OCTOBER 21, 2012
“Our failure to finish off the game — we scored three points in the second half and didn’t get off the field enough on third down defensively — was the difference in the game. We didn’t convert any of the third downs in the second half, other than the first drive. We’re not making enough plays consistently to win. We got off to a good start, but we have to keep doing it. Defensively we’re doing good things at times, but we allowed a couple of completions which ended up keeping their (Steelers) drive alive. It’s a disappointed team, but it is where we are right now. We have an opportunity to regroup and move forward.”
On the first drive you guys appeared to have them (Steelers) back on their heels a little bit. Do you feel they adjusted or changed anything?
“We had the one three-and-out the first half, and we scored on the first play. I think we only had four possessions in the first half. We didn’t do good enough to get them off the field on the other side. I don’t think they punted in the first half. We didn’t have an opportunity to get in a real rhythm. You’d like to be able to sustain something, and we didn’t do that until about the third quarter.”
The first replay challenge of the second half, what did the booth see and what did you see?
“It was thought he (Steelers receiver Mike Wallace) rolled over
Was it yours or the booths?
“I throw the flag, so it’s always mine.”
A.J. (Green) only had one catch tonight. Was it just a mixture of coverages?
“I can’t tell you right now what was happening. I know we had an opportunity to feature some other people, and we wanted to make sure we did that. We’ve got to find a way to get him the ball as well.”
How much did it affect your game plan that (WR)
“Obviously it affects a lot of things, because he practices certain plays, so you’re down a guy that you anticipate having. You have to adjust and move on. It’s part of the game.”
“We’ll have to wait and see the tape and go from there. We just didn’t get the ball spread out very well today. We had balls going through guys’ hands, and that hurts you too.”
What would you say at this point about
“Andy has continued to progress. We need to continue to play well around Andy. It was another game where he did not force the ball, and that’s what we want to make sure of. We have to make sure we get to the right spots for him so he can deliver the football. The break down in protection at times threw him off and he had to move and adjust.”
What happened on the interception near the end of the first half?
“I was trying to hold the ball back. The guy jumped the route, and it slipped out of my hand. Unfortunate play.”
Have you ever had an interception that hit off of someone’s helmet before?
“Sometimes when your arm gets going and you’re trying to hold the ball back, it can come out. It took a perfect bounce off the guy’s helmet and went right into the defender’s hands.”
The offense was really clicking on the initial drive. What happened after that?
“We were executing the plays very well. Later in the game, it wasn’t clicking the way it should have. We have to find ways to keep getting first downs, keep running the ball and keep completing passes. There were too many errors in the passing game today.”
How did they take A.J. Green out of the game?
“They definitely knew where he was. We have to be better in the passing game. We have to find ways to get our guys the ball, and I have to do a better job putting it on them when they’re open.”
Was there ever a sense that ‘if we can’t beat the Steelers when they’re on a down year, what’s it going to take’?
“No. We want to beat them every time we play them. There’s no sense of ‘if we can’t beat them this year.' That’s not the attitude that we’re going to have. We want to beat anyone that we’re playing. We were in a tight game today. We have to find a way to come out on top. We have to find a way to keep the momentum going. That’s what hurt us today. They made more plays than we did and we can’t have that.”
Did you feel differently about this team when you were three-and-one?
“We’ve lost some momentum. We had a lot going for us, and now we’ve lost three straight. We have to find a way to turn it around. We’ll use the bye week and the week after to come out and turn things around. We’re capable on this team. We have a lot of good players. We have to do whatever it takes to win these games.”
Did they take the deep ball away?
“Yeah, we only took a couple of shots today. We have one that was tipped in the corner. Other than that, we didn’t take too many shots today.”
Is that due to the way they were playing?
“Yeah. I think that’s part of it. They were playing soft on some of our inside guys so we didn’t take a chance throwing it deep.”
How did the turnover late in the first half hurt your momentum?
“It was big. You can’t have things like that happen. We had a chance to go down and either get points or keep the ball going into the half. It hurt.”
Where do you go from here?
“There are a lot of games left. We have to win one game. Our focus will be winning. There’s a lot of season left. We still have time and there’s no giving up on this team. We have to practice hard, have a great week and play well in the game.”
How much of this is a mental challenge, as opposed to physical?
“It’s part of it. We have to be mentally tough to handle this. It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost three in a row. We have to be mentally strong enough to handle it and turn things around — and we have the team to do that.”
Talk about the frustration offensively after having such a solid first drive and no sustained drives the rest of the way:
“It’s real frustrating. You put in so much work in practice and not getting the results in games. It happens.”
For a guy who can stretch the field like you can vertically to be held to one catch for the touchdown and eight yards, can you talk about the yards that you feel were left out there?
