Bengals locker room quotes
Jan. 6, 2016
DBs COACH VANCE JOSEPH
Does your familiarity with the Steelers offense and the volume of passes QB Ben Roethlisberger is putting up make your group feel good about being able to generate turnovers?
"I think turnovers are important in a game like this, obviously. With Ben, he's thrown some (interceptions) in the past that have been overthrows, tipped balls. But we're not concerned about that. We are concerned about not giving up big plays, third downs, first-second down shots to number 10 (Martavis Bryant) and those things.
"That's the game. It won't come down to whether we can we force four, five turnovers. It's going to come down to not giving up big plays. And that's going to be the key to the game. Without big plays, you keep the scoring down and that's the key. If you set out to try to trap Ben or force turnovers, you may give up a big play. We just have to be rightly positioned, and when the ball goes up, we've got to be top down. That's the key."
In both games against Pittsburgh, you've done a good job of not giving up the big pass play …
"Absolutely. When you play them all the time, you're kind of used to them. When teams watch them on tape and they play them in person, it's different. We play them all the time, so we know how good they are – how good 84 (Antonio Brown) is, how good Ben is.
"Teams come in and play them once a year, they have no idea how good they are. So they come out they play certain coverages. They play really a bunch of man, a bunch of single-high stuff, and it doesn't work. We play them all the time. So it's going to be a fun matchup. The key is not to give up big plays. That's always the key versus Pittsburgh -- make them earn, make them drive, win the red-zone plays, win the third downs. Critical football is the key."
You've been high on safety Shawn Williams for a while. Can you speak about him as far as his ability and what he provides the defense on the back end?
"Shawn's a good young player. When George (Iloka) went out, Shawn filled in, and he made some plays. We didn't lose a step with Shawn. But obviously, he's played some dime back for us also, where he's close to the ball. So Shawn gives us flexibility to play with an extra DB in the game, or even play as a starting safety. Shawn's going to be a great player. He's a good player now; he's going to be a great player. He can tackle. He can run. He can catch the football. He can cover. So he's going to be fine."
That's basically what you guys were playing in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh, the three safeties, right?
"Absolutely, absolutely. And it's not really three safeties. It's our package. It's our package, and Shawn is basically a cover player. It's not different."
How is CB Leon Hall doing after missing some time versus Baltimore last week?
"I think Leon's doing fine. He's had a good year. He's been a little sore. He's played a bunch of football. He's a little sore right now, but he'll be fine. I can't imagine Leon not playing well on Saturday night."
How does having CB Adam Jones change the defense?
"The second game, he didn't play. Obviously we lost and we lost our starting corner. He's a starting corner. For most defenses, having corners that can cover, it gives you variety to close the middle and pressure without feeling panicked. Obviously, he's a playmaker. With 84 (Antonio Brown) out there, it's very similar people. Both are smaller, quicker guys, very competitive guys. So it's a good matchup with Adam and 84. It's always fun to see."
You guys don't really shadow one particular cornerback with one specific receiver …
"We don't. We don't shadow. That's here or there. When you've got one corner that can play and one that can't, that's when you shadow, in my opinion. We've got two or three who can play, so I'm not worried about shadowing. We play left and right, so we know where we're going to be."
S GEORGE ILOKA
Talk about the rivalry, and how this matchup has become more heated each year …
"Every division opponent, you feel some type of way about. Y'all have the same goals. You see each other twice a year. Anybody in any professional; for us it's football, for you it's sportscasting. Whatever it is, constantly year after year, they're fighting for the same position that you want, you naturally feel some type of way, even though you don't know them as people. I just think that's what it is; we have the same goals. So we see each other a lot at the end of the year battling for the same playoff spots, the same seeds, things like that. You're naturally going to build up animosity for each other."
Can you talk about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's ability to extend plays?
"I mean, you can say he's losing speed, but he isn't losing strength. He's still strong. He's still Big Ben. I'm preparing for him like I'm preparing for him each year. For us in the back end, we have to lock in. We might have to cover for five, six, seven seconds, if that's how long as it takes to give our D-line time to get back there and try to bring him down. He's done a good job this year of finding A.B. (Antonio Brown) and the other receivers that stepped up – No. 10 Martavis (Bryant) and Heath Miller. I think Heath is second on their team in catches. That's a stat where we have to try to do our best to limit him as well. But obviously it starts with A.B."
