Q&A: Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed concerns Tuesday over the loss in Denver. Here's the transcript of his media session courtesy of Dale Lolley:

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers Opening Statement:

I'll start with a quick review of our performance. It is much like we saw on Sunday night in that Denver simply made more critical plays than we did. To be more specific, I thought we were pretty proficient on third down at 67 percent. They were more proficient. They converted 70 percent of their third downs. We had two takeaways, two interceptions, we caused two more fumbles which we didn't get. They had two interceptions, caused a fumble which they scooped up and ran back for a touchdown. Really, that is kind of the give and take of the evaluational performance. They made critical plays at critical times where we didn't. Part of moving forward is looking at that, making corrections and getting better for our next opportunity. Part of us being a great defense is that we have to make people kick field goals in the red zone. Denver did a nice job of converting their red zone opportunities into touchdowns, as did we. That has been an issue of ours dating back to the beginning of the season. I thought that after the last two weeks, offensively we have done a nice job of converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. But Denver did a nice job as well. Part of us moving forward is making those corrections defensively. If we are going to be great, we have to make people kick field goals when they get down there. Part of moving forward, let's talk quickly about injuries, Ryan Clark probably being the most significant in terms of new injuries. He had inflammation of his spleen and he wasn't able to fly back with us on the plane. He is in transit right now coming back from Denver. All indications are that Ryan is going to be okay. We erred on the side of caution in terms of putting him on the airplane after the football game. His spirits are good. We are going to evaluate him in the early part of this week and we will know more information about his availability later in the week. There is, of course, a good chance that he can play providing he passes all the battery of the tests that we are going to out him through later in the week. Aaron Smith has a sprained knee. He is probably doubtful at best. It will be a week to week thing with Aaron. We will see where he is today, but chances are that Aaron will not play this week. Clint Kriewaldt has shoulder issues that will probably keep him out of practice in the early part of the week. There is a chance that he could play. Jerame Tuman, we expect him to be back in action this week. Bryant McFadden has a chance to play this week. We will see how he performs in practice with the high ankle sprain. It has been a couple of weeks, it is time now. He is getting close, we will see where he is. Hines Ward experienced no abnormal affects from coming back. He had a little swelling and discomfort, but that is part of the healing process. It didn't affect his performance whatsoever so we expect him to continue to move forward and be fine. Looking forward to this week, and talking about the challenges that await us in terms of playing the Cincinnati Bengals, they are a divisional opponent. It is a road game. It is a big game for us. They have very talented people, of course Carson Palmer at quarterback makes them go. He is a Pro Bowl player and a very talented guy with an extremely strong arm. He probably has the strongest arm in football to make all the throws on the field. Of course we know that he has thrown to two capable guys in C.J (Chad Johnson) and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) I guess, they like to be called. T.J. is playing great football. He has eight touchdowns, he has twice as many touchdowns as anybody on our football team. The last couple of years he has been the premier third down receiver in football. We have to be prepared to fight that battle. Of course, Chad Johnson is a big play threat every time they snap the football. There is a chance they can get the services of Rudi Johnson back, who of course is a very solid premier runner in this league. In his absence, (Kenny) Watson has performed relatively well. Defensively, they have some guys and of course, they have been going through some injuries. Sometimes unfortunate incidents create opportunities. They have put (Robert) Geathers at linebacker. I tell you, the interesting thing, we have been watching him and studying him on tape, sometimes unfortunate incidents like injury provide opportunities for guys to show what they are capable of doing. He provides a unique matchup as a linebacker. He is a big guy. When they bring him in pressure, he is a tough pick up for running backs. We have to account for that man. Of course, they have very solid corner play in (Johnathan) Joseph and Deltha O'Neal. Dexter Jackson is somebody, a savvy veteran that you all are familiar with at safety. We have our work cut out for us. But what else is new? This is the National Football League and we look forward to moving forward and preparing ourselves to play our "A" game this week. I'll take any questions.

Q: Do you have any regrets about passing so much in the first half?

No, really none. Sometimes when you are unsuccessful and lose, you look for reasons why. The reality is that our game plan was really kind of no different than what our personality has been all year. We evaluated that. Willie Parker had 10 carries for 48 yards at the half. With Seattle, he had 10 or 11 carries for 18 yards. I think the Seattle game was characterized as a great running game because of how we finished, because we won the football game. We win by attrition. By that, I mean we wear teams down over the long haul of 60 minutes and running the football. When you are down 14 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, you don't have an opportunity to do that. That is just the reality of it. They did a nice job of converting third downs. They converted 70 percent of their third downs, the time of possession wasn't as lop-sided as it has been in our favor so we didn't have as many snaps offensively. I think that tells a story of us not running the football in this game as opposed to being ineffective. Willie Parker had 21 carries for 90 yards. We ran it 4.6 a pop for about 119 yards in the football game. We just didn't get enough opportunities to run the football, specifically over the long haul of the football game in the fourth quarter like we have done in games where have been successful.

Q: What was different about Denver did to load up against the run?

I don't think it was any more difficult than any other week and I don't think it was any different than any other week. We always come out with a plan that we are going to spread the football around and explore what we are capable of doing to a team, making them defend the entire field vertically and horizontally. I know we threw the ball some, some of it was quick screens, some were run plays where we audible at the line of scrimmage and throw the ball on the perimeter. It is a run game alternative, if you will, when they pack the box you can throw the ball quickly out to Santonio and he can get five or six yards and you are looking at second and four, it is a run game alternative for when people pack the box with you. Really, the game was no different than what we have done in the past from a personality standpoint.

Q: About the play where is appeared three Broncos wide receivers were covered by one defensive back?

Troy (Polamalu) was not supposed to blitz on that play. We got misaligned and they outleveraged us and got a significant gain. A lot of times when you give up plays defensively. Don't get me wrong, you want to give credit to your opponent for executing, but their success is usually your failure and there were instances in this football game where we were not where we were supposed to be. That is just the reality of it. When the quarterback had a nice 31 yard play on a scramble, we were not where we were supposed to be. They hit the tight end down the field on the first scoring drive for a significant gain, we were not where we were supposed to be. Really that is no different than any other game. When people hit plays on you, chances are you are not where you are supposed to be. That is recognized and heightened when you are unsuccessful and you lose and we understand that.

Q: What could you do better in the one-minute drill at the end of a game?

First of all, we can stop it. What did they do? They executed. Their success is our failure. We accept that, that is part of competing and specifically competing in this game at this level. They made critical plays and that is what I meant when I characterized the game in the initial part of this conference, they made critical plays at critical times. They did a nice job. I think to do anything other than to give them credit for that, I think, would be a disservice to them. We have to get better. We have to get better in a lot of instances. But again, like I always say when I come to these meetings, that we a re a developing football team and we intend to continue to do that.

Q: Did Denver's defense do things differently?

They did do some things differently but teams do that coming off a bye week. They were a scalded dog. They had to do some things and get after us and they had a nice plan, they executed it and you have to give those guys credit for that.

Q: Can you explain why you called the time out when you did on (Jason) Elam? Was it because you didn't want to give him two chances?

Yes, but that guy is pretty good. When you get in that situation, his resume proves that he is capable of hitting that. I thought the critical play in that drive was when they reviewed the play and gave those guys a catch and moved that ball down closer. When Elam gets inside 50 yards in Denver, history tells us that he has a pretty good shot of making it.

Q: I take it you did not agree with that review?

Whether or not I agree is irrelevant.

