Bengals Head coach Marvin Lewis
Initial comments ...
"Obviously it's disappointing to fight our way back into the football game, and to lose the game there at the end. Had a lot of things not break our way. Made some things break our way at the end, then don't get the stop, and had the fumble when we do get an interception, and don't put the game away. It's disappointing. Our guys fought their tails off all year, fought their tail off today, got back and went ahead, and then we destructed on ourselves — offense and defense together. That's disappointing."
Why did Vontaze Burfict make that play on Antonio Brown at the end there?
"He's trying to go over and defend the play. There were a lot of plays out there and calls went different ways. They deemed that to be a hit to the head I guess, and others not today."
Did they explain to you what Adam Jones' penalty was?
The referees, about his flag ...
Have you talked to Jeremy Hill since the game's been over?
What do you plan to say to him?
"Jeremy knows that he fumbled the football. I don't have to say anything to him. (He's) as disappointed as anybody else is."
Are you second guessing the decision to run the ball there instead of just taking a knee, burn the timeouts, and kick the field goal?
"No, I don't think we were necessarily in field goal range there. You want to get the first down, and win the football game there by running the ball, and we gained six or seven yards on first down. I'm not second guessing that."
Have you ever been a part of another game with so many emotional swings?
"I don't know. I can't judge that."
Game action from the Steelers' AFC Wild Card game against the Bengals.
Did you think it was a penalty on Burfict?
"I don't know. I don't know if he touched him or not. I can't tell."
What does he say?
"I don't know about that. It was a penalty because they threw a flag."
How upset are you at Adam Jones for losing his cool?
"Again, I'm not going to single out our guys. We had enough chances to win the football game."
What did you think of the way AJ McCarron responded?
"I thought he hung in there and kept playing. That's what he had to do. He was able to get some clean looks and deliver some good balls."
Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron
What's going through your head right now?
"It sucks. To battle back the way we did and the circumstances of the game — it seems every time we got the ball it was pouring rain and it wasn't when they had it. Being down 15, battling back from the mistakes and putting yourself in a position to with the game, sucks."
Have you had a chance to talk to Jeremy Hill?
What do you plan to say to him when you speak to him?
"It's football. It happens. They did a good job of trapping his arm. It's football. He didn't lose us the game. Things happen. Even the penalties at the end — they don't lose us that game. We had opportunities and it didn't happen."
Did you feel more comfortable throwing with the glove on?
"Yeah, the ball was soaking wet. (Russell) Bodine was even telling me that he was having trouble with the snaps. I thought they'd at least put a towel over it or something, but there was nothing done. I didn't know it was done that way, but every time we got the ball it was soaking wet."
Do you think some of your teammates lost their poise at the end of the game?
"I'm not here to throw shade at anyone. We win together and lose together. It doesn't matter if someone lost their poise or didn't — we win together and lose together. We need to have each other's back through this process. That's the best way to take the biggest step into next year to becoming the team we can be. If we use this time to point fingers at each other, we're taking steps back as a team, and we don't need that."
What was going through your mind during Pittsburgh's final possession?
"Stop them. That's really it. We were so close to giving this city what they deserved — to do it against a team like Pittsburgh — and for it not to happen just sucks."
Is this the toughest loss you've been a part of?
"Yes, especially in the NFL. From battling back — to the weather — it was hard to hold onto the ball. Having a chance to win — it hurts."
Bengals safety George Iloka
The atmosphere was emotional. How hard was it to try and contain a lot of that?
"I'm even keel. The only time I get riled up or excited, I calm down for the next play. I'm pretty even keel for the most part."
How tough is it to have it end this way?
"I don't know. This is four years in a row. You'd think I'd be pretty good at this. Every year you're still shocked. I think we should have won, but we didn't."
Where do you see this team? You said this is four years you've seen this. This one it seemed was there ...
"This one hurt the most for me. Every year it hurts more. It's hard to get back here — it's not easy. As for me personally, the season was long physically and emotionally. We had an opportunity to get back here. This is it. We've been blessed four years in a row to get here, but the opportunity is gone. It's hard to get here, why not make the most of it? All the things you go through, waking up early, fighting injuries and rehabbing, and things like that, it hurts."
How do you explain how the emotions took over with the two penalties at the end?
"I'm pretty even keel. Some players need to be juiced up, or riled up. Obviously you don't want penalties, but we shouldn't have been on the field anyway. We had opportunities to win the game and it should never have come down to that."
