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Mike Tomlin Press Conference Transcript Getting Ready for the Panthers

Good afternoon. Morning started early, of course. Looking at yesterday’s game and my view of how the game unfolded hasn’t changed much here in the last 24 hours or so. That one got away from us. I’m cautious about how I use that phrase because I don’t want to devalue accountability in terms of what we could’ve done to change the outcome of that game. Of course we didn’t make the sufficient plays, particularly at the end, to be victorious. We’ve been in those kinds of games quite a bit this year and usually we found a way to make a play or two. We didn’t and the Jets did, similar to our first Baltimore game when they did and we didn’t. I think that’s a great place to start in terms of assessing the game. [There were] a lot of areas where the game could’ve unfolded differently, a lot of areas where we could’ve been better. That’s the case every week, even in victory. Tip your hats to the Jets. They made the plays.

Moving forward from a health standpoint, Arnaz Battle had a shoulder/rib contusion in the game. He should be touch-and-go this week on a short week. We anticipate Heath [Miller] being fine. Steve McLendon should be fine coming back off his stinger. Aaron Smith is going to be fitted for a shoulder brace. We’ll see where his participation goes from a practice standpoint. I haven’t received word on Troy [Polamalu]’s visit to the building yet as of today, so it’s still early in the week in terms of where he is with his availability to practice and ultimately play.

Looking at the Carolina Panthers, they’re coming off a victory versus Arizona. They’re a young football team. When you look at them offensively, Jonathan Stewart and [Mike] Goodson provide the work for them. Both of those guys are about 4.5 per tote for the year. Those two guys combined carried the ball about 45 times in yesterday’s game. When you look at a team like Carolina that’s gone through what they’ve gone through, you look for areas in which they’ve found rhythm, particularly in the midst of success like they had yesterday. Those two backs carrying the ball 45 times appears to be a formula for them, based on the people that they have, so of course stopping those ballcarriers is going to be a big part of this week’s challenge for us. They complement each other extremely well. Stewart is a patient runner with nice finishing power. We looked at him hard when we drafted [Rashard] Mendenhall. Goodson is an awesome complement to him because he’s got great perimeter speed. He’s capable of bouncing and attacking your edges. We’re familiar with him because we played against him in the preseason. He carried the ball quite a bit against us so we know his skill set. He’s a talented guy. Steve Smith is Steve Smith. He’s a very talented guy. His numbers are down, yes, but it has nothing to do with his talent level. They’ve had a number of people play the quarterback position, many of them young folks over the course of the season. I imagine it’s been a frustrating journey for him. We still respect what he’s capable of and acknowledge he’s one of the best in the world at his position. Jordan Gross, their left tackle, kind of anchors their front. He’s a rock-solid player. Of course [Jimmy] Clausen put together a winning performance and had over a 100 passer rating last week. I think his effort was helped by the 45 touches of the two feature runners. That’s why it’s important that we stymie their running game and try to get at Clausen a little bit.

Defensively it starts with their man in the middle Jon Beason. He’s a top-notch player, Pro Bowl-caliber player, really good inside linebacker. He’s a three-down linebacker. He’s equally effective in passing situations, be it in coverage or in the blitz packages. Up front they play a decent rotation of people led by [Charles] Johnson of Georgia. [Greg] Hardy has come on, a young guy from Ole Miss, last several weeks, probably due to Everette Brown going on IR and some other things. It looks like this young man is taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him. He’s been a force on special teams. He’s starting to show up in some defensive packages. He’s someone who jumps out at you a little bit on tape. I think the safety tandem of [Charles] Godfrey and [Sherrod] Martin are really good. Godfrey leads them in interceptions. Martin had a nice 35-yard return yesterday. They’re both young and talented; both have corner-like skills or backgrounds. It lends itself to covering a bunch of grass and they’re both very good, functional tacklers. They’ve got a nucleus of corner people who’ve been there a long time, whether it’s Richard Marshall or [Chris] Gamble or others, they’ve got some corners who’ve been around.