Q: Was he touched down?

Not to my knowledge. I say that sitting here today after reviewing it. Believe me, games don't come down to one specific play. When you lose and you are not mentally tough, you love to point to one specific play where you feel like you were wronged. The reality is that we had plenty of opportunities to take control of that football game but we didn't. When you don't, you expose yourself to situations like that.

Q: If he wasn't touched, is he down if Clark makes contact with him to knock the ball free?

To my understanding, what their rule was that Anthony Smith touched him down. So it made the actions that occurred after that irrelevant.

Q: I know you can't separate the mistakes from the performance, if you take away the turnovers, are you okay with the rest of the performance?

You can't. That is the reality of it. We can always find ways to kid ourselves and make ourselves feel good about the outcome of football games, but that is not my intention and it is not going to be the intention of this football team. Sometimes when people run up and down on the field on you, you say if it weren't for those couple of plays, we played a good game defensively. You can't take stuff back. What we put on tape, we stand by. That is just part of being men, that is part of being professionals, and what we put out there on Sunday night was us. We better make corrections and get ready for our next opportunity.

Q: Do you expect to see similar things from Carson Palmer?

Palmer's resume is a little longer than (Jay) Cutler's so we better go to work and roll our sleeves up. Palmer is a heck of a football player. What they do offensively runs through him. He is a very good player. We respect him and we better be on our "A" game going into the game this weekend.

Q: How did Ben Roethlisberger play on third downs and how the defense did on their downs.

In regards to what we're doing offensively on third downs, we have been pretty good on third downs all year. We are well over 50 percent as a football team and it is because of Ben and his ability to create. It is also because we are utilizing a lot of guys and spreading the football around; wide receivers, running backs, tight ends. Everybody on the field is a potential playmaker and we are using them as such. I think that is what makes us a tough team to defend on critical downs, such as that. Their ability to convert third downs, at 70 percent, is really a credit to them. They did a nice job of picking up our pressure. They also got the ball out of their hands relatively quickly. The quarterback made great reads and put the ball where it needed to be. Brandon Stokley made some big catches on third downs. Some of those third downs that they converted were third down and nine, third and 10, third and 14 and that is unacceptable for us, as far as our standard of expectation. At the same time you have to congratulate those guys for the job they did.

Q: Have the first six games exposed Cincinnati's weaknesses?

Six games is not the story of the Cincinnati Bengals. Six games is not the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We are all, 32 teams, in the process of writing our story about what our teams are and are capable of doing. I think you underestimate people when you try to make a synopsis on what they are, based on partial performance. We have to anticipate those guys being at their best. We have to look at what they are capable of doing to us and prepare for that, as they need to do in regards to us.

Q: Will LaMarr Woodley get more playing time?

LaMarr is growing in a lot of ways and developing into a complete football player. Some of his growth you guys haven't seen in stadiums on the weekends, is happening right here at the facility during the week. He has a desire to be great. He is getting better everyday he comes in here. We are going to continue to give him opportunities. To his credit, you are talking about a guy that has probably played 65 or 66 snaps of defense and he has three sacks this year. That tells us we need to play him more.

Q: Why is Troy Polamalu not making plays?

There are no reigns on what he is capable of doing. He is doing what he is supposed to do and he is where he is supposed to be. Big plays happen when technique and opportunity meet. Those are two of the things that I sell, because I think when you don't sell it that way, guys step outside of the box and try to much to make plays, particularly guys as talented as Troy. All he has to do is continue to play his game, execute his assignments and technique and opportunity will meet.

Q: Your next three games are against division opponents. Do you put more emphasis on division games?

Of course you do. This league is about races and how you stack up in your division. If you win your division, you're assured a playoff opportunity, so division games are important. I don't care how you package this week, it's a big game. It's a big game because it's the next one. It's a big game because it's the Bengals. It's a big game because it's a division game. It's a big game.

Q: Can you play with five defensive linemen or will you make a roster move?

We are still exploring those options. We can play with five or we can play with six. We'll make those decisions as we move forward in the week.

Q: What are you losing when Aaron Smith is out?

Aaron is as good of a football player as we have on this football team, not only on the defense. You know what you're going to get from him. People talk about players in terms of their ceiling and floors; the ceiling being what they're potentially capable of and the floor being what they are on their worst day. His ceiling and his floor are very close. They are very close because you know what you're going to get from him. The level of his play is consistent and consistently high. If he doesn't play for us, of course that would be a blow to us, but it is not one we are going to make any excuses about. We are going to line up this week as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the standard of expectation will not change.

Q: Is there anything positive to be gained from coming back to tie even though you lost?

You do feel good about the guys not blinking, smiling in the face of adversity and marching forward and getting us back in the football game, but there are no moral victories. We lost. That is the bottom line and we accept that. We do learn from the experiences and the situations that we are put in. We learned about ourselves. We know we are capable of coming from behind and getting things done, not that it's something we want to make a standard practice of. Each time you take the field, you learn about yourself and hopefully you get better. Regardless of whether you win or lose, you better learn from it and move forward and that is what we intend to do this week.

Q: What were there pass protection problems versus Denver?

To me those are things and reasons you look for when you lose. Ben (Roethlisberger) gets hit in every football game. That is just the nature of playing quarterback in this league when you are dropping back to throw the ball. Maybe if we came from behind and won the game it wouldn't be an issue. We have to do a better job of protecting him. That is part of it, but it wasn't any different than any other game. They did a nice job. Sometimes when you get behind, you are put into situations and you expose yourself to the pass rush. It is football.

Q: Does Ben moving around in the pocket throw off the timing of routes?

He's moving because plays break down, so the time of the route has already played itself out.

Q: When did Ryan Clark get injured?

It wasn't on any specific play. You guys are calling on my medical background here. He had a pre-existing blood situation where altitude and dehydration causes inflammation of his spleen. It wasn't anything necessarily contact or football related per say.

Q: Ben said, "Live by the sword, die by the sword." Would you like to see him throw the ball away?

He (Ben) is scrambling because he has to. People aren't open at the appropriate time, pass protection may break down and he is trying to create and make plays for us. You do have to proceed with caution in those instances, but you also have to admit that he has done a nice job of keeping drives alive to help us win football games operating like that. That is what makes Ben, Ben. He did it against Seattle and we were able to control that football game because of what he did on third down and long, specifically in the first drive of the second drive. To answer your question, yes you live by the sword and die by the sword, but it is the nature of football. He is a playmaker trying to make plays under adverse conditions at times. That is part of it.

Q: What makes Ben Roethlisberger good at that?

He is an athlete. By that I mean, he can throw the ball accurately from a variety of positions he puts his body in or that the circumstances cause him to put his body in. He doesn't panic. He is a very even tempered person under those circumstances. He keeps his eyes down field and continues to look for receivers and he feels the pressure at the same time. It is really kind of characteristic to the unique skills he has as a player.

Q: If Aaron Smith is out, might LaMarr Woodley play defensive end?

In substitution packages, yes. In base 3-4 defense, no.

Q: Why are tight ends being so productive?

We recognize them as threats. They are proving to us continually that they are capable of making plays for us. I think Ben (Roethlisberger) has a level of comfort with those guys. They are extremely big targets and when the field gets and there is less vertical space, there is comfort in throwing to a big target and having some comfort and understanding that they can potentially come down with some balls in tight spaces. Heath (Miller) is a big man. Matt Spaeth is 6-7. There is probably some comfort in throwing to targets like that down there when the field is short.

