Coach Mike Tomlin: What a beautiful game; and I mean that. I just told the team that. People get too preoccupied with style points. That was a beautiful football game because we displayed mettle and we hung together. Are we far from perfect? Yes. But this is our football team. Those guys fought, they believed in one another; and they didn’t blink in the face of adversity, most of which was caused by us; but that is life. That gives us something to work on as we move forward; it is great to do that with a victory against a top-notch opponent and it was great to do it in front of our fans. This is December; we will take the “W.”
What defense were you in when Deshea Townsend made that interception?
We were in a zone coverage and rushing four; playing coverage right behind it. We were in the right place at the right time. That was a heck of a play by him; plays that define a defense that has the potential to be great.
Was it your own breakdowns or what Dallas was doing that was stifling your offense?
It was a function of both. In the first half, we just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We fumbled in their territory; we fumbled at midfield when we were moving it. We missed a field goal. When you don’t have an opportunity to establish rhythm, it looks like that from a performance standpoint. We have to get better. Taking nothing away from the Cowboys because they came to play; they are a great defense in their own right and they are a great football team.
Were you concerned that your team would get demoralized after being stopped at the one-yard line?
One of the things from a coaching standpoint that make you feel comfortable under the circumstances is that we have a great defense. They have shown me time and time again that when we have field position or potential field position, they keep it for us. That is why you do it in those situations where you are struggling offensively and we are close to an opportunity to put seven (points) on the board. When you have a great defensive unit you take those kinds of chances. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us, but, again, I thought that the sequence of events that followed that is encouraging because we have a football team that doesn’t blink.
What is your reaction to Jeff Reed kicking a kickoff out-of-bounds and then drilling the next two into the end zone?
I thought that, as impressive as anything, late in that football game, was our kickoff coverage unit on those last two. Those guys were foaming at the mouth; they have been an excellent unit all year. It was unfortunate the kickoff out-of-bounds, but Jeff is human. That kickoff unit on those last two times down, that was a display of the character of our football team.
Did you know that you were going to go for it on fourth-down when you passed on third-down?
Yeah, we were committed to trying to put that ball in the end zone. Of course, we thought we were going to put it into the end zone when we hit Carey Davis in the flat. When you complete that ball, usually your momentum takes you into the end zone. That was a heck of a football play by whoever made it for the Cowboys; I don’t know who made it. When that guy catches the ball, usually that is a touchdown. Somebody made a heck of a play.
Was the weather a factor?
You could say that but the weather was the same for both offenses so the playing field was level. We don’t worry about things that are out of our control; weather being one of them. When it is cold, it is cold for both teams; when it rains, it rains for both teams. We tend to keep our attention on our performance and what we need to do. We acknowledge that we fell short of perfection today. It is good to make corrections with a victory in our pocket.
Why was Nate Washington so wide-open on the game-tying drive?
We just take what is given to us, or what is the most opportunistic look. Tone (Santonio Holmes) had made a play or two and probably created an opportunity or two for Nate. They did an excellent job of being aware of where Hines (Ward) was for most of the day. It was just his time to rise up and make a play for us; he made several.
On the third-and-16 completion to Holmes, were you just trying to make a play?
It was just a big, big play at an appropriate time. Third-and-16 under those conditions, based upon what we had done through that point in the game, was a dire situation. It was big-time protection, a big-time throw and a big-time catch.
How amazing is it for your defense to still be ranked first overall, rushing and against the pass?
We are a work-in-progress in that regard. Those guys in that room know that great defenses and legendary defenses make their mark in January football. We have to get there and then they can earn those kind of stripes. They are a heck of a defense and they are a big reason why we were successful today. From that standpoint, that is what we are excited about. We are not excited about the historical significance of what we have going on right now; we can’t. We take a victory today and we have to go to Baltimore next week.
Did you suffer any notable injuries today?
None at this point, thankfully. I don’t know how Nate got up from that deal. We will see. Adrenaline maybe; we will see how he feels in the morning.
Was it Washington’s ankle or knee?
It looked like his ankle but by the time that I got out there he was jumping around and running.
What is your take on Deshea Townsend and the way that his role has constantly changed this year?
This guy is a veteran football player who is capable of making plays for us. He is a team-guy; he doesn’t care about anything but winning. I have limited him some in an effort to keep him up and running. I have made him a sub-package football player; he hasn’t blinked. It is great that he had an opportunity to make a significant play like that for us because he is as deserving as anyone.