Audio from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin post game press conference following the 2010 week 1 15-9 against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday September 12th, 2010. Transcript to follow on Monday!
Mike Tomlin: It’s great to get a hard-fought win. The summary of the game is indicative of Week 1 football. I like the way our group did ride the emotional roller coaster of staying on task throughout. There were many outstanding efforts to identify but largely I thought we stayed together and played team football, and we did it until the very end. We got some things to work on, absolutely like all 31 other teams do, but we get to do it while we’re 1-and-0. We will prepare for our next thing, which is to take it on the road. We’ll do that, we’ll analyze this performance; we’ll aim to improve. But we’re thankful that we were able to get the job done today with a big, collective effort in all three phases from about everybody in hats. On the injury front, Max Starks has sustained an ankle sprain; Casey Hampton sustained a hamstring injury. I don’t know the extent of the injury; we’ll have more information next time we sit down and talk. Other than that normal bumps and bruises and we’ll march on to Week 2.
Question: Was Troy Polamalu’s interception something that he read?
Mike Tomlin: That’s just Troy being Troy. A part of being a great player is not only delivering big plays but delivering them in a timely fashion. I thought that play was indicative of the kind of player he is. I thought that sack by James Harrison around mid-field that put them behind the chains a little earlier than that was a signature of what kind of player he is. The examples go on and on. I think that’s the recipe you look for when you have great players and guys that can be great players. They not only have to make the big plays but make them in a timely fashion. Rashard Mendenhall is a young guy trying to be a big-time player. Delivering those kinds of runs in overtime has to be a big part of him going where he needs to go.
Question: Dennis Dixon’s performance:
Mike Tomlin: It was a winning effort. The scoreboard says so.
Question: Dennis seemed to be throwing a little low. Was that him being tentative?
Mike Tomlin: I don’t necessarily want to call it tentative. He just was a little off target initially, at least earlier in the game. The thing that I really liked was there was no panic in him. There was no panic really in anyone. He kind of stayed status quo to allow him to get himself squared away and he delivered some big-time throws particularly in the second half to get us going, going to reliable veteran men such as Hines Ward. When you have a young guy in there at quarterback and you need big-time plays, you’re pretty comfortable when you can deliver to old 86. We know what he’s capable of and he just about always delivers for us.
Question: Did you expect those kinds of mistakes from a young guy rather than just Dennis?
Mike Tomlin: I am an optimist by nature. I understand your question but we just don’t live in that world. Our glass is half full. We’re excited about an opportunity for this guy to play some good football for us. His first time out as a starter he took us to a hostile environment took us to overtime and put us in a position to win. He was in a better environment today to say the least at Heinz Field, so we were optimistic about those chances for various reasons.
Question: Did his performance guarantee him another start?
Mike Tomlin: We’ll talk about next week next week because today we’re going to bask in it along with Dennis.
Question: Can you talk about your thought process at the end of the half attempting a long field goal?
Mike Tomlin: Jeff [Reed] had just banged a 52-yarder in the direction we weren’t interested in going. So we felt even better about going the other way. As you can see on both kicks distance wasn’t the issue. Jeff is a very good kicker. He’s got about as much experience and success at Heinz Field as any many breathing. I’m always comfortable giving him the opportunity to put points on the board particularly in a situation we though points might be scarce, because of the situation with a young quarterback and so forth. We had an opportunity there, which is comfortable in his range. Though it was a 55-yard kick we felt he was capable of hitting it. Distance wasn’t the issue; it just hit the up-right. If I had the do-over again I’d give him an opportunity again.
Question: Was this a game where you felt comfortable going into overtime with your defense?
Mike Tomlin: I felt comfortable because of our guys. I always get a lot of my feelings off of feelings and interactions I get from them whether it’s the play or attitude from a communicator on the sidelines. Largely I felt the football team was great in that area all day. That’s why I was optimistic.
Question: Would you have maybe played defense if you won the coin toss?
Mike Tomlin: No, we were taking the football. I’m not going to give Matt Ryan the football. He’s a good quarterback. Playing the rules that we play under right now, first team wins, there’s no way I’m giving Matt Ryan that football.
Question: Did you switch up the defense with Bryant McFadden being back?
Mike Tomlin: We didn’t change our approach in terms of calling the game with having B-Mac back. It was great to have him back. You saw he challenged just about every throw out there to a top-notch receiver in Roddy White. Roddy made some tough, contested catches. B-Mac won some battles. I thought it was just a great battle of veteran players over there on the defensive left side for the better part of the day. It’s great to have him back, but in terms of calling the game it wasn’t anything conscience from our standpoint in terms of having B-Mac back, no.
Question: How did the guys on special teams guys do?
Mike Tomlin: We’re going to comb through it tomorrow. Particularly in that phase you look through a lot of things in that area. We had some young guys contributing. Jason Worilds ran down there and made a tackle early on. I thought a significant play was that big-time punt by Daniel Sepulveda late in regulation. It was a big-time football play. I’m pleased with the performance of our team largely, and special teams was a big part of that.
Question: How did you think Maurkice Pouncey did?
Mike Tomlin: I thought he did a nice job. I thought he had a great demeanor. I don’t think he miscalled a thing all night. You saw those guys move around quite a bit. They’re very multiple in terms of what they do. The quality of his work, the physical quality of his work, we’ll leave that to the video. In terms of his demeanor, in terms of his pre-snap declaration and things, he played like a veteran football player. And really that’s why he’s in there because he’s not playing like a rookie.
Question: Did you play a little conservative on offense because of Dennis?
Mike Tomlin: We did what we had to do to win the game today. Next week we’ll see.