I will give a quick review of yesterday. Before I go into that, I will preface it by saying what Mondays are about for us. Win or lose, we critique our performance. I have said to the guys all along, on Sundays we play, we don't judge, we don't critique, we play and we play to win. Mondays are our day for that. We tend to focus more on the negatives than we do the positives, win or lose so as to highlight some of the things we need to improve on and take that into account. We watched the tape yesterday and it was the same yesterday as it was Sunday. It wasn't up to snuff. A lot of our wounds were self-inflicted. That's usually the case when you don't play well and you lose. That was evident when we watched the tape. We were highly penalized, we had 11 penalties, nine of which were not technically or combat-oriented. We had pre snap penalties, we had post snap penalties, we had unforced errors such as such stepping out of bounds as a gunner on punt team. We have to get better. The good thing is that those are things you can correct and we need to correct quickly. It is about focus, it is about being on the details. We weren't able to establish the run, not necessarily because the run itself was ineffective, it was because of some of the situations that we put ourselves in because of penalties and so forth. We had a couple exchange issues or problems where we were in second and medium, second and six and you end up in third-and-18 because of exchange issues. Behind the chains, the large part of the day, particularly in the second half, you know when you have seven third and ten pluses, it is going to be tough to consistently move the football. That was the case with us on Sunday. Defensively, I thought we did some good things. I thought we applied some pressure. We would like stiffen in the red zone and make people kick field goals as opposed to getting touchdowns. That will be an area of focus for us this week. Of course, on special teams, it has to be a winning edge for us, it wasn't. We gave up a long return for a touchdown. That is the story of the game. We watched it yesterday. The men came in. We critiqued it, we addressed some issues and we are moving forward.
With that being said, I'll do a quick injury update. James Harrison has a knee contusion, nothing major. It may limit him somewhat tomorrow, but we expect him to be ready to go by the weekend. Ben Roethlisberger has a foot contusion, as well. He'll be somewhat limited tomorrow, no big deal there. Deshea Townsend is coming off of what he experienced, which was a stinger during the course of the game. He came back into the game and finished the game. We'll be cautious with him, simply being smart this week. Bryant McFadden is a guy that is going to be an issue. He has a high ankle sprain. You can characterize him as doubtful, if you have to characterize him at this point of the week, leave open a window of opportunity of course, but you have to say it is going to be tough potentially for him with the nature of the position he plays to play with a high ankle sprain. Hines Ward, we are still monitoring his knee sprain. He had a good day of rehab yesterday. I spoke with him, he feels good, but we will take that day to day and see where he is. We'll do what is smart in that area. That decision will be determined later in the week. Other than those things we are a healthy football team. We have Matt Spaeth back this week. We are excited about getting him back into the fold and moving forward.
Quickly, moving on to Seattle, they are a 3-1 football team and will provide a great challenge for us. It is man versus himself. We have to prepare ourselves to play our "A" game and do what we know what we know how to do. They have some weapons. They have a very good football team. They are well coached with Coach (Mike) Holmgren. At quarterback, (Matt) Hasselbeck is being very efficient as usual this year. He has an over a hundred quarterback rating. Shaun Alexander is Shaun Alexander. He is an efficient runner, if there is such a thing. All he does is get yards and score touchdowns and move the chains. He is very good. Walter Jones is as good an offensive lineman at left tackle for them as there is in this business. They have an experienced wide receiver corps, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, and Bobby Engram is a third wideout and has been a feature third-down guy for them. As a third receiver, I think he has converted eight or so third-downs and he is somebody to be reckoned with. Marcus Pollard is a very good tight end. Defensively, they have some talent. Lofa Tatupu at the linebacker is really one of their emerging stars in this game. When you watch him play and you study him, you are just impressed by the way he plays the game. His instincts as you have seen him do, are extremely quick. He makes plays all over the field for them. Julian Peterson is a dual threat as a linebacker and a rush man. He has five sacks, he is a very active football player, a very good player for them. Rocky Bernard is another good player up front for them. We know that they are very sound and solid in the secondary with (Marcus) Trufant and (Kelly) Jennings who was a high round draft pick last year and they picked up Deion Branch in free agency. Nate Burleson is a guy that makes their return game go. They brought him in for those purposes among other things, of course play wide receiver. He is a very good and someone to be reckoned with in that area. We will be challenged as we try to bounce back from our performance last week, which is good. We don't shy away from those things. We are going to go about business, we are going to start putting the plan together tomorrow, that will be the first day that we meet with the players and we move forward.
