Initial comments ...
"I think obviously that’s a huge win for a football team that was playing a good team. It came at the right time. It came at a time when we needed to get back at it, refocus ourselves and get to work. We had a great week of preparation. We knew it was going to be a physical, toe-to-toe football game and it played out to that.
"We’ve got some corrections to make, obviously, the way to finish it better at the end. We unfortunately had to probably win it three of four times there in the fourth quarter. So we’ve got a lot to learn from that way and good things to coach off of.
"We were able to productively move the football. We’ve got to score touchdowns; (I’m) still disappointed in that. Andy (Dalton) has a turnover early in the game that’s big when we’ve got the ball down there, second down we’ve got to find a way to just throw it away and get a chance to go again on third down. But big drive there by the offense there to put the touchdown on the board and put us up by 10. And then we give up the pass play, but hold them to a field goal. Defensively, again, to hold them without a touchdown was good work today."
Have you seen a defense of yours play any better than the way it played today?
"They played well today. We had a couple run plays we needed to fit a little better. We let the ball get across the field there in the fourth quarter. But all in all, we were tight in coverage most of the day. We were able to get some pressures. I thought the defensive group up front got after it. They understood, recognized and felt the play (action) passes and that’s the difference — we were able to get pressure on their play-pass game, which is difficult to do."
You held Patriots QB
"It was a great accomplishment. It was a great job by the defensive players. The coaches, led by (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer). I had never given anybody a game ball before, I guess maybe once before, but I did give Coach Zimmer that ball. It’s a hell of a deal."
Do you remember the other time?
"Mike Brown after we beat Kansas City in ’03."
Your secondary responded well today again despite injuries to key contributors ...
"Until that next-to-last play, we got good leadership by bringing Chris (Crocker) back here. He gives us a calming force. Reggie (Nelson) was able to answer the bell, which helped. Adam Jones is really responding to coaching, and obviously Terence Newman is just playing lights out. He’s playing great football for us. When you play the position out there, they’re going to catch a ball every once in a while, but we’re not giving up the big plays and we’ve got to keep doing that."
How about DE Wallace Gilberry today?
"He had a good game until we make a play at the end that prolongs the game a little bit (a roughing —the-passer penalty). But Wallace, they call him one of my nuts and bolts, just a guy who keeps working his tail off and keeps doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s good for the football team."
Does it speak to the depth of this team that a guy like Gilberry can start in place of Michael Johnson today and have no setbacks?
"Wallace did a great job. Margus (Hunt) got his first chance to play, so that was fun. We’ve got to keep pushing these young guys to give us some snaps, because we’re going to need them to be productive as go down through the season."
You had quite a sequence with Domata Peko lining up at fullback near the goal line. Did you have it in your mind to go for it on fourth down no matter what, or did you want to wait and see how third down played out?
"When you make those decisions, you’ve got to tell your coaches on second down what we’re going to do. So basically on second down, they know that if we get the ball on third or fourth and one, what the outcome’s going to be. I have to give Jay (Gruden) a heads up prior to so he can be talking and conferring what he wants to do on fourth and one. The decision was made twice to go for it and we were able to punch it in."
Were you thinking this could be your best and possibly last chance to get in the end zone?
"I was thinking I wanted to score a touchdown. I wasn’t thinking about one shot. I was thinking we should push it in and get a touchdown. I don’t believe in all that, ‘You’ve got to this and you’ve got to do that.’ We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do, and that’s the most important thing. You know? I don’t care who we’re playing against. It’s a matter of what we’ve got to do. That’s all that after the fact. ‘Well you should have done this because you’re playing against this guy.’ Well it’s easy to second guess after the fact. But I felt confident in us being able to punch the ball in."
You got a big game out of RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis too ...
"He was tough running. But again we have the interception, we have the fumbled ball and we can’t do that. We’re trying to ice the game there, so there is a lot to coach from and correct: an offside on defense, a late hit on the quarterback on defense and then the fumble. So three things in the fourth quarter you don’t want to have happen."
