"I'll go through the injuries that might limit the guys during the week. I think we're in pretty good shape, but Antwan Applewhite has a lower back. He played with it; had a little bit last week. He should be fine when we get going again on Wednesday. Luis Castillo (groin) made it through the game but will be limited a little bit early in the week. Nick Hardwick has a little bit of a shoulder; they feel he may be limited early in the week but be able to go. Then Brandon Siler, who obviously did not dress yesterday, had a good workout today and hopefully we'll get him back. He's obviously been a key special teams player for us all year. (Antonio Gates), I just talked to him a while ago and he made it through. No new soreness. Obviously he had a great game and he's gotten to where he plays pretty well with limited reps. I know it's a real sign of being a pro. Nate Kaeding has the groin or the thigh muscle that bothered him during pregame. He made it through the game and they felt he didn't hurt it any worse. Obviously LT, the one that I'm sure you want to get an update on, the injury that he has is not any worse. I think they said he was pretty sore around that area from probably compensating for the injury. It was obvious once he got going, to him and us, that he would not be able to play the way that he'd like to. At halftime, they worked on him and tried to get him where he could go in the second half. It just wasn't going to happen. This will be a thing we update him on Wednesday when we get going and we'll see where we are throughout the week. Again, I don't think its any worse but it isn't any better.
"From a standpoint of the game: as a coach, you live to be involved in a game like that. There were so many things that could have been a turning point for either team and I don't think either team let them become a turning point. They were great efforts on both sides, both teams. There were great players in the game and great players making unbelievable plays on both sides. I just can't say enough about it. It's a little bit like our season was. Guys just wouldn't give in and wouldn't let them take control of the game. Our defensive guys, as I said last night, with 2:50 left or 2:40 left just stepped up and made three great plays to keep them from making a first down. Obviously if they get a first down the game is over. They forced a punt and gave us a chance to tie the game.
"Obviously one of the keys to the game was Mike Scifres. I've never seen a punting display like that. There are probably a lot of people who have watched a lot of football who have never seen a display like that. That's the kind of year he had, that's the kind of player he is. He does it every day in practice so it shouldn't surprise us. He kicks that ball down there and it bounces on the two and it rolls and stops on the one or it pulls up and ends up out of bounds like it did today. He's just a very, very special player."
Coach Norv Turner
"The first thing I did, there were a couple things I did, I was talking to John Ramsdell, our quarterbacks coach, and he had their defensive stats and it's either first or second in either category. Yards given up, yards per play, points. Everything involved. They went 15-straight games I think and Tennessee finally got over 300 yards. No one's gotten many yards and no one's gotten many points. You've got to contend with that. The next thing I did was look at the weather report and you know you're going to have to contend with that. We're a ways away. That 10-day report doesn't tell a lot. That will be a factor in how you play the game and when you get in those games obviously running the ball and playing defense are critical. We did a great job defensively back there. We gave up a lot of yards but we had a great goal line stand and we held them out. We had some missed opportunities on offense. As I said before the Indianapolis game, I believe we're a lot better team now than we were six weeks ago or eight weeks ago. That's going to be a part of it. You're in the playoffs and you're playing a team that's got home field advantage and is an outstanding team. We're going to have to be at our best."
If LT can't go, is there a concern about Darren Sproles wearing down a bit doing everything?
"We've got him packed in ice back in the training room now. We'll let him out on Friday. Yeah there's a concern. He was absolutely exhausted. I know if we had gave him the ball one more time he would have done anything he could to get in the end zone. He's an unbelievable guy and we'll get him a lot of rest this week. Michael Bennett, we'll get him ready to go. He's going to be able to do a little bit more than he did last week. We're down to the point where everyone's going to do whatever it takes and we're going to have to be at our best and we're going to have to do everything from a standpoint of coaching and preparing that we can. Our guys are up to that challenge I believe."