We expect those guys to be okay. They may be somewhat limited during the early part of the week, but all indications are that they will be fine.
Is the same true with Chris Hoke?
Assess the run blocking this week.
It was similar, but I wouldn't necessarily characterize our inability to block as the biggest issue with our running game. I think we put ourselves in situations where weren't able to establish rhythm in the running game; with penalties, botched exchanges, etc. We missed a couple big play opportunities in the game. Those are first down shots that you take. That is called being aggressive. That is called making people defend the field horizontally and vertically, but we missed on some. We had Nate Washington down the field early and we missed by inches. We had Nate down the field again on the sideline and again we missed by inches. That is the nature of the game, but when you miss those opportunities you understand what comes with it. It puts you at second down and ten. Second down and ten after an incomplete pass, people usually load up and stop the run. That is the nature of this game. It was more about the situations that we put ourselves in, as oppose to our ability to block them. It really was no different than it's been.
Was that a hot route where Ben Roethlisberger missed Nate Washington?
That was a hot route. Nate just has to get his head around.
Did Arizona tighten up their run defense?
That talk wasn't by me last week. They are a salty defense and they have talent. It showed on Sunday.
What is your critique of the offensive lines play?
It was okay. We have to be better than okay if we want to be successful. That evaluation could characterize a lot of our performances on Sunday.
Did you deal with Ike Taylor's taunting penalty?
Yes, I did. We dealt with it on Sunday and we dealt with it on Monday. The reality of it is that it is common sense. We can't have penalties like that. Those kinds of penalties are for young-dumb guys and we can't be young and dumb, whether it is a veteran player like Ike or whether it is a young guy. It is selfish and it is not part of winning football.
How did this first loss hit you personally?
Believe it or not, I anticipated that at some point I would lose a game. It may happen again at some point. We compete. I don't mind that at all. That is why I love this business. I love the feeling you get when you come in here every week and you have to show and prove on weekends. Sometimes you don't, sometimes you do. You better show and prove more than you don't. I accept that as part of this business. I love that. That is what drives me and I hope that is what drives this football team. It is what it is.
Was there a reason for all of the false starts?
It's difficult to communicate and play on the road. Particularly when you're behind the chains, because they get you in passing situations and they have wide edges and they're going to get off. You have to be prepared to pass protect. There is a combination of a lot of things and usually when things are going bad, they snowball. That is what happens. You get penalized. You get behind the chains. You're not able to establish rhythm with the running game. They get in wide stances and get to foaming at the mouth and ready to rush the quarterback. The crowd gets into it. Communication gets tough. It snowballs and that is why I enjoy playing at Heinz Field.
Did you start with a regular count and then go to a silent count?
We utilized both at different points in the game.
What is your reaction to Steelers fans on the road?
I thought that was great. It is the first time where I came out and felt Steelers Nation and it is good to be a part of that.
Do you want the Steelers fans to be quiet on offense?
I want them to have fun and I want them to support the Steelers. How ever they choose to do that is great. We have very knowledgeable and intelligent fans and I think they understand that.
Were you too quick to challenge on the touchdown pass?
