Audio and video from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin post game press conference following the 2009, week 14 loss against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday December 10th, 2009. Transcript to follow! No audio yet, you didn\’t miss anything though, trust me.
Mike Tomlin: To cut to the chase, we fell short in all three phases tonight. We knew we had to stop their perimeter run-game and wildcat football. We weren’t able to do that. They got on the perimeter and hurt us for big chunks. They controlled the time of possession and converted first downs and critical moments in that area. We knew we couldn’t give up the critical return due to the nature of the weather. We gave up the big return and got them started and it put us behind the eight ball. Offensively, the protection of our quarterback was a big time issue. We couldn’t move the chains on third down and we couldn’t establish a rhythm. We couldn’t get the run-game going that we felt pretty good about going into the game. That about sums it up. When you get beat in all three phases, schematically and performance-wise, we are all to be held accountable, and we are. I like the fight in the group and I trust they will continue to do that. It is a close-knit group and I trust that they’ll stick together. But fighting and sticking together are not going to win football games. Performance and preparation will. We have an extended week here in preparation for our next performance so we better make moves to get that done.
Question: (On not using the run-game as much on third downs)
Mike Tomlin: Hindsight is 20/20. I thought we used it a few times to start the second half. Early on, we had some looks that we wanted to catch them on and thought we could get the ball out of our hands quickly. We lost a few opportunities and guys didn’t come open and we got sacked.
Question: (On what was responsible for the sacks)
Mike Tomlin: It was communication there, initially. Once we got some things communicated, I thought we were soft at times and we lost a few individual battles. The protection of our quarterback is an ‘11-man and our staff’ job. We all take responsibility for that – players and coaches.
Question: (On if the sacks affected Ben Roethlisberger)
Mike Tomlin: I’m sure they did. But again, he is a tough guy so I don’t think it shook him in any form or fashion. Not having an opportunity to operate in those conditions is tough.
Question: (On being able to pin-point the reasons behind a five-game losing streak)
Mike Tomlin: We have found new and different ways to not rise up in critical moments and we are losing football games because of it. It happened in all three phases.
Question: (On anything surprising out of Joshua Cribbs)
Mike Tomlin: No, they did a lot of different things with him the first time we played them. He is a special player. He came out of some tackles and we did not do a good enough job of tackling. He did a nice job – they did a nice job.
Question: (On possibly kicking away from Joshua Cribbs)
Mike Tomlin: We actually, believe it or not, were attempting to put the ball on the sidelines. In weather conditions like that, it’s hard to control the flight pattern of the ball. That is what happened a few times when the ball ended up in the middle of the field. Not one time did we intend to put the ball in the middle of the field with that guy (Cribbs) because of the history we have with him.
Question: (On possibly making wholesale changes to the team)
Mike Tomlin: We wanted to get (CB) Joe Burnett in the mix and we did. He played at least four series in the football game at cornerback. We were trying to get his feet wet and exposed to some football. We wanted to use Santonio (Holmes) as a situational punt returner to try and provide a spark there. We used Rashard Mendenhall on third downs because of the spark he provides. None of those things were a factor in determining the outcome of the football game. We will continue to take that approach moving forward.
Question: (On what the team showed him tonight)
Mike Tomlin: I thought they fought, like I said earlier. I thought that they stuck together but it wasn’t enough to win the football game. This is a results-oriented business. That is a prerequisite for winning. I’ll encourage them and expect them to continue to do those things. Fighting and sticking together is not going to win football games. We are going to look beyond that as we prepare for our next opportunity to play.
Question: (On if preparation is an issue)
Mike Tomlin: You don’t feel that it is in the midst of it, but like I said, this is a results-oriented business. If the results are not what you desire, then you have to look at all elements of it and preparation is a part of that.
Question: (On if the Steelers are a playoff team)
Mike Tomlin: Man, we haven’t won a game in five weeks. We are just trying to win a football game.
Question: (On if this is a low point for the season)
Mike Tomlin: That is a safe assessment.
Question: (On the injury to DE Brett Keisel)
Mike Tomlin: He had a stinger and once he regained strength, he was able to get back in the game. I think that was the only injury that we dealt with of any significance tonight.
Question: (On despite the record, is this still a good football team)
Mike Tomlin: It is about where you are right now. Records are one thing, but it’s about momentum. That’s why the second half of the season and December football is so important. Based on recent trends, in terms of our record and how we’ve played recently, you cannot say that. I’m being very honest in terms of where we are right now.