Coach Mike Tomlin: It was a tough, hard-fought football game. There weren’t enough significant plays there particularly at the end to be victorious. You have to tip your hat to the Jets. They made significant plays to win and of course we didn’t. How we respond to this will be important. We are in the thick of things here. We have a short week. There were minimal injuries in the game I think. Arnaz Battle had a shoulder injury. Most importantly is how we move forward. We will assess what happened, accounting for the errors in where we fell short. I am sure that we will do that, and we better do it extremely quick because we have Thursday night football.
Re: The opening kickoff return:
We didn’t really come in enough on the back side. I think we had a guy or two come up there within an arms length, but we didn’t reel it in. He’s [Brad Smith] a dynamic return man. He made a nice play.
Re: The safety towards the end of the game.
We didn’t come off the back side free technique. He [Jason Taylor] got penetration. He was very disruptive of course, and he had a tackle for loss right there. It’s unfortunate. It was part of the description that I had when I came in when I said they made the significant plays, particularly down the stretch and we didn’t. It’s a nice play by their defensive linemen. And of course not a good play by us.
Were there any other mistakes by the offense or defense?
Nothing other than we had opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, guys blitzed, unblocked guys, missing sack opportunities. They made a play or two. In games like that you can go back to a number of plays, but the reality is that they made the significant plays particularly in the second half, third-down conversions and we didn’t.
Re: Heath Miller not playing:
He experienced post-concussion symptoms and we of course we are going to err on the side of caution like we always do with that. He had headaches after exercise so we didn’t play him.
Is Troy Polamalu’s injury going to be a game-by-game decision?
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Re: Who the third down pass was intended for in the last series of the game:
It was to Emmanuel Sanders. I saw him coming. He had a dig route in the back of the endzone. I threw it, and then I saw Matt Spaeth coming and thought he might catch it, but he didn’t make the play.
On the deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders the timing looked like it was there. Did he get held up by the defensive back?
It was a good play call. They gave us perfect coverage I knew that he was going, and they did a good job of holding him and keeping him back just enough so that he couldn’t make the play.
Re: Running so many five-wide formations:
They did a lot of man coverage, and we wanted to try to get our guys out and run it. I have to give a lot of credit to Emmanuel Sanders. He did a great job in stepping up big today.
Re: On how disappointing this loss is:
You ask me about how disappointing a loss is? I think that speaks for itself, for you guys that know me.
Re: On still controlling your own destiny:
It’s a short week, we have to turn around and get ready to come back Thursday night and bounce back.
Did this feel like the Green Bay Packers game last season?
We had a long way to go. We started moving. Guys made some big plays and we got down there. We just fell a little short.
What was your comfort level with how many guys they were bringing at you?
I think that the guys did a good job. There was a couple plays were they obviously got in there, but I thought Maurkice Pouncey and the line did a good job of recognizing, identifying the backs did a good job picking up a lot of their blitzes from the slots, so I got to give them some credit too.
Re: The line and the backs identifying:
A lot of credit to them because we always say coming into a game like this, identification is huge. I thought they did a good job of identifying. They ran that play clock down pretty low a couple of times, but we got it off and guys did a good job.
Re: Identification didn’t happen on the safety.
That’s our run game. You will have to ask someone else about that, I’m sorry.
Re: Matt Spaeth
Well we knew we had a long way to go. I will never blame Matt. I thought he made a great effort. He played a great game today. He made a lot of big time catches and big time plays. He did a great job stepping up especially not knowing if Heath would play or not. I will take this one on me because I need to make more plays. I would never blame those guys, it is on me and I can’t let it happen and I have to get better going forward.
Re: Kickoff return to start the game:
Not much you can do. Just smile on your face and let’s go offense.
You have to go 92 yards in two minutes. You get in that huddle, what is the mindset?
I told the guys let’s be great. Let’s let them talk about the offense. Let’s go down the field and score. We got close but not close enough.
Did you see on film coming into this game that the tight end would be there?
Little bit of both. We saw that the tight end could be valuable and used and matched up on linebackers. We wanted to utilize that and I think we did a pretty good job with that. Like I said, I thought Matt did a great job tonight.
Re: The fumble on the last drive:
I just tried to give it to Mewelde (Moore) and the guy hit my arm from behind, I think.
Did you see what happened on the safety?
Yeah, they got a tackle in the endzone.
Was Flozell (Adams) really going to throw that ball?
I wasn’t really sure.
CB Anthony Madison
How tough is it to give up an opening kickoff for a touchdown? In 12 seconds, you guys are down, 7-0.
“It was tough. They made a play. They did a good job of executing blocks. They got a hat on a hat and they did it at high level. We pride ourselves in that area of the game. Their guys made plays, and on that particular play, we didn’t. It cost us seven points.”
On the replay, it seemed like that wasn’t anyone near him?
“Like I said, they did a great job. They did a good job. Hats off to them. We know we have to get back in the lab and see what we have to do to fix that because we have Carolina and Cleveland coming up and those guys have good returners. So we need to do what we need to do to have us to win.”
WR Emmanuel Sanders
It seemed like there were a lot of non-calls out there.
“Yeah, but we only can control what we can control. And at the end of the day, we didn’t play well enough to win.”
