DOUG MARRONE Head coach
Initial comments ...
"Just a couple things, one obviously we got the win. I thought we did a good job moving the football early and I thought we did a terrible job scoring, you know in the red zone, and that's obviously something we have to work on. Defensively, we were lights out all the way up until that last drive in the first half and we gave up 80 yards and they scored. I give Cincinnati a lot of credit — they played hard. They have a lot of injuries. I think Zac (Taylor) is doing a good job with the rest of the coaching staff there, and we were fortunate. You have all of that offense and all of a sudden you come in at halftime down 7-6. I told the players, 'This is what we need to do, this is what we're not doing well and this is what's got to change.' We got some turnovers, which were big, and we were able to win the game. There are a lot of things to work on with both sides of the ball and get ourselves ready to go back home and play the New York Jets."
Getting turnovers, that's something the defense has been doing very well ...
"They did a good job during the week. We had our hands on a lot of footballs during the week. I even said something to Wash. I said, 'Gosh, we got our hands on a lot of footballs' and he goes 'I think we might have gotten our hands on more balls this week than in all the practices we've had.' So you know, I said 'I hope that's something that's good' and I think we did. We had some opportunities today."
Why were they more active this week?
"If I knew that I'd be working my butt off each week to go get the turnovers, you know. Obviously it was something that I thought defensively except for the one drive, you know, and maybe the penalty that got them into scoring range, I thought they did well. I thought offensively we moved the ball but situationally ... you know, I just did the radio thing with Jeff and Jeff was like 'red zone' and red zone is also goal-to-goal, you know, and we went 0-for in the goal-to-goal and obviously we were one-for-whatever in the red zone. You're not going to win a lot of games unless you have those turnovers and do those things doing that in this league. We were fortunate, we understand it, and we know we have to work on it. I think that third downs come up again. Now we get a lot of first downs, I mean when you look at our offense, we'll get a lot. When it gets to these third down situations, we have to do a better job of converting on those third downs. Those are the big plays. Do I think we're making enough big plays? Yes, I do. I think we're making some big plays, big runs, big passes, but those two parts of situational football — protecting the football which was good — those two parts, obviously, I'm going to have to redo the schedule and put some time in it so we can do a better job."
Talk about the tone that D.J. Hayden set with that first turnover because it seemed like once that happened it changed the game a little bit ...
"I think you're correct. I think D.J. is really playing at a high level — he really is. He's practicing really well and he's playing really well. He's a guy that I kind of always say by the way he practices and the way he is around the building, we've got him in a really good place meaning he's good. 'Hey coach, how are you doing?' He communicates, he goes out and he practices hard and he does everything and then he performs well. At the end of the day, nobody's going to say anything because he's not getting a lot of balls caught on him and he's doing a heck of a job."
When he made that play did you think that was the lift you needed?
"Two things. One, he makes a lot of plays. That one was a very important play in this game because I think, you know — the defensive guys say this, I don't know if I buy in — but we always say it on defense that when you get turnovers they come in bunches. I kind of think that's B.S. — but maybe because I'm an offensive coach — but we did get a bunch. Then we have a lead and then Myles (Jack) gets the pick. He makes a mistake, putting it forward, but he gets the pick. Those turnovers were occurring when it was a one- score game and then finally — I'll tell you about the play that people aren't going to talk about — the play before Yannick (Ngakoue) intercepts this screen for the touchdown, D.J. makes a hell of a play on the screen prior to it. So prior to that play, D.J. makes a play on the sideline, right — the first screen — then they come back with another screen and the next thing you know Yannick's got a big play. I always say to myself if D.J. doesn't make the play on the screen and the guy gets a big gain, do they come back something different. You know what I mean? I look at him as he's making plays all around that are causing effect for us to play better."
GARDNER MINSHEW II Quarterback
How much did you need this win?
"Yeah, it was huge. It was on the road. I feel like it brought us together and really got us focused on what we need to do."
Was it a little disconcerting to not put it in the end zone more?
"Yeah. (It was) frustrating. It's something we're going to continue to work on, and continue to try and get better at. We're going to have to get it fixed."
You got the ball down to the one-yard line on the first drive and didn't score. But there were some moments, right?
"Yeah, we moved the ball all day. We had a bunch of yards. We ran the ball really well, controlled the clock and took care of the ball, so there were a lot of positives to take from it. If we clean some things up in the red zone, then this isn't a close game. There's stuff we can work on, and stuff we're going to work on."
How important was it for the defense to do what they do to get you guys going today?
"Oh, it's huge. Any time you get turnovers — turnovers for points especially — it's a lot easier on us and takes a lot of pressure off. That's what happens when we get a lead on teams. They can really get hot and go attack. We've got to do a better job of getting that lead early so our guys can go do that."
In the first half, you guys didn't get the best field position. But when you did get good field position, you were able to do some things...
"Yeah, that's how these games have been going lately. It's kind of a weird deal with how often it's been happening. We're back there to try and get a first down or two, get some air, and then reassess from there. It's something we're getting better at."
LEONARD FOURNETTE Running back
How big was it to come away with a win?
"It was something the team needed — most definitely. It was good to finally get a W under our belt. In all phases — offense, defense and special teams — we played a good game today."
Was it frustrating at halftime when you had 300 yards of offense and were down by one?
