STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 9, 2019
MT: Man, no need to sugar coat it. We weren’t ready for prime time tonight. All of us, not a good enough plan, not a good enough execution of that plan. You got to tip your cap to those guys, they had a good plan. They executed their plan. You know, they kind of made the significant plays, even with all of the things that I said. We had bang-bang plays on both sides of the ball seems like and it seems like they made them and we didn’t. So, we accept responsibility for that. That’s the nature of this thing. It’s humbling, it sucks. But that’s the National Football League. It won’t define us, if we don’t let it. And that’s what we talked about in there. Part of that is just acknowledging what I said when I opened. We weren’t ready for prime time tonight. So we got to get back to the drawing board. We won’t go undefeated, we are zero and one. Questions.
But before I get into that, I do have a couple injuries, my bad. [Maurkice] Pouncey had an ankle that’s being evaluated. Joe Haden had a shoulder, but he was able to go back into the game. T.J. Watt’s got a hip. JuJu [Smith-Schuster] hurt his toe, being evaluated. Bumps and bruises like things, we will get those evaluated and I’ll have more information for you on Tuesday. Questions.
Q: Mike, do you get a sense for why you aren’t ready for prime time?
MT: It doesn’t matter. We can seek comfort, we can rationalize it, but the bottom line is, we didn’t do the things we needed to do tonight or the things that we desired to do tonight. And so, forget the opponent. You know, a lot of times, when you stepping out and playing for the first time, it’s about what you do, it’s about what you choose to do. The quality in which you do it. We didn’t get enough of those things done to be competitive.
Q: Mike, how much is it about the opponent? The fact that the Patriots came out and executed everything they wanted to execute and had success.
MT: I mean, you can make it about that, but again, I look at our football team and particularly the early stages and what we did or did not do. And so, you know, I also stated that you have got to acknowledge that those guys did a heck of a job.
Q: Mike, how disappointing? I think you had four 3rd-and 1’s or 4th-and-1’s and didn’t convert any of them.
MT: You know, when you are in a type of environment like that, with the crowd noise and so forth, and you don’t have the use of a cadence, some of those things, are more challenging. Obviously we still have to covert more than what we did.
Q: Mike, 4th-and-1 in the third quarter, down 20 to nothing, you kick a field goal. Why that?
MT: We wanted a little positivity, we didn’t have enough positivity to that point. We wanted to get points, you know, to get things going. I think that all got nullified by the big play we gave up on the subsequent drive.
Q: Mike, why not use Rosey [Roosevelt Nix] in those short-yardage situations?
MT: Again, I’m not getting into the minutiae of the decisions that we make, but I talked about environmentally why it’s difficult. Even stating that, we shouldn’t converted more than we did and I will leave my answers along those lines in regards to the details of what transpired.
Q: What’s your reaction to the Patriots getting Antonio Brown?
MT: I have none. He didn’t play for them tonight, he wasn’t going to play for them tonight, he wasn’t going to play for anyone this weekend. So, didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or dwelling on it.
Q: What was the problem defensively? It seemed like [Tom] Brady was able to pick apart the middle a lot…
MT: You know, they made some plays, but you know, you got to get these guys in competitive circumstances to make them play. When you don’t that, when you aren’t matching score for score, you know there is very little risk involved with the type of plays they call and execute. So, they pick their spots, if you will. You know, you’ve got to be competitive if you want to get them in an uncomfortable environment. We know that, we have played these guys enough. We didn’t do that tonight, so you know, it unfolded the way it unfolded.
Q: Mike, we talked a lot about balance not being 50/50 in the pass, but how did James Conner get taken out of the game so much?
MT: A lot of it had to do with game consequences. You know, when we don’t match, score for score, like I outlined sometimes the game circumstances of the field within the stadium becomes a factor in terms of that equation.
Q: This is the first game for your offense without Antonio Brown, are you worried about how the offense is looking without him?
MT: I’m not specifically worried about anything relative to Antonio Brown, I’m worried about the guys in the locker room. The quality of the execution and what we did or didn’t do. Antonio’s been off our team for a number of months. We moved on from that stuff in March.
Q: Patriots defense, obviously you hear about the offense, but their defense came in and looked like all three levels had improved and looked very good tonight. Anything to say about their defense?
MT: I’ll let them speak to the quality of their execution. I’m more concerned about ours. But I do tip my cap to those guys, they were solid, on all three levels like you mentioned.
Q: Do you know what happened on Phillip Dorsett’s big touchdown there?
MT: We busted it. We own it. We chew it. It sucks. We can’t have that and be varsity. We can’t have that and be competitive. But we had it tonight. And so, I said what I said. We were not ready for prime time.
QUARTERBACK BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 9, 2019
Q: Was the timing just a little bit off tonight? You took four deep shots and only connected on one.
