STEELERS vs. PACKERS
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2009
KICKOFF 4:15 P.M.
STEELERS QUOTES - Below
PACKERS QUOTES - Click on the Link
HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
Coach Mike Tomlin: Not dead yet. The guys hung together, fought, made enough plays to win. We haven’t won in a while so it feels good. To keep it in perspective, we’ve got a little pulse here. Hopefully we can use this as momentum to get ready to play Baltimore next week, which is of course a very warm football team. Good to stay in the fight, good to win one for our fans, we’ve got the greatest fans in the world. Good to perform for them and get them something to be excited about here at Heinz Field. Today, I’m just as excited about that as I am getting that five-week monkey off our back.
Talk about the onsides kick, was it something you saw?
I’ll be very bluntly honest with you, based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn’t get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score. Plan A didn’t work, we got the ball but we were illegal, that was the correct call, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it. We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them, we also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That’s why we took the risk when we did.
Was the offensive kick a hunch?
No, we were just trying to win the football game. There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way that it’d gone, they were converting third downs. They would have moved the ball down the field on us, we wouldn’t have had necessary time to respond. I’m just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn’t work out.
You’re 19-3 when the Steelers score 24 points or more, your thoughts on that?
No, I don’t care. I don’t care about the style points, I’m just trying to win if it’s 2-3 or 36-37 or whatever it ended up today.
It’s not many options when you’re talking about having to put the ball in the end zone and they had very good coverage. They had two deep with Charles Woodson acting as a middle linebacker in the middle of field. That P-2 or Tampa-Two as people call it. There’s not many places to throw the football and that’s probably one of the few places that you get to do it but it’s going to take that kind of throw and that kind of catch versus that coverage. That’s why we were throwing incomplete passes on the plays prior to that because that thing is tough to penetrate. Heck of a throw, heck of a catch. Gutsy, clutch performance by a lot of people.
Oh my gosh, that’s so far in our rear view, we’re just trying to stay alive.
Have you talked to other NFL coaches during this losing streak to seek guidance?
No, I like to waddle in my own misery.
It was clutch. We needed that kind of performance. We’re on life support here in terms of staying in the hunt for the playoffs so, we can’t save anything. This football team is individuals and he played with that kind of spirit.
Talk about the kick before the onside kick.
We tried a deep lob like we tried earlier in the game when they attempted to fair catch it and we didn’t kick the ball far enough but we were trying to drop the ball in that dead area around the 20 to 25-yard line like we had done earlier but we didn’t get it as far, but similar to that one that landed in that dead spot earlier.
Do you think the onside kick gave confidence to your defense when they had to defend a short field?
I was just trying to win a football game. First and foremost, I wanted the ball, we hadn’t stopped them in the second half and they hadn’t stopped us, both teams were driving the football. I wanted to maintain possession of it, we weren’t able to do that. I figured if they’re working on a short field and they were to happened to score, we’d have appropriate time to drive down the field, which is kind of how the game unfolded.
Can you put your finger on why the Packers had success on offense?
Sure, they’re good, they’ve got a good quarterback. He’s got 130.0 quarterback rating on third down coming into this game, he played like that on third down in this game. He’s got a good weapon of wide-outs, the tight end’s a vertical threat, they played to their personality. We didn’t make enough plays on third down to keep them cool.
If you lost today, the onside kick we be talked about all week, your thoughts on that?
I wear that. I wear that like a badge of honor. That comes with the job. I don’t live in my fear, I just play and play to win and I don’t worry about being judged, I really don’t.
Not good, looks like a torn ACL.
On the extra point?
On the very last play of the game, yes, unfortunately. It’s in his other leg, he had an ACL [injury] last year, it’s the other leg.
Have you lost confidence in your defense’s ability to close the game out with a lead?
No, its not about confidence, it’s about plays. I believe in these guys, they believe in each other. Sometimes games unfold in different ways. We had a tough time stopping them in the second half and you do what’s appropriate to win the football game, but it doesn’t speak to anything moving forward. We analyze this game, we put it in our rear view mirror, we prepare for Baltimore. It’s not like we’re going to play scared or lack confidence in that football game in terms of what we’re capable of doing defensively, but today, I was concerned about our ability to stop them based on what I was looking at in that stadium.
Was Mike Wallace the primary receiver on that play?
We were just trying to get the ball in the end zone to a guy. You can’t break the huddle saying that you’re going to throw the ball on that weak side versus that cover two, but again, under those circumstances there’s not that many opportunities and what you’re looking for really is a one-on-one and then somebody’s got to win it. That’s probably about the only one-on-one on that field in terms of the way that ball unfolded. So we had a one-on-one opportunity, Ben [Roethlisberger] made the appropriate decision and Mike [Wallace] made a play.
