Steelers AFC Championship Wednesday Press Conferences

Steelers AFC Championship Wednesday Press Conferences

Hines Ward, James Farrior, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin all held short Wednesday press conferences in preparation for the Sunday AFC Championship game against the New York Jets. Below is the audio and the transcripts will follow later today.

Hines Ward AFC Championship Press Conference from Wednesday
[audio:|titles=Steelers WR Hines Ward Press Conference Wednesday January 19th Playoffs Jets]

James Farrior AFC Championship Press Conference from Wednesday
[audio:|titles=Steelers LB James Farrior Press Conference Wednesday January 19th Playoffs Jets]

Ben Roethlisberger AFC Championship Press Conference from Wednesday
[audio:|titles=Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Press Conference Wednesday January 19th Playoffs Jets]

Mike Tomlin AFC Championship Press Conference from Wednesday
[audio:|titles=Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Press Conference Wednesday January 19th Playoffs Jets]

Coach Mike Tomlin AFC Championship

Press Conference

January 19, 2011

Coach Tomlin: Good afternoon. A lot has happened since the last time we got together. The sun went down and came back up, and thankfully we are all still here. I would be happy to answer any questions.

What has been the greatest coaching challenge this season?

I don’t think this journey has been different from any of the other ones. Some of the specifics are different, but every year you are presented with adversity, some created by the game and some created by the men involved. We all fall short of perfection. But I always enjoy the journey particularly with this group of men. It has been a fun one. Adversity is just as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling.

What is so fun about this group?

They have a can do attitude, as do I. And I think that is critical to persevering in the game of football.

Re: Aaron Smith:

He has just got to perform above the line. I am pretty consistent with that approach whether it’s Aaron Smith or for anyone. Whether we are talking about injury or otherwise, he will be given an opportunity to participate in preparation. And if his preparation is above the line then we will get into a discussion about a potential number of snaps.

How big would it be to have him even if it’s in a limited role?

I think that’s the reason why we have carried him this long. He is a quality player and person. And if he’s in a helmet it benefits us.

How long does it take to prepare for Rex Ryan?

It depends on whether or not you give him my plays.

Re: Aaron Smith’s status:

It’s a legitimate discussion that we would all like to have. We will just leave it to the medical experts. We will just listen to the medical experts and see where the week takes us from that standpoint. We are excited that there is a potential that he could play. I am sure he is, but we are not going to try to write the script, we will just see how the week unfolds.

Re: James Farrior in college:

I tackled him once. Needless to say something bad happened if I was tackling James Farrior. He stepped in front of me and picked a ball off and I had to tackle him.

Re: Relationship with Rex:

We come from a similar coaching tree. He worked at the University of Cincinnati. I think he was two years ahead of me. I got some stories about Rex and his experience there. We kind of knew each other before we actually knew each other. This league is a small fraternity. We have had an opportunity over the years to spend some time together. And I respect and admire his work.

Re: Rex’s comments:

It is entertaining, it is.

Re: Farrior playing for so long:

I think more than anything is that he is tremendously blessed. I don’t think playing 14 years in the NFL is something anyone can plan or prepare for. He is extremely talented, mentally and physically. But he has been blessed to stay injury free and things of that nature to allow someone to play at the level he has played at and the length of time he has done it.

How hard has it been to gain trust with your rookie wide receivers?

It depends on who you ask. From their perspective I am sure it has been difficult. But we have been impressed with these young men since day one. That’s why we pushed them in the manner of which we did. We knew they were capable of providing splash plays for us, plays that could help us win. And it’s becoming pretty clear that they are up to the task.

Re: Both rookie wideouts playing:

I anticipated that at some point, either due to the quality of play or injury, that there would be a point in time when we would need both of them. I didn’t necessarily tell them that, but I anticipated it.

Re: Matching up against the Jets’ run defense:

They are pretty stout when they want to be. He [Rashard Mendenhall] had a bit of success last time. I am sure they are working to rectify that. But it’s not about Rashard versus the Jets’ run defense. It is about winning the football game. I know he is willing and capable of doing whatever we ask him to do to help us in that effort. For that I am excited.

