Inside the locker room at Cleveland


Game action as the Steelers traveled to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Browns in Week 17.

Opening statement:
"We have an excited locker room in there and rightfully so. It's been a tough-16 week fight for us, but we're where we want to be. We're where we need to be. We have an opportunity like the others in the field, and for that, we're grateful. We recognize that we're not perfect. We have to run the ball better than we did today if we want to stay in this tournament for any length of time. We have to take care of the ball better than we did today if we want to stay in this tournament for any length of time. But we'll worry about those things as we start preparation tomorrow. Right now, we're just enjoying what we've been able to accomplish to this point and we'll proceed appropriately from there. We had a couple minor bumps and bruises. I guess the significant one is (Steelers RB) Le'Veon Bell, he's got an ankle. We don't know the extent of that. We'll evaluate him. We'll put the best group that we can together and go into January football which is obviously something we're excited about."

On following the game in Buffalo today:
"We were cognizant of it. They have scoring information. Then as it got really tight down the stretch, I thought Steeler Nation in the stands did a great job of giving us the indication of how it was going."

On the Steelers' confidence for next week, given injuries:
"I'm confident in anybody we have to call on next week, but we'll worry about that at the appropriate time. Right now, we're just going to assess the injuries. We're not counting DeAngelo out yet. We'll see where it is."

On the Steelers' resilience regardless of injuries:
"We're not trying to make broad, sweeping statements about who and what we are. We know who we are. We know what we're capable of. I think it's just more appropriate that we show you with how we perform moving forward."

On recovering after a slow start:
"We don't worry about slow starts. We know that we take care of the ball and we're capable of moving up and down the field on anyone. The slow start was just highlighted by the turnovers."

On the decision to keep Steelers LB William Gay in the game in the second half:
"We had a minor injury with (Steelers LB) Jarvis (Jones). I don't know the extent of it. It's probably not going to keep him out of the next week. That's why I listed him as one of the bumps and bruises associated with playing."

On the significance of the Steelers defense in today's game:
"We've had our ups and downs, but that's a resilient group and equally important is that it's a tight group and they stayed together. I like the demeanor in which they took the field in some of those instances where we were put on the short field. They didn't blink. They've been in that situation some and they just responded appropriately. We appreciate that."


On how he felt after the Buffalo Bills won:
"We're excited because after we knew we had this one. Thanks to (Buffalo Head Coach Rex) Coach Ryan and the rest of the Bills and everybody in Buffalo. I know they're excited about 8-8 and we're excited that they got us in."

On if the fans gave him indication they made the playoffs:
"I was either on the field or on the sideline. I heard cheering and looked because I thought there was a fight or a Steelers fan beating up a Browns fan or something (laughter). I kind of assumed what was going on."

On how they got back into the game:
"The time of possession. We're just not on the field long enough. Whether it's big plays, three-and-outs, or turnovers, those things hurt us. We still put up points and found ways to win. It wasn't our smoothest game on offense but we'll take it."

On if he feels the offense will need to improve:
"We need to be perfect. We need to be great. We need to be that way as a team. It's going to be a conversation I have with the team to let them know. You heard it in there, the postseason is a different season. You're going to have to do your best, throw out all of the records, throw out where you are playing. Everybody has to step up and be ready to go."

On what is different this season going into the playoffs:
"For me, the first thing that pops into my mind, it's about stepping up. (Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin) Coach always says, 'Next man up, next man up.' I don't know that that could be any more true than this year. We've had guys step up through injury. We've never really made the playoffs where we've had to do what we've done. We had (Steelers C/G) Cody Wallace, (Steelers WR Darrius Heyward-Bey) Hey-Bey, even (Steelers RB Fitzgerald Toussaint) Fitz today. Guys just stepped up and did everything they could to not miss a beat."

On if losing RB DeAngelo Williams changed the gameplan:
"We didn't change too much. We have confidence in Fitz. He can step up and do the things he needs to do, but it (the loss of Williams) definitely hurts you. He is such a weapon for us. Even in that first series, you saw him catch a couple check-downs and make things happen. He's a really good blocker, a good runner, even though the yards weren't there today. He's definitely a big part of our offense."


On coming back after last week:
"We continue to stay together, no matter what people say. We continue to fight and stay strong like a band of brothers. We got things done today and things worked out for us."

On how it feels to be going to the playoffs:
"It's so gratifying. Sitting here as a Pittsburgh Steeler, that's the expectation to make the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi (Trophy). For us to get an opportunity to go back, it's a step in the right direction."

On QB Ben Roethlisberger being in and out of rhythm today:
"I don't think he was out of rhythm. He's a playmaker. He threw for a lot yards and got some touchdowns. When things got tight he continued to make plays. That's the kind of guy you want to play for, that's the leader you want to be behind."

On what improvements need to be need on offense for next week:
"We've got to be a lot better. We've got to protect the ball. We can't turn it over. We've got to find a way to run the ball better and put points on the board."

On when he found out the team made the playoffs:
"When the fans were screaming. When you hear an uproar like that you know something good is going our way. We need to credit the [Buffalo] Bills for doing their job. When you get into the playoffs it is single elimination. It doesn't matter how you get there. It just matters how you perform there."

On starting the season slow and still making postseason:
" Our record is 0-0-0. No wins, no losses, and no ties. All we can do is focus on getting the win now. I don't know who we play yet but we look forward to playing."

On possibly playing the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round:
"We are going have some familiarity, we know what they are going to do. They are a good team. They have a good defense and a good offense. We have to be ready to go there and have a good game."

On keeping the Cleveland Browns out of the endzone:
"We had a lot of short fields, we got off the field quick. When they did have a long drive [LB James] Harrison had a great interception. That's what we need as a defense. It's not always going to be perfect. It's not always going to be sacks and easy plays. We just kept battling."

On how it feels to make the playoffs:
"It feels awesome. The most important thing is not just getting there, but finishing. We are going to celebrate here, but we are definitely going to refocus and get back to the game."

On the play of the defense:
"He [Pittsburgh Steelers LB Arthur Moats] played awesome today. We had guys flying around making plays. That's what we needed, now we need to carry that into next week."

On the defense forcing 4 second-half turnovers:
"Guys were communicating. We played with a lot of energy and that's what it takes. Everybody was playing together and everybody knew what we were trying to get done. We played a really good ball game today. We are excited."

On how they are playing headed into the playoffs:
"I feel like as long as we play our game, don't turn the ball over, and create turnovers, we match up with any team."

On the team being ready for the playoffs:
"We understand that we have to win. We slipped up last week but we were able to bounce back this week and get some help from Buffalo [Bills]. We were in the position last year, made the playoffs, and lost in the first round. We don't want that to happen again. We are focused on going to work now."

On the defense being ready for better competition in the playoffs:
"We understand what we are capable of doing. It's up to us to have the attention to detail. Look at the turnovers we created, and the stops that we had. We understand our capabilities. It is just up to us to execute every game like that."

On the defense forcing 4 second-half turnovers:
"It was huge. You look at how the game was going, it wasn't like we were blowing them out. When you get those turnovers, you are creating more opportunities for the offense to score. Eventually they are going to score. At the same time, you are keeping the other team from having opportunites to score. I feel like that's why we were able to be successful today."

On how the teams is coming together right before the playoffs:
"I feel that we are. Offense, defense, and special teams, I feel that we are getting stronger. We just need to have that chain linked fence effect with those three areas."

On if he was aware what was happening with the Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets game:
"I could tell from the fans, they were cheering pretty loud."

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