LB REY MAUALUGA
How do you walk the line between playing with aggression and the fury you need and not hurt the team with penalties or mistakes?
"Obviously, when you step on that field, you turn on a switch. You can't have two personalities out there. You can't be the nice guy and then be the ferocious, scary linebacker that everybody wants you to be. But at the same time, you don't want to hurt your team. You've just got to do the things that are appropriate, football appropriate, playing within the lines. When the whistle is blown, get off the pile or no pushing, no shoving and get to the next play. It's all about taking care of one another and playing football, but at the same time, playing the style of football that made you who you are."
What does it mean to have LB Vontaze Burfict back playing at his Pro Bowl level right now?
"I mean, he's the man. He's the spark of this defense. He gets things going. You see (No.) 55 running around all over the field, making plays. By his presence alone, there's a sense of being at ease, knowing that no one has anything to worry about. We know that side of the football field will be taken care of. The other side will be taken care of, whoever is out there – A.J. (Hawk), me in the middle or Vinnie (Rey). It's good having 55 back and flipping this defense around."
HB JEREMY HILL
How familiar are you with the Steelers defense after you've already played them twice this season?
"They run their stuff. We're very familiar with them. They really didn't do anything different (the second game). Really, we turned the ball over a lot in the second game. That's probably going to be the biggest difference. Last time we didn't execute."
Did they change their defensive schemes once Andy Dalton went out and AJ McCarron came in?
"They ran their stuff. They controlled the tempo of the game. Their offense controlled the time of possession. We couldn't convert on third down; they converted on third down, and we were just kind of in the hole. We were kind of in a passing mode trying to get back in the game. We kind of played into their game; so I think that would be the biggest difference."
Can the momentum of having a great rushing performance last week propel you into the playoffs?
"I mean, yeah, it's really more of an in-game type thing, more of how things played out that way. I think for me it's more keep continuing doing what I've been doing, and continuing to keep grinding, keep working and not getting flustered and not getting frustrated. That's all I can do. The big plays will happen; if they don't, you just got to keep working and keep grinding. So that's how my mentality's been all year."
Is there a big difference running behind Ryan Hewitt versus Jake Fisher?
"A little bit, but it's about the same. It's not like we're changing our whole offense for Fisher. He's re-running our stuff. He's doing a great job adjusting and doing the things that we expect him to do. So I wouldn't say there's that big of a difference."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Jan. 6, 2016
How unusual is it in the NFL to play the same opponent three times in a little over two months?
"Well, not for us. It's probably the third or fourth time it's happened since I've been here. We played Baltimore three times last year, '08, '10, so it's not the first time."
In a two-month period?
"Well you know, we got no control over the schedule. We just go where they send us."
After watching him start the last three games, what changes do you see in QB AJ McCarron since he played against your team in Week 14?
"You know, they're probably better equipped to answer that than me. Really, I just look at how they execute their offense, and what I've seen over the course of that time is that they're not changing their personality. He's doing what they did schematically when Andy (Dalton) was in there. That's a testament to him. I imagine he's very good above the neck and he's prepared well. It shows their level of comfort in his abilities in that they're still doing the things they were doing when Andy was playing."
How different is your football team at this stage compared to the last time you were in Cincinnati?
"I don't know. I haven't thought a lot about it, to be honest with you. I think we are just at that point in the journey where we're trying to do what's required to win week-to-week and whatever that entails. We're not trying to subscribe to any personality or things of that nature, or trying to define ourselves in any way. We're just trying to do enough to win games and move onto the next challenge."
The last game here was obviously pretty chippy. What are your feelings on how that unfolded?
"My thing is, we're trying to be a tough team to beat. And being a tough team to beat is one that doesn't beat themselves. Penalties don't help us in that regard. From that perspective, we've got to play cleaner."
The Bengals defensive backfield has enjoyed some relative success against Antonio Brown this season, compared to the big statistical games he's produced in other games …
"Well you're not going to get 18 catches, 160 yards every week; I don't care who you're playing. We're just going to try to move the ball to win. Sometimes that means taking what they provide. If they want to work hard to minimize him, then other guys are capable. We expect those guys to deliver. Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Health Miller had a big game the last time we played those guys. We don't care by what means the chains get moved, but they got to move."
