Quickie Q&A: Chris Hoke

Chris Hoke's perfect record in regular season games came to an end Sunday. He's 10-1 as a replacement for Casey Hampton, who returns this week. Perhaps the team's hardest worker, Hoke talked about the spirit in the locker room this week.

Chris Hoke, NT, Pittsburgh Steelers

What's going on? How is this team circling the wagons?

The thing is we know we're a good team. The thing that's tough is we're not getting beat on the field. People aren't mauling us or killing us on the field and sometimes that happens with teams. We're not having that. We're out there and we're in the thick of things, or leading. A lot of times we're leading or tied at halftime, but things aren't bouncing our way. We're preparing this year just like we did last year. We're working hard. We're out there going hard in the game, just things aren't bouncing our way right now.

Does Cowher's contract situation have any effect on discipline or focus?

No. I think you see some of these penalties, like the personal fouls, but that's playing intense. Those things aren't about losing discipline. Guys are playing, flying to the ball, and those things are going to happen. That's one of those things where things just aren't going our way right now. We've done those things in the past but right now they're working against us. If we keep working, good things are going to happen. They gotta happen.

Are these plays being magnified?

When you lose things are so much more magnified. When we win, things are smoothed over. When you lose, people are pointing fingers to pinpoint ‘that's what happened' and ‘that's what happened.' Those things happened in the past but we won the game and those things were smoothed over.

Are the coaches telling you not to listen to the media?

When you're a player you never want to listen to what the media's saying. If you're playing well, they're going to give you a big head; when you're not playing well, they're going to dog you. It's always nice to hear people say nice things about you but you have to be real careful. But I don't think it's possible to cut it all off.

Anything different this week?

No. Prepare as we've always prepared. Hey, good things are going to happen to those who work hard and if we keep working hard, we're a good football team. We have most of the guys from last year and we won the Super Bowl. It's just right now things aren't bouncing our way.

As one of the hardest workers, are you satisfied with how the whole team's working?

I think so. When I'm at practice I don't see anything different than how we worked last year. It's just bad breaks, man. I don't know what else to say.

Everyone talks about you guys getting everyone's best shot. Do you feel that?

Oh, yeah. Everywhere you go everybody – the fans, the players – they're all ready. Everybody wants to say they beat the world champions. So we've got to find a way to be able to weather that storm, and we're doing that. We're coming out in those games and we're close at halftime. We've just got to find a way to sustain that the whole game because these teams want to go out and say they beat the world champions.

But you do feel it?

Oh, you can sense it from the teams and the fans. It's playoff football. There's more electricity, more energy out there. The fans bring it, and they want to see what made us so good.


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