Capers quotes (12/20)


(Opening statements) "We knew going into the game yesterday it was going to be the type of game that would really test your mental, physical and emotional toughness. I like the way our team responded. I thought we went in with a real resolve to do whatever it takes to win the football game. I like our team's focus. Many times you get distracted with things like the weather and playing on the road. I thought we had very good focus. We knew we had to play a great game from an effort standpoint. I thought our effort was tremendous. Your poise gets tested a little bit. The third quarter was a tough quarter for us and I thought we showed a lot of determination not to get distracted and lose our poise in that situation. There are certain things you must do anytime you are on the road, and I think they become accentuated when you have tougher weather conditions to win a game. I thought we did those things.

"I thought it was a great job by our offense protecting the football in a difficult environment. You go into Chicago in the month of December and you have the cold weather. To come away with no turnovers is the first thing you have to do and its something we talked about all week. On the other hand, we were able to get four takeaways on defense. That's a positive combination. Any time you're plus-four in the game in the takeaway-giveaway, you normally aren't going to lose many games in that situation. The one thing we did battle was tough field position all day. That is something we talk a lot about, in terms of trying to create positive field position. These games are normally field-position games this time of year. We both had the same amount of drives. Their average drive start was the 40, ours was the 28.

"When you start looking at that third quarter, things got tough. It seemed like we were playing ping pong back and forth and we were losing the battle in third quarter because they started the drive on the 48, 49 and the 33-yard lines right at the start of the fourth quarter.

"We hung in there and we kept battling. When you look at that third quarter for both teams, we ran 17 plays for seven yards in the third quarter. Then you turn around and they ran 12 plays for 11 yards. We had four straight three-and-outs defensively. The thing that tells me is that we were having a hard time getting anything going. They had us disrupted and out of sync. But our defense kept going out and they had a hard time getting anything going. At a point and time where we really needed our defense to step up, they played tremendous when backs were to the wall, they had great starting field position and we had a hard time getting a lot going on offense. That enabled us to come back in the fourth quarter. It was a totally different quarter. We had 146 yards in the fourth quarter. We put together one of the best drives all day. We took the ball with 10 minutes and ran five and a half minutes off the clock and five first downs. We took it down and scored. You go from making seven yards in the third quarter to 146 yards in the fourth quarter. We were able to pull ourselves through that and that's what good teams do.  We couldn't come back and follow up that third quarter performance with the same thing in the fourth quarter and win the football game. All of the sudden its 7-0, then it's 7-2 and 7-5 and you're backed up and fighting a battle. We pulled ourselves out of that.

"Breaking the game down and looking at our special teams, we knew they had two great returners in (Jerry) Azumah and (R.W.) McQuarters. We really didn't allow any big plays. We didn't have any penalties on special teams, which was very good. When they tried the fake field goal we got the interception, so we didn't allow them anything there. We scored more special teams points than them. We didn't win the kickoff-drive start battle or the net punt battle. They did a better job in those areas than we did, and that did effect field position.

"Offensively, having no turnovers was the number one thing. The second thing is that we made big plays. We got back to where we had three big plays in the passing game. There was the big play to Jabar (Gaffney), the touchdown pass to Corey (Bradford), the 26-yarder to Andre (Johnson) and Domanick (Davis) had a 23-yard run. We had four big plays for the day. They had no big plays. They did not have a big pass play or a run. Our third and fourth down conversions were over forty percent when you put the possession downs together. The biggest one in the game was when we went for it on fourth down and converted it, and went down to put points on the board. That was really big.

"When you get big plays, your yards per pass goes up. That's something we were doing a tremendous job of in the first half of the season. That had fallen off a bit. It's good to get it back up again. It was 6.9 per pass, which is heading back in the right direction, like we were in the first eight games of the season. The toughest part of our offense was the third quarter. We struggled in the third quarter and they struggled in the third quarter. The other thing we have to get squared away is that we had seven offensive penalties.

"I was very pleased with the way our defense played and responded all day. Any time you go in and give up no touchdowns and one field goal, get four takeaways, we scored a touchdown on defense and didn't allow a big play. We really made strides the second half of the season compared to the first half, in terms of not giving up the big play. I think its one of the reasons our defense has improved. You look at their yards per rush and yards per pass, they were outstanding, in terms of us not giving them a lot and making them work for things. We won 14 of the 17 third and fourth down situations, the possession downs. We won 19 of the 24 first down situations. The poorest part of our defensive performance was the very first drive where they picked up three first downs. We had them in a third down and missed a tackle. They go down and fortunately they fumbled the ball. We got the momentum swung back our way and we kept it defensively for the rest of the game.

"As you look at the game and critique it, I thought it revealed the mental toughness of our team. I thought our guys went in there and decided we had to control the circumstances rather than let circumstances, the weather and playing on the road in December, control us. I thought we did a good job of that. Our guys had the attitude to do whatever it takes to win. We did what it took to win the game.

"Now we have an opportunity to travel on Christmas Day this week and go over to Jacksonville and play a team that's in the playoff hunt. The challenge will be to come back this week and win our fourth division game against a very good team and block out all the distractions that come around traveling on Christmas Day and going into a hostile environment to play a team that is coming off two really big wins in a row. I'm sure when our team comes back in on Wednesday, we're going to have go to work, have our best week of preparation to go over there and play our best game."

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