Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and several players addressed the media after Sunday's 20-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Here are some of the highlights from their press conferences.
"First off, I want to thank the fans for coming out. We really do appreciate them coming out and we got to be a better football team for them though. We had some opportunities that we didn't take care of the ball the way we should have, but we will be better and I really do appreciate the fans coming out, I really do. Also want to acknowledge that it was great to see [Former Washington Fullback] John Riggins in the stands. It really was. That was a really cool moment and I really appreciate him being there."
On if he feels disappointed despite winning:
"I am, I am, because we had opportunities. I mean, our guys, they've been working hard and practicing hard, they've been getting better and for us to make those kinds of mistakes is disappointing. I know we are all disappointed, but we're all thrilled. Believe me, I'm happy as hell. We won, I really am. But we got to play better. We really do, because again, we've worked hard, we've done things the right way, but details, we've got to be better with those."
On what this day means to the franchise and if Managing Partner Josh Harris received another game ball:
"Yes, he did. He got his, as will all the other owners. They got their first victory, the first one during the regular season and it's something to remember. It really is. It was a hard-fought game. It's a heck of a young football team over there that's scrappy. I promise you that they're going to give a lot more teams some trouble. But again, just like I said, I'm thrilled, I really am."
On QB Sam Howell's performance:
"He had his moments. Again, we're going to watch the rest of the tape and we're going to take a look at some things and we will evaluate it off of the tape and get a chance to talk with him."
On DT Daron Payne and DE Montez Sweats' performance sparking a comeback:
"I think the unit did, I really do. I thought the way the unit played as a whole on defense, I thought that was outstanding. I really did. I mean, they played hard. They made plays when they had to. They gave us opportunities to create a field position. Put us in scoring position. Did the things that you're going to do right now because that's a group that's been together, for the most part, fourth year in the system, so they're going to be a little bit ahead and they're going to carry us a little bit and they know that. But our offense is going to continue to work. We're going to continue to work really hard and [Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy] EB will get right back at it. I know we will. I promise you this is just the beginning for us. We got a lot of growing to do."
On his overall performance:
"Obviously, I think offensively we could have played a lot better. Just credit to our defense, you know our defense kept making plays all day long and gave us a chance there at the end to put some points up and to give us the win. I just think offensively we were moving the ball well, just turnovers, penalties, sacks, just a lot of things that I could do better. But you know definitely a lot to clean up on the offensive side of the ball, so we're excited to go back in this week and watch the film and try to learn from it." On the strip sack in the first half and his late touchdown run: "Yeah, the strip sack fumble, I felt some pressure up front, so I was just trying to spin out of it, break the pocket and the guy kind of caught me from behind I wasn't expecting him to get me. In that situation, backed up down there, I've got to make sure I protect the football. At the end of the day, throwing the ball away, you can live with that. So that we've got to do a better job. On the run, I kind of just went through my progression, I didn't like what I saw, so I just tried to take it in with my legs."
On what he felt was missing from the offense:
"Yeah, I just think too many mistakes. I think I had some mistakes for sure in the game, and I think just everyone was taking their turn of different mistakes and I just think collectively as a group we've got to be better."
On the offense feeding off of the defensive momentum in the first half:
"Yeah, for sure. Obviously, there were some situations where we would like to get points where we didn't. But yeah, they kept giving us a chance, kept giving us really good field position. So, we're thankful to have a good defense."
On his resilient attitude:
"Yeah, that's just how I was raised. Always have an even-keel mentality, no matter what the results of a play was it's always about what's next. That's kind of how I've been my entire life, and I'll continue to be that way."
On offensive accomplishment after slow start:
"Yeah, that's why it's a team game. I think the defense came out and they were really strong, you know. We had some turnovers and especially in our own backed up and you just can't really put your defense in a situation like that, but they stepped up. They've been doing what they been doing off camp, they released out even when the other team got down to the goal line. They were, they were really strong, forcing three points, so we just gotta be better taking care of the ball and moving sticks."
On QB Sam Howell's late hit out of bounds:
"Yeah, definitely. You don't wanna see that with any teammate, but especially your quarterback, so each time that happens you gonna see 11 guys or 10 guys on our side of the ball running to scrum and seeing what's about to go down. So, it was a late hit, you don't wanna see that. At the end of the day, we're all competing and, you know, it's physical, but you don't wanna put anybody in a tough predicament, but you roll with it and I think you know we showed that we got his back."
On DE Montez Sweat's performance:
"Definitely. I mean, I think that's the Montez that has been continually getting better each and every year. And now, he's at a place where he's changing the game, and I think you need that from a guy with his potential, a guy with his skill set, and it changed the game what he did. Getting those forced fumbles on [QB] Josh Dobbs and then forced another fumble on the sack, so that wins games. That's why that position is one of the highest positions paid in the league because they are game changers, so it's good to see him have a day like he had and got a game ball, so I'm really happy for him."
On QB Sam Howell's performance:
"Yeah, I think he just tried to keep us on track. Obviously, I feel like we all had a hand in kind of sputtering on drives. I said before, you really want to minimize your turnovers, especially the first game of the season because you can't put your defense in those kinds of situations. But, to his credit, I think you never saw him shaking, you never saw him with his head down. He took some tough hits out there. I know we want him to protect himself a little bit more, but he's going to learn and grow, and that's the thing about this. He's our guy, we're going to support him but as a whole collective we could do a better job just staying on track and helping him out."
