Cincinnati Bengals vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
at Paul Brown Stadium
Saints postgame quotes
Initial comments ...
"First off, I thought we battled today and we were fortunate to pull that one out. There were some good things that we did today, yet there were also some things that could cost us in the end. We have to do a better job of coaching. We have to do a better job of executing. We get caught with an extra man on the field in a critical situation, and it almost cost us the game today. It starts with me and our preparation. I was proud that we hung in there, and despite falling behind, we battled back and showed great effort. We still had way too many penalties today, totaling 10 penalties for 100 yards. It was awful. We were fortunate to get the win, and we'll just go from there."
What happened on the fourth-and-two play on your last drive?
"It's really a no-brainer freeze. We were trying to draw them offside. If they move substantially, then we can react. This happened a few weeks ago. The only difference was it wasn't just a no-brainer freeze. If we felt there was a clear movement, then the worst thing that could have happened is we move back five yards and kick the field goal. Drew Brees did a great job with the snap count and tried to create the illusion we were going for it, when really we're just going to let the time run out. I wasn't going to take a timeout, but I was comfortable backing up five yards from there."
What was the most disappointing part about the way your team played today?
"I would say the penalties. First off, when you have 10 penalties for 100 yards, that equals seven points. They stop drives and they continue drives, and they did both today. We found ourselves with too many of those today. I take responsibility for that because that is not who we should be and it's sloppy."
Thoughts on the penalty for 12 men in the huddle on the final drive ...
"It was a costly mistake, and it wasn't the only one. We could go back and find a few that really hurt us. We were fortunate to win."
Thoughts on the wind affecting the kicking game ...
"I thought we lost that battle in the kicking game today. Both teams had two quarters with the wind, and two quarters without. There was an angular wind toward their locker room today. The field position battle was clearly won by Cincinnati today. If you looked at average drive starts, we weren't fairing too well. That's something we have to work on as well."
Did the weather affect your teams' spirit and energy at the start of the game?
"I don't think so. I thought there was good focus, and our energy level was good. I didn't think the weather was significant. We'll play in colder weather. The wind wasn't as significant as it could have been. By and large, I thought we handled the conditions fine.
"There are some good things that I was excited about. I was excited about some of the runs we had defensively. We came up with some big stops. We struggled on third down offensively, we struggled getting them off of the field on third downs, we struggled with field position, and the kicking game was below average, not to mention the penalties. We were really fortunate to win, and that is not going to be good enough down the stretch."
Thoughts on the 42-yard pass play to WR Meacham on final drive ...
"It was run-heavy look. It was a similar type play to the one we ran for a touchdown earlier. Drew did a good job of bringing him away from the safety. It was a run-heavy look."
Are you worried that this is the second week in a row that you've let the lead slip away?
"I'm pleased that we had the resolve to hang in there and battle back. We had a lot of time, so it wasn't really a two-minute drive on our final possession. We felt like we could run the ball. We had three timeouts and had some good play action. We had some minus-yardage plays to start the game. Our quarterback got hit early in the game. There is just a lot that we need to improve upon. If we want to have high standards and high expectations, then there are some things that are troubling that we'll have to correct."
Why do you think it came down to the last minute to get the win?
"All I can speak for is the opportunities which are given to us offensively. We have to take advantage of those as much as possible. I feel like both offenses that we have faced previously (Dallas and Cincinnati) did a good job of possessing the ball. They beat us in time of possession and sustained drives. That tires out your defense and keeps your offense off the field. It makes you feel like you have to put a drive together and sustain something when you get back on the field. Fortunately and unfortunately, we were scoring on big plays today. Chris Ivory's run for a touchdown was maybe the third play of the drive. Robert Meachem's big catch was maybe the third play of that drive also. I'm not going to complain about 50-yard touchdowns. It's just part of the game."
You broke Archie Manning's career passing yard record today. What does that mean to you?
"It means a lot because of the guy who is being passed, as well as the many more that have come before me. I feel like we're building a strong tradition here. I play in an offense that throws quite a bite more than all of those guys did. It makes my job a lot of fun. It's definitely something we can share as a team and an offense."
This is the second week in a row Robert Meachem has come up big in the second half after having a slow first half. What do you attribute that to?
