*STEELERS vs COWBOYS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2008 KICKOFF -- 4:15 P.M. *
Steelers Player Quotes - December 3
*Do you think that you are playing your best football this year?
I think that I am doing alright. I think that my team helps me because I do not have to make many tough plays. I get to hide behind these guys. If I was in a place where I had to make 100-some tackles a game then I think that my body would break down and I would mess up. They have been able to keep me healthy and I have been doing ok.
Have you ever heard of Donnie Shell?
I read about him this week.
They called him the 'Torpedo' because of some of his big hits:
Right now I am more like one of those things you hit up in the air; badminton. I am more like one of those.
*Why has the sack protection gotten so much better?
I think that we are getting better as an offense. Earlier in the season we were doing a lot of things poorly as an offense in terms of protection. Now we are not making mental errors, our technique is getting better and Ben has done a great job of getting rid of the ball. He is seeing the field really well and he is throwing the ball down the field. He is making us look good. Pass protection is all 11 guys doing their job. Receivers have to get open; quarterbacks have to understand his problems and get rid of the ball and we have to pass-block our butts off.
Are touchdowns in the red-zone the missing element right now?
More touchdowns period; we are always trying to score as many touchdowns as we can. That will always be an issue.
Can you talk about your matchup with Jay Ratliff a little bit?
I played against him last year; he is a really good player and he is really explosive and active. He uses his hands well and he gets off of the snap very fast. He does a lot of things to try to get you to lean one way and then throw you the other way. I am going to have to study a lot of tape on him but I have played against him and I know what he is about. There is really no drop-off; I can't say that the guys that I have been playing against the past couple of weeks are any better than Jay Ratliff; he is a really solid player.
*Can you talk about the difficulty of facing a duo such as Tony Romo and Terrell Owens?
Not only do you have TO (Terrell Owens), but you have Roy Williams and Jason Witten also. Those three guys are among the most respected guys at their positions. They present a lot of big challenges. Having a guy like Romo also makes it a big challenge for us.
When did you find out last week that you weren't going to play?
It was during the week when I was talking to the doctors and they told me to wait another week. I just did what they told me to do in case that something would happen. I went with their advice but I am definitely ready to play.
You are definitely going to play this week?
No bad news; I don't think that my dog is going to die so no more bad news.
*Do you remember Super Bowl XXX at all?
I was 20-years old at the time so I don't remember too much from that game. I remember that there were a lot of turnovers. Coach (John) Mitchell talked about how (Dallas) couldn't run the ball much in the second half. It is always a big-game when we play each other.
Is that because of the historic background between the two teams?
I think so. You hear about the games in the 1970's and the battles between the two teams. I think that there is a huge history between these two teams that goes way past any of us in this locker room.
Can you talk a little bit about the talent that they have on their offense?
Where do you start? These guys have Pro Bowl players at every position. The offensive line is very physical and very stout. They have a quarterback who can make every throw. They have a running back who can run you over, make you miss and has great balance. They have Terrell Owens who catches everything; he has caught a lot of deep balls this year. I was watching something this morning where they talked about Witten being the best tight end in the league. We have our work cut out for ourselves this week. We have a pretty good defense but we have to prepare ourselves so that we are not just preparing for one guy but are ready for everybody.
Can you talk about Plaxico Burress' situation?
You feel bad for the guy. It goes back to what Coach (Bill) Cowher used to say 'we are all in control of our decisions.' He made that decision that is controlling him right now. You just wish him the best and you pray for him that he will heal and that everything will work out.
*Can you talk about Plaxico Burress' situation and why you think that maybe he had to carry a gun with him?
I have no idea. Personally, if I have to carry a gun with me to go out, then I probably shouldn't be there. Here in Pittsburgh, the way that the city and the fans interact with each other, I don't think that we have had that sort of situation happen. You are always aware of your surroundings when you go out. New York and Pittsburgh are two different cities. I know that the city of Pittsburgh is very passionate about their players so I don't ever see that being a problem where a player has to carry a gun here in Pittsburgh.
Was it nice to see that Ryan Clark will not be getting a fine for his hit on Wes Welker?
The ball was tipped; then he hit him with his shoulder pads and not his helmet. I didn't see anything wrong with it. It was a hard hit; this is still football. This is a violent game and that was a clean, violent hit. There was nothing illegal about it. He didn't lead with his helmet; he led with his shoulder. The guy jumped in the air; when you leave your feet and you get hit like that, your momentum has no choice but to do down. It was a good, clean hit and I am happy for him that he didn't get fined because he didn't do anything wrong.
Does it mean anything when the league says 'our bad; you didn't do anything wrong?'
You can't get it back. If we, as players, do something wrong, we get fined. If they mess up, you get an apology. That is not right.
How close are you with Terrell Owens and do you measure yourself up against him?