Q: What happened at halftime to turn the game around?

We regrouped. We didn't like the way the (first) half ended. We went in there and talked about it. There was a resolve in the men. I liked the look in their eyes. There was no panic. They were even keeled, in terms of the way they approached what we needed to do. We understood that we had time to get the job done and we came out with the resolve to get it done. We came up short, such is life.

Q: Did the bye week affect the first half?

That would be an excuse and we don't make them.

Q: Was the defense undisciplined you had two offsides penalties?

I hesitate to characterize our defense as undisciplined. I think that is a stretch. I think that is the reason why we're defensively is because we are disciplined. Did we not execute at the appropriate time on Sunday night? No, we did not.

Q: Where you disappointed to see two offsides penalties?

I am disappointed anytime we are less than successful.

Q: Earlier you said, "You didn't get opportunities to run the ball." What did you mean by that?

What I meant was, we didn't run the football any differently at the beginning of that football game than we have in games where we were successful and won. I think the difference was fourth quarter running. We've been ahead in some games and we've been able to win by attrition and pound people in the fourth quarter. We started the fourth quarter down by 14 points. You can't run it the way you like to run it. Willie Parker ended up with 21 carries. If we were controlling that football game, he probably ends up in the high 20s and Najeh (Davenport) gets his supporting cast toast that he usually gets when we are up on people. That is what I was referring to. Who wasn't where they were supposed to be? It was several individuals, but we don't stand as individuals defensively, speaking about that. We stand as a football team. The reality is that as a team we fell short assignment wise in some areas. We will make corrections and move forward.

Q: Will you keep using Max Starks as a third tight end?

As I said earlier in reference to the Bengals, the unfortunate incidents of Jerame being hurt has forced us to look at Max as a tight end in some areas and it has been a weapon for us. Even with Jerame coming back, we want to keep the potential of that alive, because we like what is going on with that element of our offense. Max provides a unique edge as a tight end, being that he is 6-8, 350 pounds. He is getting great movement. That three tight end personnel group has been very good for us, specifically when he has been in there. We have been able to get some movement at the point of attack and control the line of scrimmage. If the game had been different, from a score standpoint, it would have been a lot of fun to use that personnel group later in the game.

Q: Can Max Starks catch the ball? He was a high school All-American in basketball.

If we are throwing the ball to Max Starks, I would think Heath (Miller) would be upset, Matt Spaeth would be upset and (Jerame) Tuman would be upset. We like Max, but not as a pass catcher.

Q: In the past, Ike Taylor followed Chad Johnson around. Is that a possibility or is T.J. Houshmandzadeh too good?

T.J. leads them in receptions. He leads them in touchdowns. He leads the league in third down receptions. He is a big time football player. I am taking nothing away from Chad Johnson. He is a perennial Pro Bowler and a great football player in respect to what T.J. has done to this point.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nMike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers\r\n\r\nOpening Statement: \r\n

\r\nI'll start with a quick review of our performance.\r\nIt is much like we saw\r\non Sunday night in that Denver simply made more critical plays than\r\nwe did. To be more\r\nspecific, I thought we were pretty proficient on third down at 67\r\npercent. They were more\r\nproficient. They converted 70 percent of their third downs. We had\r\ntwo takeaways, two\r\ninterceptions, we caused two more fumbles which we didn't get. They\r\nhad two\r\ninterceptions, caused a fumble which they scooped up and ran back for\r\na touchdown.\r\nReally, that is kind of the give and take of the evaluational\r\nperformance. They made critical\r\nplays at critical times where we didn't. Part of moving forward is\r\nlooking at that, making\r\ncorrections and getting better for our next opportunity. Part of us\r\nbeing a great defense is\r\nthat we have to make people kick field goals in the red zone. Denver\r\ndid a nice job of\r\nconverting their red zone opportunities into touchdowns, as did we.\r\nThat has been an\r\nissue of ours dating back to the beginning of the season. I thought\r\nthat after the last two\r\nweeks, offensively we have done a nice job of converting red zone\r\nopportunities into\r\ntouchdowns. But Denver did a nice job as well. Part of us moving\r\nforward is making those\r\ncorrections defensively. If we are going to be great, we have to make\r\npeople kick field\r\ngoals when they get down there.\r\nPart of moving forward, let's talk quickly about injuries, Ryan Clark\r\nprobably being the\r\nmost significant in terms of new injuries. He had inflammation of his\r\nspleen and he wasn't\r\nable to fly back with us on the plane. He is in transit right now\r\ncoming back from Denver.\r\nAll indications are that Ryan is going to be okay. We erred on the\r\nside of caution in terms\r\nof putting him on the airplane after the football game. His spirits\r\nare good. We are going\r\nto evaluate him in the early part of this week and we will know more\r\ninformation about his\r\navailability later in the week. There is, of course, a good chance\r\nthat he can play providing\r\nhe passes all the battery of the tests that we are going to out him\r\nthrough later in the\r\nweek. Aaron Smith has a sprained knee. He is probably doubtful at\r\nbest. It will be a week\r\nto week thing with Aaron. We will see where he is today, but chances\r\nare that Aaron will\r\nnot play this week. Clint Kriewaldt has shoulder issues that will\r\nprobably keep him out of\r\npractice in the early part of the week. There is a chance that he\r\ncould play. Jerame Tuman,\r\nwe expect him to be back in action this week. Bryant McFadden has a\r\nchance to play this\r\nweek. We will see how he performs in practice with the high ankle\r\nsprain. It has been a\r\ncouple of weeks, it is time now. He is getting close, we will see\r\nwhere he is. Hines Ward\r\nexperienced no abnormal affects from coming back. He had a little\r\nswelling and\r\ndiscomfort, but that is part of the healing process. It didn't affect\r\nhis performance\r\nwhatsoever so we expect him to continue to move forward and be fine.\r\nLooking forward to this week, and talking about the challenges that\r\nawait us in terms of\r\nplaying the Cincinnati Bengals, they are a divisional opponent. It is\r\na road game. It is a big\r\ngame for us. They have very talented people, of course Carson Palmer\r\nat quarterback\r\nmakes them go. He is a Pro Bowl player and a very talented guy with\r\nan extremely strong\r\narm. He probably has the strongest arm in football to make all the\r\nthrows on the field. Of\r\ncourse we know that he has thrown to two capable guys in C.J (Chad Johnson) and T.J.\r\n(Houshmandzadeh) I guess, they like to be called. T.J. is playing\r\ngreat football. He has\r\neight touchdowns, he has twice as many touchdowns as anybody on our\r\nfootball team.\r\nThe last couple of years he has been the premier third down receiver\r\nin football. We have\r\nto be prepared to fight that battle. Of course, Chad Johnson is a big\r\nplay threat every time\r\nthey snap the football. There is a chance they can get the services\r\nof Rudi Johnson back,\r\nwho of course is a very solid premier runner in this league. In his\r\nabsence, (Kenny) Watson\r\nhas performed relatively well. Defensively, they have some guys and\r\nof course, they have\r\nbeen going through some injuries. Sometimes unfortunate incidents\r\ncreate opportunities.\r\nThey have put (Robert) Geathers at linebacker. I tell you, the\r\ninteresting thing, we have\r\nbeen watching him and studying him on tape, sometimes unfortunate\r\nincidents like injury\r\nprovide opportunities for guys to show what they are capable of\r\ndoing. He provides a\r\nunique matchup as a linebacker. He is a big guy. When they bring him\r\nin pressure, he is a\r\ntough pick up for running backs. We have to account for that man. Of\r\ncourse, they have\r\nvery solid corner play in (Johnathan) Joseph and Deltha O'Neal.\r\nDexter Jackson is\r\nsomebody, a savvy veteran that you all are familiar with at safety.\r\nWe have our work cut\r\nout for us. But what else is new? This is the National Football\r\nLeague and we look forward\r\nto moving forward and preparing ourselves to play our \"A\" game this\r\nweek. I'll take any\r\nquestions.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: Do you have any regrets about passing so much in the first half?\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nNo, really none. Sometimes when you are unsuccessful and lose, you\r\nlook for reasons why.\r\nThe reality is that our game plan was really kind of no different\r\nthan what our personality\r\nhas been all year. We evaluated that. Willie Parker had 10 carries\r\nfor 48 yards at the half.\r\nWith Seattle, he had 10 or 11 carries for 18 yards. I think the\r\nSeattle game was\r\ncharacterized as a great running game because of how we finished,\r\nbecause we won the\r\nfootball game. We win by attrition. By that, I mean we wear teams\r\ndown over the long haul\r\nof 60 minutes and running the football. When you are down 14 points\r\nat the beginning of\r\nthe fourth quarter, you don't have an opportunity to do that. That is\r\njust the reality of it.\r\nThey did a nice job of converting third downs. They converted 70\r\npercent of their third\r\ndowns, the time of possession wasn't as lop-sided as it has been in\r\nour favor so we didn't\r\nhave as many snaps offensively. I think that tells a story of us not\r\nrunning the football in\r\nthis game as opposed to being ineffective. Willie Parker had 21\r\ncarries for 90 yards. We\r\nran it 4.6 a pop for about 119 yards in the football game. We just\r\ndidn't get enough\r\nopportunities to run the football, specifically over the long haul of\r\nthe football game in the\r\nfourth quarter like we have done in games where have been successful.\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nQ: What was different about Denver did to load up against the run?\r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\nI don't think it was any more difficult than any other week and I\r\ndon't think it was any\r\ndifferent than any other week. We always come out with a plan that we\r\nare going to spread\r\nthe football around and explore what we are capable of doing to a\r\nteam, making them\r\ndefend the entire field vertically and horizontally. I know we threw\r\nthe ball some, some of\r\nit was quick screens, some were run plays where we audible at the\r\nline of scrimmage and\r\nthrow the ball on the perimeter. It is a run game alternative, if you\r\nwill, when they pack the\r\nbox you can throw the ball quickly out to Santonio and he can get\r\nfive or six yards and you\r\nare looking at second and four, it is a run game alternative for when\r\npeople pack the box\r\nwith you. Really, the game was no different than what we have done in\r\nthe past from a\r\npersonality standpoint.\r\n\r\n