"So much attention goes to Lance (Moore), Marques (Colston), (Jeremy) Shockey and Reggie (Bush). At some point you get a feel for what the defense is doing — who they're trying to take away, and (what they're doing on) certain downs and distances. That's when our package of plays to smother guys ends up coming out. Plus, I think for him, it's knowing 'My opportunity will come.' Last week, it was a big play on third-and-10 with a 50-yarder down the sideline. Today, he had a couple monster plays in the fourth quarter, which blew this thing open."
Sean Peyton didn't seem happy. He said that you guys are fortunate ...
"We were. It comes down to them jumping offside. Who knows what would have happened if the game went to OT. When you look at what wins and loses games in the league, field position is critical. We had terrible field position all day. We had 10 penalties for 100 yards. That's not winning football. That's losing football. We lost the turnover battle. Most of the time, that will get you beat. That's three things right there that are critical to winning in this league, and we didn't accomplish any of the three. Still, we were able to win a game on the road in a harsh environment, thanks to some big plays. Maybe you get beat nine out of 10 times when you play a game like that, but we won today."
How much of that do you attribute to your winning record over the last few years?
"I attribute a lot to that mentality — to the feeling that, no matter what happens, just give us a chance, whether it's the offense, defense or special teams, that group will make the play."
For a team that could have gotten down on itself and quit, did the Bengals play with a lot fight today?
"They fought all the way to the end. There is no doubt they have talented players. We talked about that all week. They showed that today. They made great plays. A lot of the things they did on third-down conversions, we need to do a better job on our part."
Was there any frustration that you were not able to cause more turnovers?
"With our style of defense and the offense that we play, we know we will come after the quarterback. They adjusted to that. They get rid of the ball quick sometimes. I think that's what you have seen the last few weeks. Offenses know we're coming, so they get rid of the ball quick. As long as we know they are going to get rid of the ball quick, we can anticipate and jump routes. They mixed and matched today."
How can you stop a team from getting to the quarterback?
"If you keep more blockers in than we have coming (on a blitz). They went protection a little more in the second half; in the first half they didn't keep backs in the backfield to protect as much. They really did a nice job of protecting (the quarterback)."
Talk about the fourth down 'No Brainer Freeze' play designed to draw the Bengals offside ...
"Luckily, the Bengals made contact, and it was an easy call for the officials. In 10 years, this is my first time that play has ever worked. It doesn't work too often."
Talk about following the direction of head coach Sean Payton ...
"He's our leader. We find ourselves in the same boat as him. You expect so much. You can never be grateful enough for a win in this league, but it comes down to winning the right way. Today, we had over 100 yards of penalties, and stuff happened that didn't last year when we were able to take a ring (Super Bowl) home. If we plan on doing the same thing (this season), those are the things that do not allow you to go to the places you want to go. We're trying to get those fixed."
Talk about the matchup today ...
"We fought hard. Whenever we get the ball to Drew at the end of a game, we feel like we have a chance. We made the lead stand up on that last drive."
Does that final play of the game show defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' style of defense?
"It was a great, great call by Gregg. We knew it was setting up for it. We did the same thing right before the end of the first half and they didn't adjust to it. We were able to get some pressure on Carson (Palmer) and try and get to him before he had a chance to get the ball down (to the end zone). We know he has a big enough arm to get it there. Luckily, I was able to get there scot free and got him down."
Talk about why Sean Payton isn't too happy with the Saints having to come from behind to win ...
"We didn't play well. We had a lot of penalties. We gave up touchdowns that we shouldn't have on defense. Our kicking game wasn't that good. We allowed big returns left and right. Even after the most crucial kickoff of the year, (Bernard Scott) got it out to the 50 and gives them a chance after one or two plays to go for a score. Overall, it was a great team win, but we have to get a lot of things corrected. If we want to accomplish of the goals that we set this year, we have a lot of things to work on and improve on as a team."
Take me in the huddle for the 'No Brainer Freeze' play ...
"Drew came into the huddle and said, 'Don't snap it, but if they come across (the line of scrimmage) go offside. We didn't do it against Pittsburgh when we had them moving. We all told ourselves that if we had the opportunity to do it again, we would do it."
The odds aren't with the offense in that play, are they?
"Actually, they are. We know we aren't going to move. We are going to get a delay of game. Carl (Nicks) did a great job being aware. We took advantage of it. We winded up getting a touchdown."
Talk about your role with the Saints ...