BR: Yeah, just I didn’t connect on them. I have to go back and remember each one but I overthrew one. I know we did get James [Washington] on another one and that’s me not making the throw that I need to make.
Q: You had single coverage there –
BR: Yeah, you’re trying to find the single guy because this defense does a great job of doubling one guy, two guys, and mixing and matching it so you try and find the singles if you can.
Q: What was the biggest problem tonight with not finding a rhythm overall?
BR: Yeah, we just couldn’t convert on third downs, couldn’t get drives [going]; couldn’t sustain things. That’s partly on us and partly because of them.
Q: What’s your evaluation of the Patriots defense and why they gave you trouble tonight?
BR: Because they’re good. We know that they’re good and we know that they like to throw a lot of different looks at you and I wasn’t good enough.
Q: It’s uncharacteristic for you guys not to convert on third-and-1? Did you see anything not happening there?
BR: I’ll have to go back and look at it. For me to answer that right now would be jumping the gun on probably giving you something worthwhile. I don’t know to tell you the truth.
Q: Last time we were in this room after the 2016 AFC Championship Game, you said that some of your receivers weren’t up to the challenge and giving you what you needed. What was the problem with the passing game today?
BR: I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t giving guys balls where they needed to catch them, put them in front, behind, things like that. I wasn’t good enough.
Q: Mike Tomlin said this team wasn’t ready for primetime. Do you feel like despite your preparation that this team wasn’t ready tonight?
BR: Well I felt like our preparation was good. I felt like we had a good plan. But obviously from what you saw, we weren’t good enough.
Q: Was there any extra emotion with them having their championship ceremony tonight?
BR: No, everyone in the world knew what they were doing with the banners, whatever they were doing. But that can’t matter, we can’t let those things affect how we play.
Q: Any thoughts on Antonio Brown joining the Patriots now?
Q: The Patriots defense has been good over the years when you’ve played them. They’ve added some pieces this year, is this a better defense than you’ve seen from the Patriots in past years?
BR: I think they’ve always been good at defense. They’ve always given me some grief and they did it again today.
Q: How tough is it when Tom Brady gets on a roll and how much tougher does that make your job?
BR: Well he’s the best in the world. I’m not on the field against him but there’s a reason he’s the best and when he’s out there doing his thing – and part of it too is us not giving our defense a break. We didn’t do anything to keep them off the field and let them get some rest so that’s on us as an offense to not help them out a little bit.
Q: Donte Moncrief called this a wake-up call. How alarming was this game to you to have this type of performance?
BR: I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about myself. I need to play better, he’ll be just fine. I have all the confidence in the world in him that he’s going to be a guy for us that I can count on and I told him that. I’m not going to shy away from throwing him the ball.
Q: Do you play a role in getting past this performance with your teammates?
BR: Well as a leader and a captain and a guy that’s been around for a long time, you go on past experiences. There’s been other games, other seasons where we haven’t won the first game of the season. Truth be told, I told them that it stinks, no one wants to win more than me, so no one likes to lose a game, especially the first one. But truthfully, it’s still a long season. It’s early, it’s not the end of the season, it’s not the middle of the season, it’s the very first game so there’s a lot of football left. We have to approach the season like there’s a lot of football left.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Mark Barron, LB
(On the loss)
“I can’t tell you exactly where it got away from us, but obviously it did. I can’t say that they did [anything we hadn’t seen on film], we just got beat tonight. You have got to be mature enough to understand that it is the beginning of the season and it is a great learning experience. You learn from this. The best thing you can do in a situation like this is learn from this. It’s a long season. There is a lot to learn from. There is a lot of teaching tape. That is the positive, we have a lot to learn from.”
Devin Bush, LB
(On the team not being ready)
“It just felt like we beat ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, on third downs and long passes. I think it was more of a communication and execution thing.”
(On his first NFL game)
“It was fun to be out there for my first NFL football game, against the defending NFL champions in their home stadium. It was definitely quite an experience.”
(On what Tom Brady was doing that was so successful over the middle)
“He was getting the ball out fast. He was finding those matchups, and he was completing the ball on third down. He was getting the ball in behind the defense. He was checking in and out of running plays, play action plays and screens.”
David DeCastro, G
(On the game)
“They [Patriots] are too good of a team to not convert early. We didn’t convert and they did. We couldn’t move the ball. We had our chances, third-and-1, and didn’t convert. Give them the credit. They made the plays and we couldn’t stay on the field. It is execution. Everyone takes turns missing a play, and that’s all it takes on offense. One guy here and there and that’s all that matters. If one guy makes a play on defense you are ok. We will move on. Next week is another week.”
(On the Steelers lack of success in Foxborough)
“I don’t know [why], I wish I could give you an answer. They are a good team and they are well coached. We just didn’t execute well. You saw it. Three points, a bunch of three-and-outs, short drives, not letting our defense rest. It’s just a combination of things.”