\r\nQ: About the play where is appeared three Broncos wide receivers were\r\ncovered by one\r\ndefensive back?\r\n

\r\n\r\nTroy (Polamalu) was not supposed to blitz on that play. We got\r\nmisaligned and they\r\noutleveraged us and got a significant gain. A lot of times when you\r\ngive up plays\r\ndefensively. Don't get me wrong, you want to give credit to your\r\nopponent for executing,\r\nbut their success is usually your failure and there were instances in\r\nthis football game\r\nwhere we were not where we were supposed to be. That is just the\r\nreality of it. When the\r\nquarterback had a nice 31 yard play on a scramble, we were not where\r\nwe were supposed\r\nto be. They hit the tight end down the field on the first scoring\r\ndrive for a significant gain,\r\nwe were not where we were supposed to be. Really that is no different\r\nthan any other\r\ngame. When people hit plays on you, chances are you are not where you\r\nare supposed to\r\nbe. That is recognized and heightened when you are unsuccessful and\r\nyou lose and we\r\nunderstand that.\r\n

\r\nQ: What could you do better in the one-minute drill at the end of a\r\ngame?

\r\n\r\nFirst of all, we can stop it. What did they do? They executed.\r\nTheir success is our failure.\r\nWe accept that, that is part of competing and specifically competing\r\nin this game at this\r\nlevel. They made critical plays and that is what I meant when I\r\ncharacterized the game in\r\nthe initial part of this conference, they made critical plays at\r\ncritical times. They did a nice\r\njob. I think to do anything other than to give them credit for that,\r\nI think, would be a\r\ndisservice to them. We have to get better. We have to get better in a\r\nlot of instances. But\r\nagain, like I always say when I come to these meetings, that we a re\r\na developing football\r\nteam and we intend to continue to do that.\r\n

\r\nQ: Did Denver's defense do things differently? \r\n\r\n

\r\n\r\nThey did do some\r\nthings differently but\r\nteams do that coming off a bye week. They were a scalded dog. They\r\nhad to do some\r\nthings and get after us and they had a nice plan, they executed it\r\nand you have to give\r\nthose guys credit for that.\r\n

\r\nQ: Can you explain why you called the time out when you did on\r\n(Jason) Elam? Was it\r\nbecause you didn't want to give him two chances?\r\n

\r\nYes, but that guy is pretty good. When you get in that situation, his\r\nresume proves that he\r\nis capable of hitting that. I thought the critical play in that drive\r\nwas when they reviewed\r\nthe play and gave those guys a catch and moved that ball down closer.\r\nWhen Elam gets\r\ninside 50 yards in Denver, history tells us that he has a pretty good\r\nshot of making it.\r\n

\r\nQ: I take it you did not agree with that review?

\r\nWhether or not I agree is irrelevant.\r\n

\r\nQ: Was he touched down?

\r\nNot to my knowledge. I say that sitting here today after reviewing\r\nit. Believe me, games\r\ndon't come down to one specific play. When you lose and you are not\r\nmentally tough, you\r\nlove to point to one specific play where you feel like you were\r\nwronged. The reality is that\r\nwe had plenty of opportunities to take control of that football game\r\nbut we didn't. When\r\nyou don't, you expose yourself to situations like that.\r\n

\r\nQ: If he wasn't touched, is he down if Clark makes contact with him\r\nto knock the ball free?\r\n

\r\nTo my understanding, what their rule was that Anthony Smith touched\r\nhim down. So it\r\nmade the actions that occurred after that irrelevant.\r\n

\r\nQ: I know you can't separate the mistakes from the performance, if\r\nyou take away the\r\nturnovers, are you okay with the rest of the performance?\r\n

\r\n\r\nYou can't. That is the reality of it. We can always find ways to kid\r\nourselves and make\r\nourselves feel good about the outcome of football games, but that is\r\nnot my intention and\r\nit is not going to be the intention of this football team. Sometimes\r\nwhen people run up\r\nand down on the field on you, you say if it weren't for those couple\r\nof plays, we played a\r\ngood game defensively. You can't take stuff back. What we put on\r\ntape, we stand by. That\r\nis just part of being men, that is part of being professionals, and\r\nwhat we put out there on\r\nSunday night was us. We better make corrections and get ready for our\r\nnext opportunity.\r\n

\r\nQ: Do you expect to see similar things from Carson Palmer?

\r\nPalmer's resume is a little longer than (Jay) Cutler's so we better\r\ngo to work and roll our\r\nsleeves up. Palmer is a heck of a football player. What they do\r\noffensively runs through\r\nhim. He is a very good player. We respect him and we better be on our\r\n\"A\" game going\r\ninto the game this weekend.\r\n

\r\nQ: How did Ben Roethlisberger play on third downs and how the defense\r\ndid on their\r\ndowns.

