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Washington Commanders Pressers: Ron Rivera and Sam Howell talk about the win over the Patriots

Rivera, Howell, and more players talk to the media

Washington Commanders v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Ron Rivera

(Rivera speaks at 5:25)


Well, you know, it was a hard-fought game. It really was. I mean, it went back and forth. We had opportunities. We missed some opportunities. You know, one thing, we’ve got to take better care of the football. Defensively, we can’t give up an explosive like we did, but for the most part, I thought the guys came out, competed, played hard, did good things. Did things that they’re capable of and showed what we can do.

Belief in Sam Howell:

Well, with the exception of the interception in the first half, I thought he played the type of game we believe he is capable of. He made some really good decisions, some smart things. I mean, there’s some things he’s going to want to have back once he gets a chance to look at the tape and we get a chance to really evaluate it. You know, again, we’ve got to make sure that we put those guys in position to have the success that we can have, and, again, we’re still growing and developing with the guy, but he did a great job for us and led us to the victory.

Howell’s interception:

With his, he tried to force it. I mean, that play calls for – it’s a quick read. He tries to extend it a little too much and then he saw Jahan coming late, and at that point, just throw it into the endzone. I mean throw it just completely out of the endzone and that was disappointing. He knows better, and he was really disappointed in himself at halftime. But, he got over it quickly and came out and, you know, regrouped and played well in the second half and did the things that, like I said, we believe he can.

Quan Martin’s interception:

Oh, it was a really nice play. Defensively, again, he’s lurking there. He’s a guy that’s in position that if something does get tipped that hopefully he can come up with it, and he did.

KJ Henry’s roughing the passer penalty:

They thought it was full bodyweight, um, you know, and, again, we, you know.

James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill:

I thought they went out and played with a lot of energy. You know, they did some good things, but there’s some things that, obviously, they’re going to have to clean up and do better with. You know, I thought the guys we tried to rotate in did some nice things.

I thought KJ had a nice rush. Unfortunately, it got called, but, again, these guys are going to work the form. They’re young guys. They’re going to have to get opportunities, and that’s what they’re getting right now.

Patriots were targeting Jamin Davis in the passing game late:

You know, again, it’s one of those things that during those types of plays, they are going to target. They are going to target the linebackers. They’re going to try to create one-on-one situations, especially with receivers on the crossing routes, and you can’t hide him in those situations. You’ve just got to hope that he fights and battles the way he did, and that’s what he did.

They tried to run a wheel on him, and he was in great position and showed great poise and at the right time he made his move to tip the ball. You know, that’s the growth that we’re looking for from him, and he’s continuing to play well for us.

Young players stepping up:

You know, it’s a good group of young guys. What we’re doing now is giving opportunities and they’ve got to step up when they’ve got opportunities. You know, that’s kind of the growth part that you want from the young guys that when they get a chance, they take advantage of those chances and make plays for us. We saw a little bit of that today and hopefully we can continue with that into next week.

Emmanuel Forbes:

Basically, what you’re seeing is the result of his practice habits right now. He’s been working hard. I know things that they’ve been working with the defensive backs, particularly with him, about being disciplined, about doing little things the right way and you start to see it. So, again, if he can continue to do those things, play within himself, play within the scheme, I think he’s got a chance to continue to grow and improve. And, hopefully, he can grow from here and he can improve on what he did today.

Winning after making big trades during the week:

I think it was very important. Every game’s important as far as winning is concerned, but you know, in light of what did happen last week and so far this season, victories are big. So, when you get one after a tough week for the guys in the locker room, it’s a big win. It really is.

What he learned about Sam Howell today:

He’s resilient. You know, he was really – he was so disappointed in himself on the interception. We went into the locker room, and you could still see he was upset with himself, you know, and Jacoby was right there with him. I went over and said something quickly, and then he had a little grin on his face, so I knew he was going to get over it quickly and come back out and play.

Key to holding on for the win:

Not letting it get away from us. You know, we hit a little bit of lull. We had a couple of big mistakes that did hurt us. You know, we got knocked out of our crease and we didn’t get over the top to make the play and they popped a big run on us. You know, we drive the ball, get the ball, and, you know, an opportunity to score a touchdown and instead of throwing it away we make a huge mistake trying to force it.

