Postgame Quotes: Lions 12-27-09

Posted Dec 27, 2009


Opening statement
"You're not going to be able to win very many games in the National Football League being negative on turnover ratio, much less five down. You're not going to turn the ball over six times and have a chance, but in the first half our defense was able to keep us in the game. (They) did a really good job of either holding them to field goals or getting off the field and blocking field goals – things like that. But obviously we didn't do enough to finish the game. (We) had a chance to make a key play when it was 4th-and-short. (Gunther Cunningham) brought a good blitz and we didn't cover the running back and had a big play. That was really a back-breaker for us. Every time it seemed like we made a play offensively, we turned the ball over - fumbles, interceptions, things like that. We had plenty of opportunities in this game and there's no excuses – we didn't get the job done."
On QB Drew Stanton
"Last week we said the true measure of a quarterback is his ability to move his team and put points on the board. We didn't get that done today. We didn't score touchdowns, we didn't move the team, we didn't get third-down conversions and we turned the ball over too much. It doesn't matter how Drew performed; the offense didn't perform well and, ultimately, that's the quarterback's responsibility."
On how much the fact that it was his first NFL start factored into his performance
"He's a third-year player. They don't handicap games and they don't start you with a touchdown or 10 points because somebody's starting their first NFL game."
On the organization's 20-game road losing streak
"All games count the same. We obviously need to win games in general and we need to win road games for us to be a good football team. We've got to be able to win on the road. We're not there yet."
On why he challenged the Vernon Davis touchdown
"It was close. It's tough to overturn unless you have a camera right down there. That's a really tough play to get overturned. The definition of the rule is: your entire body needs to be past the line of scrimmage. So if there's any grey area at all, they're going to stay with the decision on the field. The decision on the field (was that) he was behind the line, or he wasn't over the line – I guess that's the best way to put it – and they stuck with the call."
On how much he knew from his coaches upstairs when he threw the flag
"Here was the deal: it was a touchdown, it was close, so we're going to challenge and see where it is. We didn't have a definitive answer in the box before I threw the flag, but anytime you have a touchdown or you have a turnover or things like that and it's close, you need to challenge. If it's close and you're gaining five yards, maybe you don't take the challenge. That was a play that we needed to stop right there, particularly the way we were rushing field goals. They were having a difficult time kicking field goals. I thought we could have forced them to kick a field goal right there. That could have been a big swing, but it didn't happen. That has nothing to do with turning the ball over and not being able to punt the football and not catching punts and all those things."
On what he saw that caused him to call a timeout before the Lions blocked the field goal
"I didn't see anything, I was just taking it. He's a new kicker; he's kicking the first time. He was struggling to get the ball up, so I just waited for him to be ready and then called the timeout. We had plenty to burn."
On if it was to ice the kicker or to give his team rest
"It was just to throw his timing off a little bit."
On if he knows who his starting quarterback will be next week
On how he explains his offense starting the game well and then turning the ball over that often
"That first drive, we were able to pick up first downs, we were able to run the football. We weren't able to get a touchdown on the board. Touchdowns are important in this league. A 14-play drive, or 10 minutes or eight minutes, whatever it was on the clock, that doesn't matter. We need to get touchdowns. We can't just come away with field goals. We came away with points – we felt good about it – but one drive doesn't make the game. We need to do more of that (and) we didn't get it done after that."
On if only allowing six points off turnovers speaks to the defense
"We didn't win the game. It's hard to give 'Atta boys' and pats on the back and things like that. I thought they kept us in the game in the first half and that's a credit to them – to our defense. That's a credit to our defense because we turned the ball over in the first half; we blocked field goals, we held them to field goals and it was 6-3 at the half. A lot of time when you have three turnovers you're going to be battling uphill, but we were right in the game. We didn't play good enough in the second half on defense. I'm really not in the mood to give 'Atta boys' and pats on the back. We lost the game."
On if the offense line rotation was every other series for G Manny Ramirez and T Jon Jansen
"We were rotating series at the left guard position and we also wanted to get Janson some playing time. (We) thought he deserved some playing time after the way he played last week."
On if he should just pick his best five offensive linemen considering the importance of continuity along the line
"I think continuity is important on the offense line, but production is more important. Anything we can do to create or to foster production whether it's competing like that, whether it's trying to get guys rotating in – keeping some guys fresh – (we will do it). There have been a bunch of teams that have rotated offensive linemen. Generally not two positions like we did today, but there are teams that have worked some rotations in there. It's a production thing. But, yes, continuity means a lot on the offensive line. Continuity means a lot in the secondary. Those are two areas that we have a long way to go on our football team."
On the way the defense played in the first half
"It's not often you can turn the ball over that much in the first half and hold them to six points, but our defense kept us in the game in the first half. They had a really critical play on a fourth down and short where we busted the coverage, didn't cover the running back, we had good pressure on the quarterback, got a good blitz and gave up a big play. That was really a backbreaker for us when they were able to drive down to convert that. If they hadn't made that conversion we're right in it, we have chance, but we can't turn the ball over six times and expect to win."
On the defensive line
"We wore down at the end. We were rushing well early in the game, but well enough to win doesn't count for one unit, it's got to be all three units. Obviously we didn't finish the game. We had a chance to make a couple plays on defense to keep us right in that game, (but) we didn't get that done, so we can't take our hats too much off to that side of the ball. They played a good first half, didn't finish the game. Again, turnovers offensively and field position - particularly our punt team - we didn't get the job done."
On taking out Stanton and what it means for next week
"It doesn't mean anything yet, but we can't turn the ball over five times - particularly on a couple of those passes we had guys open - and not make a move. It wasn't a situation where we were getting tipped ball interceptions and things like that. Like we said last week, as the quarterback you're accountable for what happens on offense. We scored points with him in there last week; this week we had turnovers. We weren't going to stay in that same mode."


