Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: That was a good team win. That was a quality team we played against, very talented, very well-coached. Give a lot of credit to those guys. They played very balanced as a team. Think (Raiders Interim Head Coach) Richie (Rich Bisaccia) is doing a phenomenal job coaching these guys. I think he's doing a really good job of keeping these guys within the situations, competitive and active in every game. Thought their plan to come out and how they were able to move the ball – there were some things we had to adjust to as a team. Thought (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat (Graham) and his staff did a nice job adjusting to what they were doing offensively. I thought (Special Teams Coordinator) T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) on the kicking game was able to make some adjustments throughout the game, give us some plays down the stretch. Thought (Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett) and his staff did a good job throughout the game in terms of using some personnel, different adjustments and some different things. I was proud of the way the team responded this week to a lot of things. It was a short week. There were a lot of things – coming off of a short week, the deals we had with the COVID stuff, guys in and out of the building, so I was very proud of the way the team came out and responded and prepared to whatever we got thrown his week. That was a good, well-earned team victory. With that being said, I'll open up to any questions you guys have.
Q: Obviously, every game is important, but how much more important is it for the psyche of this team heading into the bye week?
A: I say it all the time, every game is important. In terms of the psyche, I think I would bring that back to the truth of what's on tape. We talk all the time, this was a very good team we played today. We know when we play our best, when we play the way we're capable of, we don't do things that eliminate our opportunities to have success, we know that we're a good team, too. We just can't do things that remove opportunities to have success. There's a very small margin of error in this league. In terms of our psyche, our guys come back to work every week. When you turn the tape on and you can show them the evidence of what they're doing well and the evidence of what we have to go ahead and correct and what our plan is to fix it, that to me is what brings the psyche in the mode it's got to be in. When someone shows you on tape the truth of 'this is what you are as a team – don't worry about anything on the outside and what they're saying, don't worry about any opinion or whatever it may be.' You look at the tape, you see what it is and let's build on what we do well, let's correct what we have to do better and let's keep moving forward as a team. I've seen a lot of things in terms of our players. They've responded well to a lot of situations thrown their way and they've done a good job as a team sticking together and improving on a weekly basis.
Q: How hard was this week for (Safety Xavier) Zay (McKinney) that he had to go through testing and then to come through with the two interceptions?
A: He pulled his best Ferris Bueller this week, didn't have to show up for work and had a career type of game. He did a good job staying prepared, was in all the Zoom meetings and all that stuff. Not speaking for Zay, but you could see the frustration level throughout the week – if he's in the Zoom meeting, the team's on the field practicing, he's not able to be active and involved, you're kind of one foot in in terms of am I going to be able to play. Obviously, when he got cleared, that was big for us as a team. This guy went out there, he had a good day preparing on Friday, there was a lot of things he had to get in. That was really the first day of him moving around since the Kansas City game – on Friday – so we get in there and for him to go out there and really kind of get a different workload than a lot of other guys on the team to get his body back and moving, then to get his first reps from a scheme standpoint and an adjustment standpoint, he did a very nice job staying engaged, staying ready, preparing. We had a number of other guys on the team – there were a lot of floating pieces this week. There was a large element when we start talking about the actives for the game, the inactives, who's going to be available, who's going to be maybe be a COVID flex. We went into this week truly with everyone has to be ready, and we say that all the time. This week was one of those deals where – normally, we're able to talk through some of the inactives early in the week, anticipating. Maybe it's through possible injury or game plan having to play something. This was a week I had to look the coaches in the eye in the staff meeting early in the week and say, 'Hey guys, just have them all ready. When we figure this out in terms of who's going to be available, we'll figure it out. But have them all ready.' And I think Zay was in that crew of obviously staying ready, doing a good job preparing, and obviously came out today and did his job well and made a lot of plays for us.
Q: You talk about how they responded. What does it tell you about the type of team you have from the way they responded this week with all the stuff?
A: A lot of things just kind of reaffirm all the things I've known about them all along. We have a very resilient team, we have a very mentally tough team. To me, the most complimentary word you can use for any group of people is 'team,' and they stick together and they work together. They challenge each other, they come back, they respond. They come back after tough losses. You can sit there and you can lick your wounds or you can look forward and say, 'What do we have to do to be successful this week?' The ball is going to kick off today at one o'clock regardless of what happened last week, so we couldn't dwell on what happened on Monday night. We can't dwell on any previous game, success or failure in those games. The team really just shows up and works hard every day, they work with a good attitude, they accept the challenges that we throw their way, they embrace the challenges other teams are going to give them and they keep moving forward.