Ramon Foster, G
(On the loss)
“Anything can happen; I’m not putting anything on anybody. It’s simple that they were just good tonight. So we just have to go back to the drawing board about what we’re going to do.”
(On the future)
“This was just one game. How many other teams that lost 14 other teams that lost today? It doesn’t make or break you; this is just an AFC loss. We’ve got to be a lot better on the road. We got to be a team that’s sharper, a team that executes throughout the game.”
(On the lack of rhythm)
“That’s what happens when your offense starts off like that. You kind of feel you hadn’t played in a sense of you’re in, you’re out. You’ve got to play catch up and we’ve got to stay on the field. We need to let our defense get more time on the sideline. That’s the sign of great teams. A great offense is keeping your defense on the sideline and we didn’t do a good job of controlling that.”
Cameron Heyward, DT
(On the mistakes)
“We will have to look at the film when we get a chance. There were a lot of mistakes and that falls on us. We had a good game plan but we didn’t execute well and when you do that versus a Super Bowl winning team that performance isn’t good enough. We didn’t put up our best effort up front today.”
(On the loss)
“We will come to work tomorrow, it is that simple. We will take it day by day, look at our mistakes, and get ready for Seattle.”
(On getting pressure on the offense)
“They had maximum protection and he [Tom Brady] got the ball out quick. There were a couple of times we were literally right there, TJ [Watt] was going for the strip and then he got it out at the last second and got the ball off. There were a lot of miscommunications and that is unacceptable. We didn’t get them off the field enough and give the ball back to our offense enough.”
(On any changes the Patriots made from last season)
No, you go into a game especially the first game where there is a lot of feeling out but for the most part, they did what they did. They converted on third downs and they got the ball to the edge. I don’t think they really ran up the middle a lot. They took the ball deep and converted. I thought their crossing routes we didn’t get our hands on them and we just didn’t have a recipe for success today.”
Mike Hilton, CB
(On the game)
“We just didn’t convert and they converted a lot of their third downs. They got some good plays on us and just kept us off balance and we really couldn’t find our rhythm. We struggled.”
(On the play of the secondary)
“We were in man to man coverage and they [Patriots] went to the man coverage beater. There were able to get a lot of plays on those crossing routes and come the second half they were able to turn those into big plays.”
(On the type of defense the Steelers played)
“We pretty much stayed in man to man coverage the whole game. You can’t really run zone against those types of guys. You have got to give credit to them they made the plays when they needed to.”
Vance McDonald, TE
(On the game)
“Obviously that’s not how we intended to come out and perform, but it is what it is. I think we will definitely rebound after this. We just have to go look at the tape. It tastes bad right now.”
(On what has to happen for him to get more involved in the offense)
“No one really got on a roll tonight. I thought Ben [Roethlisberger] really spread the ball around, but we really just didn’t get into a rhythm on offense.”
(On if he was surprised that the offense was out of rhythm)
“Yeah. Call it whatever it is, but I thought that this last week and all through training camp we have been really good. I just think it’s one of those things that we are going to look back on and realize that one of us here or there could have executed better and we could have gotten into a rhythm.”
(On how they bounce back from a loss like this)
“Just play football and keep the trust. I think that we’ve had a drama free offseason and so it’s all about trusting the guy next to you. As long as we keep that, we’ll be fine.”
Donte Moncrief, WR
(On what the problems for the offense were)
“We just weren’t on the same page tonight. We’ve got to get the timing down and get better at starting the game.”
(On how many passes he felt he should have caught)
“It’s all on us; nothing was Ben’s [Roethlisberger] fault. It was on me and the other receivers, we’ve got to make plays.”
(On how tough it was to have a debut like tonight)
“I think it was a wakeup call and something that we needed. We’ve got to start next week and get ready to go.”
Maurkice Pouncey, C
(On the game)
“We just didn’t make enough plays, offensively or defensively, we just didn’t make enough plays.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
(On the offense not getting into rhythm)
“I think we needed to make those plays. We needed to get those third-down conversions. Those catches would have been game-changers, moving the sticks and keeping the momentum going. We didn’t do that tonight.”
(On what Stephon Gilmore did to limit him)
“There were some plays where he was playing inside and he had help outside. What a great player, to have the opportunity to go against him. He played a great game, his whole team played a great game. We have to give it up to them, they deserved it. They wanted it more than us and they came out to play.”
(On failing to convert short yardage on third and fourth downs)
“Oh man that sucks, those are the ones that suck. Especially when you go for it on fourth down and you don’t get what you want. Those are the ones that killed us. But not having the momentum and the Patriots controlling the ball and time of possession. We have to make our plays when we got the ball.”