HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"We'd like to move on as quickly as we can to the last part of our season against division opponents. We have an opportunity to finish the division with a winning record. We are 1-1-1 in the division right now, so you look for things to really play for. I know the guys are going to show up and be ready to go. It's an overtime game. To get to an overtime game yesterday, there are some things that you did against a team that has a chance to win the Super Bowl this year. It says an awful lot about the way the guys fought, but we didn't finish. We realize that. We have some injuries. Some of the longer-term injured players on when they come back, Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, all of those guys, we'll kind of see exactly where they are. We have a shorter week too, so we'll have to cram what we normally do in a seven-day period into six."
What are your reflections on RB Dameon Pierce's rookie season?
"He had an outstanding year. Let's start with that. Anytime you are a rookie and you get playing time, is saying an awful lot. To be one of the best running backs in football during that rookie year says even more. He was everything we'd hoped and wanted him to be. Just excited about his future. He'll eventually get well and be back in the backfield for us, being our starting tailback."
What is your message to the team when you come so close to winning but cannot finish?
"We always point to the reasons why, and most of the time it's obvious why you get in those positions. First off, when you get in those position, it's not just one play that happened. There are so many opportunities we've had before. That's been the case each game. At the end, no matter what happens early, when you get in those situations at the end, we have to be able to just make a play. We've said that a few different times. We talk about that. We try to be real, and the guys understand it. I just know we've had practice doing it. I just know that they keep showing up. Going back to playing division opponents. A division opponent that beat us here at home. We're excited. They're in a tough division race right now, so we can be a factor."
What are your thoughts on Chiefs head coach Andy Reid advising that you should be given more time?
"I talked to Andy (Reid) after the game, and I've known him for a long period of time. I've competed against him for a long time. I don't know exactly what he said. I know our guys fought hard yesterday against an excellent football team. I don't know exactly how to respond beyond that."
Looking back at the film, do you wish you had kept QB Davis Mills in on the fourth quarter drive in the red zone?
"When I say we look back, it doesn't do any good to look back. Any decision that doesn't work, you say you wish I'd done the other. You make sound decisions at that time, and that's what we did then. It didn't work out our way, but we felt like every decision – I mean, I'm looking at them. Fourth-and-one, 'Oh, I'm not going to do the same thing then at the end of the game.' All of those present as those decisions had to be made at the time. I think they were sound. It didn't work out this time."
Has your faith in the defense in certain situations been altered with the perspective of the last two games?
"No, we've got to put faith in offense, defense and special teams as it comes up in the game. It's kind of as simple as that. We played an excellent football team, and we didn't convert some. We converted a lot before that. We'll look at this team this week, try make some of those same decisions and go with our plan on what we think we should do."
What did you see from RB Royce Freeman yesterday? Do you see him getting more carries towards the end of the season?
"I like what he did. Waited for his opportunity and made the most of it. I thought he ran hard. Tough physical yards, I thought we were able to get when Royce (Freeman) was out there. (He's) Not Dameon Pierce, but when you come in in a backup role, to have that kind of production, it's pretty good."
TE Teagan Quitoriano and LB Christian Harris played big roles yesterday. Where have you seen their development in maturity?
"Both of the guys fought injuries first, so they got behind the eight ball a little bit. Fought their way back. We have seen marked improvement each week. Teagan (Quitoriano), he can block. I think that was the most reps he's gotten in a game so far. I think what we're seeing is that we can get him more involved in the passing game. Christian Harris, we see flashes each week. Great open field tackle. He's involved, but we're seeing rookie mistakes also that we have to keep working on. Both guys are good football players."
Do you think TE Teagan Quitoriano's ability to block helps him get more reps going forward?
"We're looking at him in that light a little bit too. It's one reason why we saw him coming in as a Y tight end, who can give us in-line blocking along with what he can gives us in the passing game, and I think that is exactly who he is. A healthy Teagan."
With all these injuries, why do you think this team has played its best football recently?
"Wish we could figure all that out. I just know where we are right now, first off, some of the other guys earlier, it took us a while. I think you get better as the year goes along. Those players that have a more prominent role right now have had the benefit of all of that, so we're seeing their best ball right now. I just think it's a tough circumstance to be where we are right now, and we talk about guys playing their best ball right now. That says an awful lot too. If we talk about the hope a little bit, some of the players that are out, we evaluated them to say that they're guys that we were starting so that should say better days are ahead too. Injuries are a part of it."