Q: Can you talk about your running game, what (Running Back Devontae) Booker gave you and then also when (Fullback) Eli (Penny) had to go in there with Booker being hurt?
A: I think both backs did a good job today. I thought Book and Eli both ran strong with good ball security. This is a team we talked all week about (how) they're a very effective team at punching the ball away from you and stripping the ball from you, and you see a lot of examples of those guys holding you up going for the strip out of the pile. Even on our kickoff returns, same thing. They were definitely looking for the turnovers and that's the way Richie coaches. They do a very good job of understanding the fundamentals of the game, what really makes the biggest impact and that's the turnovers, the penalties, the mental errors. So, we knew going into this game that that was going to be a big part. We had to make sure that we had very good ball security, we didn't give them any extra opportunities and we had to make sure that we were able to capitalize on the opportunities they gave us. In terms of the running game specifically, the offensive line did a very nice job moving the ball. They've got a really good defensive front, they really do there. A penetrating front, they're very disruptive getting up the field. You have to deal with an element of size and speed. They're very long, they play with good extension. This team does a very good job disrupting your running game. I thought the game plan we put together this week – the offensive staff did a good job of seeing what we do well and what we can match up against them in terms of where other teams had success. Thought they found the right formula with that. We also left enough flexibility in the game plan – we always do, but this week especially not knowing who was going to be available – that as we lost (Tight End) Kaden (Smith) in the game, you saw a lot more of (Offensive Lineman Korey) Cunningham playing that kind of jumbo tight end and create some situations that we could run through favorable looks and create situations that we wanted to see, certain looks on the field from their defense.
Q: What's the difference in this defense the last three weeks? You look way more the last three weeks like you did last year, whereas early in the season you didn't.
A: I see the team as a whole, but directly on your question about the defense, I just see guys improving. When you talk about what helps you improve, to me you just keep it simple (and) go back to what's really important in this game. It's fundamentals. You go back to playing with good zone vision, good man leverage, good breaks on the ball, good footing, good anticipation, not having bad penalties within the game. We've got to keep playing with better pre-snap focus and post-snap execution. We've got to keep doing a good job of that, but in terms of this defense and why they're improving in terms of doing it, to me it comes back to just how they stay committed to working every week. One thing I've seen is a lot of situational improvements – red zone defense improving throughout the season, the two-minute defense improving throughout the season, finding different ways of creating pressure or if you're not getting a lot of pressure, having coverage combinations to change it up. The other thing too is these guys are really learning how to communicate and work and play next to each other. Pat had a couple of calls that he literally drew up in the sand. We talked about it last night in the staff meeting – whatever we've got to do. We understand with this team as an offense, defense, kicking game (that) if you've got to make an adjustment, get it. I don't want to come out of this game and say if we could only get to this call, it would have helped us. Pat and his staff sat there, they drew up a couple calls on the sideline, guys understood the fundamentals of how to play it, communicated well and they were able to make some plays on it. That was big for us.
Q: You came into this game with only two running backs, one halfback and one fullback. When Booker goes down, in the back of your head, were you thinking 'Oh boy, now we've only got one fullback'?
A: Well, (Fullback) Cullen (Gillaspia) can play as well, too. Cullen Gillaspia works all the time in practice, he's played for us in preseason, as far as scrimmage stuff. This guy can play, too. Everybody is accountable to be productive at their position. In terms of coming into this game, we came in with three backs -- Booker, Penny and Cullen -- and they were all ready to go.
Q: The fact that when you were going to run, (Fullback) Eli (Penny) was the only back there running and he gets 21 yards on two carries when everyone knows it's coming, how satisfying is that when you can do that with that kind of scenario?
A: It shows to me that we're becoming a balanced team. Balanced teams can run when they have to run and throw when they have to throw, and that was a situation in the game where we had to go ahead and run and run as much time off the clock, be productive moving the ball and try to keep their offense off the field. It became obvious in that situation – not that we didn't throw, we did throw it – but it became more of a primary. You want to run the ball and be productive moving the ball. I think Eli did a good job as far as breaking tackles and extending the offensive line. The tight ends did a good job as far as getting it going and making the blocks and moving them off the line of scrimmage to take advantage of it. I say it all the time, we have confidence in all of our players, we really do. I don't blink no matter who's in the game. When they come over and they tell me Booker's down, my thought process is 'Is he OK'. I'm never worried about 'Oh no, he's out. Who's in?' To me it's, 'Okay, they all prepare. If they're at the game, they should be prepared.'