Is Santonio Holmes different as a Jet than he was as a Steeler?

I don’t know Santonio as a Jet. I haven’t seen him in some time, but I am sure that he is. This is a guy that is energetic and loves the game of football. He loves to compete. I am sure those things will be unchanged in him regardless of what color the uniform is that he has on.

Re: Jets being the team of destiny:

I think destiny is what you make of it. I know that they are committed to making that a reality as are we. So it’s going to be interesting.

Does a quarterback have an advantage coming on to a veteran team?

It depends how you look at it. You could be the lynch pin. It’s a benefit to be on a good football team regardless of what position. Sometimes they create short-term misery. Sometimes you watch more than you would like to. Sometimes you are the reason that teams are being held back or at least from a perception standpoint. But I don’t see many negatives in coming into a veteran situation, particularly if it’s a good one. I think both of those guys would agree that they benefited from it, largely.

Re: A quarterback going into a healthy team atmosphere:

I don’t care if you are talking about a punter. You want a healthy situation.

Who is the most resilient on the team?

Our unquestioned leader is James Farrior. I think if you polled anybody, player or coach, equipment man or receptionist, they realize he sets the tone for this outfit.

Re: Brian Schottenheimer:

He has done an awesome job. He utilizes his talents very well, not only in the run game but in the pass game. That’s nothing knew though. Brian is not new to this. He has done it at a high level for a number of years now in New York.

Re: Sanchez growing as a QB:

I am not around him day-to-day. I know he is doing enough to keep his team rolling in this game. And I think ultimately that’s what quarterbacks are measured by. He is a winner. He is a second-year guy. This is his second time competing for the Lamar Hunt Trophy. So he needs little endorsement from me in that regard.

Ben Roethlisberger AFC Championship

Press Conference

January 19, 2011

How did you develop the pump fake you use so much?

I have no idea.  Honestly.

Have you always had it?

I guess so. I’ve never really thought about it that much.

Are the Jets doing anything differently than last time you saw them?

Today we’re just kind of getting into it, but they’re a really good defense, point blank.  The first time, obviously, they came in here and put a hurting on us here at home.  They have a lot of great players from inside the line to the linebackers to the secondary.  They try and confuse. I think that’s the biggest thing that they do, and part of Rex Ryan’s mastermind coach, I mean he did it with Baltimore when we played them and now he’s doing it here with the Jets.  It’s just bringing guys from all over the place. You don’t know where people are lining up, how to identify; it’s a big challenge for us this week.

How important has it been redeveloping your relationship with the city?

You know what? It’s about the last thing on my mind right now.  It’s about playing football, and that’s what I try to do is play football games and win and just be me.

Do you relish this chance in the playoffs more this year?

Anytime that I can be around these guys and play the game that I love, it’s an awesome thing, and the success that we’ve had this year as a team is a great thing.  I said all along, we’re a family, we’re a close group, and to be able to have this opportunity to play a great football team like the Jets, to be able to do it at home in front of our fans is an awesome thing.

Do you think Darrelle Revis’ reputation keeps quarterbacks from throwing in his direction, even when guys look to be open sometimes?

Absolutely.  But then you get in trouble because you go to the other side and there’s (Antonio) Cromartie.  That’s why I say this whole defense is so good. It’s hard to single out one guy to stay away from because they have 10 other guys, and sometimes it seems like 15 other guys out there that you have to deal with.  But to answer your question, absolutely, he’s a stopper.

When Santonio Holmes was traded, what were your thoughts?

Just kind of amazement, wondering what was going on, what happened?  Just a lot of questions.

What did you think about the touchdown catch last Sunday that Santonio Holmes had?

Unbelievable.  I mean, that’s what he does, he makes plays.

Re: Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders’ contributions and did he expect it?

