STEELERS at PATRIOTSSUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2008KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. POST-GAME QUOTES
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HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
MT: Well, a great half of football for our football team produced a great team win. It was just that: a team win. I think we had significant plays in all three phases. We had big returns, we got turnovers, the kicking game, [the] offense got going there and the defense, well, they were their usual selves. Needless to say, we're pleased with this. We'll keep it in perspective. We'll put it with the other ones. Our greater challenges, of course, lie ahead. We'll enjoy this today, no doubt, but we'll definitely move forward because we have an understanding of what's ahead of us.
Q: Can you talk about James Harrison and what he did today?
MT: Not to take it for granted, but that's what we've come to expect from him because that's what he's capable of. He's got tremendous talent. He's got tremendous work ethic and he's a heck of a football player.
Q: Can you talk about the elements and how they might have impacted your offensive scheme and if they did impact the game?
MT: We kind of embrace the bad weather. That's kind of our group. We've got a quarterback from Finley, Ohio. That's how we play football.
Q: The Patriots were 1 for 11 on third down. What did you do to limit them?
MT: We didn't do anything [differently] than we normally do. Of course we were conscious of Randy Moss and where he was located—he can hurt you, of course, big time—but we didn't step outside of our personality. We did what we usually do.
Q: You weren't here for some of the history between the teams, but did you get a sense that some of your guys wanted this game because it was the Patriots, aside from what it meant for the playoff race?
MT: You heard a lot of talk about it being a rivalry. I think more than anything our focus this week was that it hasn't been much of a rivalry because they've gotten after us. For it to be a rivalry we've got to win some and that's what we set out do when we came up here today.
Q: Your nose tackle Casey Hampton didn't seem happy with that holding call and then he got the sack a play or two later. Can you talk about how important that was?
MT: You know, Hamp [Casey Hampton] is a catalyst for us in a lot of ways—usually it's because he's a stout guy and tough to move in terms of playing the run. He got a nice play for us. It was a significant play, but there were a bunch of significant plays in the game. The credit goes to our players. They stepped up and embraced the challenge in a hostile environment against a very good football team and played the way we are capable of playing.
Q: Can you talk about the play of Keyaron Fox and how much his plays swung the game?
MT: Again, like I said, you can pick plays that swung the game. Keyaron played big for us today, other than the initial penalty to get us started. This is a guy that's passionate about his role as a core special teams player and I think he's a source of energy for a lot of people. We like humble, grounded guys like him. He's one of the reasons we're much improved in our special teams game.
Q: Was it your game plan to use the two running backs the way you did today or was that just the evolution of the game?
MT: That was the plan. We were going to use both guys. I think everybody knows what Willie [Parker] is capable of and of course Mewelde [Moore] continues to prove that he's a valuable asset to us. It was our plan to use both guys and it ended up working pretty well.
Q: You had over 160 yards rushing today. What does that tell you about what you're trying to do in the running game with all the injuries you've had?
MT: You know, we still can't run it. We're working. That's what you guys will write, anyway.
Q: Can you talk about how important it was early in the game when they jumped out to a quick lead to hold your composure as a team?
MT: That's kind of been our personality here, as much as you don't like to accept that. We've gone into some hostile environments and gotten off to a slow start. But the guys don't blink; they persevere. We got off to a slow start in [Washington,] D.C. against those guys in a hostile environment. That's kind of how it's been for us, but they didn't blink. They knew we had 60 minutes of football and we just continued.
Q: You went to a no-huddle offense on the drive that tied the game. Why then and what did that do for you?
MT: We had the intentions of jumping in and out of no-huddle, just like we intended to rotate out backs. So it wasn't any grand scheme of things, we were just going to continue to do that and change the rhythm of the game.
Q: Offensively, it looked like they were spreading you out a little bit in the first half. Did you do anything differently to get James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley involved?
MT: We had the intentions of dropping people versus empty because they get the ball out of their hands so quick we didn't think we could get home. We carried that personality all game and it was probably less empty in the second half, so those guys had an opportunity to rush. It wasn't any change, It's just how it fell for us.
Q: What do you think about that penalty on Ryan Clark when he hit Wes Welker?
MT: I don't comment on penalties or officiating.
Q: What does it say that your team was able to hold onto the ball and the Patriots weren't?
MT: When you play good people—make no mistake, the New England Patriots are a good team—we've got to take care of the football. We talked last night about scoring or punting and that was going to be a significant determinant of the outcome of the game. And we did. We took care of the ball. Ben [Roethlisberger] did a nice job, the ball carriers did a nice job, the receivers did a nice job. The elements and all of that are part of it, but more than anything you've got to understand that when you're toting the ball, you're carrying our livelihoods.