Q: You mentioned Pat drawing defensive plays in the dirt, were any of those on that last drive?
Q: Anything in particular that you can mention?
A: I'm not going to go too specific into it, but he had a couple calls that he made adjustments on the bench before we go out there on that last drive. You talk about the guy that's killing us was (Raiders Tight End Darren) Waller. That guy is a good player. They were finding this guy down the field in the seams and all that stuff. He's a big target and he's got good hands and he's very fast and athletic. Obviously, (Raiders Wide Receiver Hunter) Renfrow early in the game, too. I mean those two guys, they're an issue to deal with. You start tying in the backs and you've got to focus on 83 and 13 and Richie did a good job with (Raiders Offensive Coordinator) Greg (Olson) and those guys obviously making the adjustments and (Raiders Quarterback Derek) Carr finding the backs underneath. They kind of created the handoff just through the checkdowns.
Q: This is a quick follow up, you guys have obviously had some difficulties in the fourth quarter this year. What did you think about that last defensive stand? That's a pretty stressful time.
A: That was obviously a big part of the game to end the game that way and end it with a turnover. I'm always talking through the scenarios, so as that's happening, I'm clicking back and forth talking to Jason, 'Okay Jason, we're going to use a timeout coming up here, just be thinking about it if we're down. Is it a tie game? Are we down by one if they go for two and we've got two timeouts? So, think about getting in range for a field goal. Let's think about what we need. Start going through the menu.' I'm clicking back over to the defense, 'Okay, what are we thinking here?' One of them we wanted to call a timeout based on seeing what they were going to do, so I used that timeout in that instance to make sure we had an understanding of offensively what they were looking for out of that personnel grouping, what they want schematically that matches with and that was something that matched up into what Pat was kind of drawing up on the sideline. So, we had kind of a new call, a new personnel grouping from them and we wanted to make sure we were on the same page and it ended up being productive for us overall.
Q: What have you seen from (Linebacker Quincy) Roche? Obviously, he's come on in the last couple of weeks, but that final play from your eyes, did you see the play as it was happening?
A: Yeah, I could see him kind of making his way and getting through the block and getting to him, but I'd say this guy just works hard. He's a guy that when you watch his tape coming out, we liked him. Obviously, we didn't get him. He was drafted and went to Pittsburgh, but we were able to get him through the 53 cut, so that was something that when it happened was very good for us. I see a guy who works hard. He's got a high motor and he's really learning the game. He's got a skillset, like all these young guys do, but all these rookies are really, truly learning the game. When you start talking about the pass rushers on the edge, you look at these guys throughout the league, throughout just time, it takes these guys a little while to get caught up. There's a big difference between playing against the tackles and the protections in the NFL versus college. It's just the reality is it's very different. Every one of those tackles, they're big, they're long, they're more athletic. They play with better anticipation. Normally, it's tough to get these guys off the spot and just go ahead and walk across their face, so you have to have what's your main move? What's your change up? What can you go to in the situation? But he's done a good job being productive for us. He's made some plays in the run game. He's made some plays on some pass rushes. He's doing a decent job for us in the kicking game. Like every player, there's a lot of things he has to keep developing. This will be a good week for him in terms of coming off and having a couple of days this bye week of getting a better understanding of some things as we get through this stretch of the season, but I see an improving player.
Q: (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney didn't get a target until I believe the third quarter. You tried a couple gadget plays early, but why was it so difficult to get him involved in the passing game?
A: We want to get all of our receivers involved. Honestly, they did a good job taking these guys away at different times. A large part of our game plan today, obviously, was turning to the run game. We were running the ball very productively. We were moving the ball. KT made a big play for us getting a first down down the stretch right there. That was big play for us. (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) made a couple of big catches for us as far as moving the ball. But again, we're going to kind of go through the game plan and take what the defense presents us, and we had the opportunity today to get the run game going. I'm not sure the exact statistics all the way, but we had some good production in that and it was beneficial.
Q: Is Kadarius limited physically at all at this point? I mean, he had the ankle recently.
A: Everybody in the National Football League has something at this point. In terms of that 100 percent, once camp starts, no one's 100 percent for the duration of the season. I won't go specifically into what it is. Obviously, he was medically cleared to go out there and play. I think KT's a guy that plays through a lot of things. He's a tough dude. He plays through a lot of things. He doesn't ever use that as an excuse, and we don't either.
