STEELERS vs. GIANTS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2008 KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. HEINZ FIELD POST-GAME QUOTES
Coach Mike Tomlin:I would like to give my congratulations to Coach Coughlin and the New York Giants. That is a championship caliber football team, not only from a talent standpoint but they showed great football character; they fought. I thought that our team fought. They made more plays than we did. Quite simply, we came up short. We accept that and we will take this as a learning experience. It is tough to swallow, but we will and we will march forward as a team and get ready for the Washington Redskins.
Can you talk about the injury to Greg Warren?
Greg Warren tore his ACL, so he was out. Nobody has two long snappers on their team; what you have is emergency snappers. James Harrison is regarded as the lead candidate in that regard; James Farrior is after him. We got some snaps on the sideline and we felt comfortable. We reduced the depth of our punter to 13 yards so that accuracy would be less of an issue. We weren't able to execute but make no mistake, I take my hat off to James Harrison for stepping up and volunteering and being pumped about snapping that football. We just weren't able to get it done. That was the first game that I have been involved in that we didn't have a snapper; so be it.
Is that why you didn't kick the field goal in the fourth quarter?
Absolutely. That was on the outer limits of field goal range. When you have a backup snapper in there you knew that they were going to come after it. I just didn't feel comfortable kicking with whoever we put out there in that position. It was a manageable fourth down if you will; we took a shot with our offense.
Why don't we see regular centers long snap in that situation?
There is a big difference between a shotgun snap and a long snap.
How about your other injuries?
The only other one that I have definitive information on is Ryan Clark with a right shoulder dislocation. It is back in place; we will see where he is. I don't know what the length of time will be. The other ones are questionable; I don't have enough information at this time.
Can you talk about Ben Roethlisberger's interceptions?
In the first half, more than anything, they were picks; meaning that you have to give credit to the Giants. They flashed and made some plays, and really, that was the story of the first half. I thought it was evenly fought; we played the game on our half of the field because of the turnovers. Our defense did an awesome job keeping them out of the end zone and we were able to go into halftime down 9-7. The bottom line is that they made more plays than we did and I don't want to sugarcoat it. I think anything other than that would be a discredit to their performance.
Did the loss of Santonio (Holmes) hurt you today?
No, you know our feelings in regards to that. The 11 on the field represent us and the standard of excellence doesn't change. It is not a cliché; we will never waver in regards to that. That punt team on the field that produced the safety; is our punt team. I have no clear way to explain it other than that.
When did you decide that Aaron Smith was going to play?
Aaron showed up at the stadium and wanted to play. We wanted to provide him that opportunity because we have a great deal of respect for that man and that professional. It was great to see him.
Did you make a decision on Santonio yet?
I am going to visit with Santonio tomorrow morning; that is what I told you guys that I told him when I made the decision to deactivate him; that has not changed?
How did you think Limas Sweed played today?
He made a few plays for us; some significant plays. He moved the chains a little bit. He is a young guy who has earned the opportunity to participate a little bit. He made some plays when given the opportunity. We will see where we go from here. There is no question that there was some improvement, but he is in the process of writing that story. He is going to need to grow and develop for our football team, and I think that he is open to that.
Will you be signing a long snapper this week?
That would be a safe assumption.
Is the injury to Mitch Berger an issue?
We will know more tomorrow; there is no question that he was less than 100 percent for a majority of that football game. He sucked it up and played for us. Actually he kicked pretty decently after he sustained the injury.
How did the injury occur?
I think that he hurt a hamstring – punting.
Did Mewelde Moore step up again today?
We didn't win, so we didn't have a winning performance as a football team or as individuals. I appreciate his efforts as I appreciate everyone's efforts. There is only one stat that matters to us, and that is winning. We didn't do it today.
Can you talk about your performance on third downs today?
They did a nice job. They played two-man under and when we protected the people who had those people in the backfield had them. They did a nice job, they really did. They executed and we didn't.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Comments on this being a tough day "at the office"
"Yeah, it was. It's disappointing offensively, from top to bottom. And it starts with me. We're just not getting it done and we do feel like we let the defense down. But, they are world champs for a reason. You have to give them a lot of credit. They played well. We didn't play well enough to win the game."
Re: the similarities of the defensive scheme seen today when compared to Philadephia.