Q: How were you trying to attack their secondary?
MT: We were just trying to spread the ball around and be inclusive, include everybody—tight ends, wide outs, running backs. I think we're more concerned about what it is we do as opposed to attacking them.
Q: There was a third and two on a no huddle and it looked like Ben Roethlisberger audibled on a draw to Mewelde Moore. Do you know what he saw?
MT: He called the play. It wasn't an audible.
Q: You talked about in the second half trying to get some pressure on them. What did you do differently?
MT: We were able to get home some, and it's not because we did anything differently, really. They probably just were throwing the ball down the field a little bit more than they were in the first half, due to game circumstance. Sometimes things like that snowball. I don't want to make more out of it than what it is. When you start to get up on people and they have to start to throw the ball vertically, you get more rush opportunities. It's not like any grand scheme of things that we changed or that our level of intensity changed. I think just game circumstances created more opportunities for us.
Q: Is Ben Roethlisberger getting better at calling the plays and no huddle?
MT: He's been pretty consistent. That's how he's been.
Q: Any injuries?
MT: None to speak of, thankfully.
Q: Are you concerned Ryan Clark might get fined for the hit on Wes Welker?
MT: I'll let the league do their job. I'll let the officials do their job. I'm not going to express my opinions in regards to any of that.
Q: You guys hit pretty hard today.
MT: They hit pretty hard, too.
Q: Yeah but they're the ones that walked away bloodied and dazed.
MT: They're a good football team.STEELERS PLAYERSQUARTERBACK BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Q: How bad were the weather conditions during the game?
BR: The weather was unbelievable. One of the worst [weather games] I've played in. The rain didn't stop and it was hard to see and you have to give a lot of credit to our guys, they fought threw it. It wasn't always pretty. We felt like we left a lot of opportunities out there. We don't like to put three on the board when we get down to the red zone but a lot of credit goes to the Patriots defense and the way that they played. But we persevered in the second half and obviously our defense played great.
Q: How about your defense and all the turnovers they forced?
BR: Yeah it was unbelievable. You just get to the sideline, put your coat on, your hat on, and all of a sudden you're ready to go back on the field. We're glad we could capitalize [on the turnovers], we'd like to capitalize better with more points but we did what we did and it was a team win.
Q: How important was it to force the Patriots to make mistakes?
BR: It felt good to have those opportunities and to have the ball bounce our way. It was a hard fought battle by both teams. There were two very good football teams out there, went to war for 60 minutes and I'm sure the fans enjoyed it and the people at home.
Q: How hard was it to stay positive after the first drive interception?
BR: The first pass, [Mike] Vrabel, he's a heck of a player and he made a great play on it. Heath [Miller] was open behind him and he goes up and catches it and it was one of the frustrating things. I just talked to Kevin Colbert, he said 'it's not how you start, it's how you finish' and that's what we did a good job of.
Q: How did your running backs contribute today?
BR: Both of them did a great job. There was one point of the game where [Mewelde Moore] kind of had a hot hand, we had him in there for the no huddle, he caught a bunch of check downs, had a couple of great runs. And then we brought Willie [Parker] in at the end and he kind of finished the deal. It was good to see them both out there.
Q: How did you hold onto the ball today?
BR: It was huge, especially with the weather. Being as slippery as it was and wet, it's not easy to do and we've got to give our guys a lot of credit for holding onto the ball.
Q: Coach Tomlin said it was an Ohio kind of a day, did you feel like that?
BR: It did. It felt like Northwest Ohio and what I'm used to. It doesn't mean I like it but I'm kind of getting used to it.
Q: Did today's win mean more because it was against the Patriots?
BR: Well they've kind of had our number the last couple of time we played so we really wanted to come out and try to get a "W" and I think it was going to take a team effort as it was. It felt good to get the win.
Q: What did you think of Matt Cassel's performance today?
BR: I think there was a lot of different reasons. I don't think he a bad game. Our defense is very good. They're ranked number one for a reason. The weather wasn't easy so I don't think any of this should go on Matt's shoulders.
Willie Parker, Running Back
(On coming into the game running the ball with the weather)
"I wasn't really excited. I don't like weather like that honestly. As a running back, knowing that you're going into the game running the ball, that's the biggest thrill of your day, we just went in there and took the life out of them.
(On easing him back into the game)
"It really worked, I came out great and I feel good. I am not where I need to be, but I feel a lot better. I never thought I would be happy with something like that, I think that is the perfect thing for me right now, it's a good thing for the team, helping this team out."
(On how big this win was)
"It's definitely big. I haven't [beaten] New England since I have been here, since I have been playing. I think we beat them my first year, but I didn't play though. I think it was a real big win for the team, a real big confidence and momentum boost."
