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Bengals at Steelers Postgame Quotes

Head Coach Marvin Lewis
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

Head Coach Marvin Lewis: It was not the finishing of the game we were looking for there. We got an opportunity there in the fourth quarter, five minutes to go, we had that turnover at the end, and the turnover seemed to be our issue today. That was the biggest part of the day against us. We had a rough day. It's key to take care of football. We didn't do a very good job of it.  The punt return at the beginning of the game, we got back into the game but we continued to turn the football over and I thought the defense played pretty well throughout the day. Then we gave up the big play there at the end of the football game. It's hard to win consistently like that.

Is there any update on A.J Green?

Re: Impact on the first half:
I think the first time we got the ball in the scoring zone – we have to keep going. Green felt like the ball, he couldn't get to it but he has to go and make a play on it. You have to protect the quarterback in that situation. Then Andy Dalton was high on the second one and then it goes off Green's arm. They each were having a little bit of fault. In both cases you have to deliver a good ball and move on and protect the quarterback.

Re: Things that Bengals didn't do well when looking back on it:
There was a football game that we got back into it. We were behind in the game, we got ahead in the game, we tied the game, then we fell back nine, we fought back into a three-point game, and then we have the turnovers. They end up on third-and-10 or 11 and they make a play to score a touchdown, then basically we were done. But when you lose, all that stuff doesn't matter. We have to put this one behind us. It's done, and it's gone. You have to move forward.

Re: Short memory:
No memory. It's a new season now.

Andy Dalton
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

Did it sting that this fourth quarter worked out the same as the last time you played the Steelers?
Yes. I think we had a chance in the fourth quarter. We weren't able to get it done. So that hurts because there was a lot going on in this game including playing for the division. But the good thing is we're still in the postseason. We're still in control of everything. Now we know the importance of everything. You have to win now. We understand that.

Re: The two first half interceptions being miscommunications:
The first one I shouldn't have thrown. The next one I left high. It was my fault. You have to be better. You can't turn the ball over.

Re: Getting into a rhythm in the fourth quarter:
It felt like we had a good rhythm. We were able to put a big drive together that put us within three. We had a chance at the end to go down and win it. We didn't do enough today to get that done.

Re: The Steelers crowding the line and forcing you to throw:
Yes. There was some of that, but we still got some good looks to run it. I thought we did some good things in the run game. We obviously had some good looks to throw it as well because they were dropping the safeties in and all that kind of stuff.

What do you remember most about that first Indianapolis game?
We didn't come to play. We know we're going to be playing a really good team. We understand the opponent. We understand what they've done this year. We understand everything. Like I said, we understand the importance of what goes on now that you're in the playoffs.

Is this a different offense than you guys were two months ago?
It definitely is. I think we've been able to do some different things, some good things. We have to come to play next week.

Is there any advantage that it is a rematch?
You've got the tape from the game. That obviously helps. They have the tape as well.

Bengals Players
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

OT Andrew Whitworth

Re: Mistakes:
We fought hard. We had our moments in the game and also hurt ourselves. You can't come on the road play a great football team; one of the ones that I think is one of the better teams right now left in the playoffs, and play against yourselves at the same time. Turning the ball over, giving them points and opportunities, you can't come on the road and play yourselves and the other team.

Did you make any adjustments the last couple of drives protection wise?
No, I think that one play we had a great call. They had one of our guys singled up in the middle. Outside of that a couple play actions we had where they brought more people. Other than that I think we protected pretty well. We just need to make more plays and we can't turn the ball over.

Were they forcing you guys to throw?
They were just bringing a lot of people. It is hard to get run plays off when they are blitzing and bringing all kinds of people down there. We were able to throw it around a little bit and that was good but still we can't turn it over and give them opportunities to win the game. You have to make them earn it.

DE Carlos Dunlap

Disappointment level when you come up short in the division?
You guys are talking like it is over for us. Obviously defending our AFC North title was one of our big goals. But we are on to our next best thing; going on to Indianapolis and are going to play our best football.

Re: I would think it would be easy to go over there and rematch with them (Indianapolis):
Yeah I'm looking forward to the opportunity to give it back to them. They obviously put it on us pretty well earlier in the season. We know what they are capable of. They're right down the road. We just have to correct our mistakes today. We didn't make enough plays. The Steelers won the football game on their home field. If you don't make enough plays to silence the crowd you're not going to win the football game.