What was your evaluation of DB Derek Stingley Jr. and how he played before he got hurt?
"It seemed like a while ago. We've liked everything about Derek Stingley when he has played. Another one of our guys who came in behind a little bit with his injury. But now, those guys have a chance to really develop their bodies and get healthy. I know they're into ball. Derek is all meetings, all the guys are getting as many mental reps as they can, which will only help them to see what it takes to win, and it takes an awful lot. How hard it is to win in this league. All these things to help them as they go forward."
What did you think of DL Jonathan Greenard in his first game back?
"I think it's the same thing with him too. Talented player, but practice matters, playing in games matters. When you haven't, it takes a little bit of time to get back to form, and that's been the case. I thought Jonathan (Greenard) did some good things, but there some things, especially up front defensively, we'd like to have back on what we did yesterday."
Are there anything particular things you've observed with QB Davis Mills the last couple of weeks on his growth, decision making?
"I think you look at the last couple of games. First, it's about ball security, that's one area we had to improve on that. I think he's done that as far as passing the football. Dallas game, I think we just had that one hail mary pass at the end, good. Yesterday, I thought Davis (Mills) made some good throws. Ball security, of course, was not necessarily throwing. Just that in itself gives you a chance to win the football game. That's part of the growth we've seen."
Knowing that you have three divisional games ahead, does it give you satisfaction that you can play spoiler?
"The spoiler part, you're just playing division opponent. That should get you fired up, just that in itself. That's where we are. As I mentioned, as you look for things, the other guys are going to show up, but what can we really aim for? To finish up with a winning record in our division. That's what it's down to for us right now. That is what is getting us motivated. Eventually, we want to win our division and be the division representative in the playoff. To have a chance to see, yeah we're playing better ball right now, see how we matchup against them. I'm going to say they're playing better ball also. Tennessee has been right in there. I know they've lost three or four games, but they've been leading our division most of the year. Jacksonville has really risen up on how they're playing. They're playing their best ball right now, and same thing with the Colts. Of course, the Colts had a big lead on a playoff team, so we're anxious to see how we can finish this up against them."
What have you seen from your offensive line to not giving up a sack while shuffling players around?
"We like the way they've continued to fight. It's kind of coach talk a little bit, but we do. Lat week, we had some injures. Kenyon Green didn't play. Tytus (Howard), we need to switch places. You've been playing tackle all year. Need you to play guard. You're going to be playing against one of the best players in football, all of that. We like the way the line has shuffled. Scott Quessenberry didn't start off as our staring center. I like the way he's moved in there. We shuffled guys around, but for them to be playing that type of ball right now has to be encouraging."
Do you expect OL Kenyon Green to return this season?
"Yes, we do. The guys that we put on IR, they can't. But if we haven't, we're expecting those players to come back. We have football left to go. We're talking about who we're playing, so yes we're hoping that those guys can go."
Is the weather/late week freeze something that's on your radar when it comes to preparation?
"I was expecting a lot of questions, but that wasn't one. It is. As a matter of fact, this morning. We have to be prepared for that. Earlier in the year, we're down south. Up north, they're ready for weather like this a lot better than we are down here. We do have a plan for it. Yes, if the weather really turns bad later in the week, and we feel pretty good about that. Of course, our indoor facility, start with it. In an ideal world, odds are there will be a cool game. It will be colder than what we've been playing in out here. The plan, I'm hoping we can be out. Would like for it to be as cold as possible this week and for us to be able to practice in it will help a lot."
With the Pro Bowl coming up soon, what can you say about OL Laremy Tunsil?
"One of the best offensive linemen in football. We talk about our guys, we don't get a chance to vote for any of our guys. If I was on an opposing team, I would definitely vote him in. He's that good."
What do you feel like the progress looks like these last three games?
"We judge how we play each week. The score really tells us how. I think it's a lot bigger than that. I think everybody is watching us play, saying we are getting better right now. The progress, say we're getting better. I think we're making progress and getting better in all areas. I think that's where we are which gives us a chance to win now, which we're excited about that. Again, pumped up the second go round, when you get a chance in the same season to play someone that beat you at your home place the first time around."