Audio and video from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin post game press conference following the 2009, week 15 against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday December 20th, 2009. Transcript to follow!
Mike Tomlin: Not dead yet. The guys hung together, fought, made enough plays to win. We haven’t won in a while so it feels good. To keep it in perspective, we’ve got a little pulse here. Hopefully we can use this as momentum to get ready to play Baltimore next week, which is of course a very warm football team. Good to stay in the fight, good to win one for our fans, we’ve got the greatest fans in the world. Good to perform for them and get them something to be excited about here at Heinz Field. Today, I’m just as excited about that as I am getting that five-week monkey off our back.
Question: Talk about the onsides kick, was it something you saw?
Mike Tomlin: I’ll be very bluntly honest with you, based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn’t get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score. Plan A didn’t work, we got the ball but we were illegal, that was the correct call, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it. We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them, we also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That’s why we took the risk when we did.
Question: Was the offensive kick a hunch?
Mike Tomlin: No, we were just trying to win the football game. There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way that it’d gone, they were converting third downs. They would have moved the ball down the field on us, we wouldn’t have had necessary time to respond. I’m just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn’t work out.
Question: You’re 19-3 when the Steelers score 24 points or more, your thoughts on that?
Mike Tomlin: No, I don’t care. I don’t care about the style points, I’m just trying to win if it’s 2-3 or 36-37 or whatever it ended up today.
Question: Was Mike Wallace the go-to-guy on the last play?
Mike Tomlin: It’s not many options when you’re talking about having to put the ball in the end zone and they had very good coverage. They had two deep with Charles Woodson acting as a middle linebacker in the middle of field. That P-2 or Tampa-Two as people call it. There’s not many places to throw the football and that’s probably one of the few places that you get to do it but it’s going to take that kind of throw and that kind of catch versus that coverage. That’s why we were throwing incomplete passes on the plays prior to that because that thing is tough to penetrate. Heck of a throw, heck of a catch. Gutsy, clutch performance by a lot of people.
Question: Did that play remind you of Santonio Holmes’ catch in Super Bowl 43?
Mike Tomlin: Oh my gosh, that’s so far in our rear view, we’re just trying to stay alive.
Question: Have you talked to other NFL coaches during this losing streak to seek guidance?
Mike Tomlin: No, I like to waddle in my own misery.
Question: Talk about Ben Roethlisberger’s play.
Mike Tomlin: It was clutch. We needed that kind of performance. We’re on life support here in terms of staying in the hunt for the playoffs so, we can’t save anything. This football team is individuals and he played with that kind of spirit.
Question: Talk about the kick before the onside kick.
Mike Tomlin: We tried a deep lob like we tried earlier in the game when they attempted to fair catch it and we didn’t kick the ball far enough but we were trying to drop the ball in that dead area around the 20 to 25-yard line like we had done earlier but we didn’t get it as far, but similar to that one that landed in that dead spot earlier.
Question: Do you think the onside kick gave confidence to your defense when they had to defend a short field?
Mike Tomlin: I was just trying to win a football game. First and foremost, I wanted the ball, we hadn’t stopped them in the second half and they hadn’t stopped us, both teams were driving the football. I wanted to maintain possession of it, we weren’t able to do that. I figured if they’re working on a short field and they were to happened to score, we’d have appropriate time to drive down the field, which is kind of how the game unfolded.
Question: Can you put your finger on why the Packers had success on offense?
Mike Tomlin: Sure, they’re good, they’ve got a good quarterback. He’s got 130.0 quarterback rating on third down coming into this game, he played like that on third down in this game. He’s got a good weapon of wide-outs, the tight end’s a vertical threat, they played to their personality. We didn’t make enough plays on third down to keep them cool.
Question: If you lost today, the onside kick we be talked about all week, your thoughts on that?
Mike Tomlin: I wear that. I wear that like a badge of honor. That comes with the job. I don’t live in my fear, I just play and play to win and I don’t worry about being judged, I really don’t.
Question: What’s the status on Greg Warren?
Mike Tomlin: Not good, looks like a torn ACL.
Question: the extra point?
Mike Tomlin: On the very last play of the game, yes, unfortunately. It’s in his other leg, he had an ACL [injury] last year, it’s the other leg.
Question: Have you lost confidence in your defense’s ability to close the game out with a lead?
Mike Tomlin: No, its not about confidence, it’s about plays. I believe in these guys, they believe in each other. Sometimes games unfold in different ways. We had a tough time stopping them in the second half and you do what’s appropriate to win the football game, but it doesn’t speak to anything moving forward. We analyze this game, we put it in our rear view mirror, we prepare for Baltimore. It’s not like we’re going to play scared or lack confidence in that football game in terms of what we’re capable of doing defensively, but today, I was concerned about our ability to stop them based on what I was looking at in that stadium.
Question: Was Mike Wallace the primary receiver on that play?
Mike Tomlin: We were just trying to get the ball in the end zone to a guy. You can’t break the huddle saying that you’re going to throw the ball on that weak side versus that cover two, but again, under those circumstances there’s not that many opportunities and what you’re looking for really is a one-on-one and then somebody’s got to win it. That’s probably about the only one-on-one on that field in terms of the way that ball unfolded. So we had a one-on-one opportunity, Ben [Roethlisberger] made the appropriate decision and Mike [Wallace] made a play.
Question: Talk about he two deep passes that you gave up in the game.
Mike Tomlin: Those aren’t one-on-one matchups versus linebackers. Those guys are covered up by half-field safety’s over the top, similarly to a few situations that we had them in. We had Mike Wallace down the middle of the field and seemingly a completion but Atari Bigby came in and banged the ball out. That’s how those plays happen, it’s the exact same coverage Dom Caper plays similar stuff to what we play. When they threw the ball down the middle of the field at times, they were able to catch it and hold on to it and in one instance, they were able to have a long score. We had a similar route versus a similar coverage and Atari Bigby banged the ball out versus Mike Wallace there. So that’s football, it’s about execution. There were very few secrets, we knew what coverage they were in at times, they knew what we were in and they executed a little better than we did at times if you’re talking about running down the middle of the field with number threes.
Question: What was the difference in Mike Wallace this week compared to the last couple of weeks?
Mike Tomlin: He made plays when given the opportunity, not that he’s had a bunch of opportunities and sometimes, it’s like that. It’s about what you do with them when you get them. He played big, he played older than a rookie for us today which was needed.
Question: Are there any other injuries?
Mike Tomlin: That’s the only one and that’s preliminary gut reaction, but it doesn’t look good in regards to his knee.