STEELERS vs. BENGALS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009 KICKOFF 1:00 P.M. HEINZ FIELD STEELERS QUOTES - Below BENGALS QUOTES - Click on the Link
Coach Mike Tomlin: Wasn't able to get the job done today and I think the Bengals had a lot to do with that. I congratulate those guys, that's a good football team, but as always when we evaluate our performances, we look within. We were below the line, that's not winning football on a lot of fronts, specifically when you're playing a quality team as the Bengals are. When you kick field goals, you potentially expose yourself to losses. We weren't able to execute in the red zone today offensively. Kicked field goals, we expose ourselves potentially to that. Anytime you allow people to score touchdowns and your defense is not on the field, you expose yourself to losing football. We've got some work to do, we're a team that's developing. It's a step back today, I trust that this group will respond appropriately, I know that we're going to move forward when we get back in tomorrow with that in mind, but today, job not done. Job done by the Cincinnati Bengals.
What's Troy's [Polamalu] status?
He's getting an MRI on his left knee. The same knee he injured earlier in the year. I assume that I'll have more information at a later date or time. Right now, all I can tell you is that he's in the process of getting an MRI.
Did he get hit?
I don't know the details of it. He came of the field, he said he was going to get his knee rechecked again, that's what they're in the process of doing. Obviously he wasn't able to return to the football game.
Would you characterize your performance as flat? Out of sync?
I choose not to characterize in any way other than that it was ineffective. We came in here today with the intent on playing winning football, whatever that entails, you know style points is not something that we're highly concerned about. We weren't able to put together enough plays to win the football game and that's the reality of it. That game was far from perfect in a lot of ways, but we had the opportunity to make the difference in that game and we weren't able to do it as a team.
Talk about third and short late in the game and the decision to throw on those downs.
I've got to think back on the situations and circumstances but more than anything you've got to acknowledge that those guys did a nice job not only on third downs, but on all downs, but we got some passes batted and so forth. It just wasn't a fluid winning performance by us and we all take responsibility for that starting with myself.
Have you anticipated your defense making big plays? What happened today?
I wish I had that crystal ball. I don't. Part of the reason why big plays weren't there was because of the Cincinnati Bengals and Carson Palmer. They take very good care of the football, they make great decisions. As long as we continue to work hard and hustle hard to the football and be where we're supposed to be, play with great detail, big plays are going to come. When they don't, we've got to find ways to get off ourselves off the field, I thought we did that. That was the number one red zone offense in football, we talked about that during the course of the week. We found ways to get off the field and make them kick field goals, but we did the same and when you do that, you expose yourself potentially to losing and ultimately that's what happened to us.
Did you think the kickoff problems were solved before this game?
No I didn't but I always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It's not anything complex in terms of where we are in terms of our kick coverage. We didn't make tackles. Two people bounced off that guy and he scored. You can't miss two tackles on a kickoff in the NFL, if you do, chances are they're going back on you.
Would putting James Harrison back in kickoff coverage help?
I'm open to all considerations at this point. Let's be honest, we've had three returned on us haven't we? I'd put myself out there if I thought I could do the job.
Did you have a good view of the James Harrison penalty in the fourth quarter?
I did not but we've got to play sharper than that, regardless of the circumstances that led up to it or what happened, that's just part of our day, it wasn't winning football.
Did you want to get a look at Mike Wallace returning kickoffs?
Yes, we've been preparing Mike [Wallace] throughout the season. He's got a nice resume in that regard when we drafted him. I was intent on getting him at least one today if they scored, of course they did, so we did.
Were the deep passes today a timing issue or the Bengals' defense?
Probably a little bit of both. We throw them we didn't catch them. We didn't get them. We got a pass interference on one but we didn't connect on enough.
Did you feel like you were close all day with passing?
Yes but that's the story of the NFL to be quite honest with you. When your not performing well usually, it's the minute things. It's not anything significant, it's the quality of detail. So you're hopeful that you can find your rhythm and move forward but we weren't able to and that's the reality of it, so we've got to get back in the lab.
Was that punt block team the normal one for Cincinnati's punt in the end zone?*
That's the one we chose to use at that time due to the fact that they were punting backed up.
