Postgame Quotes: Titans vs. Steelers

**

HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT
**

(opening statement)

Yes, a tough outcome for us tonight. I thought that our team fought hard. We made couple of mistakes early, but we were able to bounce back from that and had a couple of missed opportunities in the second half that really hurt us. But, I felt like our guys played hard and extremely disappointed that we weren't able to pull it out at the end.

(on team showing improvement from last week)

I guess that's for other people to say. I haven't seen the tape, yet. I thought our guys fought hard. I was impressed with Zach (Mettenberger) coming back from after that first pick for a touchdown to start the game. I thought he responded well there, led two scoring drives, made some good throws in the red zone. But, you know, it's tough. When you go against a good football team that has a lot of weapons offensively and play really good defense against them in the first half and then you know they made some plays in the second half that really hurt us, so it's tough.

(on if he thought about going for it on fourth down play) **

At that point there was still a lot of time left in the game. I felt like we were going to play the field position game since we were only down by three, so that's what my thing was there.

(on Pittsburgh's running game taking off in second half)

Yes, that was tough. Give them credit. They got a good running back. He got rolling and we couldn't make a play. That's disappointing, but that's the way it went. So, we tried a lot of different things to stop their run game. They won, give them credit.

(on if he thought this could be a breakthrough game)

Yeah, I felt good, not off the first play offensively with the interception for a touchdown. I thought the way the team as a group responded that after that is really what we want to see from them, both sides of the ball. We sacked the quarterback a number of times, I don't know how many times it was. We played good defense, kept them out of the end zone in the red zone a couple of times. We moved the ball offensively. We were better in the red zone than we have been. You know, we did a lot of good things, but ultimately it wasn't enough.

(on injuries from game) **

Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) tweaked his back again and Marqueston Huff has a hamstring. That is all I am aware of right now unless something else pops up.

(on how Zach Mettenberger was able to bounce back from the first play of the game) **

I know Justin (Hunter) slipped a little bit on that, but that's one of the things that we have to work on with him throwing. He gets a little closed when he throws to his left sometimes. We've talked about that. Obviously, he didn't make a great throw, but I was very impressed with the way he responded from that point. He really made some great throws after that, like I said, led a couple scoring drives. There are probably a couple throws at the end, especially the one to Kendall (Wright) on a little screen that was a little low, on that last series that we had. Other than that, he's getting better, understanding, managed the game, made some good checks. I'll be interested to see the tape.

(on if he felt the Titans run game made any progress)

At times – I felt Bishop (Sankey) ran the ball well tonight. It was tough, they're a good, inside physical run-stopping defense, so you try to attack them on the edges, which we did. But, we weren't able to hold up. We had some success early, but they played outside on us there at the end and made it a little more difficult. We kept trying to change it up. Obviously, it would have helped had we run it a little better at the end, although we were making big chunks in the pass game too.

(on challenging Pittsburgh's incomplete pass)

With the way it came out, I don't know that the timeout would have really made a difference. I felt like at that particular point, I knew it was going to be close. I felt like I had to challenge it because of where we were in the game and the chances of us getting it with that field position right there. I was standing there talking to the official and asked him about it. The big thing was clear recovery, which we had. It really comes down to a judgment of whether he possessed the ball or not. He had two feet on the ground, which was the other criteria, and he possessed the ball. Obviously, he didn't have it long enough.

(on only having one penalty called against the Titans)

I'll be honest, they probably didn't call many tonight. I don't know, I would have to see the tape. I'll give credit to our guys, because they've been working and getting better on that. What I was really impressed with, is in the secondary we had a couple of balls downfield where in the past, we had gotten penalties because we didn't look for the ball. Tonight, we turned back and made plays on the ball which was big for us and that helped. Maybe what we're doing in practice is helping.

(on the two short punts made by Brett Kern)

The second one, which was the end over ender, that's always going to be a bit of a variance there, especially when you're plus 20. But the one before that, when we were punting from backed up early in the game, we have to have a better punt than that. Brett (Kern) has been punting well for us. I know I made a comment after last game about how important that was. For us, as a team where we are now, there are probably three or four things that you could point out in the fourth quarter that we have to do better. The punt would be one of them. The other one is that we have to catch the football and make a play on those ones where we have opportunities. We can't let them run the football on us like that.

