Re: thoughts coming off yesterday's performance
A: No one likes to lose and no one likes to play poorly. You're hurting about that, so you want to come in, watch the film and how we're going to get better. How we're going to improve the things that we need to fix, things we can look at. It starts by looking at yourself first and see where you need to improve, make adjustments, make sure that you're doing everything you can to put your team in positions to win games. That's where it starts. We know that it's part of a football season. It's never going to be perfect. Every week there will be stretches where you don't play up to your potential and you have to give Pittsburgh credit. They made some plays, they did some good things, but we also left some plays out there. We've got to get back to work, have better practices and that will lead to better playing on game day.
Q: Are you worried about a second-half swoon by this team?
A: No. It's just part of football. We're going to go through a stretch where we're not playing our best football. Right now, our defense is playing well. Offensively, we're not playing to our potential. So, we've got to look at things, make some adjustments and see what we need to fix up. We've got good character guys on here. We know that we'll get to work and we'll do whatever it takes to get back to playing better football.
Q: Are defenses playing a little differently in recent weeks? Dropping more people into coverage on a regular basis, maybe?
A: No. I thought they did a mix. They brought some pressure early on. We got it picked up. I had Victor open and the guy who was rushing, he stopped rushing and tipped the ball. They brought some pressure. We did a pretty good job of picking up their blitzes and we had some opportunities to hit some guys, we just didn't execute as well as we needed to. Whatever a team does, we should have guys get open and be able to run our offense efficiently.
Q: Is the offense in a slump? Are you in a slump?
A: Whatever you want to call it, we're not playing good football. That's what it is. No one is going to come in and help us out. It's all about us, getting back to playing better football, converting on third downs, getting more opportunities to make plays and we'll do that.
Q: You mentioned that it starts with looking at yourself and determining what you can do to do better. What do you feel you can do better?
A: Well, I've got to make some throws, just get back to having great practices and not leaving any throws out there. It starts with the first play of the game, I had a shot to hit Hakeem on a deep post and I underthrew him a little bit. It's just little things like that, just making great decisions. I obviously had an interception that hurts in the red zone. I had a bad decision on another one that got dropped. Learning from those, making those corrections and make sure I'm not hurting our team.
RE: Passing statistics dropping over the past four games
A: Obviously, I didn't play well last night. There's no hiding it. I didn't play my best football and I've got to play better. That's all I'm worried about. You go from week-to-week, you go from game-to-game, you see where you need to make improvements and you make those improvements. I've gone through stretches where I haven't played great football, and I've been able to bounce back and start playing better. As a team, we've got to have that attitude that we can play at a high level. We can play better than what we're playing right now. It starts with practice, in our preparation, have great practices, pick up the speed a little bit, make sure we're getting all of our looks, everything that we need to do, go out there and play well on game day.
Q: Can this team win if you don't play well?
A: I didn't play great against Dallas, and we won. It can win, but obviously offensively, we've got to do our part. We have to play better offensively to help out this team. We've gotten away with it against Washington. We didn't play outstanding, but we made some big plays, did some good things. In the fourth quarter, we were able to make plays. That was the difference between this game and the last two. In the fourth quarter, we played pretty good football. Against Washington, we made the plays that we needed to. Against Dallas, we had two good drives to get the lead back. This past week, we did not play well in the fourth quarter. We had an opportunity to win the game and we didn't take advantage of it.
Q: How important is it to win this week? Especially with the bye week following?
A: The only way to get that bad taste out of your mouth is to go out there and play better football. We've got a good team in Cincinnati, a team that we don't play that often. We've got to look and see what they're doing. We have to have a great week of studying film, understanding the game plan and hopefully we can go in there into a tough environment and we've got to play well.
Q: When you say you're not playing your best football, is it decision-making or delivering the ball? What is the main area?
A: It's a little bit of both. It's just a matter of trying to make plays out there. Obviously, everybody has to do their part. I just have to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to put our team in a position to play well.
Q: You and the receivers have talked about the communication on both sides being off. That's always been something that you guys have done so well and it looked so seamless. Why in the past few weeks has it changed?
A: I don't think we've been off on a lot of things. Teams have had some good play calls against us. I think it's just a matter of getting great reps, working at practice and making everything game-like.
Q: As you evaluate, were you at all looking at the idea of making the big play versus taking those intermediate routes? The ones that may not have the big payoff, but at least extend the possession?
A: As a quarterback, you make decisions based on what the defense is giving you. I think I'm making my reads and if the defense is telling me that this ball has to go deep, it goes deep. If they're taking that stuff away, you throw it underneath. It's not a matter of forcing things down the field when you have things underneath open.
Q: There have been times when Victor has run a little stop and you've thrown a little bit inside of him. Or maybe it's the reverse. What's led to this kind of miscommunication?
A: We had one on a third down last game. It's all about body language. I think he saw a defender on the other side and he didn't want to run into him. I didn't see him, so it's just a matter of having one mix-up and that's going to happen sometimes. You hope it doesn't, but for the most part, we've been really good with being on the same page and being able to hit on those plays. It's unfortunate that we missed one on a third down.