I think if I said yes I’d probably be lying.  You hope that you can get that, but to get it from, to expect rookies, even Maurkice Pouncey, to expect rookies to be able to contribute and do the things that they do is a tall order.  But I think the extra time and effort that they put in speaks volumes for why they’ve been able to do it.

Did they benefit from a veteran-type team?

Absolutely.  For them in particular, I know it makes it a lot easier when you have Hines (Ward) in there, and Mike’s [Wallace] really grown up and done some great things.  But to have guys that you can have come in and not have to be able to do too much I think is huge.  That’s what those guys have been able to do, to rely on (them).  We’re not calling on Emmanuel every single play.  We’re not calling on Antonio every play.  It’s when we call on them they answer the bell.

Re: Heath Miller being available this time against the Jets.

It’s huge.  Heath Miller is the best tight end in the game.  I don’t want to take anything away from D.J. (David Johnson) or Matt Spaeth, who played well last time, but Heath Miller is a special player, and he opens up, even when he’s not getting the ball, he opens things up for the guys on the outside and he’s a great safety valve for me.

How different do the Jets look from week to week?

It’s a lot of confusion.  That’s, I think, probably one of the things they pride themselves in.  It starts with Coach Ryan.  He’s a mastermind at what he does, and that’s why it’s extra study, it’s extra walkthroughs.  It’s as much as you can do.  The Jets defense beat the two best quarterbacks in the game at their place.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it.  I mean, they’re good.

On Peyton Manning and Tom Brady not being able to move outside the pocket like him and if being able to get out of the pocket becomes another weapon in his arsenal this week?

I guess, but those two are also the best in the pocket at doing what they do.  Like I said, to go into their place and beat them at home is something really special.

Re: Antonio Cromartie saying, ‘I love Ben.’

I love him, too.  I have a lot of respect for those guys, every single one of them on defense, because they’re so good.  I mean, they really are.  I could just sit here and talk good about them all day, but all I have to do is say they went to Indy and to New England and beat the two best quarterbacks in the game.  Enough said in my opinion.

What was the commonality in the two Jets wins?

They scored more points than they did.

On his run in 2005 and if he sees Mark Sanchez starting to gain that kind of confidence?

Oh, yeah.  He had a lot of what I did, too.  It’s nice when they don’t talk about you because they talk about your defense and how good they are and the players.  So it’s kind of a nice thing you can fly under the radar a little bit.  With him being in New York it’s a little bit harder to do that, but every week you watch him he’s getting better.  He takes the criticism that everyone seems to be giving him for some reason and just kind of seems to brush it off and move on and play better every week.

What progress do you see in Mark Sanchez?

Like I said, I think he just makes the plays.  People get on him a lot.  It’s, ‘Run the ball and manage the game, Mark.’  No, to be a quarterback at (that) level and do what he’s done, you don’t just manage a game.  You play the game and do it at a high level, and that’s what he’s done.  And I think, like I said, every week you see him take strides and get that much better.

What kind of advantage does a quarterback have when he walks into an established and veteran team?

It helps because you don’t feel like you have to make a play every single time.  You can afford to make a mistake and your defense is going to bail you out.  At least that was the mentality that I took.  I don’t know if that’s the same approach he has, but to be able to have a complete team and a veteran team, guys that know how to win football games, it helps, especially as a young guy.

Do you feel in some way like you are partially responsible for Santonio Holmes not being here (with his issues and having the sense the Steelers couldn’t have too many more situations)?

Well it’s probably a question for the front office I think.

Does it tickle you that you are not mentioned with the top quarterbacks?

No, it’s okay for me because I know that I’m probably not ever going to win a league MVP, probably never going to win a passing title.  But that’s not why I play the game.  I just go out and try and win football games and try and win championships.

Re: Hines Ward being outspoken.

I think this is a team.  We stand up for each other, we look out for each other, and I think that’s one of the reasons we have the success that we have is because we are there for each other and we treat each other like we’re family and we see each other as family.

Re: Bart Scott speaking highly of him.

