STEELERS at BENGALS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009 KICKOFF 4:15 P.M. PAUL BROWN STADIUM STEELERS QUOTES - Below BENGALS QUOTES - Click on Link
Initial comments ...
"We don't want to make this a habit, but it appears to be for the second week. We are unable to make significant plays at the end of the football game to secure a victory. Let me start by complimenting the Cincinnati Bengals, because they did (make the significant plays). We respect that element of them. We accept responsibility for our actions, and at the same time we want to be complimentary of our opponents when they do the job. We have some work to do. We need to finish football games better. That's the mark of a champion, and that's not us at this point. We have to continue to grow. We have to accept responsibility for our actions. We need to get back in the lab, turn over every stone possible to find a winning formula to get in this locker room and make us victorious. That's the reality of it. We won't run away from that. We will acknowledge that, and we accept responsibility for our actions."
You had a decision at the end of the first half to either punt, go for it or kick a field goal. Why did you go for it?
"We thought that we were moving the ball effectively. We thought that we had an opportunity to get a first down and potentially a touchdown. We were on the outermost edge of what was comfortable field-goal range. We attempted one, maybe a yard shorter than that, in the second half. So, we opted to move the chains and maybe put seven on the board."
With a timeout left on the final kickoff return, were you surprised that Rashard Mendenhall chose to pitch it back, which ate up the clock?
"I was, but those are just young guys trying to make plays — trying to win a football game. That's not the reason we lost. There was a lot that transpired in the moments preceding that, which made the score what it was."
What happened on the interception that was returned for the touchdown?
"Just a miscommunication."
Because of this start, is this the best example of "It's a new season and what happened last year doesn't matter?"
"We don't need what transpired out there to let us know it's a new season. We realized that when we reported to Latrobe. That's been our mentality, and that's what we've said. It's not lip service. We mean it."
How do you go about cleaning up the little things?
"Really, what it is — and this is the story of the National Football League — we have to get on the details. This is the ultimate parity league. When you're on the details, you find a ways to win close games and you find ways to close games out, simply because you're living and performing right. When you're not, you're not. We accept responsibility for that."
Is it your feeling that it shouldn't have come down to this — that you had a chance to put them away earlier?
"I'm not concerned about putting away people away early. We need to do what is required to win. We had an opportunity to win that football game, and we were not able to do that."
Can you put your finger on why you are struggling to get off the field on third downs?
"It's usually a myriad of reasons, quite frankly. Tighter coverage, better pressure — they go hand-in-hand. The bottom line is that we need significant players — and we have quite a few of those — to make significant plays in significant moments. That's what comprises good football teams. We have candidates, and they need to deliver."
You mentioned that you have a lot of work to do. Is that because of the variety of mistakes, or are you seeing the same mistakes over and over?
"It's not a big enough body of work to judge it in that way. We just have to make critical plays at critical moments. We have people who are capable of doing that. We have people whose resumes are full of those types of plays, and we have to find ways to get (those plays) out of them."
What causes details to slip?
"I'm not even going to say it was a lack of details. That's just what my human nature tells me when you're coming up on the wrong side of football games. The reality is we need to make plays in big moments."
When you win, you have a veteran defense. When you lose, you have an old defense. Did you sense them running out of gas at the end?
"I have never called them a veteran defense or an old defense. Those are not my words. That's our defense."
Could you sense that they were tired?
"I'm sure there were 22 people that were fatigued. There were a great number of plays. That will never be an excuse. The reality is, we better be relatively fresh — which means relative to our opponent."
Did Limas Sweed just take his eyes off the ball in the end zone?
"You saw what I saw. He dropped it."
Were you pleased with the production that you got out of Willie Parker?
"I'm not pleased with anything, because we were not successful."
Did Rashard (Mendenhall) not get in the game because of how Parker was running?
"No. Rashard wasn't on the details this week, so I chose not to play him on offense."
Does the winning streak against the Bengals in Cincinnati being stopped mean anything to you?
"Six years (for me). Not bad. It's a tough loss for us. It was a tough, divisional fight. Stuff happens."
Can you put your finger on what's not clicking with the Steelers' offense?
"I thought we played well offensively. We put up a lot of yards, moved the ball and scored. We just have some room for improvement."
What happened on the pass play that Johnathan Joseph intercepted and returned for a touchdown?
"It was a miscommunication. We won't point fingers or point blame."
It's early in the 2009 season, but what does it mean to stand at 1-2?
"It's adversity that we have to face, but we've faced similar situations before. We need to (find) our character and overcome a situation like this."
Coach Tomlin talked about the details needing to be addressed. Do you see the same thing?
"It's one thing here or there. So, to answer your question, that's probably an accurate statement. You've got to continue to improve. I'm really proud of the way our guys fought, especially in the first half. The offensive line did a great job. We only gave up one sack, and that was a coverage sack. We did a good job offensively."
