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Pittsburgh Steelers Postgame Quotes 9/18

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and select players comment on their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, September 18, 2022.


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

Opening Statement: Really one of those really tight ball games that's going to come down to a few things, and we knew that going in. That's why you put the weight on the weighty downs or the situational moments. They made more splash plays in that circumstance than we did.

I thought they won the field position game and special teams. They got a couple kickoff returns from a field positioning standpoint. Obviously, when we didn't handle the punt, that was a significant play. The two-minute go ball was a significant play, and sometimes when you're in games like this, that's the difference. It felt like it was today.

Obviously, there was some good. There was some bad outside of those things, but I thought those were the critical weighty things, where they were able to control the game, particularly kind of in the fourth quarter as we were trying to regain control of it.

I just thought they got propped up by those plays, and we didn't do what was required. We didn't make the significant chunks or move the ball well enough on offense, and obviously at the end we didn't get the necessary stop on defense.

It's painful, but it is. It's important that we zero our focus in on this short week. That's what we were just talking about in there. Obviously, there's some things to learn from this performance, but we'd better learn quickly and shift our focus because we've got a road division game here in a short period of time.

Don't have a lot of information regarding injuries. I know Devin Bush wasn't able to finish the game. He's got a foot that's being evaluated. Other than that, I don't have a lot of information. 

You talked about the good and the bad. Can you comment on what you thought was good?

MT: We had our moments. We won some possession downs on offense. We won some possession downs on defense. But again, I just -- those seven points in the two-minute circumstance and then the ability to put seven points on the board after we didn't handle the punt were the significant components to the game.

As far as deep throws, throws over the middle, is that just quarterback decisions?

MT: They're a group that really specializes in minimizing big plays, splash plays defensively. That's been their calling card. [Devin] McCourty's been back there in the middle of the field for a long time. So, we knew the game would be challenging from that perspective.

When you got the ball late against Cincinnati in overtime, you were able to get that long drive. You had the same circumstance and weren't able to. What were you seeing that you came up short in that two-minute drill this time?

MT: They made plays. New England did. They made plays.

What do you think of Mitch's performance in general?

MT: I have to look at the tape in terms of an evaluation standpoint, but obviously we collectively didn't make enough plays today, he included.

Do you think Mitch [Trubisky] had a slow start again, maybe a little slower?

MT: I hadn't analyzed it in that way. I look at it collectively.

How do you evaluate the pass rush without T.J. [Watt]?

MT: I thought New England would do a good job of minimizing that component of our game by running the football, by rhythm throws, things of that nature. So, I didn't necessarily go into this game thinking it was going to be a seven-sack type game. It just wasn't going to unfold that way. Their style of play wasn't going to allow that to happen.

You're thinking behind the big front you used, instead of two OLBs much of the time, you used Cam [Heyward] outside and [DeMarvin] Leal outside?

MT: They were going to run the ball. We were down an outside linebacker or two, so we just felt that was the appropriate approach to take for multiple reasons.

How do you accept play of the offensive line today?

MT: Again, we didn't make enough plays. I haven't combed through it from an individual perspective or from a group, within the group perspective. I just acknowledged New England made some significant plays. In a game like that, it's going to come down to a couple of plays, and we didn't make enough of them.

How do you feel about -- it seemed like there was a lot of wide-open plays that were left on the table? How do you feel about that?

MT: I don't know that I have that perspective, so I don't have a comment.

Did you expect that George Pickens would be a little more involved in the offense to this stage?

MT: I don't know that I had expectations about what that would look like. I think in the early portions of the year, man, you're establishing roles, and what happens in the stadium is more important than maybe what your intentions are. Intentions are just that. The reality of how we perform, how we divide the labor up, and how we distribute the ball and who makes the plays is what's important in the stadium.

Last week you said you were a little conservative because of the game situation, you got the lead and whatnot. Did you come in thinking you wanted to be a little less conservative or attack a little more?

MT: I don't know that we had that perspective. We just wanted to win possession downs. I was really up front about that at the outset of the week. We knew it would be a possession down game, and we won some of those, but not enough splash, particularly in the weighty moments.

When you have a short week, how is just your initial evaluation of the team health-wise going into Thursday night's game?

MT: Again, I don't have a lot of information, like I mentioned at the opening.

On the go ball to [Nelson] Agholor, is there much more [Ahkello] Witherspoon can do there?

MT: Yeah, play the ball above eye level. He's a big guy. Got to play the ball above eye level.


Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 18, 2022

What needs to happen with more down the field passing and over the middle passing with this offense?

