Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
In reference to the game, not a dominant performance by any stretch, but made the necessary plays at timely moments to deliver a victory. I thought the sequence of events prior to the half was big offensively. Of course, I thought the sequence of events on third and fourth down with the pressure provided by LaMarr Woodley late in the game was significant. We aspire to be dominant. When we're not, we need those kinds of timely plays to get victory.
Not talking a lot about the playoff scenarios because we put ourselves in this situation so we'll deal with it the best way we know how. We're going to focus on the things we can control. All the scenarios include us winning, so that's our focus.
Looking at some injury things, we've got a laundry list of bumps and bruises. Rocky Boiman has a calf strain. He could be limited at the early part of the week. Willie Parker has a shoulder sublexation. He's definitely going to be out tomorrow (Wednesday). We'll see how he improves as the week goes on. Brett Keisel's still experiencing discomfort involving his stingers. Chris Kemoeatu still has significant weakness in his wrist. Hopefully we'll get him some work the latter part of the week and see if he can be able to play. Troy (Polamalu) ran yesterday in a straight line. He's doing the same thing right now as we speak. Maybe he'll practice in a limited capacity, but we're taking it day by day in terms of how he responds to the workouts. Yesterday was a positive step. We'll find out about today when I'm done here and then we'll move on from there. The door's not closed on him participating.
Let's talk about the Dolphins for a few minutes. Offensively, Ricky Williams is their guy; he's a thousand-yard rusher, very talented guy, does a lot of things running, catching. (Chad) Henne spreads the ball around to a lot of people, (Davone) Bess, (Ted) Ginn, (Brian) Hartline and others. They're very good at the screen game, wide receivers and running backs. They employ the bunch (formation). Quick passing is a part of their game. Very good on third down; on the season I think they're in the upper 40 percent range, probably has them in the top part of the league in that category. They average 32, 33 minutes time of possession per game. When you're converting third downs and dominating time of possession, you're going to be in a lot of football games and they're in just about every one you turn on.
Defensively, they're led by (Joey) Porter and (Jason) Taylor, their outside pressure men. Both guys are active career NFL sack leaders. The tape justifies that. They apply big-time pressure on the quarterback. Their corner tandem -- young guys Vontae Davis and (Steve) Smith, starting as rookies – (is) playing beyond their years. Vontae, of course, is a very talented and physical guy. He's got four interceptions. Smith is a big guy, 6-3, very tough to drop balls in on both guys because of their stature and the way they play the game, a very physical nature. Just got word Channing Crowder is out for the year, so there will be some turnover in the interior of their linebacking corps. But they're a rock-solid defense. They come from a lot of angles. Coach (Paul) Pasqualoni does an awesome job with those guys, highlighted by outside linebacker play and corner play.
Of course, we've got to be ready to deal with Ted Ginn, Jr., not only as a wideout, but also in the return game. We're disappointed with that return to midfield late in that game Sunday, giving their offense the short field. Our defense thankfully stood up and preserved the lead, but that was a hairy moment. We could have some more hairy moments kicking the ball to Ted Ginn, Jr. We've got to be on the screws in regards to that. Of course, we got a shot in the arm from our own return game with Stefan Logan.
Q: You played your QB in a game that had no meaning last year in the last game. What's your feeling on teams that are already in and don't play all their starters?
A: I really have no opinion. I trust that those coaches are going to do what they feel is best for their football teams. I'm going to do what's best for mine. Very rarely do I pass judgment on decision-making of other coaches in regards to other teams, because I don't have a pulse on their group, what they need. I'm sure those guys do.
Q: Is there any sense of obligation on the part of a head coach for the integrity of other teams who are vying for playoff spots?
A: I think we're all competitors and we play to win. I know I do. Every time we come out of that tunnel that's the intent. The ramifications, in regard to other teams, is irrelevant to me. It's more about the people that I come out of the tunnel with and our commitment to this organization, our fans, and our community, so when we come out we play to win.
