Opening statement:"Good to see everybody – appreciate you being here. Obviously, we had a chance to study the tape and start on Cincinnati. We go to work. That's what you do after anything, really. Win, lose, tie in life, you go back to work. That was a game that we really were excited to play. I was really proud of the way our guys played [and] the way our coaches coached. I thought we were very aggressive with our game-planning. [We] had a lot of good game-planning ideas that we used and that were very effective. I thought our guys just really fought like crazy against a very good football team – talented football team. In the end, they made one more play than we did. When you boil it right down to it, in the end, the very last play, it comes down to if he doesn't get the ball across the goal line there – I'm talking about Antonio Brown; fabulous football player – if he doesn't get the ball across the goal line, we win the game right there. That's how close of a game it was and how good of a game it was – the ball being moved back and forth, up and down the field and things like that. We're just disappointed, obviously. We wanted to win the game. When you put that much into it – heart, soul, effort, belief in one another, a lot of hard work – it's going to sting. It's going to sting for us. It's going to sting for our fans. It's going to sting for everybody, because we all care, and we certainly understand that. That's the nature of the game. That's the nature of football, and that's the nature of life. That's where we're at, but all of our attention now goes to Cincinnati. We have a week of football left to play, and we intend to make the most of it. I know our players feel the same way."
With a winning record now being the lone objective, can we assume it's business as usual as far as the allocation of playing time? (Joe Platania) "That's a good question. Yes, we're going [to Cincinnati] to win the game. We'll play our guys. Everybody that's healthy will go play. That's the plan – wouldn't look at it any other way."
John, now that you've looked at the tape, what did you see from the defense at the end? Did they wear down? Was it just success on Pittsburgh's end?* (Jerry Coleman)* "We just saw plays being made on the one side, and we weren't able to come up with a play. We really couldn't get to Ben [Roethlisberger]. We tried to blitz – zone blitz, man blitz. We rushed four. We never rushed three. He got out of the pocket a couple times and made some throws. They made a couple of catches, and really, that's what it boils down to in the end. It was plays being made, and you give them credit for it. I think that's what you have to do. I don't feel like we were worn down. Guys were going hard. We had a good rotation. That's why we put Za'Darius [Smith] up, so we would have enough pass rushers late. Our guys were bringing it, so I think you have to give them credit."
On the game-winning play, did ILB C.J. Mosley sort of slip as he tried to help S Eric Weddle with that tackle? What happened that got him on the ground?* (Stan Charles)* "I don't know about slipping. I didn't notice that on the coach's tape. Maybe you noticed it on the TV copy. I haven't seen the TV copy. I think it was a couple guys doing everything they could to keep him out of the end zone. It was a fast-hitting play. There were some major hits being laid right there. Really, they kept him out of the end zone, but he was able to reach the ball across the line in the end. That's what it was. It was a great play."
You don't think they would have had enough time to spike the ball? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I don't know. I can't say. That would be a good question for them. It would have been tough. It was nine seconds when the clock stopped when it was across the goal line. You had to untangle and get everybody to the line of scrimmage. It would have been very challenging to do that. Maybe they could have pulled it off, but we would have had a pretty good chance of that not happening if it would have gone the other way. I don't want to speak for them. Maybe they could have done it."
Are you confident in the resiliency of your team after having such an emotional swing and now having this last game? Do you tell them and do you believe winning this game and being 9-7 is important, particularly after last season? (David Ginsburg)"The last part of the question there is irrelevant. I think the whole point is you try to do the best you can. You always try and do the best that you can. You try to win. We talked about it in the locker room after the game. That is what I pointed toward, is the next game. We want to go win it. We do want to be 9-7; it is important. It is important to have one more win than we potentially could have. I do not care what the record is. We want to go win the game. Absolutely, it is important. That is what we do this for; that is what it is all about. Our guys are going to be fired up to do it. I would never question the resiliency, and I really probably did not need it confirmed. It won't need to be confirmed in this game, because I think anyone who has followed us, as you have – you followed us the whole year, you covered us very closely, you are here every day – you know these guys. You know how they have handled adversity throughout the course of the season and throughout the course of the seasons. That is not going to change."
What do you expect the preparation and this week to be like for your team, and in particular, for WR Steve Smith Sr. heading into what is likely his final game? (Shawn Stepner)"Yes, I think for Steve, it is going to be a big deal for him. But he has been that way all year. I think he will approach it the same way he has all year – as a pro. It will be very meaningful, certainly. How could it not be? But that is a great question for Steve, and he will be much more eloquent in answering it than I could be."
After the game, S Eric Weddle talked about how he felt like being so close could kind of drive some guys going into the offseason and into next year. Do you think a game like that can have a tangible effect or benefit when you go from year to year? (Garrett Downing) "I am personally motivated anyway. I think all of our guys are very highly-motivated, no matter what. Of course, we feel very excited about where we are as a football team. I know we are a good football team. I know we are a very good football team. That is evident in the way we play. That game hinges here and there; it can fall on a play here and there. That is how close the National Football League is. That is how hard our guys played; that is how hard they [the Steelers] played. It was a dramatic environment. It was a tough environment to be on the road, and our guys handled it very well. There is just no denying that. They [the Steelers] made another play in the end when it was all said and done, and that is what they get credit for. I don't think we need a game, an environment, to tell us to be excited for next year. How about we just look at next week? How about we just look at next week, and we get ready to go play this game? We will look at next year when the time comes. We will be excited about it, yes."
Will CB Jimmy Smith play again this year? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't think so. It is a high ankle [injury]. He probably will not be able to make it for this week. We were hoping for the playoffs."
You talked about the fanbase in your opening statement about the fans. They have been very loud yesterday. They have been very loud on social media about how they want [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] to make changes at the top, and they are upset with the team not making the playoffs again. What are your thoughts on the fans' side of it? (Bill West) "I love our fans. I think our fans are great. Fans are going to be disappointed when you do not win; they are going to be excited when you do win. Every fan that I have met over the years – it has been a joy to be around them. That is how I look at it."
How did you feel CB Shareece Wright played on Sunday? (Ed Lee)"I thought he played well. I thought he had a lot of good moments and played a solid football game."
Two of your leaders, OLB Terrell Suggs and G Marshal Yanda, played despite significant injuries. I don't know if they need offseason surgery or not, but for them, is it tempting to not play this week and maybe they can start the rehab early? Or is that not a factor? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You would have to ask them that. I have not heard anything along those lines." *(Reporter: "So you plan on having them this week?") *"I think I have already answered that."