Tomlin Press Conference

Mike Tomlin held his weekly press conference less than 24 hours after the Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Miami Dolphins. Here's what the team's head coach had to say:

MIKE TOMLIN, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Opening Statement: I came in this morning and evaluated the tape and again it was a great performance by a lot of guys to contribute to that win. Of course less than ideal circumstances to say the least, but you know that we don't complain about that.

I'd like to acknowledge some guys that stepped up for us and we talk about the level of expectation not changing regardless of who is playing for us. And the guys understand that standard. But some guys did step up in some expanded roles last night. Tyrone Carter being one of them was very active at the strong safety position. He is a guy that jumped out at me on tape as I looked at it this morning. Max Starks did a nice job at left tackle for us for the most part. Still being highly involved in the kick block unit and was a factor in that play for us. Danny Sepulveda I thought did an awesome job of his placements, particularly with his red zone kicks. Not only did he keep the ball in the field of play and give them a long field to work with, but he did it in a manner in which their return man (Ted) Ginn (Jr.) didn't have the opportunity to get returnable kicks. Fair caught a lot of those balls, either on the boundary and out of bounds or he made a fair catch. So those were big. Cedrick Wilson had an opportunity to step up and made three or so catches for us. Being without Santonio was significant. We needed men to step up, he was one of them. Cedrick is a guy that we always know that we can count on. Under those circumstances he is always ready to deliver. He prepares as if he's a starter. He wants to be a play maker like a lot of these men do. That's the kind of culture that we want to build, that everybody is a play maker. Week in and week out sometimes if you stop to look at it, you see that you get contributions from a lot of men that don't get a bunch of headlines. So pleased with that, but it's a short week. We'll stack that win with the rest of them and move forward.

We've got a big game this week, got the Bengals coming in, division opponent. Those division games are always big time games, particularly for us against the Bangles. It always is a little something special; I'm starting to learn that. Looking forward to the weekend. Of course they have some weapons offensively in T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) and CJ (Chad Johnson) and Carson Palmer, but also since the last time we played them they have Henry Back who is legitimate as a third wide out as you'll come across, he's a big play guy. He is a significant play maker. He's got 255 yards; he's averaging 15 yards a catch. He's just going to get better as he continues to log snaps. That's going to be an added element that we have to deal with that we didn't deal with the first game. Of course, Rudy Johnson is back. That's something that we didn't have to deal with the first game. They really kind of have some success running the football. So well be working hard in that area of our football team.

Now defensively of course, they are led up front by Thorton and Smith who are rock solid men up front. They are starting to get some stability at the line backer position with Dhani Jones, playing good ball in there for them, he is now starting. Having been there now for an extended period of time. You see them settling down n that level of their defense they are experiencing some changes there through injuries, and the safeties are Williams and Jackson are interchangeable guys, both spin down into the box, they brought them both a bunch, here of late, in an effort I'm sure to get after some run attempts and they have been successful at that. We've got to be on our Ps and Qs and we are just going to roll up our sleeves and go to work this week. New week, new challenges. That's always the case, what else is new in the National Football League, but we look forward to doing that. I'll answer any questions.

How was your evaluation of the game affected by the field conditions?

It was a factor for both teams, as I said last night. It is all relative. I think more than anything, as a coach, the way it changed the game, the gamesmanship and or the strategy of the game. It was a great learning experience for me. It was my first time under those conditions. It was challenging and fun at the same time. Was it less than ideal? Absolutely. We don't complain about conditions and things of that nature. We just go out and try to win football games.

Did you have a walk-through there on Sunday?

No, we did not. We did not have an organized walk-through.

Can you do anything to prepare for this week's game there?

We are going to show up to play football. That is what good teams do and that is what we aspire to be. I know those circumstances were difficult, but I can imagine under any field conditions, with the amount of rain we had in the short period of time we had it, it would have been difficult last night. I trusted our grounds crew and I know they are going to be working around the clock to make that the best surface they possibly can for this upcoming week. I am going to let those men do their job. I am going to coach football. Our guys are going to play football. We are going to show up at the stadium and play.