Call concepts to get receivers there. When the coverage dictates that, get them the ball within that. I saw a lot of post high, backers sitting in the middle, safety in the middle of the field. We like our outside matchups. We've got really good receivers. We've got really good talent across the board. We'd like to attack all areas of the field and get the ball to our playmakers. So, we could do a little bit better at everything for sure.

Did you see a lot of single high today?


Follow-up: What are your options when you see that?

If it's man, best matchups. If it's zone, find the holes. That comes down to timing and being in the right place at the right time. They did a good job mixing it up. They don't only play one high. They play a bunch of coverages. We can be better at everything. I can be better at decision-making. We had some missed opportunities. I had some missed throws. We had a couple where we weren't on the same page. Bottom line, we've got to score more points. So, our emphasis was to be better on third down this week. I think we were a little better at that, in the first half at least. In the fourth quarter, we've got to convert those to be able to stay on the field and give ourselves a chance. It just felt like missed opportunities by me and the offense. There's a lot we can get better at. So, we've got to look at that and flush it really quick because we've got another game on Thursday. It's going to come around fast. We've got to move on to the next one and make sure we're getting better.

Do you think the offense got more in sync in that last drive in the third quarter when you guys were going tempo? Is that something that would help, to go to that earlier? Is there a possibility to go to that earlier?

There are mixed philosophies in that. I think we were just having a lot of positive plays on that drive, and we mixed in some tempo, and it seemed to be working. If that's something we want to continue to mix in, I think we can look at that. But as we go, we just continue to find this identity. We're still young. We're still meshing as a unit, and that was a good drive. We had some positive plays. So, if that's something we want to look at to continue to do more, maybe we'll do that. But we've just got to continue to find our identity. Everybody needs to lean in, come together and really, I just need to play better to give us a better chance at the end.

Since you alluded to this, you said at least in the first half, the third downs were better than last week. In the second half on third downs, was it more about what you guys just weren't executing, or had they made some adjustments at halftime that threw you off?

I would have to go back to watch the film to give you a better answer for that. It felt like they, in the second half, outexecuted us on third down. Except for that one drive where we scored in the fourth quarter, it wasn't good enough.

Two sacks in the first half, what can you attribute those to?

Those were on me. I think one of them was on naked. I was trying to make a scramble play out of it. Down in the red zone, we had time. I should have got it out. I thought the O-line protected really well today, great communication. Those two sacks were on me.

On the tipped pick, did you just attribute that to the guy diving?

It was a good play. I got Cover 2 in there. I tried to force one in there. I probably should have just moved on progression or check it down. Good play by that guy. I thought I could get in behind him and forced a throw. I should not have done that.

Last third down to Najee [Harris] ended up on the left side short of the sticks, is that what that play was designed to do?

Take us through. I tried to give him a chance. It was slightly underthrown, and he did a good job going up and trying to make a play on it. I'd like to lead him downfield a little bit more and hit him on the run. I tried to buy some time. I was probably fading a little too much in the pocket to my right to buy him some time. I could have just got it out a little sooner and threw it downfield so he could make a play on it. So that one was on me.

Another one, you threw it to the left side to [Najee Harris] short of the sticks. Is there just nothing downfield for you on that play? What do you remember about that?

Yeah, we're going to have to look at that one. If I'm thinking of the same play, they had Cover 0 on. That was my hot throw. The corner did a good job having eyes. He came off on it and made the tackle. We've just got to have better answers when they show us that type of look.

Is it tough sometimes to be patient when you see they just throw one down the field and get a play? Is it hard to stick to the plan based on the defense with a lot of Cover 3s?

You have to stick to the plan. Everybody's got an idea of what the offense should or could be, but we've got to come together as a collective unit. Everyone's got to keep buying in. There's going to be good plays, there's going to be bad plays, but we're a young offense, and we're still growing in this thing together.

The best thing you can do at this time is continue to buy into the plan. Whatever it is, do your job to the best of your ability. When you go back and look at the film, you see what works, you see what doesn't. You do more of the stuff that works, and then maybe you drop some of the other stuff.

I think that's how you grow as an offense, but when everybody is saying "Call this play, call that play," it makes it tough just for everybody to do their jobs. I think everybody just needs to worry about their job, and we'll just keep growing and going in the right direction together. That's my take on it.

Follow-up: Has there been suggestions like that?

Everyone's got suggestions. You guys have got suggestions. Everyone.

