus.”
There were some good moments today and unfortunately, some of the same kind of bad ones today:
“On the last drive, the penalties really hurt us, hurt us on third downs – we just got some bad calls, man. The calls just didn’t go our way. But I feel we played a good game today, man. We’ve just got to put some more stuff together and we’ll be all right.”
It seemed like the game plan was to try and take a shot at some more big plays down the field, and you hit some today:
“Yeah, we definitely hit some big plays down the field. That’s the big game plan coming in, and they say you can’t win if you don’t have explosive plays, and we had a couple today. We just have to keep shooting.”
How do you fight past the discouragement?
“Man, this team right here, we don’t worry about all that – we’re just going to go out there and fight until we can’t. I don’t care what our record is.”
It seemed like the game plan was to get the ball in your hands a lot today:
“I feel like that was our game plan coming in. They play a lot of man (defense); they’ve got a future hall of famer in (Broncos defensive back) Champ (Bailey) but (we) still had to get me the ball. I made some plays, but we’ve got to keep shooting. One thing about this team (I can tell you is) we’re not going to give up.”
How was it making your NFL debut on special teams – was that something you were OK with?
“Oh yeah, man. Any way I can help the team, I don’t care – I just want to play football because that’s my dream. I told my son I wanted to play, so any way he can see me out there, it makes me happy.”
It looked like you were moving fine (after your earlier injury issues this season). Is this step one for you?
“I feel great. I kind of got tightened up a little bit, but I’m good. It’s step one; you’ve just got to keep getting better (with) preparation. You just have to keep getting better and when (Bengals head) Coach (Marvin Lewis) is ready to put me out there, he’s going to put me out there.”
You were in on the (Denver kickoff) touchdown return that started off the second half. Could you see anything on that play?
“It was a play away, but I should have been there. Even though I was in the right position, you still have to make the play.”
You obviously had your NFL debut, but you came here with such high expectations and this team has lost four in a row – what’s the emotion in the locker room right now do you think?
“You know, we played our hearts out. We played good and that’s all we can do because like the old saying says, sometimes you’re good, but it ain’t just good enough. We’ve just got to keep striving and keep pushing (forward).”
Do you think this team is good enough at this point?
“Oh yeah, I feel like we’re good enough; we’ve just got to hit all cylinders through the whole game. I feel like we’re going to have to go back, reevaluate and kick start again.”
You’re 3-5. Can you put into perspective the team mindset at this point?
“We’ve just got to fight. We’ve been in bad situations before and this team has to fight just like we did today. This is a dang good football team we lost to today and if we can play like that every week, we’ll win some games and just see what happens.”
What do you think you guys need to do to get over the hump here?
“I think this was just a great opponent today. They’re a dang good football team and they’re rolling on both sides of the football. They came in extremely hot and like I said, I think we played our tails off. They made more plays than we did and we caught some penalties in the second half out of nowhere and all the sudden the flags started flying and they stopped us.”
Do you feel like there was a change in the way they were calling the game?
“Naw, like I said, I don’t think anything was different from earlier in the game, (but) all the sudden flags became a part of it and stopped us. I thought we were rolling, playing really good and all the sudden flags came about and that’s what stopped us.”
How was it playing against Peyton Manning?
“I grew up watching Peyton Manning and it’s always a thrill to play against the guys you grew up watching.”
Tell us about how the team battled back today; that second half kick return had a lot of folks wondering if this game could get ugly:
“We wondered that, too, when ran the kick back after halftime but we were a team that went out there and kept fighting, as we’re always going to do. We just haven’t learned how to fight for 60 minutes so we could come out and win this game.”
Did you feel like you took strides defensively today?
“I think we took big strides. Like I said, we went out there and executed our game plan which was stopping the run. Now we’ve just got to go out there and make a couple more big plays to help secure the victory.”
I don’t think there was any question you guys laid it on the line today; can you talk about the frustration to have played so hard and (yet still) have a four-game losing streak?
“It’s definitely frustrating. We went into practice knowing we had lost three straight games, so we did everything we could to prepare and go out there and get this win this week. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, so we have to go out there next week and practice even harder than we did this week.”
Getting two interceptions against a guy like Peyton Manning doesn’t happen very often does it?
“It was one of those things today that was nice, but at the end of the day, we lost the game. It was pretty much all for not. One of our goals was to get more turnovers, but at the same time, we didn’t make big enough plays down the stretch.”
You had a zone blitz type of scheme going that looked like it was a real factor against Peyton Manning today:
“Our defensive line fought all day. One of our goals was to control the running game and contain the running back. We knew that Peyton was going to direct the line to combat some of our blitzes, so we knew we had to be good. Our defensive front fought all day long. I know there were some throws that we hurried him on, and coming off the goal line, I was able to read the route and make the play.”
