STEELERS VS RAVENS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2008 AT HEINZ FIELD - KICKOFF 8:30 P.M**
Coach Mike Tomlin:What a tough, hard-fought battle tonight, one that we were fortunate to come out on top of. We had a lot of guys put forth outstanding effort and this team hung together. We are not perfect, but we are together. It culminated in a win for us. In all three phases guys stepped up and made plays; when one phase was struggling another phase stepped up. That was how the game unfolded. We were lucky enough to get a win. We have some injuries that we need to deal with; that is a part of football and we will. Our standard of expectation won't change for us. Rashard Mendenhall has a left shoulder fracture and he will be placed on IR; Kendall Simmons has a right Achilles and he will be placed on IR; Carey Davis had an ankle sprain. That is football; what we will do is put some men out there and the standard of expectation will not change. We have to go to Jacksonville and we have a short week; such is life in the National Football League.
How is Andre Frazier?
The tests were negative and he is going to be fine. That of course is great news and that was probably the best image that I saw tonight after that game when I saw him walking up that tunnel with the rest of the men. That is great; he is going to be fine.
Do the injuries put a damper on the win?
No it doesn't; that is football and we accept that. Our competitors, it has been well documented; a lot of those guys have suffered devastating losses. It is only devastating if you allow it to be. We are a team and we are a team for a reason. People are not concerned with our problems; they are probably happy that we have them. We will address them and we will get ready to go play.
Can you talk about the effect of using the no-huddle?
It was thoughtfully non-rhythmic. He made the plays necessary for us to make. No-huddle was a nice change of pace but we had guys make plays; ultimately it comes down to that. Ben (Roethlisberger), Santonio (Holmes), Hines (Ward), Mewelde Moore, these guys made plays. Our defense kept us in it and when they scored on us the offense came back. The special teams were solid all night for the most part. The big thing is at the half we stopped kicking our own butts. We were upset with ourselves; hitting second, playing that kind of football, getting offsetting penalties do not help us win. We left thirty yards and a potential score out there in the first half because we allowed them to call offsetting penalties. We smartened up at the half; I thought a critical play was when we didn't respond in the third quarter and were able to get the fifteen yards. Then, Santonio scored and we were able to play our style of football. It was a positive night in a lot of regards. It was not perfect, but we are 3-1.
How good was Joe Flacco tonight?
Those guys competed as a football team; they have a great team. I am not going to evaluate Joe; I will leave that up to Coach John (Harbaugh) and his crew. That was a very competitive and very physical football game. We have a lot of rescpect for that team; that is probably what makes it the rivalry that it is. We will see them again and we know that they will be ready; hopefully we will be.
*What does this win say about your team?
It says that we will fight until the finish. That is the National Football League; that is what makes this thing so awesome. You can't blink and we didn't. Does that mean that we have a chance to be something special? Maybe. Right now all that it means is that we are 3-1 and we have to go to Jacksonville on a short week against an AFC opponent that we have had some issues with. No rest for the weary.
What would have happened if Moore had gotten hurt?
We would have gone empty probably. So be it; that is the nature of the thing. We are going to play the guys that are healthy and hopefully we keep enough healthy at each position to field a team.
Did that become a concern?
It was a concern, yes. Special teams became a big-time factor for us. More so special teams and offensively because Carey Davis is a four-phase guy; Mewelde was a return man. It got thin and it got thin in a hurry. We had some guys step up; Andre Frazier goes down on the first kickoff and James Harrison goes back in there. You cannot say enough about this guy; he took a helmet to the thigh and missed very little action. He was a dominant force in the football game. We got that effort from a lot of people tonight.
Will you have to look outside the organization for help at running back?
Most likely; there aren't any healthy left and I am not toting it. That is part of the business and we will make the necessary moves that we need to make. We have to do it and we have to do it quickly; and we will.
What motivated the decision to go to the no-huddle?
We wanted to change the pace on them; that is what the no-huddle gives us. Hopefully it reduced their menu; we didn't know if it would be effective or not. Our guys like it and we have practiced it a bunch. There is a twinkle in seven's (Ben Roethlisberger) eyes when you hand him the keys to the car. We were just looking for something to get us going and it got us going.
