HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"That team out there today has won one game, but they're not playing like that. They're showing up every day, taking coaching, trying to get better. They're coming to the games and giving ourselves a chance to win it at the end. We still haven't finished a game the way we need to get a win, but we're building. Offensively, when it comes down right up until the end, and you have over 20 points on the board, there are some things that we've done well. Throwing the football, our two-quarterback system did some good things. I thought Davis (Mills) did some good things throwing it. Our play when Dameon (Pierce) went down, as you saw was to move Royce Freeman up. He is a good football player, been on our practice squad and can do some things. I thought he ran the ball well throughout. This week, we knew who we were playing. Chris Jones, I think is as good a defensive player as there is in the league, so we thought that moving Tytus (Howard) to the guard position would help us in a lot of different ways. I thought that gave us a chance. Defensively, whenever you can take the ball away, it was going to be one of those kind of games. Patrick Mahomes is as good as there is. (Travis) Kelce, Hall of Fame tight end. They have outstanding skill throughout, so we knew it would be tough duty. I thought the guys fought, hung in there. The takeaways always give you a chance, and special teams too. We fought hard. I understand it's still a loss. We're going to keep showing up is what we're going to do. Next, it will be on to Tennessee on a short week."
The league is about wins and losses, but does playing two good teams back-to-back give you encouragement as you try to finish the season on a positive note?
"We're looking for some positives. We're not going to the playoffs. We realize that. The last couple of weeks, the two teams we played, I think both of them have a chance to win it all. So, for us to see this year where we are, but to see what we can be. We have some injuries. I really like the guys that stepped up, two corners. Our receivers aren't playing. There are some positives to build on. That's what I expect the guys to do. I expect them to show up and fight like that throughout. Eventually, you've got to get over the hump."
QB Davis Mills played well, but the fumble at the end was costly. What did you see on the play?
"I saw what you all saw. Ball security, it's paramount. You have to have it, especially in that situation. It's a tough back-and-forth game. Once you got to overtime, who could have the best ball security? Or looking at the other side of the ball, who can take the ball away? Just unfortunate for our team."
With the two-QB system, you had QB Jeff Driskel in the red zone. What was the thought behind having him in at that time?
"The thinking is get the ball in the end zone. It's as simple as that. Hindsight is always a lot better. But the thinking down in the red zone is Jeff (Driskel) gives us more options while we're down there on that play. We had opportunities mixing both quarterbacks in. I can't say that I wish it was just as simple as that. Have Davis (Mills) in then and we score, and everything is fine."
How do you define how QB Davis Mills played, and what that last play means to him and the team?
"First off, we just can't look at one play. I understand that was a critical play. Critical mistake there at the end. You have to look at the body of work. I'm just talking about the body of work on this game. Would our opinion be a little different now if we had driven down, not turned the ball over that last time? I know we didn't, so it's good and bad. That's how our play at the quarterback position has been most of the year."
In the first half, your team had a 14-7 lead and punted. What was the decision there? Then, with eight seconds to go, did you feel like you could get within K Ka'imi Fairbairn's range?
"No, no, no, and no. We had a lead, thought we were playing pretty good. I liked the position we were in. Backed them up a little bit. I would do the same thing again in that situation too."
Today, you used QB Jeff Driskel 17 or 18 plays and averaged about 1.2 yards. When you were struggling, why did you keep trying to go?
"Because we thought we could get that average up a little bit. That's why we did it. I see the numbers right now. There's always a chance, when you haven't had success, that you can break one a little bit later on, so we stayed with our game plan. Our game plan gave us an opportunity with the guys that we played when we played them. If we don't turn the ball over there at the end, we have an opportunity to win the game, so can't fault the game plan much."
Do you think there are opportunities to take a less conservative approach?
"I wouldn't say that's a conservative approach. I thought that was the approach that we should use at the time to win the football game. The ball was where? Around the 50 (yard-line) or whatever? There were a lot of plays. I can't remember everyone the way you all can. In the moment, I thought the way the game was going, thought that's what we should do. In those eight seconds, that's what we thought we should do. We're all in agreement. I wish it was just as simple as, go for it there and everything is fine. It's a lot more than that. Did you see how the game ended? That's exactly the position we wanted to be in. There, right at the end, with an opportunity to make a play to win the football game. We can live with that."
OL Tytus Howard has been playing really well at right tackle this season. Was it just because DT Chris Jones was coming that made the decision to put him inside at guard?
