TENNESSEE TITANS VS LOS ANGELES RAMS POSTGAME TRANSCRIPTS - Sunday, December 24, 2017* *
HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY
Couple of injury updates: DeMarco (Murray), knee. We're going to go get an MRI on him, and see the extent of it. Didn't look good. He's a pretty tough guy, watched him walk off, didn't look good. And Corey Davis got a shoulder, but he returned, and that was it. Disappointing loss, in a lot of ways. Disappointing for those guys, the way they competed. Had a chance to beat them and fell short in a number of ways.
(on what the plan was on the fourth-and-three play)
Just Delanie (Walker) in the flat area.
(on the team's ineffectiveness in the red zone)
Big difference in the game. Definitely the difference in the game. When you're on the one-yard line, don't get it in the one time and then you have a false start, when you play a team that scores a lot of points, you've got to score a lot of points, and obviously that was the difference in the game.
(on the explanation that the referees gave him for the overturned onside kick)
I don't even want to try and explain what they said.
(on if he thought that P Brett Kern was interfered with)
The punt wasn't blocked, the first one. That's the frustrating part, so it was roughing the punter. He was actually hit both times. It was very inconsistent, and I'll say this, that's been about the most consistent thing they've done is be inconsistent. Week in, week out, not just here. For us for sure.
(on if he means that this crew was inconsistent or if all referees have been this season)
I'm saying in general.
Said he lost him for just a count. That's what he said, I'm not standing there when he threw it, but he lost Delanie (Walker) for a count and that's when he pulled it back.
(on the defense scoring today)
We've been missing that. We haven't had one since last year in the Texans game, we have not had a score by the defense. Those are the things that certainly help you win games, most cases you do when you get a defensive score. Not today. It was good because it felt like early on the ball wasn't bouncing in our general direction, and it finally did for a big play.
(on Rams running back Todd Gurley II)
You saw him, you saw what he can do. Get the ball in his hands and he's very dangerous, and he was. He was all day. Screen game, we knew they were going to run screens, they're a very good screen team. We didn't defend them very well. Obviously, the big one hurt. They didn't do anything we didn't expect.
(on if this is the best game that the special teams unit has played all season)
I thought they played about as well. If that's one of the top special teams units in the NFL, the Rams, it was a big challenge. I thought our guys took it on from the very get go, made a lot of plays for us, made a lot of plays. The returners are about as dangerous as they get.
(on the no-huddle)
I'll say this about that, there are certain factors that played into that, as there is every week. Without showing our hand of when and when not to, certain things did and didn't early on.
(on the fight that the team showed)
That's who these guys are. A very, I've used this word a number of times, resilient football team that care about each other. If they compete like that, we have a chance every week. I'll say that, we have. That's what's so disappointing about it. That's the most disappointing part, is because the way they play, the effort, what they do in practice, preparation to get to these games. All the work that goes into it, certain things in that game, could've changed the outcome of that game if they didn't change the outcome of the game. That's what's frustrating.
(on if he knows what a win against the Jaguars next week would mean for the team)
From what I understand, from all the scenarios, we have to win next week to be in.
(on if it is a certainty that a win next week would guarantee the team a playoff spot)
From what I've been told. I hope so, I told the team that.
(on if the team not being down over this loss for long)
No, we've got to get to work. We've got another really good football team coming into our place.
(on if CB Brice McCain panicked unnecessarily on the play that he was flagged for pass interference)
Yeah, as you're running full speed, I don't know how you know if it is or it isn't. That was one of the better calls that he has.
(on the missed catch by WR Taywan Taylor on the third-and-13)
Got to make that play, got to make that play. Those are the plays that need to be made. And he knows it, I told him as soon as he came off of the field. Got to make those plays.
(on what contributed to WR Corey Davis' success today)
Some of the coverages dictated going back to him in the progression. He had a good day, it was good to see him make some plays.
(on if he saw anything this week that contributed to Corey Davis gaining yards after catches)
Yeah, we knew some of the catches he would have an opportunity to possibly get some yards after, and he did.
(on the team being out of contention for the AFC South division title)
That's one (goal), obviously, out of our control again. We still have an opportunity to get into the playoffs and that's the next objective.
(on if there's irony to the Jaguars deciding the team's fate for the second season in a row)
That's how it's unfolding, it's just the way it is. Another good team that's coming into our place. It's coming down to the last game, that's not a bad thing.
(on if the long passes on first and second downs in the final drive were the first option for those plays)
Yeah, they sat on our routes, we were trying to hit a double move on the first one. Second one was more of a design of the way the play was designed.