For us this week, preparing for Thursday night action, it’s a quick turnaround, particularly for a veteran football team. We’re going to be very conscious about how we prepare this week. We’ve got to prepare as smart as we can. We’ve got to preserve our guys in as many ways as we can because quite honestly working on this kind of week you’ve got to acknowledge that it’s an advantage for the Carolina Panthers. They’re a younger team than we are. Physically they’re capable of bouncing back faster, no question, so we’ve got to prepare extremely smart and put our veteran outfit in the best position we can to play effective football Thursday night.

Saying that, would you be more willing to rest Troy if it’s at all dicey?

Whether or not he plays or anyone plays will be based solely on health.

Could you talk about proceeding into a chance for playing championship football?

Us qualifying for the postseason? Of course, we’re excited about being insured an opportunity to advance into the playoffs. I don’t like how it unfolded. You feel like you’re crawling in on your belly but we’ve got two weeks to do something about that. Our focus is on Carolina this week. All of the goals we set out for ourselves are still attainable. We’ve got to play ball this week. I still think a division title is in our sites if we handle our business, but it starts with playing good, winning football Thursday night.

Might Aaron practice this week?

We’re going to fit him for a brace and see where that takes us.

Why was the flag initially dropped on the opening kickoff?

The referee, it fell out of his waistband, and I think it fell out of his waistband on several occasions during the course of the game.

Should it have fallen out a few more times on your receivers downfield?

I coach. I don’t referee.

Does losing cloud whatever positives you might have seen?

I try not to put a positive or a negative spin on anything. I just try to see it for what it is. Yesterday’s performance was a loss. There were some good things in it, just like during the previous week’s win there were some bad things in it. Part of being a championship-caliber outfit is taking the emotions out of your performance and simply evaluating what you’re looking at and being accountable for it. There were some good things in yesterday’s game. The significant thing is we didn’t do enough good things in the latter portions of the game to slip out of the stadium with a win, which is something that we’ve made a habit of doing and something we need to make a habit of doing again.

On the second-down throw into the end zone, was Emmanuel Sanders the intended receiver?

Ben [Roethlisberger] was trying to hit Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone. Of course [Matt] Spaeth came into the line of vision and attempted to make a play on the football, but that’s not uncommon under those situations and circumstances when you’re talking about a short field in the red zone and the ball doesn’t come out on time. Zones overlap, routes overlap. It gets hairy, and it did in that instance.

Trai Essex finished the game at left tackle. Are you considering making a change there?

Much too early in the week. We’re still in the process of evaluating yesterday’s performance and putting together a formula for success this week. A lot of things are involved in that. Personnel matchups are part of that. We’ll address that at the appropriate time. I’m just not ready to have that kind of discussion at this juncture.

Why did you put him in for Jonathan Scott on the last drive?

He was less than 100 percent from a physical standpoint and we felt like Trai gave us the best opportunity to navigate the ball downfield.

Could you take us through the safety?

Jason Taylor was in a 3-technique. He was in a B gap. He’s a unique get-off player for a person that plays in a B gap. He’s got unique short-area quicks and initial get-off. He probably recognized the formation, potentially the play, had an awesome get-off on the play. We were unable to cut him off with our center and backside tackle. He slipped in behind the pulling guard and was very disruptive and tackled our runner from behind the end zone for a safety. You can talk about a lot of things that transpired on that play and how you combat that, cutting the split down to the tackle and so forth, but I think the first thing you should acknowledge is that Jason Taylor is a unique animal in the B gap and he’s got a unique skill set. He probably is a savvy veteran player that recognized some formation clues and he took a calculated risk and made an awesome play. I want to give him credit.

Does Mewelde Moore always run that play?

We’ve had all three of our backs run that play in recent weeks.

Why could the Jets run the ball?

They probably had more of a commitment to running it than some of our other opponents had. I didn’t think they were gutting us by any stretch but they exhibited the patience that others hadn’t under similar conditions, so they were able to find some rhythm and get a play or two. I didn’t think it was a bad game in terms of us stopping the run, but I didn’t think it was our best effort. … We expect Carolina to exhibit similar patience this week so we’d better be prepared to turn them back, even if it’s plus 45 times.