Moore said that you call him the minute-man?
Yes, he is like a sniper; we have a couple of guys like that. Nate Washington (and Moore), they don't get a bunch of touches, but the touches that they do get are important. He was given an opportunity to step up and make plays for us and he did. Nate Washington made a few plays for us tonight. Those guys that have those supplementary roles and those guys who are on the fringe of being starters, and those kinds of guys, they have to deliver for us when their number is called. We have a bunch of guys like that who do.
**QB Ben Roethlisberger
Re: Getting a win
*Ben Roethlisberger: *It doesn't always have to be the prettiest. As long as we get the win, we'll take it.
*Re: Overcoming injuries
We lost a lot of guys. I'm really proud of the way I came in. I was more emotional, more vocal than I've ever been at halftime. I screamed at our offense. We were terrible in the first half. Not that we were great in the second half, but we bounced back. I have to give a lot of credit to our defense, once again. They picked it up when we were struggling. But I'm proud of our offense the way we bounced back in the second half. That's what this team's about. Offense, defense or special teams, we have each other's backs. We're never going to quit on each other. Even when we're struggling, the defense is coming up to us and telling us that they have our back, and we have to have theirs.
*Re: Darnell Stapleton
Darnell did great. Any time you can get a guy to step up, a young guy on the offensive line, and then just go. My heart goes out to Kendall (Simmons). You hate to see an injury, hate to lose a guy like that. But it's time for Darnell to step up.
*Re: Lobbying for the no-huddle
That's the reason we went to it. I went to Coach Tomlin and he said to go ask B.A. (Bruce Arians). BA asked me, 'Do you want to do it.' I said, 'Yeah, I was the one who came up with the idea.' It was good. Coach has faith in me and I have faith in the guys that we could get it done. I think we did a great job. It was kind of the spark that got us going.
*Re: On how the no-huddle helps
We get a rhythm. It's going off of what I see, not necessarily what the coaches see. It can be a weapon for us and I think it was tonight.
*Re: Screaming at the offense
I was tired of being embarrassed on offense. I told the guys that. There's no need for it. I had to make a statement.
*Re: On Santonio Holmes touchdown
Sometimes it just takes one play. One play can change the tide of the game. It can give you confidence. After that play, it just seemed like on offense we had a confidence that we could do it, we could get it done. It was a broken play and (Santonio) made a great play on it.
*Re: On getting the win
It's great. 3-1 sounds a lot better than 2-2. It's a divisional game. That matters to us. We'll take it no matter how ugly it is.
K Jeff Reed
**Re: Game winning FG in overtime.
"I tell you what, it's always nice to know that, pretty much, a kicker is going to win the game. When we get the ball on that yard line, I knew we were going to get in my range. The first one was down the middle. I think the timeout was pretty late, but, whatever. You have to make the next one. I got all of it, but I hooked it a little bit. So, I'm glad it snuck through."
Comments on second half comeback.
"Our offense, they came into the locker room and [there was] no finger pointing; just intensity. I knew they were going to come out and produce. It was just a matter of time, as hard as our defense has worked the past two weeks, that they were going to get a turnover for a touchdown. All of that worked out."
Thoughts on whether it was fitting for this game to go to overtime.
"I think so. But, both teams got pretty beat up. There was an injury every-other-play, it looked like. I hope those guys are okay. We need them all. I'm just glad we came away with a 'W'.
Re: the number of game winners he had in the preseason preparing for the game-winning kick tonight.
"Definitely. I do like the 30-yard [or] 40-yard range a little better. When I got that 19-yarder, I really didn't know what to do. But the ones you really make your money at are the 40-plus."
Re: the way he is kicking the ball.
"I am kicking well. But, I have to get better for the guys. I never feel pressure with my snapper and my holder. Without them, I don't even get a chance. So hats off to them, too."
RB Mewelde Moore
Re: key plays in game-winning drive in overtime
"It put us in a better position to make the field goal. And Jeff Reed, he's definitely got cold water running through his veins. He nailed it, nailed it twice actually. We did what we could. It feels really good."
