Press Conferences

Tomlin: 'It's a big week for us bouncing back'

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Opening Statement:** Good afternoon. As always, I will start with a quick review of our last performance. In reviewing the tape yesterday, both as a staff and with our players, we realized there is a fine line in the NFL. If you didn't know that already. The game really kind of boiled down to a couple of plays on both sides of the ball. A couple plays that we made in prior weeks we didn't make on Sunday in Kansas City, on possession downs, specifically. If you look at a snapshot of our game on offense, I think we were 2-for-10 on third-down conversions. But it wasn't like we were in third-and-long situations a lot in the game. We have to convert and win those third downs, the very makeable ones. They were significant in determining the outcome of the game in a lot of instances. We got sacked on a third-and-seven in the red area in the second half. We got within three points in that drive. If we win in that situation, we have an opportunity to go up in the game. That was significant. We had a third-and-two at the early stages of the game. We had DeAngelo Williams open in the flat. He didn't make the catch. We settled for three points. That was significant. When you are playing on the road and you have the opportunities to score touchdowns and you settle for field goals, usually there is a price to pay for that. Those are a couple of instances where it was costly for us. But we also had some open grass conversion opportunities that would have allowed drives to continue that were very makeable third downs. We had Markus Wheaton on a hitch on third-and-three that we weren't able to throw and catch for example. 2-of-10 is unacceptable, but when you really look into it, there is more significance there than just stating that. They were very makeable, we have to win those manageable third downs. We worked hard to be on schedule. We ran the ball relatively well and executed well on third down to put ourselves in a position to have those makeable downs and distances. We in turn have to make them. We didn't do it enough to win. On defense, really you could say the same thing. We played defense in a similar manner in the way that we did in recent weeks. We gave up some yards at the early stages of the game but got stiff when the field got short for us, forcing them to kick field goals, and we stayed in striking distance because of it. But we didn't get the significant stops on touchdown drives in the second half. They were able to put together two touchdown drives. Within those drives, I thought we had some very winnable third-down situations. There was one instance where they had third-and-10 and they converted a deep out on their sideline, which kept that drive alive. There was another one that was really critical after we had closed within three points. They hit their talented tight end, Travis Kelce, in the middle of the field on third-and-four. But you fight the fight. You prepare. We are looking forward to moving forward and preparing for this week's opportunity. Hopefully we learn some lessons from those failures, specifically those failures in terms of playing with your arrow pointed up over the last 30 minutes, and particularly within situational football as we move forward. Terence Garvin had a knee repaired yesterday. He injured his knee in Friday's practice. We really didn't know the extent of that until Saturday. He got fixed. He will be out for a couple of weeks with an MCL sprain. William Gay could be limited here at the early portions of the week. We will let that be our guide in terms of his availability. He has a shoulder contusion that occurred in game. Stephon Tuitt, we are going to try to work him back this week and let his performance or availability for practice be our guide. He has a chance to play this week. Same thing for Will Allen and his ankle sprain. We will let his participation or availability speak to us in terms of his availability in practice. Same thing for Mike Vick. Really, nothing to add regarding to the guys that have been out an extended time or any guys on lists. Antwon Blake is managing his thumb injury well. He had no negative reactions to his performance. The same can be said for Ryan Shazier. Obviously this is a big week for us, AFC North football, and an undefeated divisional opponent coming into our place. Aside from that, it's a big week for us bouncing back from a negative performance to get back on the winning side of things and get in front of our fans and perform. Ben Roethlisberger will be preparing to play this week. We don't have any reservations or limitations about his availability. We will keep an eye on him as he

Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Chiefs game. The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 23-13 on October 25th 2015.