Why did you have success running the ball?

Because we’ve been running the football. We ran for 120 the previous week. I don’t think that’s out of line with what we’ve done.

You ran it only 25 times and averaged 5.9 a carry.

We were behind in this game. We finished our last possession of the first half in the two-minute drill. The latter part of the game we were virtually throwing it every down. Sometimes numbers get skewed due to game circumstances. We’re committed to running it and running it well.

Had the Jets shown that bootleg?

They have shown that. When you play coach [Rex] Ryan you know the kind of guy he is. You want to make him pull that ball and run that naked, so I was pleased that they ran the play. I think it shows a level of respect coach Ryan has for our short-yardage defense. You want to stop them. We weren’t able to do that. It’s a small victory when you’re playing the New York Jets and they don’t hand the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson or [Shonn] Greene in that situation or circumstance.

Can you speak to how important it is to get a bye in the playoffs?

I won’t. I won’t speak to it. I’ll only speak about preparing for Carolina.

Is Troy’s situation comparable to Aaron’s at all?

No. No. Troy’s experiencing some discomfort in his lower leg but as soon as the discomfort subsides he’ll be back in action. I think we’re moving close to that. We’ll see where this week takes us.

How did Ryan Mundy play?

I thought he was solid. I thought he played above-the-line football.

What caused Flozell Adams to strike out against Darrelle Revis?

I don’t even know who it was against. It’s not on video because it occurred after a play. I haven’t had an in-depth discussion with him in terms of what transpired. My only comment to the officiating crew is the confrontation occurred in our backfield in our huddle area, and we have a right to our huddle area and that was my concern regarding the confrontation.

When did you find out you made the playoffs?

I don’t recall.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Brownsgab

    December 21, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Better hope you don’t slip up against the Panthers because we will put you to bed again January 2nd!!!! Go Browns and Pittsburgh Still Sucks!!!!!!!! Oh yeah your Quarterback is a rapist!!!!

    • Ben Dover

      December 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      Oh yeah the Steelers Quarterback is accused of being a rapist, and like you, moron, he’s from the arm-pit of America, Ohio.

      Oh yeah the the Clowns are a joke, and haven’t won anything since 1964, Clowns players aren’t well known enough to have their crimes published on a national level, and since nobody pays attention to the mistake-by-the-lake, we don’t hear about them.

      Oh yeah, since 1970 the Steelers have won six Super Bowls, seven AFC Championships, and 19(on the verge of 20) AFC North/Central Division Championships. In the same time frame the Clowns have won five Division Championships, the last coming in 1989.

      Oh yeah, Since 1970 The Penguins have won three Stanley Cups Championships and the Pirates have won two World Series Championships(in 1968 the Pittsburgh Pipers won the inaugural ABA Championships.) All the while the Indians lost in the World Series twice 1995 & 1997, and the Cavilers lost in 4-0 in 2007, that makes teams from Cleveland 0-3 in the same time that Pittsburgh teams are 13-2.

      Oh yeah, tell your mom I said hello next time you leave your basement/bedroom for your peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk.

    • Ben Dover

      December 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Oh yeah, I did some checking, the Browns lost their last three appearances in the NFL Championship Game, 1965, 1968, & 1969, and their only three appearances in the AFC Championship Game, 1986, 1987, & 1989.

      Oh yeah, unless you count the Ravens in the 2000 AFC Championship Game & their Super Bowl XXXIV Championship.

  2. Jay

    December 21, 2010 at 6:12 am

    Be careful or we’ll turn him loose on your very fine, mistake by the lake females up there…I’m sure he’ll have a ball after he gets past all the body hair and odor and drinks about thirty beers!

