Audio from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin post game press conference following the 2009, week 3 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday September 27th, 2009. Transcript to follow.
Mike Tomlin: We were unable to make significant plays at the end of the football game to secure victory. Let me start by complimenting the Cincinnati Bengals because they did. We respect that element of it. We accept responsibility for our actions but at the same time we want to be complimentary of our opponents when they do the job. We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got to finish football games better. That’s the mark of a champion. It’s not us at this point. We’ve got to continue to grow. We’ve got to accept responsibilities for our action, get back in the lab, turn over whatever stones possible to find a winning formula to get in this locker room victorious when we’re in control of the football games. That’s the reality of it. We won’t run away from that. We acknowledge that. We accept responsibility for what happened. Questions?
Question: Before the end of the half, why didn’t you try a long field goal?
Mike Tomlin: We thought we were controlling get-off downs. We thought we were moving the ball effectively. We thought maybe we had an opportunity to get a first down and potentially a touchdown. We were at the outermost edge of what was comfortable field-goal range. You saw we attempted one maybe a yard shorter than that location there in the second half, so we opted to try to move the chains and maybe put seven on the board.
Question: With a timeout left on the final kickoff return, were you surprised Rashard Mendenhall pitched it back?
Mike Tomlin: I was, but that was just a young guy trying to make a play to try to win the football game. That’s not the reason we lost. There’s a lot that transpired in the moments preceding that that made that score what it was.
Question: Why did you make personnel changes in the secondary on that last drive? Was that health related or matchup related?
Mike Tomlin: It was both. Of course, Tyrone (Carter) is coming off a thigh injury and we had some matchup situations where we wanted to apply pressure and put a corner-like guy on a wide receiver-like guy. We were using three-corner defenses there throughout the game in base defense with Deshea (Townsend) essentially playing strong safety in some instances. We also of course put Keiwan Ratliff in in certain situations at the end. Needless to say it was not successful.
Question: What happened on the interception return for a touchdown?
Mike Tomlin: Just a miscommunication.
Question: Is this the best evidence that this is a new season?
Mike Tomlin: We don’t need what transpired out there to let us know it’s a new season. We realized that when we reported to Latrobe. That’s been our mentality. That’s what we said, and that’s not lip service. We mean it.
Question: (Inaudible question)
Mike Tomlin: Really, what it is, and it’s the story of the National Football League, is we’ve got to get on the details. This is the ultimate parity league. When you’re on the details, you find ways to win close games, you find ways to close games simply because you’re living and performing right. When you’re not, you’re not and we accept responsibility for that.
Question: Should it even have come down to the last drive?
Mike Tomlin: I’m not concerned about putting people away early. We need to do what’s required to win. We had an opportunity to win that football game and we weren’t able to do that.
Question: Why can’t the defense get off the field late in games?
Mike Tomlin: Usually it’s a myriad of reasons, quite frankly. Tighter coverage, better players, they go hand in hand. The bottom line is we need significant players – and we’ve got quite a few of those – to make significant plays at significant moments. That’s what comprises good football teams. We have candidates. They’ve got to deliver.
Question: Is it a variety of mistakes or are you seeing the same mistakes over and over?
Mike Tomlin: It’s not a big enough body of work to judge it in that way. We’ve just got to make critical plays at critical moments. We have people who are capable of doing that. We have people who have resumes that are full of that. We’ve just got to find ways to get it out of them.
Question: What causes details to slip?
Mike Tomlin: I’m not even going to say it’s lack of details. That’s just what my human nature tells me when you lose ball games. The reality is we’ve got to make plays in big moments.
Question: When you win it’s a veteran defense. When you lose it’s maybe an old defense. Did you sense your defense running out of gas at the end?
Mike Tomlin: No. I’ve never called it a veteran defense or old defense. Those are not my words. That’s our defense.
Question: Did you sense them tired though?
Mike Tomlin: I’m sure there were 22 people that were fatigued. That was a great number of plays. That will never be an excuse. The reality is we’d better be relatively fresh, meaning relative to our opponent.
Question: Did Limas Sweed take his eyes off the ball in the end zone?
Mike Tomlin: (Laughing) You saw what I saw. He dropped it.
Question: Were you pleased that you got more production out of Willie Parker today?
Mike Tomlin: I’m not pleased with anything because we were not successful.
Question: Why didn’t Rashard Mendenhall get in?
Mike Tomlin: Rashard wasn’t on the details this week so I chose not to play him on offense.