Initial Comments ...
“Well, that was exactly the way we drew it up (laughs).”
Are you losing your voice after today’s game?
“It’s a good to win a football game when you don’t play your best. We had some opportunities (and then had) points taken off the board with that blocked field goal. And there was the punt return for a touchdown. So there’s a lot of things we get to go back to work and grind at and coach. We’ll coach our tails off this week to be better. There’s a lot of things to coach to be better.
“But the one thing they do is just keep playing, and you can’t take that away from them. They just keep playing. They trust each other — ‘Just settle it down, do your thing, get your eyes where they belong, and run with your feet and your brain.’ But obviously, they made plays down the stretch when it counted.”
When did you finally feel good about this game?
“I think after Sam (Hubbard’s) touchdown — that pretty much meant we win. But it’s a grind. If it wasn’t two-score (lead), we
probably would be a little more aggressive there on that last series on offense to give us a chance to pick up the first down, but with the two scores, we played it safe.”
One side of you has to be ecstatic this team keeps finding ways to win games, while the coaching side of you has to be driven crazy by some of the mistakes ...
“That’s unfortunately part of where we are. There’s enough playmakers, there’s enough fine players in that room, and we’ve got some young guys, old guys, whatever that are making plays, and that’s what counts. We’ve just got to keep pressing forward with that. This season is 16 games, it’s not three. And now we’re down to (11 games) left. We’ve got an 11-game regular season left, and that’s what matters — just playing it one team (at a time). So we’ve got a chance they’ll be the best team (they can be) the next 11 weeks. When we play games, that’s what’s important.”
Was that Michael Johnson’s first career TD?
“I think so — as far as I know, or as far as I can remember, I should say. I’ve been at every game he’s been at here. Both (picksixes) were huge plays in the football game, but we’ve got to shore up our offensive group. We didn’t protect our quarterback today as well as we have been. Defensively, we had a good rush throughout (the game) and are doing a good job. But we’ve got to keep grinding and being right. We’ve got a lot of correction to make off this tape. That’s what it’s all about.”
Did you get nervous on Andy Dalton’s TD pass to Joe Mixon? That play looked like it could have gone a lot of different ways ..
“Yeah, it did. But again, Joe came back to the ball and made a nice play — an athletic play — on the football, which is great.”
Is that something you like on offense, trying to make the play or ...
“If we didn’t win the game, you’d be asking me why didn’t we win the game there (laughs). I’m glad we won so I don’t have to answer that question. We had one too few runs (today).”
Is there a noticeable difference with this team versus the one you had last year, given how young they are and how they act?
“No. I think there’s a youthfulness, yes, that they only know one way. From the Mark Waltons to the Sam Hubbards to Jessie (Bateses) — look at the plays these guys made down the stretch today, and they’re rookies. We’ve got to feel really good about that. But at the same time, we’ve got some (mistakes) and some other things by rookies, too. We’ve got to eliminate those. We’ve got to shore this up, because you don’t get the chances we got today (every game); we gave them a lot of plays in the first half. We came back in the second half and were able to eliminate most of them. But we have a penalty in the kicking game that sets us back. We allowed the return for the touchdown. Those things are huge plays. We can’t do those things — we get the field goal tipped, the punt protection (had flaws). We get pushed back into the punter there, and they get a hit on Kevin (Huber). There are a lot of things to correct.”
They lost their starting left tackle in Laremy Tunsil in the fourth quarter. How much of an impact did that have?
“I think it makes a difference when you lose a tackle at this level of football like that, and they didn’t seem to want to help the guy when they left the guy out there. Our guys did a nice job, whether it was pressure or holding or whatever. We had blood in the water, and we went after it.”