participates this week in practice to make sure there is no negative reaction to that practice participation. But as I sit here today, we are comfortable with where he is in his overall availability this week. We are going to need him, obviously. Looking at Cincinnati, their offense is really rolling on all cylinders right now under the leadership of Andy Dalton. He has a full complement of weapons, guys that they have invested in over the last several years via the draft. They've all missed time at some point due to injury. But in 2015, it's been a story of continuity for that group, having all of those together. He has a lot of weapons, whether it's A.J. Green – obviously he is one of the top receivers in the business. But they also have some really good players. Marvin Jones has been a consistent vertical threat for those guys this year, making a lot of splash plays. Mohamed Sanu is in the slot. He is still doing some of the gadget things, Wildcat things. He is capable of doing that. He is tough in traffic, working the interior of the field. He has good run after the catch. Tyler Eifert is their talented and young tight end. He is a big component of their offense and their success this year. He is building a great rapport with Dalton. He is a big and easy target to throw to. He is a vertical receiving threat for a tight end. They can displace him from the core. He can play in a two-point stance, and stretch the field vertically, running routes like a receiver. We've had our issues, obviously. We are working to minimize some of the top tight ends we have faced this year, whether it's Rob Gronkowski, Kelce or Antonio Gates. We will be working hard to minimize Eifert's impact on the game. That will be a tall task. But you can't talk about their offense without talking about their two-headed monster in the backfield, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. They complement each other well. They ultiize both guys. Hill is more of a battering ram-type. He has a downhill run style. He is combative. But he also has the type of talent that allows him to bounce the ball to the perimeter and break long runs. We've seen that in his performance from a year ago. Bernard is a talented guy that excels on third down but also has been a great red zone runner for them that helps out in sub-package runs, particularly as the field gets short. He has done a nice job of making defenses maintain some type of balance when the field gets short, and he makes them defend the run end as well as the pass. They are scoring a lot of points because of it. They just have a really good balanced attack from a personnel standpoint. They do a great job, schematically, of presenting some packages of the week to make sure you are sound against a variety of specialty-like football, whether they spread you out or whether they do Wildcat, empty or no-huddle. They have a wide variety of specialty football that we have to be prepared to defend. I am comfortable with our approach to it, but our approach, in terms of how it meshes with there's. We have a lot of work ahead of us from a preparation standpoint. On the defensive side of the ball, they have great continuity and a veteran presence at every position, whether you are talking about the front, which is led by Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson. They play a lot of people. They are capable of getting after your quarterback with a four-man rush. At linebacker, they have savvy veterans, like Rey Maualuga and others. They have some guys that play some package football and guys that play sub-package football. Some guys play in base. They have a veteran group. We have to be prepared to deal with those guys. In their secondary, they have a talented group of former first-round cornerbacks, Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard. They are a quality group from top to bottom. They utilize all guys. They are capable of matching up with about every receiving group they face. They have a savvy veteran in Reggie Nelson that mans the middle of the field. He kind of keeps a lid on it and ties it all together. They are playing with great energy. They are making plays. They are making significant plays in significant moments. They are rested, coming off of their bye week. All of those things I acknowledge but none of those things are within our control. We have to focus on the things we can control. We have to do a great job of preparing this week and putting together a plan we can execute, and go out and execute it. We are excited about this opportunity. It is going to be a big measuring stick for us. I am sure they are saying similar things on their side. I look forward to the preparation process. When you get big Sundays like this one, for me, it's about being excited about the preparation process and really enjoying that. Hopefully the game will take care of itself.

Re: On making a roster move to add a cornerback:
I'm not assuming William Gay is going to be unavailable to us. We'll see where he is before we delve into those possibilities.

Was Cortez Allen being put on IR a matter of him not recovering from his knee injury?
It just never perked up to a point of comfort for him, or for us. So, we made the decision we made at the latter part of last week.

Re: On Alejandro Villanueva's performance:
I thought he did a lot of things well. Obviously, the performance will be remembered by the sack-fumble late, but that just comes with professional football and the left tackle position. We all did a lot of collective things to bring that circumstance to a head. When we got somewhat one dimensional, Tamba Hali was able to pin his ears back and win that down. Largely, I was pleased with the general progress of Al and the general trajectory of his game. We have a tall task this week and we look forward to watching him prepare and be even better.

Re: On if Ben Roethlisberger's limited availability is taken into consideration when game planning:
We'll look at all of those things as we put together a plan. At this juncture, we're not going to assume Ben will be limited, from a mobility standpoint.

Re: On if the first sack was a just good play by Kansas City:
I never want to take away credit from an opponent, great execution by those guys. Obviously, when you look back at any play, you would like the opportunity to live some of them over. I would like to give them a compliment on a job well done.