(on Chase Coffman's collision with a Ravens coach last Sunday)

Let me just say this, Chase (Coffman) came to me last week after the game and said that he had inadvertently run into a coach on the sideline trying to get back on the field to chase the interception. I looked at it, and it didn't look great on the tape. I contacted both Coach (John) Harbaugh and (General Manager) Ozzie (Newsome Jr.), and said, I understand this will show up on your tape, this was Monday, that Chase has come to me, and said he did not intend to do it. In fact, he tried to find the coach after the game to apologize. I reached out to them. I guess they chose to go ahead and pursue it the other way. I know Chase isn't that kind of football player. We've had discussions about it. I know he was upset, it's unfortunate. Nobody has approached him about his side of it. If you look at it, and you see the whole play, he was trying to stop and inadvertently ran into that guy.

TE CHASE COFFMAN

(on his third quarter touchdown reception)

It really is a blessing to have the opportunity to be in there. I'm here to take advantage of these opportunities when I get them, and Zach (Mettenberger) has the trust in me to put it up there.

(on the disappointment in letting tonight's game slip away)

It was a close game, and we just kept fighting. We have to keep coming in and keep working just like we have been all year. We just got to keep having faith that these are going to start going our way.

(on watching the Steelers run out the clock at the end of the game)

It's always a tough feeling when you don't get the chance to go out there and at least have an opportunity, but that's one of those things. Our defense played great all night, but (the Steelers) ended up getting us in the end.

(on whether or not he thought the Titans would go for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter) **

There's always that thought in the back of your mind, but you just have to trust your coach and that's what we do.

LT TAYLOR LEWAN

(on the play of the Titans offensive line)

I thought we played better. We got the run game going a little bit, and we didn't give up any sacks. We just have to keep going.

(on the play of Titans QB Zach Mettenberger)

I've been saying it since Day One: the kid's a savage. He throws a pick-six on the first play of the game and it takes a lot of maturity and a lot of consistency and love for the game to not just throw it in from there. That kind of stuff will get you, and he just bounced right back and started slinging the ball. That's the kind of guy he is. I think he somewhat made a name for himself today, but we have to get the win.

(on his performance in his first appearance on Monday Night Football)

I thought I played a consistent game and did my job. It was awesome. It was a great opportunity, but it wasn't that great because we lost.

RB DEXTER MCCLUSTER

(on the play of the Titans offense)

I think tonight, as an offense, we started kind of slow with the interception, but we never backed down or gave up. Zach (Mettenberger) showed some poise tonight; he sat in the pocket and made some great throws. The offensive linemen did some good things. I think, overall, we did good as an offense but that means nothing without a win.

(on watching the Steelers run out the clock at the end of the game)

It's tough because you want to get out there and have an opportunity, but their offensive line did a great job. Our defense fought hard tonight, but it's kind of hard sitting on the sideline watching. You kind of feel a little helpless.

(on Titans QB Zach Mettenberger bouncing back following the first quarter interception)

It just shows that it's a long four quarters. As a young guy, it would have been easy for him to kind of tuck his tail, but he came to the sideline positive and we rallied behind him and he did some good things tonight.

(on the positives the Titans offense can take into next week)

I believe, for the most part, we played great in the first half. We came out and did some good things in the third quarter, but again we just have to finish. We know we're a good offense, we see we can score points and we just have to build off that.

LB AVERY WILLIAMSON

(on playing on Monday night)

We knew that everybody in America was going to be watching this game, so you just try to be on your

A-game.  I kept telling myself not to put too much pressure on myself and just treat it like a regular game like I do each week.  It's hard to do though, when you get out there under the lights. I kept telling myself just to keep on playing like you've been doing.  I settled down eventually, and started playing.

(on getting more confidence on the field)

The more reps you get, the more comfortable you'll be out there.  I feel like I've gotten a whole lot better since week one.  I feel like I'm going to continue to get better as I get more and more time out there.

S GEORGE WILSON

(on the last few Steelers drives of the game)

The last two drives of the game, they controlled the clock and they controlled the line of scrimmage.  Ran the ball efficiently on us and we just didn't make a play on first or second down and force them to have to throw the ball. 