How hard is it to beat Pittsburgh when they make plays like this?
Pittsburgh is a big-play team. When you let them get too many big plays, you get outcomes like this. We just need to watch the tape and correct our mistake and move on to Indy.

Did the defense change when Bell went out?
No. We were in position to make plays and we didn't make them.

RB Jeremy Hill

Were they crowding you guys up front?
We just have to execute. There really wasn't anything that they really did. We had drives going. We had opportunities to make big plays. We just turned the ball over. You can't do that against a team with an offense like that. We gave them the game.

Re: 89-yard touchdown drive:
I think that is what we are capable of. Especially now that our identity is running the football, mixing it up. We have to do that. I think there were more drives we could have had just like that if we didn't turn the football over. We can't do that especially on the road against this team. You can't set yourself up for success that way. When you give up a big punt return that doesn't help either.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

Head Coach Mike Tomlin: Got an excited group in there. Just really, really happy for them. Proud of their effort. (It) hasn't been an easy journey for us but they never are. The group grew and grew together and remained resilient throughout. Not only tonight but over the course of the 16 games that we played here in the regular season. A lot to be proud of from that perspective. But we can't waste a lot of time in celebration. We have our next challenge back here on Saturday night, so we're excited about that. We'll start the process and move forward. On the injury front, have a hyper-extension on Le'Veon Bell's knee. Structurally it appears to be fine so we'll see if he'll be available to us here in our next game. I don't know that as we sit here today. We'll gather more significant information as we proceed through the week. No journey is without its adversity. We're thankful that it's not anything major. No. 7 (Ben Roethlisberger) battled the flu tonight but he was No. 7. We expected that. I'm sure they had some guys in similar situations. I remember reading that throughout the week. (It's) just the nature of this time of year. We'll try to get those guys (back) that are under the weather and so forth (and) healthy as quick as we can because we have big work (in) another AFC North ball game in here next weekend.

Did you have any issue with Reggie Nelson's tackle on Le'Veon Bell?
I did not. It's not an illegal hit. I did not.

Was the hit not illegal?
It's not illegal. I did not (have an issue).

Re: The words he shared with Nelson on the field after the game:
You have to ask him about that. He was talking about some he-said, she-said type of a deal. I don't know what he was talking about.

Were the words related to the hit?
No. I guess a teammate told him that I said something regarding him. That's untrue. Ask him. I have a lot of respect for Reggie Nelson. He's a good player.

Should the league get involved?
I'm not getting into my personal opinions regarding legal plays. It was a legal play.

Was the fake punt your call or something that they checked into?
No. I take responsibility for that. I'm going to remain aggressive. I thought they had possessed the ball. I thought that our defense had played a lot. They won the time of possession. I was not interested in having the defense take the field again if we got what we were looking for. I took a calculated risk. (It was a) good play by them. They checked out of whatever rush that they were in and covered it but that's on me. Our guys did a nice job as they've done a nice job all year. They know that I'm going to be aggressive. They know that I'm going to play to win. They know we are not going to live in our fears. (I'm) thankful to the guys on offense and defense that they backed up that decision.

Is your defense playing championship football?
I don't know that any of us are playing championship football. We are not champions. We won an AFC North title tonight. If we're playing division championship football, yes. But we're going to continue to write that story as we move forward. We're not looking for accolades (or) anything of that nature. We're just trying to do what's required to win on each opportunity (and) that's on offense, defense and special teams. We're not living as units within the unit.

Re: Josh Harris and Dri Archer stepping in and playing:
Those young guys I thought they really did a nice job. It's a shame that Josh's big run got called back. We know that these guys work hard and we respect them. We believe that any man, if given an opportunity, can be a reason why we're successful and those guys really stepped up big (with) Josh running and Dri made a couple big catches. I just appreciate their efforts, but not only of those men, the efforts of all the men.

Re: Antwon Blake, Brice McCain and Will Allen playing well with starters out:
We've taken our lumps and they've remained singularly focused and they've stayed together. We haven't allowed the adversity to divide us and we've gotten stronger because of it. They're playing with better confidence and they're making plays. It's just the natural maturation process when you don't let outside forces interrupt it and you stay singularly focused on growth and development and the opportunities at hand. I give them credit for doing that. I think their play and our play has been on the upswing because of it.