“They did a great job taking me away from the game plan. That’s what it is. They have a great team to beat and that’s what great coaches do, take me away. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”
You came into a big division game on Sunday Night Football. How did it go out there?
“Obviously it wasn’t the outcome we wanted. We did some good things, but the nature of playing offensive line is, when you have a bad play, it’s glaring. There are a couple plays I’d like to have back. It’s tough to make a mistake that keeps your team from being successful at a critical time. As a young guy, I have to learn from it.”
Pittsburgh is a tough defense with a lot of different looks and packages, which makes it harder to communicate at the line. How did that go?
“That was fine. Due to our preparation during the week, we knew what we were going to see. For me, it’s a matter of playing with the proper technique. I have the ability to do it; it’s just a matter of going out and being consistent.”
Marvin Lewis talks about avoiding the lulls. Obviously in the second half there were several three-and-outs, which made it difficult to get into a rhythm:
“We didn’t move the ball the way we wanted in the second half. All we can do is learn from it.”
What was working so well for you guys on the opening drive?
“We just had a good tempo. We had guys executing. We converted on third down, and we caught them off guard a little bit.”
Can you talk about the uphill climb on offense after the opening drive?
“I can’t tell you the reason for it. I guess it was a little bit of everything. We need to do much better. They did a good job of adjusting to what we were doing. We have to execute better.”
Is this the third straight week you are trying to find the answers to the same puzzle?
“I guess you could say that. We need to make it happen when we have the chance. We didn’t make it happen today.”
You’ve been in the league a long time. This has got to sting just because you guys had so many opportunities:
“In games like this, you throw out the record. They’re a good team, and we both compete. It’s a dog fight. You only have so many opportunities. They capitalized, we didn’t. We fought all the way until the end of the ball game, but just can’t be satisfied with playing close. We have to win these ball games. You only get so many opportunities. We have to beat a good team, and so far we haven’t.”
Talk about the job Ben Roethlisberger was able to do finding speedy receivers in space, and the plays they were able to make in space:
“He just managed the game, finding receivers open on third downs. And that was our Achilles heel today was really third downs. Our offense, we had too many three-and-outs. We had our opportunities, but we have to capitalize. We had our chances and can’t be mad at anybody but ourselves. We fought, but it was just missed opportunities.”
Talk about the opening drive, 15 plays and 80 yards:
“We put a great drive together. (Andy) Dalton made some great plays and we were able to execute.”
After that drive, were you thinking we’re going to be able to do this tonight?
“We were going to execute plays to the best of our ability and we were going to do well.”
What changed after that?
“We just have to finish when we see blood.”
You were leading 14-3 when Dalton had the ball slip out of his hands on the interception. Did that take the wind out of your sails?
“No, there’s going to be adversity in every football game. It’s how you bounce back from it.”
Is this a game where the missed chances keep you up at night?
“It’s going to be tough to sleep. At the end of the day, we’ve lost three in a row and we’re in a tough spot. We have a bye week followed by some home games. We have to make the corrections and keep on going.”
What can be done during the bye week to help make things better going forward?
“We need to find out what’s keeping us from winning games in the second half. We have the bye week to self-reflect, which is always good.”
Does it feel like an uphill climb now at 3-4?
“Yes, it will be uphill from here on. The schedule doesn’t get any easier. Hopefully we will come out of the bye week playing well after making the corrections we need to make.”
Can you talk about the adjustments the Steelers made after the first drive?
“We just have to do a better job of staying ahead on down-and-distance and converting on third down, keeping those drives going. We had some drives where we did well on first and second downs and stalled on third down. We have to do better job of getting third-and-manageable and converting those third downs, keeping the drives going and keeping momentum on our side.”
After the good start, how deflating was it to see them tie it right before halftime?
“That’s football. You always know you’re in for a heavyweight fight whenever you are up against a good football team — against any team in this league. It’s very competitive out there. When they throw punches, we throw them right back and it’s a heavyweight fight. You go back and forth, and that’s the thing that happened tonight. They got in the last punch and we came out on the losing end.”
“(This was a) big AFC North road victory for us. Guys did what was necessary. Obviously we were down a few guys and I liked the contribution from the men that stepped in their place; it was what was needed. Hopefully we can build upon it; it was what we talked about in there. We got ourselves into a hole. The first thing we’ve got to do is stop digging. We did that tonight; now we’ve got to build on it. We’ll review this tape tomorrow and continue to push forward. It looked like we came through the game relatively injury free. Adrian Robinson may have a concussion; he’s been evaluated, but other than that, we’re pretty clean from an injury standpoint, which is good. Will Allen turned his ankle; it doesn’t appear to be significant. I’ll be happy to address any questions you might have.”
How important was Heath Miller tonight?
