How sore were you after yesterday?
“I took a couple good ones. I’m pretty sore. Usually Tuesday is the sorest day after a game like that but it was just one of those kinds of games. Our guys up front, I thought they fought hard. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You take a few big ones in some games and some games you don’t have any. I’ll be a little sore, probably sore tomorrow.”
Are you feeling the belly flop Terdell Sands did on you?
“Yeah, that one didn’t feel too good. That’s a big man. He’s as big as anybody I’ve ever played against. He got me a few times.”
Have you had games in the past like yesterday where things were going against you and you just found a way?
“Yeah, it’s hard to pinpoint some games. I think we’ve been a team that has handled adversity well. It was one of those games that was weird. We talked about it afterward on the sideline, we still felt like we were going to come through and win the game. There was never any doubt on the sideline. Even when it was 15-0, 15-3 in the fourth, it was kind of like, ‘Hey, we’re going to find a way. There’s no way we’re going to let this one get away from us.’ I think that’s just from being in those situations before and feeling like it was just a matter of…the defense was playing so well. You knew they were going to get a turnover at some point. Then offensively, you just felt like keep grinding and something’s got to give. It happened there when we got the pass there to Gates and the two big runs obviously to LT. I thought the guys just fought hard. Those are very gratifying and rewarding games. Things don’t go good but your guys stick together and they fight and you find a way to win as a team; special teams with the big return and some big plays, the defense obviously was outstanding and offensively we were able to do enough late to help us win.”
You guys keep starting games with your first score being field goals. How important is it to get that changed?
“It needs to change. I think obviously we have a great field goal kicker and he’s going to help us win some games, but we’ve got to score touchdowns and we’ve not done that a couple too many times. Not just early but even late. We’ve gotten in the red zone and haven’t finished them off with touchdowns. I think that’s huge. We’ve always been so good in the red zone. I heard where yesterday was the first time we hadn’t scored in forty-something in a row or something. We’d at least gotten points. Obviously we do a good job of scoring down there but we’ve got to do a better job of getting touchdowns. It was one of those games. We just kind of couldn’t find that rhythm but I thought it was good for us to fight and win. Pulling out of that stadium with a win certainly felt good yesterday afternoon.”
With Nick Hardwick making his first start, did it take some time for the offensive line to come together?
“I don’t think so. Nick has still been so involved. It’s not like he hasn’t been around and part of the meetings and the walkthroughs. So I don’t think so. I think it was a matter too, we’ve got to give some credit to that Oakland defense. Those guys over there are trying hard to stop us as well. It’s not always lack of execution on our part. Sometimes their guys win on a play and win on a match up. I think (they’re) the best defense we’ve played this year. We kind of knew it going in. Then I think too, when you get down they get better. They’ve struggled there for the past couple years and now they’re kind of playing pretty good. When they got going and got up it was kind of like, ‘Hey, let’s turn it up another notch. We can beat these guys.’ It was tough. It was tough sledding for a while. Our guys fought hard and found a way.”
Did Sands have any friendly comments after he fell on you?
“No, I’ve never heard him say a word. Sands, he’s a quiet guy. He doesn’t say a whole lot. Our offensive line has even referenced, Nick even said, ‘I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him say anything.’ Those are usually the most scary ones. The guys that will talk to you, you don’t worry about as much. He’s a good player. I think that was the hardest he’d played against us – at least Kris and Nick and those guys thought so – since we’ve played them. That’s a big guy now, and our guys fought him hard. It’s easy to magnify it a couple times. He wreaked some havoc but I thought other than those couple times, they did a nice job on him. That’s a big front four. That’s as big of a front four as you’ll play. Between him and (Gerard) Warren and (Tommy) Kelly and those two ends who are speed guys, that’s a tough front four.”
How bad did your shoulder hurt after the hit?
“Not too bad. It was just kind of the impact, nothing necessarily I was worried about structurally. It was just one of those where you just kind of grit your teeth and make sure it’s still there and move on.”
