Bill Cowher Press Conference Transcript

<b>Bill Cowher</b><br> OK. Let me give you and injury update as it relates to our team and everybody should be working this week. We have the following players listed as probable for the game:

Ricardo Colclough with a shoulder; Verron Haynes with a knee; Duce (Staley) with his hamstring; Deshea (Townsend) with his hand; Kendrell Bell with the groin; Jerome (Bettis) with his ankle; Clark Haggans with his groin; and James Harrison with his groin. Obviously everybody will be working. We'll see where they are at the end of the week. As it relates to Jerome and Duce, they both will play and we'll see where they are at the end of the week in regards to who starts. We'll go from there. Deshea, we'll monitor that as well. He's been working with a big cast, but that will come down some as it gets later in the week. We'll see where he is and make a decision accordingly.

We're looking forward to it. Certainly I was very impressed with what they were able to do to go out to San Diego on a short week and to play the game they played was very impressive. I thought they won that game. They went out there and did what they had to do. It was a very impressive win. As you know, our last game against them was not that long ago, so we'll have something to look at, as will they. Certainly it was a hard-fought game and we expect this one to be the same. We're looking forward to the challenge this weekend.

Coach are they doing anything differently?
Not really. I think Chad (Pennington) played well the other night. He threw the ball well. They've played very good defense. Our game against them was a very hard-fought game. We only had about 50 yards at halftime and the game was tied at 3-3 going into the fourth quarter. It was a hard-fought game and I think this one will be similar.

There are people saying Chad's (we're on a first-name basis even though I've never met him) arm isn't what it should be. Did it look OK to you? (Like he's going to say no)
Oh yeah, he looks fine. He made some throws. The touchdown throw was well-thrown with good timing. He played a good game the other night and the line did a good job. Lamont Jordan had a big run at the end of the game and Curtis (Martin) is running hard. Defensively, if they get John Abraham back, he didn't play in our first game. He'll be a big lift for them. They played well in the first game and it's going to be a tough matchup for us.

Coach, after the first game, you said there's a good chance we'll see these guys again. Did you have that feeling, or were they just one of many teams you felt that way about? (God, somebody sane has to step in and stop this now)
I know this would happen. No. They are a good football team. They've played a lot of close games against quality football teams. When you look at them, they don't have a lot of holes in their football team. They're very solid offensively. They've got some big-play ability: (Justin) McCareins and (Santana) Moss, two quality backs, a veteran quarterback who sees the field as well as anyone in the league. When you look at them defensively, they are stout. Jonathan Vilma has stepped in and given them speed at linebacker and he's an impact guy on the field. Their front four is as formidable as any we'll play this year, particularly those two guys inside, (Jason) Ferguson and (Dewayne) Robertson, they're a load. It's going to be a grind just like it was the last time we played them. We know it. We knew it going into the last time and we didn't feel any differently coming out of it. They have two good corners in (Donnie) Abraham and (David) Barrett. Again, I think when you look at them. Obviously at the time they had nine wins, but we knew that they would be in the hunt. It was a playoff-caliber football team. We knew that then. We haven't changed our opinion. They may have changed some other people's opinions based on how they played last week.

How will you decide who starts at halfback?
We'll see. They're both going to play. I can't make any predictions at this point.

Is there a disadvantage to playing a team in the playoffs that you've already played and beat during the regular season?

I don't know if it's anything. It's something that you have a chance to go back from a matchup standpoint. You know the players that you played against. Particularly from this game as compared to the other games. Everybody (remaining) has played each other once already, but those other games were played very early in the season. This game was just played pretty recently. Pretty much the same players will be in this game, so I don't think its an advantage for either team. We know them, they know us. It's kind of like a divisional opponent. We're playing them a second time. We're just fortunate that it's here at Heinz Field.

They've added about 12 to 15 new plays which involve both of the backs. Is that commonplace around the league when the playoffs start? Does the playbook get a lot thicker?
I guess it depends on which team you are.

That's not a universal thing?
I don't know what other teams do. I know that we may add a couple, but I can't speak for the rest of the league.

Are you at all concerned about a rust factor after being off for a couple of weeks?
Not at all. We had two good practices last week. We had a chance to get a lot of guys healed up. We were pretty banged up. I'm not concerned about that. If you give me a choice between playing and a bye week, I'll take the bye week.

Do you increase the speed of practice to simulate game speed?
No, Our tempo is pretty good. It's been pretty good all year. I don't think it's been any different all year.

Did they do any max protection the last game? I know Pennington does a lot of three-step drops. But did they keep extra guys in.
They mixed it up. I think some of it was predicated on down and distance. But they did a good job against us. Last time on third down, they converted a number of them. Sometimes we were able to win that battle, other times they were. They hit the one big play against Willie Williams with McCareins on the go. That's the thing we have to do, if we can eliminate the big plays and make them methodically move the ball, then we'll have a better chance and hopefully win some of those third-down battles we lost the last time. We did a good job eliminating the big plays for the most part and we were able to come up with some big plays along the way.

Did they attack San Diego's 3-4 differently than they came after you a couple of weeks ago?
They had a plan that they went in with. It was a little different, but not that much. They played New England after us and had a little different attack against them. There are a lot of 3-4 teams in this league now.