\r\nIn regards to what we're doing offensively on third downs, we have\r\nbeen pretty good on\r\nthird downs all year. We are well over 50 percent as a football team\r\nand it is because of\r\nBen and his ability to create. It is also because we are utilizing a\r\nlot of guys and spreading\r\nthe football around; wide receivers, running backs, tight ends.\r\nEverybody on the field is a\r\npotential playmaker and we are using them as such. I think that is\r\nwhat makes us a tough\r\nteam to defend on critical downs, such as that. Their ability to\r\nconvert third downs, at 70\r\npercent, is really a credit to them. They did a nice job of picking\r\nup our pressure. They\r\nalso got the ball out of their hands relatively quickly. The\r\nquarterback made great reads\r\nand put the ball where it needed to be. Brandon Stokley made some big\r\ncatches on third\r\ndowns. Some of those third downs that they converted were third down\r\nand nine, third\r\nand 10, third and 14 and that is unacceptable for us, as far as our\r\nstandard of\r\nexpectation. At the same time you have to congratulate those guys for\r\nthe job they did.\r\n

\r\nQ: Have the first six games exposed Cincinnati's weaknesses?

\r\nSix games is not the story of the Cincinnati Bengals. Six games is\r\nnot the story of the\r\nPittsburgh Steelers. We are all, 32 teams, in the process of writing\r\nour story about what\r\nour teams are and are capable of doing. I think you underestimate\r\npeople when you try to\r\nmake a synopsis on what they are, based on partial performance. We\r\nhave to anticipate\r\nthose guys being at their best. We have to look at what they are\r\ncapable of doing to us and\r\nprepare for that, as they need to do in regards to us.\r\n

\r\nQ: Will LaMarr Woodley get more playing time?

\r\nLaMarr is growing in a lot of ways and developing into a complete\r\nfootball player. Some of\r\nhis growth you guys haven't seen in stadiums on the weekends, is\r\nhappening right here at\r\nthe facility during the week. He has a desire to be great. He is\r\ngetting better everyday he\r\ncomes in here. We are going to continue to give him opportunities. To\r\nhis credit, you are\r\ntalking about a guy that has probably played 65 or 66 snaps of\r\ndefense and he has three\r\nsacks this year. That tells us we need to play him more.\r\n

\r\nQ: Why is Troy Polamalu not making plays?

\r\nThere are no reigns on what he is capable of doing. He is doing what\r\nhe is supposed to do\r\nand he is where he is supposed to be. Big plays happen when technique\r\nand opportunity\r\nmeet. Those are two of the things that I sell, because I think when\r\nyou don't sell it that\r\nway, guys step outside of the box and try to much to make plays,\r\nparticularly guys as\r\ntalented as Troy. All he has to do is continue to play his game,\r\nexecute his assignments\r\nand technique and opportunity will meet.\r\n

\r\nQ: Your next three games are against division opponents. Do you put\r\nmore emphasis on\r\ndivision games?

\r\n\r\nOf course you do. This league is about races and how you stack up in\r\nyour division. If you\r\nwin your division, you're assured a playoff opportunity, so division\r\ngames are important. I\r\ndon't care how you package this week, it's a big game. It's a big\r\ngame because it's the\r\nnext one. It's a big game because it's the Bengals. It's a big game\r\nbecause it's a division\r\ngame. It's a big game.\r\n

\r\nQ: Can you play with five defensive linemen or will you make a roster\r\nmove?

\r\nWe are still exploring those options. We can play with five or we can\r\nplay with six. We'll\r\nmake those decisions as we move forward in the week.\r\n

\r\nQ: What are you losing when Aaron Smith is out?

\r\nAaron is as good of a football player as we have on this football\r\nteam, not only on the\r\ndefense. You know what you're going to get from him. People talk\r\nabout players in terms\r\nof their ceiling and floors; the ceiling being what they're\r\npotentially capable of and the\r\nfloor being what they are on their worst day. His ceiling and his\r\nfloor are very close. They\r\nare very close because you know what you're going to get from him.\r\nThe level of his play\r\nis consistent and consistently high. If he doesn't play for us, of\r\ncourse that would be a\r\nblow to us, but it is not one we are going to make any excuses about.\r\nWe are going to line\r\nup this week as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the standard of\r\nexpectation will not change. \r\n

\r\nQ: Is there anything positive to be gained from coming back to tie\r\neven though you lost?

\r\nYou do feel good about the guys not blinking, smiling in the face of\r\nadversity and\r\nmarching forward and getting us back in the football game, but there\r\nare no moral\r\nvictories. We lost. That is the bottom line and we accept that. We do\r\nlearn from the\r\nexperiences and the situations that we are put in. We learned about\r\nourselves. We know\r\nwe are capable of coming from behind and getting things done, not\r\nthat it's something we\r\nwant to make a standard practice of. Each time you take the field,\r\nyou learn about yourself\r\nand hopefully you get better. Regardless of whether you win or lose,\r\nyou better learn from\r\nit and move forward and that is what we intend to do this week.\r\n

\r\nQ: What were there pass protection problems versus Denver?

\r\nTo me those are things and reasons you look for when you lose. Ben\r\n(Roethlisberger) gets\r\nhit in every football game. That is just the nature of playing\r\nquarterback in this league\r\nwhen you are dropping back to throw the ball. Maybe if we came from\r\nbehind and won the\r\ngame it wouldn't be an issue. We have to do a better job of\r\nprotecting him. That is part of\r\nit, but it wasn't any different than any other game. They did a nice\r\njob. Sometimes when\r\nyou get behind, you are put into situations and you expose yourself\r\nto the pass rush. It is\r\nfootball.\r\n

\r\nQ: Does Ben moving around in the pocket throw off the timing of\r\nroutes?

\r\nHe's moving because plays break down, so the time of the route has\r\nalready played itself\r\nout.\r\n

\r\nQ: When did Ryan Clark get injured?

\r\nIt wasn't on any specific play. You guys are calling on my medical\r\nbackground here. He\r\nhad a pre-existing blood situation where altitude and dehydration\r\ncauses inflammation of\r\nhis spleen. It wasn't anything necessarily contact or football\r\nrelated per say.\r\n

\r\nQ: Ben said, \"Live by the sword, die by the sword.\" Would you like to\r\nsee him throw the ball\r\naway?

\r\nHe (Ben) is scrambling because he has to. People aren't open at the\r\nappropriate time, pass\r\nprotection may break down and he is trying to create and make plays\r\nfor us. You do have\r\nto proceed with caution in those instances, but you also have to\r\nadmit that he has done a\r\nnice job of keeping drives alive to help us win football games\r\noperating like that. That is\r\nwhat makes Ben, Ben. He did it against Seattle and we were able to\r\ncontrol that football\r\ngame because of what he did on third down and long, specifically in\r\nthe first drive of the\r\nsecond drive. To answer your question, yes you live by the sword and\r\ndie by the sword,\r\nbut it is the nature of football. He is a playmaker trying to make\r\nplays under adverse\r\nconditions at times. That is part of it.\r\n

\r\nQ: What makes Ben Roethlisberger good at that?

\r\nHe is an athlete. By that I mean, he can throw the ball accurately\r\nfrom a variety of\r\npositions he puts his body in or that the circumstances cause him to\r\nput his body in. He\r\ndoesn't panic. He is a very even tempered person under those\r\ncircumstances. He keeps his\r\neyes down field and continues to look for receivers and he feels the\r\npressure at the same\r\ntime. It is really kind of characteristic to the unique skills he has\r\nas a player.\r\n

\r\nQ: If Aaron Smith is out, might LaMarr Woodley play defensive end?

