STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Awesome day. I'll start by wishing my oldest child a happy birthday, my oldest son is 18 today. Just as a parent that's a wild thing but on to business, good team effort. It was going to be required, I liked the no blink and supportive approach of the team in all three phases. We all had our moments where we didn't get it done but we all had moments where we uplifted the other phases and that is what team is. We did what we had to do tonight to get it done, guys made plays. I think about the young guys that had positive contributions like Jaylen [Samuels], guys like James Washington, can't say enough about their contributions. Bumps and bruises associated with play, we had a number of guys go down in the game but were able to come back into the game. I think Bud [Dupree] was the only guy that didn't finish, and I think that could be characterized as a bone bruise, but I will give you more information as we get it. Tonight, we are just appreciative of the efforts and thankful to get the win. We will assess it and get ready to move on to the next challenge that this journey presents us.
Does this feel bigger than a average regular season win?
It felt big because of our present circumstances. We like to believe that we are the common denominator in all stories involving us and it was less about the opponent and more about particularly how we have played of late, in terms of having an opportunity to finish games. So, I think the significant element is not about who we play, it's about us overcoming the things that have been issues for us in recent weeks, particularly we were able to end the game with the defense on the field and that's significant.
Re: how does the win prepare you for the Saints
We are not worried about that. We really just are assessing what happened here today, we'll get ready to move on to the Saints tomorrow. We are appreciative of the efforts that allowed us to get the necessary win today.
Re: keeping faith in all three elements of the game
You have to. That's just the nature of this thing. It's easy to display faith and talk that commodity stuff when things are going well. Sometimes you got to cut your eye lids off when you want to blink when it gets thick and we talk openly about that. We try to display it and live it and you only get to do that in these types of moments, so you want to embrace those challenges.
Did you expect to hold the Patriot offense to 10 points?
Again, it's about us and about how we perform and what it is that we do. We take that approach, that ownership approach, that way we are not wishing and hoping. So, we played better today, so the result was better today but with all due respect the quality of the opponent, we acknowledge that, but we play good quality opponents every week. There are no home comings in the National Football League. If you are not playing A ball, anybody that you can play can whack you, that's just how it goes.
Re: Joe Haden's interception
Joe is a special guy. He just really is, he's got special talents but his approach to it day in and day out, he's a compass of steady and influence for a young secondary or particularly young corner back position those around him, we ask him to do a lot of things beyond a, b, and c, and he does it all with a smile. We are glad he's a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Is Joe Haden a steady influence for your young defensive backs?
Without question, but Morgan Burnett also. We are a team that primarily builds our team through the draft and we supplement with free agency. Those are two guys that we acquired through free agency that are good components of a group and they provide leadership and they do the things that Steelers do so we don't take that for granted.
Re: penalties being the difference of today's win
We realize that we might not be able to sack them five, six, seven sacks or whatever the things that define the good rush games because they are good, and he is good both physically and schematically, so we talk openly about pressure and winning those moments and creating plays in those moments. The sack total wouldn't necessarily reflect the effectiveness of the group, so the numbers probably aren't what we would define as a dominate rush performance, but we had those moments and those moments were big, those moments created the rush that allowed Joe [Haden] to make the interception you spoke of so together rush and coverage we eat.
What allowed you to keep Rob Gronkowski in check during the game?
We mixed a variety of people on him and concepts on him, but he had his moments. There was a possession down in that red zone before Joe's [Haden] interception that he converted, and I think we had two people assigned to him. He's a special guy but so is 12 [Tom Brady], and they are a special tandem.
What went through your mind when sending Chris Boswell out for the second field goal and was it an immediate decision?
I made that decision when I walked in the stadium with him that he was our kicker and I wasn't going to play that second-guessing game today. We evaluated that process in a very thorough manner. Prior going into the stadium we had a great deal of comfort with the route that we chose to take. We describe that route to you guys intimately and so I wasn't going to get into the stadium and do that. He's our kicker from start to finish and I liked the way he came back and banged that next opportunity and that is what this thing is about. This thing meaning the game of football at this level. You are going to be tested, we are going to be tested, sometimes you are going to fail but you better pass enough of them.
How do keep yourself calm in steady?
I have been doing this for 12 years. It's not my first rodeo, that's how but when are talking Jaylen Samuels and guys like that they were in elementary school when I started doing this so such as life.
Was it difficult to Artie Burns out of the game almost immediately as you did?
No and that play wasn't even his fault, so I think I want to be clear in saying that. That play that we gave up was not his fault. I accept responsibility that it was our fault. I was too busy arguing a sequence of events prior to that really to make sure we had proper communication in that sequence, so we essentially spotted them seven. No reservations about that, Artie [Burns] had a good weeks prep. Just really felt good about 24 [Coty Sensabaugh], and his ability to do some of the veteran things that is going to required when your jockey and playing a paced game against a group like that and so appreciate Artie's efforts, he had a good week worth. Just as we got into the game particularly when we gave a play up early I thought 24 [Coty Sensabaugh] with his veteran experience would be a little bit steadier.
STEELERS QUARTERBACK BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Re: The 20-yard catch he had to convert the third down at the end of the game
It was huge. It originally wasn't for me to get the ball, I had a little chip on the end, and then I just got out. I saw Ben [Roethlisberger] roll out and just tried to make a play. I saw the dude who was covering me press up on me hard, so I beat him deep. Ben found me, made a great throw, I made a great catch and just tried to stay inbounds to keep that clock running. It was a big play in the game.
You were cognizant to stay inbounds to keep the clock running?