It’s a compliment, especially when other defenses or players talk highly of you.  I know Bart from many a times in Baltimore and some fierce rivalries that we’ve had.  He’s delivered one of the hardest hits on me that I’ve ever felt, so that’s why I take what Bart Scott says with a grain of salt.

Does the chemistry feel different this year because of everything you have been through?

No, I think we…I’ve been here seven years, and that’s a long time.  We’ve had a lot of the same guys.  We have had some new turnover, which you do on any team, but to be able to be around a group like this, it starts at the top.  It starts with the Rooney Family to the coaches to the players.  I’ve said since I got here, I was excited to come to the Steelers because it’s a special organization.

Re: Bruce Arians.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Bruce, for the play calling, for him as a person.  He is a mentor to me, a fatherly figure.  He gets way, way too much blame and criticism, and he just kind of laughs about it.  And it’s kind of unfortunate because he is so good.  If you ask the players, we know.  If you ask someone that knows the game of football, you know how good he is and what he’s done for this offense and what he brings.  He gets criticized when last year we had two 1,000-yard receivers, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 4,000-yard passer.  That’s a pretty good offense.  So I think he gets way too much heat, but because he’s been coaching for so long and is such a good professional, he just lets it kind of roll off his sleeve and keeps moving forward.  And that’s one of the (reasons) why we respect him and love him so much.

Hines Ward AFC Championship

Press Conference

January 19, 2011

Re: Speaking openly to the public this season:

I am very outspoken and opinionated but I won’t say it if I don’t feel very strongly about it.  It is what it is. For us, we have always got (Steelers LB) James’ (Harrison) back.  For me, I just always try to tease him.  Hopefully he goes out there and tears it up again this week.  Whatever James does, we have his back.  If we have to, I will loan him $20 to pay off a fine.

Re: Steelers WRs Antonio Brown and WR Emmanuel Sanders:

They don’t get many opportunities, especially Antonio Brown.  He does a phenomenal job when he gets the ball in his hands. We watched some of his college tape.  He is very explosive with the ball in his hands so we try to get him out into space. Converting that third-and-19 (last week) – he caught it with the Steelers’ emblem [Caught the ball with the aid of his helmet] in his right hand – I was just happy for him.  I was more elated. Emmanuel (Sanders) is really coming on strongly.  When we play the Jets, he will probably end up with the third corner on him.  He is a guy who we will probably need to make a lot of plays.  Whoever (Jets CBs Darrelle) Revis and (Antonio) Comrartie who are covering, the other guys have to go out and make plays.  He has done a great job and he did a great job the last time we played.

Re: Revis and Cromartie:

They’re just good.  They are great athletes.  They are just like wide receivers.  They can catch.  The problem is you have your battle.  You may beat them once, but the quarterback is not even looking to that side so you can’t get frustrated as a wideout.  You still have to continue to work hard.  When a quarterback does look your way, you have to be there and make sure you make a play for the quarterback. Both of those guys will probably be following (Steelers WR) Mike (Wallace) and I around the whole time.  We are going to play hard and continue to go out there and compete. When our number is called, hopefully, we can go out there and make some plays for our team.

Re: Impact of the regular season result against the Jets and overall playoff experience:

I don’t think so. When you look back at the regular season, we know we lost at home but we didn’t have (Steelers S) Troy (Polamalu) on the field and we didn’t have (Steelers TE) Heath (Miller).  When you have those two guys, it definitely helps our team out tremendously. With the experience, they’ve been here before.  They went to the AFC Championship last year. They are looking at it as they are one game away.  For us, we have got a lot of guys who have been a part of Championship week.  We know more media attention comes with it, but it is more attention to detail.  We really pride ourselves on having a great week of preparation.  Hopefully,  that carres over into the game.