(on if Marcus Mariota is reluctant to leave the pocket and how much they are missing that in his game)
I don't know if it's reluctant. I think he's trying to make some plays, which he did, a couple of them he did. It has some effect on the offense when he's not running as much as he has earlier in the season.
(on if Marcus Mariota running less is injury related)
It's Week 16 related.
(on what it means for RB Derrick Henry if the team potentially doesn't have RB DeMarco Murray)
He'll, obviously, he'll get a bigger load. It's good for him, I'm glad we have him. That's what he's here for, and (David) Fluellen as well. And again, that's me speaking right after the game. I've seen him before come back pretty strong. He's about as tough a player we got.
(on if Marcus Mariota lost track of the player that was back peddling on his interception)
QUARTERBACK MARCUS MARIOTA
(on what he saw on the fourth-and-three play)
I lost sight of Delanie (Walker). Ended up hearing that – I think he might have won. Was just kind of going through my progressions and trying to make a play at the end. In that situation, you’ve got to just throw it up. Hopefully someone comes down with it. But yeah, I give credit to the Rams defense. They ended up making a play when they needed it.
(on if tight end Delanie Walker was running a called route on the final play or if he was free to do as he saw fit)
It was something that we practiced. Again, he ended up winning and I’ve got to give him a chance.
(on the overall feeling leaving the stadium today)
Obviously disappointed that we lost, but we understand we’re still in it. We’ve got to put one together and we’re looking forward to the challenge next week.
(on needing to worry about their own game as opposed to worrying about other teams winning or losing)
Unfortunately, we kind of put ourselves in this situation. But, we’re in it and we’ve got to just go out there and again, put one together. Put a full, complete game together as a team and see what happens.
(on what it would take to convert the red zone offense to a no-huddle style)
Well, it’s just got to be better. Obviously in that situation, third down, got to convert it. We did a good job moving the football. When we got in the red zone, we just couldn’t convert third downs. If you’re not able to do that, if you’re not able to score touchdowns, it’s tough.
(on the offense having improved in red zone scoring in recent weeks and what happened today that didn’t allow for that success to continue)
I mean, you’ve got to give credit to the defense. They made the plays when they needed to. I think on that first red zone attempt, linebacker made a good play, got a ball tipped. I think Delanie (Walker) probably would have came down with that. The second one, they just had some that – I was trying to get to a check and they ended up checking out of it. Again, you’ve just got to give credit where credit is due. They made the plays when they needed to.
(on potentially losing running back DeMarco Murray to a knee injury)
Well, we’ll have to see. But I’m sure Derrick (Henry) is prepared and ready to go.
(on wide receiver Corey Davis’ performance)
For sure. Having him take that next step is huge and key for us. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and we’ve got to continue to find ways to give him the football.
(on losing three games by one possession and what has changed since being able to win those types of games early in the seasons)
Just not making the plays that we need to win. Give credit to the defense, our defense, for keeping us in the game, scoring a touchdown and giving us an opportunity to win in the end. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to give our guys a chance to make plays. It’s unfortunate, but it’s something that we can learn from and we can get better from.
(on if he’s having to learn to win games differently since he’s not running as much as he can)
I don’t know if (I’m) leaning a different way. I think I just – I’ve got to do a better job of executing. When Coach (Robiskie) calls the plays, I can do a better job of taking care of the football and making plays on the field.
(on what he saw on his first interception)
The corner played well. I thought I could throw it over the top of the linebacker and he ended up peeling off. It’s one of those where you – you’re throwing it and you want to bring it back, and it was kind of in between. Obviously, would like to have that back. Corner made a good play, linebacker ended up catching it and that was that.
(on his ability to erase errors from his memory and what he saw on the next few drives after his interception that allowed the offense to move the ball)
I mean, I think we just were able to get in a rhythm. Obviously, we didn’t score touchdowns, but being able to move the football and get some points on the board – really it was just guys were winning. Our receivers did a great job of winning their one-on-one matchups and just gave them an opportunity to make a play.
(on why his connection with Corey Davis was working so well today)
Well, he makes it easy. I think he’s tough to cover, he’s a good route runner, finds ways to create separation. For the quarterback, it’s easier when you have a guy that – when he’s running his routes, he tells you where he’s going by just the little indications and he does a good job of that.
(on the Jacksonville Jaguars ‘standing in the way’ of the playoffs for the second season in a row)
Yeah, I mean, I guess so. But you know what? We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a tough matchup but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
(on what happened on the first scoring drive where the offense couldn’t score a touchdown)
Again, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The Rams did a good job of not letting us in. Unfortunately, we had a penalty and then I took a sack. I probably should have thrown the ball away. But, when you’re facing third down and you’re at third down and 12, or something like that in the red zone, it’s tough. Didn’t make the play when we needed to and they did a good job.
