HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
I will just start by saying that I am so happy and proud for and about this football team. We saw a bunch of adversity today. Prior to kickoff and of course after the ball is kicked off there is always diversity. They showed their character today. It is something that I knew we had. It was a total team effort. You could talk about identifying different guys that did big things and responded, but you could pick them. Everybody in a helmet today was a playmaker. They remained unwavered in the face of adversity. They stuck together. They delivered. The things that we talked about since day one, they displayed today. As a coach, you feel good when you see that. Guys' roles increased and they accepted that. Guys had to make plays and they did. We got faced with adversity, some of which was created by ourselves as part of it. We will always fall short of perfection, but they didn't judge. They kept moving forward and they played to win. They played off of one another and it was just a great team win. I am happy for those guys.
Re: What happened to Santonio Holmes?
Santonio hurt his hamstring during pregame warm-ups, inside of the ninety minutes prior to kickoff. We had already turned in the people that were participating. He was one of them, so we played with 44 today. What else is new?
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Re: How bad Santonio Holmes' injury is:
We won't know right now. We just know it wasn't good enough to play today. Thankfully we have a bye week, because we have a lot of men that are injured. That is the nature of this business. We aren't going to complain about that. We are just acknowledging what is going on and the fact that we have an opportunity to get healthy here. We are going to take advantage of that.
Re: Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson stepping up:
Even prior to losing Santonio (Holmes) we challenged those two men, particularly at the top of the week. Guys know that we tend to do that and that is what being open and honest is about to us. We want to maximize what we are capable of being and we are going to do that. We challenge those guys this week in front of their peers. It threw a little bit of sugar on top when Santonio went down. They responded, so credit it to them. It shows what they are about, not only as football players, but also as people.
Re: The importance of the interception at the end of the first half:
It was an attrition football game and you know we like that. Time of possession was awesome, but it is one snap of the ball at a time. We aren't trying to tell a story, we are just trying to win games. In hindsight, that was a critical juncture in the game, but at the time you are living it. One snap at a time and they did that today. They played football.
Re: If anything was said to Ike Taylor after his dropped interception opportunities:
I did personally after each one. I just let him know that he's playing left corner against a West Coast offense and he was going to have opportunities. That is just the nature of it. He was level headed about it. He moved on to the next snap and delivered big for us at the end of the first half. Ike is a good football player and has the potential to be great, if he remains hungry and continues to work. He delivered for us today.
Re: Najeh Davenport:
I don't know how crazy his week was. I think that story has been overblown. It is just real life issues that adults go through. He is handling it like one. We didn't let it become a story for us. It definitely wasn't a story for him. We communicated and we moved on. He is a professional. I am more concerned with how he performs as a player. He has done a heck of a job for us. Not just in terms of stepping up and making plays today, but he has been a situational sparkplug for us all year. It is a credit to him. I think when the dust settles, we will find out that some of the things that became stories this week are actually nonstories.
Re: If it was planned to use Najeh on short yardage plays:
No. We were running the ball and we were committed to running the football today. We really didn't have any alternatives. It was tough yardage gained by Willie Parker. It was just required that we use both guys. We aren' etch trying etch out roles. We are just trying to do what is required for us to win week-to-week. That was the story today.
Re: Bouncing back from a slow start:
We didn't start the way we wanted to offensively. It was a tough scenario, a tough situation. We knew they were going to pack the box and stop the run, because of our wideout situation. I am sure it became obvious to them quickly that we only had three wideouts suited. We had to pound the rock and eventually because the guys stayed together and stuck to the plan, they broke it. They broke through.
Re: Ben Roethlisberger making better decisions and getting better protection:
That is Ben. He is a professional. He wanted to bounce back and lead the troops today. I thought he did that.
Re: The defense stepping up in spite of injuries:
I would hope our defense shows urgency every Sunday. It is an opportunity to play. In terms of Troy (Polamalu) being out and Casey (Hampton) being out, we mean what we say when we say the standard of expectation doesn't change, regardless of who is in the huddle. The 11 in the huddle represent the Pittsburgh Steelers and we come in to play to win. With those guys a win today is sweet and without those guys, a win today is sweet. They don't put asterisks beside wins and loses. Regardless of whose playing, we are the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Re: How close Troy Polamalu and Casey Hampton were to playing today:
Horse shoes and hand grenades on how close they were. It didn't matter. They weren't able to go, so we went without them.
Re: How much the bye week helps with injuries?
We'll see. We have a lot of time, which is good. Hopefully we will take advantage of it, in terms of getting healthy.
Re: Heath Miller:
I truly believe there is a level of comfort with Ben (Roethlisberger) when he is throwing the ball to Heath and rightfully so. He is tremendously consistent. He is a really good football player and he is getting better. You almost take him for granted. Sometimes you forget that he is a relatively young guy and emerging in a lot of ways. The thought of that is very exciting.
Re: The offensive line:
Based on the circumstances, those guys had to play big today. We had to run the ball to win this football game, not only because we were down some valuable players at wide receiver, but we were just down in sheer numbers. We had three wideouts playing today. We had to run the football. Those men understood that. There wasn't a bunch of talk about what we needed to do in that regard. I think everyone in that locker room knew what we needed to do and they went out there and went about doing the work.
Re: If the players will get additional time off:
We're not going to make emotional decisions on how we go about our plan, based on whether we win or we lose. They like to hear that when we lose, but they don't necessarily like to hear that when we win. We have their best interest at heart. We fall short of perfection and we're not a finished product. We are trying to get better. We are going to take good use of this time. We do understand that we are beat up in some areas. A lot of the teams are. That is the nature of this football season. We are five games into this things and we played five preseason games. Do the math. It's football. Anybody that feels great now is an alien. That is just the nature of it. We will be smart. We will regenerate and energize ourselves. Somewhere along the line, we have to keep an eye on getting better, because we expect our opponents to do the same.
Re: Being a satisfying win:
It is. Hopefully it just summarizes us. Football is unpredictable, but it is predictably unpredictable. Some of the things that we have gone through and prepared for show themselves. You feel good about your preparation and you feel good about your planning, so when it does occur it is a non-issue. It is awesome to me that it is a non-issue with you guys today that Max Starks had to come in and play some at left tackle.
Re: Comparing himself to Coach Chuck Noll:
I am just trying to win games week-to-week. Don't mention my name in the same sentence as Coach (Chuck) Noll.
Re: If he got to speak with Coach Noll:
I did not. I took a moment to go over and shake his hand and introduce myself. I was in awe of the man. We are all walking on the ground that the paved.
Re: Marvel Smith's injury and Max Starks coming in for him:
I think Marvel is going to be fine. Of course he went back into the game. I think somebody just fell on the back of his leg. The extent of the potential injury I do not know at this time. Marvel is a tough guy and you have to pry him out of there. Max was ready to respond and did a nice job in a critical juncture of the football game.
Re: Some calls by the officials:
I don't want to question the officiating, so I won't, but you live one snap at a time. They did that and they converted some big plays. Protection was a part of it. Our quarterback was a big part of it. The pocket would erode a little bit on the edges and he stepped up, kept his eyes down field and delivered the football like a franchise quarterback does. Guys make critical catches on the other end. It was a total team effort. It sort of exemplifies what happened today. In terms of some of the adversity, we are going to get that anytime we step in a stadium. That is what makes it fun. That is what makes this the ultimate parity league. I am pleased with how we responded to it today. I thought we were our best selves. I thought it revealed a little bit about this football team. We are still finding out about ourselves as we go. That is just the nature of it.