Initial comments …
“Well, we’re far from perfect, but we’re 6-2. It’s great to get out of here with a win. We have to get well quickly. We have some guys who got banged out of that one for various reasons (for whom) we don’t have detailed medical information for at this time. I will say this though, we made some mistakes but we did enough to win. I like some things that I saw. When we had to, we moved the ball on the ground and put ourselves in position to secure the game. Carson Palmer and company, with some timeouts, are a tough crew to deal with. We’ve seen that flick before. I like this ending a little better than the last time we were here. It’s all a learning process. Along the way, you have to find a way to win the game. Hopefully we’re better for this experience. We have a scalded Patriot outfit coming into our place. We’ll accept the challenges and make no excuses for what we do.”
It seems like you capitalized on their mistakes …
“Initially, we created some opportunities. We caused a fumble on the opening kickoff, a blocked kick — both provided a spark for us. You knew this would be a 60-minute game. It was an awesome atmosphere. The crowd support was spectacular.”
After Ben Roethlisberger’s interception, you seemed to run the ball almost exclusively …
“That’s situational football. That’s a timely manner. That’s a sequence where you have to run and run effectively, which I thought we did.”
It seems like the offensive line was like a carousel with players coming in and out …
“We’re not going to make excuses. They understand our standard and they play to it.”
Can you talk about your plan in terms of throwing a lot on first down?
“We wanted to mix it up, as always is the case. We feel that we’re capable of moving it on the ground or through the air. They’re very familiar with us —not just from a personnel standpoint, but schematically as well.”
The final defensive play came down to James Harrison. What did you think of that play and the way it ended up?
“It’s really quite typical of James and the kind of play that he provides us. He’s a great football player. He’s a detailed guy and a diligent worker. Much has been said about him of late — that’s not the James we know. He makes timely plays for us. We’d like him to be measured on plays like that rather than unfortunate penalties.”
What do you think goes through his mind at that very moment?
“I don’t think anything goes through his mind. I think he’s just trying to make plays to help us win. He’s kind of a flat-liner. He’s very cerebral. It takes that kind of demeanor to make those kind of plays, and he does it time and time again.”
How much of a concern is it that you weren’t able to put them away at the end?
“As I sit here right now, it’s not a concern at all, because we won. When we get back home and watch film, I might be concerned by it.”
Has Jonathan Scott played much guard for you?
“No, but he did tonight. We were getting Matt Spaeth ready to play tackle because Max Starks was down. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that because Maurkice Pouncey was coming back in on the cart and ready to play. Sometimes you get ultra thin. To the credit of our coaches and players, I don’t think anyone blinked, and we didn’t have to go to the ‘Matt Spaeth tackle plan.’ ”
Do you have an injury update on those who got knocked out of the game?
“Juicy (Kemoeatu) has a knee, Max was experiencing stingers, Will Allen got banged out of there, Isaac Redman got banged out of there, Mewelde Moore got banged out of there … That’s just the kind of game it was.”
Casey Hampton was flagged on the blow to Carson Palmer’s knee and wasn’t happy with the call. What is your reaction to the way Casey reacted?
“I didn’t like the way Casey responded because we just have to move on. The next snap is the most important one. We have to focus on the things that we can control — and that’s our readiness for the next snap. We got a little emotional, and I think it carried over into a sequence of events for us. It’s a good lesson to learn when you win.”
You eluded to what happened in that very same spot one year ago. Did you say anything to the guys out on the field?
“I didn’t need to. Those who were there remember it.”
What prompted the play with Antwaan Randle El? Was there something the defense was giving you look-wise that made you think that might work?
“No. Randle El has a nice skill-set. We had it dialed up to go to it if given the opportunity. I think (Chris) Crocker was out of the game, but that wasn’t the determining factor. It was just about us trying to get the play off, and we were prepared to do so.”
Troy Polamalu looked a little down when you were coming into the locker room and you said something to pick him up ...
“Troy likes to win with style points. You don’t always get what you want. Sometimes you just have to take the win and move on. I don’t mind a guy that’s competitive and wants to win in spectacular fashion. That’s a good problem to have.”
On WR Antwaan Randle El’s touchdown pass …
“It was a great play. It was reminiscent of a play he had either in my rookie year or second year here. We were going the same way. It was neat to watch, even though I was on the ground watching.”
Your linemen were dropping like flies tonight …
“You’ve got to give those guys credit, for the guys that stepped up. There was a time that we thought Matt Spaeth was going to have to play right tackle for us. Guys answered the bell. I’m really proud of them, and I hope everybody gets healthy quick.”
On RB Rashard Mendenhall’s performance in the final drive …
“There were a couple of times he looked over to the sideline and he wanted to come out because he was getting gassed. I told him, ‘This is what makes you great.’ He plugged along, he got first downs and held onto the ball. It truly is what’s making him an elite running back.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that 6-2 is all that matters …
“We find ways to win games. That’s what makes this team special in all phases. When one fails, another picks them up. I’m really just proud of the way guys played, and we proved that we can win close games when it counts. We’ve got a long way to go, and we know that.”
On the large Paul Brown Stadium crowd …
“It’s great. It’s always good to see. I don’t know if I’ve ever played a night game here in Cincinnati that I recall. There was a lot of orange up there — more than normally —but Steeler fans were out there and you could hear them.”
The defense stepped up on the final drive …
“As always. They’re so good, so much fun to watch. I told them, ‘That’s my fault for the pick. It made it close, and I shouldn’t have let it happen, but they bailed me out.”
Is it ever easy to play at Paul Brown Stadium …
“Never, never. In the AFC North, it’s never easy.”
What were you thinking on the final defensive play of the game?
“I figured it was fourth- and- five, (Jordan) Shipley was in motion, so that was (Carson Palmer’s) first option.”
Was the score was closer than it needed to be tonight?
“We won. No matter what the score was, we won. This was one of those times when we had to stand up as a defense and we did.”
Were you getting frustrated with penalties going against the Steelers defense throughout the game?
“I was cool. There are going to be games like that. When you put referees in tight situations in the heat of the moment, you have to stay in control of yourself.”
What happened on the pass interference call that was called from the official who seemed to be standing too far away from the play?
“The official right on top of the play didn’t call it. The back judge made the pass interference call, and I have to live with it.”
How often did you defend Terrell Owens, and what was the game plan against him?
“Whenever he lined up on my side I had him. There was no following him around the field. They have three good receivers with T.O., Chad (Ochocinco) and Shipley in the slot.”
How was the defense able to recover in the fourth quarter after giving up two touchdowns?
“We have to close games out. Regardless of how we play, no matter if we have a lead or have been up the whole game, we have to close games out. Tonight, we did.”
Talk about your 39-yard touchdown catch …
“They lined up in man-to-man coverage against me. They had great coverage. It was a great throw by Antwaan Randle El. He went back to his Indiana days (where he played quarterback).”
How important was it to be 6-2 leaving Cincinnati?
“It was a must-win for us. We are trying to keep pace with the best team in our division. We have the same record as the Ravens. This was a big win for us.”
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