View Full Version : Q&A: Tomlin transcript (press conference)

09-28-2010, 08:33 PM
Q&A: Tomlin transcript
By SteelCityInsider.net

Posted Sep 28, 2010

Mike Tomlin called the upcoming game between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens 'the best rivarly in the National Footbal League.' Read the rest of the transcript below:

Mike Tomlin, coach, Pittsburgh Steelers

Itís Ravens week and itís business and usual for us. Typical Baltimore Raven kind of an outfit: Theyíve got the No. 1 defense in football led by Ray Lewis and Co. Heís got his usual cohorts wreaking havoc on opponents: (Haloti) Ngata, (Terrell) Suggs, (Jarret) Johnson, (Jameel) McClain, the list goes on and on. On the back end (Dawan) Landry, (Tom) Zbikowski, (Fabian) Washington. (Chris) Carr has fit in nicely. They brought him in maybe as a return man. Now this guyís playing the corner and is doing some nice things in their sub-packages. Theyíve given up the fewest first downs by far in the NFL. I think theyíre second in the league in red-zone defense. So they play ball the way we desire to play ball. I think thatís what makes this match-up special. Weíve got a great deal of respect for this outfit. They bring the best out in us. We love playing against them. Regardless of what happens in the stadium youíre going to know a little bit about yourself after having played the Baltimore Ravens.

Offensively, their run game is their run game. Ray Rice is a special player. Heís got great vision and patience, short-area quickness. He has hurt us pretty good here the last several years. Willis McGahee is a legitimate tough man, a one-cut runner, no-frills kind of guy. (LeíRon) McClain is an All-Pro fullback and very capable ball-toter. Joe Flacco is their signal caller. They won with this guy when he was young. Heís matured. Theyíve centered their offense around him. They have some legitimate weapons for him to throw to. Boldin of course is at the top of the charts in terms of receptions. He has more receptions than our receiving corps. Heís second in the NFL in third-down catches. He blistered Cleveland pretty good last weekend. I just finished watching that this morning. That was a horror show if you sit in my position. (Todd) Heap is Heap. He has more receptions than anyone on our team. Heís a security blanket for their quarterback. Theyíre good with the running backs in terms of the checkdowns. Itís funny; I havenít even mentioned Derrick Mason yet. Thatís the kind of task weíre facing this week, but weíre competitors. We enjoy it; we respect them; weíre excited about it. It is Steelers-Ravens. Itís something thatís humbling to be a part of. Itís something thatís exciting to be a part of. Hopefully weíll prepare level-headed and play level-headed. Itís a very emotional game. I think that the spirit and play of the leaders on each side of this matchup kind of exemplify what this matchup is about, whether youíre talking about guys like Hines Ward or James Farrior or Ray Lewis, you know what youíre getting when those guys step inside stadiums. I think the two teams mirror those men when they play one another, so weíre excited about that.

From an injury standpoint, weíre in relatively good shape. Weíve got no new injuries at quarterback. Chris Hoke (knee) is questionable at this juncture. If he gets to work in the latter part of the week, weíre going to try to play him, so heís going to have to prove his health to us, as is Trai Essex from his ankle sprain. We also have some bumps and bruises: Will Allen returned to the game with an ankle sprain; Ziggy Hood sustained an ankle sprain late in the game but heíll be fine; Anthony Madison had a little hamstring. Other than that we have a clean bill of health and weíre going to need it.

Would not having Rice change their game plan?

I donít think itís going to change their personality whatsoever from a play-calling standpoint, and I base that off of video evidence. They roll their backs some. Youíre going to see Willis McGahee and McClain whether this guyís healthy or not. And Joe Flacco does a nice job of checking down to backs when his primaryís covered. Theyíve done it since heís been there. I donít expect that to change.

Is Charlie Batch leading you into Baltimore?

He is. Heís doing a nice job. Guys got a great deal of confidence in him. Heís simply a man thatís taken advantage of an opportunity. Youíve got to be happy for him. Itís an awesome lesson learned for our young players, one that I hope they take heed to. Itís about perseverance. This professionís about perseverance. Itís about taking advantage of opportunities when theyíre given and heís given them a shiny, clear-cut example of that.

Howís Byron Leftwich?

Byronís fine. He was last week.

Why didnít you play him late last week?

We were comfortable with what we were doing and how we were going about our approach to the game.

Why is this rivalry unique?

I think itís unique because itís the best rivalry in the National Football League.


Because Iíve witnessed the last seven or eight of those meetings. Itís always fireworks. Itís always significant. It just is. Itís football the way itís supposed to be played. Those guys put a lot into it on both sides. Both teams are spent when itís over. And I would think mutual respect is a big part of it.

Could you talk about Ray Lewis and James Farrior playing at such a high level after all these years?

Theyíre freaks of nature, not only in terms of God-given ability and talent, but endurance, longevity. Theyíre special people. They probably lead in very different ways but probably fits their personalities and probably respected very differently.

What about Dennis Dixon?

They say from four to six weeks, but every time itís different. Weíre hopeful heís going to get back to us quickly.

Is he a candidate for IR?

Man, not this week. It depends on how games go. I never look too far ahead in terms of those types of decisions. It depends on how games go. I never look too far ahead in terms of some of those kinds of decisions. Weíve got to play a game this week. Injuries are a part of football. You never know. You just donít.

How did Doug Legursky play?

I thought he represented himself very well. I think thatís one of the reasons Traiís feeling better.

Howís the Ravensí secondary without Ed Reed?

Theyíre the No. 1 defense in the league and the No. 1 defense against the pass. Iím glad Ed Reed isnít playing.

When you had the lead in the second half last week, is that what you wanted to get back to? Handing off and running the clock?