But, we came back out in the second half and I thought the guys really – I mean, really proud of the way they did. The offensive line was terrific. You know, they did a great job. This is a very difficult defense to block all the time, and we were able to pick up a lot of the things so a lot of those guys did a great job for us.

I thought the receivers, you know, made the plays that they had to. There were a couple of stretches where Jahan really came up and did his thing, and you watch and then Terry stepped up in the second half, and he did a couple of big things that were explosive for us. And when guys all contribute, you know, we ran the ball hard. We really did.

Our running backs all ran hard. A little disappointed that we lost the fumble, but BRob came right back, and he continued to play hard. And, that’s why we want a kid like that in this offense, because when there’s balance and we run the ball like that, you can be successful, and EB knows that. So, it was good to see that as well. So many guys contributed, so many players did the job that they needed to do to give us a chance to win today.

And then, you know, defensively, some of the things that some of our guys did, but, you know, it was a great effort. It really was, by that group.

Sam Howell’s confidence and tape study:

Well, it’s a little bit of both. You know, EB’s been goading him to do it. He’s gaining more and more confidence I think, again, as stout as we are up front. It’s giving him an opportunity to really hitch and throw the ball and drive it and that, I think, has been a big plus for him that we’ve been able to do those things.

Howell’s comfort level:

Well, I think, again, just being able to step into the pocket and have it clean and have a throwing lane. He got one ball tipped today or got a couple tipped, but his throwing lanes were clean for the most part. You could see his decision-making was really on cue, and I think being able to see the whole field and keeping your eyes up. That’s probably the biggest thing that you see, is that his eyes are up. So, when he steps up into the pocket, he’s not looking around as much as he’s looking down field, and that’s one of the big keys I know that EB talks about all the time.

Sam Howell’s run on third and 23 and touchdown pass to Jahan:

That’s really what Sam is capable of doing. We saw that when he was coming out of his last year at North Carolina. He ran the ball well, rushed for almost 900 yards his last year there. And, he did a really nice job, so he does have some ability if he has to scramble. He can pick up valuable yards. I thought the throw to Jahan was nice anticipation, you know, and you saw Jahan kick in a little extra gear to go get it. That was pretty impressive, so it was a great job up front with protection, first of all. They were bringing pressure and he just put it out there and Jahan went and got it. That’s kind of what you really look for and what you’re hoping for our guys to do.

Sam Howell

(Howell speaks at 47:00)

Play vs the Patriots:

Yeah, you know, I thought it was all right. I thought I did some good things, made some good plays. I just got to find a way to play better at certain times, and obviously the interception was a big play for us, a chance for us to really get the momentum going into halftime. And that’s probably one of the worst plays I’ve ever made in my football career. So definitely just got to not do that in that situation.

But, yeah, I thought I did some good plays. A lot of guys stepped up and made some big plays down the field. You know, the O-line did a good job all day long. We ran the ball well. We protected well. They brought some blitzes, some cover zeros. We got to some checks and managed that pretty well, so I thought as a whole we did a lot of really good things.

We just got to find a way to finish better and when we have a chance in the fourth quarter to win the game, we’ve got to take advantage of that and not put our defense in so many opportunities. We gave the ball back to them probably three times, you know, and our defense came up with a stop every single time so just credit to them and it was a great team win.

Good plays vs a bad interception:

Yeah, I mean, obviously I hate that that play happened, but I’m not going to let that happen again and I think my teammates know that and I told them that, so I’m just going to try to continue to build on the good things that we did.

What happened on the interception?:

It was just obviously in a situation like that, you’ve got to try to throw the ball away, and obviously I was on the perimeter and it was a rollout pass and a guy kind of triggered and tried to come hit me late and so I was trying to find an incompletion and I just didn’t get the ball out-of-bounds.

Touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson:

They were trying to bring cover zero and for most of the game, our cover zero stuff was getting to some quick screens and stuff like that, so I knew we’d have an opportunity versus cover zero to get into max protection and take a shot down the field, and Jahan did a good job beating his guy. We know it’s going to be one-on-one. In cover zero, there’s nobody behind him, so I just tried to throw it out there and let him go get it. He did.

Getting in sync with the protection:

Yeah, I think we’re doing a really good job and I think that o-line unit is really starting to come together. They put together two really good games and we’ve just got to continue to grow and they’re doing a good job. Tyler came in and is doing a really good job and he’s doing a good job with making the right calls and me and him being on the same page and those guys are fighting. That’s all we can ask from them, is continue to fight and as we continue to grow as an offense, their job will get easier.

