Interim head coach Steve Wilks
STEVE WILKS: Like to start out by saying condolences so the Silas family. Heard right before the game that legendary coach and NBA player, Charlotte Hornets former coach Paul Silas passed away. My time in Charlotte, seeing him, being around him, great coach. Even a better person. Coach Clifford had an opportunity to meet his son, Steven, who's coaching down in Houston. Again, condolences to the family. In regards to the game, we talked about doing something that we haven't done all year, which is coming on the road in a playoff environment and winning a football game. Couldn't be more proud of the men in that locker room than I am in the way that we finished that game today. Everything we do starts up front on both sides of the ball, and we ran the ball tonight for 224 yards. We finished the game when we needed to for us trying to pound the ball in the fourth quarter. Very impressive from the standpoint the protecting the football and then taking it away on the defensive side of the ball. And when you look at time of possession, 39 minutes, which is critical. Really trying to keep Geno and those guys off the field with that high-powered offense and those receivers. So with that, I'll take your questions.
Q. Coach, the level of emotion in your voice, what are you feeling?
STEVE WILKS: You know, it's thrilling, again, just for the men in that locker room, for how hard they work, how dedicated they have been. We found ourselves to be able to work through it. Always talk about don't allow it to get in the way, whatever it may be. It started with the coaching change. You know, I can go on and on with the different things, with players leaving, you know, coaches leaving, whatever. You know, those men in that locker room found a way to refocus and get it done.
Q. Coach, talk about starting and finishing strong. This has been a pretty good played game.
STEVE WILKS: Well, it was something that we talked about and we felt like we had to do it on the road. Wanted to be aggressive, as we did. Went for it on fourth down. Didn't get it. Great stance by them. But we never wavered. Another it. Keep persevering; found a way to win the football game. We talked about it at halftime. You know, good football teams, which I feel we are, all right, I told them that, I said, but great ones learn how to finish. Let's go be great.
Q. Is this a statement win?
STEVE WILKS: It's hard to win in the National Football League, regardless. To be able to get this one on the road means a lot, yes.
Q. Playing with a playoff mentality, how do you think the guys responded? Is this the kind of win now, two in a row, kind of get it rolling?
STEVE WILKS: Well, I hope this is something that we can build momentum off of. You know, particularly, again, you know you're good, but when you come into a situation -- because that's a playoff team that we played today. Good football team. So to be able to get a win like this on the road, hostile environment, 12th man, I think is definitely a momentum builder for us. We definitely got to continue to build off this. You know, we got to go home and protect the bank.
Q. Following up on that, if this is a statement win, what kind of statement was made today on the field?
STEVE WILKS: Well, I think just really the mentality of really finishing up front and running the football. I think in the fourth quarter, as a defensive coach -- again, nothing more demoralizing than having a ball run on you in the fourth quarter and not being able to stop it. Our offensive line, again, running backs, those guys did a tremendous job.
Q. D'Onta on that drive, that long drive that ended up in a touchdown. Is was mostly Chuba and Raheem.
STEVE WILKS: It was a mere fact of him not being available. As you saw, Chuba did a tremendous job. As coaches we felt like we were going right now with Chuba in a particular rhythm, but nothing was wrong with D'Onta.
Q. Talk about where the emotion is coming from.
STEVE WILKS: Again, as I expressed, I'm so thrilled and happy for those guys in the locker room. The coaches do a tremendous job in game planning and putting these guys in position, but all the credit goes to those players on how they go out there and perform and finish. With everything we've gone through, they've gone through with the different coaching changes, you know, getting rid of players, organization trying to tank it, you know, all those different things, and to see how those guys responded and came out and played today, it is pretty thrilling emotionally, yes.
Q. What did you say to the folks who said, oh, maybe this organization is tanking after you guys made some of those the trades?
STEVE WILKS: I think it was quite obvious in my approach, in our approach as a team, in how we went out and performed and played. So I don't think you got to really be verbal about it. Just go out and continue to work hard.
Q. Before those last two drives, your first and goal on the three, and Ben calls four straight passes, which seemed to kind of go against the identity. Can you take us though that sequence?
STEVE WILKS: We felt like maybe we could get something on them, particularly -- well, you know, they were crowding the line of scrimmage, and they did it late in the game as well, but I wasn't going to take a chance and throw the ball then. Hindsight I felt like we were making the right decision. If you go back and look at that one, Sam could have run ball in. He tried to force to force it in there late, and I told him to just go ahead and win with his legs.