"I'm getting into a groove. With the game plan that we have, I'm continuing to grow. All of the lessons come with time."
Are we seeing the best of you or is there more to come?
"There is more to come. It's going to take more time for me to learn. I want to get over 100 yards when I can. With all of these practices and time, I feel like I'm only going to get better."
With Pierre Thomas coming back and Reggie Bush playing more, what is your role with the Saints?
"I don't think too much about it. It's nice to have the veteran running backs coming back, but I think I have a role on this team. I'm only going to get better."
Bengals postgame quotes
Initial comments ...
"Obviously, we're disappointed with the finish of the football game, allowing them to work the ball down the field with the pass play and eventually getting the touchdown because of the offside penalty. We get some things that go in our favor, and we don't take advantage of them later in the game. In the first half we hurt ourselves offensively with our own errors. Defensively today, it was a game of giving up two or three explosive plays that ended up leading to their scores. When we made them earn their way down the field, we played a lot better football, getting the stops made. But when you give up the explosive plays and the two and three-play drives like we had today, that's a difficult day to overcome."
"In the second half we came out offensively and did a better job of converting the third downs, which obviously led to points. But again, we had a couple times we had to burn timeouts, with guys unsure substitution- wise when injuries occurred on the plays before. So we had to get other guys in the game. And, eventually at the end of the game, obviously, we would have liked to have had those timeouts."
Regarding clock management ... 14 seconds to run the screen play to (Brian) Leonard. What happened?
"We had the ball down — I think with 22 seconds — when we snapped it and, probably to do it over again, I would probably call timeout. But we were going to try and clock it. I was trying to preserve a timeout so we could throw the ball in the middle of the field. We knew the kind of coverage we were getting there. I wanted to give him (Carson Palmer) an opportunity where he can throw the ball in the middle of the field and we can cut the 40 yards in half, and now you've got a good shot at the end zone. It just didn't work out that way. When you have too far to go, you don't have enough time to get the ball down the field, and they can come and pressure you. So, you're kind of counter-productive that way. It didn't work out. We didn't get set, and then Carson saw the guys not getting set. And they (officials) didn't get the ball set real quick there for us there, obviously. We ought to have an opportunity to get that bad boy set with probably about 11 seconds left … 12 seconds. That's what I'm looking for. To have it with 10 or 11 seconds left, it gives you an opportunity to get the ball up and down, call timeout and now you have a chance at it."
Are you saying the officials did not spot the ball quick enough?
"Well, I don't know what occurred, but obviously we ran down on time. We were trying to get another play off, so we ended up calling the timeout. But what you'd like to have is for it to be second down, because you clocked it. You have 10 or 11 seconds left … 12 seconds . You ought to be able to get a play off and run at 12 seconds. You think you can get a field goal off and up in 14 seconds with the change in personnel, so we ought to be able to clock a play in that period of time."
You had good production from both running backs today ...
"Yeah, Bernard (Scott) took advantage of an opportunity today and he took advantage of guys getting guys blocked. I thought we did a better job at the line of scrimmage today. It wasn't perfect throughout, but we did get some get some runs. I thought the backs showed the patience to stay on the tracks for the most part."
Chad Ochocinco in the second half seemed to come alive. Was it better or different coverage?
"Well, I thought in the second half, again, we did a better job of converting the third down, which gave better opportunity for people. I know he had couple of good third-down catches. But when you make first downs, you keep giving everybody opportunity. As a team today, we didn't win the l game, but there were some of the things that were important that we had to do in order to win it, and we did that. We did a better job of taking care of the ball. I thought we did a better job at the line of scrimmage. Now, we did give up the one run defensively, but all in all, we played the running game the way we needed to do. But we gave up the two big passes."
You showed good confidence in your kicker after missing an extra point when you sent him out to kick a 47-yard field goal with the game tied ...
"We're getting to know him just like anything else, and he's got some leg talent. He's going to have to work through some things. But it was his first time out there in a real NFL game, and obviously a close game. On the kickoffs, he's got some work to do there, because what we got today wasn't good enough. I don't know how he miss-hits the extra point — he shouldn't do that. But he made a big field goal which gave us the lead there, which is big."
Did you want to challenge the play to (Jeremy) Shockey?