As we run the ball better, as we continue to get the ball out fast and stuff like that, as I continue to grow and develop, it will only help them, but, you know, we’re doing some good things and we just got to try to continue and build on it and let it translate to more points.

Young guys making plays:

Yeah, it’s awesome. Obviously, you know, we have a lot of young guys on this team and with Chase and Tez gone, some young guys had to step up and make plays and they did that today.

Obviously, I was very happy for Forbes. He’s been someone I’ve talked to a lot throughout this year just trying to help him continue to grow because he’s such a good player and we all know he is. He’s just been in some bad situations and it was cool to see him go out there and play well today.

He had a really good game today, and KJ came up with the sack. I don’t know what you thought about the penalty or something like that, but, obviously, we thought it was – we didn’t think it was a great call, but it was a good moment for him and those guys had to step up and I think they kind of played with a chip on their shoulder, you know, because everyone assumes that Tez and Chase are gone and obviously, you know, Tez and Chase are great players and they’re going to have great careers, but we still have young guys that can play football and they’re here for a reason and they stepped up in a big way today.

Teammates and coaches supporting him after the interception:

Yeah, obviously they know there’s not really a whole lot you can say after a play like that. They just try to pick me up and I’m just so grateful to have so many good people around me here, whether it’s teammates, coaches and everyone’s just had my back throughout this whole entire journey. I feel like that’s one of the main reasons I’m continuing to grow, just the support I’ve had since I’ve been here. Players on both sides of the ball, coaches on both sides of the ball. You know, we were down at halftime, but we knew we were going to find a way to win the game. So just having that support from everybody in the building has been awesome.

Bill Belichick’s defense:

Yeah, I mean, obviously, it’s always tough playing against a defense like that and they tried to do a lot of different looks and mix up different looks and try to disguise different things. They got us a couple of times but we got them a couple of times. That’s just part of it, and I thought we did a good job throughout the week. The coaches had a really good plan for the stuff they were going try to do and the looks they were going try to give us. We went out there, and for the most, part, we executed.

Working with Eric Bieniemy:

Yeah, I think that’s something that’s going to continue to grow as we continue to go through more games together. I think, you know, I’m starting to – obviously every single week I feel more confident about knowing what he’s going to call and being able to predict how he’s going to call the game.

He just works so hard throughout the week, and we’re in constant communication as far as what we’re installing and why we’re installing it, what we’re looking for, how to progress through a certain pass play or stuff like that. He’s a great communicator, and he’s done a really good job as far as my development and he’s just given me so much knowledge and allows me to come out here to play fast.

Shutting out the outside world/Franchise QB talk:

Yeah, obviously, you know, I want to be the quarterback here for a really long time. But at the end of the day, how I’m going to get to that point is taking it one day at a time and doing everything that I can on a day-to-day basis, and that’s kind of the way I look at it. I never worry about the future. I take it one day at a time, and I try to give every single day everything that I’ve got. I try to give my teammates, I give this organization every single thing that I have every single day. That’s what I’ll continue to try to do.

Terry McLaurin

Washington’s offense:

As an offense we have to continue to figure out how to be better in ‘got-to-have’ situations. As an offense we like to finish with the ball in our hands. We don’t want to have to have our defense back out there. When we get in the red zone we have to score touchdowns. As we progress, we’ve got to continue to build on what we did well, but also figure out how to be better in those critical areas.

Sam Howell:

I think he’s doing a great job getting the ball out of his hands, he’s using his legs. I feel like it’s giving the defense another element of his game that they have to prepare for. I think his ball placement has been really good. You can just tell he is continuing to get comfortable in this offense. He’s getting comfortable in the looks that he’s getting, and you can tell he’s getting very decisive in his choices out there.

Sam Howell’s 23-yard run:

That was just a hell of a play by him honestly to get that first down. We tried to block downfield. I think we did a great job on the scramble drill today. We had guys getting open down the field and he does a great job of keeping his eyes down the field, which is one of the better attributes that he’s developed over the season. When you have to account for a guy who can throw the ball down the field and get first downs using his legs, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

Washington’s receivers:

I think we all had a hand in it, from JC to Pringle, myself and Jahan, even Dyami came in and stepped up. We had some over the first half that if we made those plays it would put more pressure on their defense. We’ve got to find ways to make those plays.