On his comeback in the second half:
"Just a little relaxed, super low to the ground, you can't have that. I've been there before so I knew not to let it get me down. So, I knew when I got my next opportunity to make the best of it and keep playing. It was a long game, and we pulled a win off."
On washing a bad play off:
"Nothing. Next play. It was one of those ones I was super low to the ground and right before I got to the ground, he got it out. So I know what I need to correct, I know what happened so you know just wash it out and get to the next play."
On how the offense played as whole:
"Horrible. That was not us today and we know that. Shout out to the defense for helping us out big time in a game like that and we got the win so again shout out to the defense."
On QB Sam Howell's poise throughout the game:
"As a quarterback you got to shake it off. It was a rough start, but we found a way to pull out."
Brian Robinson Jr.
On how he felt about the first win of the season:
"I feel good. Like I said we prepare and do all of this just to get the W. It wasn't the prettiest thing. It was obviously sloppy, but we got the win though."
On his touchdown reception:
"Actually, the route I ran I slipped on, that was just me being instinctive getting up on my feet you know and finishing the play. [QB] Sam [Howell] scrambled out of the pocket I just had to make myself available. That's the type of reward you get when you finish plays. I was rewarded for continuing to play and being there for my quarterback."
On the crowd:
"It was everything we expected it to be. Sometimes we kind of let them down but they were there for us when we needed them the most. They brought the energy when we needed it the most. So we highly appreciate them for that."
On the defensive performance:
"They played lights out. They got some key stops when we needed them the most. That's just part of being a team. They saw we were struggling on offense and they knew they had to make a play, step up on defense. That's exactly what they did and we applaud them for that too."
On getting the win today:
"We've been putting in long days of work so it's great to come out here week one and get that win."
On overcoming adversity in the first half and come back to win:
"Yeah, I mean, that's a great testament to the coaching we have and then to the players we have. Overcoming adversity, we've got one play at a time mentality. Being able to flush the bad plays, being playing through the elements and just grind out a win, man. Truly a fourth quarter game. Came down to the last drive and so, I truly think that's a testament to the coaching and players, man."
On the QB Sam Howell being sacked six times and protecting him better:
"You know, we take that very personally up front. Plain and simple, we've gotta do better. We've gotta lock down our assignments but it all starts tomorrow getting in that film room and figuring out what we need to do better and then game plan starts for week two. We take that very personally. We love keeping our guy clean. We didn't necessarily do our best job of that tonight."
On how the team was able to grind out the win today:
"Yeah, like I just said, its truly a four-quarter game. Us up front, no matter who's in there, just working together, really trying to get these run plays to hit. I think that was very important tonight. The few chances we get to build momentum in the run game and really capitalizing on that. Then it just comes down to keep our guy 14 clean, man. We've gotta do a little better job at that, I think. I think we've gotta come together, see what we've gotta fix and try to keep his jersey clean a little better."
On starting the season off 1-0:
"Like you said, a win is a win. At the end of the day, it was all a team effort. Offense, defense, special teams; we just came out with the win."
On the defense stepping up in the second half:
"Yeah I mean, that's what we pride ourselves on; defense closing games. I kept on telling them, Who is going to be the closer? [DT] Jon [Allen] came up with a big sack for us and we came out with the dub [Win]."
On if the defense felt they needed to make a play based on the team's offensive struggles:
"I mean, not necessarily. I think there's urgency on both sides of the ball. The offense needed to close and we needed to close, so it was a team effort."
On if he feels the back-to-back sacks from him and DT Daron Payne in the second half changed the momentum of the game:
"I think yeah; game-changing plays like that definitely get the team going. We've just got to build on it."
Emmanuel Forbes Jr.
On playing his first regular season game:
"It feels good. Just going out there, keep gaining momentum and getting better every week."
On what he took away from the game:
"Honestly just go out there and just execute the defensive plan and we could win any game I feel like."
On his experience being on the field:
"I was excited. I was just ready to go out there and make plays and just get going honestly."
On being 1-0:
"It feels good. Everything's better with a win. We'll just come back next week and continue to get better. You know, play better next week."
On the difference in energy in the stadium:
"Oh 1000%. I mean, I haven't seen the fans like that in my six years here, so I'm glad we were able to get the win for the fans, you know. That would've been very disappointing to let them down on the first game of the season, so we're happy but we're not satisfied for them to leave."
On feeling an advantage from the crowd's energy:
"Throughout the entire game. There was a moment where we were not playing good and they were not really into it, but that's our job to get them back into it. Luckily, they came on strong in the 4th quarter, you know, helped us win the game."
On defensive line's performance:
"Yeah, we made a lot of great plays to win the game. Obviously, there's a couple plays we wish we could have back, but we made the plays when they counted, so we're going to look at the film. For me, it's really hard to look back at the game, things were happening so fast, I was so locked in. I don't even remember half the plays, but there's obviously going to be room for improvement and we got to be better if we're going to go where we need to go. But, we're going to accept the win, take it. We're excited, we're happy we pulled it out, and you know, grow from there."
On sacking Cardinals QB Joshua Dobbs:
"Just playing football and just trying to get to the quarterback. I didn't even know he had the ball, so I was excited when I seen that he had it. Yeah man, just playing hard by any means necessary. They don't ask how, they ask how many, so trying to compete."
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