Offensive quotebook

<b>ANTWAAN RANDLE EL</b><br> <b> Did you plan to attack their secondary today?</b> <br><br> We put a lot of different things in knowing we could go against them. When we need a spark we open our packages up and that's what we did.

What about the touchdown pass that you dropped?

I took my eyes off of it. I was thinking touchdown before I turned and that's what happened.


JEFF REED
Did anyone ask you to squib that last kickoff?

No. If you hit a line drive you risk them setting up the return and our guys not being on the field. Nobody told me anything. I was kicking long all day. I'll take whatever blame there is. He said kick it deep and I kicked it as deep as I could. I hit it solid. It just went more up than out.


Was the wind a factor?

Awful. Everyone saw the flags and the uprights swaying. Yeah, it was tough.


JEROME BETTIS
Will it be tough to play these last four games?


Not at all. No sir. It won't be tough at all. That's what we do. You can't play as a frontrunner all the time, and I think that's the impressive thing that I saw with this football team. Although things haven't been going in our favor there has been no quit in this football team. Everyone has been playing 110 percent and that's all you can ask. You let the chips fall where they may.


Was Hines playing hurt on that last drive?

No question.


Is Hines becoming the emotional leader?


No question. The guy's just playing incredibly. And the toughness he showed? That's Hines in a nutshell. What you see is what you get. He's not the flashiest guy in the world. He's a hard worker, physical, tough guy, and he wants to win. You saw that out there on the field. There were a couple plays where he could've just rolled off the field, but he picked his self up and kept going and eventually scored the touchdown. It tells a lot about the man.


How obvious was it that he was hurt?


You could see him dragging his self off the ground. When a player is trying to find strength to get off the ground, it's tough. You've got to remember when you're in a two-minute situation, so time is of the essence. And when a guy is struggling getting up, you could tell he's banged up. But, you know Hines Ward. That's the kind of player he is.


TOMMY MADDOX
What was your injury?


I hyperextended my knee. A guy came in low and grabbed my foot and hit my knee and never let go of my foot, so it couldn't come out and somebody hit me in the back. I hope that's all it is. I'm about to go get an MRI on it and we'll see.


Were you bothered by it in the second half?

Yeah. Obviously you're bothered by it. Obviously you can't push off of it as much as you normally want to but not to the point where I couldn't do the things I needed to do. Luckily it wasn't my plant leg.


Did you want to go back in before the end of the half?

Yeah. I was trying to get him to let me go back in.


What was working with your receivers?

I don't know what to say about this game. The guys played well, played hard. We never gave up. We made some mistakes but we overcame them. You're going to make mistakes during the game, and we made some mistakes. We stopped some drives ourselves instead of making the plays that we needed to make. The guys came in at halftime and everybody was focused, everybody was determined to go back out there and play well and get back in it and everybody played till the final whistle. It's frustrating to have one kind of slip away but the guys played hard. They never quit. They never stopped believing. That's what we've got to do the rest of the season.


What were Plax and Hines doing well?

Doing a lot of the things they normally do. I felt coming in they were kind of determined to do whatever they needed to do. During the week we talked about getting this thing going and they played great. They made some great catches. They ran really good routes. We got the ball in their hands. We let them do some things with it. They're good players and they make good plays. Going in we wanted to get the ball in their hands, even if we had to do it quick and see if they could make some plays afterward. I can't say enough about either one of them. I can't say enough about Hines. On the last drive obviously he was hurting. He could barely breathe and he didn't want to come out of the game and ran a great route on the touchdown. It's frustrating because like I said there were some plays out there that we should have made but the guys rallied around each other and came together and played hard at the end.


Ever experience such a roller coaster of emotion?

I'm sure I have but I can't remember it right now. It's hard to see everybody that excited on the sideline and see the team wanting to go out there and make a play, and then to walk back in the locker room and feel the way we felt.


Were you hurrying to get the clock stopped before the 2-minute warning?