Q: Is this the first time Troy has been able to straight-line run?
A: I think he did a little bit of straight-line running last week. He's been running in the pool. He's just progressing, trying to get ready, hopefully to play.
Q: Is being able to cut going to decide whether he can play?
A: Yeah, no question. The unanticipated movement that comes with playing football, changing direction, dropping your weight and so forth, will be critical in him getting clearance to play. Absolutely.
Q: How's Hines Ward doing?
A: Hines is miserable, but I'm going to save a seat on the bus for him. He's got two hamstrings and a myriad of other issues. It gives him a bad disposition, but he'll show.
Q: Did he injure the second hamstring compensating for the first?
A: I'm sure in some form or fashion, but that's Hines. He's going to leave it out on the field. He's going to give us everything he has. He was lying on the table down there with two icebags on his hamstrings when I walked it to check on him, and he was in his usual good spirits.
Q: How would you assess your return game?
A: It's been consistently good from a kickoff standpoint all year. We haven't had the house call but it's been consistently good. It's provided us quality field position. It's been a shot in the arm. It's been a positive. I think the punt return game has improved of late, which is encouraging. But we're growing by leaps and bounds with Stefan, and I think a lot of it has to do with understanding him, what he does well, and establishing continuity between him and the guys blocking for him.
Q: When the officials told you Derrick Mason's incompletion would be ruled incomplete even if it was reviewed, doesn't that go against the spirit of instant replay?
A: I appreciated the information about that because it saved me a timeout. I didn't necessarily like it, but I appreciated the information.
Q: Was that the referee who told you that?
A: He was in the pocket when the infraction occurred. I watched the tape. Ben saw the flag when he worked back to his left and assumed, because of the location, that it was a defensive penalty, so he took a shot downfield. He was aware of the penalty prior to letting go of the football.
Q: Why did you call a pass play there?
A: We thought we could move the chains. We didn't want to give them the ball back.
Q: Did your experience against the Wildcat against the Browns help? And how much time will you have to spend on it this week?
A: It does, but we didn't wait till we played Cleveland or in anticipation of this game to prepare for it. It's something that we started in the off-season because this is a copycat league and that we would see more of it. Preparation is one thing; play is another. We'll see how we perform against it.
Q: Do they use less of it without Ronnie Brown?
A: Yes they do. They use less. They employ Pat White some in there at quarterback. Of course they have some direct snaps to Ricky Williams as well. But it's not what it was with Ronnie Brown. Shoot that's the case for anybody else in the league that has it. Unless you've got Ronnie Brown or Josh Cribbs, it's not quite as effective.
Q: Are you disappointed in your run defense of late?
It's been disappointing but we found a way to win the game and that's ultimately what we aspire to do. We realize if we stop the run and make teams one-dimensional it increases our chances of winning. That's why it's been disappointing.
Q: What can you do to get the ball out to Mike Wallace?
A: Throw it early. He can run. He runs by people. He's a talented guy. He provides timely plays for us, and he has for the better part of the year. He's shown great maturity. He doesn't ride the emotional roller coaster. He's pretty consistent from a personality standpoint in terms of respecting the preparation process. Some games he gets a bunch of opportunities, some he doesn't get as many, but he's the same guy every day and those are some of the things we appreciate about him.
Q: Were you as confident in him when you saw him in offseason workouts and training camp?
A: Really it's about training camp. Football is played in pads. A lot of guys look fast running around in the spring in shorts. He did, but he looked fast in pads. He wasn't intimidated when he got sticky, if you know what I mean. He's a mature football player.
Q: You still need help if you win. If you win in Miami, would you be disappointed if the Bengals don't go all out to beat the Jets Sunday night?
A: I could care less how the Bengals approach what it is they do. This is our bed. We're going to lay in it. We created this situation. What we are going to do is control what we can control, and that's our preparation of play for the game. We're not going to cry over spilled milk. If there's any level of disappointment in terms of how this thing unfolds, it's going to be on us.