Q. On that very next drive, the (indiscernible) comes out with Sam. Had you all saved that for though moment?
STEVE WILKS: We had shown some it of. It is all based off the look. We probably had the look earlier and then Sam didn't take it. Came back and did some good things with the ball late. We probably had one when -- probably should have handed the ball off and probably would've been a touchdown.
Q. When you have the interim head coach tag, a lot of people talk about the players, the staff. How have you made this coaching staff and this team yours?
STEVE WILKS: As I stated at the beginning, you know, I don't know what's going to happen, but for 13 weeks I said I was going to do it my way with players, coaches, and the mentality and the culture that I wanted to create. So our mindset doesn't change. It's all about winning today. Going to take it one at a time, and next up is Pittsburgh. We will figure out what happens at the end. Right now, we're just worrying about the Steelers.
Q. The other week you kind of challenges some of the (indiscernible.) Having Jaycee Horn make that play early, how important was that to the momentum early to try to make a statement?
STEVE WILKS: Well, any time you can take the ball over -- take the ball away early is crucial. You know, you talk about a momentum changer, particularly in a hostile environment here being on the road, so it was critical for us. Just Jaycee as a whole, man, he was excited all week about this matchup and this challenge. I think we know exactly what happened today.
Q. After that turnover on (indiscernible) looks like maybe the Seahawks had some momentum. You get the sack from Shaq and Brian Burns. To have your two leaders on defense make that play and get the ball back, how big was that?
STEVE WILKS: It's critical. We talked about it on the sideline, let's go finish the job up front, challenging those guys to get after the quarterback. We eventually got him late in the game. I think we had three sacks and I think two of them came late in the game. Again, how we build and what we do starts up front on both sides of the ball.
Q. When you were talking about the things you guys have overcome a couple minutes ago, you mentioned organizational tanking. Can you expand on that?
STEVE WILKS: Joe, I'm not going to expand on it. I just talked about it in regards because that was some of the things that were said outside the building. I just want people to know, particularly our fans to understand how committed we are to really trying to win and stay in this divisional race.
Q. What did you think of the Marshall through-the-legs grab? Not something you probably teach.
STEVE WILKS: Great effort by him. They made the call and said it wasn't a catch, so we just got to be able to live with it.
Q. Flight home now. What's that going to be like?
STEVE WILKS: Well, I'm sure the players are going to enjoy themselves. As coaches we know we're going to grade the tape. It's a long flight, and then we'll start talking about Pittsburgh on the way back.
Q. How do you celebrate wins? Do you celebrate wins?
STEVE WILKS: 24 hours. That's it. You know, when I was young a coach told me at young age, he said, you enjoy the season when the season is over.
QB Sam Darnold
Q. Sam, what went into -- you know, you guys were on the four yard line; you throw it four times. At any point did you consider running the ball down there?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah. I mean, the one play we had a run called and they brought zero. Diggs was on the edge. He was kind of in and he was going to make the tackle if I didn't throw it, so that was just a simple RPO. We had talked about it on the sideline, too, if they did bring it that we were going to throw it. That was just my decision to throw it. Yeah, I thought they did a good job stopping us. I think on one of them, I think the third down, I could have maybe ran it in instead of it trying to force it there to Tommy. Yeah, I mean, you like to score there, but obviously it put their offense in a tough position being backed up. Yeah, love to be able to score there.
Q. Steve bet on the defense there, if you guys don't come up with it. To see them come up with that big stop afterwards, how much did that help you build momentum?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, it was huge for our defense to go and stop them there, and then we get a short field. You know, that's how the game is supposed to be played, right, you feed off each other's energy and it's all three phases connected. So I thought we did a really good job of that today.
Q. I don't know if you had the longest rush, but you had a pretty long -- good run. Talk about that.
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, you know, honestly thought it was longer. Felt longer. But I was going sideways for a good amount. When I got past 27, I was like, yeah, I don't know if I'm going to be able to beat this guy to the edge; just ran out of bounds at that point. But, yeah, I recognized that they were kind of -- they were playing their like Jade -- excuse me, their like two-high defense, but they were matching guys and they were running across the field with Shi on the shallow, so just decided to keep it.
Q. (Regarding Steve Wilks and emotions.) What are you feeling after a win like this?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, it's a big one to come out here on the road, obviously our first road win, but, you know, we talked about it. I mean, it's not surprising to any of us in the locker room. Might be surprising to people outside the locker room or outside, people that are in our organization, but it's not surprising to us. The way we prepare, the way that we're confident in ourselves and the way that, like I said, that we prepare and the way we play, you know, we've been playing really well the last few weeks. Just some games just haven't been able to put it together. The last two weeks we have been able to do that. You know, it's been fun to be able to help these guys in the process of doing that. But, you know, any time we're able to run the ball the way we have been and the defense playing the way they are, and obviously, like I said, our special teams doing their deal, so makes it fun to play quarterback.
