STEELERS at TITANS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2008 KICKOFF -- 1:00 P.M. POST-GAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
First of all, I would like to compliment the Titans on playing a great football game. I would be remiss if I didn't state that. They're a good football team. They made the significant plays today to get them home field advantage. The story of the game for us really was just missed opportunities. When you don't take care of the football verses good people, in a hostile environment, it bites you. They made significant plays in third down situations and fourth down situations. It's a good game by them and below the line by us and when that happens, the score looks the way it looks. We will evaluate this game like we always do. Hopefully we're better for it and we will come out fighting.
(on coming out flat)
I don't think we came out flat at all. I just think we had field position advantage and we didn't take advantage of it. We were in the red zone, we came out with zero points because we turned the ball over and it kind of went on from there. But it wasn't a lack of emotions by any stretch.
(on Ben Roethlisberger's performance)
We were effectively moving the ball but we turned the football over. Then we got behind and of course you lose a little bit of your personality when you do that. I wouldn't necessarily call it strange. We just got to take better care of the football.
(on the penalty before the field goal)
I guess someone from our front simulated a cadence of some kind.
(on resting players next week)
We got the Cleveland Browns. Divisional opponent.
(on the health of the team)
We are clean with the things that happened the first half but I don't have any information on Ryan Clark, as of yet, who of course got hurt late in the contest. I will have information tomorrow at some point for sure.
(on the challenge of the emotional high)
We are not making excuses for our performance out there. Emotional highs. Ball games. That's a signature performance out there and our name is signed to it. They played winning football, we didn't. It's just as simple as that. We are not going to look for excuses. They made critical plays, we made critical errors. They're a good football team. I take my hat off to them. Emotions and things of that nature, what happens in the past, that is an excuse we will not use or make.
(on looking forward to a rematch)
I look forward to Cleveland. That's how we live.
(on the Titans exposing the Steelers)
I don't chalk it up to anything but a winning performance by them and a losing performance by us.
(on the Titans setting a tone with the goal line stop)
If we come away with three, I doubt it. The fact that we came away with zero, absolutely. When you defend a short field and you get out of a red zone situation and don't give up any points, it's uplifting not only for a defense but for a football team.
(on the missed field goal to end the first half deflating the team)
I don't think that it was and I make that judgment based on how we were in here in the locker room at the half. They knew that we left some points out there in the first half and we were ready to go out there and make the minor corrections and turn the tide which of course we didn't do.
QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER
(on the loss to the Titans)
They are a great football team. I am not going to say that we beat ourselves because they beat us. That is the way it goes. That is the way it goes. I didn't play well. I am never one to shy away from taking the blame but that is a great football team.
(on the fumble in the red zone)
Anytime you turn the ball over, especially right there, it is big. You take points off the board. That is the first mistake I made today. It can't happen.
(on if he was close to coming out of the game)
I don't know. It is hard to say.
(on if he needs a rest against the Browns)
The way I feel right now, my body feels, yeah. But I want to get out there and get some snaps and see. That is coach's call.
(on how the Titans defense was so disruptive)
They are a great football team; whether it was the pass rush or the secondary. That is why they are Pro Bowlers over there and they are the number one ranked team in the AFC. They made plays all over the field.
(on if he is thinking about a rematch)
Not yet because we have a game next week and no one knows what is going to happen in the playoffs.
(on if this loss will sharpen things)
Like coach said, we have to get back to work tomorrow. We are not going to take this game lightly. It is time for us to turn it up another notch because it is playoff time. You know what, Santa is still coming to town next week. So it is all good.
(on the Titans young defensive linemen getting to him)
They just made a lot of plays. They got to me at times. Even when I got outside the pocket, they were there. We were just a little bit off all day today; that first deep one to 'Toin (Santonio Holmes) and then another one to Hines (Ward). You have got to give them a lot of credit. They made plays.
(on if the Steelers hit an emotional wall)
Hopefully this lights a little fire under us and gets us going. We get up every week no matter who it is. That is a great football team, like I said. They beat us today.
(on if the Titans were as good as advertised)
If you asked us coming into it, we knew how great they were. They showed us today. They outplayed us. I don't like to speak for the defense, but offensively they outplayed us. That is a great defense.