We did get off a play and Amos got out of bounds and stopped the clock with 2:06, so we saved some time there because you never know. We obviously ended up scoring with a minute to go but if we have to work it all the way down there you want to save as much time as you can.


HINES WARD
Is it your back?


It's a little bit of everything. That last drive, starting off the drive I kind of got kneed in the back. Tommy threw an out route and the guy slammed me on my head. He threw an in route right before the touchdown and the guy knocked the wind out of me - hit my ribs. I scored the touchdown and it was adrenaline. It was something as a child I always wanted to catch a game-winning touchdown. The electricity that I felt at the time, I just knew we were going to win the game. Then for Cincinnati to drive back down, that's just been our year, all year. Nothing went right for us and I think we fought our tails off. Nobody gave up and that's encouraging. It shows a lot of character for this team to continue fighting till the end. We just fell short. It's been that type of season.


Did you and Plax do something different this week compared to last week?

No. Not really. Last week, playing against Cleveland, they called certain coverages that took Plax and I out at certain times. This game, they played cover 2 a couple times but they challenged Plax and I one-on-one and gave us more opportunities to go out there and make plays and Plax and I really wanted to go out and put on a good show. We had a great week of work at practice. The San Francisco game wasn't really one of my better games. I was trying to fight through the game with a concussion, and going through the Cleveland game with one catch, it was frustrating. I mean, I feel I want to help this team win ball games. Even though last week was an ugly win, we'll take it. This week, I think Plax and I played our tails off. The whole team did. It was great to see nobody gave up. When we got the ball back for that last drive, just looking in that huddle, everybody knew we had a chance. I told Tommy, 'Let's do something nobody thinks we can do.' It went downhill straight that whole drive, the way you're supposed to. Plax started it out with the out catch and got out of bounds to stop the clock. From then on we executed the game plan to the fullest. For them to come back and score - the defense played their tails off. It's been that type of season for us. Nothing seems to bounce our way this year.


Are you going to miss time?

I don't know. You know me. I'm not one of those guys who likes to miss practice. I think you play like you practice. If you bust your tail at practice, you'll perform good in the game. So I'm going to try to do whatever it takes. Be smart. But I don't think so.


Did you get x-rayed?

Yes. The x-rays are negative. I'm just banged up.


What did they x-ray?

My ribs. They just wanted to make sure nothing's cracked or broken in there. And my tailbone. It hurts for me to sit down right now. But, like I said, for us, I just don't want to see the guys quit. Regardless whether we're out of the playoffs or whatever, a lot of guys have to fight for their jobs now. We want to finish strong. We didn't win this ball game but it was encouraging just to see the guys, looking into their eyes, everybody knew we had a chance to come back and win the game and that's an encouraging sign for me.


Was this as close to a must win as it gets?

It's a divisional game. Our whole goal was we wanted to win the division. Cincinnati was in first and we were the defending champions two years in a row. The champion has to come through Pittsburgh and you have to tip your hat off to them. They came in and did a tremendous job. They came into our backyard and stole a victory. They did what they had to do. You've got to tip your hat off to those guys. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. But we had our opportunities to win the ball game. It's been that type of year. I can't really point a finger on the reason why but nothing's gone right for us all year.


Even when they're in cover two, should you get the ball anyway?

I don't know. When teams play cover two, technically, we're supposed to be able to run the ball. With a seven man front, you should be able to dominate the running game. My first couple years in Pittsburgh I never saw teams play cover two. We got more cover two this year and last year more than my whole career here. When teams try to take us out of the passing game, we should have a hundred-yard day rushing. Teams have taken out our passing game and stopped the running game with cover two. Today they challenged more one-on-one and Plax and I both had a chance to make plays today.


How emotional taxing has this year been?

It's emotionally draining. To go from a comeback and thinking we're fixing to win the game to losing the game within 50-some seconds, we went from an all-time high to an all-time low. The chances we had were there. Like I said, we've just got to learn from it and finish this year out. A lot of guys are fighting for their jobs now. I'm not going to quit. I'm never going to quit.

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