Do you believe the field is a great equalizer?

It depends on what perspective you are looking at it. I try not to dwell on things we can not control, weather and field conditions being one of them. It is an element of the game that everybody has to deal with. From that standpoint, it makes the playing field competitive and level. We will deal with it and move on. Your ability to deal with the unforeseen and your ability to deal with adversity defines you. Sometimes you create it. Sometimes the elements create it. Sometimes your opponent creates it. How it's created is irrelevant, it's how you deal with it. Thankfully we were good enough last night to get a win.

How much did you change your game plan because of the elements?

It was ongoing. It was. From my perspective that is what I mean by saying that it made the game fun. As a coach and a strategist, you love challenging yourself in that way and being a part of that. It was a great learning experience.

You seemed to throw the ball more on the last drive that you scored on.

We have a lot of belief in what Ben (Roethlisberger) is capable of in our no-huddle attack. Just because we go no-huddle doesn't mean we are going to be pass happy. We generally have the belief that we are going to take what the defense is giving us. They were committed to stopping the run at that portion of the game, so we threw the ball some. Other portions of the game when we were in no-huddle, they were in two high safeties, so we ran the ball. We have to be able to do a lot of things well if we want to move the ball well and be successful, particularly at critical junctures of the game like that one. Guys did a nice job of taking advantage of field position and it down within scoring range and allowing Jeff (Reed) to put one through for us.

Was weather or Santonio Holmes' absence the reason you didn't take shots downfield?

There are a lot of reasons. Opportunity never really presented itself. Under game circumstances we always had great field position for the most part. For the majority of the night footing was a concern, but that is football.

What is the prognosis for Santonio Holmes and Troy Polamalu?

While I'm at it I'll talk about all the guys. Santonio and Troy are both going to run tomorrow. They are progressing well. We'll see where they are tomorrow. That may not necessarily mean they are practicing, but they are going to run. We will see where they are in terms of their availability for the weekend. We are cautiously optimistic for those two guys, but again, we will see how they are doing tomorrow. Marvel Smith will be held back early in the week and see how he improves as the week goes on. He is a possibility to play in the game. Willie Colon had a little inflammation in his knee. He should be fine. He maybe limited in some way tomorrow. James Farrior, the same thing. If I know James, he will be ready to go to work. Dan Kreider, hyper extended his knee. We will see where he is tomorrow. I know he had some discomfort last night, but he should be fine, but we will see. Aaron Smith had a little discomfort in his knee, which he sprained several weeks back. Sometimes those things happen. All-in-all, I thought we were a relatively healthy team. We don't make any bones or excuses about the health of our team. We will restack those guys and get the healthy guys ready to play.

What happened on short-yardage plays when Najeh Davenport was stopped?

I think their front played into that. They did a nice job under those circumstances. They shot gaps at the backer position. The nose guard, as we talked about at the earlier part of the week, was very stout.

What do you think of Najeh as a short-yardage running back?

He is one of the best in the league. His resume confirms that. I think that is the first time he has been stopped on a third-and-one all year. He is a 250-pound man that runs behind his pads and runs downhill. He accepts the role and takes a great deal of pride in it. We look forward to getting him back on track in that area as we move forward this week.

Would you suggest an artificial turf?

We have to look at those options and we will. I'm not concerned about it right now. The field we have is the field that we have. We play the Bengals this week. I tend to stay singularly focused.

What is the prognosis for the field?

You guys are really chewing on this field situation. It is football, man. It is an outdoor game. It is played as you move into December. Everybody loved to play dirty football when you were a kid. What else is new? Guys had a great time. It created some adversity. We overcame it and found a way to win the game and we move one. I am not going to get caught up or dwell on the conditions of our field. They are what they are. They are the same for both teams. You deal with it.

Do you change the way you game plan for a game based on field conditions?


How has Ben gorwn this season?

It is a natural maturation process. He is a guy that is in his fourth year. He has a great combination of youth and experience. He believes in the men he works with. He has natural leadership skills. He wants to be the reason we win. He does not fear those moments. He embraces them. It is part of what makes him how he is. Perfect? No, none of us are, but you have to like that moxy that he displays.