What was the difference in the feeling on the field between the first three quarters and the fourth quarter?
“I don’t want to portray it as we knew we had it all along on the sideline, but it was just a feeling of we’re going to find a way in the end. It’s just that confidence on the sideline. But, I don’t know cause you look at 25 points in the fourth quarter, I know for one the drive in the third quarter that went for seven minutes or so and we ended up getting a field goal, that was a big drive. We kind of wore them down and kind of offensively got into a rhythm. Then scoring the touchdown the first or second play of the fourth quarter, then you get a turnover, touchdown first play to LT. I think it was just a matter of how things transpired in the fourth quarter more than anything. We had a sense of urgency and I think defensively they kept giving us a chance. Our defense was out on the field early. I thought they were outstanding. They gave up a couple of big plays early and then after that they really caused a lot of problems for that Oakland offense.”
What adjustments did you see the o-line make in the fourth quarter?
“They just kept plugging away. The two touchdown runs were blocked about as good as you can block them. That’s what it’s going to be in our run game now. Obviously LT knows it. He’s been doing it for a lot of years now. Teams, they scheme and scheme and scheme and find ways to stop him and stop his cutbacks and stop the way we run the ball. I think we just kept grinding it out. We blocked two perfect and he found two creases and made two big runs. That’s what it’s going to be. I think you see how hard he’s been running and how he’s been grinding out the three, four, five-yard runs. He’s doing a great job of not getting impatient and just keep grinding them out. Then he gets two big ones late in the game. I think that kind of may be what this year’s going to be like. Obviously you hope it’s easier in the run game in some games, but that may be what it’s going to be like. Teams know us pretty good now. They want to stop him. You’re playing the best back in the NFL, the defensive guys get riled up a little bit. It’s going to be tough every week and our guys will be up for it.”
How would you rate your slide on the scramble play?
“I thought it was decent. No, it was such a spur of the moment. It wasn’t a very thought out slide. I wasn’t sure how close that guy was behind me. I didn’t want to take a chance on a turnover or something. Some of the guys have said it looks like my knee brace got caught so I’ll go with that story, that it got hung up a little bit. Dielman even told me right afterwards, ‘That was one of the ugliest things I think I’ve ever seen.’ Oh well.”
How important is it that you guys play better in the first half?
“We’ve got to start faster but there’s a lot of factors in that. Our first two possessions, we’re backed up. We’re backed up in there. The first one we’re not and have a three-and-out there and then we’re backed up and we had the fumble and the safety and it just kind of...early it was reeling in the wrong direction but we do. We’ve got to start fast. I don’t know that there’s any magic to the process or our mindset towards the game. It’s not like we intend for that to happen, but certainly we’ve got to come out and get in a rhythm early. I think the key is getting that first, first down. That kind of gets you going. When you start the game with a three-and-out, they drive down the field, then you get backed up, you kind of press a little bit. Not necessarily myself, but you’re anxious to get it going and then sometimes when it doesn’t it can continue to go south. We hung in there and won. Any win in this league is special and it counts the same. I said all along in those first two weeks, the stat sheet doesn’t say a whole lot. It’s like a par in golf. You may hit it in the woods and punch it into the bunker and get up and down; a four is a four. A win is a win and however we get there, we found a way to get there.”
Did the difference in field position stick out to you early in the game?
“No question. When you’re jogging out there at the 50 yard line, you have a little different feel. You feel like you’ve moved it 50 yards even though you haven’t. You have a little more…you’re not backed in the corner-type feeling. Again it was huge. I didn’t realize we scored 25 in the fourth. That’s big, and our defense again, I can’t say enough about those guys. They took a lot of heat early in the year. Whether it was just or not, we knew what those guys could do and they came up big yesterday. That’s what this is going to be all year. Back and forth, up and down, together, we can get done what we need to get done.”