  3. Jeff

    December 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I never understand why fans of other teams feel it necessary to go on discussion boards and make stupid, idiotic comments. First they are exposing themselves as a COWARD and second if their team is a traditional losing franchise then it really looks ridiculous. The comment coming from Cleveland explains a lot because that city is the foul smelling, hairy armpit of our country. Who knows, maybe Brownsgab lives in Malibu Beach but likes to torture himself by following a team that actually left that crappy city then had to beg the league for a new team. Instead of the Browns, I think Jay would agree, that they should have given Cleveland a woman’s lingerie football team. I could only imagine the wide ass amazons that team would trot out could even maybe hang with the Bungles for a quarter

    • The Tony

      December 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

      I agree, I never will understand people. Its all fun talking a little smack, but when you bring in sensitive off the field issues, then you cross the line from fun to idiotic and hostile. Did Brownsgab forget about the Donte Stallworth incident. or Shaun Rodgers bringing a gun into the airport. It is real easy for people to talk about other people personal life. So keep your comments to yourself and do not make yourself look like a typical Cleveland jackass.

  4. George H

    December 21, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Aaron Smith is getting fitted for a shoulder brace… The Steelers have to get that 1st rd bye so we can get healthy and hopefully have Smith back. A healthy Smith and Troy P means our defense will be untouchable again and ready for the playoffs

  5. Ben Dover

    December 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Fire Bruce Arians, what kind of moron do you have to be to call a wrap-around draw at the two yardline?

    • George H

      December 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      Doesnt Arians’ contract expire after this year?

      • Ben Dover

        December 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

        Oh I hope you are right. Maybe he’ll take a job as a college head coach, ooh, Maryland is hiring, hurry Bruce get in line for that one.

  6. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Hey loede you were so right about drew brees picking apart the ravens defense. Yep that prediction sure made you look like a genius.

  7. Matt Loede

    December 21, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Gee Thomas, haven’t heard from you in awhile, your much better and sound a lot smarter when you humble…like this:

    “I’m not even gonna make any excuses the steelers deserved it i i’m so pissed ,you can make fun of me all you want.
    Just nothing i can say god this sucks.” – Thomas Crowley 12/6

    Just remember that, because if your Ratbirds are lucky enough to get there, we’ll just do it again like 2008.

  8. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I was indeed very humble after that game cause i knew there was no excuses i make unlike these post from you’re fellow memebers in steelers nation. I didn’t start making a bunch of excuses when my team lost.

  9. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    To your point about 2008 i don’t know about that matty boy this ravens team is only getting better as the year goes on they dominated the saints at the line of scrimmage. They play like this there is no team in the nfl that can beat the ravens not even pittsburgh.

  10. Marcus

    December 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    What a jackoff you are Thomas, coming to a Steelers site and running smack about a team that gave up 15 points and if it were not for an awful pass by Matt Schaub would have lost in Houston two weeks ago!

    Last time I checked, your rats lost to the Bengals (Bwaaa~!!!!) the Falcons (Steelers beat them) and the Pats (both teams lost to them). As far as “getting better” I fail to see how you can say that.

    In looking past the last four weeks, they beat a Bucs team at home (same one that just lost to the Lions at home) by just 7 (BTW – Steelers beat TB by 25 in Tampa in week three), lost to the Steelers, beat the Texans as stated above with the help of Matt Schaub, and were leading 28-7 in that game, and then again this week were up 14 before blowing that lead, but yes, they did come back and win.

    So explain to me in your vast wisdom how this Ravens team is getting so much better? I think I heard that same thing in 2008 after they beat the Dolphins and Titans, and they lost to the Steelers, and again last year after they beat the Pats in the playoffs, only to lose to the Colts.

    I would shut your hole until your team steps up and does it when it counts, like the playoffs.