Yeah definitely. I was just trying to let the clock run and stay inbounds. I didn't want to go out of bounds and stop the clock,\ and give them any extra time because you know who is on the other side of the ball. I just tried to waste as much time as I could.
What was working for you today?
The run game, the run game was definitely working. It didn't work too well last week, so we just had to bounce back. We had a good week of practice and preparation. I just got back there and stayed relaxed. Once I saw a hole, I just tried to burst through it and make a play.
What's the name of that 'counter-toss' play?
I don't know if I can give you the exact play call. It's like a little pitch-play basically. I can read the whole front and take it any way I want based off how the lineman block it and what kind of front the defense is in. I just tried to find a crease and make a play – make somebody miss and get north as many yards as I can.
Re: Staying relaxed in a big game
I knew it was a big game. It was a redemption game from last year. I knew how big this game was for us and our organization. I just wanted to go out there and give them my all. Didn't want to have any letdowns with James [Connor] being out. With me and Stevan Ridley rotating and stuff, I just gave it my all every time I was in there.
Did you know coming into this game that you were going to be a key factor?
Yeah definitely. I felt fine. Last week I had a start – the first start of my career. This week I knew I was starting again against another great matchup. I just had to key in to the little things this week, be more prepared. I'm just glad we came out with a victory.
Have you had that kind of workload before?
No, I never rushed for 100 yards on the ground.
How about 19 carries?
No, I never had that.
Not even in high school?
No, not in high school.
Re: Looking more relaxed today
We were just going out there and executing whatever Randy [Fichtner] called. Whatever he called we'd go out there and execute. Of course, the main goal was to score touchdowns, but it didn't happen too much. We did what we had to do. At the end of the game we took a lot of time off the clock. Unfortunately, we didn't score like we wanted to, to put the game away. Bos [Chris Boswell] hit the field goal, so we were happy to see that.
What was the key to extending the running game to the perimeter?
It was just getting on the blocks, reading the blocks and setting them up as well. That's the main thing I'm trying to work on in my game as a runner – transitioning to a true runner. That's what I was doing and was able to make some pretty impressive runs.
Re: How he felt after having 19 carries for the first time
I never had 19 carries. I feel good. It was a heck of a workload, but that's what comes with playing running back in the National Football League. It was a good test tonight against a great team. I'm just happy to come out with the victory.
What position did you play in high school?
I played everything. I played mostly receiver. I was in the slot. They put me at wildcat quarterback – running back. I came in [to college] and played true receiver. Then I played safety my sophomore year. Then I went back to the offensive side of the ball for my junior and senior year. They just always tried to find a way to get me the ball. That's just how it was going into college. That's why I got recruited by NC State, because of the way they made their offense and how they got guys certain balls.
Did anyone say anything to you before giving you the ball on the last drive?
They were just saying, 'Protect the ball.' That's the main thing I was thinking about, just protecting the ball. I was just staying relaxed, because I didn't want to be too tensed up to protect the ball and not hit the hole to get a first down. I was just trying to be relaxed, do what I do and do what I've been doing all game. We just kept fighting to the end. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game all the way to 0:00 on the clock.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
LB T.J. Watt
What was it like on the timeout before the last play in the huddle?
I was on an emotional high and I can't even repeat half of the stuff that happened. I blacked out and just went to work.
How would you describe Joe Haden's interception?
Joe Haden's the man. He's the man, he practices so hard. I'm so happy for Joe. That's all we have been talking about on the defensive end; just really finishing plays. We feel like we've been close so many times and to be able to come up with some picks was awesome.
What was the key to slowing down Rob Gronkowski today?
Trying to make Tom Brady feel uncomfortable in the pocket. Gronk a lot of times trips and gets out late. So, he can't be a target if you get to him because he's getting out later. He was staying in a good amount and blocking. He's a good overall player, we just had him on lock today.
How good does it feel to shut down Brady and Gronk?
Feels great, I think it's a confidence booster moving forward, and I think we need to build off this performance.
S Morgan Burnett
Re: Stopping Brady today:
He's a great quarterback. You all know that. You see it in the way he's been consistent throughout his time in the League. He's the type of guy you can't think the game is over with. You've seen him time and time again, him make comebacks and good plays.
Re: PBU on the last play:
It's just a situation. You knew what was going to happen at that point of the game. No timeouts, fourth down, you knew they were going to take a shot towards the goal posts. At that point you just are thinking get the ball on the ground. If you don't catch it; just get it on the ground so they don't catch it in the end zone.
What is it like for you to be in and out of the lineup, on a new team trying to put a season together?
It's tough, because anytime as a competitor you want to be on the field and help. Even on the practice field you want to be out there to help and work on your craft anyway possible. But it comes with the business. Just keep pushing and focusing and get better.
CB Joe Haden
Re: Cam Heyward said that if you don't get that picture of that pick framed he's going to do it for you.
Oh man. Definitely. I don't doubt it; my wife might have it framed as we speak.
Re: Talk about that pick:
We were just trying to figure out a way to get turnovers. We've been letting the team down a little bit in the fourth quarter. Having leads and things like that. So, we've been talking about turnovers. I feel like being able to get that one was big for us.
Was that the turning point of the game?
I do a little bit. I'm glad I was able to make the play for the team. I saw the ball in the air and just picked it off.
Re: Importance of turnovers:
We've been trying to get after it. We've been dropping ones that have been hitting us in the face. So, we didn't have to over stress it. We just had to make sure we played technical sound ball and when the balls came to us make sure we catch them.
What did it mean to get stops in the fourth quarter against this team?
It's big, really big. We are just always trying to build towards something. Having that three-game losing streak we're we weren't really stopping anything in the second half of games. We really talked about that and trying to make it right before the playoffs.