Re: The performance of the Jets defense during the playoffs:

They are really just giving trouble to the offensive line and the quarterback.  That’s been their whole motto is play man-to-man and try to confuse the quarterback and hopefully a guy comes free here or there to get a quarterback sack, pressure the quarterback and force a quarterback to make a perfect throw against man-to-man coverage.  It has just been their whole defensive scheme all year long.  For us to try to counter that, we ran the ball fairly well the last time we played them so hopefully we can continue doing that and use that and use some play-action. When we get down into the red zone, we have to be able to put up touchdowns rather than field goals. For us, we want to be in a good situational football team.  We had our best third-down conversion against them last time so it gave us more opportunity to make plays.   That is going to be very key on third down.  If we can convert third down and keep their offense off the field and put up touchdowns rather than field goals, I think we will be fine.

Re: Jets changing their defensive strategy from week to week:

(Jets head coach) Rex (Ryan) is not going to show the same scheme week to week he’s going to have a new wrinkle in there that makes you think about things.  Maybe it is something that we didn’t prepare for during the week.  For us, we have to pay attention to detail really about what we do and not about what they do because we know they are going to blitz.  We just don’t know where from.  If you get all 11 guys on the same page, we’ve got to hit them when they go all-out blitz.  We have to make some plays and maybe they won’t call it.  The difference between (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) and the other guys is Ben can escape some of those blitzes and it puts their corners and their secondary in a bind because they have to cover as long.  Ben tends to make a play when he is outside the pocket.  Hopefully, if they do go all-out blitz and he gets outside, hopefully, we can exploit that and can outplay them on the field.

Re: Facing former Steeler and Jets WR Santonio Holmes:

It’s going to be weird.  I know he wants to win more than anything.  I texted him the other day.  He made a hell of a catch in that game.  I am so proud of him just for going out there and doing the things that he has done.  He wants to win just as bad as we want to win.  I know our secondary guys, (Steelers CB) Ike (Taylor) and all those guys, are getting up.  It is going to be a competitive war against Santonio and our defensive backs.

Re: Competing against Revis:

He’s a great cornerback, there’s no question.  Can he be beat?  Yeah, he can be beat.  I just think he swindles guys.  You really don’t want to mess around with him because if you make a mistake, he’s a game-changer.  I think a lot of quarterbacks tend to stay away from him. As a wide receiver, you can get frustrated because you are not even getting looked at when he’s covering you.  For me, I have just got to stay focused and not get frustrated because it’s not about Revis against me; it’s the Steelers versus the Jets.  I have to go out there and work my tail off to get open. He’s up there.  He is one of the better cornerbacks in our league and probably the best in our league. For me, I look at it as a challenge.  We have fun.  He played across at Pitt so I’ve always been a big fan of his.  We went out there and we were talking throughout the game and such.  I’ve got some old tricks up my sleeve.  Hopefully, I can get open against him and help our team makes plays.

Re: Revis is healthy and playing at full speed:

I think so.  Who is full speed now?  Eighty-percent Revis is still better than most corners in this league.  This could be a challenge for both Mike (Wallace) and I, but like I said, the other guys when we are not getting looks, the younger guys Emmanuel (Sanders) and (Antonio) Brown, they have got to step up big for us like they have all season long and make plays.

Re: Roethlisberger’s fourth-quarter success:

He’s a winner.  Every time he steps in that huddle, the whole team knows we have a chance to win ball games.  He may do it unorthodox and is probably the only guy in the league who may not play well in the first quarter but he’s got a fourth quarter about him.  He just has that confidence that he’s going to win every game that he’s in.  One thing about him, as long as he’s on that field, I know we have a great shot at winning ball games.  As long as he is in our huddle, I’m smiling because I know we have a chance to win this game.

Re: What he is most proud of this season as a Steeler:

The resiliency of this team because a lot of people didn’t pick us to win our division, much less be here in the championship game.  To do it the way that we’ve done it, not having Ben the first four games, losing some of our offensive linemen and missing Troy for about two or three games, overall we found a way to get the job done and that’s what I’m most proud about. People always try to compare this team to the Super Bowl teams that we’ve played on, and every team is a different makeup.  We have got a lot of young guys, explosive guys, but we also have a lot of battle-tested guys on our bench and our veteran guys who have been there. When one guy goes down, the next guy gets his opportunity and has taken full advantage of it.  It has been pretty remarkable up to this point to see these guys fill in and not lose a beat.