"Not really. I didn't think it was very conclusive. And finally we got another look right at the end there, but it was really too late for me to get down there and get their attention. It was best not done. I thought he caught the ball from the start. I thought the views that I got and the first views that saw upstairs, they said it was a catch. I don't know … it was probably better it (the challenge flag) stayed in my pocket."
Are plays like the offside penalty what happens to teams that are losing, to teams that aren't sure of themselves?
"They're trying to draw us offside there. We've been through that. I showed the guys that on tape. I started the meeting on Wednesday. It was about the fourth or fifth play I showed them. To me, it's pressing more than anything. I don't know if confidence comes into pressing as much because I don't think you think about it — I think you just press. And you try to press through it, and you do things that are out of your element that you don't need to do. They're playing their tails off, but we're not playing winning football at crucial moments. That's big, and what's disappointing for them. If it was a guy not getting it done, we would replace that guy. But it's not that. You look at a guy playing nine or 10 plays, and he plays pretty good football. And then we have one play, and we're not overcoming that one play. We have a young tight end who makes fabulous plays, and then he drops the ball right in his hands because he's running before he's caught it. You just got to go through those things. And then he gets a little bit confused with the substitution, and that's part of it. But we've got to overcome it and just keep doing it, doing it, doing it. The guys have to keep doing it in that situation until it becomes second nature."
It seems the team's frustration has reached a boiling point. How do you simmer it and calm it down?
"It's a difficult thing to do when you're where we are at this point in the season, but you've got to fight. You've got to be prepared to go into Pittsburgh, find a way to win and spoil what they have going, and not let what happened the previous week affect you in the upcoming games."
You and WR Chad Ochocinco got it going in the second half. Was that because of their coverage?
"Yeah, we had some opportunities and some missed opportunities. They put him in some one-on-one situations. We tried to take advantage of those one-on-one situations that we weren't getting early on in the game."
What was the thinking with waiting to call a timeout after RB Brian Leonard's screen pass in the final seconds?
"I run the plays on the field and Marvin (Lewis) handles the timeouts. I just noticed it was taking a long time to get everybody set, so I went ahead and called that on my own."
Did you think Lewis was going to call a timeout sooner?
"I don't worry about that. My job is to get us to the line of scrimmage and get the play called. I let him handle all of that stuff and I just try to get everybody in the right spots and lined up and get the play called. It took a while for them to spot the ball. I'm not sure what happened. Normally, it comes right in from the ref to the next ref, and the red in the middle of the field spots it. But that wasn't the case, and I just decided to call a timeout there."
Were you OK with the decision making regarding when to go for a two-point conversion?
"I think we were moving the ball successfully in the second half and he had confidence that we'd get another chance to score like we did and go for the two-point play there. That was the case — we did get the ball back, had another opportunity to score, went for two later and got the conversion there."
Did you think the first opportunity was too early to go for a two-point conversion?
"I focus on what I've got to focus on. There are so many external things that can effect your focus, and I try to block those things out and go with what's called, go with what we're doing and try to execute it when we do get the opportunity, like we did. Jermaine (Gresham) did a great job getting that hole. It was a big play for a young guy to make. He was in a situation where he had two options and he made the right decision versus the right coverage. It was good to see Jermaine make that play."
Gresham said that he sat down on the zone coverage during the two-point conversion play ...
"To be a rookie and make that play — to catch the ball with guys hanging on you and guys hitting you — just shows how strong he is. It was just a great play by him."
How far have Gresham and WR Jordan Shipley grown in the their rookie years?
"Every week — which is exactly what you want and what you want to see. Improvements have been made week after week after week. They're two guys that really understand that they need to make strides as the season goes on. They work hard at it. When things don't go the right way on film, they're in there on Monday after a Sunday game figuring out why it didn't go the right way and making adjustments the next week. It's great to see the same situations come up, the same scheme defensively, the same play offensively and see them do it right the second time. They're very cognizant of what's going on around them in making those adjustments as the season goes on. Like I said, that's exactly what you want from two young guys. You don't want two young guys to come in and think they've got everything figured out and they did it this way in college so they're going to keep doing it that way. They're guys that did something completely different in college and have made the adjustments at this level and improved."
As this losing streak continues, how mentally draining has it been for you?
"Very. Just when you think, 'We got it,' and we're going to get a chance to get the ball back and maybe kneel on it and run the clock out, you start thinking about the winning feeling like you're close to a win. When it gets taken away, it's just frustrating."
