Yesterday, Polamalu was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his role in the Steelers’ 10-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. His interception at the goal line just before the half saved points in a low-scoring game and stopped the momentum from turning to the home team. Here’s how the soft-spoken Polamalu responded to reporters’ questions on Wednesday:
Q: Do you feel like you had a Player-of-the-Week kind of game?
A: No. I didn’t think so. It’s obviously an honor, but everything happens so fast, from week to week. Are we talking about Houston? Cleveland? Philly? Everything moves along so fast that it’s really tough to dwell on these types of things. So maybe at the end of the season you might think about it, if you even have time then. But I don’t know.
Q: You’re making more splash plays than last year, aren’t you?
A: Yeah, coach has said that. But you guys, even though you’re around the team a lot, you only see a small part of what goes on. You’re not in our meeting rooms. Coaches are doing a good job of preparing us. We’re doing a good job of taking care of our bodies during the week. There are a lot of things that go into what you see on Sundays and you only see a small part of it. The mental part of the preparation is very important.
Q: What were you trying to accomplish when you dove over center?
A: I don’t know. Actually, I just saw that they were in a hurry-up situation and I expected them to do a quarterback sneak. We didn’t have a defense called so I figured, you know, try something.
Q: Did it work?
A: No. It didn’t work. Actually, nobody had a responsibility because there wasn’t a defense called.
Q: Does that happen often?
A: No, it doesn’t.
Q: Did the dive have anything to do with the clock winding down to the two-minute warning?
A: No, I’m not that smart. Charlie (Batch) actually asked me that, and I said, ‘Charlie, I might run with that.’ But then I’d be lying.
Q: After signing that big contract last year, did you start feeling the need to make big plays?
A: Not really, quite honestly. On this defense, I’ve played a lot of different roles. But this is kind of a defense that’s more built around linebackers. The defensive line is awesome and doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but the big splash plays come from our linebackers, and rightly so because that’s the design, so I don’t think so, no.
Q: You guys have four interceptions in two games after 11 all last season. What’s the difference?
A: Well, we have 14 games to go, so we need to get seven before you stop complaining.
Q: How’s the extra 10 pounds helping you this season?
A: I feel pretty good. I don’t think it’s affected me consciously at all. The body feels good and there are a lot of different factors in that: I didn’t play all preseason, didn’t go to camp.
Q: Are you taking a different approach mentally? Are you letting the game come to you more?
A: Yeah, I think so. But I don’t have as big of a role as I did. In our sub-packages, I’m on the back end a lot more. But Coach (Dick) LeBeau’s going to change things up, obviously, as time progresses.
Q: It obviously suits you. Do you like it that way?
A: Yeah, I do. I do like it. I think it’s good for the defense.
Q: Will you have to keep your eye on Brian Westbrook this game?
A: Yeah. They use him in a lot of different areas. He’s treated as a wide receiver when he’s outside of the core of their offense and when he’s in the backfield he’s a running back. That’s how talented he is. But Donovan (McNabb) is just on fire right now. He’s hitting big plays down the field to a lot of different receivers, so you can’t really focus on just one guy when you have an awesome quarterback like that.
Q: I know you don’t watch a lot of football, but did you watch this past Monday Night game?
A: No. Saw the score, saw the film, heard the breakdown. But there’s a lot of emotion taken out when you can’t hear the crowd or the announcers.
Q: What did you do instead?
A: My wife is pregnant, so I was just running to the refrigerator and back, or something like that.