\r\nIn substitution packages, yes. In base 3-4 defense, no.\r\n

\r\nQ: Why are tight ends being so productive?

\r\nWe recognize them as threats. They are proving to us continually that\r\nthey are capable of\r\nmaking plays for us. I think Ben (Roethlisberger) has a level of\r\ncomfort with those guys.\r\nThey are extremely big targets and when the field gets and there is\r\nless vertical space,\r\nthere is comfort in throwing to a big target and having some comfort\r\nand understanding\r\nthat they can potentially come down with some balls in tight spaces.\r\nHeath (Miller) is a big\r\nman. Matt Spaeth is 6-7. There is probably some comfort in throwing\r\nto targets like that\r\ndown there when the field is short.\r\n

\r\nQ: What happened at halftime to turn the game around?

\r\nWe regrouped. We didn't like the way the (first) half ended. We went\r\nin there and talked\r\nabout it. There was a resolve in the men. I liked the look in their\r\neyes. There was no panic.\r\nThey were even keeled, in terms of the way they approached what we\r\nneeded to do. We\r\nunderstood that we had time to get the job done and we came out with\r\nthe resolve to get\r\nit done. We came up short, such is life. \r\n

\r\nQ: Did the bye week affect the first half?

\r\nThat would be an excuse and we don't make them.\r\n

\r\nQ: Was the defense undisciplined you had two offsides penalties?

\r\nI hesitate to characterize our defense as undisciplined. I think that\r\nis a stretch. I think that\r\nis the reason why we're defensively is because we are disciplined.\r\nDid we not execute at\r\nthe appropriate time on Sunday night? No, we did not.\r\n

\r\nQ: Where you disappointed to see two offsides penalties?

\r\nI am disappointed anytime we are less than successful. \r\n

\r\nQ: Earlier you said, \"You didn't get opportunities to run the ball.\"\r\nWhat did you mean by\r\nthat?

\r\nWhat I meant was, we didn't run the football any differently at the\r\nbeginning of that\r\nfootball game than we have in games where we were successful and won.\r\nI think the\r\ndifference was fourth quarter running. We've been ahead in some games\r\nand we've been\r\nable to win by attrition and pound people in the fourth quarter. We\r\nstarted the fourth\r\nquarter down by 14 points. You can't run it the way you like to run\r\nit. Willie Parker ended\r\nup with 21 carries. If we were controlling that football game, he\r\nprobably ends up in the\r\nhigh 20s and Najeh (Davenport) gets his supporting cast toast that he\r\nusually gets when\r\nwe are up on people. That is what I was referring to. Who wasn't\r\nwhere they were\r\nsupposed to be? It was several individuals, but we don't stand as\r\nindividuals defensively,\r\nspeaking about that. We stand as a football team. The reality is that\r\nas a team we fell short\r\nassignment wise in some areas. We will make corrections and move\r\nforward.\r\n

\r\nQ: Will you keep using Max Starks as a third tight end?

\r\nAs I said earlier in reference to the Bengals, the unfortunate\r\nincidents of Jerame being hurt\r\nhas forced us to look at Max as a tight end in some areas and it has\r\nbeen a weapon for us.\r\nEven with Jerame coming back, we want to keep the potential of that\r\nalive, because we like\r\nwhat is going on with that element of our offense. Max provides a\r\nunique edge as a tight\r\nend, being that he is 6-8, 350 pounds. He is getting great movement.\r\nThat three tight end\r\npersonnel group has been very good for us, specifically when he has\r\nbeen in there. We\r\nhave been able to get some movement at the point of attack and\r\ncontrol the line of\r\nscrimmage. If the game had been different, from a score standpoint,\r\nit would have been a\r\nlot of fun to use that personnel group later in the game.\r\n

\r\nQ: Can Max Starks catch the ball? He was a high school All-American\r\nin basketball.

\r\nIf we are throwing the ball to Max Starks, I would think Heath\r\n(Miller) would be upset, Matt\r\nSpaeth would be upset and (Jerame) Tuman would be upset. We like Max,\r\nbut not as a pass\r\ncatcher.\r\n

\r\nQ: In the past, Ike Taylor followed Chad Johnson around. Is that a\r\npossibility or is T.J. Houshmandzadeh too good?

\r\nT.J. leads them in receptions. He leads them in touchdowns. He leads\r\nthe league in third\r\ndown receptions. He is a big time football player. I am taking\r\nnothing away from Chad\r\nJohnson. He is a perennial Pro Bowler and a great football player in respect to what\r\nT.J. has done to this point. ","mobileBody":" Opening Statement:

I'll start with a quick review of our performance. It is much like we saw on Sunday night in that Denver simply made more critical plays than we did. To be more specific, I thought we were pretty proficient on third down at 67 percent. They were more proficient. They converted 70 percent of their third downs. We had two takeaways, two interceptions, we caused two more fumbles which we didn't get. They had two interceptions, caused a fumble which they scooped up and ran back for a touchdown. Really, that is kind of the give and take of the evaluational performance. They made critical plays at critical times where we didn't. Part of moving forward is looking at that, making corrections and getting better for our next opportunity. Part of us being a great defense is that we have to make people kick field goals in the red zone. Denver did a nice job of converting their red zone opportunities into touchdowns, as did we. That has been an issue of ours dating back to the beginning of the season. I thought that after the last two weeks, offensively we have done a nice job of converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. But Denver did a nice job as well. Part of us moving forward is making those corrections defensively. If we are going to be great, we have to make people kick field goals when they get down there. Part of moving forward, let's talk quickly about injuries, Ryan Clark probably being the most significant in terms of new injuries. He had inflammation of his spleen and he wasn't able to fly back with us on the plane. He is in transit right now coming back from Denver. All indications are that Ryan is going to be okay. We erred on the side of caution in terms of putting him on the airplane after the football game. His spirits are good. We are going to evaluate him in the early part of this week and we will know more information about his availability later in the week. There is, of course, a good chance that he can play providing he passes all the battery of the tests that we are going to out him through later in the week. Aaron Smith has a sprained knee. He is probably doubtful at best. It will be a week to week thing with Aaron. We will see where he is today, but chances are that Aaron will not play this week. Clint Kriewaldt has shoulder issues that will probably keep him out of practice in the early part of the week. There is a chance that he could play. Jerame Tuman, we expect him to be back in action this week. Bryant McFadden has a chance to play this week. We will see how he performs in practice with the high ankle sprain. It has been a couple of weeks, it is time now. He is getting close, we will see where he is. Hines Ward experienced no abnormal affects from coming back. He had a little swelling and discomfort, but that is part of the healing process. It didn't affect his performance whatsoever so we expect him to continue to move forward and be fine. Looking forward to this week, and talking about the challenges that await us in terms of playing the Cincinnati Bengals, they are a divisional opponent. It is a road game. It is a big game for us. They have very talented people, of course Carson Palmer at quarterback makes them go. He is a Pro Bowl player and a very talented guy with an extremely strong arm. He probably has the strongest arm in football to make all the throws on the field. Of course we know that he has thrown to two capable guys in C.J (Chad Johnson) and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) I guess, they like to be called. T.J. is playing great football. He has eight touchdowns, he has twice as many touchdowns as anybody on our football team. The last couple of years he has been the premier third down receiver in football. We have to be prepared to fight that battle. Of course, Chad Johnson is a big play threat every time they snap the football. There is a chance they can get the services of Rudi Johnson back, who of course is a very solid premier runner in this league. In his absence, (Kenny) Watson has performed relatively well. Defensively, they have some guys and of course, they have been going through some injuries. Sometimes unfortunate incidents create opportunities. They have put (Robert) Geathers at linebacker. I tell you, the interesting thing, we have been watching him and studying him on tape, sometimes unfortunate incidents like injury provide opportunities for guys to show what they are capable of doing. He provides a unique matchup as a linebacker. He is a big guy. When they bring him in pressure, he is a tough pick up for running backs. We have to account for that man. Of course, they have very solid corner play in (Johnathan) Joseph and Deltha O'Neal. Dexter Jackson is somebody, a savvy veteran that you all are familiar with at safety. We have our work cut out for us. But what else is new? This is the National Football League and we look forward to moving forward and preparing ourselves to play our \"A\" game this week. I'll take any questions.

