Post-Game quotes after Cincinnati debacle

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and several key defenders field questions from reporters in Cincinnati following a 23-20 loss to the Bengals.

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

We were unable to make significant plays at the end of the football game to secure victory. Let me start by complimenting the Cincinnati Bengals because they did. We respect that element of it. We accept responsibility for our actions but at the same time we want to be complimentary of our opponents when they do the job. We've got some work to do. We've got to finish football games better. That's the mark of a champion. It's not us at this point. We've got to continue to grow. We've got to accept responsibility for our action, get back in the lab, turn over whatever stones possible to find a winning formula to get in this locker room victorious when we're in control of football games. That's the reality of it. We won't run away from that. We acknowledge that. We accept responsibility for what happened. Questions.

Q: Before the end of the half, why didn't you try a long field goal?

A: We thought we were controlling get-off downs. We thought we were moving the ball effectively. We thought maybe we had an opportunity to get a first down and potentially a touchdown. We were at the outermost edge of what was comfortable field-goal range. You saw we attempted one maybe a yard shorter than that location there in the second half, so we opted to try to move the chains and maybe put seven on the board.

Q: With a timeout left on the final kickoff return, were you surprised Rashard Mendenhall pitched it back?

A: I was, but that was just a young guy trying to make a play to try to win the football game. That's not the reason we lost. There's a lot that transpired in the moments preceding that that made that score what it was.

Q: Why did you make personnel changes in the secondary on that last drive? Was that health related or matchup related?

A: It was both. Of course, Tyrone (Carter) is coming off a thigh injury and we had some matchup situations where we wanted to apply pressure and put a corner-like guy on a wide receiver-like guy. We were using three-corner defenses there throughout the game in base defense with Deshea (Townsend) essentially playing strong safety in some instances. We also of course put Keiwan Ratliff in in certain situations at the end. Needless to say it was not successful.

Q: What happened on the interception return for a touchdown?

A: Just a miscommunication.

Q: Is this the best evidence that this is a new season?

A: We don't need what transpired out there to let us know it's a new season. We realized that when we reported to Latrobe. That's been our mentality. That's what we said, and that's not lip service. We mean it.

Q: (Inaudible question)

A: Really, what it is, and it's the story of the National Football League, is we've got to get on the details. This is the ultimate parity league. When you're on the details, you find ways to win close games, you find ways to close games simply because you're living and performing right. When you're not, you're not and we accept responsibility for that.

Q: Should it even have come down to the last drive?

A: I'm not concerned about putting people away early. We need to do what's required to win. We had an opportunity to win that football game and we weren't able to do that.

Q: Why can't the defense get off the field late in games?

A: Usually it's a myriad of reasons, quite frankly. Tighter coverage, better players, they go hand in hand. The bottom line is we need significant players – and we've got quite a few of those – to make significant plays at significant moments. That's what comprises good football teams. We have candidates. They've got to deliver.

Q: Is it a variety of mistakes or are you seeing the same mistakes over and over?

A: It's not a big enough body of work to judge it in that way. We've just got to make critical plays at critical moments. We have people who are capable of doing that. We have people who have resumes that are full of that. We've just got to find ways to get it out of them.

Q: What causes details to slip?

A: I'm not even going to say it's lack of details. That's just what my human nature tells me when you lose ball games. The reality is we've got to make plays in big moments.

Q: When you win it's a veteran defense. When you lose it's maybe an old defense. Did you sense your defense running out of gas at the end?

A: No. I've never called it ‘a veteran defense' or ‘old defense.' Those are not my words. That's our defense.

Q: Did you sense them tired though?

A: I'm sure there were 22 people that were fatigued. That was a great number of plays. That will never be an excuse. The reality is we'd better be relatively fresh, meaning relative to our opponent.

Q: Did Limas (Sweed) take his eyes off the ball in the end zone?

A: (Laughs) You saw what I saw. He dropped it.

Q: Were you pleased that you got more production out of Willie (Parker) today?

A: I'm not pleased with anything because we were not successful.

Q: Why didn't Rashard get in?

A: Rashard wasn't on the details this week so I chose not to play him on offense.

Deshea Townsend, cornerback

Q: It's been a long time since you guys have lost one here.

A: Yeah, but you have to give them credit, they made the plays when they had to. As for us, we didn't get off the field when we needed to. We'll change that. We pride ourselves on playing good defense and getting off the field when we need to in crucial situations in games and getting our offense the ball.

Q: This is two weeks in a row now of not being able to do that.

A: You can't get down. Those guys made plays and we didn't. We have a lot of guys in this locker room that are going to step up. We're not going to point fingers. We're going to hold ourselves accountable. We've got to find a way to finish those games.

Q: Is the lack of turnovers troubling?

A: I doesn't matter. We could have had no turnovers and won and it would have been a good game. It's about getting off the field when needed. Turnovers are great and stats are great but the thing that matters the most are wins and we didn't win this game.

James Farrior, linebacker

Q: Is there a lack of killer instinct, for lack of a better term, with this team?

A: I don't know. I can't put my finger on it. I don't know how to explain it. It's frustrating to lose close games like this, but we've got to keep working, come into work Monday and get ready to go again.

Q: This is two weeks in a row that you've had your defense on the field at the end of a game. Historically, that's been a good situation for you guys.

A: Yeah, but history is not going to make the play, though. We've still got to go out there and make plays. We established ourselves in the first half. We've just got to come out in the second half and finish games.

Q: Is the lack of turnovers alarming?

A: We need turnovers to help our chances of winning games. The ball isn't bouncing our way. We had some chances today, we just missed them. We definitely need turnovers, that's a key for this team and for this defense.

Aaron Smith, Defensive end

Q: Is it disappointing that you haven't been able to do what you usually do and get off the field at the end of games?

A: We can't keep letting teams come down and score on us like that. Obviously, we've got to figure out what we're doing wrong.

Q: Obviously it's not just one thing or you could fix it?

A: Yeah. But it's a mentality that you've got to have. We've had that in the past and we've got to get back to it.

Q: Is it a killer instinct?

A: I don't know if that's it or not. It's just that idea that you're not going to let that team score no matter what. We've had that before and we've got to get it back. I'm sure we will.

Q: You shut them down for three quarters, what happened after that?

A: They started making some plays, completing some passes, hitting some runs and getting some first downs.

Q: Did their big package have any effect?

A: I don't think so. They had a couple of runs out of it, but it wasn't like they stayed in it all night.

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