Bill Cowher press conference, Sept. 19

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher held a press conference Tuesday to wrap up Monday night's loss to Jacksonville and to talk about next week's game at Heinz Field against Cincinnati.

Opening Statement: Since we just talked a short time ago, I really don't have much of an injury update from the game. I can tell you there are no major injuries from last night. No setbacks. From that standpoint we got through it pretty good, considering it's a short week. Certainly last nights game was disappointing. I thought we had opportunities. I thought that they controlled the line of scrimmage. From an offensive standpoint, we couldn't get anything established in the running game and couldn't make any plays in the passing game. Consequently, we really never got into any kind of flow. I thought defensively, while we did hold them to three field goals, I thought there were some periods, particularly in the third and fourth quarters, we had some pivotal third downs that could have changed field position. We really never crossed the 50 and we never started with the ball outside the 20 or 25 yard line. We had some chances to get them pinned back on third down and we didn't get off the field. We did make them punt, but the field position was a battle we lost most of the night. It was one game, the second game. The most important thing is not to dwell on it. It would serve no purpose. The biggest thing is that we come in here tomorrow and focus on Cincinnati, a division team and the defending division champs. Well have our hands full with that and were ready to move on.

How much did Ben (Roethlisberger's) performance have to do with his appendectomy and his fever?

I think it was just the fact with everything that went on. I was his first time out. I think when you go from the preseason to the regular season, everybody is going through that period of acclimation and the other team is going through it as well because the speed of the game does go up. But then you come into the second week of the season and they've already had that first week. So he probably was behind from that standpoint getting acclimated to that. But you know what, I thought he started off the game pretty well. We were not in sync as we had been. Some of that will take time. Last week, he completed a ball to Hines (Ward) in practice and I told them that was the first completion they'd had to each other in a month. It is a case of circumstances not allowing us to be in sync in practice and some of that carried over into a game. I'd like to think some of that will get better. Like I said, it was one game, but there were a lot of things that I hope we don't think are going to be rectified over time, I hope there is a sense of urgency doing so in all three phases. We're going to have to play better against the team coming in here this week.

How important was it to have Ben and Hines out there for that game together?

You want to get everybody out there. There's no substitute for playing time. It's not just those two, it's everybody … It's the line, the defense. That goes hand in hand. We're a football team that's a very proud group of guys. It was a setback last night, but don't dwell on it and get ready for Cincinnati this week.

Did you ever think about inserting Charlie (Batch) to see if he could jumpstart the offense?

I didn't think it was one player. So, no; Ben just needs to play. He needs to get out there and play and he battled to the end. He needs to be out there playing to get ready for this week.

Fever?

It was 100.4, not 104. Somebody misplaced a decimal point. His temperature was 100.4.

What was the interpretation of the possible challenge on Hedrick Wilson's play?

Based on where he was going with the interpretation of the play and based on what I was wanting to challenge, we were not on the same page. I thought when the guy had the clock winding, I thought he was issuing forward progress. When he came down, he kind of came down out of bounds. In my opinion, if there was forward progress, then he had a catch and the forward progress would stop it. He told me that was not part of what he would be reviewing. He would be reviewing whether it was a catch or not a catch based on when he came down. At that point, I said that was not what I was challenging so he allowed me to take back the challenge.

You're not getting a lot in the punt returns right now.

We only had one chance. We had one punt return. The rest were a bunch of pooch punts taking place inside the 50 yard line so it's hard to assess that.

You kicked the ball well?

Yeah, I thought Chris (Gardocki) did a good job and our punt coverage did a good job. Like I said, it was one of those type of games where each third down was critical. I thought there were two in particular, the one where we had them backed up on third down and eight and they completed a pass on the right side. That was in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, they had a third down and four and we let them get out of that and then the next third down was when they hit the long pass play. Yes they didn't score touchdowns, but it comes down to plays. There are one or two plays that have a dramatic impact on the game, not just with scoring, but like you said, with field position. I thought the kicking game did some good things, but we certainly have a long way to go returning, not just punts, but kickoffs. We're still not in sync there. But we did a much better job covering, no question.

Will Willie Reid get a chance to return punts?

Probably not. I don't see the makeup of the roster changing much.

Were the running problems something they were doing or errors by the offensive line?

A combination of both. I don't know if it was mental errors. There was a combination of things we can do better and some things they did. It was a combination of both.

Did Santonio (Holmes) run the wrong route on that first interception?

No. That's a misinterpretation and the result was what it was.

Would you prefer not to see Santonio return that one kick from deep in the end zone?

Given where he ended up, yeah.

Is he ready to make a significant contribution?

I think so.

Did Troy (Polamalu) injury affect him at all?

He was playing hurt. But Troy when he's playing, is still better than a lot of players in the National Football League. He got through it well, which I'm encouraged by. He played fine.

Tackling?

I don't think you need to go out and do live tackling. I don't think that's something that's been a problem here in the past. Fred Taylor and some of their receivers made some guys miss.

On some of those third downs you talked about, it seemed like they did a good job picking up your blitz. Did they do something different?

No. Actually we had a couple of guys come free a couple of times. We didn't execute the coverage element of it a couple of times. Other times, you've got to cover them one-on- one and we weren't able to do that. Give them credit and our lack of execution from that perspective.

Ike Taylor?

I don't sense anybody throwing at him an exceptional amount. Ike has had his moments where he has played well and other times where he could play better, a lot like other players on this time right now. I'm not ready to assess peoples play after one or two games. To me you are who you are. You've got to give this thing a few games to become some degree of tendencies that you have to address or expand upon. We're in the fact- finding process right now. We've got to get better and try not to make the same mistakes and at the same time, find something to hang our hat on. The first month, were trying to create an identity. An identity is something you have to do play-in and play-out. We're in the process of trying to do that.

Najeh Davenport?

The game just unfolded that way. You guys can make all kinds of speculation. That's your doing. We're doing what's in the best interests of this football team. How that unfolds sometimes, it's hard to say. You guys jump to conclusions sometimes about certain things. I should sit here and have to answer questions why based on your speculation. I'm not going to do that.

What about Cincinnati's injuries?

They're a good football team and it's sad about David Pollack. He's a good football player and you really hate to see anyone go out for a season. Really, around the league, there were a lot of guys who went down. You hate to see that because they've put in so much preparation. But hey, they're playing well. You go into Kansas City, that's not an easy place to play. Carson Palmer looks like he's picking up where he left off. He's picked right back up on the no-huddle offense and we know all about that. He came in here last year against us and made plays. He's got a lot of the same people there in place and they should get T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) back this week. It's a very potent offense. Defensively, they're a team that comes up with sacks, turnovers. It's a very good football team, very solid as they proved last year. To me it looks like they've picked up right where they left off. They're playing with a lot of confidence and at a very high level.

Are they one of the more balanced teams?

They really do a good job with Rudi Johnson. He's really an underrated back. He really runs hard and with great balance. And Carson does a good job getting him in and out of the right plays. If you try to take the passing game away, they'll hit you with the running game. And if you try to take the running game away, they'll hit you with some passes. They've got a great corps of receivers, a good offensive line and a quarterback that can run that offense very well.

Does Troy need time off?

I think hell be ready Sunday but Ill let you know tomorrow when I give you an injury report.


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