On the crowd at Qualcomm Stadium Saturday night:
"When you're down on the sideline and you're doing your deal and all that, I think it's kind of, you don't realize it, I don't realize it, you're in your own world. Then, after the game, I had so many people say, it might be the loudest they've ever heard. There in the fourth quarter when we had to stop them and then in the overtime…it's just a big part. It was a great game and the crowd was a big part of that."
On the team's resilience over the last month:
"Resiliency is a short term and long term thing. It's been a week-to-week thing. We had a tough loss to Pittsburgh . That was a tough loss. We had some plays that didn't go our way that could have. We had some guys that had bad plays that normally don't. When you have that, it would be easy to, when you're struggling and having the type of season we were having at the time, point fingers or turn on each other. But this group is so close. It's still a tribute to what the organization as done. From the ownership to the management. You bring in quality people. You bring in people of great character and great work ethic, and through the tough times it pays dividends. Everyone is great when it's going good. I just can't say enough about the type of players, the type of people that we have."
Coach Norv Turner
"To be honest with you, I don't know. That sounds like the question I was asking about two hours ago. ‘How much better can he get? Is time a factor? If he didn't play this week would it be better if we were fortunate enough to win, would it be better in two weeks where you give him a realistic chance to be at his best?' It's not fair to him. He wanted to go. Anyone that questions his mental toughness, his physical toughness or his competitiveness from a year ago…you don't do what he's done through his career…he's one of the great competitors I've been around. We've got to make the right decision and I think LT has to/wants to make the right decision too. So that's why we'll evaluate as the week goes on."
On whether or not it is a tendon that's pulled away from the bone:
"He has a strained groin. That's what our medical report is."
So you're sticking with that and, in your mind, it's not more serious than that?
"Yes, in my mind that's accurate."
On what kept the players together when the team was 4-8:
"The thing that's lost on this a little bit, and I talk about with our guys all the time, everyone gets caught up in, ‘Do you have something to play for with the thought of making the playoffs?' Every time you step on that field, whether you're a coach, whether you're a player, whatever your involvement in this thing is, you're representing yourself. You're representing the organization. You're representing the National Football League. It's a privilege to play football in this league. To do anything other than to go out and play at your best is not being fair to yourself or anyone else that's involved. That's where talked about character, and people having pride in their performance. We have a lot of people that take pride in their individual performance…wanting to represent themselves as a heck of a football player. Those are the things that help you when you're 4-8. It did help us. We were mathematically still in it. I'd be a liar if I told you I thought we were going to make the playoffs because there were too many things that had to happen at 4-8. I was positive that we could go and win. But there were a lot of things that had to happen. Fortunately it happened our way."
On having to pull more out of this team to be successful in the past month than any other team:
"Every team is different. Every situation is different. As I've told people, I think consistency is critical for you. To have dramatic changes, obviously we've always had subtle changes, but to have dramatic changes, that completely try to change who you are or what you are, or how you react to things, they see through it and they know what's going on. You just have to make sure that you don't try to do something that you're not capable of doing when you're struggling. That tends to be what gets you in trouble. There are a couple of situations where it got us in trouble and we fixed it. We handled it."
On what those troubles were:
"(Jokingly) I don't remember now, but I know it happened."
On certain advantage to having made the Pittsburgh trip already:
"It's just like playing Indianapolis again. We're familiar with them. They're familiar with us. I thought it was an advantage for us to be at home. Obviously the crowd and everything involved, that will be an advantage. That's going to be something we'll have to overcome there. But the fact that we've played in the stadium (Heinz Field). We've been in the weather. We've handled it once in terms of knowing we can compete and play in that environment. That will help us."
Coach Norv Turner
"I think it's important for us. Last night they asked me who I would rather play, and you're going to play who you're going to play, but I do believe that having that extra day (helps). We were on a short week last week. We played very, very physical games. Last night was, as we talked about with Sproles, and there were a bunch of other guys that gave everything they had last night and having the extra day is going to help us physically, but more importantly mentally."