Q: Do you have any regrets about passing so much in the first half?

No, really none. Sometimes when you are unsuccessful and lose, you look for reasons why. The reality is that our game plan was really kind of no different than what our personality has been all year. We evaluated that. Willie Parker had 10 carries for 48 yards at the half. With Seattle, he had 10 or 11 carries for 18 yards. I think the Seattle game was characterized as a great running game because of how we finished, because we won the football game. We win by attrition. By that, I mean we wear teams down over the long haul of 60 minutes and running the football. When you are down 14 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, you don't have an opportunity to do that. That is just the reality of it. They did a nice job of converting third downs. They converted 70 percent of their third downs, the time of possession wasn't as lop-sided as it has been in our favor so we didn't have as many snaps offensively. I think that tells a story of us not running the football in this game as opposed to being ineffective. Willie Parker had 21 carries for 90 yards. We ran it 4.6 a pop for about 119 yards in the football game. We just didn't get enough opportunities to run the football, specifically over the long haul of the football game in the fourth quarter like we have done in games where have been successful.

Q: What was different about Denver did to load up against the run?

I don't think it was any more difficult than any other week and I don't think it was any different than any other week. We always come out with a plan that we are going to spread the football around and explore what we are capable of doing to a team, making them defend the entire field vertically and horizontally. I know we threw the ball some, some of it was quick screens, some were run plays where we audible at the line of scrimmage and throw the ball on the perimeter. It is a run game alternative, if you will, when they pack the box you can throw the ball quickly out to Santonio and he can get five or six yards and you are looking at second and four, it is a run game alternative for when people pack the box with you. Really, the game was no different than what we have done in the past from a personality standpoint.

Q: About the play where is appeared three Broncos wide receivers were covered by one defensive back?

Troy (Polamalu) was not supposed to blitz on that play. We got misaligned and they outleveraged us and got a significant gain. A lot of times when you give up plays defensively. Don't get me wrong, you want to give credit to your opponent for executing, but their success is usually your failure and there were instances in this football game where we were not where we were supposed to be. That is just the reality of it. When the quarterback had a nice 31 yard play on a scramble, we were not where we were supposed to be. They hit the tight end down the field on the first scoring drive for a significant gain, we were not where we were supposed to be. Really that is no different than any other game. When people hit plays on you, chances are you are not where you are supposed to be. That is recognized and heightened when you are unsuccessful and you lose and we understand that.

Q: What could you do better in the one-minute drill at the end of a game?

First of all, we can stop it. What did they do? They executed. Their success is our failure. We accept that, that is part of competing and specifically competing in this game at this level. They made critical plays and that is what I meant when I characterized the game in the initial part of this conference, they made critical plays at critical times. They did a nice job. I think to do anything other than to give them credit for that, I think, would be a disservice to them. We have to get better. We have to get better in a lot of instances. But again, like I always say when I come to these meetings, that we a re a developing football team and we intend to continue to do that.

Q: Did Denver's defense do things differently?

They did do some things differently but teams do that coming off a bye week. They were a scalded dog. They had to do some things and get after us and they had a nice plan, they executed it and you have to give those guys credit for that.

Q: Can you explain why you called the time out when you did on (Jason) Elam? Was it because you didn't want to give him two chances?

Yes, but that guy is pretty good. When you get in that situation, his resume proves that he is capable of hitting that. I thought the critical play in that drive was when they reviewed the play and gave those guys a catch and moved that ball down closer. When Elam gets inside 50 yards in Denver, history tells us that he has a pretty good shot of making it.

Q: I take it you did not agree with that review?

Whether or not I agree is irrelevant.

Q: Was he touched down?

Not to my knowledge. I say that sitting here today after reviewing it. Believe me, games don't come down to one specific play. When you lose and you are not mentally tough, you love to point to one specific play where you feel like you were wronged. The reality is that we had plenty of opportunities to take control of that football game but we didn't. When you don't, you expose yourself to situations like that.

Q: If he wasn't touched, is he down if Clark makes contact with him to knock the ball free?

To my understanding, what their rule was that Anthony Smith touched him down. So it made the actions that occurred after that irrelevant.

Q: I know you can't separate the mistakes from the performance, if you take away the turnovers, are you okay with the rest of the performance?

You can't. That is the reality of it. We can always find ways to kid ourselves and make ourselves feel good about the outcome of football games, but that is not my intention and it is not going to be the intention of this football team. Sometimes when people run up and down on the field on you, you say if it weren't for those couple of plays, we played a good game defensively. You can't take stuff back. What we put on tape, we stand by. That is just part of being men, that is part of being professionals, and what we put out there on Sunday night was us. We better make corrections and get ready for our next opportunity.

Q: Do you expect to see similar things from Carson Palmer?

Palmer's resume is a little longer than (Jay) Cutler's so we better go to work and roll our sleeves up. Palmer is a heck of a football player. What they do offensively runs through him. He is a very good player. We respect him and we better be on our \"A\" game going into the game this weekend.

Q: How did Ben Roethlisberger play on third downs and how the defense did on their downs.

In regards to what we're doing offensively on third downs, we have been pretty good on third downs all year. We are well over 50 percent as a football team and it is because of Ben and his ability to create. It is also because we are utilizing a lot of guys and spreading the football around; wide receivers, running backs, tight ends. Everybody on the field is a potential playmaker and we are using them as such. I think that is what makes us a tough team to defend on critical downs, such as that. Their ability to convert third downs, at 70 percent, is really a credit to them. They did a nice job of picking up our pressure. They also got the ball out of their hands relatively quickly. The quarterback made great reads and put the ball where it needed to be. Brandon Stokley made some big catches on third downs. Some of those third downs that they converted were third down and nine, third and 10, third and 14 and that is unacceptable for us, as far as our standard of expectation. At the same time you have to congratulate those guys for the job they did.

Q: Have the first six games exposed Cincinnati's weaknesses?

Six games is not the story of the Cincinnati Bengals. Six games is not the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We are all, 32 teams, in the process of writing our story about what our teams are and are capable of doing. I think you underestimate people when you try to make a synopsis on what they are, based on partial performance. We have to anticipate those guys being at their best. We have to look at what they are capable of doing to us and prepare for that, as they need to do in regards to us.

Q: Will LaMarr Woodley get more playing time?

