Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin met the media today after the 20-3 loss last night to the San Francisco 49ers. Tomlin opened by saying it was a losing performance by us and a winning performance by the 49ers. We played their brand of football and played the game at their pace, said Tomlin. They created turnovers and their punter Andy Lee kept us on a long field, particularly in the second half. Tomlin thought they moved the ball on offense, but were unable to finish drives either because of execution or by turning the ball over. Just didn\’t play very well he said.
Injury wise, running back Mewelde Moore (knee) has an MCL sprain and will not be available this week. Tomlin said there could be a roster move upcoming in regards to him. Running back Rashard Mendenhall (ribs) has some sore ribs. Tomlin is sure he will be fine, but he might have some discomfort in the early portion of the week. Linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring), center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) all have a shot at returning this week against the St. Louis Rams. Tomlin said linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) did fine coming off of his injury and they took him out at the end last night as fatigue set in. No setbacks with him. Tomlin said he will keep an eye on all the others, but did not mention who the others were.
You can listen to the audio of the presser below and I will be adding more recap and talking points from the Tuesday press conference.[audio:http://www.steelersdepot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/mike-tomlin-week-16-rams-press-conference.mp3]
Tomlin went into the praising of the Rams, but did not go too deep as far as their personnel goes. He praised Steven Jackson and said the Rams have three quality backs that know how to run the football. Tomlin said they will analyze who the Rams quarterback might be this week. James Laurinaitis, James Hall and Chris Long got recognition from Tomlin defensively.
Tomlin said he had no inclination to take quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of the game and that he and Ben have been in that situation before and he knows what type of competitor he is, and he wanted to support him in that. Tomlin continued that Ben is a competitor and he was not going to deny him that opportunity by taking him out and said he thinks his teammates have an appreciation for that. When asked again if he ever considered pulling him, Tomlin said, “No, not really.” He only would say there were some points where he wished they would have performed better. Never considered pulling him at any point in the game based on health.
Tomlin thought the offense moved the ball more fluidly in the second half. The problem was working on the long fields he said. We don\’t live in our fears, we live in our hopes, said Tomlin. We made a decision that we were going to give Ben an opportunity to play and we don\’t second guess it, regardless of outcome. Such is life in the National Football League. We will do it without shame, we won\’t apologize for it. Last night was last night. It was a losing performance by us, we accept responsibility for it. No interest in going back and rehashing or wishing we could change things, because we can\’t. We will simply learn from what transpired last night in an effort to win or increase our chances of winning moving forward.
On the first interception, Tomlin said we probably didn\’t have best distribution on that play, but that there were multiple factors that weighed into how that play unfolded.
Looking back at the drive that ended the first half, Tomlin admitted it was probably an opportunity squandered in regards to clock management. He thought they had a pretty good play called to get the ball down in field goal range and the 49ers covered it well so they dumped the ball off to the running back to get some yards. Obviously minus 2 didn\’t do it. He stepped out of bounds with 4 seconds left on the clock and Tomlin said it was irrelevant to use a timeout at that time. So they took a shot at the endzone because they were outside of field goal range. Tomlin said they probably could have done better in the situation and using a timeout could have played a part in that. He said they were interested in utilizing the whole field on the second down play and you need a timeout in order to do that. Those things did not transpire and he said that was one of the many reasons why they lost the game. As far as it being having control to call a timeout, Tomlin said he certainly does because those guys play at particular at that position.
Tomlin did not get an explanation he was satisfied with on the Lawrence Timmons leaping penalty and that it was a big question mark for him, but definitely not the reason why they lost the game. as far as the Keenan Lewis penalty on fumbled punt, it was another one that Tomlin said was questionable in his eyes, but again not a reason why they lost the game.
As far as the blackouts went last night, Tomlin said the only concern during the second blackout was that they keep the teams on the field if all possible to avoid the re-warming up. It had no bearing on how the game unfolded as far as he was concerned. It was a situation that both teams had to deal with and obviously they dealt with it better than we did.
Tomlin said he did not see Ben this morning in regards to his health, but they would be assessing all the guys early Wednesday morning. Tomlin said he did not know what type of medical treatment received prior to the game in regards to getting a shot or not. He said he was sorry, but did not have an answer to that. He did say that of course Ben felt sore, but no worse for wear as far as he could tell. They didn\’t talk a great deal about how he felt after the game, they talked more about how the game unfolded instead and that is usually the lines of their discussion post game.
The media asked more questions about penalties and Tomlin abruptly cut them off by saying, “Guys, I am not going to complain about the officiating or the penalties. You guys can feel free to do so. We lost that game because we didn’t execute well enough to win it. OK, thank you.” Presser over.