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Tomlin on playoff football, love and truth

Posted Jan 9, 2016

Coach Mike Tomlin addressed a variety of issues before the Wild Card Round game vs. Cincinnati.

Q. Is what’s required to win in the playoffs any different than what’s required to win in the regular season?

A. No. You just acknowledge that the margin of error is smaller, because just in general when you play vs. good people your mistakes are highlighted. That’s what you talk about. The things that are important are no different, but there are consequences for not doing the things you desire to do. There are consequences for not having the type of detail in performance that you need at this time of year, simply because you acknowledge the people you are playing are good teams. They’re in the playoff field deservedly so, and that’s just an element of realism that comes with football at this time of year.

Q. But it’s often said that the playoffs are different than the regular season. How?

A. I don’t know that I agree with that, other than the outside noise. But if you’re a team that’s truly worthy of this field, then you have the capability to make the outside noise irrelevant. The interest, the fanfare, the media attention – all of those things are sidebars in terms of the journey we’re walking and the manner in which we need to walk it on a day-to-day basis.

Q. Do you have any problem with what Ben Roethlisberger said about Martavis Bryant, that the second-year receiver needs to be tougher?

A. Not at all. Ben also said he was doing it and saying it in love and in truth. If we’re going to continue to walk this journey, those are two elements of our football team that have to come to big-time light.

Q. You said that love and truth are two elements of our football team that have to come to big-time light. What do you mean by that?

A. I just think there has to be tangible and intangible evidence of your journey. You have to eliminate mistakes; they can’t continue to repeat themselves. Your experiences have to galvanize you. It has to bring you closer together. You have to grow from it. You have to have a level of appreciation for what others are willing to do over the course of the journey. All of those reflect the type of journey you’re trying to walk.

Q. Is what Ben said about Martavis something a teammate had to say, rather than a coach?

A. One thing I want to make clear about that statement is those types of conversations happen all the time. They’re just not often subject to media attention. It’s not anything out of the ordinary. We try to create an environment that’s based on truth around here, and Ben told him what he felt he needed to tell him. I don’t care where it comes from. Sometimes it comes from coaches. Sometimes it comes from teammates. Sometimes it’s done in a formal manner. Sometimes it’s done in an informal manner. Who really cares by what means it’s done if it’s needed. If it’s thought that it’s needed, we’re here and we’re trying to win and each man can be a significant component of that. So in that instance, it’s all positive.

Q. Are there only a select group of players who can do things like that?

A. If you put your everything into this on a day-to-day basis, then you have a right to demand the same from others. I don’t care what you’re assumed or presumed status within the group is. If you talk, though, you gotta walk. I believe that as well. That in itself limits it to a certain number of people who are empowered to do so.

Q. You played last year in the playoffs without Le’Veon Bell after losing him to an injury late in the season. This year you lost DeAngelo Williams to an injury late in the season. Are those different scenarios?

A. Hopefully we’re learning from our experiences. Losing Le’Veon a year ago was devastating to our efforts. We felt like we fortified ourselves some this year by acquiring DeAngelo, and we lost both of them. Such is life, and let that reflect how fragile this game is. We’re excited about the men who are playing running back for us today – Jordan Todman and Fitz Toussaint – and we look forward to them distinguishing themselves. They’ve worked very hard and they’re very capable. We’re anxious to watch them display that.

Q. About playing Fitzgerald Toussaint instead of DeAngelo Williams, you said, “We won’t ask him to be Le’Veon or DeAngelo. We will ask him to be himself.” Who is Fitzgerald Toussaint?

A. He’s a hard-working, blue-collar football player who has a definite run demeanor. He’s got good pick-and-vision, good patience. He’s a one-cut runner. If he does those things he’s going to have a productive day.

Q. For a team that has attempted as many passes as this one, a team that can trace a lot of its success to the passing attack, is there any chance for an offensive line’s run-blocking to atrophy, like a muscle that isn’t worked on a consistent basis?

A. I hadn’t thought a lot about it. I’d imagine it can, but I also imagine you are what you are. We’ve run the ball effectively throughout the course of the year. We’ve run the ball less of late, but it hasn’t affected the effectiveness of our running game when we run. We believe we can attack you in whatever ways we choose. That’s just our mentality.

Q. Ben Roethlisberger had some multi-interception games at the end of the season. Is that a concern?

A. Anytime you’re turning the ball over, it’s creates a concern. But Ben is the ultimate competitor. We believe in him. He’s our leader. We’re going to continue to roll the ball out and play the way we play.

Q. What do you like about the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers?

A. Just their overall resiliency and the fact they’re a legitimately close group. And by being a close group, I don’t mean they spend a lot of informal time together playing video games. That’s part of it, but they’re close enough to tell each other the truth. They’re close enough to have the hard conversations, and those are the things that are going to allow you get out of stadiums this time of year.

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