(on if the Titans will be ‘more smashmouth and less exotic’ if DeMarco Murray misses time with injury)
I don’t know.
(on what he’s thinking when Coach Mularkey says after today’s loss if they win next week they reach the playoffs)
That’s all you could ever ask, you just want a chance. You just want an opportunity. We let one slip away, we let kind of three in a row slip away. But, all you can really ask for is an opportunity. I look forward to getting back to work and doing our best to hopefully get this one.
(on the challenge of not having positive momentum heading in to Week 17)
Well, it is what it is. You can’t hang your head, got to move past what happened. Can’t affect what’s going on, you’ve just got to go out there and look forward. Just get prepared and ready to go. This is our season and we’re looking forward to it.
TIGHT END DELANIE WALKER
(on the Titans’ loss to the Rams)
Our defense did a great job of stopping them, and offense moved the ball pretty well. Just it came down to the last minute, they made more plays than we did, obviously.
(on the Titans’ inability to win close games lately)
I don’t know. It’s late in the season. I’m not sure. I really can’t tell you why these things are happening, where in the beginning of the season we pulled off these close games. And now at the end of the season, it’s like it is not happening. It’s not happening our way. I really don’t know.
(on Titans’ offense stalling in the fourth quarter on two crucial drives)
I’m not sure why that happened. Those are things we are going to have to watch to see why that happened. When we got things going, it was going, and just a few plays here and there that put us in a hole.
(on Titans’ not scoring a touchdown when they had the ball 1st-and-goal)
That’s big. When we get down there, we’ve got to be able to get in the end zone. I think we had a penalty that set us back. They stopped us. Then we had some broken plays that basically ended that drive. Things we can’t have, especially playing a team like the Rams. You can’t do that, and ultimately, that shot us in the foot.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE JURRELL CASEY
(on Titans’ defense giving up late scores, after Titans’ offense had scored to take the lead in the fourth quarter)
It is definitely rough. We have been waiting for these moments all year long, and now that they are doing it, I don’t know what the hell is going on, on the right side of the ball right now. To let guys drive down the field with no problem, score points, and take the lead again, has been haunting us the past few games. Don’t know why. Can’t give you an answer why. Something we’ve been trying to erase, the last couple of years. I believe we got that done at the beginning of the year. We’re just letting it creep back in right now.
(on the Rams’ RB Todd Gurley)
He’s a great back. He’s definitely got the tools. He is going to have a long career. Man, that guy is shifty and explosive. You don’t see too many running backs that can run like him. He can catch the ball, and make stuff happen out of the backfield. So, it was definitely tough trying to contain that guy. We had a visual on him, but he was just making plays. When you’ve got a guy that can make plays like that, you need to step in and make it happen. He just did it.
WIDE RECEIVER COREY DAVIS
(on getting several passes thrown his way today in the Titans’ offensive drives)
Today was my day, I guess. It was tough day for the team and we came up a little bit short and have some things to clean up. You never really know when it is your day. You have to always be ready, especially in this game. Today my number was called, and obviously we didn’t do enough. The team, not I did enough, but we’ll clean it up and come back next week.
SAFETY KEVIN BYARD
(on the effort of the Titans’ defense today)
We definitely played our hearts out today. The defense played hard, gave up a couple of plays here and there. The Rams’ screen game really hurt us today. Real bad. You take away a couple of screens, we have a pretty solid day today on defense. We have to make plays, at the end of the day. Hats off to their offensive coordinator. He called a pretty good game. When you are blitzing a team a lot, you kind of give away screens and things like that, so it’s kind of a give and take thing. They made more plays today, and hats off to them.
(on the Titans’ loss today to the Rams)
It is really frustrating, because we’re usually a team used to finishing strong in situations like that. We usually win those games. This last stretch, we haven’t been winning those. We have to find a way to finish games. Rather than a player making a play here or there, we just have to find a way to come out on top.
LINEBACKER AVERY WILLIAMSON
(on the loss)
I don’t know. The ball is just not rolling our way. We just have to let this one get behind us, and focus on this last one. Because we’ve got to win the last one, or it’s over with. They’ve got some guys who can play over there (on Rams). They capitalized. We didn’t get off the field when we were supposed to. We just have to focus on next week now.
RAMS HEAD COACH SEAN MCVAY
Really a tough, gutsy win against a great opponent today. I got a lot of respect for Coach (Mike) Mularkey and what they have done this year and the way those guys continue to compete, but I can’t say enough about our football team’s mental toughness, coming away with another win in a great atmosphere and environment. I thought offense, defense, special teams-all three phases found a way to contribute. Certainly, it wasn’t perfect but so happy for our players and for our coaching staff to find a way to get to 11-4 and win the division and it’s a step in the right direction. Really can’t say enough about just our players and coaching staff, very happy for those guys.
