Head Coach Marvin Lewis addresses the media following the Bengals victory against the Oakland Raiders in week 15.
Initial Comments ...
“I think the guys deserved today. They kept digging a little deeper, finding a way, and they did today what maybe we didn’t do the last few weeks: Make some critical plays at some critical moments, which proved to be the difference in the game. I’ve got to give those guys credit for the plays, and how they just keep grinding, keep playing and keep working at it. The game had some positives. They continued to make critical plays down the stretch which were important.”
When Alex Erickson made his big kickoff return, were you looking to see if there might have been a flag, since that’s been the case so many times this season?
“I wasn’t, actually, because that one was pretty straightforward. You could see it set up, and the guys did a nice job at the point of attack. It’s just a matter of keeping our hands in the right place. We had one foul on the one return today, and another one on a gunner. But we’ve just got to keep going. With special teams plays, there’s so much open field that things happen. We’ve just got to keep doing it the right way.”
It seems like Alex has done that several times this year ...
“He’s been consistent with it, and he’s just got to keep it up. We had the one (punt return) where they end up touching the ball, and we’ve got to stay out of Alex’s way so he’s got a chance to catch that ball. But we got a break there, where their guy touched it first and we got the ball down there.”
Do you have any update on Tyler Boyd’s knee injury?
“I do not.”
Is this what you always envisioned for Joe Mixon — a guy who can carry a team on his back in a tough game?
“Yeah. We said two or three weeks ago, ‘We’ve got to continue riding on Joe’s shoulders.’ Joe, Gio (HB Giovani Bernard) and Tyler (WR Tyler Boyd) — those guys are making plays for us, and we’ve got to keep riding on their shoulders. Cody (WR Cody Core) had a big catch and run today. C.J. (TE C.J. Uzomah had another big run (after the catch) down the middle of the field.
“We’ve got to protect Jeff (QB Jeff Driskel). He had the one interception, and we’ve got to protect him on that as best we can. He let the ball go and John (WR John Ross) didn’t quite locate it, and they made the play. But we’re taking a shot. We’ve got to keep taking shots down the field to get people up off us.”
It looked like Mixon was playing with some pain today. Were you concerned at all he might not be able to keep going?
“I didn’t see anything (out of the ordinary), other than just what you go through in a (typical) game.”
The same thing seemed to happen with William Jackson, who came back in pretty quickly after his injury ...
“He just got the air knocked out of him there.”
Was this win personally satisfying for you, given that it was likely the best defensive performance so far this year?
“Our football team just needed to win. Our fans needed a win. So it was a good job. The defensive guys did a nice job today. They handled the plan. We gave up the two plays that set up two field goals and the touchdown, so we’ve got to do better on those, but overall I felt we did a good job most of the day. We’ve just got to correct the errors we had today, but I thought the guys up front did a nice job today of keeping the quarterback in (the pocket) and squeezing the pocket on him.”
What do you think when you see the stands so empty?
“I have no control over that.”
You attempted a pass to Sam Hubbard today, and you’ve kind of worked on that for a while but hadn’t actually done it in a game ...
“We score the first time (we do that) most times. If Sam gets an opportunity, he’ll catch it for sure.”
There’s not too many defensive ends that play offense, so why Hubbard? What did you see in him that made you want to try it?
“I just thought that with his athleticism, he gave us something. He’s another big guy that can run. He’s a big athlete, he can run, he’s smart enough to handle the insertion of the offense they give him each week, and he embraces it. He’s done a great job of it. When we go to 46 (active) guys on Sunday, we need some able-bodied guys who can do a couple different things. Westerman (G Christian Westerman) has played on our goal line defense, so you’ve just got to take what you have on Sunday and do the best you can.”
It doesn’t hurt that you can use him as a fullback and free up a roster spot either, right?
“No. He’s done a great job of it. He had a big block in Carson (City, Calif.) last week against (L.A. Chargers DE Joey) Bosa. he does a nice job.”