How important is the mental ability to handle pressure during the playoffs?
"I can't speak for others, I can speak for us. We just take the same approach that we've taken at every week along this journey. We've got to get singularly focused on our preparation and focus on the things that we can control to get prepared to play, and also play well enough to win."
How valuable is it to have a quarterback who has so much playoff and Super Bowl experience?
"I don't know how to measure that. Hopefully it measures out in terms of winning. I really don't think a lot about it, to be honest with you."
Can you provide an update on the health of RB DeAngelo Williams, and how do you feel about Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint possibly having to play a larger role?
"He (Williams) is in the training room, I just talked to him today. I don't know how much he's going to be able to participate today. Obviously we'll leave the light on for him. Boy, he's been a big component of what we've been able to do thus far.
"But if we've got to go with the other guys, whether it's Fitz or J.T., we're extremely comfortable in terms of their ability to do what's required. You know we may look a little different. We may not ask them to do some of the things specifically that we asked DeAngelo to do. But we expect those guys to be capable of delivering winning football for us; just like we expected DeAngelo to provide winning football for us when he stepped in for Le'Veon (Bell). He doesn't play exactly like Le'Veon; we don't ask him to do the things specifically that we ask Le'Veon to do, but we do ask him to be his best self. From that standpoint, our approach won't change."
Your offensive line has played efficiently all season long. How big has it been to have Mike Munchak serve as your offensive line coach the last couple years?
"Mike's awesome. Mike's a football junkie and a football lover, a great communicator and teacher. He works well with those guys. They've done a nice job adjusting to some of the issues that we've dealt with. We're without a perennial Pro Bowler in Maurkice Pouncey. We've been without left tackle (Kelvin) Beachum for some time. Those guys have done a nice job of making the other guys that have stepped in feel welcome and gaining quick continuity and continuing to move forward."
Does playing a familiar opponent help you prepare during a short week?
"It's not a short week from a preparation standpoint, from a game-planning and staffing standpoint. That's just how we chose to layout our weeks. It's been no different for us to this point. We acknowledge it's going to be different as we get closer to game time, but we didn't shorten our preparation in any way."
It seems that you've had a seamless transition with defensive coordinator Keith Butler in his first year running the Steelers defense …
"You know, we're all defined in January and February ball. So we're still writing that script."
Thank you for your time, Coach …
"Save a five-way for me. I'll see you guys this weekend."
Steelers WR Antonio Brown
Jan., 6, 2016
How is your mindset any different going into this game than back in Week 13?
"It's always the same mentality. Obviously it's more a point of emphasis being a playoff game, but we need to be on the details. Cincinnati is a tough opponent with some great first-round corners. It's going to be a challenge. We have the same mentality. We'll give it our best shot all week."
Last year you played a division opponent in the playoffs. Any advantage?
"There's a little you can pick up on film from playing them before. There could be some point of emphasis that we could learn from that maybe could maximize our opportunity. We have to do our best come Saturday. We have to be up for the challenge."
Did the Bengals game plan change much from the first game to second game?
"They did some things different. Some changes in coverages. Pacman (Adam Jones) was out the second game, so it was definitely a different type of game."
The Bengals seem to play you well. How do they attack you?
"They have a bunch of first-round picks, guys who are aggressive with a lot of tenacity. They got a ball hawk in the middle of the field with (Reggie) Nelson, who takes some great angles on some deep passes and who can come down and play the run. Obviously they have a great defensive four that helps the DBs be aggressive because of the pass rush. We're up for the challenge, and it should be a tight matchup."
Do they seem more committed to not giving up the deep ball than other teams?
"I think so. I think when they play against us, they do a good job of keeping Nelson back and letting him be rangy as he is and get on passes and play areas well."
What receivers did you watch growing up?
"I watched Santana Moss, Marvin Harrison, who was one of my favorites. I watched a lot of Chad Johnson growing up. I was also watching Mike Irvin, Jerry Rice. I emulate some of those guys and loved the way they went about their business."
What'd you like about Chad's game?
"He was a big guy who could get in and out of breaks well. Not only being a deep threat, he could run an immediate route, or come back. He was quick on his break and could get down the field really well. He was a great route-runner who could do deep whenever you needed it."