"Not quite as much. I think we did a good job of handling most of their blitzes. We saw some things out there that we hadn't seen on film. Our communication was good. They played better."
Comments on what changed as the game wore on, when success was not happening as frequently
"I think we had one drive where we had three or four penalties in a row. I think Chris [Kemoeatu] hit somebody, and then we had a touchdown called back for holding. We just had a couple of penalties in there that kind of hurt us. It set us back. We really had the momentum going into that. That kind of hurt us a little bit. But, those are the mistakes we made and we can't duck them."
You guys are usually pretty good on third down, but they seemed pretty stout on third down against you today.
"Like I said, they are the world champs for a reason. They are a great defense. You have to give them a lot of credit. And we didn't play well enough today, like I said, from top to bottom, and it starts with me."
Did they start taking Heath Miller away as the game went along?
"They did a good job of watching, in my opinion, one of the best tight ends in the game. They know he's a weapon, he's a threat. And he made plays when he had to tonight. They were keeping an eye on him."
Is a long snapper not something you appreciate until it's gone?
"We have a lot of injuries – our long snapper, our punter is hurt, our safety got hurt. It's one of those seasons. It's a tough situation, but we'll see where we are come tomorrow."
Re: the safety in the fourth quarter
"It was tough. The defense got a stop and, offensively, that's another drive that we should have done something on. We didn't. The snap was over his head. [For] James [Harrison], you can't blame him – he's never done it out there. It happens."
Thoughts on Aaron Smith playing today
"Unbelievable. At the beginning of the game, when he came out of the tunnel, it was really hard. I about shed a tear just because you know what he's going through. If he wouldn't have been out here, no one would have cared. He's got a bigger battle to fight. And our hearts and prayers should go out to him and his family. It was great to see him out there today."
* * Re: playing without WR Santonio Holmes
"I tell you what, I want to give a lot of credit to Limas Sweed. I think he stepped up well. He ran a lot of hot [routes]. He saw all the hots that I pointed out to him. He did a great job. I'm really proud of the way he stepped up. Obviously, you miss Santonio and what he brings, but you can't take anything away from Limas Sweed today."
Comments on cumulative effect of injuries
"When you start losing guys, you never know who you've got left. Guys are coming and going, getting healthy and getting hurt. That's why I believe this is the toughest league there is. It's a violent game."
How tough was it when the touchdown was called back?
"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flag come. It's one of those ones where you're more mad if you start celebrating and run all the way down the field. It's disappointing. Nate [Washington] made a great play. I'm not going to talk about the call [because] I'll get in trouble."
He's making a habit of making big players, isn't he?
"He is. He's done a great job. He's getting a lot of confidence and I've got a lot of confidence in him. I told him that. He knows that, but coming in, I said, 'Listen' and in the huddle I'm like, 'I'm going to give it up and you're going to make a play for me.' He's done that – the big play – the last three weeks."
Re: the number of sacks by the Giants
"I've said this over and over, but you have to give them credit. They are the defending champs for a reason. Some of them were miscommunication. Some of them were coverage sacks. They did a great job of covering our guys. And I think we were a referee short out there. I didn't see a back judge, so I'm not sure what happened going into it. I'm not making any bad comments about referees, I'm just saying I don't know if there was someone back there, it just seems that we were missing one guy."
On learning that there was a referee who had kidney stones
"There was one out? The back judge. That's the delay of game guy and the illegal contact guy. That makes sense. I'm not saying anything bad."
Did their pass rush do anything different than you were expecting?
"A couple of times I think, late in the game, on those third downs, they were pinning their ears back and just coming. That's hard for an offensive lineman, especially with them – they have a really good defensive line. When they pin their ears back and just come, it's hard for the guys to hold up. And they are dropping sometimes, eight [or] seven guys. So it's tough. You have to give our guys some credit. And them, too."
How do you improve? What do you do to turn it around?
"You know what? It's not like I'm talking to you guys for the last time this year. We already knew we weren't going undefeated. It's a loss. We never like to lose. I'm not sitting here saying it's okay, but it is what it is, as coach says. We move on. We stay together. And we get ready for next week."
