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Head Coach Mike Tomlin


Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

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MIKE TOMLIN: We talked about it all week. We knew they wouldn't flinch. They have been in these type of games more than we have. To be quite honest with you, we knew that that was a winning edge for them and it showed. We had something to do with how the game got as well. We gave up a big play for a touchdown. We turned the ball over. You do those things against good people, they're going to get back in the game a hundred percent of the time. And thankfully our guys didn't blink and was able to hold it together and make enough plays to secure a victory. Not a perfect product. We understand that. But I appreciate their efforts. We are perfect from a record standpoint and so we respect that. We realize that we've got AFC North ball on next week on the road. We're going to a group that has seven days' advantage on us, so there's a lot for us to be urgent about. We won't spend a lot of time celebrating this or appreciating this because it's just more work that lies ahead, but we like that element of the journey and we're excited about assessing what's transpired, hopefully making necessary improvements and positioning ourselves for next week's challenge.

I don't have a lot of information regarding the health of the group. I'm sure there's bumps and bruises associated with the play. But again, I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the Tennessee Titans and Coach Mike (Vrabel) and just their commitment to their style of play and the manner in which they go about it is really challenging. They're a good group.

Q. On the ball that got intercepted in the end zone on your second to last possession, I think it was Smith-Schuster on a linebacker. Is that considered open in your guys' estimation and is that a shot worth taking to put the game away?

MIKE TOMLIN: It's NFL football. We play to win. We don't live in our fears. Is it a combat play? Is it tight? Yes, we have a quarterback that's been doing that for 17 years. Sometimes you've just got to acknowledge that they made the play in the moment and we desire to and that's why we're not going to live in our fears. We're going to go in those instances to secure victory.

Q. What did they, what kind of second half adjustments were they making defensively, the Titans making defensively to stop you guys from being able to do those long drives that were working in the first half to keep Derrick Henry off the field?

MIKE TOMLIN: It's just football. I don't know that they changed anything that they did. We had a tipped pass that got intercepted and we were penalized, some things that happen when you stop yourself. They were confident, no doubt. But I don't know that they changed anything schematically or anything substantial changed. We just got to play better. We didn't play well enough in the second half for it not to be as tight as it was.

Q. At the end of the first half when you got the ball back there and you took the shot in the end zone, was that, did you just figure it was one shot into the end zone or was there much consideration given to something shorter and then kicking the field goal?

MIKE TOMLIN: Prior to the false start, all the things that you mentioned were on the table. Once we lost the five yards on the false start then our mindset changed.

Q. What went into your thinking of taking the ball after you won the coin toss?

MIKE TOMLIN: We wanted to answer all questions from you guys about how we start the game, and so we took the ball, we went down the field and scored a touchdown, so now you guys can stop asking me about it.

Q. Can you speak to the combat catches your receivers, tight ends were able to make in this game?

MIKE TOMLIN: They made the necessary plays, but it was also extremely tight coverage. That was five-star ball. That's a good group. Guys like JuJu and others stepped up and made those plays, but you got to tip your cap to Tennessee. They made those plays combat catches with tight coverage.

Q. You mentioned the winning is the thing, obviously. At the same time, can your team take something, can you benefit in any way from what happened in the second half?  

MIKE TOMLIN: We're looking to learn every Sunday. Hopefully we're learning while winning. So you're absolutely right. There's some lessons to be learned. You don't win many games minus three. I think we were minus three in the turnover game today. You don't win many games giving up 70-yard touchdown passes. So it just kind of speaks to how our group is positioned. But definitely things to be learned from what transpired.

Q. Both in terms of execution and in approach and strategy, can you speak to how you handled Henry in the first 30 to 35 minutes? And was it at all similar to your thinking going into Game 1 against Saquan Barkley?

MIKE TOMLIN: We talked about the importance of minimizing him. And from that standpoint, it was similar, but we didn't do anything that we don't normally do. We played the defenses that we normally play. We just got to defeat blocks and make tackles and try to prevent them from falling forward. A tall task with a guy like him and particularly as we talked about from an attrition standpoint over the course of the game and you felt that. You felt him getting going, and that was troublesome. But that's just the attributes that he brings and they bring to play, so that's why it was important that we got started early.

Q. Were you able to get a view on how (Robert) Spillane did in your opinion?

MIKE TOMLIN: I know he played winning ball. I hadn't looked at it with a fine-tooth comb. But like we said, even prior to this performance, we weren't concerned about the quality of his play. I definitely was not. I was concerned about fatigue as snaps set in. So we supplemented him on possession downs with Ulysees Gilbert, who also did a really solid job and together they were able to stand in for Devin (Bush). And not that we didn't have complete confidence in Robert, but we didn't want him playing 65 or so snaps. We thought he would have a better chance to play a winning performance if we kept it around 45 or so and that's why we supplemented him on possession downs.

Q. I know Diontae (Johnson) left early with an injury, but how much was it an emphasis to get him involved after missing most of two games when he was out?

MIKE TOMLIN: I don't know if there was an emphasis. We try to maintain balance and take what the defense gives us and spread it around. And maybe their attentions were elsewhere because he hadn't been on recent video. But we just tried to take what the defense gives us.

Q. Not a lot of James Washington today. Was that just a matchup thing?

MIKE TOMLIN: Again, oftentimes we're willing to let the opponent determine who the hot hand is. So we're just trying to distribute the ball. We've got a bunch of capable men. James is obviously capable. And I'm sure if called upon next week, he'll be the guy that we'll be talking about.

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