Quotebook: Batch, Porter, Miller, more

An improbable 87-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Batch to tight end Heath Miller jolted the Steelers out of their slumber and Joey Porter's 42-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the 28-17 win over the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh Steelers quotebook

JOEY PORTER

What was your game plan for attacking Daunte Culpepper?

Just try to show him a lot of different coverages and make him throw the ball when he really doesn't have to. We made him do that early with some pressure and he threw some grounders out there. We made him throw the ball in the dirt and then we got after him and put some hits on him. And we took the running game away early and put the game in Culpepper's hands. That's always our game plan.

Is it good you had a tough game right off the bat with adversity in order to find out last year is over?

We knew exactly what we had. That's for you guys to speculate and think what you want about our team. We knew what we could do under any circumstances. If any player goes down we have quality backups to come in and get the job done and today was no different than any other day. Ours just happened right off the bat. It was a terrible thing because Ben [Roethlisberger] battled so hard to get back and ready for the regular season, and then this strange thing popped up on him. That was frustrating just for Ben. It wasn't so much of a big blow for the team because we know if anybody goes down that's your job is to come in and get the job done. Charlie [Batch] did exactly that.

Is this game what they meant by you being called the most feared player in the NFL?

I don't know. I got out there and try to make plays. I pride myself on making plays when I have the opportunity and that's what I was trying to do. Today I had some opportunities to make plays and I capitalized on them.

Have you come close to scoring a touchdown before?

I've scored touchdowns before but not on interceptions. I've picked up a couple fumbles and run them for touchdowns before, but that was my first interception for a touchdown.

Did you know you were going to score when you caught it?

Yeah I just wanted to make sure to shake out the receiver behind me. That's the first rule of thumb: get the guy they're throwing the ball to. And I knew I saw the lineman and Culpepper right there and I knew I could outrun them so after that I just made sure I held onto the ball and got there.

Did you kiss Bill Cowher?

Yeah. It ain't no big deal. That's going to be the write-up for tomorrow but it ain't the first time. That's my guy right there. No other words can say it. I try to tell you guys that me and him was closer than what you guys think. It is what it is.

Did you say you wanted the ball in Culpepper's hands?

Yeah, we wanted to take away the run and make Culpepper beat us. That's our game plan for any guy we play. We don't care how good the quarterback is. We feel that when we pressure people we can make any quarterback frustrated. We just can't let you have both. We can't let you run the ball and pass the ball on us. So if we take away the running game, then we know what you're going to do. It's pretty much dictate-able what you're going to do. Once we took away the run we knew Culpepper was going to pass every play and when it comes to that it's time to give some pressure, show some different disguises and blitz them.

Aren't you off and running with your sacks?

Yeah it's a good start. We've got 15 games to go, but it's not about me. It's about how our team responds to adversity and today was a big day for our whole team because under tough circumstances we came with a big victory.

What does it say about your team considering the way you won today?

You guys will find something in a week or two to knock it and that's what we thrive on. The more you guys tell us you can't do something it draws us closer together as a team to go out there and prove you wrong. It's pretty tough when you win a Super Bowl and you're not even picked to win your own division. You win the championship and you're picked third in your division. We read that type of stuff. We don't talk about it but it's in the back of our minds.

Were you jumping his throws?

We left some plays out there. Ike [Taylor] really feels like he should've had that interception. Troy [Polamalu] came close on another one before he got his interception. We were just playing our defense. Everyone out there was aggressive and we're going to fly to the ball every play. Like I said, it's easy to play the game when you take away the running game because you sit back and just play the pass.

Did you finally cover Wesley Welker?

I couldn't really see who they were trying to throw it to. I was just tried to drop back in my zone and cover where I needed to be at and I saw the ball. I had an opportunity to put my hands on it and if I put my hands on it I've got to come away with it because if I don't I hear it all week from the guys -- just like we'll get on Ike for dropping that easy pick that he had. He'll hear it for a whole week. I had my opportunity and I made it.

Did you feel like you were back in your H-back days?

Man, I love having the ball in my hands. I always feel I can score with the ball in my hands and today was a good opportunity to show these guys. I've been bugging for some tight end play but they keep me on defense. It is what it is.

HEATH MILLER

What was that run like and what were you thinking?

My eyes got big when I saw the safety drive on Hines [Ward]. There was no one else to cover me so I was running as hard as I could. I took a peek at the Jumbotron and saw them inching in on me.

Did you see the replay with your foot out of bounds as you shoved the ball to the goal line?

No, I didn't see the replay. They called it a touchdown though. That's all I needed to know. I was afraid them might review it but it was a touchdown.

Could this be a bigger year for you stat-wise without Jerome Bettis, particularly touchdowns?

It's so hard to tell. Willie Parker ran the ball so well tonight. He was great. We just kept pounding it and pounding it and those one and two-yard gains started becoming four, five, six and eight-yard gains. We're still a running team so we'll see how it shakes out.