When we put them in passing situations, we were able to get pressure on him, and force Ben (Roethlisberger) to go through his route progressions, got some sacks on him and got some incompletions to get off the field after third down.  But they tried to run the ball and control the clock, and kept the chains moving, and we just needed to make a stop defensively.  And they kept on bleeding us.  A few yards here, and a few yards there, ended up running the clock out on us.  We had to make a stop to be able to give our offense a chance to go back out there and give us a chance to win.

(on giving up touchdowns after having a lead at halftime)

It's frustrating to be on a stage like this and have the opportunity to get the losing taste out of our mouths.  You know, we didn't make the plays to be able to get off the field.  Obviously we want to continue to move forward, but we work hard to win.  There's no moral victories in this league, there's no pity parties and nobody is going to take it easy on us.  We have to go out and fight and earn it. Play for 60 minutes.  We just didn't finish the game out in a manner that would allow us a chance to win.

DT JURRELL CASEY

(on Titans not stopping the run in the second half)

It was more so the gap fits and things like that.  When you see we haven't tackled or a lot of missed tackles, also that killed us.  We just have to do a better job of filling inside the gap, and finishing up our tackles.

(on allowing the Steelers to run the ball in the second half)

It was very frustrating, especially after the first half that we had.  We're supposed to come out and you know we always are talking about going 60 minutes and for some reason we didn't get that done in the second half.  QB ZACH METTENBERGER

(on how hard it was to stand on the sideline and not have another shot at the end of the game)

Being the type of player I am, I always want the ball in my hand to end the game.  It's just unfortunate that we didn't get another shot at it but we did a good job answering after the first play.  Just there in the stretch we had to convert a third down and get something going.

(on what happened on the first play of the game)

Left it inside.

(on his ability to bounce back after an interception)

Stuff happens in this league.  You've seen that week in, week out with even with the great quarterbacks.  The ability to respond to negative plays really kind of shows a guy's character.  I think I responded well, made some plays to put us in the game but you've got to make one or two more to get the win.

(on the drops that Kendall Wright and others had during the game)

It was bad throws on me.  That's not his fault at all.  The one screen was low.  The next play, the drag was behind him.  I've got to do a better job getting him more catchable balls.  Obviously, we've seen what he can do with a ball in his hand.  I've got to make it easier on him. 

(on if there is a moment when he thinks the team has turned the corner and is back in the game)

I mean, you've just got to think about the next play, the next scenario that can present itself.  I don't think we were thinking anything like that.  We were just trying to get back on the field, move the chains and get some points. 

(on this being a rough season but still able to see progress)

Did you see progress today? (Absolutely.) We feel the same.  We feel very close but we're not doing enough to win football games.  That's the bottom line, the most important thing.  With a rookie running back, rookie left tackle, rookie quarterback, rookie middle linebacker, we're doing a lot of good things.  You know, hopefully next week against the Eagles we can get a win that we've been working for.

(on how he can get better on third down)

It's a mindset.  You've gotta, no matter what the situation, no matter if its 3rd-and-17 or 3rd-and-2, you've gotta feel like you can get every one.  We did well tonight in some aspects of that but other aspects there's times where I didn't deliver a good enough ball.  The one to Derek Hagan.  If I lead him there, he can run out the back side, you know, get that 3rd-and-14.  Opportunities are there.  We're close.  We've just got to keep working.

(on Nate Washington making the double move)

You know going into the game, Coach Whiz and Nate (Washington) had a lot of experience on some of their guys and we knew that #22 (William Gay) had the tendency to jump some routes and we wanted to get a double move on him.  We're fortunate we got the opportunity for a good look.  Nate ran a fantastic route and beat the guy.  Really that's just an opportunity where you don't want to over or under throw the guy because he's so open but that's just a heck of a play by Nate.

HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN

(opening statement)

It was a great night for us. Not a perfect night but really a great night for us in that we were down by 11 and we had an opportunity to bounce back and I think any time you can do that and gain victory you grow from it and grow from it in the right ways. Lots of positive contributions, lot of guys not blinking down the stretch but we also did something to put ourselves in that situation.  In the first half we stalled in the red area on offense.  You can't do that, you have to be able to anticipate those things.  We had penalties in the return game that negated a couple of nice returns.  We had a punt return to mid field and there was a block in the back on that.  We had a decent kickoff that made us start on the minus 10.  We've got some things have got to work on during the bye week obviously.  We could potentially get some guys back from a health standpoint. We are not going to speculate about that right now. We will assess that when we get back to Pittsburgh but right now we don't take these for granted.  Monday night AFC road wins is big ball for us, big night for us.

(on Le'Veon Bell's performance)

I am not going to say anything about Le'Veon (Bell) that I haven't said before.  He's a good young player. He wants to be a central reason why we are successful. He can do it in the running game, he can do it in the passing game.  Tonight it was more the running game. Obviously our guys up front did a heck of a job in terms of getting hats on hats and blocking the looks. Those were not easy looks. They got aggressive down the stretch. It was a bunch of people in the box and he was still having an opportunity to get on the safeties so I know he is going to get a lot of recognition but a lot of recognition is deserved for everyone.   

(on what was the decision to go with Bell and the running game)

He has got to be closing in on 1,000 yards.  He's run the ball some. Some games we feature Ben (Roethlisberger) and what we are capable of doing outside, some game we feature him and some games we try to feature both and be balanced.  It's really about how the game unfolds inside the stadium.  We saw some looks tonight that we felt comfortable that we could get hats on hats because their defense, structurally, is built like our defense. I'm sure they felt the same way with some of the looks we provided them.  I am sure they have seen some of those looks in practice as so for.  So the stage was set for them to have a good night and they did the job.  

(on whether defense had more pressure on Titans QB Zach Mettenberger in the second half)

I don't know if we did. I think we spent so much time watching the game because our offense possessed the ball and that creates a certain amount of urgency or frenzy with a team that was possessing the ball the way we were possessing the ball and I think that created that sense, if you will.

(on team having a 200-yard passer and 200-yard rusher)

You know, we've been very up-front that we want to be a balanced group. We want to be a group that's capable of stepping in a stadium and throwing with anybody in the NFL, we want to be a group that's capable of stepping into a stadium and running with anybody in the NFL. I think we are rounding into form in that regard and then we can just do what the game presents to us and I think that's a recipe for real, long term success, but we still got to get better in the red area. We kicked two field goals and threw an interception in the first half – that put us in a situation that we were in.

(on long touchdown pass to Titans WR Nate Washington at the end of the first half)

They dialed up a double move and got us. They protected it, they ran a good route and he executed a throw, but at the same time, we're talking about 80 yards away from pay dirt in situational football, I don't know what is it, 40 seconds to go in the half, you know, that's unacceptable. We've got to be better than that. I tip my cap to those guys, that was a nice call, it was great execution, but we've got to be better than that.

(on whether there was supposed to be help from the safety on the Nate Washington touchdown)

I'm not getting into all of that. I said we accept responsibility for it and I tip my cap to those guys for good execution.

(on fewer people running the ball and receiving)

We interchanged. We used 85, we used 16, we used 10, we used 11, we played a very similar manner as we've been playing for a number of weeks.

RB Le'VEON BELL

(on if this was his best performance as a pro)

Rushing wise, I think it is. Tonight was just an overall great performance by the offense. The offensive line did a great job opening holes and the receivers blocking down field made my job easy once I got to the second level and made one or two guys miss and kept my legs moving and held on to the football.

(on the importance of his performance for the offense)

I think it is something to build off of going into the bye week and the week after that. We know what we can do with the offensive line and this offense in general. We just have to keep moving forward and getting better as a team, and we should fine. 

(on if he likes where the team is heading into the bye week)

Yes, most definitely. We definitely could be sitting prettier, but we won the game going into our bye week, so now we can take a week and look back and see what happens in the rest of the division and go from there. We can only control what we can control right now.

(on how much he feeds off of his offensive line)

I definitely feed off of those guys. Those guys love it. I love running the ball, but those guys love running the ball more than me probably. That's the craziest part – those guys love just taking advantage of a guy, double-teaming or single-blocking or whatever it may be. Those guys just kept moving guys off the ball and making my job easy. I got to the second level a lot tonight and you have to give a lot of credit to the guys up front.

