Steelers HC Mike Tomlin (1.3.21)

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin:

Opening statement:

“I am appreciative of the effort of our guys, but we came up short. As always, it is about what we do or do not do. I thought we weathered the initial storm. Last night as a group, we talked about the energy and the urgency that the Browns would bring, given their circumstance, and it was something that we had to endure. I thought the guys did a nice job of enduring that and staying in the fight. We just did not make enough plays. We turned the ball over and then we did not get a stop after that turnover. They scored a touchdown after that turnover. When you really look at it, that is kind of the difference in the game and that has to be. We have to take care of the ball, and if we don’t, we have to support our offensive unit. That is probably the significance in terms of the outcome of the game. I can’t say enough about the efforts of the guys. I compliment the Browns on their play. They made enough plays, and we did not. We take responsibility for that. Guys had an opportunity to play in expanded roles today. We will take a look at that tape, and it will provide a lot of information, of course, as we push into the playoffs. We don’t care where the plays come from. Every man in a helmet or every man on our team is a viable component in terms of helping us win so we gained some information about some guys today to maybe help us in our planning as we push forward to next week.

“Bumps and bruises associated with play, nothing of any significance to speak of from a health standpoint. I am sure I will have an update on Tuesday. I will pause and open it up for questions.”

On Steelers QB Mason Rudolph’s overall performance and Rudolph connecting on several long passes:

“We were playing and playing to win. Pressure is ever present – you are either feeling it or applying it. It was our goal today to apply it so that was to be aggressive, particularly with the downfield throws. I thought Mason’s performance was great.”

On if it was a surprise to see Rudolph’s poise in the pocket and ability to go downfield:

“I don’t know that I was surprised by it. Like I talked about earlier in the week, it was reasonable to expect improvement in his play. This guy has been working extremely hard really for 12 calendar months. At the quarterback position, there are not many opportunities. This was his first extended action of the 2020 football season so we anticipated him being better, and he was.”

On his thought on having a rematch with the Browns next week in the AFC Wild Card:

“I don’t have any [thoughts]. It is too early for that really. I am just assessing what transpired in that stadium today and making decisions relative to that. We will have tomorrow waiting on us in the morning.”

On if the Steelers were able to rest the guys he wanted during the game with those who played:

“No, we weren’t in rest mode. The guys that we wanted to rest, we left at home. The guys that got on the bus to come over here were ready to play.”

On K Matthew Wright’s performance and if Wright may have earned a full-time spot with a NFL team:

“He is earning his stripes. That is not for me to say. We are appreciative of his efforts and the way that he delivers for us for sure.”

On using Steelers QB Joshua Dobbs in packages today:

“We thought his mobility could be an X factor. It is a little-known trivia fact that Dobbs ran for 850 (yards) his last year at Tennessee so running it is an asset to him. We just wanted to infuse that into the game, particularly in some situational components of play – maybe third down and maybe red zone. I am appreciative of his efforts, as well. He had an opportunity to put his hand in the pile and be a positive contributor to our efforts.”

On if the potential rematch with the Browns next week caused the Steelers to hold anything back schematically today:

“Again, I was not worried about next week. I was worried about this game and rightfully so.”

On Rudolph’s performance on third-and-long and if that was a result of better execution or better understanding of the Steelers offense:

“I will let you decipher that. That was our intention.”

On if any of the Steelers players placed on the reserve/COVID list yesterday will be available next week:

“We will see. You know how the COVID protocol is. We will adhere to it.”

On if Dobbs performance today could mean there are three active Steelers QBs during a playoff game:

“It is a possibility.”

On the biggest takeaways from today heading into the playoffs:

“I don’t know that we are looking for takeaways. We came. We fought. We came up short. We accept responsibility for that. We acknowledge kind of how we came up short. We knew we had to take care of the ball. We knew that if we didn’t take care of the ball, we needed to support our offensive unit. When you really look at it, that sequence is probably the most significant in terms of determining the outcome of the game.”

On his feeling on the Steelers’ trajectory heading into next week:

“I feel comfortable.”

On Steelers WR Chase Claypool’s performance today:

“It was our intention to feature him a little bit today. We wanted him to have that type of rhythm and that type of confidence in his playmaking ability going into January ball. We were able to check that box.”

On the dustup on the sidelines between two Steelers DL:

“We have some gamecocks, and every now and then, they fight a little bit but all in the right spirit. We are trying to win football games, and they are trying to win football games. That is just a part of it. We don’t apologize for that. I hate that it became public, but it happens sometimes. You have emotional men fighting their tails off and fighting their tails off to win.”

On if keeping Claypool in the game was about showing the team wanted to win:

“How many times do I have to tell you guys that we play and play to win before you believe me?”

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