*Re: The second touchdown that was called back
I think it hurt some of the guys' confidence. I didn't see the call. We got down on ourselves. We can't get down on ourselves. If they call the call we have to keep playing no matter what it is. It's not going to change. This is a game and we have to respect what they call, no matter what they call. We have to just keep fighting. Keep moving on.
Did the Giants' ability to pass rush surprise you?
We got in a situation where we did make our plays. We left a lot of things out there as an offense. I don't think that they did anything that we weren't expecting. A lot of press from their secondary, but we expected that. We have to get better at getting open as a receiving core and better at being able to get the ball to us, or being able to run the ball better in certain situations. But like I said – it is a collective thing with our offense. We aren't putting this on anyone's shoulders. We are taking pride and coming out here next week.
Re: long touchdown
It was an opportunity. We knew that it was going to be short and a lot of pressure. We just wanted to get a shot. We took a shot down the field and we were able to connect on it.
Is this one of your toughest losses?
A loss is a loss. I don't think there is a good way to lose. We have to get better. Offense, defense, special teams, we have to get better. I don't think this is going to hurt us. We are going to proceed.
Re: James Harrison snapping the ball
I don't have an explanation for that. Coaches know what to do. They knew what they were doing. They thought James (Harrison) could do it. That is why they had him out there.
Did they give you an explanation about that call?
That is a killer. I feel like I didn't hold the guy. But once again, the refs do what they do and I do what I do. I am not going to make judgment on them. They call the game as they see it. All I can do it play.
I think we beat ourselves. We had a chance to put the nail in the coffin for those guys a couple of times and didn't get it done.
How frustrating is that, when you are at home and have that opportunity to do that?
It is real frustrating. Going to go back and look at the films tomorrow. Come back next week and not have those same mistakes. Still a long schedule ahead of us and we can't let this second loss bring us down.
Were you stunned when you saw James Harrison out there getting ready to long snap?It wasn't his first time, he did it a few times in practice when we were just messing around a little bit. If he would have gotten it back there to Mitch Berger, it would have been nice. But you never know what to expect from a guy when he doesn't take that many reps in practice.
Is this team snakebit? Guys keep falling with injuries.
Injuries are a part of the game.
*Even when they scored, does it still make a pretty good day for the defense?
I was proud of the way we fought, I really was. We fought until the end. You know that big fourth down play, it was a great throw and a great catch. And those guys get payed to play too.You know sometimes plays like that happen in a game. And we still had the field goal and it just wasn't our day to win today.
*A lot of Red Zone successes toward the end looked like they weren't very exotic?
Yeah on that fourth down in the beginning. I was watching Eli's lips the whole time and I saw him say 32 and so I went over and tried to tell everyone its right here and we stopped it and that was a big play in the game.
Did you see it in the huddle?
I'm guessing it's the two drop, which is right off center guard. And that's the play they ran and we stopped them. I'm proud of our defense today. Our defense played their tails off today. You know and we just have to get things back together and lick our wounds a little bit and come back next week ready to go.
I don't know, we negated ourselves with a couple penalties we kind of let it get out of control a little bit. I don't know, we just have to play better, make sure we get healthy and try to get some of the guys who are out with injuries some of the other guys are going to get t he opportunity to play.
*That's what I was going to ask you. With all of the injuries, is it hard to get some fluidity?
It's not really hard, I mean because the expectations are still the same. It definitely makes it tough. So you know hats off to them. They are the champions and they proved it today. They hit the panic button, they kept on fighting through the end, and they made a huge fight in the end, in the fourth quarter, and that's ultimate reason why they won the game today.
When he went down, James, he's done it before but the guy, what he does for us on the team, you can't really ask for anything more. He gave his effort and fortunately he went off and did his own thing. We're not going to blame anything on James, they just made more plays in the fourth quarter.
Coach Tom Coughlin: It was a tough ball game. We knew that was going to be the case coming out here. I know everyone was asking me throughout the week "coach are you going to be crisper?" But the fact of the matter is that when you play against this team. The number one defense in the league. A veteran team. Throws the kitchen sink at you. And a team that has been able to dictate on defense and therefore take advantage of it on offense. They're good on special teams with good kickers and cover people. That's the great formula to win. To come here, in Pittsburgh, and really the Steelers have been able to get a 5-1 record by coming out in the second half in a lot of close games and they've been the deciding factor. Our third quarter did not look real good. Let's face it. We hardly had the ball and we had terrible field position. A lot of penalties that were driving us crazy. Give the credit to the players and the coaches for hanging in there. For playing tough. For finding a way to win. Winning the fourth quarter, which is what we did. When the situation started to turn and we really started to get pressure on the quarterback he didn't have a lot of time to maneuver the ball down the field. We got over some big plays and some penalties. We did not get the ball in the endzone at point-blank range but we didn't let that discourage us and I think that was a key thing.