Talk about he two deep passes that you gave up in the game.
Those aren’t one-on-one matchups versus linebackers. Those guys are covered up by half-field safety’s over the top, similarly to a few situations that we had them in. We had Mike Wallace down the middle of the field and seemingly a completion but Atari Bigby came in and banged the ball out. That’s how those plays happen, it’s the exact same coverage Dom Caper plays similar stuff to what we play. When they threw the ball down the middle of the field at times, they were able to catch it and hold on to it and in one instance, they were able to have a long score. We had a similar route versus a similar coverage and Atari Bigby banged the ball out versus Mike Wallace there. So that’s football, it’s about execution. There were very few secrets, we knew what coverage they were in at times, they knew what we were in and they executed a little better than we did at times if you’re talking about running down the middle of the field with number threes.
What was the difference in Mike Wallace this week compared to the last couple of weeks?
He made plays when given the opportunity, not that he’s had a bunch of opportunities and sometimes, it’s like that. It’s about what you do with them when you get them. He played big, he played older than a rookie for us today which was needed.
Are there any other injuries?
That’s the only one and that’s preliminary gut reaction, but it doesn’t look good in regards to his knee.
Re: Last drive
It seemed that everything that could go wrong went wrong except for when we got a couple of penalties. We had to go over eighty-yards with one play before the two-minute warning, and one timeout. There was no big chunks until we hit Heath (Miller) on one. The thing was, was that guys were coming back to the huddle worn out, lineman, wide receivers, everybody. We didn’t quit, everybody believed that we could do it. We got down to three seconds to go it looked kind of bleak, but this team never quits fighting. I can’t say enough about the line giving me enough time to get it out, and Mike (Wallace) making the play.
Re: Charles Woodson different looks during the game.
He was moving all over the place. I told him afterwards he’s an MVP defensive player. He’s a phenomenal player and he makes unbelievable plays. That last play he was playing center field and I knew that I had to be careful going down the middle with him.
Re: The last touchdown play.
The back that he was supposed to stay in and block, then get out late. I told him that they’re not going to blitz, just run down the sideline, hopefully they will forget about you and you’ll be open. I went to Tone (Santonio Holmes) on the right side, then to the back, then went to Heath, Hines (Ward), then saw Mike Wallace. The back had his back to me. If the guy has his back to me then I have two shoulders to throw at and Mike made a heck of a catch.
What was more impressive Mike making the catch or his route running?
The play before I chewed him out a little, because I felt that he kind of quit on the play.
I thought that he could of pealed out and made a play for a touchdown the play before. I know that he’s kind of hurt and banged up, and tired, but I just said listen it’s time that you have to make a play. if I’m coming to you, I’m coming to you. It’s time to grow up and do this. I always tell those guys it doesn’t matter if you drop it, I have a short memory I’ll come back to you.
Re: Bailing out Coach Tomlin from Bill Belichick comparisons.
He’s our head coach. When he makes decisions we go with it no matter what it is. It’s amazing how one play can change everything. If that last play was incomplete nobody in that locker room is talking, everybody is down and we would probably have the worst Christmas ever, but because that play is a touchdown it’s a completely different ballgame.
Re: Throwing for 503-yards.
We needed all 503. When you’re out there I’m not even thinking about that. To tell you the truth I’m thinking about the plays that we missed. I missed Hines on one that I felt we could have had a touchdown. I make fun of the receivers for their drops. I could have had 600-yards and they could have had more yards.
Re: Your thoughts on the onside kick.
I hope we get it. If we get it we get the ball back and can control the clock a little bit. They’re the number one or two defense in the league. They did a phenomenal job, but I felt we could do whatever we wanted on offense. If we would have got that ball back I felt we would have gone down and scored.
Re: making plays out of the pocket.
I think most of the time they were only rushing four, our guys picked it up. They rush the faster guys from the outside and it was easier for our guards to push them wide. That let me step up and open up lanes.
Re: On this team not giving up their confidence.
You see Hines coming back to the huddle dead tired, but as soon as they get to the huddle they are ready to go for the next play, same with Santonio. I’m upbeat and tell those guys it’s still ok. I think the leadership we have on this team all the way around we don’t quit. That is kind of a Pittsburgh mentality, we don’t quit no matter what.
What were your thoughts when you saw him catch that ball in the corner of the end zone?
I saw it after he hit the ground. The fans seemed to think it was [a touchdown] so I’m alright with it. I was in there blocking and I tried to look for it, but I couldn’t spot it. Everybody else was excited, so it must have been a touchdown.
You guys are still alive.
Still alive. You can’t kill us until we’re dead.
