Head Coach Mike Tomlin:Man, it's great to be AFC North Champs. We tip our cap to the Ravens, they're a tough, tough opponent, not only today, but always. Because our goals are very similar. I like the mentality that the guys showed. We knew it was going to be a tough football game. It always is. We've been in games like this this season, we've persevered in some and not in others. But we've grown from all of our experiences. And it was just great to see the no-blink mentality, the competitive spirit, tonight. We helped one another. We were turning the ball over, the defense kept us in it there at the early portions of the second half. And then, we gave a drive up late and the offense responded. And that's just good team ball. All of the men are to be congratulated. But we had some guys who hadn't played NFL football, and tonight was their first game. Guys like Demarcus Ayers and [Johnny] Maxey on the defensive line due to unavailability of the others, due to injury. I tip my cap to those guys. It's tough enough playing your first NFL game, but to step into an environment like that and be positive contributors, and both of those guys were, and I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that. So hopefully, something to learn, I'm sure. We'll evaluate it like we always do, but today we just want to enjoy this victory. It's significant, obviously. We punched our ticket. And that's an awesome thing.
Re: On why the offense came alive in the fourth quarter:
The defense stayed in the fight. We were shooting ourselves in the foot, to be honest with you. In the first half we were penalized on possession downs that stopped drives, OPI (offensive pass interference), we had a false start that took a third-and-manageable to a third-and-long. Those are significant downs. You not only lose those downs, you lose the possession associated with them. And then in the second half, we had a couple of turnovers. When we stopped kicking our own butts, we did what it is that we do. So I don't know that anything changed, other than that. We stopped kicking our own butts.
Re: On if he had any doubt that Ben Roethlisberger would bounce back:
No. I did not. I didn't want time to become a factor. And that's what I was talking to those guys about, the touchdown drive that brought the game to three. I was talking to those guys prior to the drive. We had to get points in that drive. If we didn't, then we were going to allow time to become a factor. And as long as we scored in that drive in the manner that we did, then we wouldn't let time become a factor, in terms of the game.
Re: On starting 4-5 and winning the division:
There's going to be adversity over the course of the journey. We know that. We prepare for that. That's why we just continually work, regardless of outcome of games. We have to be a team that's continually on the rise. Those are the things we talk about. Because we know we're going to end up in December stadiums. Hopefully, if we stay steadfast to that approach, then the ball is going to be significant.
Re: On young guys stepping up:
The standard is the standard. That's our motto. That's our creed. That's our approach. But it's just words. The guys make those words come alive by delivering time and time again, like the ones you mentioned tonight. And I just respect that.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
What changed in the fourth quarter when you guys came alive on offense?
I don't know. We just went into attack mode. We went all no-huddle and we were throwing it and just making things happen. You know, guys made plays and I just threw it to the right guys.
What is it like to have the no-huddle in your pocket?
Well, it makes you feel good. But, I shouldn't have gotten us into the situation where we had to do it. That's what's hard. And thank the Lord that we were able to win that one.
Demarcus Ayers gave you a lot of credit for keeping his head up throughout the season. What goes into that for you?
Just always believing in guys. I was talking to someone in the locker room about his play. I'm not looking and saying, 'Okay, that's D.A. Do I throw this do I not?' I have full faith, belief and trust that whoever it is, he is going to make the play. It's almost like you just see a jersey. And so you throw it to him and he went up and made a great play [got a penalty called on the defense]. I probably could have gave him a better ball and he could have ran with it. So, guys like that, their hard work pays off. He goes everyday as the show team and busts his butt and gets hit and just doesn't stop, so it's neat to see that pay off for a guy like that.
You have had your share of division titles in your career. Because of where you came from (4-5), does this rank any higher than the others?
It's pretty special the way we won it. Especially after feeling the way I felt at a certain point in that game and feeling like you let guys down and you blew it. So to come back and win it is pretty special.
How playoff ready is your team?
I think today showed some resolve. I think we showed some fight, no quit. When you throw that second pick and they are in the endzone already, you know you never heard anything from the defense. You never saw them get down. You never saw them complain about the offense. We just stick together. Same thing when they scored late. You never saw the offense point fingers at each other. This is a total team win and even the special teams [getting pressure on their field goal miss]. Just awesome.
WR Antonio Brown
Can you take us through the final touchdown play and the awareness of the goal line for you?
That was a great throw by Ben, trusting me to come in there and not stop. I was just running to the ball, going in there and take the contact, and then being aware to get the ball over the goal line.
Le'Veon [Bell] said during that he said during the game that you were going to have the game-winning touchdown. Were you just giving off that vibe?
He actually did. We were over there by the heaters, and we were trying to drive. He said, "A.B., you have to go down there and get the game-winner." I'm just grateful that I was able to [do that]."
What is going through your mind on that play?
I have to get the ball in. I have to get the ball in. I know I'm going to take some contact, and I knew after that I was going to be able to get the ball in.
What changed in the fourth quarter? Some guys said it was just the simple fact to get the ball to 84. Is it that easy?
You just have to stay simple. Over the course of the game, there are going to be ups and downs. I might not get the ball as much as I want to, but just stay positive. We have a great quarterback. We don't blink. They're always looking for opportunities, and they found a way to get me the ball.
Some of the guys talked about how dangerous this team is right now. Is that a fair thing to say? Do you feel the same way?
I mean, we still have to get better. I'm sure when we watch the tape, there will be a lot of things that we felt like we could have done better. Through it all, we showed some perseverance through some situations. We showed that we could stay together through adversity.
RB Le'Veon Bell
[The AFC North Championship] hat is not the one that you ultimately want to wear, but what does it mean to get this thing done?
It is the first step. Obviously, we played well enough for us to win today, but, obviously not up to par to how we want to play. A lot of turnovers. We were hurting ourselves. I had a false start at the beginning of the game. Just little things like that, we need to overcome and get better at. But I think this team overcame a lot of adversity and I'm ecstatic right now. We did it on Christmas Day with everybody watching, so people know what they have to deal with.
Can you talk about the resolve of this team in the fourth quarter? You looked like you were in trouble, and you managed to get it done.
That goes to the credit of the whole team [and] us not giving up. We knew the Ravens were going to be a challenge. Those guys have been playing well all year. They really had our number the last couple of times we played them. So we knew it was going to be a challenge. I'm glad we overcame it, got the game-winning touchdown and got the win.
Is this a good way to finish off an undefeated December and head into the playoffs?
Yeah, that's definitely a good way. Obviously, we have a game next week against the Browns. We want to make sure we get that win. Other than that, we are going to enjoy this win. Merry Christmas to everybody. I hope everybody has a great night, because I am.
Was the game plan to your liking?
Yeah, of course. As long as we put up enough points to win, it's always going to be suited to my liking. I didn't really have a lot of carries, but 20 is a nice amount. And the way we got it – we kind of sprinkled it in and ran heavy at first [and] kind of sprinkled it in throughout the game. Those guys got really up on their toes and tried to stop the run, so we opened them up with the pass a little bit and hit them with a couple of draws. We broke a couple of long gains. I think that's what overcame the run game.
When you were down 10, what was the mindset in the huddle at that point?
A lot of people think you need to play keep-away. That we have a time problem or that we don't have enough time. But, no, we understood that when we were down 10, that we had to go down there and score some points to be in a one-possession game. That's what we went down there and did. We ran the ball, just stayed in our offense to put the pressure back on them. We made sure we understood what the situation was and went out there and got the win.