WR HINES WARD
(on the game)
Tennessee has a great team, hats off to them. They did what they had to do. We knew it was going to be a tough environment. We left a lot of plays out there. Not to discredit Tennessee, but it wasn't one of our better days at the office. We aren't going to sit there and be discouraged about it. We are not going to sulk about it. We are going to learn from it. They were the better team today and they executed their game plan better than we did today.
(on the first turnover)
If we would have scored some points, maybe the crowd would have been out of it, but we aren't going to point fingers around here. We have done a great job of that all year. We win as a team and we lose as a team. Today they were just the better team.
(on a potential rematch)
It is too far down the road. Right now we are going to look at it, learn from it, see how we can get better, and finish the year out against Cleveland. Hopefully we can go home and finish strong and put on a great performance and have something to build on going into the playoffs. Once you are in the playoffs anything can happen. The bottom line is whatever team executes the best is going to the Super Bowl.
(on the turnovers)
Today wasn't typical of us. Shooting ourselves in the foot and not capitalizing on opportunities in the red zone. On the road you have to take the crowd out of it. I think if we go down there and jump on them fast maybe the outcome of the game is a little different. It is hard to come down here and beat Tennessee on the road.
(on the Titans)
Tennessee has a great team. That is why they are the number one seed. You are not going to discredit what they have done. Coming down here to play on the road was going to be tough. It is no piece of cake to walk into their backyard and win, especially after they lost last week.
(on playing next week)
You look at it and you want to rest guys, but you don't want to get out of sync. If you play guys you risk injuries. Personally, I want to play. I don't want to get two or three weeks off before you actually hit again. I think we need to go in and end on a good note as far as executing our game plan and then pull guys out accordingly.
CB DESHEA TOWNSEND
(on the loss)
You can be beaten at anytime. You have to be on that edge every time you step on the field. You never want to lose, but it is better to lose now than to get to the playoffs and lose. This lets us know that this game is short and you have to go out there and play your all every play.
(on the Titans being the favorites in the AFC)
If we do what we are supposed to do we can beat anybody. If you give teams opportunities to beat you they can.
(on playing the meaningless game next week)
You play to win every time you suit up. That is why we are here. That is why you train in the offseason. That is what we are prepared to do.
(on the Titans stepping on the Terrible Towel after the game)
Hopefully if we do see them again we can right the wrong and not allow them to step on that towel. I am sure they are very emotional over there. I am sure it was good to win and show a little respect for our towel. We won't forget it. I will say that.
S RYAN CLARK
(on the importance of next week's game)
Losing this game has rendered the next game pretty useless, but you don't want you last performance to look like this either. We will see what coach wants. We will just continue to play.
(on the Titans)
They are a good team, a darn good team. They played awesome ball today. Kerry Collins played great, the running backs are as good as they say they are. They have a great contrast. They made big plays. You don't win 13 games by accident.
(on Titans players stepping on the Terrible Towel)
I was in the x-ray room and I missed it. I don't care anyway. I am going to try to hit everybody in the mouth regardless.
DE JAMES HARRISON
(on his injury)
I did something to my hip. I tried to go, couldn't. Came in, got a little work. Went back out and was able to go.
(on breaking the Steelers sack record)
A win would have been better.
(on the defense in the loss)
It is real disappointing. That is not the way we play defense. That is not the way we are used to playing defense. They did a good job. They came out and imposed their will. I guess their will is stronger than ours.
LB LARRY FOOTE
(on the game)
Basically I think we beat ourselves today. We made a lot of mistakes. You can't do that against a good team. You can't do that against any team really, especially a good team. Today they made us pay for it.
(on the Steelers defense)
We are upset. We aren't used to giving up those types of points. It makes you mad when you do a lot of mental errors. That is really going to keep us up tonight. We won't be able to sleep good because we made a lot of mental errors out there. You can't do that against a good team and they made us pay.
(on if the Steelers experienced a letdown)
No matter who starts off with more intensity, as the game gets going, we get fired up. We just couldn't get it going today.
(on if they expected to come back at the end)
I knew it was going to be a four quarter game, ain't no doubt about it with their defense and what they have been doing all year. I don't approach any game just thinking we're going to blow somebody out. That just ain't going to happen. We knew it was going to be a close game, they just made a more plays than us today.