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green
On tonight's loss ...
"It's tough. It's tough when you give your all and you still come up on the short end of the stick. It's hard."
You were very upset with what you said was people talking and not letting their play doing the talking. How tough is it to have a game come down to just a few plays like that?
"It's not just that one play ..."
It has to hurt you the game was not finished in a professional manner ...
"It's tough. It's tough."
What went right on the touchdown reception you had?
"They just gave me the ball and I made a play. I said 'Give me the ball — put it in the air and I'll make the play.' "
Do you think the pump fake by A.J. McCarron held Steelers safety Mike Mitchell a little bit?
"It wasn't even a double move. They just went Cover 2. They went Cover 2 (on) my whole side."
Have you ever been involved in an emotional swing like that during a game?
"No. No ... I've got no words, man. I've got no words."
What brought you guys back in the fourth quarter?
"Guys just making plays. Tyler (Eifert), Marv Jones, Mo (Mohamed Sanu). And) AJ (McCarron) just giving us good balls to make plays on."
Bengals halfback Jeremy Hill
How tough is this?
"This is probably one of the toughest games I've ever played. Emotionally, just to come in here and put in all this work for six months. We just gave the game away. It's tough."
What did you think of those penalties at the end? Did you lose your cool on the sidelines a bit?
"I'm always cool, so I'll be fine. I just go out there and play. I don't worry about the officials are doing. I just go out there and play as hard as I can and see what happens."
You got real emotional when your teammate, Gio Bernard took that shot ...
"I was just a little upset they were celebrating. Gio works so hard, and to see him every day and how hard he works and everything he does for this team, to see someone hit him in the head like that, you shouldn't be celebrating. I lost it. That's not football."
How disappointed are you right now?
'Words can't even really describe it. You can't put it into words. Just how hard we worked, just everything you go through, you have everything right there in front of you and to just have everything slip away, words just can't describe it."
You saw the hit on Giovani Bernard, and we saw how it affected you ...
"It wasn't really the hit; they're playing aggressive and doing what they do — that's just how they play. I was more upset after I saw him on the ground that they were still trying to celebrate. That just rubbed me the wrong way.
"I know Ryan (Shazier). Ryan's a good friend of mine, and I was just disappointed in Ryan, and I told him 'Ryan, I just don't understand that.' That's what I told him. That's all I told him, but that's besides the fact."
Did you feel like you guys got a little lift after that things seemed to pick up offensively ...
"We just really started to play the way we needed to play from the start. We really came out flat offensively, especially. We got a few plays and we just sputtered out and you can't do that. Playing a little better might have changed the complexion of the game, but who knows? Who knows? Those are what ifs."
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton
Have you ever experienced any kind of ending like that before?
You're a leader on this team. What do you say to guys like Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones following the kinds of penalties they had at the end of the game?
"I constantly saying stuff to guys on the sideline. Obviously, you can't stop it while they're out there. But like I said, it's an unfortunate way to end it."
This season as a whole was great at 12-4 but how difficult is it to have that be washed out with another first-round playoff loss?
"Yeah, this is one of the best seasons the Bengals organization has ever had, to be 12-4. There's obviously some good stuff we can take away from it, but we fell short of — we didn't end up where we needed to be."
Do you feel this team took a step forward this year?
"Yeah, I think so. Obviously, I think we did a lot of good things and we were able to win a lot of games and that was big for us. We've got a long time to think about these things, though."
When you look back on the season with the Super Bowl being the goal, will this be a disappointing season for you guys?
"Anytime you're not playing in the Super Bowl, it's disappointing. That's the ultimate goal and you don't play this game for one playoff win. You don't play this game for a great regular season, so not playing in that last game, it's always disappointing."
Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth
People are going to say this team is out of control — what do you say to that?
"I think it's an unfortunate set of circumstances at the end of the game. You have to have better control than that, for sure."
You've been here a long time and have a big voice in this room. Is there anything you can say to Vontaze and Adam with the penalties that happened?
"We just have to be smart throughout the game and make the best decisions to win, so I don't know what all happened and I guess I'll know more tomorrow. It's unfortunate."
Have you ever been part of a game that had such a wild, emotional ending?
"To have the game be in a situation where you have an opportunity to get a first down and win it, to go from that to what it ended up in, sucked. It's unfortunate. You work your butt off for a long time, go 12-4, have a really good football team, lose your quarterback and battle back to be where we are. I'm proud of guys for that, but it's unfortunate to end the way we did."