STEELERS vs. PACKERS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2009 KICKOFF 4:15 P.M. HEINZ FIELD
HEAD COACH MIKE MCCARTHY
How difficult is this loss?
Losses are difficult. Losses in December are probably a little more important. This is a game that we had a lot of confidence coming into it. We knew we had to score some points today from the offensive side of it. I don't think we thought it would go that way as far as the aggressiveness and the passing game against our defense. We came up one play short and we'll correct it tomorrow. I'm sure there will be a number of opportunities that we could have made one play. I think this is classic December football. It came down to the last play of the game and we didn't get it done.
Is it safe to say that Crosby's missed kick is the "one play short?"
One play short showed up in all three phases. I felt offensively in the first half we left some opportunities on the field, particularly in the passing game. They played a lot more base defense versus some of our particular personnel groups. We felt confident throwing the football. That's why we were throwing the ball. Mason needs to make the kick. He missed the kick. He's missed kicks in the past. He needs to make the kick. Yeah, it would have been nice to have those three points, but I'm sure if you go through the defense there were opportunities, a play here and a play there, that we needed to make. We were one play short, and I'm sure all three phases will have evidence that needs to be corrected.
Is there anything to be gained from this loss?
Confidence comes with winning. There are different levels of success that you have during the course of the performance and we point to that. We're very honest and realistic with our correction and our evaluation process, and that's the way we'll go at it in the morning with the players. It's important to correct this and move on to Seattle. The Seattle game is very important to us. We need to get our win total to 10. There better be a focus as soon as we get off the plane in Green Bay. Tough loss for everybody, to let one get away at the last play of the game is a hard one to swallow.
Did Aaron Rodgers step it up today?
I thought Aaron played well. He took some hits early. I thought he just stayed right in there and threw the ball. They had some dropped balls in the first half that hurt us, and he didn't lose confidence in anybody and just kept going. I thought the protection was outstanding. I thought the direction of Aaron [Rodgers] and Scott Wells and the production of our protection unit was outstanding versus that defense today.
Did the Steelers' on-side kick surprise you at that point in the game?
I don't think it surprises you. They were playing to win. I thought they threw caution to the wind. I thought they threw everything at us. They didn't hold anything back. I thought Bruce Arians did a hell of a job today. I thought they called an extremely aggressive game on their part. Obviously Mike [Tomlin] was going for the win there on the on-side kick.
PACKERS PLAYERS AARON RODGERS
How difficult was tonight, the loss, the way you lost?
It was a tough game. Two teams that played well offensively and didn't turn the ball over. Unfortunately, the last team with the ball would win tonight. You have to give Ben [Roethlisberger] a lot of credit, he played very well, took care of the football-made big plays, big throws. And it felt good after we got that touchdown and two-point conversion and knowing that they had to go the length of the field in less than two minutes. It's a tough loss, it really is. But I think we showed a lot of character and being able to come back and we got on a roll offensively and kept that going-and I think the onside kick just showed that they didn't think they could stop us on offense. We got our chances to take the lead back and did, and unfortunately they made one more play than us tonight.
When they had that onside kick, did that give you more confidence?
I think the statement to me was that - it was a gutsy call, for one - but I don't think they felt like they could hold up. We were getting on a roll there, scoring touchdowns, and fortunately we cashed that in but couldn't come up with one big play down the stretch.
Do you as a fairly young quarterback feel good about a game against a defense like that?
I felt good. You have to give the offensive line a lot of credit. I thought they did a great job tonight, communication-wise between Scotty [Wells] and I, and the rest of the guys was great - although Scott really did a great job managing their number of different looks on defense. We were on the same page, so I was able to get the ball in my hands pretty quickly. The guys made plays - Greg [Jennings] had a big play early in the game - a catch and run - Jermichael [Finley] had a great game; he's been great for us since he's been back. But I think the guys up front deserve a lot of credit. We got into a rhythm, and [Head Coach] Mike [McCarthy] put the ball into my hands, and I'm appreciative of that and we were able to make some plays that put us in the position to win the game.
*Do you think you have to prove anything in that regard, or are you past that?
I think I'm past that. But tonight felt good. We got into a rhythm offensively. Personally, I felt very good after a rocky start, not throwing the ball very well to start the game. We got into a rhythm offensively; they had a hard time stopping us. We converted a couple of big third downs and we cashed in in the red zone.
