Steelers Players (10.31.21)

Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth:

On his touchdown in the fourth quarter and if he was the target:

“Yeah, he told me before the play what to run. It was kind of weird with the leverage the defender was playing, but knew I had to get outside, looked back at the pylon, saw the ball in there and made a play.”


On getting both of his feet in bounds on the TD catch:

“Yeah, that was my issue in camp and one preseason game was not getting my foot in. I am used to college with the one foot in, and I have been working on that after practice so I am happy that paid off for me.”


On getting involved in the pass game early:

“It was kind of just where I was on the field and what they were doing on defense. I think (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) looks for mismatches and he is great at that so he was looking at my matchup and saw a couple mismatches on there.”


On how important it was to find the middle of the field:

“It was huge. Obviously, I had a couple of catches in the middle of the field, and (Steelers TE) Zach (Gentry) had a big third-down conversion over the middle of the field. When you find the middle of the field and utilize it in our offense, that moves. I am really happy with the play Zach made there.”


On playing the second half without a kicker:

“It was weird because when we scored – when (Steelers RB) Najee (Harris) scored – I was like, ‘Why are we going for two? It is 10-9.’ Then we backed up. We got the penalty. We backed up and I was still like, “why are we still going for two (laughter)?’ I came off of the sideline, and they said we do not have a kicker and that made sense. Yeah, I was confused.”


Steelers RB Najee Harris:

On if he has ever gone airborne from four yards out before:

“Yes. Back in high school and college. Not in the NFL.”


On what happened on the touchdown run:

“It was a power play. (TE) Pat (Freiermuth) came around and gave a good block, helped me get inside and be one-on-one with the safety. From there, it was just me finishing out the run.”


On if the offense’s mentality changes not having a kicker:

“We were just thinking about converting on third downs and just keep playing our ball. Making sure we had short third downs, short second downs, so we would be behind the sticks and have them play a different coverage. Obviously, losing Bos (K Chris Boswell) was bad, but we just worried about finishing out the game.”


On if got the sense of the rivalry playing in his first game against the Browns:

“I know there is a rivalry, but I am just focused on winning the game. I really do not care about the rivalry. Just trying to win. That is what I am here for. To help us win games. We won the game, so that is all that matters.”


On if this was the most balanced the Steelers offense has been:

“Yes, you can say that. We are just trying to keep stacking bricks. Obviously, we are going to run the ball, pass, and RPOs. We are just trying to find our identity and what we do. Just keep pushing forward and stacking bricks.”


Steelers DT Cameron Heyward

On the team’s overall effort, especially when K Chris Boswell was injured:

“What a wild end of the first half. We did not make it easy on ourselves. When Bos goes down and I see (P) Pressley (Harvin III) start kicking kickoffs, I was like ‘Oh, Hell’ [laughter]. Our offense came to work. (TE Pat) Freiermuth got a win in Ohio, does not happen often [laughter]. It was a good game.”


On the defense’s performances the last two games creating turnovers:

“The turnovers were the difference in the game. I thought whoever got the first turnover was going to win the game. (LB) T.J. (Watt) knocking it loose, (LB) Joe Schobert picking it up – you could not ask for a better feeling.”


On the young players’ development:

“I told my young guys on the defensive line, everybody likes to talk about what happened last year. What better way to introduce yourself to the rivalry than right now. I just thought they answered the call. Was it perfect? No, but I just loved the way they continued to battle. Going into the half, 3-3, that says a lot. To win a game, 15-10. You do not get a lot of scoring like that.”


On if the recent performances show what the Steelers can be:

“We can go on the road and play good football. I know it has not been perfect, but we have to give ourselves a chance. There is a lot of football in front of us.


On former Browns LB Joe Schobert’s performance:

“I know he was happy to get the win, but Joe has been learning on the fly. I am just glad we got the W for him.”


Steelers LB T.J. Watt:

On the significance of containing the run game:

“It was huge. We knew the run was going to be the biggest issue and the biggest problem to solve all week. I think the coaching staff did a great job of getting us in great spots. As players, we did a really great job of mentally preparing for the run and not always being aggressive.  Not biting on play fakes where it could potentially get into the gaps and two gaps and all that stuff. For the most part, we played assignment and sound football. That is attributed to the whole defense and defensive staff.”


On how important it was for him and Steelers LB Joe Schobert to get a takeaway:

“We’re always looking for a splash any way that we can. Whenever we can do that for our offense and get the ball back in their hands is huge. I’ve seen Joe has been doing that for years, especially when he was playing for Cleveland. I’m glad to have him on our side. Like I said, that’s his play. Falling on the football isn’t really a big play.”


On whether today shows what this team could be:

“It’s all mental. It is just showing that when our backs are against the wall, we know that the wins aren’t always going to be pretty. A win is a win, especially in the NFC North. We just have to keep stacking these chips. Anytime we can get a win on the road, we know we’re going to have a few road games, but going home next week is huge. We just have to keep stacking.”


On how the defense’s mentality shifted when Steelers K Chris Boswell got injured:

“It just put us in a point. They never really got in a situation where we knew that they were going to be throwing the ball strictly until they got the ball back there. We knew they got the ball back with four minutes left, so we knew they were still able to run the ball. They got the ball back on their own 45-yard line or whatever it was. We knew that the whole thing was still open, so we never got to the point where we could fully pin our ears back. We truly had to play assignment football all day, but glad we got some selection.”


On whether they couldn’t pin their ears back because they knew the Browns would get rid of the ball quickly because of Browns QB Baker Mayfield’s shoulder injury:

“It was a little bit of everything. We were just so set on stopping the run that we had to play a little more conservative when it came to rushing the passer. Then when it was passing, for the most part, it was a lot of max protection, play-pass, quick play-pass, stuff like that – three-step drops. They really weren’t exposing him a ton and when he was exposed, I feel like we did a pretty good job of getting after him.”


On now allowing wide-zone runs and if that was part of the plan along with stopping the run:

“Like I said, I think it was scheme and I think it was execution. We just had a really good plan coming into this game. Guys were able to execute and play really selflessly today.”


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