How frustrating was it to get so close [to winning the game]?
“It’s very frustrating. But, at the same time, you never know what God has at stake for this team. Sometimes he puts you through things just so you can bounce back and it will end up making us stronger. Hopefully, we can go on a run in the playoffs. So you never know.”
Was the play at the end intended for you?
“Yeah, it was intended for me. But, at the same time, when you’ve got scrambling rules, guys are just moving around. So me and [Matt] Spaeth ended up in the wrong – I mean, in the right spot at the same time. It didn’t work out.”
Were you surprised when he showed up there?
“Yes, I was real surprised. Because I was [thinking I had] the game-winning touchdown. But, it didn’t happen.”
TE Matt Spaeth
Were you guys designed to be in the same spot at the end, or is that a case where it just kind of gets crazy in the end zone?
“It just kind of gets crazy in the end zone. Once this initial route breaks down and Ben [Roethlisberger] scrambles, it’s just kind of a free-for-all. You just kind of try to get open.”
How tough is it that you had a chance to catch the ball on the last two plays of the game?
“The third-down play, I should have had. I was open [and] Ben [Roethlisberger] put it on me. I could have stepped up and made a play. I just didn’t. I’m going to bounce back from this. Obviously I’m very disappointed. I feel like I let a lot of people down, which I did. But I’ll come back and I’ll be all right.”
LB James Farrior
How much of a whole did it put you in when they ran back the opening kickoff?
“It was disappointing. It’s definitely something that we can’t have in order to be a championship-caliber team. But those guys came out, made a play and got the momentum. It looked like they never looked back.”
Hines [Ward] said that eventually one of these helmet-to-helmet calls that were incorrect was going to cost a team a game. Did you guys get cost a game today because of that call?
“No. We’re never going to blame a game on a call. We have to go back and look at it, but I thought it was a good hit. But, you know, the refs made the call and the league is going to make it right. So, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
You have made a lot of momentum-turning plays on defense this year. Today, you just didn’t seem to come up with one of those.
“Yeah, they did a good job. You have to give those guys credit, they blocked us up pretty good. It seemed like we just couldn’t get that big play when we needed it.”
S Ryan Clark
Do you expect the league to come down on you?
“I don’t know. They are going to do what they do. They are going to review it. If it’s illegal – if you can’t hit people in the chest, then I’ll get fined. If you can, I’ll be okay. The bad part about it is you just hurt your team. And I hurt my team with that play. It’s inexcusable. I need to find a better way to go about doing my job, and help the team.”
They called helmet-to-helmet on that play, but you hit him in the chest. Do you think they saw the launch and called that as opposed to where you hit him?
“I don’t know. They called helmet-to-helmet, so I guess that’s what they are going with. Maybe if the explanation was the launch after you look at the film, or you see the replay and realize that it’s not helmet-to-helmet, you have to go somewhere with it. I don’t really know what else to do there if I’m going to change my play. And I’m not going to change it. If they have to fly me up and give me a tutorial on how to tackle, maybe they’ll have to. I didn’t hit the guy in his head and that’s what I was trying to make sure [that] I didn’t do. You still get the flag. But, like I said, you hurt the team with that – a 15-yard penalty that leads to scoring a touchdown.”
How was Troy [Polamalu]’s absence not a factor today?
“When I play a game with him and he makes every tackle and he picks off every pass, he forces every fumble and recovers it himself and scores a touchdown, then I’ll say I know for sure that he would have changed that game. Some games are just like that. If that was the case, then we would be undefeated. Is he the best defensive player in the league according to me? Without a doubt. Have I ever played with anybody like him? Not even close. But you can’t put that all on him. Guys that are on the field have to be accountable. We have to be accountable for what we put out there – the plays we played – what’s on film. All we needed was one play in the second half. It reminded me of that Saints game, where we just kept talking [about making] one play. And it just never materialized for us. We just need somebody just to make one play. Hats off to the Jets. They had a smart game plan. [Mark] Sanchez got the ball out of his hand extremely fast. They weren’t worried about going deep. When you start out the game, though, with a 7-0 lead, you can stick to your game plan. And they were smart. They played good football on offense today.”
WR Mike Wallace
You went over a 1,000 yards for the season today. Would you trade that for catching the ball in the back of the end zone at the end of the game?
“Oh yeah, any day. I wanted it so bad. Before the time out, I was thinking the whole time I was getting it. I wanted so bad to try to help my team get this win. But we just didn’t get it done today. I’d trade it quickly. There is not even a second guess at all.”
How much clutching and grabbing was there out there today?
“I got held [on] every single play. But, you have to keep playing ball. Sometimes guys get beat and they are going to hold you. I’m not a referee. I can’t call the [penalty] on myself. But, if we played 70 plays, I got held on 65. I still have to keep playing, keep trying to execute. That’s all.”
Did you think you were going to score on that last drive?
“Most definitely. There was not a doubt in my mind that we were going to score. If I didn’t think we were going to score, we didn’t even have to go out there. We could have just wrapped it up. But we drove it all the way down. [On] those last two plays, we have to get the ball into the end zone. That’s been our biggest problem in the red zone. We did it today. We scored twice, but it’s not good enough. The last one really killed us.”
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