Steelers fall to Bengals, 28-20

Bill Cowher saw some encouraging signs Sunday afternoon, but that won't take away the sting from the Steelers' 28-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Cowher took the blame for the loss on two fronts, as noted in the following transcript of his post-game press conference.

Bill Cowher, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Those guys never quit playing and I was very proud of that, but the two turnovers in the fourth quarter there were pretty much the difference in the ball game. We turned it over five times and you're not going to win many football games doing that. And as crazy as it sounds there were some encouraging things that I saw out there, and I told them that. But the answers are in that room and we're going to come back Wednesday and put things in their proper perspective. We've got a tough journey ahead of us, but the biggest thing right now is we've got to get back and take it one step at a time. That's what the approach is going to be. It was a disappointing loss, a lot of good things, but certainly there were some things we can't do and we'll sit back and assess that and go from there

Didn't your passing game hurt you?

Ah, you know, there were some conditions out there that led to some of the – it was not conducive to throwing the ball. I don't think either side threw the ball effectively for the most part. But we got the running game going and that was encouraging. We did pretty good on third downs. I think Ben would like to have that one back down there on first down in the first half. We gave ourselves a chance. You can't look at the passing game to me. When you turn it over five times it's hard.

Why change punt returners?

Well we'd been doing with Santonio because – he's been catching the balls inside the 10-yard line because I feel good about his hands. I just felt out on the field Ricardo, he just misjudged the ball. Obviously no one feels worse about it than he does. Unfortunately we couldn't recover.

Did you see signs of Ben shaking off rust?

Yeah, sure. I don't want to sit here and assess his play. I'm sure there's a couple balls he'd like to have back, but to me there was a lot more encouraging things than there were discouraging things. It's never good to lose to a football team at home in our division, but it's a game we can look within and there are a lot of answers to the questions on our football team. It's going to be a game we're going to have to live with for a couple weeks because it was a game that we had opportunities to win.

What about the taunting and celebration penalties?

I will accept responsibility. That will not happen again, trust me. That's on me, but it will not happen again.

Considering all the problems Ricardo's had catching the ball, why put him back there at all?

Well, like I said, there weren't many problems in the preseason. It hasn't been maybe the smoothest but I felt good about it. So, again, you can put that one on me as well.

Were you trying to alternate him and Santonio?

Well that's the way it had been structured through the first two games.

Was the taunting penalty by Logan stupid or selfish?

Both. Stupid, selfish – both of those, just like the celebration. There's no reason for those things. And like I said it will not happen again.

Was Willie Parker one of the positives?

I thought Willie Parker ran well. I thought defensively – they had a couple drives in the first half – but I felt honestly, I felt pretty good about our defense. I thought we did some good things. We turned the football over and we could've had a couple more balls but they bounced up to them. But I thought defensively, against a very potent offense, we did some good things on defense and certainly Willie did run the ball well.

Did the wind grab Ben's deep interception?

It's hard to say.

How concerned are you about the dropped balls by the receivers?

Well, like I said, I hope this doesn't continue. It's something we've got to continue to work on. Give the defense credit – sometimes they knocked the ball out at times, but you have to hold onto the ball, there's no question about it.

Ever remember a game where your team played so well and made some of the mistakes they did?

I'm not trying to reflect on any bad games. Those are the games you try to put out of your memory. I think it's a game, when you look at it, as I sit here right now, it's going to eat at you, eat at you for a couple weeks, because there were a lot of self-inflicted plays out there that were not good. There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds, some things you could control, I'm sure some decisions you'd like to have back, but when you do it against a good football team they're going to make you play and they did. They got turnovers and the one thing they did, to their credit, they scored on both of them. We've got to hold them to field goals in those situations and we weren't able to do that.

On the play Verron fumbled, did Willie take himself out?

He got a spear, yeah.

Before the fumbles, did you feel you would continue to dominate them defensively?

I don't know if you're ever going to control them. We were trying to contain them. It's a good offense. When you start the game you feel good about it and then they put together two pretty good drives at the end of the first half. I thought defensively in the second half we did a very good job, outside of the two plays after the turnovers and I'd really like to see us holding them to field goals there. In that third quarter, once we got the interception, got ahead, got the ball back a couple times and if we'd have gotten a couple first downs – we went three-and-out a couple times in a row – I think the momentum was clearly on our side before we muffed the punt.

Has Willie Reid's inactive status changed at all based on what happened today?

We'll assess it. We've got some time, unfortunately, to do that yet.

How are you injury-wise?

I think we got out of there pretty good. There's nothing I'm aware of.

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