Re: Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin being the source for the team’s resiliency:

It starts up top.  The 53-man roster that we picked at training camp, we always say that it is going to come down to those guys who we have on our roster at that point of the season that is going to help this team win ballgames. That’s what’s so important about training camp.  Once they decided, there were some shockers in there who got cut but you look back and you see Antonio Brown come up and make plays and that’s why they get paid the big bucks to put this team together, and here we are in the AFC Championship game.

James Farrior AFC Championship

Press Conference

January 19, 2011

Re: Harris Smith providing a lift for the defense:

He is a guy who has been around here for a long time.  We feed off his energy.  To have him out there even if it is a few plays, it will definitely give our defense a boost.

Re: If Smith will play this Sunday:

I don’t know.  I’m just hoping and praying that he gets a chance to get out there with us.  We’ll see what happens.

Re: The performance of Steelers secondary this season:

They’ve done a great job all season.  They are the reason why we are in this position right now.  They have held up throughout the season.  They have been making plays all year.  I expect the same thing out of them this weekend.

Re: Troy Polamalu’s impact on the defense:

You can’t account for his instincts and the plays that he makes from just free lancing.  He is a guy who is going to be doing things a little bit differently sometimes.  He goes on his own sometimes and sees something that nobody else might see and most of the times he makes plays.  He is going to be out there doing what he does best, and that’s being around the football.  That’s something that you cannot account for.

Re: Jets being one of two teams to reach 100 rushing yards against the Steelers this season:

They had good balance.  They did a good job with the run and the pass.  They didn’t put (Jets QB Mark) Sanchez in a bad situation.  They had third-down situations that were very manageable and they were able to run the ball or pass it; they had that option. We are just going to have to play gap-sound football.  They have two great running backs, (Jets RBs) LaDainian (Tomlinson) and Shonn (Greene).  Those guys have been playing excellent.  Watching the game the other day, those guys did a great job of managing the game and keeping the ball out of (Patriots QB) Tom Brady’s hands.

Re: Facing his former team in the AFC Championship Game:

I am so far removed from being with the Jets.  I really don’t even think about it anymore. It is just a big challenge for us.  We’re just happy to be here in the AFC Championship game.  I don’t think it would have mattered who we would have played.

Re: Memory of playing in the 1998 AFC Championship Game with the Jets:

We lost.  That is probably the thing that sticks out in my mind.  We took an early lead, 10-0, at halftime.  It seemed like the wheels fell off in the second half.  That was a rough game.

Re: Missing key players early in the season made the team more resilient:

It definitely built our character.  It made us a closer group.  We had a lot of things going on around us.  That just made us focus in more on what we had to do as far as a football team.  Knowing we were going to be without (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) was a big step.  We had to fight without our great quarterback.  Everybody just honed in on what they had to do to make us successful.

Re: Sense of restarting the season when Roethlisberger started his first game of 2010:

We had to block that out of our minds.  I know everybody felt a sigh of relief, but the season was not over; it was just getting going.  We couldn’t just relax because he was back.  We still had to go out and do our job.

Re: Playing for multiple coaches during his career with the Jets compared to stability with the Steelers:

It was a tough situation at the Jets.  Going through three coaches in five years was pretty tough, but once I got here, I felt like everything was stable.  This is a great organization.  It is one of the best in pro sports.  The Rooney Family does a great job of getting people in here to fit within the Steeler mold.  I felt a lot more comfortable here.  I knew I was going to have guys in place for the long run.