I don't worry about the elevator music. I hear it, but I don't, in terms of the decisions that we make. In terms of that play, I would challenge it again. You're talking about seven points on the board and we thought we got the ball out pretty quickly. You have to make them review those situations and confirm the call on the field. In terms of some of the things that have happened in the past, we make challenges based on information. If we have information and we feel good about it and it is something that is worthy of being challenged, we do. If we have information that says it shouldn't, we won't.
Did you think about challenging on James Harrison's fumble recovery?
Our coaches in the (press) box saw that he clearly fell over their lineman, who I think was on the ground and that guy had contact with him while he was on the ground, which made him down by contact.
If you challenge one thing and referees see something else, can they call the something else?
Once you challenge a play and they come over to ask you specifically what you're challenging about that play, they review that, but they also review all elements of the play. That is just the rule as it is written.
On a play that happened in the Monday Night Football game:
I would have to take your word for it. I didn't see a snap of that game last night.
So they have to review every aspect of that play?
Absolutely. They have to review all aspects of the play.
Would you do anything different on the re-punt after the penalty?
That is part of football. I think that when you are not successful, you do second-guess. You do ponder the what-ifs. The reality is that we have to tackle the man, whether we choose to substitute people or if we choose to kick the ball out of bounds. Those things are great, but hindsight is 20/20. Had we run down there and tackled him, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It's about doing the job. We did the job on the snap the first time, but we were penalized. I think sometimes when you are penalized; you put yourself in a position where you have to do things. I think that has to be our focus; doing things right the first time. This is the National Football League and you don't get second shots. Usually when you do, you put yourself in harms way, particularly in the kicking game.
Evaluate your punt return game?
By no means are we satisfied with where we are in that area. We have to continue to do a better job and grow, in terms of giving Allen Rossum a clean look to get after people. People are doing a good job though; not to discredit what they are doing. They are doing a good job of making him move, getting good hang time and coming down on kicks. We are exploring improvement in that area and we feel like we are. Whether or not the evidence is there at this point is probably not. We felt the same way a few weeks ago in the kickoff return game and then it showed itself. We are cautiously optimistic and we will continue to work.
Why did you not watch the New England versus Cincinnati game?
I don't get paid by the hour, so I don't worry about how much I work. We have to prepare to play well this week and that is always my focus. Very rarely do I really watch Monday Night Football.
Was Willie Reid short man on punt return because he was active or because it's something you want to do in the future?
Both. We were fortunate enough to get Willie active. He had an opportunity because of misfortune, regarding Hines' injury and it is something we are looking to and looking to build upon in the future. I think when you have two guys back there that are capable of returning kicks, it makes special teams coaches stay up a little bit late at night and miss a little bit of Monday Night Football.
Can you evaluate Lofa Tatupu.
I can't speak on leadership, because I'm not in their lock room or their huddle, but it is obvious that he knows what he's doing. He's a great communicator. He communicates to the front. He makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage and when the ball is snapped he goes to work. He is extremely quick. His ability to diagnose plays is impressive. Not only run plays, but play action. He is as good of a "UFO" linebacker as I've seen here recently. By "UFO" I mean, the ability to get depth after play action and search for unidentified flying objects, in the dig areas. He searches those guys out. He has an interception this year already, on a play action play about 18 yards down field. That is impressive.
Did Lawrence Timmons not know he couldn't step out of bounds on punts?
He is a young guy. I would like to think that he is aware of that rule. We will move forward. It was a mistake. He needs to learn from that. Things happen to young guys in the heat of the battle. I think if you sat in the comforts of this room and maybe asked him the rule, he could tell you. Sometimes when the ball is snapped it is played out a little differently. That is part of being young.
Is there a reason for breakdowns?
We will never accept the potential or possibility of breaking down every so often. We guard against that. The explanations are that we didn't do the job. No excuses and no explanations, just results. That's the way we go about our business. We trust our plan and the way that we prepare. I felt like the plan was good and I thought we prepared well. We didn't perform well and we accept that.
Will you look at tapes of Super Bowl XL?
