What were you thinking when Andy goes down and you had to go in? And what about when you got into the huddle?
“You never want to see anyone go down. Unfortunately, that’s part of the game. I was ready to go. I’ve been ready all year long. I told those guys, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back and win this game.’ They had full confidence in me and, on our sideline, everyone had the mentality that we were going to come back and win that game.”
Do you think you were able to create a spark when you came in? If so, was there any reason behind that?
“When I came in, we went three-and-out, and that’s not any way you want to start. The defense did a good job getting the ball back to us the whole second half, really. We got some things going there, and had a couple long drives we were able to cap off with touchdowns. Unfortunately we just came up short there at the end, but I thought we competed. We’ve just got to make a few more plays.”
Andy isn’t a quarterback that gets injured all that much. How difficult is it to be ready? How surprised were you when they said, ‘Hey, Andy’s gone. Get in there’?
“It’s a challenge. At the end of the day, that’s my job to be prepared if Andy goes down. That’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. For the past three years, I’ve been preparing and making sure that when it’s time to get in there, I’m ready to go and give our team a chance to win.”
After a 4-1 start, this team has lost five of the last six games. What do you say to fans that might have lost hope of making playoffs?
“We’re definitely not out of it. We have five more games, and we have to come out and win those games. We’ve put ourselves behind a little bit, but we still have five more games to go out and compete. Like I said, we thought we were going to come back and win this game. We think we’re going to win the rest of our games this year and give ourselves a chance at the end of the year.”
On that final drive with a couple false starts, were you guys out of sync or trying to go too fast? Was it a miscommunication?
“Definitely miscommunication, and that’s something I have to get cleaned up. I haven’t had many reps with those guys, and whether it’s the way I’m telling them the snap count or just my tempo with the snap count, I’ve got to get that cleaned up. It definitely hurt us today, but that’s something I’ll get cleaned up and something I’ve got to be aware of.”
Marvin Lewis was understandably exasperated with the slow start. What do you attribute that to?
“I’m not sure. I thought we had a good week of practice, and I thought we were ready to go. Our guys were ready to play. For whatever reason, we came out and we didn’t execute. They got a big jump on us, but we weren’t hanging our heads on the sideline and we were competing the whole four quarters. I don’t have an answer for that.”
How would you characterize the difference between Andy’s setup and when you come in. And how does that change the offensive attack?
“I don’t think that changes. The game plan was the game plan for Andy (Dalton), and we went off the same sheet for myself. I’ve just got to be able to execute at the same level as him. In the NFL, it’s the next guy up, and that’s for every position. You’ve got to be able to go in there and execute the game plan. That’s what we’ve been working on all week, that’s what I’ve been studying, and that’s what I was ready to go in and do. I don’t think it changes at all.”
Weren’t there more designed runs?
“We didn’t have any today.”
In developing that game plan, how much input do you guys specifically, as quarterbacks, have with the coaches? Do they seek your input?
“I think so. We’re working together to get the best plan together and give ourselves the best chance to win. It’s definitely a back-and-forth. It’s an open dialogue, and they want some input. What we’re most comfortable with is what they’re going to call. We’re definitely on the same page there.”
Is there any difference in planning for the last half of the season, as opposed to the beginning? Is it harder or easier to institute changes and put in new wrinkles at this particular point?
“Every week is different, just because the defenses we’re seeing are so much different week in and week out. We always have those plays we’ve been working on since training camp, and those are going to be the type of plays we hang our hats on. In the NFL, you have to be able to adjust, and you have to be able to install plays on a week-to-week basis so they can’t know your tendencies and know what’s coming.”
You haven’t been in there that much, but from the outside looking in, this game looked like it was above and beyond the chippiness a normal NFL game would have. Did you notice that, and what kind of reaction did you have to some of the stuff going on out there?
“It’s definitely a rivalry we have going. Yeah, there’s going to be chippiness. There’s guys out there competing. That’s just the nature of football — guys are going to be on edge and feel like they have something to prove. That’s just the nature of the game. It doesn’t affect me either way.”
How much confidence does this performance give you? What do you know about yourself now, after finally getting a little game action?
“I know, personally, what I’ve known all along, and that’s that I can play at this level and give our team a chance to win. We had a couple drives there, and at the end of the game we were rolling to come within striking distance. With more reps and more game action, you’re going to get on the same page with your guys — whether it’s the line with the cadence, or the receivers and tight ends, or with the route tree. I don’t think I learned too much about myself. I’ve known that I can play all along.”