STEELERS at JAGUARS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2008 ALLTEL STADIUM -- KICKOFF -- 8:15 P.M. STEELERS CONFERENCE CALLS
HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
(on the injury situation and at what point does it become a real issue) "It's a real issue. It's a legitimate issue but like I've said repeatedly, it's as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling and the teams that have been successful are the ones that make quick adjustments and understand that the standards of expectation doesn't change and move forward and that's what we're attempting to do right now. You guys have been through it down there. It looks like that team's on track and they're pushing through and we have to do the same."
(what was it about Byron Leftwich that enabled him to earn the back-up position and how has he been in his time there so far?) "Byron has been awesome. He's been a breath of fresh air. He's very professional. Of course he has an extremely strong arm. He's a quick study. He's a guy that can learn without physical reps and that's of course very important when you talk about a back-up quarterback. He gets very few reps but he takes advantage of it and he has quickly developed a report with the receivers that he's working with. It's been very positive. I think it also helps that he has the background that he has in terms of being a franchise quarterback and being the guy and he knows what that entails and he kind of walks around with that kind of air about him but at the same time he's very humble."
(were you surprised last year when you heard the news he was released by the Jaguars?) "Nothing surprises me in this game. I wasn't down there and a part of it. I assume they felt like they were making decisions that were best for them. I really didn't think much about it at that time. I was very pleased to know that he was available when we sustained the injury at the position in the preseason when Charlie Batch got hurt. We quickly moved to bring him in to work him out and sign him. So, that's what is important to me."
(was it luck that Najeh Davenport was available to you?) "Yeah, we went with familiarity and I think that's a factor in all the decisions that you make. He's aware of the culture that we have here. He's aware of the standards that we set. He's well liked by his teammates. He's been on this bike before. He has to get back on it and ride."
(is it too much to expect him to be a factor and be ready to play by Sunday?) "It's our goal that he's going to contribute in some form or fashion this weekend. There are going to be some factors that determine that and of course one of them is his overall level of conditioning and another key factor is how quickly he comes back up to speed from assignment standpoint."
(have you seen a big difference in Jacksonville's run game with the offensive line?) "You can't hold those guys down too long. Those are two great backs; we have a great deal of respect for them. Not only those guys but how Jacksonville gets after people. They're going through an adjustment period. It appears they come through the other side. We have to be prepared to stop them and expect them to be at their best this weekend."
(in the AFC Wild Card game against Jacksonville, on the third and six when you had the lead and the ball, Ben Roethlisberger got tackled. Were you at that point concerned about just having a play that would take time off the clock as opposed to throwing for the first down?) "No, we actually were playing and playing to win like we always do. We had been in a couple of those rubber-meet-the-road moments already in that football game, the fourth and two being one of them where we hit Santonio (Holmes) for a touchdown. Our menu had gotten pretty thin in terms of play selection. We thought potentially we could catch them in a zero blitz and out flank them and pin the defense and get the first down. They did a nice job. We missed an assignment, they made a critical play in a big football game and ultimately games like that come down to those kinds of plays. They were successful, we weren't and that's a part of it. Hopefully we'll be in position to have one of those kinds of plays on Sunday night and we come out on the right end of it."
(was there holding on the long run to set-up the Josh Scobee field goal?) "I'm still looking for a flag. There wasn't one so it wasn't holding. We don't cry over split milk. Those guys made the plays necessary to win a tough football game. It was hat's off to them from that standpoint and that's old news as far as we're concerned. We looked back to it of course we knew but solely for the purpose of learning for what's happened to us in the past and maybe give us a little window into what lies ahead and that's the way we approach it. We're a different football team. We have layers of different roles than we had a year ago. I'm sure they're different in many ways. We have to acknowledge that's the part of today's NFL."
(with that being said, is it easier or tougher to prepare for a team when you're playing them for the third time in essentially nine games?) "The preparation and the things that you go through are very similar and the same and what I mean is you take them all one at a time. We know that we're not the same team we were the last time we played them and we assume they're not. So we're preparing to play this 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars team with the 2008 Steelers. Of course from a match-up standpoint there is some familiarity. There's a recent history which makes it interesting for the fans, that's great but we're just focusing on where we are right now. What we need to do to prepare for Sunday night."
(do you have any regrets for not keeping Alan Faneca or do you think that's just the way it goes with the salary cap?) "That's just the way it goes. That's water under the bridge. Alan was of course a great player here. The work he did here speaks for itself. We wish him the very best but you move on and that's part of today's NFL. Under today's salary cap, we had decisions to make. Some of those decisions were decisions like we were able to get a long term deal with our quarterback, Big Ben, and others. Those are decisions that every team has to make. You guys are of course aware of it down there. I'm sure you've had to make your own along the way and that's just business."
(from the last playoff game, do you feel like your team has laid the foundation as to how to stop the Jaguars defensively? It seems from that game a lot of teams have played them the same way your team did.) "I don't know. If people want to give us credit for that, we'll take it but I hadn't thought much about it actually. We've just been taking it one game at a time. This week our focus is Jacksonville. I really don't have an opinion in regards to that."
QUARTERBACK BEN ROETHLISBERGER
(on how he weathers the storm in dealing with the injuries that have hit his team) "Well, it's tough. This league is the most physical game there is it's because there are a lot of injuries not only on our team but throughout the league. It's tough, but the good thing is you have guys that are willing and able to step up and we have confidence in the guys who are going to be there and are ready to play the game."
(on if he was surprised when the Jaguars let Byron Leftwich go last year) "I was very surprised, because I know how great of a quarterback Byron was and is, and the whole announcement came as quite a shock to me."
(on if having two team with similar styles makes the game more exciting for him) "Well, it's going to be a very physical game and we know that, and how physical the Jaguars are. We know how physical we are. So, it's going to be another slug-fest; we've had a couple of those already this year so we're preparing for another one."
(on if the Steelers are hungrier than in the past because of the recent success of the Jaguars against them) "We can't go into it thinking that we need revenge and that we need payback. We need to come in and play it as a game that's an AFC divisional game and it's important for us."
(on if there is a reason that both games against the Jaguars last year ended similarly) "I don't know if there's any particular reason. They played great last year in the games especially on defense. We have to be prepared on offense to face that great Jaguars defense."
(on if he was surprised by the two-point conversion call from the 12 yard-line) "A little bit, but it was coach's call."
(on if he thought David Garrard's clutch run had an un-called holding penalty during it) "You know what, I haven't looked back and seen that play so it's hard for me to comment on it. Nope, haven't seen that play, sorry. That's a defensive play and I only watch the Jaguars defense."
(on how he views the Jacksonville-Pittsburgh rivalry) "They're not in the AFC North, but they are in the AFC. It's obviously very pivotal and exciting and has a lot of interest in it because it's an AFC game. We're coming at it like it's the next game and the most important game of the year."
(on if it's difficult going from one prime-time night game to the next week after week) "It throws your schedule off when you haven't played a one o'clock game. You're so used to it, but you know what, it's just a little adversity and you have to get over it."
(on if he feels he's getting enough protection in the passing game) "Yes, I feel like we've faced some very good defenses and you have to remember that they get paid too. I have all of the confidence in the world in my guys that we'll get it done."
(on how healthy he is right now) "I feel pretty good."
(on if he's banged up at all) "Everybody is banged up. It's football."