You were able to take points of the board with that interception in the end zone. How did that play work?
“We learned all week about how they worked in the red zone. The coaches did a good job of preparing us for that all week. He (Decker) got a bit lackadaisical and tried to break in front of me late, but I was able to cut him off and make the play.”
It was a pretty even game in terms of yards and everything else, but they were able to get an unconventional score with a 105-yard kickoff return. That was a big factor in the game:
“We just have to get better in all facets of the game — offense, defense and special teams. Our return game did some things today that were really good, but we kept making the same mistakes across the board. If we don’t get these things corrected, it’s going to be a long year. Were at the halfway point now, and we are a little bit behind, but there are still eight weeks left.”
Does it make it worse that it’s after a bye week when you had a long chance to work on things?
“Yeah it does. The good thing is that we got better in a lot of areas, but there are still things to work on. As players, we know the mistakes we had from the last game to this game and those are the things that we have to work on. We are going to look at that tomorrow and get that corrected.”
One thing you did really well today was stopping the running game and making Peyton Manning one-dimensional:
“I have to give it up to our defensive line and our linebackers. They did a great job of getting in there and giving us the chance to make some plays in the secondary. I think Peyton could have thrown for a lot more yards if the running game had been there, so that shows you how hard our guys worked today.”
“It was awesome. He has been working his butt off to get out there. Early in the year he had some injury issues, but he fought through those and was able to play today. He made his presence felt out there on the field early by batting a ball down too. It was great to see him out there playing well, and because he was from my school, it made it even sweeter.”
This was your first opportunity to jump on an NFL field and see some action. How did it feel?
“It felt great. The loss was tough, but we have to bounce back and improve next week.”
You are a pretty athletic linebacker and were in a lot of different packages today. How did it go for you mentally today?
“I was basically doing whatever coach told me to do. I wanted to stay discipline out there today and just do what I always do.”
It was tough to open up against a guy like Peyton Manning. What was it like trying to play defense against a guy like him?
“We have been watching film of him all week. Disguising our coverage was a big emphasis all week because Peyton is a beast out there. We tried to disguise our stuff a lot today.”
There was late disguise on the play where
“We had a lot of those today. We wanted to give Peyton tough looks all day and on that play Terence was able to make a great play.”
“An update on the injury report — the only player we had go out that did not return was Chris Kuper with an ankle injury.”
Same deal he (Kuper) had by any chance?
“I don’t know the seriousness of it right now, but there are no broken bones. We’ll continue to evaluate it. When we get some further details, I’ll let you know.”
Are you pretty proud of the way your team persevered?
“Yeah, we knew this was going to be a tough game. A team that’s sat on three losses in a row and a bye week, you prepare to come into a hornet’s nest. They (Bengals) are a talented football team. They are well coached, and I think Marvin (Lewis) had them ready to play. I was proud of our guys for hanging in there and finding a way to get that score at the end.”
What about Peyton Manning and his ability to keep his composure? He had two bad picks in the third quarter and two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. Not many quarterbacks hold it together like that?
“He is special at it. He finished the race pretty well.”
How do you think Champ Bailey fared?
“Not bad. He had a tough deal. I said all week
What about Von Miller? You keep finding ways to spring him free, and he takes advantage:
“He does a lot of that on his own too. He’s a very gifted player and we’re proud to have him here with the Denver Broncos.”
Now that you’re halfway through the season, how do you feel?
“We’re a game behind what our goal was. We try to go 3-1, (then) 6-2 at that halfway point. We’re 5-3, and we’ve tasted a little bit of success with three victories in a row. Championship teams are able to string those together.”
What made you decide to go with Trindon Holliday on the kickoff return today?
“He’s explosive. He did make one little mistake there. But all in all, his return was a big-time play to start us off. He’s a guy that’s going to get more used to what we’re doing.”
Getting the ball in the second half seems to be working out for you:
“Yeah, today we planned it that way because we won the coin toss. Other times it’s been the other team that has helped us.”
Take us back to the third quarter when the momentum seemed to shift:
“Getting that kickoff return for a touchdown was a great play. We had talked about getting off to a fast start in the second half and you can’t start much faster. We had a good drive going and Terence Newman made a great play on the interception in the end-zone. I’d love to have that one back. I can’t put our defense in that kind of situation. It was a poor decision on my part. We faced some adversity there and then we were able to respond. We put an 80-yard drive together after they took the lead. We thought it was important to get a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Brandon Stokely stepped up and made a big play. I don’t know what the numbers were in the running game, but when we had to run it late in the game, we were able to. Then, Eric Decker’s touchdown put the game out of reach.”
How do you bounce back after adversity?
