Audio and video from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin post game press conference following the 2009, week 12 loss against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday November 29th, 2009. Full audio and Transcript to follow on Monday!
Mike Tomlin: I just told the guys, ‘I appreciate your spirit,’ the energy with which they fought. Don’t talk to me about moral victories and things of that nature. That would be disrespectful to those guys in the locker room. We didn’t get the job done. We came up short. We accept responsibility for that. We will not go gently. We will unleash Hell here in December because we have to. We won’t go in a shell. We’ll go into attack mode, because that’s what’s required. But we came up short tonight. Tough environment. It’s a good football team – I’d like to compliment [the Ravens]. They made the plays necessary to win, and we came up just short. So be it. We take responsibility for that – me out front. We’ll move forward.
Question: (on his decision not to play QB Ben Roethlisberger)
Mike Tomlin: Dr. Maroon, on Saturday morning, suggested that we don’t play him, and it’s quite simply this: He passed neurological tests throughout the week that we gave him repeatedly. He had headaches with exertion, which is a symptom of post-concussion deals. It persisted throughout the week. We didn’t feel comfortable allowing him to play. [Dr. Maroon] made that suggestion on Saturday. We respect his expert medical opinion. We did make the moves that we did in regards to that.
Question: (on why Roethlisberger was suited up)
Mike Tomlin: Because, quite frankly, we spent so much time and energy throughout the week preparing both him to play and Dennis [Dixon] to play. We had no time to give a Hines Ward or somebody like that snaps as a ‘getcha out of the game’ quarterback. So, if disaster happened and two quarterbacks went down in the football game, we were going to have to put him on the field and absolutely hand the ball off every single play. It’s not an ideal thought, it’s a nasty thought, but we thought our time was better spent preparing for the potential of Ben playing indefinitely than the potential for Dennis to play. We didn’t give Hines Ward a snap or a disaster quarterback snap this week. Calculated risk taking, that’s part of it. We would have been uncomfortable if that course of events happened, but we would have absolutely handed the ball off every single time to finish the game had he had to go in.
Question: (on QB Dennis Dixon’s performance)
Mike Tomlin: I like his demeanor throughout it all. He made some plays. [I] thought he represented himself relatively well, but we came up short.
Question: (on what the Steelers had to change bringing Dixon into the offense)
Mike Tomlin: We limited his exposure, probably the best way to say it. Particularly early, we wanted to run the ball, get the ball on the perimeter, let him find some rhythm, settle in. And if it meant running the ball third and down when we were in minus territory, we were willing to do it. We want to pick our spots because we understand the potential for what happened at the end of the game. It happened. That’s a great defense. They have great continuity, a young quarterback, they’ll bait you. You’ve got to be aware of where Ed Reed is at all times, and so forth. We weren’t going to play scared by any stretch. We were just going to limit his exposure and hold our bullets to the appropriate time to win the football game.
Question: (on the rest of their schedule)
Mike Tomlin: Everybody that’s around us has the same problems that we have. I just acknowledge that we’re going to be in attack mode.
Question: (on WR Hines Ward saying the locker room was divided on whether or not Roethlisberger should play)
Mike Tomlin: I’m not worried about a problem in the locker room. Of course, in that instance maybe Hines was uninformed. I didn’t give him the detailed explanation that went down into the decision making in terms of what Dr. Maroon suggested. In response to that, I will give him that information. I will give our football team that information. At the time that the information came down, I was more concerned about getting Dennis ready to play, and I proceeded with the assumption that our men understood what kind of competitive setting it is. If they don’t, I’ll tell them.
(on if he questions Roethlisberger’s toughness) Absolutely not. You’ve been in the same stadiums as I have for the past two and a half years. I do not.
Question: (on if he thought that he should have won with 17 points scored)
Mike Tomlin: I don’t care whether it’s 40-39 or 3-2, we play the game, we play to win. I try not to envision how a game is going to unfold. I acknowledge that we had to shorten the field, get turnovers, pick our spots with Dennis, run the ball effectively. I acknowledge all those things, but I didn’t put a point total on it. One thing I did acknowledge, if and when they got in the red zone, in order for us to win we had to make them kick field goals, and we weren’t able to do that tonight. So in that area, there was a failure. But, I never precede a point total in mind.
Question: (on if it came down to putting Roethlisberger in, if it would be OK with the doctors)
Mike Tomlin: They would have had to have been. I had no other options. I didn’t have time nor energy to provide snaps for a disaster quarterback. I had enough issues.
Question: (on if Dixon was prepared for Ravens LB/DE Paul Kruger to drop off his coverage, creating the interception)
Mike Tomlin: Dennis is a young quarterback. Obviously he wasn’t prepared for it. That’s the kind of experience you get with snaps. The guy had interior coverage, [and] fell off his coverage like a savvy defender does. A defense that’s got great continuity and will understand the big picture… He made a play.
Question: (on why they didn’t go back to the design run with Dixon)
Mike Tomlin: We did. We didn’t get the opportunity. We wanted to pick our spots, like I said earlier. The defense understood the talent, his skill set. They know that he can run, and often times they were brining multiple people off the right side of our formation. In the event that we ran boots and nakeds, they saw we ran boots several times in the game, and he had to pull up. So, we just couldn’t call it repeatedly, because they’re professionals, too, and they prepare.
Question: (on if Roethlisberger’s injury will cause future problems)
Mike Tomlin: Not at this point, but we’ll proceed appropriately.
Question: (on whether they’re going to bring in a veteran quarterback in case Roethlisberger isn’t ready next week)
Mike Tomlin: I potentially will. To be honest with you, I hadn’t pondered that. At this point, I couldn’t see past tonight.
Question: (on Ravens RB Ray Rice’s performance)
Mike Tomlin: This guy, he’s top 10 in the league in rushing, top 10 in the league in receiving. He’s their leading receiver. He’s a quality player. It goes through him. We had a great deal of respect for him in preparation for this game, and he got us at critical times anyway. Hat’s off to him.