What the Steelers Said After Close Win Over Ravens

120320-WTSS
Left: Steelers RB JuJu Smith-Schuster; Right: Steelers HC Mike Tomlin

Head Coach Mike Tomlin

(Opening statement)
"To be bluntly honest, been really disappointed in our performance tonight. We did enough to win, but that's all. It was really junior varsity, to be quite honest with you. It was in all three phases. We couldn't run the ball effectively when we needed to. We dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn't make significant plays in the special teams game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn't good enough. We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can't have it. They converted a long run on a possession down before the half. Unacceptable. They had a 70-yard touchdown late in the game. Unacceptable. We're fortunate tonight. It's good to proceed with the victory. I acknowledge that. But not a lot happened tonight to be proud of or to be excited about other than that. Bud [Dupree] got hurt. He's being evaluated. I'm sure I'll have an update for you tomorrow or whatever when we get an opportunity to meet. Questions."

What do you attribute your assessment of the performance to?

"It was just bad by all parties involved. Coaches first, players second."

Did the disjointedness of the week, the schedule getting pushed back, have any [impact]?

"We make no excuses. We seek no comfort. We didn't play well, coach well tonight."

You had some red zone failures and a number of dropped passes. What to you attribute that to? Anything in particular?

"Us sucking."

Can you remember last time where you were more frustrated with a victory?

"I don't know. I know this one's pretty frustrating."

QB Ben Roethlisberger

Mike Tomlin didn't sound very thrilled at all about that performance. Do you think it had anything to do with what transpired during the week or what was the reason for the dysfunction?

"You know, I don't know. I don't want to make excuses. We just weren't good enough at all today. I mean, obviously we won. Sure doesn't feel like it. Just not good football. It starts with me. This is a mental game. This has been a very mentally challenging and draining week. But at the end of the day we need to step on the football field and play good football when it's time."

Your receivers usually make a lot of plays for you guys. You had a whole bunch of drops. What is your thought of why that happened today?

"I need to be more accurate with my passes. I need to give them better chances to make the plays. There weren't some plays made today when they needed to be. Look at the James Washington catch. What an unbelievable play by him to go up and make the play. Really it's just my trust and belief in him, his belief in himself that he's going to make the play. He did. I don't want to talk about the negative. I'd like to talk about that positive play that he made. Plus a lot of JuJu's plays were tough, grind-it-out plays."

Did they defend you guys any differently as far as you could tell than the second half back on November 1st?

"Yeah, they did some different things. Set back some zones. A little less man. Some of that might have to do with injuries and things like that. They threw some different looks at us, some blitzes. Give them some credit obviously for the way we played, too."

This was the most pass attempts you had all season. Was that the game plan with RB James Conner out or the way the game developed?

"Just the way the game developed. Kind of what we felt we had to do."

You had some uncharacteristic struggles in the red zone. Was it something that they were doing or something that you guys weren't doing to not be successful there?

"Well, if I said it was all us, I'm not giving them enough credit. I'll say both. They made plays that stopped us. We didn't make the plays when we had to."

You talked about the mental side of this. How challenging have the last few days been? How challenging will the next three or four days be?

"Right, it has been a very challenging last few days. I guess at the end of the day we won the game, so we could be thankful for that. It has not been easy. Like I said in the postgame, I thanked the Commissioner and Baltimore for moving the game so we didn't have to play in a snowstorm yesterday."

LB T.J. Watt

Just wondering, did it take you guys awhile to kind of get warmed up to this game, being that it was on a Wednesday after all the delays?

"No, I felt ready to go tonight."

Slow start and got a little shaky at the end. Did you feel like you guys overlooked them at all or did anything they do surprise you coming in with a lot of guys missing and I think eight guys who had never played in the NFL before today?

"Obviously, we did not overlook them. Everybody out there is paid to be a professional football player. There are no walk-ons here and we just got to start faster. We got to play better."

Just wanted to know, is there a difference mentally with how you prepare for a game on a Wednesday afternoon as opposed to just playing on a Sunday as a creature of habit?

"No, I think you just got to make adjustments and let a Tuesday feel like a Saturday and things like that, but for the most part, no."

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

You guys had been good in the red zone pretty much all season. Failed down there sometimes today. What do you attribute that to?

"Just not executing our plays. It was very frustrating for us to go down there without putting points on the board, especially in the first half and even later in the third quarter, and it's something that today we got the job done and the W is a W."

Both Mike Tomlin and Ben sounded less than thrilled with that performance. Anything you could put your finger on for some of the failures today?

"Wide receivers not catching balls, not making plays when they're supposed to be made, going down in the red zone not putting points on the board, special teams doing turnovers on special teams, multiple reasons why we fell short today, and also giving up a big play like that at the end for them to score a touchdown put us in a close game like that. So, honestly, all around, offense, defense, and special teams."

What was the post-game message and how frustrating was it in the locker room afterward?

"Well, one, I think it was very quiet, very sad, very low, just because having our fellow teammate going down, Bud [Dupree], and not knowing what's going on over there. But that's something that, you always pray for everybody to be safe and have a healthy game.

"Another frustration was that we played like the JV. You know, we played down to their level. They came out with a JV squad and we were playing JV and we didn't come out and execute and play the way we wanted to play. And as you could see, it was a close game, which shouldn't have happened."

Did they do a better job this week of anticipating, this time against you guys of anticipating some of those third and short rub routes that you guys had? Did they do better this time?

"I would say, I would say, yeah. I would say they were ready for all the quick slants underneath, the quick plays, plays that we have been getting the past game that we played them at their stadium, so I think they were more prepared, having the knowledge drop, being able to read and to disrupt everything that's going on in the bubbles and all that. So, yeah, they played very well in stopping us on third down."

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