I was excited that it produced in the manner it did on Sunday. Every week is different. Weíre trying to do the very best we can to win football games and we acknowledge that week to week that may change.

Cleveland ran on Baltimore. What was Cleveland doing right?

I would imagine the Ravens are sitting in a meeting room somewhere talking about what they didnít do right. The fact that Cleveland had success a week ago doesnít bode well for us. It just doesnít. Iíd have felt better had Peyton Hillis run for 40 yards instead of 140 because I know the type of men that play for that team. I know how prideful they are. I know theyíll bounce back. Anytime you play football on defense, every now and then people are going to have days on you. The great defenses like the Baltimore Ravens usually bounce back pretty quickly, so weíve got a tall task this week given what happened to them a week ago.

Whatís different about Flacco now than a few years ago?

Nothing extraordinary, just a natural maturation process of a franchise-caliber quarterback. He utilizes all his eligibles. He doesnít ride the emotional roller coaster. Heís an extreme flat-liner. In the midst of pressure and so forth, heís at his best. He can make any throw on the field. The deep come-backer is his signature. He can take the top off the coverage and drop deep balls on you. Heís a talented, talented guy.

How do they use Ngata?

It depends on whether youíre asking how they use him or how they use him against us? Last time they moved him around. We saw him over Heath Miller some. They think we like to run to the tight end some, so they put Ngata out there and itís uncomfortable for Heath to say the least. It wonít be a reprieve for Maurkice Pouncey if heís out there because heíll be looking at Kelly Gregg, whoís an awesome football player. And theyíve got a young guy they havenít even taken the wrapper off of in Terrence Cody.

Does Lawrence Timmonsís speed in the middle affect anything Troy Polamalu does?

Lawrence has played fast since heís been here. Heís a special player. Heís one of the blurs on the screen, along with 43, when you watch tape. Theyíve got unique characteristics in that way. Theyíre run-and-hit guys. Thatís why theyíre first-rounders. Thatís why theyíre linchpins of a rock-solid defense.

Do you have to watch that emotions donít get too high?

You do. You do in that you want to play penalty-free. You donít want to beat yourself. You could tell the game kind of got out of hand at points last week against Cleveland. Thatís AFC North football. We understand that going in. I think these two teams do a better job than people give them credit for in terms of playing clean and controlling their emotions when they see each other, because we know the game is going to be tight and you canít reduce your chances of winning by hurting yourself.

Is good health the reason why your defense has been so much better through three games?

I think you made the key statement when you said Ďthrough three games.í Through three games a year ago, I think our defense was pretty salty. Itís too early to be anointing us. Right now the Baltimore Ravens have the No. 1 defense in football.

How has Will Gay handled his role as nickel back?

Heís been a consummate professional. Heís been a team player. I tipped my hat to Charlie Batch a few days ago for how heís approached his situation. I can say the same thing for William Gay. This is a guy that started every game a year ago and fell back into a sub-package role when we reacquired Bryant McFadden. He hasnít muttered a peep. He works extremely hard. Heís always ready. Heís always into the game. You never have to look for him when itís sub-package football time. And heís making plays. Iím happy for him. Iím excited for him, and want more of those kinds of plays from him.

Is it possible to respect an opponent and at the same time dislike an opponent?


How have the other parts of Mike Wallaceís game come around?

I tease Mike openly a little bit. I call him one-trick pony, because heís searching for a ceiling in all elements of his game. This is a young guy whoís extremely humble, who works very hard, who has a distinguishing characteristic but also has a desire to develop a well-rounded game. Heís a man in development in some of those other areas but I like how he works at it. Iím going to continue to challenge him in those areas.

Baltimore likes to bring in a third tackle at times. What kind of matchup are they looking for?

Coach (John) Harbaugh would be a better man to answer that. Itís our job to stop them.

Is Ďperfectí too strong to describe Maurkice Pounceyís execution?

Yeah that is a strong word. Heís doing a nice job. Heís doing an extraordinary job for a rookie but we donít grade on a curve. We put him in the lineup because he doesnít play like a rookie. Heís doing a very nice job. But this guy has a tall challenge this week. It doesnít matter who they put in front of him, whether itís Gregg or Ngata or Cody, heís going to be introduced to the Ravens-Steelers rivalry pretty soon, Iím sure.

What makes Ngata so special?

Heís freakishly big. Heís got great body control. Heís very quick and fast in a short-space area. Heís just got it all. He really does. Heís as dominant a defensive lineman as there is in football right now.

If you have to double him Ö

You do.

Ö but doesnít that allow linebackers to run free?

Absolutely, but it is what it is. If you block guys like that with one man, heís going to be in your backfield.

Is either rookie WR making enough progress to contribute at that position?

Right now Antonio Brown has the helmet and both guys are making steady progress. Antonio Brown did play more offense in Tampa than he did in Tennessee.

How is Ray Lewis playing?

Looks like Ray Lewis to me. Heís a dangerous guy. Heís great versus the run. Heís great versus the pass. The most extraordinary thing thatís going on with him right now is how very good he is against the pass. A guy thatís been around as long as he has, heís great in open space. They utilize him in somewhat deep defense in that Tampa-2. He covers a bunch of ground. Heís an intimidator. Heís a playmaker. He broke the ball up intended for Chad Ochocinco thatís kind of indicative of the kind of player he is. He banged a ball out against Cleveland in the same coverage to a tight end last week. Heís rangy. He makes a lot of plays. Heís extremely smart.

Will your bye-week activities change from the norm because Ben Roethlisberger will be coming back?

I havenít decided on it, and probably the No. 1 determinant for our bye week activities is how we perform on Sunday.