Inside the locker room

Head Coach Mike Tomlin

Opening Statement:** Big game for us, we're not going to overanalyze it. We made all of the necessary plays. We stood up in the face of adversity and there was some adversity. We turned the ball over there early on, but once we got it going, I thought we complemented each other in a positive way. Offense gets a score, defense follows it up with a stop, etc. etc. We stood up in the face of adversity and it complemented ourselves when negativity struck. I thought the key component of the game was complementing ourselves in a positive way, doing positive things and we were able to get the victory. From a health standpoint, William Gay will be in the concussion protocol. It happened there at the end and I don't know if it is a concussion, but obviously we'll put him in the protocol and do due diligence there. Others are just normal bumps and bruises associated with playing. We'll appreciate this one, but we'll move on and we understand where we are heading next week and what's at stake there. The big thing is you do what's required as the games get bigger, that's a positive thing. So, we're excited about being able to get it done tonight, and we're excited about the challenges that wait for us next week.

You made at least one change with your pass defense. Were you pleased with what you saw with that?
I thought it was positive, but it wasn't because of the change. You can make that the story, but we played collectively. Hard rushing and coverage work together, and minimizing big plays, and that's a formula for playing well back there.

Re: On how important the early contributions of Jesse James were:
It was big. He's been a young guy whose arrow has been consistently pointing up. As we've gone through this thing, he's gotten more of an opportunity to contribute because of unfortunate circumstances involving Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth. But, that's what the team is about, that's what this journey is about. That's why I always encourage the young guys not to be patient, but to work while they wait, because opportunities come, and he's a young guy who has done that and the opportunities are coming. He's playing above the line when given opportunities and that's what we expect.

Did Brandon Boykin's interception make you alter your plan there with 3-4 corners?
It did not.

Re: On changing punt returners:
It was obvious that he wasn't holding on to the ball. We have some guys who are capable. Although they are established guys, and you would like to preserve them in those instances if you can, under the circumstance I didn't feel like I could because he wasn't holding on to the ball. It's as simple as that.


How about Ben Roethlisberger playing pitch and catch with those guys tonight. What did you think of that?**
We're capable of doing that. If we don't turn the ball over, that's us and that's been us. Ben was Ben tonight and those guys did a nice job of getting open and making plays for him.

Re: On putting James Harrison and Arthur Moats in as rush linebackers down the stretch of the game:
We're just watching the game and doing what's appropriate based on what we see. Those guys were getting after it, and we left those hot hands in there.

Re: On his impressions of Antonio Brown's punt return and celebration:
I've been looking at A.B. do that since 2010. I'm not surprised by his ability to flip the field and make splash plays for us.

What about his ability to slam into the goalpost?
I didn't see it, but I'm sure we'll rehash it and rehash it 1,000 times in the next six days and suck all the life out of it.

QB Ben Roethlisberger
Is that just a team that you match up well with? No matter what they do, they can't seem to find a way to slow you down.
I don't want to say that. They are a good football team. We just made some plays when we had to. I still feel like we left some out there.

What are you guys doing better than you have before because you are putting up numbers that are just ridiculous at this point?
Guys are growing. We're all getting better together. Whether it's at practice when we are on the field, whether it's at practice when the defense is on the field and we are on the sideline talking, communicating in meetings, communicating between meetings. [I] just feel a chemistry growing between all of us on offense, from the line to the running backs, tight ends, receivers [and] quarterbacks, things just seem to be working.

Do you feel like the defense set the tone for you guys early on?
Absolutely. I've never seen anything like it. [There were] three turnovers in a matter of minutes. That was crazy. That's what I told the defense today. I said, "Guys, that's a team win, but the defense, way to bail us out early." That's what it's about this time of year is you find ways to win football games, however it is. And all three phases got it done

What is your comfort level with Markus Wheaton the last couple of weeks?
It's always been high, and it just continues to grow. More than my confidence level in him, is his confidence level in himself. And you can see that. He works so hard. I'm just proud of the way that he's evolved and continues to grow.

DeAngelo [Williams] had the kind of game where, as he got the ball more and more, he got better.
He did awesome. I think he'll be the first to tell you [that] the line did such a great job. DeAngelo was making people miss when they brought extra people down. The line was giving him holes and he was hitting it. I think what I like, and I'm sure what Steelers Nation likes, is his second effort. You know, the yards after contact. He doesn't go down easy. It was just an awesome football game all around. And it starts up front with our line.


WR Antonio Brown ** On the punt return, the celebration at the end looked what you may have wanted to flip, but then you did something real different.
There was no flip intended. There was a lot of excitement and passion, tried to stick it at the end with the goal post and it wasn't something that went very well.

Is that something you think about doing before the game or is it spur of the moment?
Spur of the moment. It is just the excitement of the game and when you decide to do a play like that, you just get excited. It was a great time.

You showed it on a national stage tonight, but how difficult is it to stop this offense?
We have the best quarterback in the NFL. We have a great offensive line and running back. Each and every one of us takes pride in the game, and we're doing a great job and getting better each and every week as a team. Today we showed that.

Ben said that you guys left some things out there. What are some of things left on the field?
Over the course of the game, you always look back and realize that there were some things that you could have done better. We always take pride and improve and try to get better.

You guys are playing some playoff teams coming up here, do you go into this thinking about the fact that you may see one of these teams again if you make it in to the postseason?
Right now, we just take it one week at the time. I'm looking forward to playing Cincinnati and to our games in the next four weeks.


RB DeAngelo Williams** It seems as the game went on you got stronger. When you get the ball more do you become better as the game moves forward?
Well, it's all about rhythm and timing. The more that they believe in me, the more they put the ball in my grip, the easier it is. We are creatures of habit. After you run the play for so long or so many times, you know exactly what the defense is going to do. You just take what they give you.

How does it feel to get the ball that much at this point in your career?
It feels good. Like I said earlier, the team that I played for prior to this one, they preserved me. I was sharing the load with another tailback. Now I have an opportunity to run the ball exclusively for the Steelers. It helped me and it did wonders for me.

Re: Offensive line:
I can feel the offensive line getting stronger and stronger as we go. They kept picking me up and we just kept going. We just kept chipping away, chipping away and chipping away and opening up wider and wider. All I did as a running back was just run it.

CB Brandon Boykin
General comment
I got an opportunity. I've been preparing the whole season. I got out there and did what I was supposed to do. It was a great team win, but it was exciting for me to get out there and contribute.


When did you work out the rotation [among the cornerbacks]?**
Coach told us before the game. Everybody was prepared, though. We all know what we are supposed to do. So it was an easy transition.

DE Cameron Heyward
Can you talk about how you contained them on those first two drives?
[It was] very critical. Coach always says, "It's not how you take the field, it's how you get off." It doesn't matter how we get on there, we feel confident. Jarvis [Jones] had a big pick, and then I thought we stood up in the red zone. There are going to be games where you have to make stops. Throughout the season, you've seen us step up in the red zone and today was no different.

Was the key coming in to put pressure on Matt Hasselbeck?
I think they key to the game was letting James Harrison rush. To get three sacks in one quarter is big. I think he's our sack leader now. It's ridiculous. I think the key to the game was to limit the run and then get after it. I think our back end did a good job of confusing Hasselbeck and Whitehurst. We tried to apply pressure when we could.

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