STEELERS vs COLTS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2008 KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. POST-GAME QUOTES
Coach Mike Tomlin:There is a fine line between winning and losing in this league and you have to give credit to the Colts because they made plays to win the football game. They took advantage of minute opportunities and made significant plays; we did not. The difference sometimes between catching interception opportunities and not; they did and we didn't. Thus, they had turnovers and we didn't. We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and we have to do a better job of getting the ball. When you play good-on-good, and make no mistake that team is better than their 4-4 record, games come down to that. We are aware of it, we take responsibility for it. Hopefully we will learn from it because we will be in some more games like that; they are going to come down to minute details and executing in those moments that will be the difference in the outcomes of games.
Can you evaluate Ben Roethlisberger's play?
It was not up to snuff because we lost; that is how I evaluate everyone's play. The quarterback position is in line with that. Sometimes they get a little bit too much credit when we win and they get a little bit too much blame when we lose. We are looking to win; that is how he looks at it, that is how I look at it and that is how the rest of the guys in that locker room look at it.
How restricted was Ben throwing deep?
You would have to ask him that.
Can you talk about what happened on the first interception?
I don't have the details at this point. That was a nice catch by Rat (Keiwan Ratliff).
Can you talk about the morale of the defense?
We are a football team. We don't play the moral victory game and we do not point fingers. They are just like everybody else in that locker room; we lost this game today. You won't find that in our locker room.
How would you evaluate Ben's health? Not 100 percent?
I wouldn't, but I am not going to make that the story and neither is he. He was well enough to play today and the standard is the standard of expectation.
How about Deshea Townsend's injury?
It is a hamstring; I think that in the next couple of days we will get some clarity on the severity of it. When you play corner, and you see a guy go down like that, it is generally not good. We will cross our fingers.
Can you talk about the two balls that Ike Taylor tipped?
We didn't catch them and they did. That is the difference in the outcomes of games at times when you have closely matched football teams. Their guys pulled some in and our guys didn't.
How about Willie Parker's situation?
He has a shoulder injury and wasn't well enough to play this week. We are hopeful that he will be well enough to play next week. We will see where he is.
*How about LaMarr Woodley's situation?
The calf injury that he has been battling didn't come around enough for him to participate. LaMarr is a young guy; he is a second-year guy; he is not the kind of guy who can miss quality practice reps and show up at the stadium and play winning football. We have enough quality depth that we feel that we play healthy people. He wasn't able to practice this week so we went with Lawrence Timmons.
Ben threw a lot of short balls. Were they giving that to him?
When you play the Colts; they are going to build an umbrella defense and they are going to invite you to throw the short ones if you will. They are going to bank on you being impatient and try to test them vertically. When you do that you get sacked and you throw picks. We had a game plan where we were going to take what they gave to us. We were able to convert third-downs checking the ball down to Mewelde Moore and Matt Spaeth. That is how you play when you play Colts. Games come down to finishes and they specialize in finishes; they played their game.
Did you think about going for the touchdown when you kicked your last field goal?
There was a thought; it was obvious that we lost some grass on the third-down attempt. We only had two tight ends; Max Starks had declared himself eligible. In order for us to take a shot at it he would have had to come out of the game. Semantics; when you lose ground like that on third-down you do not want to leave there with a negative taste your mouth; we took the points.
Why did you have so much trouble running the ball?
They are very good at moving; that is how they offset their size. Their movement is exceptional with their front. They stunt, they shoot gaps; they have a guy who plays strong safety (Bob Sanders) who is going to be around the line of scrimmage. He is pretty good so they move him around; sometimes he is tight end side, sometimes he is open side. They deserve credit for that.
Why did Timmons not play much in the second half?
Because when they go three wide outs and a tight end, they are throwing the ball. If you want to play some man concepts then you want to have Troy (Polamalu) on a guy like Dallas Clark. We thought that was an advantageous matchup as opposed to having Lawrence on a guy like him; not that Lawrence is incapable of doing those things. That is just the route that we went in the second half trying to contain 44.
Was Troy expecting help on the Colts last touchdown?