The way this game ended was incredible, especially that last play. It was obviously pretty reminiscent of the Super Bowl last year. But, Ben [Roethlisberger] had a big game. We passed the ball the whole game. The bottom line is he made the big throws when he needed to when the game was on the line. When it’s fourth down or third and long, Ben is one heck of a quarterback.
Comment re: the onside kick in the fourth quarter
Coach Tomlin told us we were going to kick this onside kick. Obviously, he was thinking that we’re going to get the ball right back. That’s not the way it transpired, but his plan was that if they were going to score, he wanted to leave us enough time go down the field and score on them. And the plan worked. We got enough time to put a drive together at the end of the game. And at the end of the game, “seven” is the guy you want with the ball in his hand.
WR Mike Wallace
I’m just happy to have a guy come back to me and to have a guy help me fight through adversity.
What was the play [on the winning touchdown]?
Go. We all had go routes and find the open man. [Ben Roethlisberger) had the confidence in me and threw the ball. I just tried to make a good play.
How much did that remind you of last February?
Well, that guy [Santonio Holmes] got us down there, so you can’t ever forget about that. He got us down there with a big catch on third or fourth down - I think it might have been fourth down when he caught the ball and kept going down the sideline. So we owe it to everybody, from Hines [Ward], Heath [Miller] Rashard [Mendenhall], the offensive line. Everybody made great plays on that drive. That’s a collective group making good plays.
Talk about the first touchdown on your first offensive play of the game?
I was just hoping they were in man coverage. When we came out, I saw one safety in the middle of the field [and] I kind of had a feeling that Ben was going to throw me the ball. I just tried to make a good play on it.
Did you feel any dejection after the one [dropped] ball?
Most definitely. I try my best not to drop any balls. But sometimes, those things just kind of happen. The one time, the ball was knocked loose. I was trying to fall down [and] he got my in my back to knock the ball out. On the other one, I just tried to catch it and tuck it too fast before I even caught the ball. When you’re playing this game, things happen. You just have to try to fight through it and make plays the next time it comes to you.
Is this your first career game-winner in high school, college or pro?
No. I caught one in high school. I caught three in high school. That’s not my first time, but it was definitely the biggest.
Never in college?
No. I never had one in college. That was the only one where the clock had zero on it. That was by far the biggest one.
Your quarterback threw for 503 yards.
What does that tell you about him?
He’s a great guy [and] a great quarterback. His numbers explain it all. 503 yards – you don’t see that too often.
Did you have any concern about whether your toes were in at all?
No. Once I caught the ball, I knew I was in. I had no doubt in my mind that I was in. It was just making sure that I held onto the ball. I looked at the referee. I knew he couldn’t overturn it because I knew I dragged my feet. We practice that every day in practice.
Re: on touchdown catch on game’s final play.
I just saw the ball. I was hoping the ball hadn’t gotten there before I turned around. Ben put it in the only spot where I could catch it.
What was it like for you to be in there on a drive like that?
You dream of things like this all the time. Before a game, I always see myself making plays in my head. For it to come true like that is great.
How tough is it to score a touchdown from that spot on the field?
I can’t even explain it. Probably nobody in the stands thought we were going to score a touchdown except for us. Ben told me he was coming to me before the play. He was like, “just stay alive, I’m going to come to you.” Sure enough, he threw it, and I made a play on it.
Why do you think he said he’d come to you?
Because I’m the least one that everybody is worried about out there. We have great guys. We have a Hall of Famer, Hines Ward
. We have Santonio [Holmes], a potential Pro Bowler. We have Heath [Miller], another potential Pro Bowler. So it’s just little old me, out there by myself on an island.
Was that your first catch since the first drive of the game?
Yes. I only had two catches – two catches, two touchdowns. I can’t even explain it. It was just a great win – great for us.
With that much time between catches, is it tough to stay in the game?
You have to keep yourself in the game. I understand my role and I understand the guys that are in front of me. [They are] great guys. I have no problem with that – coming in and trying to learn from those guys. But when my number is called, I’m going to be ready.
Ryan Clark said he was disappointed in the way the defense played. Do you feel that way too?
Yeah. I’m upset with the points that we gave up. I thought we could have played a lot better. When our offense is putting up points for us, we have to hold our end of the bargain up and keep teams from scoring. But they did a great job responding to every score that Green Bay had. I’ve got to give our offense a lot of credit. They kept us in the game today and pulled it out.
Re: team’s offensive performance
We have two games to play and the offense showed that when the defense is down, they can put points on the board. They’ve been doing that all year. It’s just that we’ve been letting offense off. They picked us up today, kept us alive [and] kept us in the fight for the playoffs.