Throughout the game, but especially in the fourth quarter we had excellent pressure on the quarterback and he didn't have a lot of time. We also did some good things with our disguises and making them think we're coming in one direction and then not coming in that direction. You have to talk about our protection too because our quarterback was not sacked. Against this football team, they were the No. 1 leader in the league with 21 sacks. We came in here and played them here and they did not have a sack.
Re: TD pass to Boss
It was a goal line situation. We had been down there before. We had run a running play from that particular shift which was successful in that it gained a yard. I mean, it's like running into that wall over there. We didn't have much with the ball. That play came off of that look at obviously a really good time.
Were you aware their long snapper was hurt?
Definitely. That's why we brought the pressure. When the second snapper came in at that vital time in the game with the score 14-12, we went with the rush. I don't know that it disturbed him but the snap was high. Tough situation for that guy to be in. Let's face it, all the time that the long snapper works with the holders and punters and kickers and then to have something like that come up. You try to keep your backups involved but that's a tough situation.
Frustration getting FGs instead of TDs?
No. They were No. 2 in the league in turning people away with field goals in the green zone/red zone. We knew it was going to be very hard. We knew it was going to be tough. It is kind of frustrating especially when we were at the one-inch line to be that close. I wasn't worried as much about the frustration as I was about finding a way to get into the end zone.
*Flags not thrown on offense. Team resiliency?
You have to. For a while there, everything was going against us, then we did get a couple of flags our way but we hung in there. That's the best thing about this group. They're a tough group. They stayed together and hung together in difficult times and found a way to win it in the fourth quarter. That's what we always talk about.
Re: Taking control on defense
Yeah, I think that's a good way of putting it. Obviously we want those two big plays back, but we did a pretty good job today as far as doing what we wanted to do on defense. We didn't let them dictate. We put them in some third down situations – long – and it allowed us to get our pass rush going. We were able to shut down a little bit after that big run they had in the first half.
Re: Problems on third down for both teams
I think it's just a combination of two very good defenses going at it. When you get those two teams, defensive-wise, when you get them in third-and-long situations, the odds on getting off the field are pretty good.
Re: Re-focusing after the Steelers second-half touchdown
After we weathered the storm in the third quarter, we wanted to get into the fourth quarter and have the game within reach where we could get a strike, and that's basically what happened. They hit us with a big play on the next drive, then we were able to get a sack to push them out of field goal position. That was huge for us. After that, our offense started clicking a little bit and got some points on the board, and the defense just gained momentum.
Re: Discussion on the sideline
We were talking about it, but really I think it was just a collective effort of guys really understanding the situation, understanding what was at stake at that point. We wanted to get into the fourth quarter and be in striking distance. We were able to do that. Guys really stepped up for us – a lot of turnovers, a lot of sacks, and just really good play on defense.
Was there a wake-up call at any point?
We pride ourselves on our conditioning, we pride ourselves in the fact that we're a big fourth quarter team. I feel like today was a demonstration of how we play in the fourth quarter, and what kind of team we are. We didn't play great the whole game, but when it came down to the fourth quarter, with all the chips on the table, that's when we're at our best.
Is fourth quarter play a signature of this team?
This is our first real road test where we came away with a big victory. In Cleveland, we didn't get a chance to put our best foot forward, and not even tonight for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, that's when you can forget everything that happened before and focus on playing.
Re: Problems on third down *You have to give them credit. They're a great defense – the number one defense in the league. You can only do so much when we put ourselves in bad situations, but dealing with that is what our team's signature is.
*Can you learn from playing such a tough defense?
Not really. I think the only thing we can learn from is to watch the film and see if there's anything we can do better. You can always coach up the x's and o's, but you can't coach up the effort and the heart. That's what makes everybody in this locker room so energized right now.