Q: Did you get an explanation for the first quarter unsportsmanlike on the punt and what was the explanation?
A: I don't know exactly what they saw. I'll look at the tape myself, but it didn't look like he went to the head area. I think (Cornerback) Keion (Crossen), he just explained to us that he saw (Wide Receiver Pharoh Cooper) Coop coming up the field, made a missed tackle, he stuck his foot in the ground and looked like he went up to what we call it, 'next level' and make the play on the person in front of you and the thing creased and got going. I don't know if he even knew at that time it was the punter. We're not going to take cheap shots on anybody – quarterbacks, specialists or whatever it is. But at the same time, if it's an interception or it's a return and there's somebody in the way where we're going to run the ball, you've got to block them and open up that seam. I have not seen the tape. I caught a bit of it out of the corner of my eye. I'm going to take a look at it right there and if it's anything that we have to correct, we'll correct.
Q: Big-picture-wise, this is around the time last year where you guys started putting it together. You talked about eliminating mistakes, big-picture when you look at this team, you see some similarities as you've won two of three and when you started to win four straight last year. Do you see some similarities big-picture-wise?
A: I think it's easy to draw parallels between a lot of different situations that we've all been through in the past. This is its own team. It's a completely unique and different team than last year. The important thing for us is to just keep improving and playing better ball every week. I say all the time, the goal is to be the best team you can possibly be at the end of the season and I see us improving week by week. We've got to keep on that trend and make sure we come back and get as healthy as we can and get rest over this next week. But then also at the same time, take advantage of the time we have to improve going forward and then we've got a tough stretch coming up, so we've got to come back ready to play our best football.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: Can you talk about that first touchdown to (Tight End) Evan (Engram)? What did you see on that play there?
A: Yeah, he did a great job of going up and making a play. Just tried to throw it up and give him a chance and he did the rest. Heck of a play by him right there.
Q: What does it mean to bring a win into the bye week?
A: Yeah, I think it's big for us to get this one. A complete team win and something we can build off of. Still a lot of things we've got to work on and work to improve that we'll look to do over this week. Feels good to get a win.
Q: Did you find that you needed to be patient in this game? You didn't throw an incompletion in the first half, but there wasn't a lot of good stuff. A lot of times you need to lean on the running game. There wasn't a lot of production when you threw offensively, was it a game you had to grind through and stay close?
A: Yeah, they're a good defense. Kind of their scheme and what they do lends itself to that and we knew it was going to be one of those games. I think the guys up front did an incredible job getting movement, opening up holes. (Running Back Devontae Booker) Book and (Fullback) Eli (Penny) did a great job hitting them, so a credit to them. They're a good defense.
Q: You had a lot of adversity as a team this week. What does it tell you about your group and that you're able to grind through that and respond the way you did today?
A: I think it's just a credit to the focus of the group and guys preparing despite being out of the building or whatever was going on. Just kind of staying focused on what we were doing and making sure we were ready to go. You're going to have stuff like that come up and it's about being able to deal with it and still get done what you need to get done throughout the week.
Q: What have you observed in practice of (Safety) Xavier McKinney's skillset?
A: I think he's a smart player. I think he understands what quarterbacks are doing. It was good reading eyes, good reading in his coverage and he makes a lot of plays back there. He's obviously got tremendous physical skills and he's a smart player. Played big time today, for sure.
Q: The wide receivers weren't especially involved. Is that something the Raiders took away? Was that part of the game plan? Why do you think that is?
A: I think it has a lot to do with how well we were running it and trusting that. I think when you're able to do that, when the offensive line is playing like that, then you lean on it. We have the versatility as a team to be able to play different ways. That was working, so we stuck with it. Those guys stepped up, they did make some big plays when we needed them. This team, our team, we can do a lot of different things and attack different ways. Got to keep working on it.
Q: The Raiders took the ball for the last series there. For an offensive payer like yourself, what is the stress level like when watching that and you have no control over it?
A: I think in those situations, you're always preparing both ends, if we get the stop, if we're in a four-minute situation and we're trying to bleed the clock or we're in two minute and we've got to go down and kick a field goal. You're kind of preparing for both those situations and staying focused on that. Defense stepped up and did an incredible job like they did all game. A ton of credit to them.