What did you think about K Clint Stitser making the late field goal?
"I was just fired up for him and fired up to see (P Kevin) Huber pushing him and high-fiving him. I had a good feeling that wasn't going to be it. There was a lot of time left on the clock and that's a good offense. I was hoping that was going to be it or that we were going to get the ball back with a little more time left to make a play, maybe make a run at it to get a field goal to tie it up if they missed the extra point or go down and get a touchdown. Obviously that didn't happen."
It's got to drive you crazy to play well one half and poorly the next ...
"To be a good football team, you have to put together good football for four quarters in all three phases of the game, and we have not done that. Offensively, we've exploded in a half and, like you said, done nothing in a half. If you're going to be good and win games down the stretch, especially late in the year against good teams, you've got to play well for four quarters — not for the first quarter and the third quarter, or the second and third quarters, or the third and fourth quarters. You've got to put together four quarters of good football. That's why we're 2-10 right now."
With all of the frustration and a losing streak, do you think some of the players are trying too hard and pressing?
"Press about what?"
Trying too hard, not letting things play out ...
"I don't understand. How can you try too hard?"
Have you heard the term 'pressing' before?
"That doesn't make any sense. The only thing I've heard with 'press' is when a guy gets in my face and it's one-on-one. That's press to me. And I'm beating the guy. Other than that, I don't understand what that message is as far as 'trying too hard.' There's no such thing as pressing too hard, in my book. You go out there and you try and win the game."
You missed warmups today, and you weren't out there for introductions. Did something happen?
"Yeah, my stomach was upset, so I didn't get out there. That doesn't have anything to do with the game, though. I'm on the roster, so what if I missed intros? I was on the front of the Gameday program. I think everybody knows I'm on the team."
So nothing happened?
The offense was a lot better in the second half. Was there anything you guys changed at halftime? Was it a matter of confidence? Better execution?
"I think it was better execution. Obviously, going against an opponent like the Saints, you have to outscore them. Obviously, with their offense, they're quick strike and they have a quarterback that's going to keep plays alive. There were a few key plays that we didn't execute. They're a good team; that's why they're defending Super Bowl champs. Somehow, some way, you have to find a chance to win. They're a great team."
In the fourth quarter when you guys were tied at 27, what was the conversation on the sideline and in the huddle?
"I felt like we had some opportunities to win the game. From my point of view, I just go with the plays that are called. Offensively, you just have to execute them, and I think we just didn't do that. I kind of figured that, in that situation, if we didn't score seven, it was going to be tough because I know they're a quick-strike offense. Especially with a quarterback like Drew Brees, they're going to have big strikes down the field. I just felt like we should have scored (a touchdown), but we didn't."
There was the situation at the end of the game with the timeout that could have saved about six seconds, but Carson Palmer was ultimately sacked the next play. At the end of the first half, you guys had a bit of an opportunity to go for a touchdown, but Carson Palmer was sacked. What seemed to be the problem?
"I think it all boils down to execution, and it boils down to things like how fast the play is getting in and substitutions. It all works hand-in-hand, and we work on it every week. In situations like that when we're pressing for time, everybody has to be able to perform in a timely manner. The play has to come in early, the quarterback has to deliver that play, everybody has to know where they have to be in order for the play to be snapped in enough time to where we don't use those timeouts."
You've lost nine games in a row, but does it seem like it's getting any better?
"How can you say anything is getting better when you lose nine in a row? I've never lost nine in a row. I don't know what it is. I feel like sometimes I can be a part of the solution. I just go on with the plays that are called. Offensively, we're just not getting it done. We can't worry about anything (other than) execution on the offensive side of the ball when we have to outscore opponents in these situations. I don't know what positives you can get out of losing nine in a row. I've never done that before. I don't think I've ever done this before, even dating back to college. It sucks."
You guys struggled in the red zone in the first half, but fared better in the second half. What was the difference?
"I don't know. I think you kind of hit it, as far as execution. Other than that, that's all you have to do. In those situations, you get in the red zone and you're expected to score. I think we made a better effort in terms of that (in the second half). We've just got to score. We've got to be able to convert on third downs and keep the chains moving in order for us to have an opportunity to make plays, and obviously score at the end of it."
This team seems to go into lulls, or periods where nothing happens on offense. How do you try to avoid those types of thing?