LaMarr is growing in a lot of ways and developing into a complete football player. Some of his growth you guys haven't seen in stadiums on the weekends, is happening right here at the facility during the week. He has a desire to be great. He is getting better everyday he comes in here. We are going to continue to give him opportunities. To his credit, you are talking about a guy that has probably played 65 or 66 snaps of defense and he has three sacks this year. That tells us we need to play him more.

Q: Why is Troy Polamalu not making plays?

There are no reigns on what he is capable of doing. He is doing what he is supposed to do and he is where he is supposed to be. Big plays happen when technique and opportunity meet. Those are two of the things that I sell, because I think when you don't sell it that way, guys step outside of the box and try to much to make plays, particularly guys as talented as Troy. All he has to do is continue to play his game, execute his assignments and technique and opportunity will meet.

Q: Your next three games are against division opponents. Do you put more emphasis on division games?

Of course you do. This league is about races and how you stack up in your division. If you win your division, you're assured a playoff opportunity, so division games are important. I don't care how you package this week, it's a big game. It's a big game because it's the next one. It's a big game because it's the Bengals. It's a big game because it's a division game. It's a big game.

Q: Can you play with five defensive linemen or will you make a roster move?

We are still exploring those options. We can play with five or we can play with six. We'll make those decisions as we move forward in the week.

Q: What are you losing when Aaron Smith is out?

Aaron is as good of a football player as we have on this football team, not only on the defense. You know what you're going to get from him. People talk about players in terms of their ceiling and floors; the ceiling being what they're potentially capable of and the floor being what they are on their worst day. His ceiling and his floor are very close. They are very close because you know what you're going to get from him. The level of his play is consistent and consistently high. If he doesn't play for us, of course that would be a blow to us, but it is not one we are going to make any excuses about. We are going to line up this week as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the standard of expectation will not change.

Q: Is there anything positive to be gained from coming back to tie even though you lost?

You do feel good about the guys not blinking, smiling in the face of adversity and marching forward and getting us back in the football game, but there are no moral victories. We lost. That is the bottom line and we accept that. We do learn from the experiences and the situations that we are put in. We learned about ourselves. We know we are capable of coming from behind and getting things done, not that it's something we want to make a standard practice of. Each time you take the field, you learn about yourself and hopefully you get better. Regardless of whether you win or lose, you better learn from it and move forward and that is what we intend to do this week.

Q: What were there pass protection problems versus Denver?

To me those are things and reasons you look for when you lose. Ben (Roethlisberger) gets hit in every football game. That is just the nature of playing quarterback in this league when you are dropping back to throw the ball. Maybe if we came from behind and won the game it wouldn't be an issue. We have to do a better job of protecting him. That is part of it, but it wasn't any different than any other game. They did a nice job. Sometimes when you get behind, you are put into situations and you expose yourself to the pass rush. It is football.

Q: Does Ben moving around in the pocket throw off the timing of routes?

He's moving because plays break down, so the time of the route has already played itself out.

Q: When did Ryan Clark get injured?

It wasn't on any specific play. You guys are calling on my medical background here. He had a pre-existing blood situation where altitude and dehydration causes inflammation of his spleen. It wasn't anything necessarily contact or football related per say.

Q: Ben said, \"Live by the sword, die by the sword.\" Would you like to see him throw the ball away?

He (Ben) is scrambling because he has to. People aren't open at the appropriate time, pass protection may break down and he is trying to create and make plays for us. You do have to proceed with caution in those instances, but you also have to admit that he has done a nice job of keeping drives alive to help us win football games operating like that. That is what makes Ben, Ben. He did it against Seattle and we were able to control that football game because of what he did on third down and long, specifically in the first drive of the second drive. To answer your question, yes you live by the sword and die by the sword, but it is the nature of football. He is a playmaker trying to make plays under adverse conditions at times. That is part of it.

Q: What makes Ben Roethlisberger good at that?

He is an athlete. By that I mean, he can throw the ball accurately from a variety of positions he puts his body in or that the circumstances cause him to put his body in. He doesn't panic. He is a very even tempered person under those circumstances. He keeps his eyes down field and continues to look for receivers and he feels the pressure at the same time. It is really kind of characteristic to the unique skills he has as a player.

Q: If Aaron Smith is out, might LaMarr Woodley play defensive end?

In substitution packages, yes. In base 3-4 defense, no.

Q: Why are tight ends being so productive?

We recognize them as threats. They are proving to us continually that they are capable of making plays for us. I think Ben (Roethlisberger) has a level of comfort with those guys. They are extremely big targets and when the field gets and there is less vertical space, there is comfort in throwing to a big target and having some comfort and understanding that they can potentially come down with some balls in tight spaces. Heath (Miller) is a big man. Matt Spaeth is 6-7. There is probably some comfort in throwing to targets like that down there when the field is short.

Q: What happened at halftime to turn the game around?

We regrouped. We didn't like the way the (first) half ended. We went in there and talked about it. There was a resolve in the men. I liked the look in their eyes. There was no panic. They were even keeled, in terms of the way they approached what we needed to do. We understood that we had time to get the job done and we came out with the resolve to get it done. We came up short, such is life.

Q: Did the bye week affect the first half?

That would be an excuse and we don't make them.

Q: Was the defense undisciplined you had two offsides penalties?

I hesitate to characterize our defense as undisciplined. I think that is a stretch. I think that is the reason why we're defensively is because we are disciplined. Did we not execute at the appropriate time on Sunday night? No, we did not.

Q: Where you disappointed to see two offsides penalties?

I am disappointed anytime we are less than successful.

Q: Earlier you said, \"You didn't get opportunities to run the ball.\" What did you mean by that?

What I meant was, we didn't run the football any differently at the beginning of that football game than we have in games where we were successful and won. I think the difference was fourth quarter running. We've been ahead in some games and we've been able to win by attrition and pound people in the fourth quarter. We started the fourth quarter down by 14 points. You can't run it the way you like to run it. Willie Parker ended up with 21 carries. If we were controlling that football game, he probably ends up in the high 20s and Najeh (Davenport) gets his supporting cast toast that he usually gets when we are up on people. That is what I was referring to. Who wasn't where they were supposed to be? It was several individuals, but we don't stand as individuals defensively, speaking about that. We stand as a football team. The reality is that as a team we fell short assignment wise in some areas. We will make corrections and move forward.

Q: Will you keep using Max Starks as a third tight end?

As I said earlier in reference to the Bengals, the unfortunate incidents of Jerame being hurt has forced us to look at Max as a tight end in some areas and it has been a weapon for us. Even with Jerame coming back, we want to keep the potential of that alive, because we like what is going on with that element of our offense. Max provides a unique edge as a tight end, being that he is 6-8, 350 pounds. He is getting great movement. That three tight end personnel group has been very good for us, specifically when he has been in there. We have been able to get some movement at the point of attack and control the line of scrimmage. If the game had been different, from a score standpoint, it would have been a lot of fun to use that personnel group later in the game.

Q: Can Max Starks catch the ball? He was a high school All-American in basketball.

If we are throwing the ball to Max Starks, I would think Heath (Miller) would be upset, Matt Spaeth would be upset and (Jerame) Tuman would be upset. We like Max, but not as a pass catcher.

Q: In the past, Ike Taylor followed Chad Johnson around. Is that a possibility or is T.J. Houshmandzadeh too good?

T.J. leads them in receptions. He leads them in touchdowns. He leads the league in third down receptions. He is a big time football player. I am taking nothing away from Chad Johnson. He is a perennial Pro Bowler and a great football player in respect to what T.J. has done to this point. 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