Re: Pittsburgh hosting its second AFC Championship game in three years:

What a great opportunity this is for us.  Nobody really expected us to be at home for the Championship Game.  We were all preparing ourselves for the worst, but we all were hoping.  To be back in this championship game and have it at home in front of our home fans is going to be awesome.  Those guys have really done a great job, especially last week.  They were very loud and they were very instrumental in our win last week.  Having those guys again this week is going to be great for us.

Re: If Sanchez is underrated as a quarterback:

I don’t know if he is underrated.  He is a good quarterback in my eyes.  He does a great job of managing their football team.  He doesn’t do anything to lose the game.  He has been doing a great job all year.  He deserves a lot of respect, and we definitely give him a lot of respect.

Re: Heinz Field was louder last week due to additional seating in the south end zone:

It was pretty loud last week.  We definitely enjoyed the extra seats with the extra fans.  They were great.  We will have the same thing this weekend.

Re: How Roethlisberger has changed off the field this season:

He has become more of a leader.  He has become more of a guy who is more accessible.  We can go up and talk to him.  He is a guy who is always playing around in the locker room.  He doesn’t really let anything affect him one way or the other.  He is like Joe Cool.

Re: Changes as a player when joining the Steelers from the Jets:

Just playing a different position was the main thing.  I was playing outside (linebacker) with the Jets and they moved me to inside (linebacker).  That was probably the biggest difference.  I’ve adjusted well and I’ve played the position pretty well after adjusting to it.

Re: Team motivation changing since many Steelers have two Super Bowl rings:

It doesn’t change.  The goal every year is to win the championship.  This year is no different.  Even though we have two under our belt, most of the guys around here, we’ve got guys on this team who had never even played in a playoff game.  I know those guys are hungry.  I know everybody is ready to go get another one.  It is the same feeling with any other championship game.

Re: Experiencing a Super Bowl championship enhancing the desire to win another:

No doubt about it.  Once you’ve been there before and you’ve been across that line and you’ve won a championship, you always want that same feeling.  You are always thriving to get that same feeling back.

Re: This is the team’s ‘final run’ due to the age of the roster:

We don’t look at it that way.  We feel like we just have to take advantage of this opportunity that we have here.  Being at home playing in the AFC Championship, you couldn’t ask for anything better.

Re: The Jets not being as outspoken this week regarding the Steelers:

It is a little surprising.  They have been doing it all year and the last couple weeks of the playoffs they have been doing it.  I was kind of expecting something from those guys, but they haven’t really given us anything.  I’m a little disappointed.

Re: Reaction to the Jets’ public comments throughout the season:

It is funny to me.  It is always funny to hear those guys talk.  They do a lot of trash talking.  If you really look at it, those guys really do a good job of backing it up.  They talk a lot.  I think it is a lot of smoke and mirrors.  If you fall into it and you believe the stuff that they are saying, you’ll get beat.

Re: Responding if the Jets do speak out about the Steelers:

We don’t really fire back at people.  We just go about our business and do what we do.

Re: Comments that the Steelers defense is aging:

It doesn’t bother me.  They have been saying that around here for years now, especially with me.  We just go out and do what we do.  We stay focused and we don’t really feed into the media hype that we are too old.  We’ve still got a lot left in the tank.

Re: If the Steelers did not pressure Sanchez enough in Week 15:

I don’t think we got enough pressure on him.  He was able to sit back and read our defenses well.  He did a great job.  I don’t think our pressure was as good as it could have been.  That is going to be the key to this game: getting pressure on him and forcing him into third-and-long situations and making him win the game.

Re: Anticipating Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s success with the Jets:

I knew that they had a good team.  I knew they had a good group of guys who were capable of playing at a championship level.  It was just how he was going to do as a coach.  You can look at it now.  He has done a great job over the last couple of years.  This is their second trip to the AFC Championship Game.  He has done a great job of getting those guys fired up and ready to play.

Re: How Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has changed since last season:

Besides his bank account being a little bit bigger, he is the same guy.  He has been the same guy since he has been here.  He has been a very good coach in the aspect of knowing what the players need, helping us out and keeping us fresh and he is a very good motivator.

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