On the offensive struggle
"We came out and did what we wanted to do: established the run, did a good job, and then just didn't execute there after. We can't turn the ball over and do all those things that we did and expect to come out victorious."
On the three interceptions and which one he would like to take back
"Shoot, all of them. They're all correctable. It's about making those throws and going to the right spot, which is encouraging, but at the same time I have to make those throws and be accurate with them."
On why he feels the offense has struggled so much this season
"It's tough to put your finger on it. Just speaking on today, like I said, we just couldn't get into a rhythm after that first (drive) and, for multiple reasons, we kind of struggled when we did do things. We (also) shot ourselves in the foot by me throwing interceptions when I shouldn't be."
On where his confidence is
"My confidence is fine. It's one of those things where I've been in this situation before and it's helped me to respond (after the fact). Looking back, they're correctable mistakes and it's a matter of me making those throws to the right spot. I just have to make the throw. That's something to build on. This is my first-career start and a chance to do stuff like that. I did some good things, but at the end of the day (it was) far, far inferior from what I wanted to do."
On if he is disappointed
"Definitely. I think that we had the ability and felt good coming out of the gates - felt strong and had a good game plan. It relies on the quarterback in this position to be smart with the ball and make the throws and that didn't happen today."


On allowing just six points off turnovers in the first half
"That's not enough. We have to get at least three or four to kind of even it out. I think if we didn't (give up) three turnovers, we probably would have won the game. Because we did a good job of returning and blocking for each other. We have to find a way to get the ball."
On the 49ers not scoring on the turnovers
"I know, but if one side of the ball is struggling - or if special teams is struggling - somebody has to come in and step up so that we can win the game. At that time, the defense was playing good ball, (but) we have to find a way to make it even better and that's what we didn't do."
On not playing with two more starters in LB Larry Foote and CB Phillip Buchanon
"That's the NFL, there's nothing you can do about it. You just have to step up to the plate when your number is called."
On LB DeAndre Levy
"I think he did a good job considering we've been flipping him around, and playing (middle linebacker) is a tough position. You have to make the calls and get yourself together and get everybody else together. I thought he did a good job of handling the situation. He probably made a few little mistakes, but for just stepping in there and playing like he played, I thought he did a pretty good job."
On the frustration of the defense performing well and not producing wins
"Well, we have to do our job, too. We have to create turnovers and score points for ourselves like we did last game. We have the talent to do it, we just didn't get it done this game. They had more turnovers than we had and that was the problem. We should have had at least three to balance the game. We have to do a better job of trying to get the ball."


On what happened in the second half
"We just made mistakes. The same energy we had coming out, we've got to try to keep that energy. We came out with a lot of fire – guys had enthusiasm. A big play happened and it just takes some of the energy. We've just got to find a way to try and keep our energy and try to stay focused on what we do and just play defense. Early in the game we were getting pressure to the quarterback and stopping them. We let the team get big plays and get momentum and that changes the whole complex of the game."
On how much it was on their part changing things in the second half
"I think we gave them a lot of momentum. It boosted their team up tremendously. A young defense – they turned it up. The offense got good field position so then we just gave them the advantage to try to move the ball in to score. We've just got to overcome those things. It's adversity. It's definitely something that we've played like all year, but we just have to try to finish this last game out the best way we can."


On holding the 49ers to six points in the first half
"We just were coming out, playing hard and playing good defense and trying to get after them a little bit and try to keep our composure."
On what was the key to containing 49ers RB Frank Gore
"Group effort. Everybody just went out there to play because we knew he was a big part of their offense. If you take him or No. 85 (TE Vernon Davis) out of the offense we felt like we had a good chance to win the game."
On the field goal he blocked in the first half
"I really just followed the center with the hitch and just timed it and got off and got a push up the middle and just put my hands up and blocked it."
On how to bounce back from this loss for next week
"We've got to come back and play hard because it's Chicago, it's a division game. It's a like a little rivalry and we've just got to come in here and take it like we've got something to play for. It's going to be a hard fight. They're going to give us their best and we've got to give them our best."


On playing at MLB instead of OLB
"It was a little different. It was a little bit more responsibility as far as making the calls and getting people lined up and getting people in the right position. I think I handled it pretty well but I had four or five days to re-learn the position and re-learn some of the calls. I think it'll just get better with time. I did some things good, I did some things so-so. I was slow on the little pitches seeing them from that perspective a little bit but overall I think it was alright."
On playing well in the first half
"We came out in the third quarter (and) I think they scored 14 points, I blew a couple coverages. I gave up a big play myself that led to a touchdown. (Playing a complete game is) just one of those things that we've got to do. I think overall still you hold a team to six points in the first half that's just a good opportunity for you, but we've got to work on capitalizing and finishing our games."