STEELERS vs. BENGALS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009 KICKOFF 1:00 P.M. HEINZ FIELD BENGALS QUOTES
HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS
Coach Marvin Lewis:That's a big win. It's a grinding football game, probably the most physical, grinding football game I've ever been on the sideline to experience. I thought our guys did a good job of hanging in there today and grinding blow for blow back and forth. I had a great belief at halftime if they just keep doing things the right way we'd make some plays. We made some plays down the stretch. Made some third downs that were big, some second downs that were big and kind of flipped the field position which allowed us to get some field goals. I thought defensively the key to the football game was once we could get Ben contained and corralled how we played on third down, which was big. You have to give up some things in order to be conscious of him and don't allow him to make the plays out of the pocket that he made earlier in the football game. We played great red zone defense obviously today. Special teams kind of fixed the penalty thing we were having in the first half. At half time the guys did a better job. Obviously Bernard's return was big and he did a great job returning all game. Quan did a great job both handling the ball and making positive plays there. Kevin came up with a big punt when we were backed up, we had the one poor punt which led to their one score. All being said, we are glad to get out of here with another division win. And get out of here with a physical game and get ready for Oakland.
Did having Polamalu out change anything?
I don't think it changed anything for us. A lot of times we don't even know who's out there. It took us about a series and a half to realize Troy wasn't out there. They mix and match, they bring Carter in and they put Deshea at safety. And when they're going to blitz they switch it around.
RE: Fenene balancing between rushing and passing defense
It's a tough balance. John said at many times he's really kind of coming into his own. He got the penalty last week and he must have apologized 170 times for taking off his helmet at the end of the game last week. He's one of those guys that's very conscientious, he keeps getting better for us, he keeps coming up big and he's making big plays in the run and the pass.
What does it mean to you to have a team that can win in big games?
I think it says that we've got guys that can make plays down the stretch. I think that's a good thing. I think there are some things we'll learn from this game that are important too. I think now there's a confidence that we have guys that can convert third downs and convert plays and flip the field position. I think there's a confidence on the defense to keep people from scoring. We're playing great scoring zone defense and that's huge in the NFL. We've just got to keep doing that.
Does this win put a stamp on the team that they resemble teams such as the Steelers that can win games at the end of the year?
Well it's a stamp until we come back to work on Wednesday and we move forward. We won this game this week. I'm glad where we are. And we're going to put our heads down and go back to work. That's why we are where we are, being able to leave these things behind and move forward to the next week. To me, that might be the best characteristic of this football team is to not dwell on what you just did and move forward to the next opportunity, good or bad. I think that's probably been their best asset this entire season.
QUARTERBACK CARSON PALMER
You expected to beat Baltimore. Did you expect to win here without an offensive touchdown?
We expected to win. We knew it was going to be a struggle. Offensively, you have to take your hat off to them too. They're a very good defense, they're very well prepared, and they had a number of good schemes. But I think, at the end of the day, we out-schemed them with some of the stuff we were doing with the run game and the play action game. We had a really good plan and we knew it that we weren't going to come in here and score 40 points. But we knew it was going to be a battle, we kept grinding, and at the end of the day, I think the offensive line won that battle up front and pushed them around and gave us a chance to finish off that last drive with a field goal. We had a couple of nice first downs on some runs, and kept battling. And if you're winning with field goals, you win. If you're winning with touchdowns, you win. We'll take a win any way we can get it.
You took Bernard [Scott] over to the side and called him "young fella" and explained to him about the crowd. He kind of grew up today, didn't he?
Couldn't be more proud of him. The kickoff return was amazing; the moves he made, the cuts he made, and just to come in against a defense that he's never played against, it's very confusing. They do a lot of different looks, lot of different personnel groupings. And we had to leave him in the game and say, "Okay, you have pick up LaMarr Woodley, and [James] Harrison, and [James] Farrior if you have to, and you're going to have to run the ball against those guys too." And he came in and it was kind of his coming out party. He's a special player, he's going to be a special player, and he showed his complexity.
*You're team isn't defined in Week 16; you define yourself along the way. What is the identity of the Cincinnati Bengals this season, and how are you defining yourself?
Physical. I think that if there's one word you're going to define us with, it's physical. Up front, on the offensive and defensive lines, it's not a bunch of top five draft picks. On the offensive line, there's Andrew Whitworth and some free agent guys that fight their butts off. And it doesn't matter if they're playing against Casey Hampton or whoever, they're physical, they're smart. But I think at the end of the day, when we play teams, you can tell that we have more people down, we physically push people around, and the same goes on the defensive front. It's a group of guys who play physically hard, they have high motors, they don't stop until the whistle has been blown. But they get the best of their opponents.
*Can you describe how this feels when things didn't go right-injuries and such-how different is this now?
Definitely different. I don't think some of the guys who have been on this team for a while have ever been this good. But I wouldn't say that we walk into a stadium and we're athletically more gifted than our opponents or than anybody. I just think that we want it more, we work harder, and at the end of the day, we understand how to win ball games. And it's a veteran group of guys that have come together and put the work in to deserve where we are right now, and deserve to finish out the season strong.*
*You said that early in the year you do look ahead, you do look at the schedule. If you're doing that now, what do you see?
