Normally I'd post this with the Mike Singletary press conference but: 1) It came after I posted the Singletary presser and 2) It allows us to divide out the thoughts about that final drive (among other things). First and foremost, Hill discusses the spike with 1:20 left
RE: When you got the first down there on the 21 with about 1:20 left, was Mike Martz telling you to spike the ball?
“It came in through the headsets. Just to spike it.”
RE: You needed to regroup?
“Yeah. I wouldn’t second guess it at all. Certainly, you’d like to think in three plays you’re going to be able to get a first down, or at least get a touchdown – or at least get a first down and hopefully a touchdown. If you don’t, then lets say – if you’re on the ball, and our red zone package maybe is heavy in one personnel, or something, then when you’re on the ball in a different personnel, obviously you can’t run that personnel on the field to execute your red zone plays. You spike the ball, you’ve got a chance to do whatever you want. Execute your whole game plan. You can do whatever you want. I don’t second guess that at all. You’ve got three opportunities to gain 10 yards or more. And you’d like to think on offense that we’d be able to do that.”
The final drive
RE: It was clear there was a communication breakdown on that last play. What did you hear?
“Well, like I said, there’s times – the crowd noise gets magnified into your speakers as well as the play caller. So you do pick up bits and pieces. We had the right formation and the right play, I just set it the wrong side is all. Just wanted our bunch to be on the boundry on that particular play.”
RE: Why were you guys lined up on that side?
“Because that’s just what I thought I heard. When you hear just bits and pieces you just try to put it together the best you can. I don’t know. I just chose the wrong side I guess. I don’t know. That kind of stuff – it pops up throughout a game, especially on the road, more than people realize.”
RE: Does that come with experience, getting the guys lined up properly?
“We were lined up properly. Everything was called right, it was just to the wrong side. I don’t know if you guys understand what I mean by it. It was the right play, the right formation, it was just flip-flopped is all. It was flip-flopped from the way coach wanted it, is all. Like I said, that kind of stuff happens a lot, especially when you’re on the road. You hear bits and pieces of the play and you have to put it together through your own experiences throughout practice, which – the way you’ve run it and things like that. That stuff does happen.”
RE: On that last play, what exactly was wrong with the formation?
“The formation was right. The play was right, it was just flip-flopped from what coach wanted.”
RE: From right to left you mean?
“Right. It was a mirror image of the play, just on the opposite side.”
RE: So the three wide receivers were supposed to be on the right?
“Yes. But, like I said, everything else is exactly the same. Like I said, when you’re on the road, especially when the crowd starts getting involved late in the game, you hear bits and pieces of it. You try to put it together. We put together the right play, the right formation. Instead of calling right, I called it left. That was the only difference.”
RE: Would it have worked?
“You know, I don’t know. I mean what the hell. Shoot – I can’t – I don’t know. You know?”
RE: One last question about that last play. When you do side a formation, is where Joey Porter is taken into account? Or players like him?
“Either way, the protection’s the same. It was a five man protection. We had enough blockers to pick up everybody. I’m not particular myself. I’m not one who gets all concerned with who’s there. My job is to read the coverage and find the open receiver. If there’s a pressure deal that our protection can’t pick up, then that’s when I start to worry about that kind of stuff. But on that particular one, with the defense that they had, what the protection that we had, there wasn’t any issues. I dropped back with 100 percent trust in the guys in front of me.”
The red zone struggles and the offense as a whole
RE: You guys had issues in the red zone, what did you see on film?
“Obviously, we didn’t execute well enough. That’s a great defense, especially in the red zone. They’re very stingy. Their known for that, so we have to execute. Everybody has to execute at a high level in order for us to make plays down there, and we didn’t do it. We had a break down here or there, somebody. Didn’t execute well enough to get touchdowns, and that’s obviously what we needed to win a game.”
RE: How do you guys think you’re doing offensively? You had one drive that was 15 or 16 plays and you ended up punting.
“We’re doing some good things, we really are. In most games we’ve had, we’ve come away from touchdowns and things. This defense is known for being very stingy in the red zone, and we just didn’t execute at a high enough level to score against that group. We’re doing some good things on offense. We’re controlling the ball. We didn’t turn it over. Time of possession was heavy in our favor from what I understand. We did some good things, just didn’t get the touchdowns.”