Q: I know you're prepping, but in that moment were you able to watch and realize what had happened? Or did you just hear the crowd and react off of that?
A: Yeah, I was able to see it. It's hard not to watch what's going on and watching them out there. Like I said, they stepped up, played huge and some really big plays down the stretch. A ton of credit to them.
Q: At that time of the game and the defense is out there, the crowd is rocking, this building hasn't been like that in a while. Do you take notice of that and how the energy level is pretty intense?
A: Yeah, I did. I think that was big for us. The crowd really got into it down the stretch there. We really appreciate that support and don't underestimate how they can impact the game. They did a great job, and we appreciate all the support.
Q: The way that Booker ran the ball and then he was out. Did you get a sense that Eli Penny is a guy that likes to get his touches and how did he step up?
A: Yeah, like I said, both those guys played really well for us. I think a lot of credit goes to the guys up front. I think they did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage, opening up some holes for those guys and they found them and played well for us all day. I think both those guys as well as the offensive line deserve a ton of credit.
Q: How exciting is the possibility of getting (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Sterling (Shepard) back and get all of your playmakers after the bye? How much better can this offense be with everyone together?
A: Yeah, that's exciting and I know those guys are working hard to get back. We'll keep preparing and keep game planning based on who's available. I think guys who have stepped up in their places have done a really good job.
Safety Xavier McKinney
Q: What was this week like for you?
A: It was a long week. Obviously, I didn't get to practice those two days, but I was still in meetings. Just tried to stay locked in. Obviously, earlier in the week, I didn't know really what was going to happen as far as if I was going to be able to play or not. Just tried to stay locked in throughout the week.
Q: Do you use these results to try to get out of practice next week?
A: No, no, because it's too big of a risk. But no, like I said, I just tried to stay locked in and just follow whatever protocols that the NFL has.
Q: What did you see on your pick six?
A: Well, I just read the quarterback. I felt (Raiders Wide Receiver Hunter) Renfrow going out and I was kind of just all eyes on the quarterback the whole time. He was looking it down, so just trust my instincts and I went, and I made the play.
Q: What were you thinking after you catch the ball and see a bunch of green in front of you?
A: Yeah, touchdown. My mentality every time I get the ball is to get yards and try to make a play, make a touchdown for our team. That was my mindset through that play.
Q: What about the other interception?
A: The second one, like I said, I just trust my instincts. I actually told (Cornerback James Bradberry) Brad earlier in the game they did the same thing, I broke on it. They actually threw a back shoulder and I told him after that, I told him, I said, 'If they do that again, I'm going to beat it and I'm going to pick it.' They did the same thing, tried to run the double move, pumped them and then threw it the same way he pumped, and I made a play. That's what happened.
Q: Did you save him? James said you saved him.
A: No, I don't think I saved him, but he was there anyway. Either one of us would have made the play. I told him I had his back, and he knew that. I made sure that I accomplished that, and I did have his back on that play.
Q: Was it harder to focus on this game and get ready to play after what happened with your former college teammate?
A: Yeah, it's an unfortunate event that's going on right now. My prayers are up for him and his family and the person that passed and their family too. I don't really have much comment on it further than that.
Q: Did missing practice this week because of COVID protocol give you second thoughts about not being vaccinated?
A: I think it's everybody's choice. Everybody has reasons. I have my reason. Everybody else has their reasons. That's what I think.
Q: What are your reasons of not getting it?
A: That's for me, not for anybody else.
Q: With three rookies playing as outside linebacker and (Linebacker) Trent Harris from the practice squad. (Linebacker Quincy) Roche made a big play, what did you think of him? Is it more challenging having three rookies at that position?
A: I think they've been playing their ass off. They come to practice each and every day, they're in meetings locked in. I know they're going to go out there and play hard each and every time. I'm not surprised when they make plays. I'm not surprised when anybody on our defense makes plays because like I said and like I've said before, we go out there and execute. We get the job done and we just try to improve with each and every practice and each and every game.
Q: Were you surprised that you were playing this game?
A: Yeah, like I said, I wasn't sure. At first, I thought I wasn't going to be able to play just because I didn't how really the rules work, but I did know that I tested negative. I wasn't quite sure. That's why it was kind of a longer week for me because I was in between – am I going to be up or am I not going to be up? It was hard to balance that, but when I figured out and found out that I could play and I practiced on Friday, I was good to go.
Running Back Devontae Booker
Q: How is your hip?
A: It's great. Went back, got X-Rayed on it and everything was good.
