Bengals press conference: Bengals prepare for the Houston Texans this upcoming Saturday.
Marvin Lewis:“Obviously, our guys are excited to move forward with this opportunity to prepare and play against the Texans. I know we will have a very focused week of preparation. It was just a few weeks ago that we played the Texans here, and now we’ve got to go to Reliant Stadium and play them. We’re going to have to deal with the crowd noise and the things you have to deal with on the road. It’s an exciting time, and a little bit over half of our guys have played in playoff games and that’ll be good to help some of our younger players. Just keep playing. We’ve been playing like this for a while now and really kind of rehearsing these opportunities. Now it’s time to make good on them.”
Having just played the Texans four weeks ago, how does that familiarity come into play?
“That’s part of the equation, and there are a lot of things from the first time around we have to do much better. We know it will take that in order to go down there and win the football game. They’re an excellent running team. They’re very efficient in the passing game. They do a great job with their schemes, getting the ball in and out of the quarterback’s hands. Andre Johnson didn’t play in the game a few weeks ago against us, so he’ll be part of the equation this time around.”
How about Andy (Dalton) seeing that defense for the second time?
“They do a great job. They’ve been a strong unit all year. We know they are very aggressive in the front seven. Their secondary covers very well. You’re going to get a lot of man-coverage schemes, a lot of pressure schemes. We have to do a better job of giving Andy an opportunity than we did the first time around.”
How happy are you for Nate Clements, who has never been in the playoffs before?
“He’s the oldest guy on our team that has never been in the playoffs, so it’s great for Nate. You’ve just go out and put the smile back on your face, lock your jaw, go to work and keep playing because the one at the end is even more special.”
Is playoff experience overrated?
“We have a lot of guys who have played in the playoffs, so I don’t think you can judge us on that. I think there’s something to it, there’s no question in my mind. But I was part of a coaching staff on a team that had never been to the playoffs and won the Super Bowl, so I guess it was overrated then.
“I think there’s something to being hungry, to being detailed in your preparation and your execution. That’s what counts at the end. It’s not that somebody was in this many playoffs or somebody was not in this many playoffs on paper. You don’t play or win or lose these games on paper. Every game we play is won out there on that field.”
Is there a difference in playoff road football? You’ve got a lot of experience, but it was in a ’09 home game?
“We’ll see. It’ll be a different thing. We’ve got to go play on the road like we’ve done this year. We know what’s at stake.”
You’ve performed well on the road. What have you guys done well to do that?
“At the end of the day, we hopefully have more points than the other team. Every time you go out there it’s a different day. When you go on the road, you have to be efficient, you have to execute and you’ve got to stay the course. That’s what it takes to be successful on the road.”
Looking back at the first game against the Texans, it looked like you had it won:
“There were a lot of plays that had we done it differently or had it turned out differently, you have an opportunity to win the football game, and we didn’t. We don’t get to start back at that point and reverse time. We’re going to have to go back and put our heads down and go to work and chop wood just like we did last time.”
The first time you played Houston, you didn’t have a lot of film on T.J. Yates. Now, you’ve obviously got more film on him, including your own experience. How important is that?
“I don’t think much has changed from what our thinking was going into the game, from now to then. I think he has played as we expected him to play and that’s what he’s done each week he’s played since we played them.”
What have you said to your team, coming off a game where you lost but still got into the playoffs to channel their focus and be thinking in the right direction?
“That season’s over. We just closed that one up and we’re in the new season now. This is what you all worked very, very hard to get this opportunity to do. Our ultimate goal is still ahead of us. We’ve got to go to work. We’ve got to be diligent, we’ve got to move ahead, move forward. Let’s keep doing the things we’ve been doing well, and that’s in your preparation and your study. Get your body right, your mind right. I’ll take care of you. I’ll get you physically ready and you do the rest of it. We’ll put you in position and you be ready to answer the call.”
In your time here, you’ve experienced the playoffs twice before. How important is it for this organization to take that next step and win a playoff game?
“It’s important to win the playoff games. That’s why you’re here. You want to be world champions.”
You have already seen the Houston Texans once this year, what are your thoughts going into your first playoff game in Reliant Stadium?
“It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere. I know that place can get really loud. It’s good for both teams that we’ve played each other once. You have a feeling for what each team does. They play hard on defense. They do a good job of rushing the passer. It’s going to take our best effort.”
What is it like to play against the team you grew up rooting for in a stadium that you played in as a high schooler?
“It makes it a lot of fun. For me, there are going to be a lot of family members and people at the game. It makes it fun. It’s a place where I have played before in high school and college. Now, I get a chance to play there in the pros, it’s going to be awesome.”
What kind of feelings do you remember from playing in Reliant Stadium as a high schooler?
