Press Conference

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Conference Call With Titans Media

(On how tough the past month has been)

Well, we’ve just been taking it one at a time and haven’t really focused on the stretch per se. We’ve had some tough games, we’ve taken it one week at a time, we’ve had some tall orders but we have a tall challenge in front of us this week in the form of the Titans so they have our full, undivided attention preparing for that game so we can be at our best. These guys sit at the pole position in the AFC right now so it’s a good measuring stick for us in terms of where we really are.

(On if he thinks they have flown under the radar)

I don’t know that. Of course, here in western PA where we are we have great followers and what’s going on with us is big news here with our fans. So that’s kind of the world we live in, not really aware of the national scope of things.

(On if this is a good time to catch the Titans without Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch)

You know, we have no control over when we play people. The schedule is the schedule. So we’re playing them this week.

(On how much it will affect the defense without Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch)

I think they’re better equipped to answer that question than we are. We respect those guys. Some of the guys that they’re without are great players but they have some great players that will be playing. We respect Jevon Kearse and Tony Brown and Keith Bulluck and those guys that play in their secondary and so forth. They have a great defense and they’re a great defense because they have a bunch of great players.

(On having injuries and whether you plug in guys to the same scheme or try and tinker with it with new personnel)

For us, we’ve had to play some this year without some of our guys, offensively and defensively. We do what we deem necessary to win that particular week based on the matchup and I’m sure they intend to do the same.

(On if they won’t have to worry about double-teaming players filling in for Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch)

Well, all big guys in the interior defenses get double teamed. That’s just the reality of today’s NFL. Whoever’s playing in place of Haynesworth is going to get double teamed some, that’s the nature of it. I’m not trying to lessen the impact of what that guy is. He’s a Pro Bowl player. But by no means am I going to be disrespectful to the guy suiting up and playing for him this weekend. I know that their expectations in terms of level of play won’t change.

(On if he’s looking forward to seeing how Cortland Finnegan will handle Hines Ward)

I tell you, this guy is playing great ball for them. He’s got the knack for delivering big plays. He’s playing with a bunch of confidence. He’s going to be a big-time challenge for whoever he’s covering, whether it’s Hines, or Santonio [Holmes] or Nate Washington, this guy has a nice body of work and is definitely deserving of that Pro Bowl honor.

(On if teams are looking at the ’05 Steelers and ’07 Giants and thinking it’s possible win a championship without home-field advantage or a first round bye)

No, the reality is that the 12 teams that will be in the playoffs are all capable, good football teams that are capable of winning. You like to be able to do it at home in front of your fans. I think that’s one of the things that’s most exciting about trying to secure home-field advantage. You want that for your fans, you want to be able to perform in front of them. But ultimately a ticket in the tournament is a ticket in the tournament and anyone is capable of winning it.

(On if the team has bought into the philosophy of winning games with defense)

You know, we’re just trying to win games by any means necessary. We won games defensively, we won games with solid special teams play and we won games with timely offensive play. Whatever it takes for us to win.

(On the key to timely offensive play and if he’s been surprised at the team’s ability to rally when necessary)

I think it’s just guys that want to deliver for their teammates. I know that we have a bunch of those kind of guys, of course, led by our quarterback who lives by those moments. I think that’s something that kind of makes them who they are, it definitely makes Ben [Roethlisberger] who he is. Some people relish those moments, other people don’t. He’s one that does.

(On how they’ll defend against Chris Johnson and LenDale White)

Oh man, those guys are spectacular. A one-two punch, 1,900 yards, 22 touchdowns, I think Johnson’s going to the Pro Bowl. New week, new challenges for us. We’ve had some success against some runners and some run combinations but these guys seem like a big time challenge as we sit here today. That’s why they have our attention as we prepare for this weekend.

(On if they embrace their stoutness against the rush)

You know, the thing for us is we don’t take anything for granted. We just respect in this process. We realize how dangerous and capable those men are. Us being able to contain them somewhat is going to be central to us maybe having success in this football game. We respect that element of it and we have some work to do.

(On if this is the best defense he’s been around and what it means for people to compare it to the Steel Curtain)

You know, I think we’ll continue to write that story. Greatness is a word that I think gets thrown around too much. Truth be known, great defenses make their mark in January football. Right now we’re a work in progress, we’re good, we’ve done some nice things, but we realize when you start talking about historical perspective and things of that nature that December is too soon to have those discussions.

(On his words of wisdom to someone trying to decide between James Harrison and Troy Polamalu as defensive player of the year)

They both have good arguments. Of course, James has been the catalyst for a lot of things that have gone on around here and made a bunch of splash plays. Troy the same, leading the league I think in interceptions. You can’t go wrong with either one of those guys.

(On if he hates the idea that one of them may not win because they’ll split the vote)

Well, we’re not concerned about that, truth be known. We have no control over that. We continue to try and focus on the things that we can control and that’s our collective performance and our readiness for football games.

(On if he sees similarities in the style of play between Cortland Finnegan and Hines Ward)

I don’t know Finnegan that well to say that. I know that he’s made a bunch of plays, he’s playing with a bunch of confidence, that’s evident from watching him on tape. But in terms of his football personality and what makes him tick I’m not that familiar with him.

(On if he had hoped to split carries with Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall this year)

Ideally, you like to envision the kind of success that those guys in Tennessee are having with the one-two combination but that never really materialized for us due to a lot of reasons. But I have a great deal of respect for how they’re doing it down there and ideally you’d like to envision trying to put something on the table like that.

(On if more teams will try to go to a two-back system to keep them fresh)

I think that has been the case here in recent years in the league, I don’t think it’s anything new. I think that’s why Tennessee went out and got that young man. Jacksonville has been doing it for several years down there with [Maurice] Jones-Drew and [Fred] Taylor. I just think that’s a sign of where the NFL is right now.

(On if he would be welcome to the idea of an 11-3 record playing for home-field advantage at the beginning of the year)

You know, preferably I would have taken 14-0. But 11-3 is what we are so that kind of says it all.

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