I'll be straight to the point this afternoon: We are not playing well enough to win right now. That's the cold reality of it. We can't look for anybody else to solve our problems. The answer to our problems is right in that room, and that's what I just told that football team. It's fundamental football in all phases. It really is. We've got to tackle better. We've got to be more gap sound against the run. We've got to catch interceptions when we have an opportunity to do that. We've got to keep the ball in front of us. Offensively, we've got to block people better; we've got to finish off plays better; we've got to protect our passer; receivers got to get open; quarterback's got to get rid of the ball; we've got to catch the ball when we have an opportunity to do that. Basic fundamental football. There are no mystical answers to this thing. When you play well, you do the basic elements of football well. When you don't, it's because you do them poorly. We did them poorly today. At least we didn't do them well enough to win and that's the reality of it. We have a short week and we don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves. Still searching for our 10th win.
Why did you pull Marvel Smith?
He was in a great deal of pain. We went with a healthy man and that was Max Starks.
Was it his back again?
Yes. It is back-related, yes.
Do you take anything out of the comeback?
I know that this team is capable of dealing with adversity and fighting. I don't question that. But that doesn't win football games alone. Execution, along with that, wins football games. Never count this team out.
Was it troubling the way they ran the ball against you?
What do you think? Yes.
Is this the first time you're mad this year?
No, I'm mad every time we lose. Sometimes I do a better job of concealing it. That's just football. I'm a competitor, as are those men in there.
What happened on that last drive?
We couldn't stop the run. I don't know what it is, but we just couldn't stop the run. That's the bottom line. Ain't nothing else to say about it.
Isn't that the third time this has happened to the defense?
Man we haven't been closing. Defensively, man, we can't play no worse than we're playing right now. We didn't get it done. The offense got it back for us. This is us, man. We've got to play better.
You were very upset with that last touchdown, weren't you?
They just worked the ball right down. They're just physical, man. They've got two really good backs and they ran the ball right down our throats. I'm not making any excuses. We've got to do better.
Is this team still a championship contender?
When we play the way we're capable, we can win. But right now, man, we can't beat nobody playing the way we did.
Can the confidence be turned around?
We're definitely confident. We're just making mistakes and not getting the job done.
This is the third time the defense has failed late. What is it?
We can't close the deal. I don't know what it is exactly. I can't pinpoint it but we've got to find a way, no matter what the situation is. If they've got the ball at the one-yard line, we've got to fight and find a way. We're not doing that right now. We've got to get a sense of pride about ourselves and pick it up.
Is the mindset more about holding on than being aggressive?
We're not in a prevent and that's not our mindset. I don't believe that. I just believe we can't get it done. We're all out there fighting and trying, but we're getting outexecuted and outplayed.
How do you account for a veteran team allowing fundamentals to erode late in the season?
You've got to stay focused. This late in the year you've got to be mentally tough. We had some lapses out there today: Guys dropped balls; we missed tackles; we weren't playing our defense right. It's little small things. There are maybe one or two things on every play and teams are picking it up and seeing it and taking advantage of it. We can't have that.
Is that disappointing? Frustrating? Alarming?
All of that. It's everything. It's bad.
What was the play that punched you guys in the gut?
They ran a lot of counter powers on us. That was the play we couldn't stop all day.
Is their line that good? Or was it their backs?
We missed some tackles sometimes and other times we weren't gap sound. When you're out of your gap with a guy like Fred Taylor, he's going to kill you.
Why was Tyrone playing free safety in the second half?
We just switched the rotation up with the three safeties.
Did you think your interception provided the spark that would bring the team back?
I think it gave us momentum.
What happened to Ike on the long pass? Is that when he got hurt?
I don't know.
Were you guys in cover 2 on that play?
No, we were in cover 3.
Has the defense lost its aggressiveness late in games?
I don't know. We're calling the same plays we normally call, just not making the plays at a time when you have to make those plays. It seemed like they went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and scored.
Were they that difficult to stop?
They have a great run game. They ran the same plays it seemed like. Good runners and great blocking.
While you were out there did you think of the Jets game?
No, I didn't think of it.
Does doubt creep in?
No. No doubts. The only thing we're thinking is who's going to make a play to stop it. That's what we're talking about.
Mike seemed angry in the media room.
He should be.
Was that the first time you've noticed that kind of anger from him?
Oh yeah. He's not happy with how we played.
What's going on with the defense?
I don't know what's going on. I wish I could tell you. We're not used to it here but we'd better put our finger on it now because it's crunch time.
Is it more important to win the division or make the playoffs?
It's very important to win the division and very important to get in the playoffs. We're undefeated within our division and we need to finish strong. We've talked about that all year. All the hard work we've put in to this point, we need to seize the opportunity. Carpe diem.
What was it like watching the offense come back?
It was very tough of them. With their backs to the wall and those guys making those plays, even Heath at the end of the game, stretching out like that, I'm proud of the way we fight. When you play us you are going to get a fight. Today wasn't our day. They were the better team today and they deserved to win.
Does doubt creep in on late defensive stands anymore?
I don't know. We weren't doubtful, but it seemed like we didn't have that fire that we usually have. We've got to get that back.
What was it like watching your cousin kill you at the end?
That was no fun at all, man. Regardless of him being family, or our relationship, it don't stand a chance at that point.
Were you wishing he'd act his age like all running backs?
Man, he works so hard in the offseason and it's paying off for him. I trained with him last year and I saw the things he's been doing, you know, preparing his self for a long season, and it's really paying off for him this year.