OPENING STATEMENT:"Ok, as far as the injuries go, (Kevin) Vickerson had a calf sprain and then Jamaal Charles had a hamstring strain that he tried to keep coming back from. Really all the way until the end we weren't sure if he'd be able to get back in or not. He was trying to get it loosened up a little bit but it was pretty tight. Just a shout out to our fans on Fan Appreciation Day, we appreciate them. Obviously they are the best in the business. When teams come in here it is rough on them and that's a beautiful thing. A couple other things, we ended up missing the playoffs. So while it's fresh on the players' minds I think it's important that they feel how important every game is in this league. There's so much parity in the league. These games are so close that you take this in the offseason, is it one more rep that you put in or you work a little harder at camp. Whatever that is, we do so we are still playing next week. But on to this game, I was proud of the guys and the way they played. They came out with a lot of fire today. I thought Chase (Daniel), with one day of practice, my hat goes off to him. That's a tough thing to do at the top level of football that you can play. Jamaal, breaking 1,000 yards. 50 (Justin Houston) coming within a half of a sack of setting an NFL record for sacks, that's amazing. I think he would tell you that having Tamba (Hali) on the other side helps that cause. Both of them took a lot of pride in that accomplishment. Our punt return game, we are so close. That's something that's a positive to look forward to in the future with De'Anthony (Thomas). Every time he touches that ball you feel like he has an opportunity to go ahead and score. (Cairo) Santos had the four field goals, he came up short on the 50-plus yarder. But again, the stronger he continues to get, he'll bang those through. Then those fourth-down stands at the end there by our defense. I just thought, against one of the better offenses in the National Football League, they just stepped up and played a heck of a football game. We have a lot of things to look forward to in the offseason however we wish we were still playing, for sure."
Do you look at this season as a wasted opportunity since you didn't make playoffs?"One thing is you learn from it. I think you have to learn from it since it's over, is that when you've got it in your hands to control, you lock it down. Don't let that part get away, ever. From a coaching stand-point and a player stand-point, we didn't get that done. We had a phenomenal schedule, that was a positive thing. We were able to test ourselves week-in and week-out. We beat some pretty good ones. We have to do it on a more consistent basis. Then the sky is the limit. We started the season off as the second youngest team in the National Football League. That's a beautiful thing. It hurts right now but it's a positive going forward. We had some injuries and you saw some guys step up. That's a tough thing to do in this league. They got valuable experience that is going to help us down the road. There are a lot of positives that we can take out of this as we go forward."
Are you going to play that 'what-if game' more than normal this offseason? What if we had done that against Oakland? What if we had done this against Arizona?"Only if you ask, if we are playing the if game. Don't ask though. You asked, that's the only chance you get."
Did you know at halftime that you were getting the help you needed from the other two teams?"I didn't know. I didn't want to know. I just wanted to go out and play and win the game. I didn't know. I was told later what happened. Going into the fourth quarter we were still getting the help we needed. I didn't sense it from the players, knowing. I don't even know if it was up there. I heard about it when I was coming up the tunnel."
Cairo has been your offense lately; he had 25 of 31 points in the last two weeks. Talk about how far Santos has come."There's two parts to that. I'm happy for him and his progress he's made, but we have to be better in the red zone."
That was my next question"We can do a better job there. You can't have penalties, you can't give away things. So when you're driving, you maintain the drive. Once you have a penalty, in this league, the stats go way up that that drive is going to stall. So you eliminate those mistakes. Same way in our four minute drill at the end of the game, penalties, you see what happened right there. You give them an opportunity to get the ball back. You can't do that." What is it about the way Chase (Daniel) has carried himself and prepared since he's been here that allowed him to go out and be successful?"Nobody is more professional than Chase. Nobody loves to play more than Chase. He and Alex have this phenomenal relationship. That room, for a young player, to be in that room and see how you're supposed to do it. I'm saying the quarterback room, is a blessing for those two young guys that are in there. He goes about it like he is going to start every week. He knows the protections, he knows all the adjustments, he knows the run adjustments. So just in case something crazy like this happens, he steps in and we don't have to flinch. We didn't take a bit of the game plan out, kept everything in and we just rolled. He handled it and did very well with it."