(On the psychological hurdle of beating the Patriots)
"I don't know about psychological, I just know we hadn't been getting the job done, probably four years in a row. It's just great to come out and beat them at their place and beat them the way we did."
(On having more offense to give)
"We still have more offense. Our defense really does a lot for us offensively."
(On playing the Patriots )
"The thing about it, Coach Belichick he got those boys respecting my speed and if I get the ball and if it even looks like I am going outside, they are jetting outside and it leaves so many holes up the middle that I can hit. The offensive line, they did a great job today, moving those guys back, moving [Vince Wilfork] back, that was just a plus for us. There were a lot of cutbacks, I stayed front side a lot too."
Keyaron Fox, Linebacker
(On the fumble recovery)
"I did not know where the ball ended up, but it obviously was in striking distance. The offense took advantage of that and put it in the end zone."
(On the momentum change)
"I did not even make it off the field before half the offensive line came out there and was jumping on me. Everybody kind of rallied off that."
Mewelde Moore, Running Back
(On the running game)
"We were just making the proper adjustments so that we could get the ball moving. When we finally got some creases and some seams, we just pounded the ball, and making guys miss. That was what really helped us gain momentum. The offensive line did a heck of a job."
(On both running backs)
"We were given the opportunity to do what we needed to do. We understand what our jobs are, what our roles are and doing the things we need to do."
Ryan Clark, Safety
(On the hit on Wes Welker)
"It was not like I was trying to be cheap. Anybody that comes across [the middle] it is my job to tackle them. The ball got tipped, but he said I should not have left my feet. I do not know how to control that. I talked to Kevin Faulk and apologized. I could not find Welker after the game to tell him I was not trying to be dirty."
Aaron Smith, Defensive End
(On the team and today's game)
"I think we are a kind of nicely boring team. We just come and find a way to win. It seems like each week it is a different group of guys that steps up and makes plays and that is what is carrying us through. We wanted to get some pressure on him (Cassel) and give him some different looks. I think we just made more plays then them today and in the past it has been them (Patriots) that has made those plays. They did not make them and we did this time. "
(On the weather)
"We like playing in this kind of weather. It forces you to run the ball a little bit and we can get after you. It is hard to throw the ball and when you do pick it up and throw it is hard to catch."
Deshea Townsend, Cornerback
(On the defensive play)
"The secondary played well, I think I played well and the game played out well. The match ups that we played, it worked well for us. We stopped them from getting up the field and when you can do that to their offense it will work out well for you.
(On James Harrison)
"He is great. He is one of those guys that is a true professional and has worked his way to being a great player. If he keeps doing that, the sky is the limit. This year is just a true testament of what he did last year was not a fluke.
Justin Hartwig, Center
(On the running game)
"We have thrown the ball a little more than in the past. We have leaned a little more on the pass. We have to be able to run it when the opportunities are there and today we were able to do that. We want to instill confidence in our coordinator to dial up those run plays and get it done. Tonight, I think we did that. I think we wore them down a little bit In the fourth quarter we got some big chunks in the running game. We had a lot of big passes and big run plays. We would go for four or five yards and then we would break off a big one. We stuck with the running game and we did what we needed to do in the end. "
LaMarr Woodley, Linebacker
(On difference between 1st and 2nd half)
"Turnovers. James Harrison had two forced fumbles and a sack. When you have plays like that, you are going to win games."
(On impact of weather)
"There was a lot of dropped balls out there. They had a few opportunities to score and they dropped the ball."
(On beating the Patriots in Foxborough)
"It definitely feels good. We haven't won here in years and to come out here and get a win like this feels great"
Hines Ward, Wide Receiver
(On importance of win to stay ahead of Baltimore)
"We're not worried about Baltimore. We worry about us. Everyone else has to catch up to us. We've had the hardest schedule in the league and we're nine and three."
(On play of defense)
"Very nice. It wasn't just the defense; it was also the special teams. Once we got the short field and went down and scored, the defense started to build on that."
"We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, we play in this stuff every other weekend. You can't worry about that, it is what it is. We just made more plays than they did in the weather. They turned the ball over and we didn't."
James Harrison, Linebacker
(On sack and strip of Matt Cassel)
"I was on the blind side of the quarterback and I just reached for the ball and just happened to get through."
(On reason for additional pressure in second half)
"They had to start passing the ball and we didn't have to sit back and try and guess what they were doing. We just pinned our ears back and went at them."
(On setting team tandem sack record with LaMarr Woodley)
"It feels real good, but that's not the end of it. We're trying to raise that total to 30-plus."