Re: On having trouble defending elite tight ends and what he's seen on film:
Nothing ground-breaking, or earth-shattering. Those guys have done to us what we've seen them do to others. Our job is to minimize that. We have another challenge this week, because Tyler Eifert's video is impressive to this point of the year. We'll try to utilize all of the tools at our disposal, all of the men and schematics to work to minimize him. Hopefully, we end up with a different result we've had in some of those other instances, like some of the elites you mentioned.

Re: On if Andy Dalton looks like a quarterback who is coming into his own:
I get that about Andy every year, it seems like. He's a quality quarterback. I'm sure they're glad he's on their team. Like I mentioned at the outset of this press conference, I think the only thing significantly different, or different to the point of mentioning about their attack this year, as opposed to other years is that he has a full complement of receivers, weapons, guys they've drafted and they're all healthy and working together. They're able to spread the ball around and that keeps defenses off balance, provides a lot of weapons for him. He's doing a nice job of distributing the ball. All of that allows him to stay away from negativity. He hasn't been sacked a bunch lately this year. He doesn't throw a bunch of interceptions. All of those things have been positive for them.

Re: On what makes Heath Miller a great leader:
That's easy. It's not about words, it's about actions with Heath. He's a detailed and tireless worker. He's a great-effort guy, he's a detailed guy, both on the grass and in the classroom. He really has been since the day I met him.

Re: On Miller having fewer receptions with backup quarterbacks the past few weeks:
It's probably a combination of all the above. We've used him some more in protection. Circumstances in recent weeks, for obvious reasons, Kelvin Beachum going down with an injury being one of them. And we're not throwing the ball, from a percentage standpoint, at the rate we were throwing it when Ben was in there. That reduces the total number of targets, and he's been a victim of that, like a lot of guys have been a victim of that. But I am not discouraged by his overall play at all.

If everyone is healthy, is Landry Jones the No. 2 quarterback now?
I'm not assuming everyone is healthy. I think we have to see where Mike Vick is, in terms of making the determination of whether or not he's available to us. I think the prudent thing at this point is to proceed with the two healthy guys at the quarterback position, in terms of building a plan. And we will let Mike's overall availability be determined by his health. At the end of the day, we're going to prepare the guys who are healthy, just like we did a week ago.

Do you consider DeAngelo Williams your short-yardage back? And what goes into those decisions?
He was a week ago. We'll build a plan this week that gives us the best opportunity to win this challenge.

Ben said he had discomfort in his knee late in the week. Do you monitor that, or do you let Ben come to you?
I'm not going to monitor it personally, no. I'll let Ben and the medical staff take care of that business, and I'll just check in with those guys periodically, like I always do over the course of a work week.

Are you concerned that after having five weeks off Ben may show signs of rust? Do you hope to see things in practice that indicate that won't be the case Sunday?
There's always a concern, in that regard, anytime someone is coming off an injury. We're not going to lose a lot of sleep over that. Ben's played a lot of ball for us, has great continuity and recall from his time in the system. He'll have a full week of preparation. And actually, he participated in a partial capacity a week ago. Hopefully, all of those things will allow him to push past some of the anxiety and so forth, associated with getting back out there.

Re: On Dri Archer progressing on kickoff return:
He's done some nice things for us. He got a couple out past the 30-yard line in recent weeks, but we're still trying to work to crack the big one. When you talk about the success of our kickoff-return team, it's not a Dri Archer discussion, it's a unit discussion. I think we're all growing together collectively. I like the general growth and development of the off-returner, for example, Jordan Todman, who's been with us now for several weeks. I like his growth and development as an off-returner. I think all of those things are interrelated, in terms of overall success, or lack of success of the group.

Were you satisfied with how fast the team was playing? And was some of that Landry's inexperience?
I was satisfied with our pace. I don't care about the pace of other people in other stadiums. We do the things we do based off of information and variables that are specific to us and our circumstance. I don't have any issues with how the game unfolded from that standpoint.

Is Geno Atkins playing like he was before he was hurt? And what makes him so hard to block?
They're probably better equipped to answer that than I am. I respect him. He's a dynamic player. He's not small, he's short. I say that about him, I say that about guys like James Harrison, because it's very real. I say it about Aaron Donald. Those guys have built-in leverage and it allows them to win a lot of technical matchups, because of that leverage and the strength they have associated with it.

