Boy I tell you, it’s a fine line between winning and losing in this league. You’ve got to give credit to the Colts. They made the plays necessary to win the football game. They took advantage of minute opportunities and made significant plays. We did not. It’s the difference between catching interception opportunities and not. They did, thus they had turnovers; we didn’t. We’ve got to do a better job taking care of the ball and we’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball. When you play good on good – and make no mistake, that team was better than their 4-4 record – games come down to that. We take responsibility for it. Hopefully we’ll learn from it, because we’re going to be into more games like that that’s going to come down to minute details and executing in those moments. That’ll be the difference in the outcome of those games. Hopefully we’ll come back on the winning side of it.
Can you evaluate Ben Roethlisberger’s performance?
Well, you know, not up to snuff because we lost. That’s how I evaluate everyone’s play. The quarterback position of course is in line with that. Sometimes they get a little bit too much credit when you win, and a little bit too much blame when you lose. We’re looking to win. That’s how he looks at it. That’s how I look at it. That’s how the rest of those guys in that locker room look at it.
How restricted was his ability to throw deep?
You’d have to ask him that.
What happened on the first interception?
I don’t have the details of it at this point. It was a nice catch by (Keiwan) Rat(liff).
How’s the moral of the defense, coach, after playing so hard?
Hey, we are a football team. We don’t play the moral-victory game and we don’t point fingers. They’re just like everybody else in this locker room. We lost this game today. You won’t find that in our locker room.
How would you estimate Ben’s health on a percentage basis?
I wouldn’t. But I’m not going to make that the story and neither is he. He was well enough to play today. The standard is the standard of expectation.
How bad is Deshea Townsend’s injury?
It’s a hamstring. I think in the next couple of days we’ll get some clarity about the severity of it, but when you play corner and you see a guy go down like that it’s generally not good. We’ll cross our fingers.
What’s your take on the two balls that Ike Taylor tipped?
He didn’t catch them and they did. It’s the difference in the outcome of games at times when you’ve got closely matched football teams. Their guys pulled them in; our guys didn’t.
What’s Willie Parker’s situation?
He’s got a shoulder injury. Mewelde Moore played this week. We’re hopeful he’s well enough to play next week. We’ll see where he is.
How about LaMarr Woodley?
Same thing. That calf injury he’s been battling a little bit, it didn’t come around enough for him to participate. Again, LaMarr is a young guy, he’s a second-year guy, he’s not the kind of guy who can miss quality practice reps and show up at a stadium and play winning football. We’ve got enough quality depth that we felt we could play healthy football. He wasn’t able to practice this week, so we went with Lawrence Timmons.
Ben threw a lot of short ones. Were they just giving those to him?
When you play the Colts, they’re going to build an umbrella defense and they’re going to invite you to throw the short ones, if you will, and they’re going to bank on you being impatient and try to test them vertically. When you do that, you get sacked and you throw picks. Our game plan was we were going to take what they gave to us. We were able to convert third downs checking the ball down to Mewelde Moore and Matt Spaeth. That is how you play when you play the Colts. Games dome down to finishes and they specialize in finishes. They played their game.
Did you think about going for a touchdown when you kicked the last field goal?
There was a thought. It was obvious that we lost some grass on the third-down attempt. We only had two tight ends. Max Starks had declared himself eligible. In order for us to take a shot at it, he would have had to come out of the game. Semantics. When you lose ground like that on third down, you do not want to leave there with a negative taste in your mouth. We took the points.
Why did you have so much trouble running the ball against their small front?
They are very good at moving. That is how they offset their size. Their movement is exceptional with their front. They stunt. They shoot gaps. They have a guy who plays strong safety who is going to be around the line of scrimmage. He is pretty good so they move him around. Sometimes he is on the tight end side. Sometimes he’s on the open side. They deserve credit for that.
Why did Troy Polamalu played Timmons’ linebacker spot in the dime all second half?
Because when they go three wideouts and a tight end, they are throwing the ball. If you want to play some man concepts, then you want to have Troy on a guy like Dallas Clark. We thought that was an advantageous matchup as opposed to having Lawrence on a guy like him. Not that Lawrence is incapable of doing those things. That is just the route that we went in the second half trying to contain No. 44.