(on a possible rematch)
We have got a lot more work to do before we get back to them. They have got a lot of work to do and we do too. Hopefully we take care of our business and they take care of theirs and we meet again.
HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER
Well, clearly today we got a tremendous effort out of all three phases of our football team. When you play a team as capable and as well as the Steelers have played to this point, as talented as they are, to put yourself in position to win a game like we did, we had to play very, very well.
I am very pleased across the board. Our backup defensive linemen, Jason Jones and the effort we got out of that group was nothing less than spectacular. I was very, very pleased and proud of them. Coming into this game without Albert [Haynesworth] and Kyle [Vanden Bosch] there was some concern, but all along we felt like we had guys that had the opportunity to play and made plays for us and they really stepped up.
I was pleased with the run game. Kerry [Collins], our protection, just overall I thought it was a good effort. We needed a game like this against a real good team and the guys stayed focus this week, clearly. We got it done.
I can't say enough about the fans and the support and everything. This is a bonus for the fans. If we are fortunate to get the first one then we can come back here and play at home the second time.
(on working to play a perfect game)
We talked all week about the importance of really picking things up and going out and executing and doing the right things, not running a route short, not making the mistakes that we have made over the last four weeks.
And that is exactly what they did. I am sure we have some things, some issues. They made some plays and they forced some issues. I think this was the best game we have played thus far. The timing is good because next week is going to be a little unusual for both clubs.
(on pressure applied on Ben Roethlisberger)
For the most part, it was four-man pressure. Jimmy [defensive coordinator Schwartz] did a good job mixing some things up. But we got pressure out of a four-man pass rush. We got it from the tackles, we got it from the ends. I thought it was a good plan. They rushed a lot today. There were quite a few attempts, especially in the hurry up type environment where you get tired. They continued to keep pressure on [Roethlisberger].
(on thoughts of fourth down conversions)
Well, it is just clearly trying to win a game. I didn't feel like field goals were going to be enough to win this game because of the potential of their offense and of course, the way the defense has played. So if we get a chance to go for it on fourth down in plus territory against a team like this, you got to make plays and both times we did.
(on the ruling on the flag that was picked up in the end zone)
The report I got on the field that you heard was that the ball was tipped, so there was no penalty. The ball wasn't tipped, that is reviewable so to speak. And then when they explained it to me, they actually misspoke. What he meant to say is that the players actually tripped each other up.
The ball was not tipped, the tipped ball was not part of the equation so we got things clear. I think the call was accurate. It looked like they clearly did trip each other.
(on the James Harrison penalty)
It is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when the defense tries to simulate the snap count of the offense. Apparently that is what they did. They were mimicking or making a snap count or cadence like comments over there. [The referee] was adamant about it. There was no question in his mind that is what he heard. So that was a huge play for us.
(on the cut made by running back C.J. Johnson)
He needed to make that cut. We knew we had a one-on-one situation out there. He had two options, one was to go get the first down the first down with his speed or put his cleats in the ground and get up field.
(on whether he will rest starters next week)
We are going to evaluate and look at it. We are going to play a lot of people. Anybody that is capable of playing is going to play. I don't know how much, how long. So, we will decide during the week.
QB KERRY COLLINS
(On executing the offensive game plan)
I think a lot of the credit goes to the coaches. We came in with a great game plan. The offensive line did a tremendous job, both in run and pass blocking. As a result, we were able to make plays. The defense got turnovers for us and we were able to capitalize. I thought overall it was a great team effort.
(On executing two key plays on fourth down)
The first one is kind of feast or famine. You take a chance of pitching it in the backfield. We had a pretty good idea that
(Chris Johnson) would be one-on-one with the corner. I got the ball to him and he made him miss and then the rest. The second one we were playing the game with their defense and their corners. Sometimes their corner would run with the receiver and sometimes he would come off. In that particular play, he came off with Bo (Scaife) and I was able to hit Justin (Gage) in the hole.
(On the team's aggressive offensive play)
I think to beat a team like the Steelers, you've got to be aggressive. I thought that (Mike Heimerdinger) made several aggressive calls today. Certainly, the two big fourth down ones were huge. I think we executed very well. Especially, in those fourth down situations.