I think that was not Troy's man; there was a little miscommunication there. That is why you win and why you lose sometimes. They executed and we didn't.
Are you concerned about Ben's confidence?
No, I am not concerned about his confidence. He is our quarterback because he is. If you play that position in this league, you have to remain un-wavered; I expect him too and I am sure that he will.
Did your defense get tired in the second half?
I don't know if we got tired; I think that they made plays when they had to make them and we didn't. That is just the nature of this thing; there is a fine line in football.
Is Marvel Smith's return anytime soon?
I haven't thought about that today. I will see where he is at tomorrow and we will go from there. He wasn't able to go today.
QB Ben Roethlisberger How tough is this loss?It's tough. It's a loss, and we don't really like to lose an AFC game and it's tough to lose it like that.
Did your shoulder affect you at all?
I don't like to use that as an excuse. I don't care what it is, shoulder, no excuses.
You're obviously taking this game personally; can you explain how you feel? *If this was an individual sport and I lost a game I wouldn't feel so bad. Letting the guys down, letting your teammates down. It hurts because, you never hear me say "I" anything, but I lost this game and it hurts.
*Can you comment on the interception before the half?
The first one was to the three step, I couldn't find it and then once I found it, it was too late and I shouldn't have thrown it. The second one, I thought he was coming under, and I made the mistake and threw it to him quick, and his route was a return route. I made a mistake.
How tough is it to stay sharp when you don't practice?
I don't think it's that big of an issue. I'm taking mental notes and I'm seeing everything that is going on so it's not as tough as it may seem. I'm not executing, and I'm not doing it well.
Can you take us through the game plan at the end?
There wasn't a plan. I told everyone to go deep real quick and we were going to spike it and then we realized it was fourth down. I just told everyone to go, thought we'd have a chance that we might make it down there and try and jump for it.
That fourth-and-goal at the one, and you had to settle for a field goal. How critical was that?
It's frustrating. We take pride in getting down there and being able to get it in and we ran the same play and we couldn't get in. That's how we have scored our touchdowns before and I can't take anything away from them because they stopped us and they played great.
How would you assess your accuracy?
I thought we did good, I thought we moved the ball up and down the field when we had to. A lot of guys stepped up, Matt Spaeth did a great job today and Mewelde, again, in the backfield. It seemed like he had about 20 catches. I thought we did well most of the game.
Did you guys just have to learn how to close? You were guys were so close, but in the end you don't get the win?
It's frustrating because you feel like you played well and the turnover at the end of the half, and the turnover at the end, it's frustrating. I take it on myself, I let the guys down, offense and defense, but the good thing is that it is not the end of the season, we'll come back.
Have you felt this way after a game in a while?
No. Not in a long time. When you feel like it is your fault, it really hurts.
How do you feel physically?
I'm more drained emotionally than anything. Physically, I'm okay.
What's the protocol on the last play?
Throwing for the most yards and that kind of takes up the time and then there are guys on top of it. I'm so frantic trying to get everyone lined up to get the next play off that I can't really do much.
The second pick. Was there miscommunication?
It was just a mistake on my part. I thought he was going to keep coming and he did what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to stop and go back out, and I tried to get it to him quick and I forgot he was going back out.
LB James Farrior
"The bottom line [is] we didn't execute. We didn't do the things that we normally do to win games. We have to finish it out at the end. We had the lead at the end and let it slip away."
"It was just a rough game. They made the plays when they needed to. Coach Tomlin told us all week that they are team that likes to score before the half and score at the end of the game. That's what happened to us today."
Is it hard to account for two turnovers against you?
"It doesn't matter. They put us out on the field to do our job. And it's up to us to execute and do what we need to do [to] hold them to three points or try to get a turnover. We didn't do that today."
Do you feel like you had the game covered for about the first 25 minutes?
"Yeah, but that's not a game ... It's a 60 minute ball game and you have to play every play like it's your last play. They made more plays today."
Comments on being tied with Baltimore for the division lead.
"It's going to be a fight to the end. Nobody expected Baltimore or any of these other teams to go away. We just have to do [what we can do], control what we can control, playing the teams that we play and trying to get better. We can't worry about what they do."