You've had trouble scoring in the past two games and have given up 12 sacks. How do you fix the offensive issues you are having? And also something about bare patches in the end zone (!)

I will answer the offensive woes question. We are a work in progress. That is the reality of it. Standards of expectations don't change. We will go back to work. We will focus on fundamentals like we always do. Execution. The answers to our issues are us. We will continue to work and get better and see what happens next week. The reality is that whatever we put on tape, we stand by because it is on tape. We have to get better in some areas. We have to continue so search for perfection and seek perfection. Along the way we better win. That is the approach we take.

Do you feel like you are coaching a first-place caliber team, a Super Bowl contender?

I don't measure it or judge. I leave that up to you guys. We are just trying to win from week-to-week, while staying singularly focused. There is still a lot of football left to play. When you are in first place, you don't look at the standings. I know we are in first place, so I don't concern myself with the standings. You keep your eyes focused and moving ahead. That is what we need to do when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town.

Do you feel like your team is where you wanted it to be?

I don't put any vision in my head in terms of what the team should look like or should be, because invariably what you are limiting what you are potentially capable of being. I will go into it with an open mind and I look forward to watching this team grow and develop and win on a week-in and week-out basis. It is just that. That is how I approach it.

Do you talk to your team about what happened to Sean Taylor?

That is one of the negatives of doing what these guys do and they understand that. This is the society we live in. It is a sad commentary. A lot of the times people talk about what happened in a young mans past and try to attribute some of the things that have happened to him to those things. The reality is, this was a young man sleeping at home; a victim of a brutal attack. My heart goes out to his family, friends and love ones and to the Redskins. Sometimes when you live a public lifestyle like these guys do, it becomes personal and people lose the humanistic element of it. This was a man asleep at home. It is a sad commentary.

Did any of your players know him?

This is a small fraternity, as you guys know. I am sure we have a lot of men that know him and knew him. I haven't had a chance to visit with anyone today, because we just finished game planning as a coaching staff, so I haven't had those discussions. I know we lifted him up in prayer last night after the game as a football team.

Did you agree with the flags on Heath Miller?

No, I didn't, but the officials do a great job.

Do you feel like the team is improving?

think we are. A lot of times it doesn't show up enough on the scoreboard. It needs to show up enough on the scoreboard for you to win. I do believe we are improving. I think as the season wears on, a personality has taken shape. I do believe we are capable of playing great defense. I do believe we are capable of playing great situational football offensively; third-down, red zone and things that will be critical to us winning close games as we continue to move forward. Our two-minute. Our ability to go no-huddle and move the ball down the field. We are starting to develop a personality and sure up some things on special teams. Yes, some of our answers may be outside of the box, but sometimes they are. We are making the best of the situation and we're learning about the men that we have in those areas. They are also learning about us and we are finding a way to sure up some things and make some things happen in that element of our football team. I think some of the natural attrition involved in football, where guys are getting injuries is providing an opportunity for guys to step up and show that they are capable. We are going to need every man and guys are getting valuable experience and showing that they are capable of making plays. Willie Reid stepped up and converted a third-down late in the game for us. As we move forward into December, everybody has to be capable of winning a football game for you and feel the gravity of that. I think these guys do and hopefully we will continue to move forward this weekend in that area.

Did Miami's defense rise up more than you expected?

They played a nice game. We scored three points. We scored three more points than they did, so we won. Our hats are off to those guys.

How far was the limit for the field goal?

In the last drive we did see a patch of dry ground, if you will. At least a patch of ground that was pretty good to work with and we were cognizant of that. We had some discussions as we got further down into that field zone and saw that it was a pretty good field location. We knew that, even prior to that moment, so it wasn't a revelation at that time.

Did you go to the right intentionally?


How difficult is it to stay fresh at this time of year?

Their stuff is on tape too. A lot of time people see the glass as half empty. I view it as half full. We are who we are. Maybe some of our weaknesses are evident, as is our opponents. The team that minimizes theirs and attacks the weaknesses of others has a chance to win. That is what we intend to do. Make no bones about that.

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