(On having one-on-one coverage with his pitch to Chris Johnson)
I had a pretty good idea that we were going to be one-on-one. I flipped it. Chris made a great move and made the guy miss. I knew that if he made him miss, we definitely would get the first down and he may take it all the way to house. He made the guy miss and did the rest.
(On Chris Johnson's touchdown celebration)
I come from the old school. I don't think Joe Paterno would really like that a whole lot. He got in and made a heck of a play.
(On the touchdown catch by Justin Gage)
First of all, he ran a great route. I was able to draw the defense offsides. I knew we had a free play. He made a great move on the safety. I put it in there for him. When the ball was halfway there, I saw Troy (Polamalu) covering. I knew it was going to be close. Gage just did a tremendous job of hanging on to that thing. Credit him all the way for just making an unbelievable play.
(On if the offsides call made an impact in his decision making)
No, not really. I would have wanted the same place. I knew that I had a little bit more leeway, so to speak, with trying to fit one down the field. Justin beat the safety really well and so I would have gone there regardless.
(On bouncing back from last week's lost to Houston)
I think for us the biggest thing was just playing better than we did last week. That was as bad as we played all year. We knew we were going to have to rise up to a big challenge this week against a really good defense. I am proud of our guys. I think we showed a lot of character coming out and playing the way we did after probably our worst game last week.
(On proving the nation wrong after a win over the Steelers)
I think if anybody had any doubt, I think we are a pretty good football team. Having said that, no one really chose us to win this game. I think everybody was picking the Steelers to win. Nobody blinked an eye. We just came out and tried to execute. We played a pretty good game.
(On bouncing back from last week's performance)
When you have games like last week as a quarterback, you've just got to fight through it. We didn't get into a rhythm last week. We got into it this week. (Mike Heimerdinger) kept calling the plays. Guys were in the right spots. I was just trying to make the best reads that I could. We were able to be, if anything, be efficient today in the passing game.
(On running the ball effectively this week)
It's one of our goals to run it every week. Obviously, the Steelers are a great run defense. It's always important for us, I think. We are always striving to be able to run the ball and run the ball effectively. I thought our guys did a great job coming off the ball. The offensive line, receivers and tight ends, everybody had a hand in it.
(On if he felt the Titans lost touch with their running game)
If we did, I didn't sense it. I felt like we had that belief that we could run the ball under any circumstances. This is the NFL, it's hard. There are times where teams take it away. But I think the guys never lost confidence. The guys kept believing and did a heck of a job with it today.
(On taking a game off next week)
I feel great physically, so I won't particularly feel like I need a day off. I want to be out there. I want to play. Jeff (Fisher) is going to make that decision. Certainly, I don't want too much time between now and our first playoff game. Without knowing what Jeff (Fisher) is thinking, like I said, I want to be out there. Obviously, it's probably not going to be for the whole game. But I definitely feel like I would benefit from being out there.
(On Kevin Mawae's injury)
It's hard to replace Kevin (Mawae). He's so smart. He plays so much. He is a leader of the offensive line. Certainly, if he can't play, it will be a blow. I think Leroy (Harris) will step in and do a good job. He's a young guy and he's physical. I think if he needs to play, he will be ready.
(On being the underdog)
We kind of like that role. It was brought to our attention, not only by Jeff (Fisher), but (Mike) Heimerdinger and the rest of the coaches. We felt like nobody gave us a chance in this ballgame. Guys came to play today and did a great job against a really good football team.
(On having solid protection from the offensive line)
It's good for an old man to have the kind of protection I've had all year. The biggest reason we have been able to limit turnovers and be efficient has been their play. It has been their ability to pass protect and run block. The running game takes pressure off the pass game. We were able to play action and do things like that. A lot of credit goes to them. Week in and week out this year they have been extremely consistent.