"That was a part of it. When I talk about how good a player I think Chris Jones is, but Kenyon Green didn't suit today either. So, all of that went into it. Each week, we look at who is available, and what combination gives us the best chance? Today, that combination gave us the best chance."
If OL Kenyon Green can't go next week, do you see OL Tytus Howard staying inside?
"I think it's a little early for that. We're just kind of digesting what happened right now as much as anything."
What did it mean for RB Royce Freeman to contribute like that with RB Dameon Pierce out?
"It's been that way with us throughout. We've had injuries. The next guy up, that is the philosophy that we have. We're going to play the game, so it is about the next guy stepping up. Royce (Freeman) has waited patiently. As I said, been on our practice squad, going against the one defense each day, all of those things. I thought he took advantage of his opportunity. I thought we ran the ball. There was a period of time there where I felt pretty good about how we were blocking up front and how he was running."
Prior to that last play, that was the offense you have been waiting for. What did you see?
"It was a tight game, so we knew who the quarterback was on the other side of the field. Our quarterbacks allowed us to stay right in there with one of the best teams in football. The quarterback play gave us an opportunity to do that. We just need to finish. Again, if we had finished the way I hoped we would today, I think a lot of these questions wouldn't really matter an awful lot. We didn't, so they come up. We're not playing as well as we need to at any position. I know the quarterback has been a position that's been talked about a lot, but there's a lot of improvement we can make throughout."
QB DAVIS MILLS
How disappointing is it for the second week in a row you have an opportunity to get a win against two really good teams, but ultimately ended up coming up short?
"I mean, definitely disappointing. We have the whole locker room fighting their tails off to go out and get a win each week and just haven't been able to do it late in the game. Just have to find a way to finish and finish with more points than the opponent."
Going into that final overtime drive, what was your approach to that? What was going through your mind? After the fumble, can you take us through that?
"Yeah, it was tough. Just caught a quick gain. They covered it pretty well. Just zone dropped into the windows, and I figured I could pick up a couple of yards with my legs. Defender made a really good play, punched it out and it was a fumble. Obviously got to protect the football there. Very critical situation in the game when all you need is a field goal down in overtime and after the defense made a big-time stop to get them off the field and get us the ball back. So disappointed, but I thought our guys fought hard and put us in the situation to win the game, offense, defense and special teams. We just have to find a way to finish it."
Just to follow up on that, did you think you had gotten beyond DE Frank Clark?
"It's always the guy who you don't see who is going to make a play on it. I just have to protect the football better."
How did you feel about overall working again with QB Jeff Driskel coming in and out and you playing?
"Same thing as last week. Same philosophy. Just trying to gain an advantage any sort of way we can on the defense. Felt like we were moving the ball pretty efficiently all game and want to keep it that way."
In terms of this game versus others, where did you gauge your confidence, how you were playing and some of the decisions we talked about the last couple of weeks?
"Still confident as ever walking out there going and trying to make plays. I feel like we have talent that's capable of it. Like you saw today, I mean, and last week we're playing teams really close. Just have to find a way to finish it at the end of games."
You had two guys on the offensive line basically in spots they haven't been in all year. How did you feel that that worked both in pass and run?
"I thought they handled it well. Obviously, Tytus (Howard) moving to left guard and Charlie (Heck) stepping in for him filling in that right tackle spot. It was pretty seamless. You don't even notice that there's guys out of position up there in front of you. I don't think I felt much pressure on any of the passing situations. Pocket was clean. The run game was clean. Need to keep fighting for it."
Is it possible maybe something was found with OL Tytus Howard and OL Laremy Tunsil playing side-by-side?
"Potentially. Tytus (Howard) played a lot of guard last year until we had some bodies go down, but I think a lot of our guys up front are talented and can play multiple positions if we need them to."
What was the conversation with OC Pep Hamilton about that game plan as it went on and it seemed like you started to have more of the role out there?
"Wanted to start out switching up the looks and kind of get a gauge of how the defense was going to respond to it. Then once we had a good idea of how they were going to treat it, we would advance accordingly. Felt like we did enough on offense to find a way to go try to win it at the end of the game and just couldn't do it."
At midfield there fourth-and-one when you all punted before the half, what was the conversation?
"It was Coach's decision to punt. I think we had the lead at that point and wanted to keep it headed into halftime."