Opening Comments: ML: "After going through the tape this morning and looking at the three phases, I thought the number one factor was our failure to score points offensively. We did some good things moving the football, but we didn't score points. We had three fumbles, two on offense and one in the kicking game, and two more fumbles on offense that we recovered. So again, those things really hurt us. They took points away, they took opportunities away. It's difficult to win games when you put the ball on the ground like that.
"We also had penalties that hurt us on offense. One took away a first down, and then we get a sack and a fumble after that. Those were things that we have to get cleaned up, and not allow that to derail us at any point. Defensively, we didn't play as well up front as we've been playing. I thought we just had to play a little bit more poised and stay at it – and stay at it, and stay at it and stay at it. We didn't play that badly, but we didn't play well enough to win.
"So there are no excuses that way, and we allowed a touchdown drive with 2:12 left. They got the ball and went 80 yards. So really two drives. One at the end of the second quarter, and then one at the end of the game. Those things were big things, missed opportunities to stop people by making plays.
"In the kicking game, I thought we had four critical errors. Obviously the fumble (by KR Andre Caldwell), the missed field goal, a high snap on a punt when we had a chance to pin them down, and then the penalty on a punt return that took away big field position.
"So those things, when you put them all into one, you're in a very close football game and it keeps us from winning. We've got to learn from it, we've got to improve in every area and get better.
"On the health front, I suspect we'll probably come out of the game just like we went into it. We have a chance to have some of the guys back who have been missing time with injuries, but we'll know more later in the week."
Q: Cedric Benson was limited in Pittsburgh and didn't play against Oakland. Is it safe to say that having him running the ball in the red zone is a key for this offense?ML: "We really got the ball down inside the 10-yard line a few times running the football. We had some good runs in the red zone yesterday, so I don't think that played a part. I thought Bernard (Scott) did a great job, and I thought Brian (Leonard) did a great job, with carries in the red zone. And our quarterback scored a touchdown in the red zone. So I thought those things were good. When they had people covered, he (QB Carson Palmer) tucked the ball and ran it. So I don't think that was an issue."
Q: That was the first game where sacks were hard to come by for this defense:ML: "We hit him some, he threw an interception, and he threw a couple of balls out of the stadium. So we had some pressure. But we needed to be better. He did a good job of getting rid of the football. He wasn't going to take a sack. He threw the ball out of bounds three times, at least. He threw a ball right down the middle of the field a couple of times and we didn't intercept it, and one we got. We did not sack him, but we had pressure at times. We've just got to do a better job."
Q: As far as your offensive line, this seemed to be the first time that Carson Palmer was under pressure for most of the day:ML: "Yes, but it wasn't necessarily the offensive line's issues. It goes around. The quarterback's got to do some things a little better, the line had things they could do better, and the backs can do better, too. There's 11 guys that play on offense. If your quarterback gets touched, a lot of times it's not the offensive line. But all three areas of the offensive group had errors in protection time, so we've got to do a better job."
Q: Did you pre-plan who the kickoff returners would be throughout the game, or is it something you just played by feel?ML: "I wanted Bernard (Scott) to take the first one, and that's the only one we really should have to take (smiles). But in Bernard's case, it also depends on how many snaps you're having on offense."
Q: Were you pleased with the heavy work load your running backs were able to take yesterday, with the absence of Cedric Benson?ML: "I was pleased with Bernard (Scott), and with Brian (Leonard) as well. Depending on Ced's (Cedric Benson's) health. we'll see how it is, and how much Larry (Johnson) is involved this week. Larry got only two snaps yesterday because of how the game went, and if indeed we get a similar situation this week, I suspect we'll feel more comfortable with him in doing more things. I would expect he'll get an opportunity to play more if Ced is down. Bernard did a good job. Obviously Bernard is adjusting to a difference in his opportunities, and so he'll be much better at it this coming week than he was last week."
Q: Do you think your wide receivers won enough of their battles against Oakland's Cover 1 defense?ML: "They really weren't bringing their safeties as much, it's just guys jumping up and getting to the line of scrimmage, and getting on their guys and pressure rushing. They had the one safety that got the one pressure on Carson. But we had our shots, and we did some good things, but we didn't win the football game."