(On veterans stepping up during the playoffs)
I think that is what the veterans have to do. I have been to the playoffs. I have been in situations where we have had home field advantage. There is a bunch of guys that have been through it. We will keep practicing hard. I think that's a big part of it. Coming out and working hard in everyday in practice. Knowing that we need to take care of the little things. At the end of the day, it gives us a chance. * *
LB KEITH BULLUCK
(on how it feels to be playing at home in the playoffs)
It feels great. Really, the best feeling is coming out here and getting this win. The last four games, I think we split 2-2, and with Pittsburgh coming in here with the best defense, the best football team in the National Football League, it was good for us come out here and flex a little bit, show what this Titans team is all about and what it's gonna be about when the playoffs start. The AFC playoffs come through Nashville and for our team, defense actually, the good thing, is that we played great today and the better thing is we get Kyle (Vanden Bosch) and Albert (Haynesworth) back next time. It was a big plus.
(on Jason Jones playing similar to Haynesworth today)
Jason Jones is a guy that has been in there all year but when Albert's in there, you know he's a rookie, so he's gonna get the reps that he gets. I'm sure he has some pretty decent numbers throughout the course of the year. I think that Jason just was in a position today where he had more plays and had more opportunities to make plays. Before the game, we knew he was going to kind of have an impact on this game but not as big as it was.
(on how he got his hands on a "Terrible Towel")
I think in the beginning of the fourth quarter or something like that, I put in a request. I saw a bunch of them waving around our stadium so I said I need to get my hands on one of those.
(on there being footage of him stomping on the "Terrible Towel")
I don't care. I don't care. Once it gets down to playoffs and stuff like that, it just is what it is. My team has been in a position of where it has been down for years and we've gradually come back to the top. I don't care, you know what I'm saying. I really don't care and it's not disrespect to the Pittsburgh Steeler players or anything like that because there are a lot of great football players over there and coaches that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. But that's just our stand. Anybody that's going to come through here in the playoffs, we plan to stomp them out. That has to be our stand.
(on Coach Fisher going for it on 4 th down twice being a gamble and affecting their side of the ball)
It effects our side of the ball just in the sense that we have to be prepared to go out at the field position they're at right now, just in case we don't get it. It actually adds to our psyche when we do get it. When you get a 4 th-and-inches and C.J. (Chris Johnson) runs a 20-yard touchdown, that's huge. So at this time of the year, that's how it's going to be. So a lot of teams are going to go for it on 4 th down, it's about that time. Playoffs are right around the corner and that's what's going to be going on.
(on today's win and defensive effort making a statement)
I think that's just how this league goes. Anytime you're being matched up, you're gonna want to compete. You know you're not going against Pittsburgh, their defense. They come out and make a lot of plays. They force a lot of turnovers. They actually put their offense in great position to score points and win games. I think that it was our challenge as a defense to make more plays than their defense to give our offense those opportunities because really we have been playing similar defense, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, the whole year, creating turnovers, creating plays and letting the offense do the rest.
(on today's number one priority)
Our number one thing was to shut down the run and then force them to hold the ball a little longer which means we had to cover down because Ben (Roethlisberger) is the type of quarterback who throws best on the run. He throws good in the pocket as well but when he's being mobile and moving around, I think he makes more plays down the field. His wide receivers, they're all on the same page so I think he does a great job of that. I think our game plan worked pretty effectively today.
(on today's game being the most complete game of the season)
It's definitely up there. I definitely say it's one of our top three games. It could be number one just because of the magnitude of it and the way that we came out last week, we didn't really play too well. It was great to see our guys came out and answered the bell. That just goes to show what type of team this is and to me, it gives the confidence that no matter who's coming in here, we have the confidence that we can match up and stand toe-to-toe.
(on the importance of playing well going into the playoffs)
Absolutely. That's what this game was about. Coach Fisher talked to us last night about momentum, coming out and establishing what we're going to be going into the playoffs. If we come into this game and don't play well and then we play Indy next week, I don't know what they're going to do. Usually once they're in, they sit their players. We're not getting a real test. This was a real true test. It's definitely a momentum game and sets the tone for the playoffs in the AFC.
TE ALGE CRUMPLER
(on being the first team all year to top 300 yards of offense against the Steelers)
Stats say that they are the number one defense in football. We rose to the occasion. If this team is going to rise up the way we are supposed to rise up against good teams, then it should be a great playoffs.
WR JUSTIN GAGE
(on the statement that this win makes)
We are a hard working and hungry football team and its playoff time and we got to play our best football at this time of the year. I think we took a step toward that today. We played Pittsburgh which is one of the top teams in the NFL and we got a victory.