*Was this a gut check? *No question. It was a heavyweight title match today, and we came out swinging at the end.
*Re: Manning's reliance on him
I'm just doing my job, trying to find the soft spot in the defense. Coach Gilbride made a great call and I was wide open.
Re: Becoming a clutch, go-to guy
When you have a great receiver like Plaxico Burress, and he gets double-teamed all the time, and Toomer is getting different mis-matches, leaving the field wide open for me, you have opportunities to make plays – and that's what I'm trying to do.
Re: Game became a war of attrition *A lot of guys were just going down. Everybody just had to strap up, and step up and make plays.
Re: Showing character *Pittsburgh's had the physical mentality for a long time, and that's the same mentality we're trying to get. Physical, tough football. I think we did a good job of coming here and matching that, and we were able to get the "w" with that.
*Re: Interception in the fourth quarter
We had the opportunity to get the quarterback down. We kind of let him get out – he scrambled. We did a good job in practice of plastering the coverage, and that was one of the times that we got to showcase that. I followed him across the field and was able to make a play.
Re: Attrition in the defensive secondary
Unfortunately we had a couple injuries. We hate for that to happen, but guys were struggling. It's a fifteen-round bout, and we did a good job of staying in there. Everybody pulled their own weight, and we were able to come out with the victory.
*Re: Touchdown pass *It was a play action goal-line play there. It was a tremendous play call. We kept getting stuffed on the run, so it was just a great call.
*You were pretty open
I was so open that I almost stumbled coming out of there.
Re: Breaking through with a touchdown after numerous field goals
I feel like we left some points on the board. We kept kicking field goals. To be able to get in the end zone when it mattered felt good for the whole offense.
Did your schemes confuse them?
They did a good job game planning. We had some adjustments on the sidelines. Guys picked it up and we got a win.
What does this win mean?
It's football. That's the time of year. We're getting to the halfway point. Quality teams are going to show up and you have good teams week in and week out. The Steelers are a great team. Very physical, good defense. You have to play tough.
Did you sense frustration from Roethlisberger?
I think more from the offensive line than from him. They have a young group over there. They're going to be very good and they're good now. They're a young o-line and with him being a Super Bowl quarterback he's trying to calm those guys down. I don't think it frustrated him.
On fourth quarter comeback
We just need to fast-forward the game for Eli [Manning] to the last five minutes anyway. That's when he's at his best. It's a character game. You build off of it. Obviously a lot of penalties. This game, we created turnovers for our offense and kept them in the game. That was able to keep us in the game.
How significant is this win?
It's a huge win. Obviously playing against a great team with a great history, playing here in Pittsburgh. It's never an easy place to win and we hung in there tough. That's what I'm most proud about. There are things we can work on and fix. We never gave up. We hung in there tough. The defense played outstanding and gave us a shot in the fourth quarter to stay in the game and give us a chance to win. Guys stepped up and made huge plays when we needed it. Amani (Toomer) on the sideline on a fourth and seven. You can't draw up a better play, a better catch, laying out and getting hit. Steve Smith on a third down on that final drive over the middle ran a great route making a catch then running the ball down to the one yard line and Walsh with the touchdown. Just hanging in there. Things weren't going well at times. It was easy to get frustrated but we didn't. We hung in there tough and found a way to win.
How did you not get frustrated?
You just can't. Getting frustrated isn't going to fix anything and it's not going to help. You have to know "next time we're going to get a touchdown." We had field goals and field goals. Sometimes you have to take the field goals and hope the defense will keep playing tough and not give up too many points but as an offense we can work on that. As long as we're playing tough and get the game into the fourth quarter, play smart, hopefully can make enough plays to win the game.
Re: Plaxico Burress not starting
I think we had great focus and great guys on this team. Whatever you throw at us, guys will step up. [Domenik] Hixon started the game and had to learn one position, then Plaxico is back in and he's got to learn another position. Guys know what to do. They accept anything you throw at 'em they're gonna do and do it with a smile. We're gonna go out there and try our best.
Disappointed Plax disciplined again
It happens. We don't like it but we're going to move on and Hixon started and made some good plays early on. We want Plaxico out there and he's going to make plays for us but we aren't going to make a big deal about it, no one talked about it and we're just going to go about our business.