When you lose Stephon Tuitt's speed, how does that limit you defensively?
I don't know that it limits us in any way schematically. I didn't feel like it did a week ago. The quality of his play is the quality of his play. I didn't feel like it limited us in any way schematically.

Maurkice Pouncey made a couple social media posts indicating he had a second surgery. Is that the truth? And is there an update?
I'm not playing the Pouncey social media game. I have no announcements regarding any of those list guys. Whether it's Maurkice Pouncey or Mike Adams, or anybody else on any obscure lists.

What's the philosophy and scheme about double-teaming gunners?
It's just week to week based on our ability to block and the quality of their gunners. The potential for fakes, in terms of the number of people we need to allocate to the box, etc. There are many layers to it, to be honest with you.

In terms of general scheme, 20, 30 years ago it was very common to have a guy in front of the primary returner. That's much less common now. Is there an overall philosophy for that?
There's no such thing as "in general scheme" anymore. There are a lot of layers to all of those discussions.

Re: On how Le'Veon will be used with Ben back:
We're going to build a personality that allows us to win this week. We've built a personality in recent weeks to give us the best chance to win in those circumstances. When you're playing with a backup quarterback, Le'Veon Bell is going to be a central element of that equation. Even when you have Ben, Le'Veon is going to be a central element of the equation. We'll find a new balance with the new pieces we have. Hopefully, one that's a comfortable and familiar one with us.

Is he running as well as you've ever seen him?
I think his arrow is pointed up. I know he's preparing like it. I'll let the results speak for themselves. Generally, giving the ball to Le'Veon Bell and giving him the opportunity to have a positive impact on our performance, has been a positive one for us.

Re: On Antwon Blake's performance:
I thought he did some good things. I thought he could have played better in some instances, like we all could have, players and coaches. Particularly, in situational ball on some of the third downs, like I mentioned, over the last 30 minutes I thought was significant.

Re: On Brandon Boykin:
I'm comfortable with him, if called upon. If Will Gay is not available to us, we'll expect him to be a positive contributor to our efforts. He was in many instances last Sunday. 

Re: On if he did something in the offseason, or during training camp that made the team more disciple when it comes to being penalized:
No. We just recognize the state we're in and what is required to win games, particularly, when you're missing significant components of your group. Our philosophical approach that we've taken the last several weeks without Ben is that we need to take care of the football and get turnovers. We didn't need to be a highly-penalized group. Largely, we were able to do those things. We weren't able to do the turnover element of it a week ago. That's one of the central reasons why we weren't able to win in Kansas City. Largely, we've been placing in emphasis on what's required for us to win and penalties can't be a part of it. You can't defeat yourself when you're working at less-than ideal circumstances. We utilized officials at practice, and I think that's helped us some.

You and some of your players mentioned a problem tackling Sunday. How do you go about improving that? Is that just focus?
No. We drill it. We've drilled it, but we're going to continue to drill it. The one thing you don't want to do as you push into the season and get into the thick of this thing, when you talk about opportunities such as this one this week, is to move away from the fundamentals that we've ridden to this point. We need to be a team whose arrow is continually pointed up. In order for that to occur, we have to continually get better. In that area, fundamentals are a big element of it. The tackling element of it is going to be big for us. The playing of the football, the high-point of the football, the security of the football on offense, sticking on blocks on offense, just good fundamental things that will keep us arrow pointed up individually and collectively as we get knee-deep into the think of this race.

How do you do that as a coach when you get into the season and you're limited with padded practices?
I don't worry about the limits. I just work with the opportunity given. We get at least one opportunity to carry our pads in the week and utilize that. We also can work fundamentals associated with talking even when we are not in pads. The approach, the coming to balance, the moving inside out on the ball to give the runner a one-way go. All the things associated with putting yourself in position to make a good tackle is as much a part off good, fundamental tackling as tackling itself.

Was missed tackling your biggest issue on defense Sunday?
It was an element of it.

Where does the saying "the standard is the standard" come from?
I don't know. I don't think a lot about the things I say, to be honest with you. I'm just trying to use words that vividly capture the imagination of our guys, so they remember the messages, have it somehow ingrained in their minds, so they can make it come alive inside stadiums on the grass. By whatever means we get that done, I'm for it. If they somehow parody the things I say, or we say, that means it's getting home. That's what we seek.

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