We live in Atlanta, we see each other and we have the same doctor. He is one of the greatest wideouts to ever play the game. I don't try to compare because we play in two different styles of offenses; we are two different types of players. He is a great player, there is no question about that. Anytime that you play against a great player, you want to make sure that you go out there and make your plays and try to help the team. I have never gone into a game thinking that there is another wideout that I have to try to out-do. I have to do what is best for the team. I have to make plays that are out there that help this team win games.
*Dallas has a pretty good tight end in Jason Witten. Do you ever pay attention to what a guy like that is doing out there?
Yeah, anytime that you watch film, no matter who the tight end is, you see what you can learn from him. He is one of the best in the game.
How can you guys improve scoring more touchdowns in the red-zone? What was missing there against New England?
They had a good red-zone defense to start with. When it comes down to tight games like we are going to be playing here for the next month, and hopefully the next two months, the difference between three and seven points is going to be huge. If we can get a touchdown every time that we are there then that is going to be huge for us.
Do you feel that you guys are on the verge of busting out as an offense?
I certainly hope so; I feel that we have made strides over the past couple of weeks. We hope to continue in that direction.
Do you agree with Coach Tomlin that DeMarcus Ware is going to be the best pass-rusher that you guys are going to face this year?
He is the best; he is leading the league in sacks. He is all over the field so he is definitely somebody that we are going to have to deal with.
*Can you talk about the Steelers ranking first in kickoff coverage? What does that mean to you?
I don't know any of these stats. It means a lot because it is a group effort; there is not just one guy that goes out there and makes every tackle. We have a lot of guys on our team that are making plays and are contributing. It is obvious who those guys are but it is just good to see our kick coverage playing good and being an asset and not a liability.
How big has the addition of Keyaron Fox been?
You cannot say enough about that guy. I would go as far as to say that he is the emotional leader of the special teams unit. He gets fired up and he makes a lot of plays. You saw him jump on that fumble in that last game. He has been huge.
Weren't you a key participant on that play because you blocked Matthew Slater from getting to that ball?
Once again, I just try to hustle and run hard to the ball. I was just running hard and he was racing towards the ball, so I just tried to keep him from knocking the ball out of bounds. I was able to knock the ball in and Keyaron was there to jump on it.
Can you talk about possibly going to the Pro Bowl?
It would be kind of surreal. It is a blessing because I feel like when you have the faith and when you work hard, I feel like God will bless you. At the end of the day I just want to help my team.
*What is your reaction to what Plaxico Burress is going through?
I was actually talking to Plax on Sunday after our game on the way back to the airport. I feel bad for him and wish him nothing but the best. I told him that I hope that he can get through this thing. Nobody knows what is going to happen but I wish him and his family the best.
What kind of guy did you know him to be when he was there?
He was a great guy. He was a great neighbor; if I needed some sugar I could go and borrow it. He was a great guy and a good friend; he still is a good guy and a great friend. It is unfortunate that this had to happen.
Does the historic nature of these two franchises make it such a big deal when these two teams play each other?
I was just talking to Dallas' media and they were asking what kind of rivalry this was. I said that it (the rivalry) was in the 1970s and I wasn't even born yet so it is hard for me to speak about the rivalry. Every day when you walk in and you see the pictures from back when they used to play, you know how special it is from a team standpoint. It is another huge game.
What makes them such a big deal?
They are "America's Team" if you will; I still think that we have more fans. They are still "America's Team" and it will be a five-star matchup as Coach (Tomlin) likes to say.
Do you know Tony Romo and have you had interaction with him before?
I have golfed with him before. I think that he is a good quarterback. We were able to talk but I don't call him on a daily basis and talk to him about stuff. He is ok. He is a very good golfer.
With all of the attention that you get during the season, do you ever wonder what it is like to be in his shoes?
No, I don't. I don't mean this to sound rude, but he is asking for it. That is the life that he is choosing to live off of the football field and that is his choice. It is what he chooses to do.
Would you say that your styles are similar with your ability to keep plays alive with your feet?
Yeah, I would say that. We are both the risky, gunslinger-type if you will. We both run around and make something happen; we have a lot of fun out there. Yeah, I would say that we are similar in type.
Can you talk about DeMarcus Ware?
Nothing against him, but I think that we have two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL and we have faced them quite frequently. He is an unbelievable player; he leads the league in sacks. The media in Dallas wanted me to talk about him too but you cannot just single out one guy because their whole defense is unbelievable. We have to be aware of where all 11 guys are at one particular time.
Is the whole Plax situation a wakeup call for the entire league?
I think that it is something like any situation that occurs to your peers or your friends in or out of football. You just try to learn from everything. I'm sure that people will learn and try not to let it happen to them.
How important was establishing the running game in New England and do you think that it is here to stay?
I think that it was great to see Willie (Parker) come back out and make a couple of splash-plays. Mo's (Mewelde Moore) has been doing it at a high level recently so it was great to see those two guys complementing each other the way they did; Gary Russell and Carey Davis too. I think that our offense is just starting to come around to the level where we would like. We are not there yet but we are starting to come around and hopefully it is the right time.