Do you think the defensive backs are playing better because of increased pressure up front?
I think they're playing better because they're playing better.

How fitting was it for Antonio Brown sealing the game with his touchdown reception with the season that he has had?
I mean who else was going to make it, you know (laughing). He needs no endorsement from me. He is who he is. I don't think any of us are surprised when he delivers for us time and time again. He works like that. I know that we say that often and you probably get tired of hearing us say it but it's true. He works harder than he plays. It's not haphazard that he rises up in moments. I hope that's a blueprint for our younger guys and I think it is (on) how to work, how to approach it (and) how to remain singularly focused. And ultimately how to deliver for your teammates.

Re: Facing Baltimore for the third time this season:
It's typical AFC North ball. We take a lot of pride in being from the North. I look forward to it. It's going to be typical Steelers/Ravens. Steelers/Ravens in January, it's been a while since we had that. I know we're going to be excited. We're probably going to have to educate some of our guys to what that means. And I'm sure they're going to have to do the same thing (and) educate some of their guys to what that means because it's been a while.

Were there any other injuries other than Bell?
Bumps and bruises and so forth. Nothing of any significance I don't think.

Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

Re: Short week with Baltimore coming up:
More AFC North football.

How fitting was it that Antonio Brown was the one to make the play at the end?
He's a playmaker. I have all the faith and trust in the world in him. He's going to make plays, and I'm glad he's on my team.

There were reports that you were very, very sick. How are you feeling?
We won, so I feel pretty good.

When did you come down with it and how bad was it?
I came down with it today. We won the game so I feel better.

How big was Antwon Blake's play at the end?
The defense played huge all day. We didn't do enough offensively, we didn't make enough plays and our defense bailed us out. It was fun to watch our defense play at a very high level and get turnovers.

How close were you to not being able to play?
(No response)

How difficult was it to see a player like Le'Veon Bell go out of the game like that?
It's tough. He's a really tough guy and a great competitor. We'll keep him in our thoughts and prayers. I'm not sure what the issue is right now or how he's feeling, or how bad it is. I know if there is a chance that he can be out there he's going to be because that's how he is.

Re: Having a short week because you play Saturday night:
We'll do what we have to do. I'm sure everybody will be in ready to rock-n-roll tomorrow and start getting our preparations ready.

Were you able to talk with Le'Veon?
No, I just told him to keep his head up when we were on the field. We stayed on so I didn't get to talk to him afterwards.

Have you been on any team that has come this far as a team before?
Hopefully the journey's not over. I'm not going to talk about journeys and where we are. We're still going, so it's an early question for me to answer right now.

Do you feel like the team is playing better now than it was in September?
I think that we are getting better, and that was always the goal. You either improve or deteriorate. We said that we have to get hot at the right time, I don't think we're hot, but I think we're playing pretty good football and we just have to keep getting better.

Re: On Josh Harris's run that was called back:
What an awesome run. I don't know how far it was, but that was such a huge play for his confidence and for us as an offense, for the offensive line. To see that flag come out extremely late was frustrating, but I think he still has to be pleased with the way that he ran the ball, and I think everyone has a renewed confidence in him as well.

Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

What does it feel like to be a major part of this game and basically start it off with scoring and then finishing it for this team?
It was a tremendous opportunity. It's a division game. It's really just a great feeling.

Did you have a chance to talk to Le'Veon? Did you see that play? What do you think?
I didn't have a chance to see it, but obviously he's a tremendous part of what we do and I just really hope that he can be with us for next week.

You were 3-3 at one point and now you're division champs. What does it mean to you?
It was a great close out to the season. Obviously it was a great opportunity for Pittsburgh and to do it for the hometown fans.

Can you talk a little bit about that punt return?
I set it up pretty good. I set it up right. There was a great block on the field. It was a great play. We've been waiting for one all year and it's great to finally get one.

Can you describe the clinching touchdown? What happened there?
Ben made a great throw. He was able to get it out and I was able to get on the field and finish the play.

I know that it's always like this for this division, but in this game it seemed like there was a lot of talking. What was it like on the field?
It was high intensity. We knew that there was a lot at stake for the AFC North and those guys were fighting to the finish and there was a lot of intense vibes.

