STEELERS at PATRIOTS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2008 KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. POST-GAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK *
BB: We had a lot of opportunities out there today. We weren't able to take care of some of the ones we had. Pittsburgh took advantage of those. That was really the difference in the game, the turnovers. It was a huge part of it. We just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and taking advantage of opportunities. I really felt that we had enough out there but we just weren't able to do enough with them.
*Q: What were the circumstances that led to Matthew Slater who is not your regular kickoff returner being back for the kickoff return in the third quarter?
BB: Ellis [Hobbs] wasn't out there.
*Q: Was there any thought to go with Kevin Faulk, a more experienced guy, because of the weather conditions?
BB: Slater has been doing it.
*Q: (On James Harrison...)
BB: They are a good pass rushing team. We have to do everything better. We have to block them better. We have to throw, catch [and] get the ball out on time. They just did a better job than we did.
*Q: There looked like there were some drops by either team early on, how much of a factor was the weather?
BB: Yes, it was wet but there were plenty of catches out there, too. It is the end of November.
*Q: What does it say to you with the disparity of the score considering the turnovers?
BB: Pittsburgh was the better team today. They beat us. They were the better team today.
*Q: You were 1-13 on third down conversions. Was there a particular package they were using or was it better execution by them?
BB: They are a good third down defense. They lead the league in it. I think we need to do a better job than we did. Like I said, we had our chances in some others situations as well and we just weren't able to take advantage of them.
*Q: Was it surprising to see Randy Moss drop a few passes the way he did? *
BB: I think there were a few plays everybody would like to have back – coaches and players.
*Q: Was it the same as last week with Dean Pees going up to the coaches box to call the game?
BB: Yes, same set up.
Q: Was it an especially rough game? *
BB: I think it is always physical when you play Pittsburgh. They are a physical team. I feel like we are a physical team, so it was a tough, hard hitting game. There was a lot of good contact out there and there always is when we play the Steelers.
*Q: What are your thoughts on the hit on Wes Welker?
BB: I don't have anything to say about that right now.
Q: With Pierre Woods leaving the game are you concerned about the depth of the outside linebacker position? *
BB: We will see what we have for next week. I am not sure where that is right now, but we will see what we have going forward to next week. You hate to see anybody go out of the game. But, unfortunately that happens over the course of the year. Whatever it is, we will have to work our way through it.
*Q: The game was essentially over at that point but do you appreciate the hustle of Benjamin Watson at the end tackling Lawrence Timmons at the one-yard line. *
BB: Yes, definitely. I thought we played hard out there, I just didn't think we played well. We didn't play well enough. I thought there was a lot of good effort out there. We just have to do a better job than we did today. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we have.
*Q: Did Stephen Gostkowski's missed field goal change the momentum going into the second half at all?
BB: You always like to get the points when you send your field goal team out there. That's why they are on the field. Pittsburgh had one of those at the end of the game, too, in the fourth quarter. We had the ball to start the third quarter and we didn't take advantage of that opportunity either. I think that is the whole story of the game. We just didn't take advantage of our opportunities and that goes all the way across the board.
Q: What were your thoughts on Kevin Faulk's performance?
BB: Kevin is a good football player. He always seems to make some plays for us.
QUARTERBACK MATT CASSEL
*Q: Can you talk about the number of turnovers you guys had? *
MC: A lot of turnovers, especially in the second half. Five turnovers in the second half; you can't beat anybody doing that. That is what was very costly.
*Q: Was the weather a major factor in today's game?
MC: No, you can't say that. The weather is the weather. You have to deal with whatever is out there. They had to deal with it too. When it comes down to it you can't turn over the ball like that.
Q: In the second half, was it something that Pittsburgh's defense was doing to confuse you guys or was it lack of execution?
MC: Lack of execution and they are a good defense. They made some plays out there. Our hats go off to them. They played well tonight.
Q: How did you feel going into halftime?
MC: Well it was 10-10 going into halftime and we were right where we thought we would be in the game. We didn't turn the ball over in the first half and then you go out there and have five turnovers in the second half. That is a big difference maker.
Q: It seemed like there were a lot of dropped balls today…
MC: I missed some throws out there and maybe we missed some catches. That is just part of the game and that is going to happen. As an offense, we have to move forward. I really think the main thing for us was those turnovers. Anytime you go out there against a good defense, against a good team, who can manage the clock like they do and then turn over the ball, that takes away opportunities for us on offense and keeps our defense out on the field. We need to go back to the drawing board and do whatever we need to do to take care of the football.
Q: Was it hard for you personally with the two strip sacks in the third quarter?
MC: There is no doubt. As a quarterback, you have to go out and take care of the ball. That is your No. 1 priority. You get strip sacked twice and then those two turnovers on the interceptions. That is really what makes the difference.
Q: Was it a 'pilot error' on the two strip sacks or was it that you were still processing what was going on down field?
MC: It is just you drop back and go through your reads. Until I see it on film and really am able to analyze it, I couldn't tell you 'oh, well I was still going through my read or I held the ball too long.'
Q: Where does a performance like this leave you guys?