Q. Sam, can you talk a little bit more about the running game and how it helped you throughout?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, like I said, any time you can run the ball for 200-plus yards in an NFL football game it makes your job as quarterback a lot easier. Yeah, I mean, I think most of our pass yards came in the first half. The second half we were just able to run the football. That's kind of our identity right now. If we're able to -- if we have to throw the football we can, but the way that we're running the football, it's special to see.
Q. Shaq said when you guys got back from the bye week you went to practice and you knew what type of team you wanted to be. You're shaking your head, acknowledging that.
SAM DARNOLD: Yep.
Q. What type of team is that?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, I mean, we're a physical defense that flies around, makes plays, creates turnovers. We're an offense that controls the clock and can run the football and use that run game to, you know, create big plays in the passing game with play-action. Like I said, if we're able to drop back, we can do that. But, yeah, I think we're finding our identity as a team, and it's fun to be a part of.
Q. Just follow up on that. How has Steve created this identity over the last eight weeks?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, I think with him being able to be honest with us and tell us exactly how we're going to play the game and what we want to do and not shy away from that. He said early on, even when we were losing some games, it was, hey, trust the process and trust the game plan. If we go into a game knowing we want to run the football and early we get down a score or two, we just got to trust it and know that that game plan is going to come to fruition. So I think Coach Wilks has been doing a really good job messaging that to the team.
Q. You said something changed over the last two wins. Is that what changed, having a clear picture of what the identity of this team, or what would you say?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, you know, I think for us it's just continuing to play good football. I don't know if I can put it in any better words than that. I think just all around, all three phases helping each other. Like I said, special teams, Johnny doing this thing on punt, Shi doing his thing as returner putting us in a good position, and when Blackshear gets a chance to return kickoffs, he's putting us in good field position. And then when we're able to have long drives and milk the clock a little bit and when you get us in four-minute we're a tough team to stop. Our offensive line and our runningbacks, tight ends, receivers all blocking, yeah, it's fun to be a part of, like I said.
Q. So I guess the beard is going to stay another week.
SAM DARNOLD: I guess, yeah. I don't know why it wouldn't, so got to keep it going.
Q. Missing all this time and to win back to back off your first two starts, what does this mean -- personally what has this two-game run meant for you?
SAM DARNOLD: Yeah, like I said, it's just fun to be a part of. We got a great team, great guys in the locker room. You know, we just got to keep it going though. We can't -- just because we won two in a row and came out here and had a good road win, we got put our heads down tomorrow and get back to work and prepare.
G AUSTIN CORBETT
(On throwing the ball four times near the goal line and then winning the game later on by running the ball for the final touchdown) "It's tough, it was a great drive just to get down there. It would've been great to punch it in, but we got on our own sideline after that, after we turned the ball over on downs, we go over to the sideline and said the defense is going to get a stop and we're going to have to go and get it done. So to be able to pound the ball and be able to run it however many times we did there on that drive, it's exactly who we want to be every single week."
(On running with D'Onta Foreman when he's fresh on the next drive) "I think that just speaks to the backs that we have. It's an incredible trio between D'Onta, Chuba (Hubbard) and Raheem (Blackshear). Any one of those guys in there, they're going to pop a run. That's really what drives us because we know if we give them a hole, they're going to make it and they're going to make it something special."
(On if they have a run in them now that they're a game out of first place in the division) "Yeah, for sure. (Steve) Wilks' message is just one day at a time. Guys are really starting to understand that when the division is down, this is a great time to go peak and get on this run. We really just need to take it one at a time. Go get a couple games in a row at home and just take it one at a time, control what we can and the rest will take care of itself."
RB CHUBA HUBBARD
(On executing the run game after hearing about Seattle's difficulties with stopping the run going into the game) "We don't really worry about that. It's the NFL. No matter if the team had a game where they got ran off for 300 yards or they rushed 40 yards, we're going with the same mindset to dominate. We have a goal every week, 150 rush yards. Obviously we surpassed that and we're just going to keep striving for that."
(On being able to run the ball late with himself and Raheem Blackshear) "I just felt like we had momentum. (Offensive) line was dominating, they were tired. You could see it. (Offensive) line was just wearing on them. Everybody was just wearing on them. We were just pounding them. That's what we pride ourselves on. That's our DNA. Just running the ball, being tough and finishing. We did that today."