“Heath gives us consistent effort and performance on a week-in and week-out basis. Sometimes when we’re victorious it gets highlighted, as it should though. His performance tonight was in line with what he has done for us all year.”
Can you talk about how nice was it to get LaMarr Woodley back and his interception?
“It was a big play for us. We like to think that they’re all capable of delivering those type of plays. He was the man in that instance. Obviously, LaMarr Woodley in a helmet assists us in our effort, and it was good to have him back out there.”
Did you see tonight as a bounce back for Ike Taylor, and how would you rate his performance?
“I’ll let you guys be the judge of that. We played winning football; he was a part of that. He did what we asked him to do. It was a good overall team effort in all three phases.”
Can you speak about the play of your offensive line minus two of your starters?
“Fortunately and unfortunately, those guys, although some of them aren’t starters, they’re experienced. We’ve played a lot of ball over the last few years with Doug Legursky. Arrows are pointed up with Mike Adams; we’re optimistic about what he’s capable of being. So it wasn’t a situation where we went into it with negative thoughts. We were excited about watching those guys play and seeing what they were capable of doing, particularly Adams. They answered the bell, as they should; they’re capable men. We were able to have a good, well-rounded attack tonight on offense — running and throwing.”
Talk about your defense holding A.J. Green to one catch:
“You know, big-time ball for us. Like we said though, it was a collective effort — rush, coverage. Dick (LeBeau) called a good game. We mixed in some zones. It was necessary to get us out of there.”
With the penalties and turnovers earlier in the game, you made it tougher on yourselves at times:
“That’s the nature of NFL football. When you’re highly penalized and you turn the ball over, you put yourself behind the eight ball. But the guys didn’t’ blink. They didn’t. It’s a testament to them. We were able to settle down and get our jobs done.”
Mike Wallace made a few plays tonight, but also had a few drops. Are you concerned about that?
“The tape is the tape. He’s got to catch the ball in a consistent manner. He didn’t do it tonight. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and hopefully he’ll be better next week.”
Was there some confusion on the two-point conversion?
“Yeah, we wanted to take a timeout. We’re allowed to do that by rule. He said that we weren’t. I guess he assumed that we were the team that took the timeout, prior to us wanting to take a timeout. The Cincinnati Bengals took that timeout, so we should’ve been given that timeout, but we weren’t. The guys didn’t blink. They executed and got the two points.”
How good did it feel to seal that game there at the end?
“It felt good. I am more disappointed in the fact that we had two chances to close it earlier and couldn’t. We didn’t want to put it on our defense and wanted to close it out on offense. I missed a throw to Antonio (Brown) unfortunately and got caught between a few throws as well. I am pretty upset with myself over that one, but I am happy that the defense was able to get them off the field and we were able to milk the clock.”
How bad did you guys need this win tonight?
“We said coming into this game that we just needed to win one and we did that tonight. That is going to be our mentality from here on out — just win one.”
How would you rate Jonathan Dwyer’s performance tonight?
“Awesome. I am proud of a lot of guys that stepped up tonight. He did, as did Chris Rainey, Doug Legursky, Baron Batch, and some other guys. We never had a doubt with any of these guys. I am really proud of the performance of all of our guys tonight.”
You guys always seem to have an excessive amount of guys who are next in line:
“You can’t say enough about these guys tonight. On the road, in the division, and they played really well. This was an important game for us. I made a lot of mistakes tonight, like turning the ball over twice, but we were able to fight through. That makes me the most proud tonight.”
There seemed to be a lot of confusion on the two-point conversion:
“Oh gosh yeah. There were some coaches in my headset calling timeout so I turned to the official to ask for timeout. He told me I couldn’t take one, so I thought we had to run the play. The whole time I was under center I heard Coach Haley screaming to take a timeout. What people don’t realize is that there isn’t a microphone in our helmets so I can’t talk back to them. I was trying to wave him off, but we couldn’t do anything. So I snapped the ball and threw it to Heath (Miller) and he made the play.”
Did you try and explain to Coach Tomlin about what happened?
“I was trying to tell him about what the official told me. There was nothing else I could have done in the situation, so I just snapped the ball. All you can do is take a delay of game or snap the ball.”
Did you think that this team had something to prove tonight?
“I don’t want to sit here and say that we had something to prove because we just wanted to win the game. Of course there is a sense of urgency because it was a divisional game. All we had to do was win, which is what we did.”
What was the key to the running game tonight?
“There were a couple of things. They played a lot of two-high safeties to take away the passing game, and when teams do that we have to be able to run the ball. Also, the line was very physical and aggressive. The Bengals have a good front and we had to be aggressive off the ball and open up holes. The backs ran really hard tonight and it paid off.”
How critical was the running game when it came to your pass protection?
