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Inside the locker room vs. Denver


Head Coach Mike TomlinOpening Statement: **Great, great win for us. Obviously, we had a lot of contributors, but more than anything the belief in the face of adversity I thought was the common thread that allowed us to make the necessary plays to get out of the stadium. We didn't do a lot great in the first half, particularly defensively. You give them credit, they went up and down the field, but we did a lot to aid that. We were kicking our own butt, in terms of blowing calls and things of that nature. To the guys' credit, they came together, they settled down. We didn't change much, to be honest with you, we just executed it better. Maybe a third down call or two, but we just played markedly better in the second half, from a details standpoint. That allowed us to win those possession downs and get off the field. Obviously, our offense did what they do. A good win for us. We don't take it for granted and hopefully, succeeding in the face of adversity strengthens us for the battles that await. We acknowledge that we have a big AFC North test coming this week and that's where our focus is, nowhere else. We have to keep living week in and week out in the manner in which we're doing.

Re: On adjustments made to stop the Denver offense in the second half:
We stopped kicking our own butt, probably is the No. 1 adjustment. So much of that was thing that were self-inflicted wounds, things that we were doing to ourselves. We settled down and that had a lot to do with it.

When you're in a game like that, can you feel the momentum shift?
Yes, you can, but you don't respond to it. You have to live down in and down out and maintain that one snap at a time discipline to your approach. I think we're a team that doesn't ride the emotional rollercoaster, you acknowledge it exists, but for the most part we do a good job of maintaining an even keel. The veteran presence of a lot of guys help with that, Ben and James and other guys who have been around. They do a great job of helping the young guys maintain that stable approach to it as you deal with evident flow that comes in football games like we were just in.

What was the biggest difference in the second half?
We stopped kicking our own butt and oftentimes, if you're mentally tough enough to do that, you have a chance to right it. I believe that we were mentally tough and they proved it by how they played.


Game action as the Steelers hosted the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field.

Re: On what caused change in the second half:**
More than anything, it's what you don't do. When things aren't going well, oftentimes people stop talking and communicating with each other. They looked within and things of that nature. The thing I thought the guys did more than anything was that they never stopped talking, they never stopped communicating, and they never stopped making the necessary adjustments. When things get bad, you can't go mute and they didn't. I think that was the catalyst, more than anything, for the second half.

Re: On offensive adjustments:
We feel like we're pretty good on offense and that's not taking anything away from them, but if we take care of the ball we feel like we can go up and down the field on anyone.

Re: On the Denver punt return called back:
We have to be better than that, we have to be better than that. There's nothing wrong with that play. We have to down that football and hand it to the official. That was just complete negligence on our part.Re: On Ryan Shazier's interception:
We drafted Ryan a couple of years ago in round one to make plays like that and he delivered.

Re: On if a game like this gives the secondary confidence:
I just think the veteran presence, and that was one of the reasons we went with the group that we're playing with. Guys like Will Allen, Mike Mitchell and Will Gay, they've been around and just about anything that can happen to you in the stadium had happened to those guys. It helps them help the young guys, they do a really good job. At one point in the second quarter, when things weren't going very well, those were the three guys who I called up and had a conversation with. I told them we weren't going to change anything we were doing, we can't stop communicating, don't allow the young guys to go mute. And those three guys, specifically, I thought led the charge from a secondary standpoint in terms of addressing adversity in that way.

Re: On passing against Denver:
Well, it's our strength also. The nameless gray faces we play are irrelevant if we're on our game and we're going to do things that are in our wheel house, and that's in our wheel house, regardless if that's in their wheel house.

Re: On Antonio Brown's performance:
It's not in response to anything. Antonio Brown doesn't need to respond to anything. He walks into stadiums and he's Antonio Brown and he made Antonio Brown plays.**

QB Ben RoethlisbergerHow good was that defense and what were you able to do in the second half to turn it around?* Very good.* **There's a reason they are the number-one defense. We had to get lucky and make plays.

Did you make any adjustments in the second half?
We always make adjustments, nothing major.

General comment:
I made the statement to the team before the game that this is our last game at Heinz Field. We know that our fans bleed for us. And we want to go out and give them a show and have fun doing it for the last game here. I think they got their money's worth.

What change in terms of finding your guys? Did they make some tougher catches for you in the second half?
Yeah, they were making plays. They basically did – not the exact opposite – but a lot different than we expected coming in. And we needed guys to win with man-on-man and mixing up some coverages. It a tough battle, and I think our guys did that.

Were you mad at yourself after you threw that last interception?
Of course. I was trying to make something happen. You just have to be smart. Our defense bailed us out. And when you fall off the horse, you have to get back on it. So I was glad there on that drive – we knew we needed to get another first down – and on, I believe it was third down or whatever ever it was, I was glad they called a pass. I saw the coverage [with] the look I wanted. I went to my guy and he made a play for me.

Do you feel like the team is peaking at the right time of the season?
I hope so. Like I said, I think the guys played well today. We went against an unbelievable defense. They got after us and like I said we got lucky and made plays.

What did you think of their young quarterback?
I thought he did great. I talked to him afterwards and just said how impressed I was [for him] to come into Heinz Field where it was loud and to play as well as he did.