Jahan Dotson


It was a big play, we needed it. Sam [Howell] did a great job. He saw cover zero. We’ve been working on it all week. He gave me a chance to make a play for the team. I was able to capitalize.

Losing teammates at the trade deadline:

It’s been tough, obviously, losing two brothers that we love so much, that we miss a lot. We had to come out and work this week. It’s a business. It’s next man up. You have to go and take care of what is supposed to be taken care of on Sundays and that’s what we did today. It was a big win for us.

Sam Howell:

He does it all. He makes big plays when we need them the most. That long third-down conversion run, that was big for us, we needed that. The big time throws he makes, he does it all for us. We’re super happy to have a guy like him at quarterback in our offense.

Washington’s receivers:

We know in this room, receiver-wise, that down the stretch we are going to be the ones who need to make the plays for this team to get us going and get us over that hump to victory. Guys just made plays all day.

Jamison Crowder

Today’s win:

Any win is a good win. To come in and win on the road is big. It’s important as a team. We lost a tough one last week. To come into Foxborough and get the win, it’s huge. We just take them one game and one day at a time. Any win is a good win.

Sam Howell’s third down run:

It was great, for sure it was great. Sam is a competitor. He gives us a chance to win every week. That was huge. You see guys making plays like that, you want to follow suit and get onboard. Go out there and give it your all.

Charles Leno

Sam Howell:

Tyler Larsen

Sam Howell’s leadership:

He’s got that leadership in him. He’s more comfortable bringing it out on the football field once we crossed that line.

Leadership in action:

As soon as the game starts. He’s got that confidence once he comes into the huddle. He’s not the most vocal guy. You can feel it once he come into the huddle.

Importance of this victory:

It’s huge. Especially being 3-6, now we’re 4-5. That sounds a lot better than 3-6. Obviously, we want to build on this. Next week we got a good opponent on the west coast. We have to ride this win and keep going.

Team’s confidence in Sam Howell when the team needs a score:

We’re confident. We’ve got the weapons in the huddle. We got Sam under center. We just got to keep pushing, we know he’s going to do it.

Jonathan Allen

Sam Howell:

Victory Tuesday:

Emmanuel Forbes

Working his way back after being benched:

That was new. Something I had to learn and grow from it.

What he learned from not playing:

Honestly, not taking it personal. Going to work every day to work and get better at my craft.

Staying locked in:

It’s not hard. Go out there and play football. Know the situation is two minutes. Know what they are trying to run and what they are trying to accomplish.

Felt this would be a big week?:

I go into every game thinking I’m going to make plays and do my job. It wasn’t anything different, I went and did my job.

Kendall Fuller

The play of the defense:

We just played team ball. We all just played together. We relied on one another. Everybody played with good energy. We did pretty good on third down. Ultimately making big plays when we needed them and winning situational football. We just played tight coverage and made some plays. We keep playing with confidence and keep competing. Having young guys make plays on the field raised our energy.

Sam Howell’s third down run:

That was big. That set the tone and the energy for the offense. Sam has (rallied us) all year and that is what we rely on him to do. It was definitely a big play for our team.

Quan Martin

Game-winning interception:

It was kind of two minute, clock winding down. They gotta get the ball out, and I seen the quarterback’s hand come off the ball and I just broke on the ball. Kendall Fuller had great coverage to force a tough catch and the ball just popped up and I was in great position.

What does a big play like that do for your confidence?:

Man, its definitely a confidence-booster. I’m not always on the field, so when I get my opportunity, just make the most of it. Know my assignment, know my job, and just be in the right position.

What was the mindset of the defense after the trades?:

It’s a business. You definitely hate to see those guys go. They was a big part of this team, but it’s just next man up mentality. Those guys that came in to play, got out there and did an awesome job, just getting pressure on the quarterback, and just going out and competing.

Joey Slye

Field goals:

We hit the field goal with about ten minutes left, so it was obviously a go-ahead field goal, but that was not really a game winner. Our defense and our special teams helped us out. It felt good to get the ball through the uprights when we had to. That game gets chalked up to our defense, that’s for sure. They took care of the end of that game.

Sam Howell’s third down scramble:

We were looking at possibly punting. He got hit at the 40 and I honestly thought he was going to go down there. I was getting ready to jog out there for the field goal. I’ve seen him since college, it’s not surprising.