(on what it means to win the division)
You are so happy for these players and coaches, just to be able to share that feeling with these guys that we have accomplished one of our goals when you start the season. Doing this gives us a chance to compete and get into the playoffs and now we are assured of a home playoff game as well. So, you just look at some of the guys, the way they have continued to work, guys who have fought through some adversity and then our coaching staff putting our players into good positions to have success on the field. So, I am just so happy for those guys and just happy to be a part of it.
(on if it was a major emphasis to get ball into Todd Gurley’s hands)
It was certainly part of the game plan. When you look at the way he is able to contribute and do different things whether it be to the run game and the pass game today, I thought the turning point in the game, really, especially after (Jurrell) Casey makes a great play that forces them to be able to get a touchdown, they take the lead and then Todd comes back on the second play of the next drive and goes 80 on a screen. So, he’s a special player. I think he is playing his best the last couple of weeks when it is the most important, these last couple of weeks. When you got a guy stepping up like that we always talk about be your best when your best is required and that’s what we define as that competitive greatness and I think Todd has displayed that these last couple of weeks. It is really a credit to Todd and the rest of his teammates for coming away with two tough road wins and to be able to get us a division championship today.
(on what he was thinking on the Titans’ last offensive play)
You are looking at a great athlete that can buy time with his legs and create off schedule. Then you see Connor (Barwin), a special athlete, too. (He) did a great job finding a way to force that ball to come out. It seemed like that ball hung up in the air for a long time, too. I thought it was a great job for the offense to use up enough clock and finish the game out right there. I can’t say enough about those guys, very happy for our team.
(on Jared Goff’s fourth quarter)
Big time, I think Jared does a great job and you are seeing him continue to mature as the season has progressed. But there is an option where he has a high-low read right there, third down. You know he went for the touchdown play and I thought it was also a great representation of Cooper Kupp’s ability to respond after he had a drop on the third down the previous series. That’s what we talk about all the time, being a mentally tough team. I thought those two right there at a big-time moment, protection was great, got some separation, Cooper was able to get the knee down and that counts for those two feet down. Jared delivered an excellent throw right there and great protection by the line.
(on being impressed by catch made by Cooper)
Very impressed. I don’t want to say you’re surprised though because that’s what he’s demonstrated. Certainly, football is a game where you’ve got to be able to respond to adversity whenever you face it and he’s continued to demonstrate the ability to do that throughout the course of the season. You really see the maturity for a rookie. That’s pretty rare. He’s a guy that we’re counting on. He’s going to continue to be a big part of our offense and I thought he delivered in a big way. That was a great job by Jared (Goff) as well.
(on K Sam Ficken’s play today and his future)
You know, I thought he did a good job after, obviously what wasn’t a great start. We missed the extra point. We missed the field goal. To his credit, he found a way to respond and came away being able to make the rest of the opportunities that he did have. I thought he kicked the ball off pretty well. We’ll continue to evaluate moving forward. You talk about responding the right way and those were all extra points and points that we needed that ended up being clutch. I thought, again, the mental toughness where it kind of was unfazed. Certainly, he’d like to be able to hit those first few. It didn’t work out that way but he didn’t let that effect his ability to move forward and I think that says a lot about Sam.
(on his message now to the players and what mindset they’ll have for the rest of the season)
That’s a great question. I think really it’s going to be dependent upon kind of our approach to this last week and the way we always try to compete to win games. We’re certainly going to enjoy this one right now. Players will come back on Wednesday. We’ll get together a plan against a 49ers team that’s been rolling and playing really good football the last couple weeks. You definitely do have your mind on some of the things and the ways that it’ll affect our outlook towards the playoffs knowing that we are in. That’ll be things we discuss as staff moving forward and our players have done a great job being committed to the right things, day in and day out. Our focus on that one day at a time mindset won’t change.
(on if at any point during the game, things were not looking great for the team)
I don’t think so. I think you know you’re in a tight game. Credit to the Titans. They continued to find ways to respond and make it a back and forth battle. Our guys just continued to demonstrate that resolve that we like to see. Can’t say enough about their ability to finish out games this year. To be able to go on the road and finish the season out 7-1 and then you look at it really, London counted as home game so we say 8-1, even though it was great atmosphere there. That says a lot about our football team. We’ve traveled as many miles, honestly, the most miles in the league. This is a really good step in the right direction. I’m just so happy for these guys.