Q: You laughed the other day when we said revenge game, not a bad revenge game for you.
A: Yeah, like I said, it was just going out there and having fun with these guys. Really, just like backyard football, talking smack to them and just running up and down the field. It was great.
Q: How do you feel right now and what did they tell you? Do you have to go get an MRI?
A: I feel great right now. I don't know anything about that right now at this point. As of right now, I feel great and just enjoy this bye week.
Q: What worked so well for you guys tonight because for a couple of minutes there you were the first 100-yard rusher you guys have had all year? What really clicked tonight for you guys?
A: Shoot, really just we knew what was at stake. We know we had a bye coming up, but we wanted to go out there and prove that we can run the ball on these guys, and we did that. Our line was blocking their ass off tonight. They were opening up holes for me to run through. We were just doing everything that we needed to do on the offensive side, whether that's running or passing to get this victory tonight.
Q: Were you able to watch what happened at the end both with (Fullback) Eli (Penny) and then the defense getting the turnover?
A: Yeah, I was actually out there on the field. I was waiting to go back in. Really, the last of the game part played out and I didn't go in.
Q: How aware were you of the 100 yards?
A: I wasn't really aware at all. I know one of our running back coaches said something about it at halftime and I didn't really pay attention to it. I look at all that stuff after the game. Really, you guys telling me I had 100 yards, that's pretty much the first time hearing it.
Q: Well, you didn't quite because you lost three on the last one.
A: Total, I guess I still had over 100, so it kind of makes up for it.
Q: What's it like watching your fullback run the ball like that at the end?
A: It's good. He's a hell of a player. He can do it all. He plays special teams. He plays fullback. He can play running back and he can catch out in the field. He can block. You've got everything in one. That's unique. Watching him finish out the game like that, it was critical.
Q: You guys went through a lot of adversity this week with all the testing and the Zoom meetings. Can you speak to what that showed about this group to come out and do what you guys did today?
A: We really just told ourselves all week to just stick with everything. Coaches and some players were out and like you said, we went through the adversity all week going through everybody testing. Me today, I've got to wear this mask because I'm vaccinated as well, but it just was really everybody going up in there and getting the stuff done. Zoom meetings, we being focused on everything. It can be hard sometimes because you don't know if some guys are on or watching or paying attention. Once we got done with the Zoom and came to practice, everything clicked, and we were on the same page.
Q: So you were a close contact? Is that right?
A: Yeah, with (Running Back) Gary (Brightwell) and (Running Backs) Coach (Burton) Burns from the game and stuff.
Q: Do you think these last two games have shown them that even when (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) comes back, you need to have a role in the offense?
A: I'll leave that up to the coaches and whatever they decide, but as of right now I'm just going to enjoy this and come back from bye week and see what happens.
Q: How much of a relief is it that you're vaccinated and you were a close contact and that you weren't ruled out?
A: I mean, I don't know honestly. We try to keep everybody safe and what not. Basically, if I wasn't vaccinated and I was a close contact, then I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been out like that. If I got tested and was negative the days, I would've still ended up playing. I guess that's how it works. I don't know.
Cornerback James Bradberry
Q: On (Safety) Xavier's (McKinney) second interception, can you describe the coverage you guys were in there?
A: We were in a Cover Three, they ran a double move, I was beat on the double move and Zay saved my life, so shoutout to Zay.
Q: We've asked you guys a lot of questions this year about your defense not finishing games. What do you think you guys showed tonight finishing the game?
A: I think that it showed that we're capable of finishing games, we've got a strong defense and we're here to compete.
Q: (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) was saying that (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat (Graham) was drawing a few plays in the dirt on the sidelines a little bit, particularly on that last series. Can you talk about that and were there any specific plays that made a difference on that last stand?
A: I wouldn't say that he was drawing plays up in the dirt, but we were going over some calls that we might have not had in the game plan to run this week (and) that we might've run in weeks from the past. We definitely knew the call, but it wasn't something we were prepared for. But he prepared us on the sideline and we went out there and executed.
Q: You had your taste of (Chiefs Tight End Travis) Kelce last week and now you've got your taste of (Raiders Tight End Darren) Waller. What did you think of the couple of plays you had down in the red zone against him? What was that like? I imagine you were pretty satisfied when the ball sailed over both of you guys.