It's scary. It's scary because we go to Oakland, we have Cleveland - I don't know who else is on there, I know there are some teams that are down. Detroit, Kansas City - it's scary because everybody's going to be patting us on the back and telling us how good we are. We're not good enough to win the Super Bowl now, we have a long way to go. We're not good enough to make a dominant playoff run, we have a long way to go. We can't start thinking about stuff like that, and that's what's scary about it. Because there are some teams who have two, three, four wins and we're going to go into games and expect to win, and we still have to play good football. We still have to play the same way we played today in Oakland, in San Diego, and back home when we have Cleveland come into town. Because those teams are good enough to beat you.
Re: Added pressure of new role on return team
No, there wasn't any pressure. I was just waiting on my turn to get called. When it's your time to get called, you have to make a play. We've been working hard in the special teams area, and Coach said it was going to come down to special teams. We just went out there and ran the ball hard, trying to score.
Re: Kickoff return for touchdown
It was a bad kick. I just picked it up and tried to go back to where the return side was. I tried to make a play and just ran it to the end zone.
Did you see something on film that you wanted to attack? *All week during special teams practice, coach said it was going to come down to special teams play. We just try to make special teams special. We just went out there and worked hard and tried to make a play. We just tried to get something started and put our offense in good field position. That was the whole thing.
*Re: Replacing injured Cedric Benson *Ced told me that I probably would finish the game because his hip was bothering him. I just go out every week and prepare like I'm the starter. You just try to work hard, and whenever my opportunity comes just try to take advantage of it. Just try to make plays and help the team win.
Re: Polamalu injury
We had heard that he was out. We're not paying too close attention to it. I didn't see it until the coaches mentioned it. If it helped us do some things, that's great. I hope he gets better, I hope he's not hurt too bad.
What did you see that you kept running left at Keisel and Harrison? *Something the coaches saw, that we could move the ball and get it down the field by pushing on those guys. It was huge for us so we could burn up some clock at the end.
*Re: Bernard Scott
He did a good job to come in to this environment, to get all these snaps. When we see him in there as a rookie, we want to step it up to help him and make some holes open up for him.
Significance of the victory
It's great. We're on top of our division now, got a big game next week against Oakland – another AFC team – so it's a great win for us, great win for our organization, but we have to look forward to next week.
Significance of the victory *Very sweet. Very sweet. I'm almost diabetic right now it's so sweet. I'm so excited right now I can barely contain myself. It feels good. 5-and-0 in the division, I've never experienced anything like this. On to the next one. Bring on the Raiders
Re: Effect of the defense on Roethlisberger
We know that Roethlisberger is a great quarterback, and that he's able to scramble, and able to make a lot of different plays. We have to make sure we contain him, and he's a big guy. Just make sure that we keep him in the pocket.
Re: Team chemistry
We've always had faith in one another. We just needed a little bit more understanding of where each person was on the field – whether that's understanding the defense, and Coach Zim and what he's brought to the team in terms of his direction and his motivation. We look up to him, and we believe in what he's coaching, and what he's preaching to us as a defense, and that's important as we go out to play.
Re: Importance of the win
You can't rest on the laurels of just a win. There's a lot of season left to go. Yeah, it's a big win, but at the same time we have more games to play. That will affect the outcome of the season.
Importance of the win *Our divisional opponents are so tough, and we focus so hard on winning each divisional game. We have such an intensity and such a focus. We know if we can beat Baltimore and Pittsburgh, then we're going to be right in the thick of things come December and on into January. That's really been our whole thing – win at home, and beat your divisional opponents.
*Re: Defending against Steelers' red-zone offense
You just keep the ball in front of you, and make them check it down and take the dink and dunk. We knew that if it came to that all day, then we were going to win the ball game. We just took what we saw on film and took it out there on the field. They do what they do, and we're going to do what we do. We out-executed today.
All year we've been a very good red-zone defense. I can't really give you a reason why. Maybe it's because we know how important it is to make teams kick field goals. We're already giving them three points when they get down there – let's not allow them to get six. That's our mentality.
Success on field goals
All I can ask for is opportunities, and today was one of those days where I got opportunities to do my job. I really don't think I did anything out of the ordinary, except for make kicks. Making kicks is what I'm supposed to do – if I don't do that, I don't have a job. Our offense did a great job getting us in position, our defense did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone. Just getting the opportunities is all I can ask for. When our team does that, we came out on top.
Character of the team both last year and this year
I don't think we ever felt like we had a bad team last year. Things just didn't work out the way we wanted them to. We learned from whatever mistakes we made. We came back, and this year we're a very close team. We all depend on each other a lot, we hold each other accountable. We don't point fingers when we hold each other accountable, we hold each other accountable by holding each other up and making sure that we keep each other strong. I think any of the tough times we've had, we've had them together and we've supported each other. Even in the good times we've supported each other. Everyone's patting each other's backs, and no one's really taking all the credit.