Do you see this team playing with a little more confidence? Do you feel that?
Yeah, we're playing as a team. [On] offense, defense and special teams, we are bailing each other out [and] we are picking each other up. We believe in each other. And it's a pretty fun, special feeling.

How important is it to control your own playoff destiny?
Well for us, it was [about] playing one of the best in the AFC [and] the best in the NFL, the AFC West leader. It was big test for us. And then, offensively, we talked about how good they were on defense. And that was our big challenge this week.Do you almost feel like this team has an unbeatable feeling right now?
Well, we just want to take it one at a time. We're not going to look ahead at anything. We've got a divisional opponent this week at their place. So that's going to be our focus, after we enjoy this for one night.

How is it that this offense can gain momentum so quickly?
Well we believe in each other and in the system, and guys make plays. I thought the line did an unbelievable job tonight with the pass rush that they have and helping give me some time. And the receivers got open, and even when they weren't open, they still found a way to make plays.

You through the ball 55 times today. What does that say about your approach?
We always take the approach that we are going to do everything we can, and not do things according to the other team. So the reason that we probably threw the ball more than usual is because of the defense that they gave us. They gave us a personnel group that we kind of can't and don't want to run the ball. And they stayed in it so we had to throw it. And when you've got the receivers that we do, why not?**

WR Antonio BrownRe: Best defense statistically in the NFL:** You want to be the best and you've got to be the best. There's no stopping me. And our guys played some great defense.What was the difference between the first and second half? It looked like two totally different teams?
It's not about how we start, it's about how we finish. We know that we have to stay together and rally together and fight until the finish. We had the opportunity to do that today.

Do you almost feel unbeatable out there after the way you played in the second half with the string that you're putting together?
It just makes the game better. You can never feel unbeatable. You get excited and feel unstoppable, but every week presents a new challenge, each week you have to work and get better. Our team can always grow.

What changed in the second half?
It is a football game. We played a good opponent and you know that you're going to have adversity. We had adversity but we persevered.

Were there patterns that you saw in the second half that the team felt that they needed to take advantage of? Were there certain things that you were seeing?
I thought that we were doing a good job. The first half was the first half. We know that it's going to be a fight to the finish any time you play a great defense.

Do you ever worry with this defense?
You can't get worried or frustrated. We started to focus on our game better, stayed positive and fought until the finish.

How aware were you of the first half of the competition between you and Emmanuel Sanders? Is there any personal competition between the two of you?
It's never personal. It is all about the Steelers vs the Broncos. It's talking about the game, and we had a great game.

When did you feel Ben Roethlisberger fully trusted you?
I think we've got that trust. You can see in certain situations that he looks to me and that's the type of play that we want.

What did you see on the game-winning touchdown?
It was perfect read. Ben made a great throw. We got the post route. I was able to skim the side of him. Ben made a great throw right up the numbers.Was the game in Seattle motivation for you to make a statement here tonight?
It was definitely motivation. If you play this game long enough and you go and get your butt kicked, it's always motivating to get back out there and get opportunities to work on my game and grow. It's good to take on challenging teams with great cornerbacks and great defenses.

Can you tell us about the emotions at halftime?
"We say we focus on our assignment. We never worry. We're never frustrated. It's a football game. You know things won't go as well as you want, but as a team you fight and push until the end of the game.


Did the coaches' words motivate you?**
"As coaches they are always going to push us. They always preach more. They always want us to get better. They always motivate us in the midst of a game. We focus on getting better, growing and staying positive in the midst of negativity.

Re: Scoring twice on Chris Harris Jr., who hasn't allowed a touchdown in two years:
I never think about what the guy's statistics is. If you play this game long enough, you're going to get your tail kicked at least once. Obviously it was a great matchup today. We got the better of the matchup and won the game. That's all that's important.

Were they the toughest secondary that you've faced?
Absolutely. It was a great defense. They had an aggressive pass rush getting off the ball. They had a couple first round corners and a couple star safeties. It was a great day for us.

What were you saying to the guys on the Broncos' sideline?
One of my close friends actually plays for their team. We actually work out together. We've been talking about this game for a long time. There is always positive talk and competitive talk anytime I play against him.

You've got such great concentration. Do you have any game day rituals that you use to get you through the game and stay focused?
I know that it is important. I just try to detail my work and do my best. Get the game plan, know what the coach tells me to do and try to do everything to the best of my ability.

S Will AllenGeneral comment
They are good team, man. They came out and did some things that caught us off guard. We messed up some stuff as well. They got ahead on us, but we stuck together. We have an offense that does a great, great job. It's hard to stop those guys. We have the best wide receiver corps in the world and the best quarterback in the world. And we don't have any quit. And our defense stepped up big today.

At the end, what was going through your head when Ben [Roethlisberger] threw the interception after you got the stop, and then you had to get one more?
It didn't matter. We were on a roll. We were feeling hot. And when we go out there with that confidence, it's hard to stop us. We just kept making big stops and making big plays. That's what it takes to beat a good team.

In the first half, their guys were running free. In the second half, there was no room. What happened?
We messed up some plays defensively, and they took advantage of it. A good team will do that. A good team will take advantage of miscues and mental errors. And that's we had. We had a few of those. But we corrected them. We made the adjustments. Their coaching staff did an excellent job of putting us in position and mixing up some things for us. That held us for the rest of the game.

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