Is it a matter of not getting turnovers? If you get a couple, it's a different game.
"It matters. We always want to get turnovers to help our offense out and try to get them in easy scoring situations. We couldn't come up with the plays today and I think that hurt us a little bit."
OT Willie Colon
Re: The turnovers
"That's on us. We have to stop beating ourselves. [Not converting on] third and one [and committing] two turnovers – that's the story of the game. We knew that, one thing about that team, they were disciplined. They want to just fight and fight. We had to do the same thing. I thought we matched the intensity. I thought we protected well. I thought we ran the ball well. We just can't turn the ball over and you can't have third-and-one. That's on us. There is no excuse for that. It's a gut-check time for us and we have to be ready to step up."
TE Matt Spaeth
Comments on the two interceptions
"In any game, you can look at plays like that, but you have to look at the whole game. It's a little something here [or there]. We should have gotten it in on the goal line and then we probably wouldn't have even been in that situation."
Re: QB Ben Roethlisberger's performance
"I thought it was good. Indianapolis is a good team. We knew that coming in. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. It was a tough game and, unfortunately, we lost."
What did they do differently on the goal line to stop your running game?
"They just made an adjustment on the goal line. It was something that we had had some success with the play and used earlier in the game and scored on. And they made an adjustment."
DE Brett Keisel
Re: The two turnovers forced by Indianapolis defense
"That was the difference. Usually, the team that gets the most turnovers wins the game. And they got more turnovers today. We didn't get any. So, we've got to do a better job of getting to the ball and making those plays. And I think we will. I don't think we're going to panic. Hopefully, this punch in the face will help us in the long run."
Comments on being tied with Baltimore for the division lead
"They have a great defense, too. And their offense is starting to play well. It's going to come down to November and December – just the way you like it."
CB Ike Taylor
If you take away what the offense did and just look at the defensive performance, do you feel you did enough to win the game?
"Not at all. We came out with a loss. Obviously, we didn't do enough."
DE Aaron Smith
Re: Losing for second time this season at home and San Diego visiting next week
"You can't lose at home. We have a tough challenge coming up, so we'll come in tomorrow, watch the film, break it down, see where we can get better, make corrections and get ready for San Diego."
Were you getting tired in the second half?
"No, I don't think so. They run the no-huddle, but they weren't running it at a pace that was stifling. I think the just did a good job moving the ball and they made more plays than we did today."
Did they do anything different in the second half?
"I think [Peyton Manning] threw a lot shorter passes. It seemed like he was kind of dinking and dunking a little bit more and just moving the chains on us. He kept us out on the field and, because of the no-huddle, we couldn't change personnel on him."
Comment regarding the notion that the turnovers put the defense in a difficult position
"We have to rise up. If you want to be a great defense, you have to rise up in that situation – at most, give them a field goal. You can't let them come away with a touchdown, especially at the end of the game."
Coach Tony Dungy: These are certainly tough to get here in Pittsburgh. I know that for a fact. They don't lose often here. They have a very tough team. Very physical. Well-coached. You have to play 60 minutes to win. We did, fortunately. I thought we hung in there. Still some things we could do better, but this is a game just attitude hanging in there and making plays when it counted. Obviously our defense with some takeaways. Our offense taking advantage of the turnovers. All in all, very satisfying. Now it's time to get on a streak. We haven't been in this position all year to get on a three-game winning streak. That's what we need right now. I told the team in the locker room that we played three division leaders the last three weeks and so I think we've got a good feel for what this AFC is all about. We've just got to continue to improve but we're playing better and making strides.
You have to really hang in there against these guys. They have a tremendous blitz package, they bring people from everywhere. They're very disruptive against the run. They didn't have Woodley today which obviously hurt them but Harrison is a heck of a player. He creates a lot of havoc. We just had to hang in there. We had some we were just a little bit off on. We had Marvin [Harrison] a few times. That's what they do to you. There were going to be times when we got some and we finally got the one to Dominic. We got him in coverage, we got him isolated and got the game winner, so it was going to be that type of day and I thought our guys hung in there mentally pretty good.