Is there way to explain how you can beat Green Bay and New England, but go to Cleveland and lose?
"It’s the National Football League. You have to play your ‘A’ game all the time. We never made any plays, as I told you after the Cleveland game last week. I told you, on the sideline I was waiting for us to make a play for us to get back in the football game. We never made that play. Like today, we made a drive to put us in the game, and that was good. But I was waiting for that play to happen against Cleveland and we never made it. And that’s what we’ve been on all week. We can’t wait around; we’ve got to go make things happen. I thought again the offense did a nice job bringing the ball off the goal line. They made the big play when we were backed up after the sack at the two-yard line. A big play there — a good catch by Marv (Jones), a good throw by Andy."
The defense has done a good job against the likes of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and New England QB Tom Brady in the last three weeks ...
"We’ve played well. Last week I thought the biggest thing was we had three chances to make interceptions and we didn’t make any of them. If we make those interceptions, that’s the thing. We went back to work this week. We went back to work like training camp and practiced that way. It showed out here today. Today we competed and we covered. We got away from man-to-man coverage, we played physical and that’s what we have to do. That’s our calling card. Otherwise, who are we? That’s the way we have to play football all the time. We’re not going out-cute anybody. We’ve got to be physical and we’ve got to body up on people and play that way."
You guys ran the ball a lot today. I guess that was a big part of it too?
"A big part of it, yes."
ANDY DALTON, QUARTERBACK
How fun is it to watch your defense play so well against a future hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady?
"It’s definitely fun to watch those guys go out and play. They’re doing so many good things, and to see what they do to a guy like Tom Brady ... And what they’ve done to a lot of these quarterbacks — they’re some of the best in the league; they’re playing unbelievable. Hopefully, we can keep it going and there’s a lot of really good guys on this team, a lot of good teammates, and it’s definitely fun to watch that defense."
You had a third-and-15 at your two-yard line, and then you hit a 28-yard pass to Marvin Jones in a key play in the third quarter. Can you talk about that play a little bit and how big it was?
"It was big because it kept the drive going. It gave us some momentum. Then we had one play later, two plays later a big run by Giovanni Bernard. It gave us some momentum going into that drive and we took advantage of it, kept making some plays, drove down and scored."
Didn’t you snap it quickly on that play?
"Yeah. Everybody lined up and it was taking them a little while to line up, so we got (the ball) out and (Marvin) made a big catch and kept the drive going."
Is there any personal pride in defeating stars like Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady today even though it’s not you against them personally on a one-on-one level?
"These are guys that have played for a long time, and now I get a chance to play them, and to come out and get a win against some of the best in the league, it really means a lot. It means a lot for this team, and we’ve done some good things and we’ve got to keep it going."
When you see your defense hold the Patriots to a field goal in the first half, how much pressure do you feel as an offense to get into the end zone and give them a lead to work with?
"I think that’s what you see: Them holding the field goals with the chances that we had (to score), you get down (the field) and hurt ourselves and have to punt. It was big for us to go down and score; obviously, we want to score every time we get the ball but we’ve got to keep drives going because our defense is playing really well."
You guys won the time of possession battle today. Did you like the play calling that helped with that?
"Yeah. I thought we did some good things. We were keeping drives going with a mix of run and pass, completing balls ... It’s big. Especially when we have the ball, their offense isn’t on the field, I think that was kind of a big key in the game as well."
Were you happy the rain held off until the end of the game?
"(Laughs) Yeah. I was hoping we could get through some of those time outs because we knew the rain was coming and fortunately for us, we were on defense at that time and you could see out there, it was tough for Tom to throw it around once the rain was pretty heavily coming down."
Did you talk to Tom after the game?
"I didn’t get to see him."
GENO ATKINS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE
You had a sack and seemed to get in Tom Brady’s head a little bit ...
"Yeah. We did a good job applying pressure on him. We made sure he couldn’t step up. As a whole we did a great job pushing the pocket."