Can you recall your first impressions of Sproles?
"I had the opportunity to coach the Senior Bowl the year that Darren played in it. I was either coaching in Oakland or San Francisco at the time I don't remember exactly where I was…no, I was at Oakland and we ran on third and three, from about the 20 yard line going in, a little trap to Darren, much like the trap we ran the other night. If you blinked you didn't see him when he took the hand-off and got into the endzone, it was that quick. It was like that Steve Smith ESPN commercial where he's at one end of the hall and then at the guys' desks the next minute. I've never seen a guy hit a hole and go 20 yards as fast as he did. I actually remember when he was drafted by San Diego thinking, ‘I wish he hadn't gone to San Diego.' Obviously I'm glad he did. He's such a good person to be around and there isn't anybody on this team that works harder than he does."
On people wondering if Darren Sproles will break down and how strong he actually is:
"The biggest thing with Darren is that there are different types of small. Darren is not small, he's a powerfully built guy and is one of the strongest guys on the team. Darren is short; there is nothing small about him. He is as physical a runner and does a great job of getting in behind the line and they have trouble finding him. Then, when he comes out of there, he's a powerful guy and has shown that he can break tackles and he can run through people."
On if he feels any vindication that two owners gave up on him and his hiring in San Diego was criticized yet he has been successful in the playoffs:
"No. I really believe that it is always about next week. For me it's always going to be about what happened in this game and now what's going to happen in next game. That's not a bad thing because it does help motivate you."
On hearing the criticism at times:
"It's part of what this profession is and it's part of this business. If you're affected by it and you let it keep you from doing your job or doing a good job then I think that would be the biggest error you could make. I've got strong beliefs, I've been fortunate to be around great coaches and great players. I do believe our staff knows how to coach and we know how to get some things done. Are we perfect? No. No one is perfect in this league. We had a great plan, we had guys running open about three times and big number 93 on Indianapolis had something to do with some of those plays being good or bad. This game still is about players competing and players making plays. We take a great deal of pride in putting those guys in the best position to do their job and the people we're coaching against do the same thing."
Where is Philip Rivers better this year than last year at this time?
"It's subtle things. He had the ball stripped out of his hands in the first Indianapolis game and if you watch him when he starts to move in the pocket right now he has that ball cradled tight to his hips and he has gotten great at taking three steps and then getting back into position. He did it on that scramble, a big play in the game in my mind, we didn't get any points out of it but it changed field position, to Chris Chambers. He made a great throw running to his left. He ran about four steps with that ball tight up in there and it's going to be hard to get the ball out of his hands when he's got pressure and moving. He's just making such great decisions. He's always been a very, very accurate passer. I believe over the last few years his arm has gotten stronger through the lifting and the things we do. We force him to throw the ball a lot and force him to throw the ball up the field a lot. I believe by doing it in practice continually you do get stronger. He's getting the ball out of his hand a lot quicker than he ever did."
Of all the things the Steelers do on their defense, what scares you the most?
"It's a tough combination. They do a great job on first and second down of stopping the run and they have the best pressure package in the National Football League. They wreak havoc with the quarterback and they have some DB's that fly around and make plays in the secondary, so you have to handle the rush and you have to handle their blitz scheme. It's hard to continuously be in great third down situations. They do a great job of forcing you into those third and eights or plus, and that's where they really take advantage of you."
Is there any coach defensively that gives you as much trouble with tendencies?
"There are certain guys, but it still comes down to style. In their own right, Indianapolis has a totally different style but they do as good a job with coaching and they are disciplined and what they do. They don't create the blitz pressure problems like some other teams do but they are so well coached and they do a great job of keeping you from doing what you like to do. So we're just seeing another style. Dick (LeBeau) has been doing this thing forever and I've always thought that he was one of the best at what he does. He's really good when he's got guys like he is coaching too, that makes him even better."