Coming in 4-4, air of desperation?
Well 4-4, that's kind of where we were. At the end of the first half, we're playing up and down, win one, lose one. Somewhere along the line, we've got to get on a streak. We really can't worry about everybody else. We've got to get ourselves playing better and today was a step in that direction.
Re: Goal line stand
That was big. They ran the same plays that they scored on before and we had one little error, we went back-door with our nose man on the one where he went in standing up. Everybody knew what the play was going to be and we came off and stuffed it. That was a big momentum play to hold them to three there.
Were you fortunate with tips to Reggie Wayne
Yeah. I thought Reggie was running by the guy and the ball didn't get out there and Taylor I think just mis-timed his jump a little bit. You need a little of that. Today we got it. Some of those balls that bounced against us earlier on today we got 'em.
Your three biggest defensive plays were from Keiwan Ratliff, Eric Foster and Tim Jennings
That's why you work in training camp. You develop a 53-man team. I tell all our guys on day one of camp, at some point we're going to need every guy on this roster and you're going to have a chance to make plays. Kiewan came back to us last Thursday and made some big plays last week and had a big play so it's not just the stars if you want to have a good team. It's gotta be everyone. And today we got them.
*On Dominic Rhodes
Dom is a veteran. He's a pro and went in there and ran tough and had the pass protection against these guys and he was able to do that. I thought he and Joseph [Addai] both did well but Dom gives us a lift. He's got energy and he runs well and the pass was one that we just happened to catch him in the right coverage.
Re: The last drive
We're trying to not let them huddle, not let them get situated on defense. We did that quite a bit in the game, actually. When you have the lead, that's what you want is the lead at the end of the game.
What's the point of no-huddle?
It's always easier. On defense you're used to huddling. You're used to communicating to each other and any time that's really the reason we don't huddle very much. We try not to let people communicate as much. That's been our style for a number of years.
*Re: Winning touchdown *We just ran one of our old pattern plays. They rolled up with Marv, and I saw I was wide open. I just took off running, and he saw me and threw it. I was the third option, but he saw me running open and threw it and I made a good catch.
*Did you realize you were that close to the end zone?
That's the route right there. We're supposed to run a rail route, and it came open.
Re: Importance of the game
Oh, yeah, we definitely needed the game as far as confidence. It's all good all the way around.
Re: Getting back into the playoff mix.
Just keep doing what we're doing right now. As a team, keep making plays. Our defense is playing great, we are playing good on offense, and we're trying to make it happen. I think that right now we're playing pretty good ball.
Re: Game-ending interception
We work on that every Friday, and we do a simulation on it on Saturdays. Basically, last play of the game, desperation play, we want to try to get as many guys deep as possible. Usually, the ball is going to be tipped, so somebody can get it. It so happened that Matt (Giordano) and another one of our defenders were in front, and once they were in front I knew I had to get behind, because the ball would be tipped. Then I noticed that one of their guys was behind me, so once it got tipped in the air I had to come down with it or it could've been pretty bad. They made a good play on the ball, and it was good for us.
Re: Big plays by the defense
This is probably one of the biggest victories that we have had this season, and we showed what we can overcome as a defense. We got in too many situations. We did great in that situation, forced turnovers, did everything that we needed to do that we've been talking about for the past weeks. Playing a full 60 minutes. You can see the game went down to the wire, and we pulled it out.
*Re: Big hit on 3rd down during goal line stand
My blood just rose to the top. I just heard the fans go "ooh." An excitement rush. It was great.
*That's the kind of play that can make a difference in a game, right? *Definitely. You always want those big plays, and you want those plays to be in our favor, so that's exactly what happened tonight.
*Re: Play of the cornerbacks
Our cornerbacks played extremely well. Those guys really stepped up.
Re: Importance of the win.
Every win is a big win. We got this one, we got the one last week. We've got to get on a roll, and our next one – just keep it up every week.
People talk about the weight of the defensive line – but on that goal line stand, you didn't feel overmatched, did you?
Not at all. We've got techniques, we practice at it with different things to compensate for our size.
Coach Dungy said that everyone knew what the play would be on the goal line. What was the adjustment?
