HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see you guys. I appreciate you being here. [It was a] tough loss, obviously, but that's the nature of it right now in the National Football League. We'll go to work. I think you win, or you learn. You lose, or you learn, too. So, we have to find a way to learn through everything. I think it's just a running … It's a journey through the season. You have to find a way to deal with the adversity, deal with the good things, make the adjustments schematically that you need to make, keep improving technique-wise – all of those things go into it. Take a long view, but focus on the next week, and that's what we'll be doing. OK, what questions do you have?"
Have you learned anything more definitive with CB Marlon Humphrey? (Jamison Hensley) "Marlon [Humphrey] is going to be out for the year, yes. He's out for the season; he has a torn pec."
How much does that [losing CB Marlon Humphrey to a pec injury] hurt? (Shawn Stepner) "I don't have the gauge on that." (Reporter: "I mean just not having him for the rest of the season.") "We'd prefer to have him, for sure, but we'll go on with the guys we have. We have really good players who can step in and play. We'll be ready to go."
Have you decided who will get the first opportunity to step in for him? Or will it be more of a committee? (Childs Walker) "We'll work through the personnel. There are personnel groups, who you put where, what coverages, what personnel groups. We have guys, [and] we'll work through that during the course of the week. Some of it is who you play [and] what the matchups are, we'll figure all of that out. … Everybody is tweeting; that must be big news."
I'm curious, with two minutes to go, the offsides penalty on you all, was that a planned play to help manage the clock? (Noah Trister) "I don't need to get into the strategy of it all. But sometimes, it is, [and] sometimes, it isn't."
I know it's just kind of in your nature as a coach not to worry about this type of thing, but last year, you had the COVID outbreak. This year, you've had awful injuries. How do you just avoid not taking on any kind of "woe is me" mindset? (Jonas Shaffer) "I don't know, that's a good question. But you don't. Maybe it's just experience; I've been through this enough. I mean everybody in their life … You sit here, and you're a football coach; these are football problems. People out there face a lot tougher challenges. I'll say a lot of times that football is a metaphor for life. It's kind of not … It's our life, but it's not life – it's a metaphor for life. Sometimes, I think we can take things from it, like these games that rundown to the wire … As Al Pacino said, [and] I kind of talked about it, 'An inch here. An inch there. A second too early. A second too late,' it is exactly right. That is like a classic truth about football and as a metaphor for life. So, you know, if you can take some of these things and look at them for what they are and say, 'Oh, that's interesting,' in terms of do I perceive it in a bigger way, like the ball … Like the miracle in Detroit [Justin Tucker's game-winning 66-yard field goal], what does that say? It's incredible. 'Oh, well we didn't have the miracle against Pittsburgh. What does that mean?' What does it mean? It means it didn't happen. So, what's next? … There's an old story that [asks], 'Who is going to go?' 'Send me, I'll go.' Don't we all have to make that choice in life? Are you going to go? Or are you not going to go? Kind of 'woe is me' to your question, [but] I'm going to go. I know you guys all in your lives feel the same way; you're going to go. So, we're going to go, man. We're going to go. We can't wait. We'll be going to Cleveland, I promise you."
As far as the cornerback situation, are you hopeful that CB Chris Westry and CB Kevon Seymour maybe will be able to provide some depth? Will they be able to come back this week, do you think? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we feel confident about both of those guys."
How much … I know you want to get everybody involved on offense, but WR Rashod Bateman didn't have a catch and was targeted once. Going forward, how much would you like to see him more involved in the offense? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I'd like to see everybody more involved. I mean, I think part of it is we like it when a number of guys are targeted. It doesn't always work out that way; you can't create that. I think when you start chasing that, that's when problems happen. I see every coach and every quarterback in the league get asked that question, 'How do you get this guy or that guy more involved?' As soon as you start chasing numbers of catches for guys, what are you chasing? What are you doing? That's not how the game works. But we do want everybody involved, and we want it to be because we're operating effectively and efficiently with our offense, and the ball is getting spread around based on what the coverage dictates – that's what you hope for."
I know it's never one thing, but offensively, since QB Lamar Jackson took over, you guys have never really had problems not scoring consistently and being held under 20 points. Is there one prevailing thing that's maybe not allowing this offense to click like it has been, generally, in the past? (Jamison Hensley)"There's really not. It's not one prevailing thing, and if there was, it would be a lot easier to fix, unless it would be an unfixable thing. So, the answer is no."
RB Devonta Freeman has given you guys a spark. Is he the kind of guy you can rely on now to give you yards? (Todd Karpovich)"He's doing great. He's running, he's making guys miss. He seems like he's getting stronger every week. He was strong in the fourth quarter, which was good to see. So, he's done a great job."
You guys dominated time of possession in the first half. What did you see, after watching the film, of why you guys weren't able to score more points? (Cordell Woodland)"It's the same question that Jamison [Hensley – ESPN.com] just asked. It's not one thing. So, we can go through the list of all the different things, but it's play to play, here and there. Sometimes they make a play; sometimes we don't get the job done. Sometimes we didn't block it right or just do things exactly the way you would like to do them when you go back and look at it a second time. The first time is tough. We'll keep trying to get better."
On the two-point conversion … When you went back on tape, did it look like they lined up offsides on that, and did you hear from the referee in game or anything afterwards? (Ryan Mink)"No, I didn't hear anything afterwards. I haven't heard anything from the league. You'd like … When a guy is lined up that far – I saw the picture – that far in the neutral zone, you'd certainly expect that to get called, though."
I think the people who chart these things have QB Lamar Jackson throwing seven or eight interceptions to TE Mark Andrews. I know each play has its own kind of story, but is there any kind of prevailing theme with that kind of end result? (Jonas Shaffer)"The end result, probably, is the prevailing theme. It's something that we've got to get fixed – there's no doubt. We're not happy about that at all. Lamar [Jackson] is not happy about it. Mark [Andrews] is not happy about it. There are different things that happen in those different situations, and we've got to get that cleaned up."
When QB Lamar Jackson hits a rut like this, how tough is it to try to get him back on track, considering the success he has had in the past? (Cordell Woodland)"You've just got to get back on track. It's not going to be his defining thing; it's going to be a part of his story. I think it's going to be a part … For anybody, at least, that's their story – the challenges that you face. It's never going to be easy. Sometimes it maybe seemed easy and seems easy, and sometimes you get on a roll, but it's too competitive. Everybody is too good for it to be easy all the time. And he doesn't expect that – none of us do. So, we've just got to work through it, fight through it and get the job done."
You said that you win and you learn, and you lose and you learn. What are some of the things that you learned following this game? (Kyle Barber)"How much time do we have here to list it? I can go up and get my yellow pad and go through them all. So, a lot."
With the decision to go for the two-point conversion, did you know the entire time that if you scored late, you were going to go for two? Did you have that in your mind through that entire drive? (Childs Walker)"Yes."
When somebody asked you after the game what the Steelers may have done offensively, you mentioned they caught you in Cover Zero. (John Harbaugh: "I didn't say it quite like that.") No, you didn't say it … Is that something you have to be more aware of, especially with your personnel on the back end – how many times you go to that, or how aggressive you are with that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You're always going to be aware of it, for sure, but you're going to call the defense and the situation that you think is going to be the best defense to get the job done in that moment. So, you can always go back and second guess it, but we're an aggressive defense, and we're not going to not be an aggressive defense. So, we're not apologizing for anything. It's just that's what happened. We went to it a few times, and they hit us a couple times. So, we'll try to clean that up and get better at it – when we do it – and that's what we'll do."