From inside the huddle, do people say hey --

Oh, yeah. Everybody wants the ball in their hands. I want the ball in my hands. We've got a bunch of talent, and we've just got to figure out what works best for us going forward. I think today you look more at the missed opportunities than what we didn't do, I guess. So, we had enough opportunities out there. We just didn't make the plays on a few, especially in the second half. They out executed us. So, we've got to look at the film and see where we can get better at. Me specifically, I look at myself, and what can I get better at? I feel like if I played better, we would have been in a better situation at the end there.

I apologize if somebody asked you, but was Pat [Freiermuth] the first read on the touchdown?

I have a bunch of reads I could look at. I wanted that play down there, and they gave us a good coverage for it. It worked out. We've got to get down there more often and got to get our playmakers the ball.

Is involving [George] Pickens one of those situations you're talking about that might be best to get more involved?

We've got a lot of talent. But definitely get George more involved. We've just got to get on the same page. I think there was one where I threw out of bounds. He was going one way and I thought he was going another way. We've got to get George involved. He's super talented. When everybody gets their touches and we're moving the ball down the field, that's when it feels good. When you miss opportunities, that's when you have a feeling like this, and you just don't want to feel that again. We've got to get corrections. Everybody's got to pull together and get better this week and be ready for a quick turnaround.

For the most part, was the ball going where it was designed to go or where you thought it should go based on the coverage and the way the play was unfolding?

I mean, there's a bunch of plays in the game. I felt like I was doing my job out there getting the playmakers the ball when they needed to get to it. Sometimes it's where I want the ball to go based on matchup, if it's man or zone. And then based on the call, just doing your job and getting the guy the ball at the right time. I think it's too broad of a question to really give you a better answer.

Do you feel like you've got the freedom to put it where you want it?

Yeah, there's definitely freedom based on what the defense does and where I want to go with the football. It's not based on what the call is or the concept or what our guy is running. I'm not just going wherever I want with the ball. Based on what they give us, there's the best option within each play to tell you where to go with your eyes and where to go with the ball.

If guys are making suggestions or getting frustrated, how do you handle that with your role?

I've got to tell the guys to buy in, be patient and just focus on your job. That's what you've got to do as a leader, just got to keep guys on track. If everybody just does their job, we'll be a lot better as an offense.

At one point it sounded like there was a noticeable chant for Kenny [Pickett]. Is that difficult to block it out?

It is what it is. You just block it out and continue to play football.

S Minkah Fitzpatrick

What was it like without [T.J.] Watt?

I don't think we had a sack today. T.J. is a great player for us. He's obviously one of the best rushing up the edge, and he's a good player. But we have the next-man-up mentality, but obviously we miss him out there.

Were there any times that you felt like there were some missed communication breakdowns with you guys in the secondary?

No. I think we were good, there was no miscommunication that I know of. They made a lot of great plays, they get paid as well. I think we were sticking in great position, for the most part. They just made plays on the ball and we didn't.

It must be kind of challenging, you guys going through this week and now you have to turn right back around and go on the road.

We just go out there, we have to put this one behind us. We have to learn from it. And we have to focus on the next opponent, which is the Cleveland Browns, so I'm going to focus on the Cleveland Browns.

DT Cam Heyward

Seven sacks last week, but why couldn't you guys get any pressure this week?

Because we didn't stop the run enough. We didn't put them in enough situations where they had to throw the ball. Attention to detail things. A couple times [Mac] Jones got out, but it came down to if we were ever going to get to the passer, get after their O-line, we had to stop the run first.

Why was that long handoff so effective for them today? It seemed to stretch you guys out.

Not sure. We knew they were a stretch team, a toss team. They tend to go for those long edges, C and D gaps, and we have to set the edge. When it gets out there, everyone just has to be accounted for their gaps, and at the end, they went to the open side and pulling guys. If you don't have enough guys in the box, and get guys overtop, it's going to work.

Was it a gut punch to run out the final six and a half minutes with how well they ran the ball?

We traded back and forth. We didn't get off the field the last time, it's just the way the game went.

WR Gunner Olszewski

Have you figured out why you guys can't find rhythm on offense?

Can't hurt them. First four weeks of the season we're still trying to figure out who we are. I wanted us to get in rhythm, but I think we're going to come in tomorrow and kind of figure it out with that short week, go to Cleveland on Thursday and get it going.

How frustrating are these slow starts for you guys?

Very frustrating. When you leave your defense out to dry like that, it doesn't help when you turn it over on special teams and that's on me. It's very frustrating. When you lose, it's tough when you have to learn while you're losing. It's alright to learn while you're winning. It's always more fun doing that, but to learn while you're losing hurts a little bit more.

Can you guys put things together in such a short time here?

Absolutely. We're professional football players and that's what we get paid to do and I think we'll get it done.

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