You had him throwing off of his front foot a lot, seemingly making him a more average quarterback ...
"The coaches were preaching for us to push the pocket all week. We didn’t want to let him throw from his back foot."
You’ve beaten some of the best quarterbacks here at home ...
"Coach Zimmer does a good job. We have a good enough defense to stop anyone."
How about Chris Crocker and his heads up play to touch down the receiver on the one, allowing you guys to make a goal-line stand ...
"We knew it was crucial not to let him score. We knew that going up against Tom Brady, anything could happen. I think we did a good job of playing fundamentally sound and getting after him."
Four of your next five games are on the road. Do you think the game plan will be to continue to apply pressure?
"Yes. First you stop the run, then you get after the quarterback."
ANDREW WHITWORTH, OFFENSIVE TACKLE
It was a huge win for you guys ...
"Yeah, it was a big win. It’s kind of the style of game you want to win, because not everything went the way you want it to. We fought our tails off and played a very physical game. New England is a different team than what they were — they play a very physical game. It was kind of like a good old AFC North game."
Marvin (Lewis) says he wants you guys to be a physical team ...
"Yeah. We want to knock people on the ground and be physical — whether it’s pass or run. We drove the ball pretty well but it seemed like whenever we had the chance to score, we shot ourselves in the foot. If we fix those one or two things, you have an opportunity to score."
You ran the ball a lot ...
"We ran the ball a lot and played physical and we’re built to be that way. We have some great skill players and we have a lot of guys on the o-line who are very physical."
What do you think about the defense?
"I look at a team as a team. As good as our defense is, we need to be able to run the football, possess the football and limit possessions. Teams will have a tough time winning if we’re able to do that."
How important was this game?
"Every game is important. If we go to Buffalo and lay an egg, it’s no more important than this game. We have to build our team on things we do well. We want to be able to respond week in, week out."
Marvin (Lewis) suggested that you took last week’s loss to the Browns to heart ...
"It hurt. We felt like we’ve had two games where we’ve felt that we were the better team and we gave the game away. Right or wrong, that’s the way we feel. It’s time to go win football games."
A.J. GREEN Wide receiver Is it more important to beat a team like this?
"I don’t think so. We just take every game as one. We play hard each week and see what happens."
Does it appear this team is playing to the level of its competition?
"Sometimes. Last week we had a letdown. I feel like we have to stay consistent no matter who we’re playing."
Are you frustrated that this team can’t get into the end zone right now?
"It’s not frustration. It’s going to happen. I learned last week to not let my emotions get the best of me. I’ve got to go out there and play and it will eventually come."
What was the difference in the second half?
"We just made plays."
How big is this win?
"It’s another big one. We just have to stay consistent and continue to get better."
CHRIS CROCKER, SAFETY
To face that kind of an offense with Tom Brady has to be a challenge ...
"We felt like all anyone was talking about was Tom Brady and the offense. We feel like we have great players on defense, so we took it as a challenge. We wanted to hear people talk about our defense. We were able to put the team on our back and let loose today."
What is different with this team since the last time you were here?
"Younger and a little smarter. I think guys are really coming together. We’ve won some tight ballgames and it builds the confidence. We’re very talented and guys are more talented and smarter than they were last year."
WALLACE GILBERRY, DEFENSIVE END
Thoughts on today’s win ...
"We had a great week of practice. We were down some guys, and guys just made (up) their minds to step up and not let there be a letdown. It’s one of the premier, best quarterbacks in this league (Brady). To be able to go out and hit him consistently and get him rattled, you know, it’s a big plus for the defensive line."
Did you guys see that as an advantage?
"Without a doubt. Guys like that — when you play great quarterbacks — you’ve got to play great. There’s going to be some mistakes here and there, but for the most part, you’ve got to do your job. And that’s what we did."
Were you aware that Tom Brady had a 52-game touchdown streak coming into the game?