It wasn't an adjustment. They ran the same running play six times. It was a matter of who wanted it more, who was going to fight the hardest. We just want to be disciplined and stay in our gaps.
Re: Playing with a new team.
It's all football. It's just about preparing, mentally and physically. Getting your body ready, and going out and playing. All I did was go out and played the best I could.
Do you notice the cold during the game?
No, not really. You're so amped. It doesn't bother you during the game – after the game, you can see I'm sniffling. It doesn't bother me.
How many plays did you get in today?
I'm not sure. I got enough reps. I feel good. I just hope I get more involved next week, and let's see where we can go.
Re: Goal line stand
No ifs, ands or buts about it – we just had to give up three instead of six.
Re: Getting the ball back for the offense
Coach Dungy always says, "Be poised." I guess that's the root of the whole coaching organization, just be poised and just be calm, cool and collected and everything will fall in place.
Re: Getting on a roll
The last two weeks were really good. Hopefully we can just keep it going.
Re: 40 years since Colts won in Pittsburgh.
I wasn't around then, so we're just happy to get the win.
Re: Importance of this win
We're working extra hard, and getting into a little bit of a rhythm. Hopefully we can keep it going. Time will tell.
Re: 40 years since Colts won in Pittsburgh.
I didn't realize that. 40 years is kind of cool. I had no idea. At this point, it's great, but we needed a win for the current team. It's big in that respect when you know the history of the whole thing. Obviously it's a pretty tough place to win. I was thinking the other day, Green Bay and Pittsburgh probably the two most rabid, historic franchises that there are, so this is big for us.
Re: Remaining patient against a tough defense.
I don't have the benefit of experience to tell me that, but you hear it all week, and sure enough it becomes the case. These guys are tough, physical, they play hard, they play to the end. It was going to be one of those games where one or two plays at the end were going to make the difference, and luckily we made them.
Is this what it means to play 60 minutes?
Yeah, I'd say so. The Hail Mary at the end? Yeah, I think so.
How important were the short fields the defense gave you today?
You always like those as an offense. There haven't been a lot of turnovers lately defensively. I know it's been a real mindset for them to create turnovers and they did that today and it was important for us to capitalize and turn them both into touchdowns. Second half we came out moving and it ended up being just a four-possession second half. We wanted to get touchdowns when we could, we got the one field goal but we moved the ball a lot better in the second half.
You said coming in it would be a tough game. Keeping your patience?
Absolutely. This Pittsburgh defense is every bit as good as advertised. We knew they were good coming in and they certainly proved that. It was no surprise. Everything that you get with these guys you have to earn. We got a lot of third and longs and those are tough to convert and the ones we did convert were tight. We had some deflected passes and Marvin Harrison made a great catch on one, so we just like to stay out of those third and longs but it's tough when they're so stingy against the run. You get a first and 10 or second and 10 run and it turns into third and 10 and that's tough sledding. We hung in there and it truly was a team victory today, which was what we needed.
Re: Touchdown to Rhodes
It was a great play by Rhodes. Play-action pass off the stretch fake. Just Dominick made a good play and it's a credit to him for being ready. He and Joe Addai were alternating most of the game and if either guy is in there, we're confident with them in the running game or the passing game.
On chasing rather than being chased
We are fighting and scratching and grinding. We've been the underdog the last few times. People aren't really expecting us to win the game so it is a different type of football that we've been playing. We are beat up. We have a lot of new guys playing. Two new corners starting and both of them made huge interceptions. We truly are kind of fightin' and scratchin' and clawin' and trying to find a way in the fourth quarter to win the game. The same thing happened last week as this week. We made the play in the fourth quarter which is something we haven't been doing in games we've lost this season.
*On the Steelers hail mary to end the game
It was a smart play by Ben Roethlisberger. You're looking to spike it and get everybody settled and huddled in, then you realize the clock is working against you and you're going to spike it with zero time left so it looked like he checked right away to "everybody go long" which is something you practice a lot. You don't really get to run it but it was a heads-up play by him to give them a chance. It was a good job by our defense batting the ball down.