(On if was he surprised when they the threw the ball four straight times at the goal line and bouncing back from that) "No. No matter how we get in the end zone, we're just trying to get in the end zone. That's the goal. Obviously we didn't get it done there. We have to get in, obviously. Coaches always put us in a good position so regardless of whatever it is, it's our job to get it in the end zone."
C BRADLEY BOZEMAN
(On driving down the field 75 yards, running the ball eight times including a touchdown in the 4th quarter) "Oh absolutely, just being able to get downhill, run the ball, and do what you want in the run game is a great feeling for offensive linemen. There's nothing they can do to stop it, it's an awesome feeling."
(On if he can feel when a defense no longer wants to go against the offensive line) "Yeah, you definitely feel like you wear them down. You just continue to pound and pound and eventually they start to have a little bit of doubt. You put a little bit of doubt in their minds, and you have to keep it up. You can't let the momentum stop for you, so I think we did a good job of that today. We continued to keep our foot on the gas and continued to drive. Things went wrong at times, but we always came back and responded well."
(On how big this win was for the team) "It's great, we are just focused on being 1-0 every week. We continue to work every single week and try to win the next game. We are not worried about the long stretch, we are worried about where our feet are at right now and winning these games. If we don't win next week, it doesn't matter about this game. We are just going to continue to work, do that, and try to be 1-0 every week."
LB SHAQ THOMPSON
(On the linebackers blitzing more frequently the past few weeks) "It's just a lot of trust in us. Trusting the back seven, trusting that we're going to get it done and let us go out there and fly around."
(On going from losing their head coach to being in the division race and the emotions of the season) "We're just going to talk about this game. This is one that we needed. Coming off the bye week, probably didn't know how we were going to do. Everybody, you know what I mean? But we knew, once we had that first day of practice on Monday, we knew what type of team we're going to be. We talk about playoff mentality. And I told the team last night, these are the games, if you want to be a playoff team, these are the games that you have to win. In these environments. And these guys showed up. They played, man. We created turnovers, we got the offense the ball back, and in great field position. I think the first one, Jaycee (Horn) had the pick, set up Shi (Smith) with the score. We need more stuff like that. They had a great possession with 34 minutes, I think, compared to their 20 minutes. We just need to keep doing that and keep going."
(On what it means for the defense when they see the offense having success with the run towards the end of the game) "That brings us energy. We just know our offense is clicking. They're getting it done and finding their identity. I think what we did better this year than last year, we're not worrying about what the offense does. We're going out there and playing defense. We're going out there and playing our brand of ball. And I'm proud of these guys. Everybody from the (defensive) line to the defensive backs, they all stepped up and had a hell of a game today. Hell of a game."
RB D'ONTA FOREMAN
(On the condition of his foot) "It's good. A little sore. But it was cool."
(On closing games and if he thought the defense did not want to tackle him) "They were flying around to the ball definitely early. There were a lot of bang-bang plays. But as we got more into the game, we started wearing them down, man. Those guys were running hard--Chuba and Raheem. They kind of got us going. It was great to see them guys go out there and play the way they did."
(On how helpful it was to have a rotation of running backs) "It's just what the coaches wanted to do, and my biggest thing is to continue to be a supportive teammate no matter what and congratulate those guys and encourage them while I'm on the sideline. They handled their business. I'm proud of them. Definitely Raheem. He was kind of frustrated early in the game because he felt like he could score on those plays that we were running. I told him, just be patient, and he did it. So I'm extremely proud of him.
(On if the rotation was to take care of his foot) "No, I don't think so. We got a lot of confidence in both of them. They practice each and every week and they come out there and they execute at a high level. So every time they go in the game, I feel like they can always make a play. When they go out and do, I'm like, let's keep going, let's keep going. When I get my opportunity, try to go out there and be as dominant as I can be."
CB JAYCEE HORN
(On sensing whether a turnover would turn into points) "We knew we were going to have to make plays and give our offense more opportunities. When I got the pick I kept saying 'we're not done yet' because it was earlier in the game. We stayed locked in throughout four quarters and walked away with the win."
(On what type of team the Carolina Panthers wanted to be this week) "Just a team that doesn't quit, or a team that stays together. A physical team, we showed them today by the way we ran the ball and the way we stopped the run. We want to be a close-knit team and when things get hard we stay together and keep going."
(On what statement the Panthers made today) "It was our first win on the road in a hostile environment. The fans did a good job at staying in the game throughout the whole 60 minutes, so it was definitely a statement win."
Go inside the locker room and on the field for the post-game celebration after Sunday's win in Seattle.