Comments on his mindset as a "third-down back"
"I'll be perfectly honest. At all times, I believe in myself as a starter. That's how I was when I first came in [to the league]. And that mentality has never changed. But I know that I can play a role. If I'm asked to do a job, that's what I'm going to do and I'm going to give it all I have. So it's just me focusing on whatever it is that I'm asked to do and trying to be the consummate professional to get the job done."
WR Hines Ward
Re: WR Santonio Holmes' touchdown reception.
"He's a big-play guy. He went out and made a play when we needed it. That's what I think all the receivers did. We all went out and made plays. But Santonio putting it in the endzone really jump-started [us], gave us momentum. And our defense went out there and made big plays after that."
Explanation of what the no-huddle offense does for the group.
"It changes the tempo. It puts Baltimore in a bind where, if they blitz, we're spreading out. It makes it a little easier to read. It just gets everybody involved. I think Ben [Roethlisberger] prefers the no-huddle. It gives him a chance to really have total control and call his own plays on the field."
Re: decision to go to no-huddle
"We just needed a change of tempo. We kept going three-and-out, three-and-out. And we were losing the first and second downs, which gave us third-and-long. So we decided to throw a couple times on first down and change the momentum and start running the no-huddle."
**Coach John Harbaugh
Disappointing outcome, but the way we played, the way our guys competed and fought, that was positive. That's what we build on.
The short punt when Jared had a hit out of bounds. It was a situation where guys are intertwined and fighting a block. The person got off a block and you lose track of where you are on the field. He was a step or two out of bounds so it was a good call but it's nothing that was anything less than an effort play and they got us on it.
**RE: Steelers scored 14 points in 14 seconds
Our guys kept their composure there and they fought back early in the game when we were in the hole field position-wise and then with the score and competed all the way throughout. There's nothing you can say about this game other than the fact that a couple plays went against us that we need to play better in. Aside from that, our guys played well enough to win. They played their hearts out.
What did you think of Joe Flacco in his first road game?
I think the performance speaks for itself. There's a lot of football things. Detail issues, quarterback play, he can do better and learn from to get better. He'll get better throughout his whole career, but he'll make big jumps now in his rookie year. I think we'll seem them from practice to practice and week to week and game to game and whatnot but he controlled himself and his handling of the offense, defense, managing the game himself.
Did his emotion change after the 14-point swing?
No. Joe is interesting in the sense that Joe does not get flustered and he takes responsibility. He's a very accountable guy. He knew it was his situation and he's determined to go back and I think our guys feel that confidence that's the kind of guy he is.
Did the Steelers get a boost from the no-huddle?
The no-huddle offense is really effective. I thought we handled it really well on defense. We didn't have any substitution issues. We got all of our defenses called, so I don't think strategically they gained anything from it. Tempo-wise they might have felt good about it. When you're at home and it's quiet, it's something you can pull off pretty well.
You called a timeout at the end of the game. Would you allow Joe to handle that in the future?
Timeout, right before overtime, you gotta tie and you don't want to give the game to your opponent either. We did win the toss and we had the kick return to get it out there in great position field position-wise. I don't think in that situation you want to put yourself in the hole and not give your players a chance to win the game. So what you do is feel them out a little bit. You see how the first couple plays go and if they go well, you go for it. Throw the ball downfield. We were in a position at 42 seconds where we wanted to do that.
How did the offense handle the pass rush?
I thought they handled the pass rush adequately. There were some things, 1-on-1 situations where the Steelers performed pretty well. All in all, we were solid.
Re: The play of Joe Flacco
He did a great job. He's a young man who's got a lot of poise. He made the throws that were necessary to put us in a position to score and tie the game. He can only grow from this.
Re: chemistry between a quarterback and receiver
I think it comes mostly from practice. Just being able to read the defense, understanding what they're trying to do on certain downs. As a receiver you just have to find the holes, and the quarterback is looking for you to get open, because he knows what defense they're calling. It's up to the receivers to find the holes, and get in a position where the quarterback can throw the ball. It was good at times, but we have to figure out a way to get a win.