OT Max Starks
General commentWe didn't find any comfort today. We were just kind of picking and choosing, and were never really cohesive at all today. We were kind of guessing and we were a little timid out there. We didn't really go into attack mode at any point, I don't think. We had some good drives and we got the red zone, but couldn't capitalize on the opportunities that we had.
What were they doing defensively to get pressure and get into the passing lanes?
They are a good blitzing team. They bring a variety of different things and they have stand-up defensive ends kind of rovering around the field [and] kind of twisting and stunting with them. Also, [they were] bringing a variety of blitzes with the free safety and bringing multiple backers with twists. So they did a lot of good things and they played very well.
How critical was it for them to return the kickoff for a score after you put points up?
That's critical for them. That's a score for a score. And that's how you always want to play it as an offensive player. When a team answers with a score, you always want to come back and answer with a score. They did the same thing on us. It was a big plus on them and kept them in the game early on and allowed them to eventually take the lead and win it.
You had a five-game winning streak coming in. Is it natural to expect a bump somewhere along the way, or is this just part of an NFL season?
It's part of an NFL season. Of course, you hate to make that loss against a division opponent, especially the second time around. But, that happens. It's the nature of this game. On any given Sunday, anybody can beat you. I felt like we beat ourselves in a of lot instances, but I give credit to them because they played a great game game plan and they stuck to their game plan throughout the whole game.
LB LaMarr Woodley
When we allow them to move the ball down the field and get good field position, you have to kind of put that on us a little bit.
What is the most frustrating part of this game? You kept them out of the endzone.
Yeah, but we allowed them to still put points on the board. That's the most disappointing – them getting out of critical situations and allow them to continue to move the ball down the field on us.
There is still a lot of season left.
[There is] definitely a lot of season left. We have to get back in the lab and watch the tape, and figure out what went wrong, and come back out here and play again next week.
S Tyrone Carter
I guess it was the game that many expected, but when you keep them out of the end zone, you guys usually win.
No doubt, but we had some chances where we had to come away with making plays, to give the offense a short field, where they could get some points on the board. We didn't make those plays. And, nine times out of ten, when you don't make plays and they keep going down and kicking field goals, and we're not making any [plays]. You see the outcome of the game. Not taking anything away from them – they came with a great game plan, they executed, they made plays when they needed to make plays. They kept kicking field goals. But, we did our job by holding them to field goals. And if you can do that, you save four points on the board. All we can do is just keep fighting.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Is this as frustrating a game as you guys have had in a while?
Yeah, give them a lot of credit. They played well and forced us into things that we didn't do well.
What was different about that final drive [and] not being able to put that one together like you wanted?
I knew we were going down to win it. Today, we did things that we – this may not make sense – we did things we don't normally do and we didn't do things that we normally do. Just from the get-go, we weren't on. Offensively, we weren't good in the red zone, we weren't good in the run, we weren't good in the pass. We just didn't play well. You know that's going to happen sometimes. It's behind us now. And, yes, it's a big loss. It hurts. But how can we rebound now?
How much of that would you put on them and how much would you put on you guys?
They did a great job. They're a good defense. They did a lot of different blitzes and we had to change things. But, offensively, I played bad. It kind of starts with me up there. So I have to make corrections and adjustments and pick up my play.
You still have a lot of season left.
It's early. It's not the last game of the year. It hurts, but we can't dwell on it, we have to move on. We'll come in tomorrow, take a look at it and get ready for our next opponent.
Was this a day when it felt like things just weren't quite there, and if you had hit on a big play that maybe things would have turned out differently?
Yeah, we took some shots. We moved the ball down the field a couple of times. There was just something missing all day. And I don't know what it was.
Could you sense that at all?
Oh, yeah, even from the get-go. Something was weird about the day. I don't know if it was the weather in November or what it was. But it seemed like even the crowd at the beginning – everyone was just kind of different. No excuse. We need to play better.
What was so frustrating about the red zone?
We got down there and we had some great plays. They batted some balls down. They were unblocked guys that we know we're trying to beat with a throw. They batted a bunch of balls when we had guys open. We just didn't make the plays that we normally make.
How about third-down conversions? That wasn't really there at all either today.*
That's the down when they were doing some stuff – they batted some balls down on third down. They got some pressure. We just didn't make the plays that we normally do. It's frustrating. But Coach always says you don't evaluate too early. Just move on.