Cowher reflects

<b>PITTSBURGH -</b> Bill Cowher hasn't looked at tape of the AFC championship game loss but he did take the blame, and that's a beginning as the coach of the Steelers looks ahead to next season.

"We did not play our best game or coach our best game in the biggest game, and that's what's disappointing about it," Cowher said Wednesday at his end-of-season press conference.

When asked for specifics on the coaching end of it, Cowher simply said, "We did not get it done."

Cowher added: "The measure of any one person or group of people should not be how many times you've been knocked down, but in my mind it's how many times you get back up. And this group will get back up. This is not the end in my mind, but the beginning."

Cowher wouldn't go into specifics about the last game or any improvements the team hopes to make, but he touched on a number of relevant topics.

-- On Ben Roethlisberger's broken toes: "Ben does not have broken toes, OK? I talked to Ben yesterday. His reference in his season-ending news conference as he mentioned to you is that at the end of the first half, while scrambling, he aggravated some toes that he has broken in the past. … He left here after his season-ending physical exam and he's fine. There's nothing more that will be done with it."

Cowher also said there is nothing wrong with his quarterback's thumb and that the fatigue Roethlisberger complained about is common to the rest of the players.

"He played pretty good in the second half," Cowher said of Roethlisberger's last game.

-- On Jerome Bettis' future with the team: "As I said to him, let's not even discuss the future right now. I think it'd be unfair to put the emotion that exists, particularly after the meeting we had, to start talking about that."

-- On his coaching staff: "I've gotten no calls, which has been a good thing, so hopefully - I don't plan on making any changes - hopefully we'll have everybody back."

-- On Plaxico Burress, who after the game criticized the lack of passes thrown his way: "I talked to Plax (Tuesday). We've been together for five years. I like Plax. I've watched him from the first year to the fifth year. I think he's gotten better as a player. I think the best is ahead of him. I think he's matured as a person, in his work ethic, his approach to the game. Those are the things we talked about."

-- On injured players: "I talked to them all. They're doing fine. Everyone's on schedule. The only surgeries we have right now are Matt Cushing had surgery yesterday on his wrist; Verron (Haynes) had an MRI and will have surgery on his knee. Right now, those are the only two off-season surgeries we have planned."

-- On the performances of rookies not named Roethlisberger: "I'm very excited about Max Starks. Coming out, the word on Max was that he was a soft player. He was just a big guy. Well I'm glad someone told him that. He proved that is not his problem. This guy came in and he was a pleasant surprise. I say surprise because when you watched him in that Florida offense, everything he was asked to do was throw the ball and run the draw. That doesn't always show what you can do. He's a smart guy. He worked his way onto that game day active roster. He could play both positions. He could play guard. He's flexible and a very bright guy. I'm excited about the prospects of him. Ricardo (Colclough), he did great. He learned the nickel position. He learned corner. Both him and Ike (Taylor), I thought they got better this year. They took positive steps. I like Ricardo. I think he's going to be a good football player."

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