Talk about your running backs ...
"Willie (Parker) did a great job. So did Mewelde (Moore). The (offensive) line did a good job of opening up holes for the run game. They made things happen."
Talk about your offensive performance ...
"We played good football. It was a tough situation to put us in. It was third-and-long and it was too long for us to get with a hot route. Everyone was on the same page. There are little adjustments we need to make, but things I think we can do."
This marks two weeks in a row where you could have put games away, but lost. Did it feel like you were one play away from winning this game?
"They are a great football team. I don't want to take anything away from them. We feel like we beat ourselves a little bit. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and came away with three points when we should have scored touchdowns. Some of that is my fault for missing receivers. We'll improve and score some more points."
What did you tell Limas Sweed after the incomplete pass to the end zone in the third quarter?
"To be a professional, you've got to be able to put things behind you. I told him I'll come back to him when the time comes. In no way shape or form was I going to go back to pass, see him, and not throw it to him. I'm going to have the confidence that he's going to make the play the next time he has the chance. It was a tough play."
Does it help at all to know that you are going home to Pittsburgh for your next game after consecutive losses on the road?
"It's going to be good to get back home to play in front of our fans."
Is the lack of turnovers alarming for you?
"We could have had no turnovers and won, and this still would have been a big game. It's about getting off the field and giving the ball to our offense. Turnovers are great. Stats are great. Ultimately though, for us, wins are what matter."
Do you agree with Coach Tomlin you may have to go back to the lab to address issues?
"That's his job to manage us. He needs to see what he thinks is wrong. It's our job to go out and correct it. On Monday, we'll start to try to correct those things. I'm sure he'll have a plan of action for us to follow."
Do you feel like it's 'the little things' right now?
"It's always the little things. We have to go back to whatever we were doing to win games. We have to find ways to get close as a defensive unit and figure out ways to get off the field."
We you tired out there at the end of the long, scoring drive?
"We didn't wear out. We weren't tired. Guys were in it. We just didn't make plays."
Was it just a matter of inches that you missed stopping Brian Leonard on the fourth down conversion on the Bengals' final drive?
"I didn't get him. It could have ended the game. I will take responsibility for the loss. If I make that tackle, the game is over and the defense is off the field."
The Steelers have had success jumping out to early leads in this young season. What's the reason for not being able to keep those leads?
"It's all about situational football. You've got to know the situation and know who you are defending and you've got to make the plays. It's not mental mistakes. It's physical mistakes — not being in the right spot, missing tackles. Stuff like that."
Talk about today's game ...
"To play defense, you have to be able to come on the field and be ready when your name is called. When you come on the field, you have to know that you can't let them into the end zone. Worst-case scenario, we could give up a field goal and win the game. We didn't hold up our end of the bargain.
"We're finding ways to lose games instead of win games. We have to find ways to make plays to win games. The coaches made good calls. We need to make the plays."
Talk about what the offense needs to do to finish in the red zone ...
"You have to find ways to put up seven points and not three. That's how you finish a team off."
Some other guys are talking about 'going back to the lab.' What does that mean?
"We didn't have everybody on the same page. That's situational football. We need to make sure all 11 guys are on the same page. If I make two errors and Santonio (Holmes) makes two, and they are on different plays, that's a total of four mishaps. We've got to be on the same page. We are all in this together. We left a lot of plays on the field and didn't finish them. ... We have to continue grinding and improve on our red zone offense."
Talk about how the loss ruins a special day for you after becoming the first Steeler to surpass 10,000 receiving yards for your career ...
"Yes. It's a great accomplishment. Right now, the individual goal is nothing to me. Finishing 1-2 doesn't give me anything to be proud of individually. Finishing Super Bowl champions and starting 1-2 is not how we envisioned our season starting. We've got a tough team in San Diego coming to Heinz Field, so hopefully we can get back on the winning track and move on, and put these two losses behind us."
What allowed them to come back and win today?
"They made big plays and we didn't. It's something we need to rectify if we are going to be the great team that we strive to be.
It's disappointing, but we have the type of team that knows when things are going wrong. Hopefully, everyone can check himself and come in ready to work on Wednesday."
Is it encouraging to know you are close to being 3-0, or is it frustrating to know you haven't been able to get over the hump and stand at 1-2?
"It's frustrating. I felt like all game we were in control. Even when they made the big pick, we were playing tough. Then, things shifted on us. They made a great drive at the end. They made the plays and we did not."
What's the fatigue level like at the end of a game when things are happening like they did today?
"I don't think we were tired. I don't think anyone was tired. It was a matter of making plays and not making plays. We strive to be a great defense. We strive to make those plays. If we don't start making them, it's going to be a long year."