Behind Enemy Lines: Bengals Q&As
On the significance of beating Pittsburgh last Sunday: "I think that it was a win that qualified us for the playoffs. When we beat them, it still gave us an opportunity to win the division, so that was kind of the meaning of it."
On how the team is approaching the game this week knowing that its playoff spot is set: "We have a football game, a division game against the Ravens. We're going to play to keep doing things well the way we're doing it. We look forward to the game this Sunday."
On if there is a thought of resting some players: "No. There are no thoughts."
On how much they think about the Week 1 game against the Ravens, where they lost 44-13: "It's a long time ago. That was a loss, and one that we got beat in and didn't play very well to begin the football game, fought back in it, and then got closed out. [We] didn't play very well to finish it. But, it was a long time ago – 15 weeks ago. A lot of football has been played since then. We have to prepare to play. They are a good team. We know we are going to have to play very good football."
On if he can take anything from that game and use it as motivation on Sunday: "Motivation kind of gets over when you get hit in the mouth – that emotion and motivation stuff. That's what people write about. You have to make football plays to win football games."
On what makes DT Geno Atkins such a dominating player: "Geno has great leverage. He has great strength, and he has a very good motor. He does a good job with his hands."
On what his advice to Atkins was before going to the Pro Bowl last year: "I told all of our four guys that they had the opportunity to go, and it's a great opportunity. It's very similar to when Ray Lewis was selected to go and Peter Boulware [also went]. You get an opportunity to go play in the Pro Bowl, but when you're over there, [you should] learn from the others, learn from experienced players of what makes their team good year after year after year."
On if Atkins reminds him of any other defensive tackles he has coached in the past: "No. Geno is kind of a different kind of guy because he is not a taller guy. He's got great quickness and strength."
On what has changed over the course of the season since they last played the Ravens: "I think we have to go back to making football plays. We made very few plays in that football game, and that's the key to winning. I think that's important as we have moved forward through the year."
On how critical it will be to get RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis on track Sunday: "It's an important part of any offensive team that you have an effective running game, because it makes everything else worthwhile."
On if there is a balancing act of how much the team wants to show, considering it may play the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs: "Nope."
On the Ravens' secondary: "I think that Ed [Reed] still has done a great job. He is a great quarterback back there. I don't know whether [Bernard] Pollard is playing or not, but I think he has done a great job this year. He has really played at a high level in his second year in the system. I think he's done a really good job for them. They are doing it on the outside with some younger guys and some new guys at cornerback. But, they are guys that can run. They are guys that have great height and length to them. They do a good job of trying to get their hands on receivers and pressing and running."
On if they'll try to attack the corners due to their youth: "We're going to run our offense. That's the thing that you do week-in and week-out."
DT Geno Atkins
On the significance of winning against Pittsburgh: "It was a morale boost. I think since I've been here, I've never beaten the Steelers, so I think we were 0-5 against them. Getting this one was huge for our confidence going into the postseason and into next week's game against Baltimore. [It was a] big win."
On why the win was big for them in terms of confidence: "The thing about it was they had the No. 1 defense, and we're a defense on the rise. I felt like that's something that it was a defensive battle. It showed that we can break through, play in a tight game and be stout and hold a team to, I think, 10 points."
On how the team is approaching the game this weekend: "I'm approaching it like any other game. We have to go out there and play a 60-minute fight. We are going out to win."
On if there is a part of him that prefers to take it easy this week so they are rested for the playoffs: "Not really. I just want to go out there and play and keep sharp and keep fresh. I think it's a team consensus that we all want to go out there and play."
On what has changed about the Bengals since they played the Ravens in September: "What changed? Ever since the bye week, we got a chance to refocus and regroup and focus on the little things, just fine-tune and perfect our craft. I think we are just hustling to the ball more, playing with more tenacity. We are relentless, and we are just playing as a group – as a team."
On how much better of a team Cincinnati is now compared to Week 1: "I think if you watch the film from that game until our recent games, you can see a huge stride [with] everything. We are playing fundamentally-sound football, and I think we are gelling a little bit better than we did the first week."
On how much they think about the game against the Ravens in Week 1: "We still think about it. We kind of watched the film today, and a lot of guys were just amazed at how far we have come along. Seeing that game and seeing how we are playing now is like night and day."
On if they feel like they owe the Ravens one: "Yes, that's why we are going to come out and basically play like … Plus, it's a rivalry game. We are going to come out there and play an AFC North-type of game."
On how he feels to be looked at as a premier defensive tackle in the game right now: "It feels pretty good, but I have a good group of guys like Domata Peko, Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers, Carlos Dunlap and a good supporting cast like them helping me. [They are] calling a good coaching scheme and coaching us in our fundamentals."
On if he models his play after DT Haloti Ngata: "We are kind of two different players. I think he plays more of a nose tackle, so not really."
On what he thinks is the key to his success: "My key to success is basically playing within the scheme and working as a team, because if you play within the system, everything is going to work out for the better of the team. If the team does well, you're going to do well."
On if he envisioned a season where he 13 or more sacks: "Each year, I strive to get better and try to perfect things that I didn't do well last year. I try to carry that over from year to year. I am kind of surprised about the double digits and stuff like that, but I work hard for it. I just have to thank the coaches and the players around me for helping me get there."
On what he took away from going to the Pro Bowl last year in his second year in the NFL: "I talked to [Richard] Seymour and some of the veteran guys that have been there multiple times. I asked them how they got there, what they did. They gave me little tips about resting your body, film study and just making sure anything you do – walk-throughs and stuff like that – [that you] just try to perfect your craft and take mental reps."
On what it means to him to go to the Pro Bowl two years in a row: "It's just a testament of the hard work and dedication that I've put into the offseason and during the season that I'm striving to be the best. Being voted by opposing teams and the respect that they have for you is pretty big."
On why he didn't end up with a tackle or a sack against Philadelphia: "I didn't have any sacks, but if you watch the film a little bit, I did create, hold off some blocks for other players to make plays and stuff like that. Sometimes it just happens like that."
On if it gets frustrating when he doesn't get any tackles or sacks: "It's not frustrating, because we won, and we had a good defensive stand. I think in the second half we created four turnovers. [You] can't beat that."
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