"I don't know. It starts in practice, I guess. Trust me — every week, guys are working hard. It's not a lack of effort on anybody's part. I don't know if we're getting outcoached, or what the deal is. At this point, I'm sitting here trying to fish for answers, but I don't have any answers for you. Again, this is beginning to get old for me. I feel like I'm here for a reason — to make plays. I think there are opportunities that I could have (taken advantage of), but for whatever reason, we just aren't getting it done. I'm just trying to do my part. I know there are 11 guys on offense and everybody's working hard. In order to win as an offensive unit, everybody has to do their parts, and I'm just trying to do my part."
Penalties seem to be a problem today ...
"Yeah. What's new? That's been the story all year long. I have no answer for it."
You made a couple of references to running the plays that were called. Is that part of the frustration?
"I just think that, coming here this year, with the opportunities that presented themselves with myself and Chad, the progression of Jordan Shipley and Gresh (Jermaine Gresham), we could be a little bit more aggressive. That's what I've thrived on all my career. There are times where I'm not the No. 1 option, but considering the things that I've done this year, I present matchup problems. That's just the confidence that boils inside of me. I know there are times that I know I can beat guys, but that's why they brought me here. I can exploit whoever is in front of me. You mentioned 'press': There are guys who press me, and I can beat that. We've talked about having confidence in one another, but you have to have confidence in somebody who has played this game for 15 years. I know how to play the game. It's frustrating when you feel like there are opportunities that are left out on the field and they aren't being taken advantage of. It doesn't matter; I don't care if I'm 46 or 47, dude. I ball when I'm out there. All I want are opportunities. It's getting frustrating because, yeah, we're two-and-whatever, and there are opportunities out there. Take advantage of the situation. Everybody's frustrated, but I feel like I can be part of the solution as well. Go back and watch the film. I can play this game. There ain't nobody I feel can stop me when I'm out there. That's just confidence; it's not arrogance. Everybody can listen to what I say and say that I'm arrogant, and that I'm trying to create some controversy or distraction. It's not a distraction. The film doesn't lie — watch it. I'm not a scrub, by any means. The only way you can stop me is to play cover- two — play somebody over the top — and they did that sometimes. But when there were opportunities one-on-one, I can exploit those matchups."
When you see the Saints have such success with big plays, is that part of what you are referring to?
"Assess it. That's the difference in their approach on offense, and that's the difference in our approach on offense. You've just got to make those adjustments and be aggressive with it."
Is there anything that changed with the offense at halftime to make it a better second half?
"Nothing changes with the game plan unless the defense does something that we haven't seen on film before. They did what we watched on film all week; there were no surprises. They lined up and played. I'm not sure what happened in the second half that didn't happen in the first."
The big play of the game was when they took away a catch after reviewing the replay, then you came back and caught a 21-yard pass ...
"Yes, I tried to keep the ball off the ground the best way I could. Obviously I wasn't able to do it. The next catch was over the middle, which was good."
Did they leave you one-on-one there?
"No, it was double (coverage). There was safety up high; they had me in a sandwich. I just tried to beat the first guy; the second guy is irrelevant."
Did you feel like you had this game won at some point?
"Yes, I thought we did. I thought we had it."
Does it feel like you guys just can't get over the hump?
"Yes, the results are not what we want. We're not reaping the benefits of all the hard work we're putting in. It's frustrating, very frustrating."
It looked like you guys really came alive in the second half ...
"Yes, guys were determined to go out and play hard-nosed football. We really expected to win this game. It's unfortunate that a lot of the good we did will go unnoticed because we lost it. We played tough, but we lost it."
It seems that many of your games against perennial contenders this year have ended like this ...
"We look at ourselves as a good team also, but the good we do goes unnoticed when you lose. We just have to keep building on today, because we did a lot of good things out there."
What mindset do you take into Pittsburgh next week for a division game?
"We have to take what we did today into that game. We just have to hang together and good things will happen."
You guys were able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback today ...
"It feels good. It's something we've been working on the last few weeks. We were able to get in Drew Brees' face. He's a shorter quarterback, so we were able to disrupt him at times. It was a tough loss."
It seemed like you had this game won ...
"The win was in our grasp, but we made mistakes, and they ended up beating us in the end. We need to pull together as a team and finish games. We need to look at the tape and get ready for next week."
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has 3.5 sacks in the last two games ...