Jerome said on ESPN yesterday that you talked to him after last year and said that you were going to run the ball. I was wondering if that was accurate? What else did you say to him that made him think it was worth his while to come back again?
We talked about reestablishing. When you finish 31st in the league, that's a very easy statement to make. We needed to rectify that element of our football team. And Jerome, as we sat down and talked about the makeup of the team last year, there were some concessions that needed to be made. To his credit, he wanted to be here. All he asked was an opportunity to compete for the job and that's all he really asked for. That's all the promises that I could really make. Even at the time, we weren't sure who we were going to bring in. We were going to bring in another back, somehow, someway. We really wanted to have depth at that position given what the approach was going to be. He's made a lot of concessions. He's been the ultimate team leader. He's been very inspirational with this football team, not only in the way he's accepted his role he was given at the beginning of the season. When he got the opportunity to have that role expanded, he did so in a way that a Jerome Bettis would do that. You're talking about a Hall of Fame player who became a role player. He was a great example for a lot of players on this football team. He's a very unselfish guy. A guy who's in this business for all the right reasons. There's no better leadership that you can get when you get a veteran like that.

You mentioned Lamont Jordan, did you coach him a few years ago at one of the bowl games?
Senior Bowl.

They seem to be using him differently than they were earlier in the year. Is that how you saw it? How would you compare him with Martin?
Lamont is a very strong back with deceptive speed. I think they're similar types of back, they're both slashers. They're coming downhill right now. Certainly, Lamont is a bigger guy than Curtis, but Curtis has that body lean. You don't see a lot of big hits on Curtis Martin. You always see him falling forward. I think they're a little different size-wise, very similar in running style. Lamont Jordan is a good back. He's a big guy with some speed to bounce it outside. He bounced one against us outside that got called back because of a holding play. But he got outside against us. He's a good back. They've got a great one-two cannon in those guys.

Did it look like they adjusted the way they used him?
No. It's like anything. When you have two backs, it's not easy to keep them both involved. You can say it was an adjustment, but maybe it was the way the game unfolded. There's a fine line in keeping people involved. You want to give them a feel for the game, but at the same time you want to get the other guys in. It's not an easy thing to juggle.

Marty (Schottenheimer) got flagged for coming out on the field. Do they crack down on that more in the playoffs?
You shouldn't be on the field, but who am I to be talking? I certainly took notice of that. I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize our team. But they usually warn you. I've been warned a few times. I'll definitely make sure it doesn't happen.

It look like the league has maintained its emphasis on the five-yard chuck rule. Are you surprised?
It's been there. Maybe some games it hasn't been called as much, but I think it has been pretty consistent throughout. That's good. A foul is a foul. Why should is change in the postseason. I'd like to think it's been that way. I don't teach our players to do anything differently because it's the postseason thinking that they will call less fouls. We don't approach the game that way. One thing we've been able to do is play disciplined football as of late. We'll need to do that again. We need to make sure we don't get into situations where we give up cheap yardage with foolish fouls. Sometimes that happens, but you have got try to avoid them as much as possible.

Coach, does it feel like you are going into the postseason with a rookie quarterback with as much as Ben (Roethlisberger) has played?
I don't look at it. To me there are no rookies any more. We've played almost two college seasons already. This is our football team. This is how we got here. We have an identity now. We have players who have roles on this team and we need everybody to play at the levels they have that put us in this position. There's no one excluded. I don't differentiate rookies from guys who have been here eight or nine years. I think there's a good blend on this football team with the veteran leadership on this team. They understand what's involved. That will get translated through the week. We've just got to keep doing the things we've been doing and seize this opportunity.

Do you feel any need to talk to Ben about playoff pressure?
No. Expectations that we have are no different than the ones we had to start this season. This is just the next step that we're taking. I think the only thing that changes is the quality of teams you play. This is a very good football team. And all of the attention that takes place, all of the scrutiny that exists. That's going to be there. This team has done as good job of handling things and keeping that in perspective. We're not taking anything for granted. We're not looking beyond the next week. That's the only thing we're guaranteed. And we recognize that. We've been playing on the edge all season. That being the case, it's a good thing that we haven't had to change the way we've played down the stretch.

You talked all season about the team's confidence. How might that counteract playoff pressure?
I don't know if there's any correlation whatsoever. Those are things that they'll think about because they will have to answer the questions that you're asking. All we have to do is keep doing the things we've been doing. You don't deviate from that. It's a quality opponent coming in here. We just have to keep preparing like we've been preparing all year long and go out and seize this opportunity. We've got to go out and establish the line of scrimmage and limit the big plays on defense and try to get the ball in the end zone on offense. It's really that simple.

Did they do anything special defensively the first time?
Nothing we weren't prepared for. We had to make a few adjustments. They gave us a few different looks early in the game. They're just a stout team. We just have to stay patient. Sometimes it may not unfold right away. If we can stay patient and not try to force the issue and play our game, hopefully we can find a way to win this thing at the end.

Coach, which game will be more relevant, your game against the Jets or their game against the Chargers?
I don't know if you can put one above the other. We're going to look at them all. We'll look at the last game against them. We'll look at what they did against San Diego. We'll look at what they did against New England. Those are 3-4 teams. Again, you take the information to prepare, but we can't deviate from what we do best. There will be a few new wrinkles I'm sure based on the last time. But that's no different than playing a divisional team when you play them the second time. We'll take all of that information and look at it and prepare and go from there.

Given your relationship, will you take to Marty this week and get his thoughts on what they did and what happened?
We'll talk. The game is right there, so you can see it. I don't know if there's much more insight that they can give that you can't get off of tape, but I'm sure we'll talk.

When you get to the postseason, special teams can play a factor. You must be happy with where your special teams are.
Yeah, but you still have to play the next game. Santana Moss is a very dangerous punch returner. Jericho Cotchery just returned a kickoff for a touchdown a couple of weeks ago. They've got some dangerous people in the kicking game. Certainly we've got to get our return game going a little better than it is. But right now it's like everything else. It's a new season, you're starting 0-0. We've got a great opportunity to start this thing off Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Will (Antwaan) Randle El go back to kickoff returns?
There's a good chance that could happen.

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