A: For sure. I definitely realized that he was a big, strong, fast guy within those plays. He's an elite tight end, has speed, has size and he's strong, too. I was trying to quick jam him and stuff, but we were up there fighting. Sometimes he was getting the best of me. Like you said, I was trying to win as many battles as I could and fortunately we came out on top.
Q: How have you seen McKinney grow to this point in his career? Obviously, he had a career day today with the pick-six and the interception late, but how have you seen him grow since he got here?
A: I think he's just picking up the game of football at a high rate. When he first got here, of course we're all new, we're all rookies, you don't know what all the league is about. Coming in, he's learning a lot and he's executing when he gets out there. Like I said, he saved me today. He's being aggressive, making plays for us and I'm thankful to have him.
Q: This week with the testing and the false positives, what does it tell you about your group that you got through that?
A: I think it shows that we're resilient. We're able to adapt to any situation.
Q: You got off to a slow start last year defensively and kind of hit your stride. Does it feel similar right now?
A: I think it feels similar. I'm just glad we won before the bye week, get some momentum going into the bye week, get our bodies recovered and then hopefully we keep it going once we get back.
Q: What's the difference in this defense the past few weeks?
A: I think we're just making plays when it's time for us to make plays, you know? Zay had a pick-six and then he made a game-changing play at the end on a double move, so we're just making plays when the opportunity presents itself and we're coming down with the ball.
Q: (Cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) had a chance at an interception. Just wondering what it's going to be like in the D-back room?
A: We were joking about that earlier. He was fixing to come down with that ball. We want him to come down with the ball, but I'm thankful he was there because he was supposed to be there. I'm just glad he was there because the post route was coming to me.
Tight End Evan Engram
Q: Take us through the touchdown.
A: It's a big play, a play that we worked on all week. We knew what kind of coverage and the kind of defense they were going to play and DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) made a perfect throw. Literally, a perfect throw and trusted me with it. I just went up and made a play for the team.
Q: So you were expecting (Raiders Safety Johnathan) Abram to be out there in that situation?
A: Yeah, that's literally who they are as a defense, their coverage in that formation. Literally, all day that's what they run. So we knew what we were going to get, we just had to go and make the play.
Q: You've had a lot of adversity as a team this week with all the positive and false positives. What does it tell you about this group that you got through that and played the way you did today?
A: Yeah, we just don't blink. We just didn't blink. We did everything we were asked. We did everything. We had to jump through all the loopholes and all that stuff, and we didn't blink. The coaches did a really good job of kind of navigating everything and allowing us to be smart and be safe but still get our work in and we just handled it the best way we could. Really, just not blinking and continuing to get the work done.
Q: (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) only got two targets, (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) got one, (Wide Receiver) (Darius) Slayton got one. Everything else went to the running backs and tight ends, did you know that was going to be a big focal point?
A: We were just ready for whatever. All those guys, obviously, I know they would love more targets, more opportunities, but they made some big plays with those opportunities that they got. At the end of the day, we never know what can happen. It could be a lot of balls to receivers, tight ends, we've just got to all be ready. I know those guys are going to continue to work and keep stepping up just as everybody else.
Q: What did it feel like for you to make that catch and hear the stadium erupt and cheer for you?
A: It was cool, yeah. It was cool. It felt good. Mainly, just really felt good just making a play for the team. We worked that play a lot this week and for it to come down and cash in, that was big. So it felt good.
Q: What did you make of the last defensive stand? As an offensive player, how stressful is that being on the sideline?
A: I don't know if there was a camera on me, but I was pretty stressed out. I had a feeling that our defense was going to step up. They've been playing lights out the past three weeks, honestly. We've been following their lead and tonight they showed up for 60 minutes. (It was) a huge task at hand with all their athletes over there and all their guys. Credit to them for this win and we were literally just trying to follow their lead and service them. They stepped up big. I was nervous. We've been in that situation a lot of times over the past couple of years, but I definitely was excited when we got that ball.
Q: Do you like getting that opportunity down the field like that? It seems to be a little different type of route.
A: Yeah, of course. Of course. Any 'opp' is big for me. Just like I said, just want to show up for the team and when those opportunities come, I want to cash in. Everybody did their job around it. The o-line protected DJ. DJ made a good throw. Everybody else ran their routes and like I said, DJ made a perfect throw. Literally, I just watched it and it was a perfect ball and I just had to bring it in. So yeah, it felt good to get that.
Q: You've been around a little bit, when a team goes into a bye off a win versus a loss, can it change a lot? Does it change your head? Does it change the headspace of the team?