"That's something we knew he was capable of when we drafted him. He's getting a lot of pressure on the QB, and I'm excited to see what he does the rest of the year."
There were only five plays that hurt the defense today ...
"It's hard to come back from those. We as a secondary really need to tighten up on the big plays."
Were they coverage breakdowns?
"We'll have to go back and look at it. I can't really recall every play, but it was obviously an execution error, and we'll have to go back and fix it.
What happened on the missed extra point?
"I don't know. I'll have to watch it on film. I definitely have to get better between this week and next week."
How would you assess your kickoffs?
"I need to get better, and a lot of that is just rhythm and timing."
Did you play the wind on the 47-yard field goal?
"Yes, we played the wind on that kick."
Over the last couple of weeks, you've had sacks on some big-name quarterbacks — Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez and Drew Brees — on big teams. Are you coming into your own?
"Big-time players show up in big-time games. There have been some big-time games that we thought we definitely could win, and I didn't want to be one of those guys that left a play out on the field. Every time I get (an opportunity) out on the field, I go out there and try to make (the most of) it."
The defense was mostly good, but you guys gave up 244 yards and two TDs on just five plays. Was that an example of just a mental or physical breakdown?
"Yeah, and some of them happened on long drives when we messed up a big play that let them get a first down. When we have that happen and things start to break down, we've just got to continue to work and stay mentally tough, and things are going to (improve) for you."
The offense struggled in the red-zone in the first half, then it came alive in the second-half. It still seems like it hasn't happened yet in all phases of the game, and for 60 minutes ...
"You've got to put a whole game together. When we get down there, we have to make sure we score. But we can only control our side of the field, and on defense, I'm trying to get the offense back out there. We try and get a three-and-out every time, and on third-down, I'm coming off the ball expecting to get a sack. That's what I'm here for and that's what they want me to do, so that's what I'm going to do every time."
This team is 2-10, but still fighting for every play. It seems important to a lot of people on this team ...
"Yeah. Like all the guys say, we're playing for pride. I don't want my name attached to being a loser. I'm not a loser, and we won't be this way long. I'm going to continue to (play) my heart out and show them that this is not something I'm going to get used to. I don't want any part of losing. We're going to get this turned around. Something's got to happen.
Most of these games are coming down to the wire, and this year they just aren't falling your way ...
"Yeah. We just can't seem to get them to fall our way. Last year, they all fell our way, but this year, they haven't. You've got to keep your head down; you've got to keep going. We fought hard and played well, and that was a good football team, and we had a chance to win it, but we didn't."
Penalties really hurt you guys today, but you cleaned it up in the second half. That seemed to help give you some momentum and you guys really put it to them offensively ...
"Yeah. We had some drives going in the first half where penalties stopped us. But sometimes that's going to happen. We were able to clean it up and keep moving, and I thought we played four quarters of football, but just a mistake here and a mistake there prevented us from winning the football game."
You struggled in the red zone in the first-half, but had more success in the second half. What was the difference?
"Just execution. We had some plays in the first half on second or third down which weren't as crisp as you would have liked. And then you get in a situation where you want to get some points out of the drive. Then, in the second half, we were able to make good — positive first and second downs — and get ourselves in situations where the defense was on their heels, and we put it in the end zone."
The Saints had 244 yards and two TDs on only five plays. They seemed to prove their big-play ability …
"Yeah, that's what they do. They just pick at you, pick at you and pick at you, then they hit you with something explosive. You see it on film. They're a heck of an offense. The way they call (plays) and put themselves in different formations are confusing for a defense, and they do a great job."
You talked earlier in the week about how everyone is playing for jobs, and that nobody is guaranteed anything. You guys seemed to reflect that with your energy today. You aren't necessarily playing smart all the time, but there is no questioning that this team plays hard ...
"No, I don't think you can question that. Guys are coming out and fighting their tails off. They're in it; they want to win. We need to play for right now. Guys need to understand that right now is what matters."
You have four games left, and three of them are against divisional opponents. Nobody prefers to play the role of spoiler, but that is what you guys can play for the rest of the season ...
"Oh yeah. We come out to win football games. That's what we did today, and we just came up a play or two short. But we're going to come back again. We'll be in Pittsburgh where it'll be the same kind of weather and same kind of atmosphere. It'll be a physical football game, and we'll be ready for it."