(on the importance of his touchdown)
It was real big. The past few weeks we have been hurting ourselves with field goals, getting into the red zone and not converting, but today we got touchdowns when we needed them and we put the game in our own hands.
TE BO SCAIFE
(on looking toward the playoffs)
That's the next step. I think we got some momentum after this win and hopefully we can carry it on the next couple weeks.
RB CHRIS JOHNSON
(on if the team plays better as the underdog)
Usually we are at our best when people doubt us. We want to prove people wrong and this is the type of offense we are and we are close and it will be very hard to stop us.
(on the significance of the road to the Super Bowl coming through Nashville)
It's real big because its cold out there, and we especially don't want to go out to Pittsburgh.
(on the 4 th down pitch for a touchdown)
It's a fullback iso, so they have to choose to go to the fullback or me. We have been working on it all week, that toss out to me and it leaves me one-on-one with a cornerback or a safety, and it was a corner.
OT MICHAEL ROOS
(on the significance of home field advantage)
It's a good feeling to know that everything is going to come through Music City.
(on the importance of keeping Kerry Collins clean in the pocket today)
It is our goal every week to keep him clean and give him time. Obviously a little more this week knowing that between the two guys on the edge they had 25 or 30 sacks between the two of them, so we knew it was going to be a challenge and on third downs they would bring a lot of crazy blitzes.
(on the importance of momentum vs. home field advantage)
I think that this game ended up working out both ways for us. Obviously we needed momentum going into Indianapolis and the playoffs. You can't beat having home field advantage, but we still have to go out and win the first playoff game.
DT TONY BROWN
(on preparing for the Steelers with two starters out)
The only thing coach Washburn told us was for us to look around the room. Nobody gives you guys credit. Nobody knows who you guys are. So what do you have to lose? We love being the underdogs, so we just took that and rolled with it today.
We took so many shots it seemed nobody believed in us. But that is fine because inside this locker room we do believe. We knew we didn't have Albert (Haynesworth) or Kyle (Vanden Bosch), so we had to step our game up even more. They came out and did the same things we had seen on film, but we knew what we were going to do and what they were going to do and we took advantage of it.
All week we heard so much of the talk that we couldn't do it, that we couldn't get it done. But quietly we kept that under our belt, knowing that we had a great job to do. I don't think that they thought that we were going to get as much pressure as we did. Their offensive line did good, but Roethlisberger has so much faith in himself that we were able to get to him sometimes. It worked out for us.
DT JASON JONES
(on Titans defense)
We just played hard the whole game. Stuff just started clicking, just opening up.
(on what they saw on film during the week)
We saw some things on film on a couple of games that we could run defensively on them, and we ran one, on one of my sacks and it worked to perfection. Things were just working out there for us today. Our guys were playing hard and a lot of guys had to step up because of our injuries.
(on rushing Roethlisberger)
I didn't think it would happen like this. Everything just came and everything was just opening up. I'm blessed and I'm glad I had this type of game. I'm going to celebrate it, and then we're going to get ready for the Colts next week.
He's a scrambler. That's what we saw on film. We tried to keep him in the pocket. A couple of times he got out, but we kept rushing up the field. Keep rushing and don't give up because he holds the ball a lot. Don't give up and the plays were going to come to us.
S MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on his fourth quarter interception for a TD)
I know there was under a minute left, but it felt like running a 400-meter race, at least 40 or 50 seconds to get to the end zone. I got it and Vince Fuller looked at me like, 'Do you have the ball or did you drop it?' He turns around and makes a block, I was running down the sideline and I looked to the left and see all this open air. So I ran over there.
I managed to beat Ben (Roethlisberger) and I just saw the running back, 21, still running for me, so I was just, 'Please just stop so I could get in there.' I had to make one move and managed to get in the end zone. Then I looked up at the clock and realized I had to go back out on the field and play some more defense. The funny thing is, Chris Hope told me along time ago, 'You're not going to stop nobody three or four yards from that end zone if they really want to get in there.' I wanted to get in there. If I had to duck my shoulder or whatever, I was gonna get in the end zone. I hadn't scored since high school and it's a great feeling to get in that end zone.