(on wanting a big game on Monday Night Football)

Yeah, we set a goal and went out and achieved that goal today. The offensive line wanted to prove their dominance tonight and they definitely did that. I just did what they allowed me to do – get to the second level, make a guy or two miss and the rest is history.

CB WILLIAM GAY

(on having to pull out a close win down the stretch)

Basically what we got out of this game is that we got to seven wins. Our goal was to try to get to seven and that's all we can do this week is get to seven wins.

(on the 80-yard touchdown to end the first half)

Great execution by Tennessee. They made the play and we didn't.

(on if he likes where the team is going into the bye week)

Yes, our goal was to get to seven wins. That is all you can do is try to win a game and we just tried to get to 7-4 before the bye.

LB JASON WORILDS

(on getting the win before the bye)

It was absolutely the most important thing. Much respect to the Tennessee Titans. They came out and played a hard fought game. I'm just happy for the guys in the locker room. We stuck together.

(on the Titans offense finding success at times)

They did a good job executing plays, but we also felt like we gave up some things schematically that we didn't hone in on the details of our assignment. We just have to come out and be more consistent with that and kind of weather the storm.

(on if he likes where the team is going into the bye week)

Yes, our goal was to get to seven wins. That is all you can do is try to win a game and we just tried to get to 7-4 before the bye.

WR ANTONIO BROWN

(on if the offensive line took this game as a challenge)

We knew this team was giving up big chunks in the run game, so we wanted to capitalize on it.

(on what it's like when they know what you are going to do and can't stop it)

It's really fun when you are enforcing your will on the opponent and see them wear down.

(on when they are down and then can't get a touchdown, is there any concern)

Just stay on. We know that we have to find a way to get into the end zone and find a way to win.

(on what they did differently)

We made the plays that we needed to make and provided the necessary plays for us to win the game.

C MAURKICE POUNCEY

(on if having success in the running game leads to more success)

Heck yeah man that's energy. That just makes you want to go to the next snap and get up on the guys again and see if you can do it again. It was awesome man. It was a great feeling.

(on what it feels like when are beating a team down)

Don't stop, don't stop what's working. If you keep running the ball with the same run then keep going at it until they stop it. Then we will switch it up. 

(on if they were running the same play)

It was maybe two or three different plays that we were running, we were just executing at a high level. Le'Veon (Bell) is a great back. Trust me, as an offensive line you can appreciate a running back like that.

LB LAWRENCE TIMMONS

(on if he was impressed with Zach Mettenberger)

Yeah you can see why they like him, he is a fighter. He sat in the pocket and took some hard hits and delivered some balls. For a rookie going against our defense, you have guys like James Harrison chasing you and he was just sitting in there and showing his heart.

(on having the experience of Ben Roethlisberger for the second half)

Ben (Roethlisberger) was a field general out there. The way he took us to the run and dumping the ball to the running backs and wide receivers, that was huge in the fourth quarter. That was just great management and goes to show you Todd Haley is a great OC (offensive coordinator) so he did a great job managing the fourth quarter so that was the story of the game.

QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER

(on the game)

It wasn't pretty early and it's not one of those that you are going to go home and watch the whole thing and be proud of it but at the end of the day it's the scoreboard that matters.

(on if this was a solid game)

Yeah we would like to not make it so close and put so much stress on ourselves but I'm proud of the guys for fighting in the second half, especially on that last drive. I don't know what the time was, seven minutes or six minutes, I went into the huddle and told the guys that we can end this thing and let's do it and let's leave our defense on the side. We did it. 

(on Le'Veon Bell's performance)

We don't have enough time to talk about what we did tonight. It was so impressive. I'm just so proud of the way that he bounces back. He started out hot and I know that he didn't have some games in the middle there that he would like to have but the things that he does, catches the ball, runs the ball, power, finesse, it's just really impressive and fun to watch.

(on if he likes where they are at being the first team in the AFC North to seven wins and the bye week ahead)

Well the break is coming finally at a good time. Obviously, you want to win going into that break because when we watch games on Sunday or whatever we are doing next Sunday, it's going to feel like we won again. It's a good time for a break and hopefully we get guys healthy and get guys back to us.

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