Was Troy expecting help on the Colts’ last touchdown?
I think that was not Troy’s man. There was a little miscommunication there. That is why you win and why you lose sometimes. They executed and we didn’t.
Are you concerned about Ben’s confidence?
No. I am not concerned about his confidence. He is our quarterback because he is. If you play that position in this league, you have to remain unwavered. I expect him to, and I’m sure that he will.
You guys were missing by inches. Does a QB missing practice lend itself to that?
I don’t know. I’ve seen Ben miss a lot of practice and have great, flawless games. They made more plays than we did in crucial situations. We didn’t score and we ended up kicking a field goal; we threw two interceptions; the tipped balls. In the course of a game like this there are usually five plays that determine the outcome of the game. That was the big difference in the game.
Do you feel like you let one slip away?
Yeah. No question. That’s why it hurts because we had them down 17-7. They came back, we went back and forth. We scored a field goal rather than putting it in the end zone and go up 20-17. We get the ball back and turn it over. For us, we feel like we had control but we let it slip away.
Was Ben restricted in his ability to throw deep?
They played cover 2. They’re not going to let us throw the ball deep and let guys make plays. We drove the ball and converted third downs. You guys expecting big plays every week are going to be disappointed. Defensive coordinators are not going to let us do that. Today we took our one shot down the field and I came up with a huge catch. When you play a lot of cover 2, they try to defend the big play. They wanted to see if we could methodically drive the ball down the field, and we did. We did that all day. We just didn’t finish drives off.
How tough is this one?
It’s tough. You never like to lose an AFC game and it’s tough to lose like that.
Did your shoulder affect you at all?
I’ll never come back with an excuse. I don’t care what it is: shoulder, thumb. No excuses. You have a game like that and it’s disappointing.
You’re obviously taking this personal. Could you explain?
If this was an individual sport and I lost the game, I wouldn’t feel so bad. Letting the guys down, letting your teammates down, it hurts. You never hear me say ‘I anything’ but I lost this game. It hurts.
What happened on the interceptions?
The first one I didn’t see Tone (Holmes) on the three-step (drop), and by the time I found him it was late and I shouldn’t have thrown it. The second one, I thought he was coming under and I made the mistake and threw it quick, but his route was a return route and I made a mistake.
Can you stay sharp when you don’t practice?
I don’t think it’s that big of an issue because I’m taking the mental reps and I’m seeing everything that’s going on out there, so it’s not as tough as it may seem. It’s just coming out and executing.
What was the game plan on the last play?
Well, it wasn’t a plan, just everybody go deep real quick. I was going to try to spike it, but realized it was fourth down so I told everybody to go and got a chance to let Nate (Washington) get down there and let him try to jump for it.
You had goal-to-go at the 1 and settled for a field goal. How critical was that?
It was frustrating. We take pride in getting down there and getting in. We ran the same play and couldn’t get in. That’s how we scored our touchdowns before and I can’t take anything away from them because they stopped us and they played great.
How would you assess your accuracy?
I thought we did good. I thought we moved the ball up and down the field when we had to. A lot of guys stepped up. Matt Spaeth did a great job today and Mewelde, again, out of the backfield seemed like he had about 20 catches.
Do you guys have to learn how to close?
It’s frustrating because you feel like you played well and the turnover at the end of the half, and the turnover at the end, it’s frustrating. I take it on myself. I let the guys down, offense and defense, but the good thing, if there is one, is that it’s not the end of the season. We’ll come back and we’ve got another big one this week.
Have you felt this way aver a game in a while?
No, not in a long time. When you feel like it’s your fault, it really hurts.
Why can’t you get the running game going?
They’re really fast and they were moving all over the place. We’ll have to evaluate.
How do you feel physically?
I’m more drained emotionally than anything. I feel ok.
Was there miscommunication on the second pick?
It was just a mistake on my part. I thought he was going to keep coming and he did what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to stop and go back out, and I tried to get it to him quick and let him run with it, and I tried to get it to him quick and forgot he was going back out.