“That’s what you want to do. You get a chance to play in Reliant Stadium. As a high school kid, it’s a really cool thing. That’s how Texas high school is. You get to play in NFL stadiums.”
Do you have any idea how many tickets you will be asked to come up with for your family and friends?
“I’m going to get numbers later on today.”
Were you in awe the first time you played in Reliant Stadium?
“I think I had been there and seen the stadium before, but to be in there to play on the field was pretty cool.”
It’s only been two days since the announcement that the Bengals are facing the Texans. Has it been different for you the second time? Are you receiving more calls from friends before the trip to Houston?
“Not really. I have some friends who are excited. Of course, my family is. It hasn’t been anything over the top.”
How might your familiarity having faced the Texans defense help with your comfort level this week?
“It’s big. Any time you get to play a team twice you have a feel for what they do and how they play. So, it’s nice going in to the first playoff game against a team we’ve played before. So, we can go back and watch the game that we’ve already played against them, see what they were doing and make some adjustments from there. It’s definitely good for us.”
What was the biggest adjustment they made in the second half of the first meeting?
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we did in the first half. They found ways to stop the run. They did a good job with that of limiting us. We have to find ways to get things going and keep drives alive. Have time of possession and convert on third downs.”
What is it about the Texans defense that is the most challenging?
“They just play so hard. That’s the one thing you see on film. They are never giving up. Even guys who are getting blocked. It’s not like they are stopping their feet. They are doing everything they can to get off of their blocks. That’s what makes their defense play the way they do.”
The long ball hasn’t been there since the first half at St. Louis (Dec. 18). Have teams adjusted to take the long pass away from the Bengals?
“We had some chances last week. We had some pressure on some. Some teams are dropping guys back. Teams have taken it away. We will definitely find our ways to take the shots. The big thing is completions to keep drives going and getting the chance to go and score.”
It seems you haven’t had the same rhythm the last few weeks. Are teams blitzing more to take you out of that rhythm?
“It just comes down to execution. We’ve had some third and shorts that we weren’t able to execute and convert on. We have to find out how to get that done and find that extra yard that we need.”
Against Houston, you struggled in goal to go and short yardage situations. It seems you have gotten better that in recent weeks:
“It’s definitely a focus. When you get down there you want touchdowns. You don’t want to kick field goals. It’s definitely an area that we have stressed.”
This game features a pair of rookie quarterbacks starting. Do you know T.J. Yates very well?
“Yes. I got to know him through the (NFL Draft) process. I met him before my senior year at a football camp. I got to know him a little bit.”
After the first meeting, did you have a chance talk to him after the game?
“Yes, I did. He’s done a good job for them. It was a big, game-winning drive for him. It’s good to see rookies – my class – doing well. It was unfortunate that it was against us.”
What makes you and T.J. so successful as rookie starting quarterbacks to make the playoffs?
“We’ve got a lot of good guys around us. We have guys all on the same page, with the same goal to come out and get better each day. That’s what gave this team an opportunity to be where we are. Like I have said many times, nobody gave us any credit before the season. That gave us extra motivation to prove everybody wrong.”
Is there any superstition or routine you are carrying into the playoffs?
“I don’t really have any superstitions. I don’t do the same thing every time. I’m not very superstitious.”
Growing up, did you ever have a chance to meet or talk with Texans head coach Gary Kubiak?
“I’ve never talked to him.”
You’ve seen the Baltimore and Pittsburgh defenses, this Houston defense is statistically one of the best in the NFL. How does it compare to the best in the AFC North?
“They’ve done a good job. Like I said before, it’s because they play really hard. They are relentless in what they do. We’ve got to have that same attitude and go out and play that same way.”
Is there any common denominator or characteristic of the really best defenses you have faced this year?
“Yes. It’s just how hard they play. They have talented guys back there.”
What have the last 36 hours been like? Following Sunday’s loss, what was Marvin Lewis’s message to the team and has it changed?
“It was a weird feeling after the game. We did lose, but we were excited to get into the playoffs. It didn’t matter. Everybody’s record is zero and zero. You win, you’re in. If you lose, you’re out. You just have to have that extra focus. Whatever it is, if it’s extra studying, whatever it takes to win this week.”
How aware are the younger players of how long it has been since the Bengals have won a playoff game?
“Everybody knows it’s been 21 years, three winning seasons and all kind of stuff. We don’t worry about that. It’s our first time. We’re coming in and trying to do our best.”
Was the game to Houston – more than the others – one this season in which you learned lessons about capitalizing on opportunities?
“Yes. That’s how the game of football is. It’s not one play that defines the game, but you have to find ways to execute. We had a chance to run the four-minute drill to run (the clock) out. We didn’t get it done and they went on the game-winning drive.”
Was it by design last week that A.J. Green was targeted two times in the first half?
“No. They did a good job of trying to double him and make us throw to other guys.”