MC: Where does it leave us? It leaves us at 7-5 in the division right now. That is where it leaves us. We have four games left and we have to go out there and play well in all of them. This is still a tight race. We are going to go down to the wire here. Five [losses] aren't going to knock us out of the playoffs right now but we have to come out and play better than we did today.
Q: How did it affect you guys when Wes Welker was knocked out of the game?
MC: Once one guy goes down, another guy has to step up. That is just how this league works. That is how our team works. We would love to have Wes [Welker] out there every single play. He is a guy that works hard and you want him out there. But if he doesn't, then we have to move the next guy in and move on.
Q: Can you talk about the offense's game plan for this game?
MC: For the game plan that we had and the structure that we had, we had a good idea of what they were going to do and how they were going to attack us. For the most part it played out how we thought it would.
Q: You had a lot of success in the two games prior to today. How do you emotionally handle a game like this?
MC: Emotionally, you just say 'this is a loss and the last one was a win.' You try to get better and go back to the drawing board and see what you need to do to get better.
Q: You talked earlier in the week about not letting the ups and downs and distractions of your season affect how you play. Is this another occasion of where it just concerns you, the film room and the coaches?
MC: That is exactly right. To be completely honest, I am not going to read anything you guys [media] write. We have to go out as a team and get better. That is what we have to do. It is not about Matt Cassel. This is about 11 guys on offense trying to get better and a team trying to get better. This isn't about one guy's performance or Matt Cassel and his stock rising or dropping. I could care less about that. I care about winning ball games. Tonight we lost so obviously I am upset.
*WIDE RECEIVER RANDY MOSS *
*Q: Coach Belichick said the whole story of the game was that you guys did not take advantage of opportunities. Do you feel like you let this one slip away?
RM: I am speaking for myself. I am very disappointed in my play. Bill says time and time again, do your job. I always say as a wide receiver your job is to get open, catch the ball and score touchdowns. That first half and the whole game, there is nothing to say. We dropped balls. I didn't really have a good game. I put a lot of blame on myself because I think this team really looks to me to do my job week in and week out. I don't want to blame it on the weather. The balls were there, they just weren't caught. This is something that will probably bother me until next Sunday. Hopefully this is something that we can rebound from. But, it does hurt. It is a bad taste.
*Q: Does the weather have an affect mentally?
RM: I don't really know what the feeling is but I think for the most part once you start catching you get into a rhythm and then you start feeling good. Once you drop one ball and you drop another ball I think it does start to affect you mentally. That is why they call us professionals because we are supposed to let the bad go and get back to playing football. I know, from my standpoint, that I didn't play good today. I am not blaming it on the weather. I am not blaming it on the rain. The balls were hitting my hands, and hitting my body. I just couldn't secure the catch. Hopefully, I can come out and have a good week of work and put this all behind me.
*Q: When it comes to Matt Cassel, he had a couple of interceptions and it is not something we have seen from him the last few games. Tonight was it just a matter of Pittsburgh's defense?
RM: Any given Sunday anything can happen. I think for the last couple of weeks we know from an offensive standpoint, the media and the fans have seen what Matt Cassel has done with this offense. So, in a certain sense people think we are riding high. But, football is football. I think once we came out in the second half a couple bad things happened and they trickled on down. Like I said before, part of being a professional is to play through adversity, let the bad go and try to make something positive out of anything. It was some bad football out there. A lot of the blame I am putting on myself. Hopefully, I can rebound.
*Kevin Faulk, Running Back
(On if the first half went how the team wanted it to go)
"It is not about how you wanted it because we made some mistakes in the first half too. It was close where you wanted it to be at that point in the game against a team like that."
(On if he saw Ryan Clark's hit on Wes Welker that knocked him out the game)
"No, because I think I was blocking at the time. You could tell that was a hard hit because if Wes Welker stays down then it must have been a pretty hard hit."
(On the Patriots third down efficiency)
"Well you just answered the question already. We had four, five turnovers in the second half. You can't have that against a team like the Steelers."
(On the third quarter turnovers)
"It's always frustrating when you turn the ball over and then when you finish the game with a loss. That's the most frustrating thing you can do, but hey the season's not over yet. We have to come back, watch the film, look for our mistakes and come back and be ready to play next week."
(On how the weather affected the receivers)
"It's our job. It doesn't matter what the weather conditions are we have to try to execute and do our job."
(On how Matt Cassel responded to adversity)
"It's not just about Matt, it's about this whole team. We have to respond to adversity right now, we lost the game and we have to come back and bounce back next week."
Tedy Bruschi, Linebacker *
(On today's game)
"We try to pride ourselves on being a fundamentally-sound football team. When you have mistakes like we made out there it is just not good football. The ball was on the ground; they were breaking runs like they did and they are able to convert on third down, then all of a sudden you have a score that looks like it did on the scoreboard."
(On the poor weather conditions during the game)
"Rain is rain. Snow is snow. Sun is sun. It is all about who takes care of the football better out there and who is able to force turnovers better out there. They did a better job of that than we did."