"I couldn’t care less. We just wanted to hit him, and hit him constantly. And that’s what we did. Gino Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, myself, Domata Peko and Margus Hunt, we just got pressure consistently up front and kept him rattled all game."
What was it like in the rain out there?
"It felt good. I felt like a kid out there when your momma tells you to come inside. You just want to play longer and longer. It felt good."
Early in the game, you got to Brady quick. How much confidence did that give you guys?
"A lot. When you can do that early, it does something to your self esteem. We knew we could hit him. We knew if we could keep it up for four quarters, it was going to be to our advantage. It definitely was a big plus for us to get to him early."
DOMATA PEKO, DEFENSIVE TACKLE
You guys did what you talked about — getting to Tom Brady and getting him rattled. How were you able to do that?
"We just had to attack that offensive line and win our one-on-ones, and we did that today. On the second play, we got a sack right away on Tom. And for the majority of the game, he was on his back. Every play, he needed help coming up off the ground. When you do that to any quarterback — when you get in their face — they’re going to make mistakes. He threw a lot of dropped balls, we tackled pretty well, and we were able to not let them get 100 yards rushing, so we executed our game plan and got the job done today."
At what point of the game did you know you had Brady a little bit rattled? Was it right off the bat?
"Yes. It seemed like, right away, we were getting pressure in his face. We got him on his back all day today, and a lot of guys were dropping balls — more than usual. It seemed like we executed our game plan. We stopped the run and got after Tom, made sacks, and got the win."
What was it like when the weather was breaking down at the end of the game?
"It was perfect timing, because they were trying to drive on us and it was kind of hard to throw in that stuff. Not only the rain, but when you have our defensive line coming down your throat every play. We played a complete game today and got the ‘W’ against a really good Patriots team."
BENJARVIS GREEN-ELLIS, RUNNING BACK
It seems like nothing comes easy, coming right down to the end of the game. Talk about what it was like out there ...
"It was a tough, hard-nosed, physical football game and we came out on top with the ‘W’. We made a few mistakes, but we were able to overcome them."
When the rain is coming down like that, what is going on through your mind about holding on to the football?
"You usually just try to keep it tight because you know the ball is slippery."
It didn’t seem like you were exchanging fond farewells with your former teammates at the end ...
"There’s a little competitive fire. You know how that goes."
Is there any extra meaning for you playing against your former team?
"It’s another football team against an AFC opponent. It was a good game for us."
KYLE COOK, CENTER
This was something like your fourth 90-yard touchdown drive of the year ...
"It’s weird. Hopefully we can keep the long ones going and solidify the shorter ones. You love when you get the ball at the 40 — your 40 or their 40 — and throw it in. But for some reason, (it seems like) we sometimes can stall out, and then when we get the ball way deep, we make something of it."
It’s a week-to-week league, but how defining is it to get the train back on track?
"It is. Not only that, but as much as you hate letting a couple slip by here and there, you’re going to have to win more. We’ve already dropped two, so obviously we’re going to need to go on some good streaks. But what better way to start it off? We have a hard one against us this week to go to Buffalo. As a team, we have to come together and not only play well at home, but play well on the road."
VONTAZE BURFICT, LINEBACKER
Is this team playing to the level of the competition?
"Yeah. That’s something that we need to fix. No team is really weak in the NFL, but especially away games, we need to stop playing at other team’s levels. I think this win right here is big for us."
How beneficial was the rain for you at the end of the game?
"It wasn’t beneficial at all. It’s just a regular game."
It seemed like it came at the perfect timing ...
"I didn’t really care. It was just a regular game for me."
How did Mike Zimmer react when Marvin Lewis gave him the game ball? Was he emotional?
"Zim doesn’t get emotional. He got a little smirk on him. It’s good to see Zim laugh, because he’s always so serious. He deserves it. He called some great defensive calls out there, and he just knew what we were expecting from them and called great plays."
What was the game plan like against a guy like Brady?
"I can’t really explain the plan, but coach Zimmer knew exactly what they were going to run and called great defensive plays. We executed, and hats off to him."