We will and we have. That is just part of preparing for an opponent. Anytime you have common history with an opponent, in terms of personnel matchups and such, even if it is a year old or so, you watch it. They have the same offensive play caller that they had then. They have some of the same key players. It is a game that is worthy of looking at.
What did you see from the team after the Arizona loss?
They didn't like it and I like that. Show me a good looser and I will show you a looser. It didn't go over well and it shouldn't. What we put into preparation; time, energy and spirit and not to do the job is a disappointment. Yesterday was part of the healing process and today we move forward.
Does it help having veterans in the locker room to deal with losses?
You said the key word when you said character guys. When you are less than successful, character is revealed. It doesn't build character, character is revealed. I think it is being revealed that we have some strong character people and that does not surprise me. We are going to call on them as we move forward.
What happened to Troy Polamalu?
It was an abdominal strain. I think it happened when he recovered the fumble. It is an adrenaline issue when things like that happen. I think it was halftime before he actually got a sense of where he was with that. I do think it happened on the fumble recovery.
Did Ben Roethlisberger get his foot stepped on?
What happens if Bryant McFadden can't play?
Willie Gay will play some, probably quite a bit. We have Ricardo (Colclough) as a corner potentially that can become activated and play. We have Allen Rossum who is learning the defense and is pretty much up to speed defensively at this point. We will make those decisions along the way, as we see where he is during the week.
Why has LaMarr Woodley gotten less playing time?
It is really based packages and the flow of the game. He is doing some things to help us. We don't get enamored with counting snaps or reps. Everybody is a play maker. Those guys are doing some good things and we expect them to help us here in the future.
How many packages did you have to take out with Troy Polamalu gone?
I don't speak that much about positives, because that is what evaluating your performance is about for us, but that was one of the positives about the game. Regardless of the circumstances, in terms of injuries, not only to Troy, but when Deshea (Townsend) and Bryant (McFadden) went down. During the course of the game, Casey (Hampton) went down, (Chris) Hoke went down. We didn't skip a beat, in terms of our ability to call our defenses. That is the standard. It was pleasing to see that happen with our team, because we talk about the standard of expectations not changing and us not being reduced in any way when injuries happen. The men that stepped up and replaced those guys, stepped up and we were able to call our defenses. They executed from an assignment standpoint at a very acceptable level. We played pretty good football, even through that. That was an encouraging part of one of the things that happened on Sunday.
Is there an extra premium on this game because the bye is next week?
I don't. This is a big game because it is the next one. I tend to live one week at a time. You can break seasons down however you want to break them down. Some people break them down into quarters. Some people break them down into pre-bye week and post-bye week. The reality is that we have to play them all. We play them one at a time, so that is my focus.
Could Nate Washington make those plays?
Hopefully he is capable of making them. We didn't and that is the reality of it. We have to get better. We have to find ways to make those things happen. That characterized us during the early part of the season. We hit those plays, particularly some of the ones that were early in the games and maybe there is a different outcome. That is just the nature of this business.
Will Nate Washington start if Hines Ward doesn't play?
Your defensive lineman have been getting good pressure.
I think they are just doing a nice job of developing individual skills on their rush man. We put an emphasis on our one-on-one pass rush period, everyday that we do it. It is funny to those guys, because every time we do that drill, I am always there and if there is seven-on-seven going on over at the other field. I always tell him that this is where the competition is. Forget seven-on- seven. You don't play football without the big people. I am always at their drill. Those guys are doing nice work. They are growing in their skill development. They are getting on their edge. They are developing not only primary moves, but also good counter moves. Hopefully that continues.
What is your reaction to Ben Roethlisberger saying, "This one is on me."?
I appreciate that. I hope everybody has that attitude. We need to. Just like we all have a hand in victory, we all have a hand in defeat. He understands what comes with his position. He probably gets too much credit when we win and he probably gets too much credit when we loose. He's willing to accept what comes with being quarterback and I like that about him.