“I’ve been there before. My dad always says ‘Get back to level zero’, you have to erase the play from your mind. Any time you’re on the road, you’d like to put a team away when you have the chance. Give credit to the Bengals for responding, but when we had to, our team responded as well.”
What kind of traits make a good quarterback respond in the fourth quarter?
“I don’t know. I think you have to rely on your fundamentals and techniques. That’s why you treat practice like a game and you put yourself in those pressure situations during the week. Then, when those fourth quarters come around, you feel like you’re prepared.”
Chris Kuper’s injury seemed bad:
“You hate to see anyone get injured. I thought Manny Ramirez came in and did a good job. Hopefully the guys that got injured are okay.”
How close are you to being an elite team?
“We are just five and three. I think we’ve been practicing better, and that’s something we need to continue to do. I think this team needs to go through different scenarios. The more you go through them, the more you can draw from them late in the season.”
Do you expect a call from Eli (Manning) this week?
“We play the same division in the AFC. We didn’t realize that until this week. We’ll give each other our thoughts. We’ve always done that during our time together in the NFL.”
How much fun does it have to be to be able to play so freely, knowing that Peyton Manning and the offense is putting up so many points?
“It’s always fun. Especially, when you get a lead. That lets me and Elvis rush off the edge. That’s our job. That’s what they brought us in to do. Whenever you can do your job, that’s always good.”
What makes this team a playoff — and potentially Super Bowl-contending — team this year?
“I don’t know about all of that. We’re taking it one week at a time. One play at a time. That’s what has been working for us. We’re able to string together three (wins). Hopefully, we’ll make it four next week.”
You were able to record three sacks. What was working for you today?
“It was great coverage. Chris Harris, Champ Bailey, Rahim Moore — those guys had great games. They were able to give us time to rush the passer. Whenever you are able to give us time to do our job, we’ve got to get there (the quarterback). That’s what we were able to do today.”
Danny Trevathan was on the field a lot more today, covering Jermaine Gresham. Was the game plan today to get more speed at linebacker?
“Danny is our go-to guy in the nickel package. We put him on those tight ends. He did a good job. Hopefully, he keeps on working and getting better. The sky’s the limit for him.”
You recorded three more sacks today. Talk about your effort:
“We had outstanding coverage. Our secondary was able to give us time to be effective.”
Do you feel this team growing and improving every week?
“Most definitely. I don’t think we’re taking huge strides, but we are definitely taking steps. If you can do that in this league, it’s a great thing. It will keep your team together. We have another tough week coming this week against the Carolina Panthers. Hopefully, we can string a fourth win together.”
Talk about making a catch and getting up afterwards:
“It’s part of the game. Emotions run high. There was a lot of talking going on today.”
How much fun is it to play in a close, back-and-forth game?
“That’s 90 percent of the games in the NFL, especially in one on the road. They’re not easy. They’re tough. They usually come down to the fourth quarter. We made a few more plays than they did today.”
Talk about the play of Eric Decker:
“He played great. Both Demaryius (Thomas) and (Eric) Decker have been stepping up all year. They’re fun to watch. For me, it’s been fun to be around them all year.”
Having finished the first half of the season with a three-game winning streak, how much confidence do you have entering the second half?
“We feel good about where we are right now. We feel like we are improving. We’ll keep that mindset going forward — keep improving and getting better. Every week is different. Every week is tough.”
Peyton’s known to go to you in difficult situations. What do you call that in-out-in move you used on a critical third down?
“That was an in-out-in. Peyton made a good throw. The defender overreacted to the outside. It was good to get that first down. Then, Decker made a great catch on the touchdown.”
Peyton called the receiving corps a work in progress early in the year. Do you feel you have turned the corner and hit your stride?
“We feel good about where we are, but to be a really good offense, there are things we have to improve. There were too many drops today. We have to put more points on the board in the first half. It’s still a work in progress.”
Does anything Peyton Manning does surprise you?
“No. He’s a great competitor. He’s going to keep fighting to the end. That’s who he is and what I’ve seen from him for 14 years. He’s a fun guy to play with.”
This week, you let us know that you were not overlooking the Bengals. Why was that?
“They are not far off from where we were. They are a good football team. They have a good football coach and a great group of guys. They can still turn it around and get in to the playoffs. That’s how good they are.”
Was intercepting a pass a little redemption?
“Absolutely. Any time someone catches a touchdown on you, you’re going to want to get a little redemption. I’ve seen guys give up 10, five, 15 (touchdowns). I try not to give up any. It happens. It’s the nature of my job.”
How much fun is it to watch Peyton Manning go to work in the fourth quarter, after he’s had a couple of bad series?
“That’s the thing about him. He never loses confidence. That’s what makes him special. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
What can we say about this football team right now?
“We’ve got to get better. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”