A: I don't know how deep just because we won, I just know it's going to feel good. It's going to feel good and we're going to get rest. We're still going to get some work in this week and get a nice break. Any time you're going into a bye week with a win, it feels good. You're not having a bad taste in your mouth, but to still be able to see the game, watch the game and make mistakes and continue to move forward and grow as a team. Definitely, it feels good with a win going into the bye week.
Q: You talk about you feeling stressed on that last drive and when the defense is on the field. The crowd is very into it, the building is different. There was a different energy to it than a lot of the past year. Did you notice that and what does that mean?
A: I mean, there's been tough times with our fans and everything. I think just as long as we continue to put a good product on the field and defense. All the defenses that have been here throughout the years of this franchise and for our defense to show up the last home game and this game, I think they really fed off of that. Our guys are real energetic. They're getting involved when we're in big situations like that last drive. The big third downs, the crowd was into it. So it felt good to just play good football for them and dig out a big win for us and for them.
Q: How do you envision this offense with everyone getting healthier and those guys coming back – (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Sterling (Shepard) getting closer?
A: There's been flashes of the offense in the previous weeks with everybody healthy – Washington, Saints, all those guys make a play. I know those guys are working to get back and we definitely are going to be explosive and try to work and continue to grow and make plays all together. I just know those guys are trying to get back as fast as possible and we'll be ready when they do.
Linebacker Quincy Roche
Q: Talk about the last play—the strip sack fumble.
A: I'd been looking at his (Raiders T Kolton Miller) set all game. I was going power for the most part, but that drive wanted to give a change up, wanted to switch it up against a good player and I beat him around the edge. He's a great player. It was a great play.
Q: What was going through your head when you're approaching (Raiders QB) Derek Carr and getting that play (inaudible) getting a clear shot at him.
A: Just finish. It goes back to what we do in practice. Just practice and finishing all the time at the top of your rushes. That's been drilled hundreds of times, so when you're in the game your body is taking over.
Q: When you get the ball out are you even seeing it at that point? Are you seeing when (Giants DL) Leonard (Williams) comes over?
A: No, I just heard the crowd start screaming and that's how I knew (laughs). My head was turned the other way and I saw the crowd screaming. I heard the crowd screaming and I just got super excited.
Q: In what ways do you see this defense really grow and the pass rush improve?
A: I think it's just everybody jelling together, everybody working hard in practice and it shows in the game. So, I'm really thrilled with this defense, the way that we've been playing, but of course there's room for improvement, so we'll be back in the lab after this bye week and we've got a tough opponent next.
Q: (Giants Head Coach) Joe (Judge) was talking about—he was telling us a little while ago that there was, that (Giants Defensive Coordinator) Patrick (Graham) was on the sidelines—he used the phrase "drawing a few plays in the dirt" that last drive, stuff that you guys knew and understood but maybe wasn't in the game plan. Was anything that you did on that last play there a part of that? Do you recall making a particular play that he adjusted?
A: We made some adjustments. Coach is great at coming to the sidelines and making adjustments during the game. It's one of the things I'm understanding—being a rookie—is that there's going to be a lot of adjustments coming during the game. We made some adjustments in the last drive and it paid off.
Q: On that last play, in your play, was there an adjustment there?
A: No, that was a play we ran before.
Q: When you guys are on the field in the last series are you guys talking about "we've got to make a play" or are you just like "do your job" or what?
A: So anytime you have a two-minute situation, you know, for the pass rushers that's on the field that's time to show up. That's for any pass rusher and so you know that's the moments that we live for. It's those two-minute opportunities, opportunities to help the team and get the quarterback down.
Q: You started off the season in Pittsburgh. What's it like playing for the Giants right now and everything you're gone through up to this point?
A: I'm thankful to be here. I'm thrilled to be here and thankful for the opportunity for the Giants to claim me off of waivers and I've just been trying to get better every day. That's my job—to come in here with a great mindset, get better every day and when my number is called, show up.
Q: (Giants LB) Oshane (Ximines) goes down for this game as a healthy scratch. I'm wondering if he said anything to you and (Giants LB Azeez) Ojulari, (Giants LB) Trent (Harris), and the guys who kind of took his spot.
A: Yea, he's been supportive since I got here. Me and him were coming off the bench together so that was the guy who was helping me through the playbook, helping guide me through everything, so he's been nothing but supportive and I'm the same for him.
View photos from the New York Giants' Week 9 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.