Steelers HC Mike Tomlin (12.1.19)
Man, it feels good to win always, but it definitely feels good to win when you are faced with adversity in terms of people available to you. There’s just less margin for error. Not that we feel like we are incapable, we just realize we have to play closer to optimum level. They did what they needed to do tonight. I thought particularly in the second half at halftime, we didn’t want to talk too much specifics. We felt like we needed to minimize their run in the second half more than we did in the first half and we needed to run it better than we did in the first half. We felt like it was 10-10 at the half, but they had won the line of scrimmage. They had more significant run plays, they had control of the time of possession. We needed to flip that. We felt like if we could flip that, we could stay away from negativity on offense and we could create some negativity for them on defense and really that is what transpired. The guys deserve the credit. They made the necessary plays. Can’t say enough about the efforts of a lot of people, but that is team. We are looking to strike a blow for team in these circumstances to stand up for the game of football and team and prove that guys can make plays when given an opportunity. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. The standard is the standard. And they made all those clichés, if you will, true. So, I am appreciative of that. It is good to get a win in AFC North ball. Excited about it.
What did you think of your defense and making the big play when it mattered most?
They had to. They were aware that it was going to come down to those moments for us this week and they had to deliver it. So, they went about preparing with that in mind and they were able to do it.
Was it satisfying that Cleveland had almost all of their starters and you had some injuries, yet you still won?
It is not about what Cleveland had. I am proud because of the circumstances that we were under. This time of year, forget the opponent. They are nameless gray faces. It is about you being able to execute your plan to a level that allows you to win games. I want to keep the focus on our guys and what they did.
How did you think Devlin Hodges played?
He didn’t kill us.
That completion to James Washington at midfield seemed to be what settled him down?
Yeah, it takes a splash play to create that rhythm, if you will. And not only for the offense, I thought that play meant something for the defense. When you are on the sideline supporting your teammates and you see they are capable of moving the ball, that inspires you. I thought it uplifted all of us.
Did that give you confidence to put the ball in his hands on third down?
We are just trying to make plays.
Is this as disruptive a game for the interior rushers as you’ve seen this year?
We had a couple where we had Cam [Heyward] and [Stephon] Tuitt in there that was pretty good. This was a good game, but we have had a couple of those type games.
What have you seen from Benny Snell Jr.?
He is a guy that gets better as the game goes on. He has the mentality of a featured runner. He likes the grit associated with the volume of carries. I think he gets better as the game goes on. None of that is surprising to us. We saw it on Kentucky tape, but it is good that he can take it to Sunday stadiums.
Devlin Hodges lived a little dangerously at times, what did you think of his performance?
I thought he played his tail off. Without over analyzing it, just a general synopsis, I thought he played his tail off.
Did you spend a lot of time with him this week getting him ready?
I did not. I wanted him to know I had confidence in him, and I thought extra time and extra points of emphasis and more dialogue than normal would prove to him that I didn’t. I was very conscience of my interactions with him. It was no more than normal because I wanted him to know that we had real confidence in him.
Where did you have more confidence in Devlin Hodges this week than the game against the Chargers?
I had more confidence in him today than I did against the Chargers because our relationship is born out of our shared experiences. We had the experience of what he did in the Chargers game in our back pocket and that probably produced today. And that is not only for him but for anybody. The more shared experiences you have, the more level of confidence in terms of what you can anticipate getting. And that is just football. It is reasonable to expect all these guys to evolve, to continually get better and to continually provide a more consistent above-the-line effort and I thought that is what he is doing, but it is just on a small body of work. There is not a lot of space for comfort there, but we are not seeking it.
Do you think you did a good job of controlling the emotions of what happened at the end of the last game against these guys?
We weren’t concerned about it to be quite honest with you. We were about beating them today. That is how you deal with some of that stuff, you beat them.
Did Devlin Hodges do enough to earn a start for next game?
Yeah, but I am not ready to talk all of that with you guys today. We will talk about it a little bit later.