"Yeah. There were a lot of things on the offensive side we messed up on. At the end of the day, it's all about coming back, trying to find corrections and getting back to it."
The running game really got rolling today. You came out right away to try and establish it ...
"Most definitely. They couldn't stop us. We knew that. We've got to find ways to execute. It was a very long time before we did score (a touchdown). But good offenses always find a way to score. We've got to continue to get better at that. Our offensive coordinator, Flip (John DeFilippo), is doing a great job, and is going to continue doing a great job to find ways for us to get in the end zone and score."
How crucial were the turnovers? The defense had a hard time getting them before today ...
"They came to play ball — the front, the linebackers and the DBs. Like I said, without those guys we wouldn't be where we're at. We've got great skill players, and we just have to continue to execute on the offensive side of the ball."
How did it feel to get a win when you really needed to get a win? This was a must-have ...
"Yeah, it was a must-have. We're trying to get back to that .500 mark before the bye. But now we've got the Jets coming up and then Houston. We're just getting ready. We know those teams aren't going to hold back on us. We know it's going to be a fight each and every game. We've got to continue to get better."
This team has fought through a ton of stuff all year. Why is this team so much more resilient than maybe other teams?
"I think it's the guys. We made up our minds collectively as a group — offense, defense, every player — to just come out and fight. As long as we give it our best at the end of the day, the outcome is going to depend on us. I believe you should never quit, no matter what it is or how hard it is. You've got to keep fighting. A lot of us got here by fighting, by pushing, whether it's high school or college. Get that demeanor back — grind, grit — that got us where we're at."
At any point, did you feel like you broke Cincinnati physically?
"Yeah. You could tell they didn't want to tackle."
What part of the game did you kind of figure that out?
"First drive — they didn't want to tackle on the first drive. We've just got to find better ways to execute. The running game did a good job, but when we get in the red zone, we have to score. This game shouldn't have been close. We felt it."
You're in the midst of a nice three-game stretch. Does that do anything for you mentally?
"No. Like I said, this offseason I took a lot of time to work on myself. Without God, I wouldn't be where I'm at. I had a tough offseason — I got arrested, and things like that. Like I say, you have to find ways to get past a lot of the negatives and turn them into positives. Even at the beginning of the season — the first three games was a bit of a slump for me. I took the time with the offensive line to try and develop a better relationship — me understanding those guys and them understanding me, and just where we all come from. A lot of people are raised different and come from different backgrounds. It's always good to get to know each other more. I've been here three years, and I know them well. At the end of the day, we're all we have. We've got to be out there fighting each and every time."
You appeared to take out two guys on the first Andy Dalton interception ...
"Yeah, it was still a screen though. Credit to the rest of the defense. I still haven't seen it. I'm excited to see it on tape."
You had another play earlier in the game where you stopped Joe Mixon for a five-yard loss. What made you so successful today on defense?
"It's not every day that you get to play with guys like Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones, who require double-teams all the time. It really frees up everyone else."
Did it feel good to get pressure on Andy Dalton today?
"Yeah, it felt good to hit him. We have goals and have to get so many pressures and affect the quarterback. It increases our percentage for winning. Hopefully we achieved our goals — I think we probably did."
You were so close to getting turnovers all day, and then, in the fourth quarter, they came in bunches ...
"God put me in a good position. The game is all about rushing. You can't get frustrated, you just have to keep working."
How good was it to see the secondary perform well today?
"I was happy to see those guys get turnovers. It was special."
Pick-six opportunities don't come often for defensive linemen ...
"We always talk about reading screens. I noticed when 25 (Bengals HB Giovani Bernard) was in the game, they were looking pass. And when it was 28 (Mixon), they were looking run. So I thought it was going to be a screen."
Are you proud of the way this team responded today?
"Yeah. We played good complimentary football in the second half. We didn't take advantage of things in the first half, and we gave up a few plays. We were able to play all 60 minutes, and the turnovers started rolling."
The turnovers came in bunches in the fourth quarter ...
"Definitely. Luckily, our safeties had a lot of opportunities. We came out with the win and we won the turnover battle, and that's what we came to do."
And this could be an even better day for you, right?
"I'm speeding to Atlanta right now. I'm about to be a father of two, and I'm excited."
You were able to get some turnovers today ...
"It creates a lot of momentum. That's what we want — we want the ball. There's some stuff we need to clean up, but next week we're going to try to get three more — maybe four, maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven."
What did you think when LB Myles Jack tried to pitch the ball after his interception?
"I was wondering what the hell he was doing. He should've pitched it backwards. It was a good play by Myles — he has great hands."
How about Ngakoue's pick-six?
"It was a great play by Yan. We needed that. I'm pretty sure it made everyone on the team happy."
Could this be a turning point for this team?
"Shoot — what do you think? I believe so."
How frustrating had it been not getting turnovers?
"We put a big emphasis this week on creating turnovers. People were flying to the ball and making big plays."
Is your rookie season everything you'd hoped it would be to this point?
"You're never satisfied, but I'm grateful. I'm grateful to be in this position, and I'm grateful to be healthy. I'm taking it day by day. I'll try to make as many plays as I can for my team."
Was it nice to have so many fans in the stadium today from the University of Kentucky?
"It was crazy. There were a lot of people cheering my name. I'm glad they showed up, and I'm glad to be back."