  11. Jay

    December 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Hey Tomlin, Shut-up! I’ve been listening to your nonsense for four years now! I’m sick of you always taking the high road, always being a corporate yes man, never defending your players! It’s bullshit! I know the Steelers fans will jump all over my shit for this but I don’t care! You gave credit to Jason Taylor in lieu of complaining about the run play to mewelde moore!?! Why did it have to take Ed Bouchette of the Post gazette to have to say something when YOU not Him is the flippin coach?!? Get over this, “Well I don’t want to give anyone bulletin board material or ride the emotional roller coaster!” The emotional roller coaster exists to be ridden occasionally, Mike! Not totally avoided like an elitist who is too good for it like you seem to be! And how about sticking up for your players once in awhile with the absurdity that is the current NFL and its ridiculous officiating! Why did YOUR players have to take a stand in the locker room the one day two weeks ago while being interviewed when it should’ve been you saying fucking SOMETHING! For Christ’s sake, Andy Reid’s QB doesn’t get one call and Reid is up in arms in post game conferences and on the field demonstratively! I don’t care of it ain’t your style, adopt it, pal! This whole rhetoric, cliche fucking bullshit where you say the right things whilst your players continually get fined unfairly and the refs are continually inconsistent is cowardly actually. Are you afraid of Goodell? Afraid of the Rooney’s? And what’s this recent nonsense where you gave the edge to Carolina of being younger during a short week of preparation?!? THEY HAVE TWO &%W#@ WINS!!!! You should be telling the press or whoever will listen that we need to take care of business and manhandle an inferior team or something that holds your team accountable or takes them to task because the Steelers clearly are playing down to the level of their competition right now! Maybe they really don’t like playing for you! THAT I could understand because I wouldn’t want my coach to sit back while I get fined for indiscretion and discrepancies and say nothing! You can only ride Cowher’s coat tails for so long, chief! That 2008 was partially his as far as I’m concerned! Your current team clearly has lost an identity while you let the douch bag OC run rampant with his (not so) secret MO of stat compilation so as to procure future coaching spot! Stats don’t equal wins (10-4 should be 12-2 with this talent and offensive philosophy and BB but realistically should only be 8-6 when you factor the Dolphins and Bills games!)! I don’t you’re a good coach, regardless of what people say or think; feel that you’re the beneficiary of a rule imposed by your current owners and bosses and I hope they show you and Arians the door at the end of the year! Bring in Gruden or someone! Bring in someone with fire and emotions who will get his team behind them! I really think that this team is growing weary of your lack of perceived support and guess what, it’s showing on the field!

    • Boris the Spider

      December 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

      Well, Jay…. you sure did let Coach T have it!
      But you start off by telling him to shut up. So what do you want? Do you want him to shut up or speak up? I prefer less talk, because when he’s shooting from the hip he makes some stupid comments, like “unleashing hell” in December (last year) and the silly thing he said about Harrison having to pay for his kids’ educations. That became a national joke.

      You have no idea what is said to the team, to players individually, or to groups of players in meetings. Until you know that, you can’t assume he doesn’t stand up for his players or say the right things.

      • Jay

        December 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

        Spidey,
        telling Tomlin to shut up is relatively rhetorical; not designed for a response and definitely not to be taken literally; almost like a greeting but more harsh which would make it the opposite of a euphemism. The real meat is in the subsequence of the message. His “unleashing hell” that backfired is no excuse to not continue to speak up…And you’re right, we don’t know what is said behind closed door. But for the fans sake and for the sake of the players seeing PUBLICLY that the coach cares, I feel that goes a long way!

  12. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Hey marcus how you do against the saints thats what i thought and also we beat the jets how that go thats what i thought.
    And if not for a fumble by the ravens in the 4th probably a different story for the ravens and steelers game. And you want to bring up luck ok how about that drop td by the bills wr in ot, or that bullshit call against miami yep way too. But i’m guessing you’re not smart enough marcus to realize that luck is part of the game sometimes.

    • George H

      December 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

      Steelers had Jets beat when Saunders had the secondary beat but Cromartie grabbed onto his jersey pulled him back and delayed Saunders route for the td catch with like 20 seconds left…. guess what no call for pass interference again.

      Also, opening kickoff there was 2 block from the backs, 2 flags thrown, and no called penalties… just like its been all season long, steelers have to beat the team and the refs, so I really dont want to hear about luck… luck doesnt exist in the NFL

  13. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Luck does exist in the nfl sometimes you need it george h steelers got lucky a few times this year and so did the ravens. Like the old saying saids sometimes its better to be lucky then good.

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