(on OLB Cory Littleton stepping up today in place of Mark Barron)
I thought he did a great job. You know, a lot of situations where we’re playing some man coverage principles. He’s covering one of the best tight ends in the league in Delanie Walker. He comes away with the big turnover early on in the game that ends up being a huge play for us from a momentum standpoint. You see the ability to run and pursue and Cory’s done a great job.
RAMS QUARTERBACK JARED GOFF
(on if running back Todd Gurley could be the NFL MVP)
He is in my book. If there is anyone out there, if there’s a running back that deserves it, he’s the guy. I knows there’s a bunch of other guys in the league doing great things, but he’s got my vote.
(on being surprised about the turnaround from last season)
I guess from the outside looking in you could be surprised. But, being on the inside of it and being there daily, and seeing all the changes that happened, and everything that went in the right direction this offseason. Coming in through OTAs and through training camp, and training upwards and feeling good about it. You never know how this whole season is going to play out, but we felt good about our year and coming into it, and now we are sitting here division champs and it feels really good.
(on his performance today)
I felt good. I thought it was a good day. I think any time you get Todd (Gurley) out in space, with screens – I don’t know how many screen passes we threw to him today, but we threw a bunch. It was a part of our game plan, trying to him the ball in space, and we did. I thought Cooper (Kupp) made a great catch and Sam (Watkins) on another one.
*(on newly signed kicker Sam Ficken struggling early)*
I knew he needed to warm up a little bit and get him a little loose. We were going to need to score touchdowns to win the game regardless. He finished up out there for us pretty good.
RAMS DEFENSIVE TACKLE AARON DONALD
(on the last play by outside linebacker Conner Barwin to make a stop)
A big time play. That’s what he is here for, to make plays like that and help us pull games off like that. He just did his job and did a great job.
(on the difference between this Rams team compared to previous seasons)
We are just playing tough football. The past year is the past year. This year is a new year, and everybody is just out there making plays and giving all they’ve got, and when you do that, you can win a lot of games and its showing.
(on the feeling after receiving hats and shirts for winning the NFC West)
The last time I won a championship I was seven years old, so this is definitely a good feeling. It’s been a long time and I am happy to be part of it and enjoy this with these guys. They worked for it, we worked for it. We are just going to enjoy it.
RAMS RUNNING BACK TODD GURLEY II
(on his long touchdown reception on the screen pass in the first half)
Coach called a great play. It just went by fast. I know a couple of backers blitzed and we were able to get out. The linemen did a great job. I was able to take it all the way to the house.
(on the players in the locker room lobbying for him to be MVP)
I am just excited about the win. I am out here playing the game that I love every Sunday and able to do good thanks to these guys in this locker room helping me out. We still have more games left and we just want to finish strong.
(on why the screen game has been so effective for the offense this season)
Coach has been able to put us in great situations. Perfect timing and rhythm. Just us working on it and being able to not be successful on a couple early in the year, and then learn from the mistakes and be successful.
(on the atmosphere in the locker room after the win)
It was exciting. Seeing everybody happy – it was exciting. It was breathtaking. Everybody was happy for each other and giving hugs and telling everybody that we love each other. That’s what football is all about – getting to have this feeling, winning games and a playoff spot. It doesn’t get any better than this.
RAMS CORNERBACK TRUMAINE JOHNSON
(on the locker room atmosphere)
This is big. It’s history. I’ve been with this team six years and have been on the other side. Hard times. It’s all glory to God. When you look back at it you put so much into this with your teammates going back to training camp and OTA’s. All for this. It’s been 14 years. This is one stepping stone and I’m glad to be with this team.
(on the difference with this team as opposed to years past)
We are winning games. When you look at it, we’re winning games. No disrespect to the guys that I have played with over the last five years. I love those guys and I love these guys. But winning games, like I said, this is history. To be a part of this is something special.
RAMS LINEBACKER ALEC OGLETREE
(on the win and clinching the division)
We worked really hard for it. It’s been a long time. It just means a lot for us to get to this moment and become NFC West champions.
(on this being the stepping stone toward the ultimate goal)
This is not our only goal. It was one of our goals to get the West. We accomplished that. We came for bigger things and we just have to keep putting in the work next week and into the playoffs.
(on this type of win on the road in a tough, physical game)
It just shows all the hard work that we have been putting in all year. Over the years some of the guys that have been here we have been down for a long time. For us to come back this year and do it the right way and become NFC West champions, you couldn’t write a better story.
(on what has been different on this year’s team)
We just play as a complete team. All three phases play really well together. When you are able to do that you give yourself a good chance to have a good team and win games like this and become NFC West champions.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)