REFEREE WALT COLEMAN

What is the protocol on a challenge when the coach threw the flag before the next play but nobody saw it?

The protocol would be this: You need to try to see the flag. Unfortunately, it was a touchdown. We delayed the try waiting for the possibility there will be a challenge. We lined up for the try and, unfortunately, we focused on the snap and so for and the coach threw the flag and we didn't see it.

Can you look at replay to see if the flag was thrown before the play was snapped?

Not after the ball was snapped. We can't go back to the previous snap. Once they snapped the ball on the try, there was nothing we could do about the previous play.

DOLPHINS COACH NICK SABAN

What was the delay with throwing the challenge flag?

We have to see (the play in question) in the box. We can't challenge something until we see it. So we saw it in the box, I threw the flag. It was thrown well before they kicked the field goal. The officials didn't see it and they said that they didn't see it. I said, who's fault is that?

Why didn't you challenge the catch by Marty Booker?

They said it wouldn't be worth challenging because very seldom today do they overrule possession catches. And when I explained that the guy caught the ball, took two steps with a guy on his back and the ground caused the fumble, they said that wasn't a catch either.

Was Zach Thomas supposed to cover Heath Miller on the touchdown play?

Zach wasn't supposed to be with the guy. We were playing three-deep zone.

Did the official just say they didn't see the challenge flag?

I don't want to talk about the officials. Those guys do a good job. I threw the flag and they didn't see it. I'm not being critical of anybody.

NATE WASHINGTON

What were your thoughts before the touchdown reception?

Nerve-wracking. When the play was called it was very nerve-wracking. I knew I had an opportunity to catch a touchdown so I was thinking to myself, make sure I secure the ball. But coming down with it felt good. It was real good for me. I was excited. I didn't know what to do, being it was my first time in the end zone, but I was really excited about it.

That was your third opportunity. Were you concentrating on bringing that one in?

Yeah definitely. It was an unfortunate situation with the two balls that came to me before that. I just knew that this one wasn't going to get away from me. If it was in the air, it was going to be mine.

What was the mood on the sideline after the fumble at the goal line?

It was kind of frustrating. We fought our way down and had something like that happen to us, but Coach Cowher preaches to us all the time that you have to fight through those type of things. We fought through it and it all worked out for us.

Is the reverse to you becoming a staple in the game plan?

Sorta, kinda. We have a couple other things in that aren't even to me.

Why were you the man on third down?

I don't know about that. It might've just been a situation where the defense was showing the route that I was running might've been open.

TROY POLAMALU

With the adversity, did you find out about this team tonight?

It's no different than what we've been doing.

That's a good thing, isn't it?

Yeah that is a good thing. That's our formula: win on defense and control the clock.

It looked like you were going to make the play Joey made?

It wasn't.

On your interception, did you jump too early?

No. I came down with it. I was fortunate enough to do that.

How exposed are you guys when you blitz? Is it risky?

We always take a chance when we blitz but that's our formula and we have good enough DBs to hold up long enough for those guys to get sacks. That's the way we win games on defense and that's what we'll continue to do.

Did you learn anything about your team tonight?

Like Coach Cowher said it's tough to find your identity because we're a different team than we were last year with the loss of some key leaders. But it's always nice to win, especially the way we did: on defense and through perseverance. We'll find out in the future how we hold up.

So isn't the identity the same?

God willing. God willing. If we can keep that Steeler identity then we'll be in a lot of games. That's all we ask for is to be in a lot of games, wear down their defense and for our defense to win.

What was the team thinking when things weren't going your way?

It's nothing we haven't faced before. We've been through a lot of tough situations, and when you become accustomed to those people will show up and shine.

HINES WARD

Weren't you the Dolphins' priority on Heath's long touchdown?

For a guy who's missed all of training camp, I don't know why they triple-teamed and double-teamed me and let Heath get behind me. I was happy for Heath. If teams are going to do that, then Heath is going to eat them up like he did today.

Didn't they bite on Willie Parker, too?

Well, we ran a play-action on that but for whatever reason the safety, the corner and the backer thought I was getting the ball and they forgot all about Heath. Heath got behind Zach Thomas and I take my money on Heath all day.

Ever see a tight end run that far that fast?

No. He said he got the maximum out of that. He said he was gassed at the 10. Heath is an excellent ball player. With him playing the Y and me playing the Z, both on the same side, we're going to give defensive coordinators fits when we're both on the same side over there.

Are stars supposed to play like stars in big games?

That's what they do. That's why you get paid the big bucks. They pay us to go out there and perform. Troy, Joey, James [Farrior], all the guys; the leaders on this team stepped up when we needed them the most. That's what we've got to do. You plug in some plays when the team needs you it speaks volumes about our team. There was no one individual that won this game. It was 53 guys in this locker room, everybody. We all helped win this ball game.