Would you have expected to be in the empty backfield situation as often as you were and when you're in that spot, what did you figure out?
Well, I think when you watch the film, it was one area we wanted to attack them; matchups outside. With Jermichael being back in the lineup, he really gives us another great option where we can split him out on his own side or work him on the three receiver side. And he had a great game tonight. But when we're in that empty set, it's just a matter of communication up front. And like I said, Scotty did a great job declaring the guys we were going to and when they brought an extra guy or brought a guy where you expect him to come, I was able to get the ball out of my hand pretty quickly and let guys make plays. **
*Re: Change in kicking game *We made the decision this week, got some good reps, had a good week of work. It felt good with how it went this week, so it's a little disappointing to have that one end the game here, but obviously I haven't been making those short ones, so we thought we'd make a switch and start fresh and get out of this little hole.
**Re: Hold on missed kick
We'll look at the film, but he did a good job today. He stepped in really well, and that one is on me. The ball was going to go right, and I just didn't get it far enough left.
Re: Magnification of kicking game in close games
Big game, we want to get to 10 wins here – it was an early kick in the game. I missed it, and that just shows you have to make them all, because they can come back. Our focus now is Seattle. We have to get to 10 wins, we can't think about anything further than that.
Re: Assessing trend in kicking game
It's unfortunate. A week of work is not doing it. It's just popping up in games, and it's something that if I'm fortunate enough to keep being here, I've got to go to work. I have to get back after it in Seattle, and if we're going to make a run here I have to make some kicks.
Re: Final play of the game
The last play was basically a last-play defense. It's hard to defend a throw like that. That was about as good as it gets. I wasn't in.
Re: Mindset after losing close game *Anytime something like that happens on the last play, you look back – because there are other plays within the game that let us get to that point. A penalty here, my penalty, a missed coverage here and that's all it takes.
*Re: Leeway in covering tight ends *You have to play physical, otherwise they're just going to hit you and bounce out. I might've been on him a little too much. You have to gauge that. Sometimes they'll let you get away with it. The second one, I didn't even see (Hines) Ward. I was just trying to drop to a different coverage and just ran into him. It's unfortunate, but it's still my fault. I'm upset that it happened, but that's part of the game. I'll be ready to come back to work and correct it.
Re: Assessing the Steelers' defense
We have different challenges each week, and their guys upfront are just really good players.
Re: Changes in protection after early hits on Rodgers
They did more inside blitzing than we thought. We showed what we do verses a 3-4, and I think they came in with a plan to attack it. We did some adjusting as the game went on. I think when you do something that you're having some success with, you keep doing it.
Should the game have come down to that last play? *Anytime you lose a tight game, obviously there's a lot of attention on that last play. We just didn't do enough. We didn't play well enough, especially offensively, in the first half. When you leave the game in their hands and they have a championship quarterback on the other side, you have to give yourself a little cushion, and we weren't able to do that.
Re: Steelers offense
Roethlisberger just slides in the pocket and gave them time to get open. That's what they do. You can't take it away from them, they made the plays.
Re: Flag thrown negating his interception
That's the way football is sometimes. Sometimes it's not going to go your way. You just have to get up and play the next play. That's what I did – I kept fighting. I saw the pick, and I thought a ball bounced my way. And then it didn't. It's just one of those things. You have to keep coming back, keep coming back no matter what happens. That's just being a defensive back in general. You have to have short-term memory. Something bad happens, you have to get up and play again like it never happened. If you play like that, good things happen. Unfortunately, they made the last play.
Did you feel they were picking on you?
(Ben) Roethlisberger gave them some time to get open. We didn't get it done on the back end. Yes, we have to be held accountable and move on.
Is your confidence shaken? *It's a minor detail. That's Ben Roethlisberger. He's going to make plays. That's what he does. They're defending Super Bowl champs. You have to beat the champ to be the champ. Unfortunately we didn't, so we have to keep swinging and move on to Seattle.
Re: Opportunity to win game *I was just enjoying being out on the field, trying to help us win the game.
*Describe the mood of the defense during the last Steelers' drive *We always believe we're going to come up with a stop.
**Did you feel you had good coverage on final play?
Not good enough. Not good enough. I'll have to see the film before I can say whether I had good coverage or not. It wasn't good enough.
Could you have broken up the play?
If I would've reached my hand into the receiver instead of looking back for the ball, or even just forced the receiver out. If I could've lifted one leg, it would've been incomplete.