Cowher: No Changes!

Bill Cowher reflected on why his team passed so much in the wintry wonderland of Giants Stadium last Sunday, and he pondered the immediate future of kicker Jeff Reed. But the coach of the Steelers wouldn't "reflect or ponder" on anything further than that Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

Reflect and ponder, however, is all anyone really wanted Cowher to do. After announcing "it's our obligation as coaches and players to finish the season strong," Cowher was bombarded with questions about potential lineup changes. He didn't budge.

Q: Do you plan any lineup changes?

A: "No. We're going to play whoever gives us the best chance to win."

Q: Is it tempting to want to make lineup changes?

A: "The bottom line is we have to find a way to win the games, and in the course of doing that, if we're able to do that we will do that."

Q: What about Charlie Batch?

A: "I think I just stated it and I will state it again. We are going to play the players that give us the best chance of winning and that will be the only prerequisite that's made in terms of who plays."

Q: Is the purpose for that approach to restore confidence?

A: "No, it's our obligation."

Q: Haven't you rested players when you've had the No. 1 seed locked up?

A: "I think those circumstances are certainly much different."

Q: How so?

A: "Aw, come on."

Q: Would replacing some of these veterans necessarily weaken your lineup?

A: "I'll monitor it. If a guy I feel isn't playing up to the level he's capable of playing at, and if we have an option to put somebody else in, we'll do it."

Q: Do you have enough information on the young players to make a decision about the future?

A: "Those are all the things we're going to sit down and talk about after the season. As I said before, now is not the time to sit back and reflect or ponder."

Cowher did allow himself to reflect on Sunday's game. The Steelers threw 38 times and ran 24 times in a snowstorm with 15 m.p.h. winds. Also, in six plays from scrimmage inside the Jets' 10, the Steelers ran twice. The result was 0 yards by Amos Zereoue on two first-down calls. "In hindsight, if we had known that passing so much would've (resulted in) incompletions, yeah, we probably should've run it," Cowher said. He also said that quarterback Tommy Maddox had trouble gripping the ball but "it wasn't consistently troubling him."

Cowher couldn't report exactly when Bettis had injured his knee - the reason Zereoue carried at the goal line early in the fourth quarter - but Bettis played the previous series until Zereoue carried on second-and-10.

After the sequence at the goal line, Bettis carried 3 times for 9 yards and caught a pass for 8 yards.

Cowher was also asked about the state of his kicker, Reed, who missed field-goal attempts of 43 and 20 yards and has made only 6 of his last 13 kicks.

"He's in a little bit of an inconsistent slump right now," Cowher said. "He's got to fight his way through it and I believe he will. He's a young kicker. You see these guys all the time going from team to team to team. There's a degree of maturity that needs to take place. Hopefully, what he's experiencing right now will make him a mentally tougher kicker for the future."

Cowher remained true to his theme yesterday when asked near the end of the press conference about the Sunday night antics of Joe Horn. The New Orleans wide receiver scored a touchdown and then made a call on a cell phone from the end zone.

"I think it's a disrespect to the game," Cowher said. "Those things to me are not just disrespectful to the players that are on the field, but to me it's for the players that have played before them. It's a great game. It doesn't entitle you to anything. It's a privilege to play this game. It doesn't entitle you to have the right to do whatever you want to do out there. There will be many people that come after you and there have been many people before you. That goes for players and coaches as well. It's a privilege. That's why it's an obligation you have to the game and for us, this organization, to go out there and compete every Sunday you're out there because you're representing more than just yourself."

NOTES - Tackle Marvel Smith will miss another game Sunday with a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Listed as probable for Sunday's 4:05 p.m. home game against San Diego are: linebackers Kendrell Bell (groin) and James Farrior (knee), wide receiver Hines Ward (knee) and Bettis (knee).

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