Did you tell Charlie that Heath would be open before the play?

No. Actually I was running and pointing to Heath. That's how fast they jumped on me. Charlie made a helluva read. It was an easy read for him. He was wide open and caught it and got behind Zach and he just ran away from Zach.

Didn't he tell [Ken] Whisenhunt on the sideline that he wanted to run that play?

Yeah. When quarterbacks see things out on the field, that's the luxury we have because Whis listens to the players. There are things he's up there calling but you can always get on the phone or tell B.A. [Bruce Arians] or Whip [Mark Whipple] that we've got this and they'll implement it. Charlie called it and we were going to go for it. Hopefully were trying to get Ced [Wilson] in one-on-one but they all just converged on me and Charlie made a great read. Heath amazed me to go that far, to be so big and explosive.

Did you feel out of shape? Did your hamstring feel fatigued?

It was fatigue. I think we ran 60, 70 plays. To miss all of training camp, I was a little tired, but my hamstring felt well. It's not a hundred percent but I just wanted to get through this game because we've got a long rest. I've got five or six days off to really get right and get ready because we've got another hard one. We've got to go to Jacksonville, another team who's up there. They've got a solid team. But we're going to enjoy this one. There's no question this is a great win considering the death of our mayor and things that are going around the city of Pittsburgh. The win tonight kind of uplifts the spirit around here in the city of Pittsburgh. Businesses go well when we win the next day. We feed off our crowd and the excitement was there. Everybody wanted to see what the champions were going to do and to come out and play the way we played speaks volumes about our team.

What did you think about Joey kissing Cowher?

I'm not going to respond to it. Let Joey respond.

CHARLIE BATCH

What does it mean to win when this city had such a tough week?

It was tough all around. To turn on the TV and at 11 o'clock you saw the mayor's funeral. I think from 11 to one, two o'clock, this city was down and depressed. I kind of wanted to dedicate the win to him and kind of ease the grieving process a little bit. I think through sports you're able to do that because come six o'clock everybody started talking about football again. They didn't necessarily talk about the funeral that was going on or everything that happened in the morning. This was kind of a way for everybody to ease tension and that's what sports does.

Mr. Rooney said the city leans on you guys at times like this. Do you feel that way?

This is a perfect example of that. Nobody knew that this situation was going to happen, that the funeral was going to be today, but this is what we were dealt. And it was an opportunity for everybody to celebrate the life of Mayor O'Connor but at the same time able to celebrate the victory here today as well.

KEN WHISENHUNT

What happened on the touchdown pass to Heath Miller?

They jumped all over Hines. You could see them just clamp him. They were looking for Hines and Charlie was smart and made a good play.

Did Charlie look at Hines and steer everybody over there?

It starts with a little bit of a run fake. Everybody saw the back and sucks up in the line and they know that play and they run to Hines. Then Heath just popped open over the top. It was a good read. That's what the quarterback is supposed to do and Charlie did it. That's probably one of the most exciting things about it. In that situation, he took the read the way it was supposed to be and it worked.

Was that a long 14 seconds?

Yes. What's funny is Heath told me he was looking at the board as he was running and those guys kept gaining ground on him. It was funny because when he caught it, I was thinking about a midfield play. And then I was thinking, okay, let's find a play at the 30. And then I was like, get in the end zone! And he made it.

Was that Charlie's call on the sideline?

Yeah, that was a play Charlie felt comfortable with. We talked about a couple of plays, something in that situation just to kind of get us going, and that was a play Charlie felt comfortable with. We had a play like that against New England – a one-play thing to Hines that went for a big play. You just never know when that's going to happen.

Do you feel fortunate to have someone like Charlie step in when you needed him?

I feel very fortunate to have a good veteran quarterback that played well, managed the game well, and I feel good that we have a bunch of good players on the offense that stepped up and made some plays.

What do you make of the fact he was running from a rush so often?

Sometimes quarterbacks have to do that and you've got to move around in the pocket and make some throws. Sometimes that happens. Maybe there were some things that were covered, or maybe there were some things that inside pressure hurt, but he was very efficient.

Do you think Heath's becoming a match-up problem?

I think Heath is a good player in our offense because he works hard in the run game and he does a good job, and hopefully that's going to open some things up for him in the play-action game. Heath's made some big plays for us and I'm real excited to have him.

What was your biggest play as a tight end?

About two yards, three yards. No, probably about 12 or 15 yards.

You can't imagine going 87 can you?

I can but I couldn't imagine not getting caught.

WILLIE PARKER

Did you lobby to stay in at the goal line?

I wanted to stay in. I had jitters and everything. I was ready to go in there and show everybody what I had, but he pulled me.

Feel alright with that many carries?

I feel alright. I'm glad we won and now it's time to go and celebrate with my family.


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