(On if he felt the offensive turnovers made it hard on the defense)
*"No, I wouldn't say that. I can definitely tell you about how our attitude was in the huddle in there. When a situation is presented to us like that you just have to deal with it no matter where the football is. Whether [the football] is on the one-yard line or they get a fumble on the kickoff and they are in the red zone already. I think their offense came out fired up but I think we were up to the challenge. We wanted to get a stop and maybe force them to three [points] or try and get a turnover ourselves. I think we forced them to three [points] once. That was one of the first games I have been involved in where it seemed like the ball was on the ground so much. All of sudden, we are out there again. Whenever we got out there, it was just 'this is what we have in front of us, and now we have to do our job."
Sammy Morris, Running Back
(On the Patriots second half struggles)
"Obviously not enough happened for us as a team. Turnovers will kill you, especially playing a team like Pittsburgh."
(On what the team will have to do to stay in the playoff race)
"A couple weeks ago people were asking if it was a must-win and I would say that at this point of the season they are all must win. Obviously with a loss this late in the season it's going to put a little more emphasis on this next game, on [it] being a bigger game for us."
(On the Patriots third down efficiency)
"That's the big thing about third downs, it keep drives going or it cuts them short. Especially when you go three-and-out, it cuts them short pretty abruptly. You add the turnovers and the scoreboard reflected [the outcome]."
*Ellis Hobbs, Cornerback
(On whether every game is now a must-win)
"I mean, starting in the beginning of the season, you have to think like that anyway. To play the way we do and lose, you just can't expect the playoffs to be handed to us. It's a competitive league this year."
(On what needs to be corrected)
"I don't want to jump to any conclusions. I have to see the film myself. First off, I'll point the finger at myself. I'll do whatever I can do to get better — hopefully, everybody else will do the same thing — and if everybody gets better individually, and as a team and just press that much harder, I think we can turn it around for this West Coast swing."
(On the weather and the turnovers)
"This wasn't our first time playing in crazy conditions. We've just got to make more plays on our side of the ball. We've just got to make more plays on offense and defense."
Matthew Slater, Wide Receiver
(On fumbled kickoff return)
"There's no excuse. You have to field the ball. Yeah, it's wet. Yeah, there's rain. But I have to do my job."
(On the emotions he felt)
"I'm frustrated. I cost my team the game. I just have to continue to work as long as I can, as hard as I can and go from there."
(On whether he saw the ball clearly)
"I saw the ball. There's no excuse. I just feel like I let the team down. You can't give up the ball inside the 10, or the 5-yard line, whatever it was. Like I said, I have to do my job. It's as simple as that. There are no excuses."
Jabar Gaffney, Wide Receiver
(On the Patriot turnovers in the third quarter)
"It was frustrating. We had the ball coming out in the second half and it was time to get back into the game and we let some opportunities go."
(On if the weather was a factor)
"Both teams played in it, so you can never make an excuse for the weather. You just have to go play whatever the conditions."
(On being 1-for-13 on third downs)
"You can't win like that. You have to pick up third downs and keep the ball and we didn't do a good job of that."
Logan Mankins, Guard
(On the play of the Patriots offense)
"Today was a pretty big disappointment for us. We came into the game with high hopes and we didn't play very well. I can only speak for the offense but the second half was pretty ugly. You guys saw it, you saw a lot of the mistakes we made and you can't win playing games like that."
(On the Steelers' defensive line)
"They have some pretty good players. I think a few of the pressures just came off the edge, they got around the edge and they got to [Matt] Cassel. It's going to happen, and if we get another shot at them or when we play next week we can't let that happen again."
(On momentum from the second quarter to the third)
"I thought we had momentum coming out of the half. We drove down and missed a field goal but at least we drove down. We came back out, we're driving the ball and it was second-and-one, sack, third-and-long, punt. That stuff kills you. Right after that we have the fumbled kickoff return, two strip sacks and an interception. You can't beat Pop Warner teams doing that."
(On the offense)
"I thought the first half was fine. We moved the ball. We didn't score many points but we were moving the ball up and down the field I thought. The second half was just chaos. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. It was pretty ugly. Pittsburgh is just one of those teams that they do what they do. They are good at it."
"When you go one play, turnover, one play turnover, you are not going to get into any rhythm at all. You are going to stay cold. That puts our defense in a tough, tough situation. For the most part they held their own. They were given the ball down by our [goal line] numerous times and [our defense] stopped them. The defense, they gave us a chance but we (the offense) didn't give them a chance."
Mike Wright, Defensive Lineman
(On the balance of the Steelers offense)
"I can't speak for the rest of the defense but I didn't play the way I wanted to. I don't think they got me off balance at all. I just have to play better. Have to play the run better and have to play the pass better. Also have to get more pressure on the quarterback and be more physical. I don't know how it got out of hand. I don't know. We need to be more physical and need to do our job better. That is all there is to it."
Brandon Meriweather, Safety
(On the Steelers offense)
"They have a great quarterback and actually they have a great offense. We expected them to come in and do exactly what they did, they just executed to perfection. They made plays and we didn't. That is pretty much what got the game away from us."
(On the second half)
"They just came to play in the second half and we didn't. They did a great job of keeping us honest. They did a great job of running the ball and passing the ball. We really couldn't just key in on one thing."