Cowher: Colts "Mentally Tough Offensively"

Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher talked to the media this week about his star players, the Steelers' attacking defense, and the Colts ability to adapt to the team they're playing each week.

(on beating two undefeated teams last year and if there is a different feel in a game like this)
"It's hard to compare last year. I think it's a little bit later. I think that has something to do with it. I think any time you get into mid-November or late November, there's a lot of playoff implications that take place. It's a big challenge for us. Certainly, we're in a situation where we're just battling to keep up with Cincinnati. So there's a lot of implications that go with this game from our standpoint and certainly, playing the best team in football makes it a big game from any standpoint."

(on if there is a key to beating any unbeaten team)
"I think obviously what you're playing is a very confident football team and certainly they're unbeaten for a reason. They're on top of their game, and it's going to take us to play our best game. Certainly, I think we're far from where we'd like to be at this point, but at the same time, it's a great challenge that we have and really a great opportunity to, again, see where we measure."

(on what RB-Edgerrin James brings to the offense and what it's like to stop Edgerrin)
"The one thing watching Edge run, I think he is running as well as I've seen him run in recent years. His balance is phenomenal, he runs so low to the ground, he's a strong runner and sees the field, and again, he's one of those guys that, he runs so low to the ground that he's always bouncing off, he's always falling forward. I think that's a big key when you're looking at a team that's number one in the league in converting third downs. I think it's because of his ability to get those extra yards and make it a very manageable third down. He gives them an element in the running game that you have to honor, be respectful of, and you couple that with obviously the weapons they have in the passing game, the way Peyton (Manning) runs that offense, they're so balanced with the run and pass, that's what makes them difficult to defend."

(on if RB-Edgerrin James is the key to this offense)
"I think with this offense, it's hard to pinpoint any one part of it. You can certainly gameplan and take the running game out, there's no question you can do that, but the problem in doing that is you just open yourself up for big plays down the field. I think that their offense, what makes them so dynamic and really so productive is the fact that they're so balanced. I think you have to be very careful in trying to take away any one element because the other side of it is so potentially potent that you're not going to win a game by just taking away just one element, and I think that's what makes them so dangerous."

(on the Colts' offense being able to adapt and play to what the defense is giving them)
"When you look at it, you've seen them win every game possible and I think that you're not going to win a shootout with them and even in the close games, there's no reason to believe that they can't respond. They've won close games and low-scoring games. When you look at the players that they have across the board, they're offensive line is playing outstanding, the receivers they have, whether they have the three-wide with (Brandon) Stokley or the two tight ends with Dallas Clark in the slot, I think that you have three guys that you can throw the ball to. They all make plays. And the quarterback (Peyton Manning) is a very smart guy who can see defenses, there's nothing that you're going to show him that he hasn't seen yet. I think that they've been playing which each other for so long that you just see the comfort level and almost the rapport that they have that's almost unsaid that's on the field, that they can adjust to the game as the game's going on. You just have to respect every element in what they do. You have to be very disciplined playing defense against these guys, because if you try to get cute, you try to jump things, they're going to burn you."

(on QB-Ben Roethlisberger's efficiency and it complementing his style)
"He makes very good decisions. I think that's the thing that you see when you look at with what we do, and he has the ability to improvise at times with his mobility. He is a big, strong kid, he has a good feel for the game and he makes good decisions. Certainly with how we play the game, it's a very, very important part of it. We're not going to throw the ball 35 or 40 times by design, and that being the case, people say that his rule is just to manage it, but when you don't throw a lot, there's no margin for error for incompletions, because we expect all of the throws to be complete. He has been an integral part of this offense, obviously, but not just from the good decisions, but his ability to stay alive and to make some plays when a designed play isn't there."

(on how different of a team they are with QB- Ben Roethlisberger under center)
"You can only measure that only with the wins and losses, and I think that kind of speaks for itself. He's still a young quarterback. He's in his second year, he's still growing, he's still learning, he's still facing new challenges and new scenarios, so I think so much is still ahead of him. I think he's still in the growing process. I look at him and I think all of the plus sides of this player is still ahead of him."

(on S-Troy Polamalu and if he has an option on where he lines up or it is set)
"He knows where he needs to be within the structure of the defense. Sometimes he takes different paths of getting there that even we, at times, are wondering where he's going to be. So I know the defense won't know where he's at, because sometimes even we don't know where he's going to be. But we also have a call, and he understands what the structure of the defense is. He's a very smart player. He has a great feel for the game. We try not to restrict him too much. He knows where he needs to be, and he understands what the design of each call is. For the most part, he gets where he needs to be when he needs to be there."

(on how much of an asset WR-Antwaan Randel-El's versatility is)
"It's big. We've tried for years to get the ball in his hands. He's obviously a guy that's very exciting with the ball in his hands. The run after catch is something that he does so well. He's making some plays down the field and certainly his ability to throw the ball, and he's been very accurate at doing that, is another part that makes him a weapon for us. We try to, again, utilize some of the players we have and do some of the things that they do best, and certainly he brings a lot to the table."

(on if his approach is to pound a team with the running game and defense)
"I don't know. I think every team probably, to a degree, would like to say that they can do that. I think, certainly, we like to think that we're a smart team that won't be itself, that we're a team that's going to play hard for 60 minutes. Consequently, I think we find ourselves in a lot of close games. At the same time, you still like to be able to open things up and you like to be able to throw the ball and be able to score points, because you still have to score points in this league. You have to be able to win games that get into the 20s and 30s. We don't like it to happen that often, but if it does happen, you still have to have enough balance in your offense and have enough confidence to be able to play both of those style of games. If you're going to win in the National Football League, you cannot be one dimensional. We're constantly trying to be a team that can do both and still be very solid on defense within in our style of play. So, I don't know if it's something that we're trying to impose ourselves on teams as much as we're just going to play hard and hopefully our style will be one that will persevere in the end."

(on the Colts being a finesse team and if they have a toughness about them)
"I will say this: I believe that they are as mentally tough offensively as any team that you are going to play. They never lose their poise. They never lose their focus. Their quarterback has a tremendous confidence in his own abilities and the players around him. You never see him hit a panic button in any game that they're ever in. I think when you look at them defensively, they are not a finesse team. They are a very physical football team, particularly up front with (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis and (Corey) Simon and (Montae) Reagor and Larry (Tripplett). I think their front four, and their linebackers can run, and the two safeties, I tell you, they have a presence on the field. They come up and they support the run, they're great in space. A very physical team on defense and I think a very mentally tough team on offense."

(on with the Steelers' attacking defense, if QB-Peyton Manning gives them pause with that approach or if they are what they are)
"I think you have to be careful. I think one of the keys to our success has been defensively and through this year is, we've tried not to give up the big play. I think that's the one thing we do and certainly within what we do. We feel like we're very sound in what we do and try not to expose ourselves to the big play. I think this will be the stiffest challenge we have because this is a football team that, if you do take some chances, if you do expose yourself, he will find it. And I think he's done it with every team that he's played, so I think you have to pick your spots, and again, if you can try to make him be methodical, and even though when you do that, they still find success. They still are very good with the time of possession. They are very patient. Like I said, they are a mentally tough team, and I think you have to match that mental toughness with a degree of patience, with a degree of persistence and try to play that game with them and pick your times that you can somehow find a way to make a play."

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