“It was nice. They did a great job of protecting me against that great front.”
Did you still have confidence throwing to the receivers even with the drops?
“I don’t shy away from them even with drops. I will always have confidence in them no matter what. These guys all hold themselves to a really high standard and it just shows how valuable these guys are to our attack.”
At the end of the game you came off with a game ball. Was that significant to you?
“That is the first time that we have done the victory formation this year to end it. Also, there is a little boy who has been on my website a lot and he doesn’t have long to live. I want to deliver that ball to him.”
Do you feel like we have seen everything there is to see with this offense?
“I hope not. We’ll see, though. We haven’t done much of the no-huddle, which is a little disappointing, but we won the game.”
Do you feel more comfortable in this offense now?
“We have all bought into this. We are professionals and are going to buy into it no matter what.”
Talk about your play tonight:
“We gave it all we had. This isn’t any getting hurt. If you get hurt, you’ve got to keep going. I felt like I was in debt to this team. I’ve been out for two years. I had to do something. I was hungry and tired of losing on the road. If I’ve got to start a fight to get this team going, I’ve got no problem doing it.”
Is that what that brawl was?
“Yes. Because I felt like we always wait for the next guy to make a play. For me, if I have to be the bully, I have no problem doing it. It was a big win for us. We had to have it. We’ve just got to start stacking (wins).”
Was this the most-active defensive front you have seen thus far this season?
“No, but they are extremely competitive. They have guys over there that can get after the ball and play well. I think it was a testament to will. Coach (Kugler) brought up Peyton Manning in his Monday Night game, he said, ‘If you look at Peyton’s eyes. It was the look of you refuse to lose.’ I think I kept saying that all week. ‘You’ve got to refuse to lose’. No matter what happens, there are going to be some ups and downs. You’ve got to refuse to lose, and that’s what we did.”
Willie, are you beginning to get comfortable?
“Yes. I try to stay patient with myself. Guys do a great job on the front side of washing it down, and all I have to do is follow my path. I give it an all-around team effort.”
Did you make any kind of statement with the offense this week?
“We don’t listen to the critics. We know everything in the losses — that we beat ourselves. We weren’t able to close things out, especially on the road. We can’t blame the defense. When you get down to the last three minutes and the offense has the ball, it’s for us to close. We were able to do that today. That was a step in the right direction.”
Do you feel the linebackers were able to help the secondary with better play tonight?
“Yes. Definitely. It’s always an all-around, team thing. I give (Ike Taylor) credit, because he had (A.J. Green) the whole game. That was his man. He did a great job on him.”
Do you feel this win could serve as a season changer for your team?
“It was our first road win — our first divisional win. We head back to Heinz Field. The objective now is to stack a few wins. We haven’t been able to do that.”
What changed in the running game, after being gashed on the opening drive?
“Guys started being where they were supposed to be. They came out with some trickery stuff, lining up an extra tackle as a tight end. When we adjusted to it, we started playing good.”
You said during the week that you were going to play “Steeler Football.” Was that it tonight?
“We got off the field on third down. We got a turnover that put the offense in good field position to put points on the board. At the end of the day, that’s all you ask. We put pressure on their quarterback. Ike Taylor did a good job against their top receiver.”
Did it feel good watching the offense drive down the field at the end of the game?
“It’s always good. (Jonathan) Dwyer did an excellent job of running the ball and getting those first downs. He did well today.”
Give us your thoughts on Ike Taylor’s mindset:
“Ike is a veteran guy. He went out here today, going against a top receiver. We knew he was going to have him man-to-man. I think he responded well, by only allowing him to have one catch.”
You’re 3-3 now and heading in to a matchup against the Redskins. What’s next?
“The objective is to always stack wins, no matter who is coming in. We don’t care who is coming in. We are going to focus on what our defense can do, not who is it going up against.”
Talk about your opportunity to step in with two guys (Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman) down and stepping up to the occasion:
“It was a blessing. Two of my teammates and my brothers went down, but it was an opportunity, and the next man is supposed to step up. As a unit, we wanted to fill that void. There’s no let down, even though our two top guys went down. That was our main focus going in to this game for all of us young guys to step up.”
Talk about the offensive line and how it performed today:
“To be honest with you, they played well. It’s probably one of the best groups we’ve had. You can tell by the tenacity of Willie (Colon), almost getting into a fight during a play. All that did was fire us up. These guys like to run block and be physical.”
What does this say about your performance that you had two starters on the offensive line out of the lineup, two running backs missing, and you rushed for a team-high 122 yards today?
“It shows the talent here. The standard is the standard here. We lost our franchise player, Maurkice Pouncey, and Doug (Legursky) stepped up tremendously. It shows how talented we are and that we try to live up to that high standard.