Re: Late drive to tie the game *We just decided to do what we always do. We have faith in Joe, I have faith in the other guys on the offensive line. We just came out there and executed, and it paid off.
*Re: playing goal-line defense
The guys told me not to do anything fancy, just go out there and grind, and that's what I did. I came through, making the tackle. Whenever my number is called, I just try to help out.
Re: Team's response to challenge
We did leave everything on the field. That's a tough opponent. They came out – it was physical all night long. You have to appreciate the fact that it was competition at its finest. To be tied at 20, with the ups and downs and adversity throughout the game, and then to lose in overtime is tough.
Re: Bouncing back to tie the game late *It definitely gives you confidence that we can bounce back from adversity. The thing is, it still hurts though. It's still a loss.
*Will you carry the thought of this one through until the Steelers come to town?
Re: Assessing the performance of the offense in the first half
There were still some three-and-outs that we weren't too proud of. It's tough – of course you can't expect to have a long drive every time you're on the field, but that's the kind of pressure that we put on ourselves. For us, it's not good enough.
Re: Crowd noise *It was really loud. When we went up for a while, we got their fans out of it. We saw them start to lose a little bit of their luster. The thing is, they bounced back, and it gave them momentum – momentum that we should have been disciplined enough to take them out of the game and keea p them out of the game.
*Re: Touchdown reception
If we could've capped it off with a victory, it would've made the touchdown that much more special to me. My first catch of the year. But to walk away with a loss takes away from the excitement of the catch.
Re: Capitalizing on first opportunity of the year
It's very important. I want them to give me more opportunities when the situation presents itself. I've never been so wide open in my life.
Re: Assessing the offense against a tough opponent
We're going to fight. We're going to fight no matter what game it is or who we're playing.
What did you expect from crowd?
It was pretty crazy. It was fun to go out there and deal with all of the boos and everything like that. It was an exciting game and obviously we came up on the short end but we played hard and we can't be ashamed of that.
Were you shaken up by the Harrison hit?
I was looking up the middle and I was trying to get out of the pocket and just throw the ball away. Before I could throw the ball away, I was getting hit. I just have to take care of the ball. If we take care of the ball there, it's a different story but it happens. Like I said, I have to take care of the ball and I'll learn from this.
What was Joe like as the game went on?
He didn't get rattled. He showed poise out there. That's all you can ask a young quarterback to do is to show poise amidst a lot of confusion. In that second half, they were throwing a lot of stuff at him. Through it all, he showed the poise of a veteran quarterback. We got to help him out as well. I think he did a great job. This is something he can go back and look at and grow from.
Do you feel this is a game you let slip away at the end?
We had it. But in this game, you have to play 60 minutes of football. I'm not big into moral victories. You either win or you lose, point blank. I thought the momentum was going our way after halftime. We let them off the hook a few times then they swung the momentum back to their side. I think at the end we came back and did some good things. Joe showed a lot of poise. He did some good things and led us to a scoring drive. We can say we let one slip away but they played good football on the other side of the ball as well. It's one of those situations where we had it, we let it go. Move on and get ready for the next game.
Were you surprised to see the ball drop out of the sky (on his INT)
Yeah, I was. I wasn't really expecting that play to come. The ball just came in front of me. I think [Roethlisberger] didn't have a good hold of the ball because it came at me kind of wobbly but I'm happy that I caught it at least and try to make a play out of it.
*Were you dropping on that play?
Actually, no. I was trying to … it was a boot and I read run so I was trying to get back to in front of Roethlisberger's face and he just threw it to me and I got it.
Was it like your last interception? (tipped ball)
Yeah, pretty much. It was pretty much awesome, I just didn't get the yards.
Re: Momentum swings:
It's definitely tough when the crowd starts going and their defense makes a play and the crowd gets into it and makes it tough for our offense and we tried to change their momentum on that goal line and I think we did that by stopping them and them getting only three points. It was just a tough draw in the end.
Did the no-huddle affect you?
I don't think it did at all. I think we just tried to get our plays in and I think we stopped it.