Re: I'm guessing that it will be just as high next week:
It's the Baltimore Ravens. They're coming into our house and obviously we're putting emphasis on what the game means. This playoff is starting a new season and we've got our work cut out for us.

You became the second leading receiver in history for most catches in a single season, considering the history of the great receivers in the NFL, how much does that mean to you?
It means a lot. To go down in history is a tremendous honor. Some of my kids, my son is here today and it's something that I can tell my kids. But it's not just me. I couldn't do it by myself. Coach Haley does a great job with the formations and Coach Richard Mann does a great job watching the little things in my game, snapping down and getting all of the little things. Obviously playing with Mann is amazing. All of those things go into effect.

It's been a tremendous year for the Steelers offensively and you've been a big part of it. How concerned are you right now about the health of your teammate, Bell?
I'm highly concerned. I'll be praying and with my fingers crossed for him to be healthy and that he is very ready to go.

Steelers Players
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Heinz Field ▪ Sunday, December 28, 2014

CB Brice McCain

Re: His interceptions:
The ball was coming right my way. I had to catch it. I'm very blessed. I'm happy with being a big part of the win today. Our defense played great, and our offense played great. The special teams played great too.

The trend continues. I think you guys are 9-0 when you win the turnover ratio.
That's the key. When you win the turnover ratio, you win games. That's not going to change for the playoffs. When you win the turnover battle, you win games.

How about [Antwon] Blake's play today?
It was great. He defended Green the last time we played them, but [A.J.] Green caught a pass. The coach said all week that 18 doesn't put the ball away when the catches the ball. Strip it out. That's what it did. It was big for us, a big part of the game. We really needed it.

CB Antwon Blake

General comment
It's always the plan for the defense to be able to go out there and make plays and get turnovers. Coach Tomlin always talks about winning the turnover battle. When you do that, you usually win games. We got a lot of turnovers tonight.

Is this a little sweeter with some of the criticism that the defense has received this year?
We don't really listen to the outside. We're a family and we stick together through thick and thin. So whatever criticism you give, we don't pay any attention to that.

Did you go for the ball first before the tackle? Did you want to take a shot there?
I feel like it is instantaneous and at the same time. I wanted to secure the tackle, but I also wanted to go for the ball.

What kind of statement did the secondary make in this game?
I feel like, for one, we showed the league that we will capitalize off of mistakes and turnovers. That's the biggest thing – keeping down the chunks [of yardage]. Like the last time we played them, they got a few deep balls on us. But we kept everything in front of us and making tackles on those short passes.

On the play where you stripped the ball, did you have a clear view of it coming in from behind?
Not really. I just grabbed whatever I could grab. Fortunately enough, I got the ball, so it came out.

DE Cameron Heyward

General comment
I don't think my sack was a causing factor in us winning this game. I think our defensive backs just played amazing. Our linebackers rallied to the ball all day. I was happy to make the sack, but we've got a lot of playmakers around that made a lot of plays today.

Was this a statement game for the defense?
[It was] just another win. The statement game will be when we have confetti raining down on us. But we are just enjoying the ride.

You got three turnovers tonight – two by Brice [McCain] one by Antwon [Blake], guys that were not really expected to be factors.
It just goes to their preparation. They prepare like no one else. In practice, Brice has got that little-man syndrome. He's very hard on himself and always wants to play big. Blake's got it too. I give him a hard time. Those guys really stepped up today for us.

RB Josh Harris

What do you think the likelihood is that you'll get another chance on Saturday?
It all depends on if [Le'Veon Bell]'s okay or not. I can say right now from the things I've heard that he should be okay, but I can't really say. But say if they call my name and say Josh we need you to have a few more carries, then I'll be totally ready for that.

How will you be ready?
Just pretty much doing the same thing we do every week. We work hard during practice for these situations. You don't want to see your teammate get hurt, but you have to make sure you are prepared for it. So I feel like all during the week, my coach has made me work harder or stay later at practice or make sure I was in early before meetings to meet on certain things, so I feel like we should be okay.

Talk about how it feels to win the AFC North?
It is huge to win the North and actually have a home playoff game. The fact that we can play at home is just huge.

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