The Pittsburgh Steelers arrived in Dallas on Monday morning, checked into their hotel, then met with the media for the first of several sessions throughout the week. All of it leads up to their Sunday showdown in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers. I'll be part of this media scrum starting Wednesday morning, but I thought I'd pass along the transcribed quotes of various members of the Steelers from the team's Monday press conference.
Other Monday Press Conference Transcriptions:
- Brett Keisel (on SB Nation Pittsburgh)
- James Farrior (on SB Nation Pittsburgh)
- LaMarr Woodley (on BTSC)
- Hines Ward (on SB Nation Pittsburgh)
QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS PRESS CONFERENCE
HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN
(Opening statement) "We got in this morning, and we're excited of course about being here. Just like last time when we were in this game, it's our intention to enjoy all of the elements that this week has in store for us and not fight against it. Part of you are somewhat resistant to some of the things, but we're not going to make a negative out of what a wonderful week that we have awaiting us. We are going to embrace it all, enjoy it all, and of course ultimately prepare and play in the football game. The group is excited, everyone is in great spirits and everyone has been great here in ‘Big D' thus far, and we are just excited about proceeding with the week."
(On comparing the preparation for this Super Bowl as opposed to Super Bowl XLIII) "To this point, it's been very similar in structure in terms of how we formulated our two-week plan in terms of preparing for the game. We're not going to get too enamored with familiarity. In most cases in the National Football League, when you put a couple of staffs together, there is going to be some familiarity. We're not going to lose a bunch of sleep over that. This is going to be an execution-oriented game. The team that executes better has a better chance to win. So, we're going to sharpen our sword for battle with that in mind, and do it with an eye toward executing at a high level."
(On the last meeting against the Packers last season)
"I'm not anticipating it unfolding in any kind of way to be honest with you. You get yourself into trouble when you have preconceived notions about how the game is going to unfold. That was an exciting, entertaining game we had against them a year ago. I'm sure that none of us are really pleased in hindsight looking at that game. I don't feel good about 37-36 personally. We were fortunate enough to get a win, but what happened in Heinz Field in '09 is going to have no bearing on what happens in this stadium - so many of the components of those teams are different. We're different in a lot of ways, and I'm sure that they are. So it's really irrelevant. It is going to be a nice little footnote or reference to look at. Some of the physical matchups in that some of the guys, of course, are in similar positions. But largely how that game unfolded is not going to tell the story of this football game, in my opinion."
(On Maurkice Pouncey's condition and on his status for the game) "Of course he has a high-ankle sprain. We've been very aggressive in terms of treating it, even putting him in a hard cast and so forth. We're just trying to everything in our power to give him the best opportunity to participate. I don't know what his chances are at this point, to be quite honest with you. He is not on a running clock in my mind until Wednesday, when you start getting along in your normal preparation. So between now and then, and even dating back to last week, we are just going to be as aggressive as we can to give him every opportunity to possibly get in this football game and remain hopeful, and that's where we are."
(On if Pouncey has a fracture in the ankle) "I'm sure it could be characterized as that. I'm sure I've got something floating around in my ankle. The issue that's keeping him from participating is the high-ankle sprain."
(On the Packers' Clay Matthews and his potential impact on the game) "That's the only thing from the last performance that's going to be a factor in this performance. He got after us pretty good. We better be prepared to deal with him. He is a unique and dynamic player. He's physically talented. He appears to be mentally tough. His motor runs non-stop. We have to reckon with him. It's not a one-person job of course. It's going to be a multiple-person job, and that makes it increasingly difficult because of the way they move him around. But such is life in the NFL, particularly in this game. They wouldn't be in this game if they didn't have dynamic playmakers like Clay Matthews. So we are going to do the best we can to deal with him and neutralize him."
(On if there was a reason why players would not have to come to Ben Roethlisberger's defense when talking to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as quoted in a SI.com story) "I don't know what he means, or you mean by ‘come to his defense.' I don't know the nature of the conversation or discussion, so it is going to be difficult for me to comment on it, to be quite honest with you. Ben is a highly respected member of our football team, not only because of what he's done this year, but just as large, his body of work and the person that he is. We all fall short of perfection, we all make mistakes. His are well-documented. He's doing the best that he can in terms of moving forward with it, as are his teammates."
(on what Tony Dungy has meant to him and what kind of impact he would like to have for younger coaches) "I can give a really pointed answer because I am very conscious of coach Dungy's influence in terms of how I do my job. He is a servant leader. He tries to lead through service, and I do the same. I learned that from him in providing the men what they need to be great. Every day when I go to work, I don't think about things I have to do, I think about the things I can do to make my men successful. So I have a servant's mentality in terms of how I approach my job, and I get that from coach (Dungy). I am not consciously trying to do anything of that nature, if I am able to provide a positive example or influence for a young man or a young coach, that's great, but it's not something that is in the forefront of my mind when I go about my daily tasks."
(On how going to two Super Bowls has contrasted with his expectations when he took the job) "It's probably about two Super Bowls too short of my vision. That's just me. I'm not in a reflection mode, I'm really not. I'm just trying to do it. We've got a really good football team - guys who are not only talented but are selfless in work. So we are trying to maximize the opportunity that we have. Largely, the core of this unit has been together here for a number of years, so we find ourselves in this game for the second time in four years. We're excited about it. It's not going to paralyze us. We're not going to dwell on it or over-analyze it. We are simply going to prepare and ultimately play. Maybe later in life when we're all old, maybe we'll sit around and reflect a little bit, like we get an opportunity to watch guys like Franco (Harris), Mel Blount and some of those other guys - who are close to us - do. We want to enjoy similar stories."
(On which ‘under-the-radar' players need to step up in order to win) "Sure. All of them. We subscribe to every man in the helmet is capable of being the reason why we win. If you have a helmet on, you're a guy who is capable of making deciding plays. I think that we have had young men who show legitimate examples of that throughout the season for us, particularly recently in the playoffs with some rookie guys like Antonio Brown having an opportunity to make splash plays. We don't grade on a curve. If I give any of these guys a helmet on Sunday, I expect them to potentially put themselves in position to be the reason why they win. I think there is not a man in our locker room who doesn't embrace that.'
(On the impact of Flozell Adams beyond playing right tackle and on the tribute the offensive line paid to Adams) "Flozell is a joy to be around. It might sound funny, but he doesn't always have a great disposition, but we enjoy that about him too. The thing that is probably most impressive about Flozell is that his intentions have been so pure since the day that he joined our football team. Here is a guy who's made some money in this league, who has garnered some personal accolades in this league, a five or six-time Pro Bowler, what have you. This guy just wants to win. He's brought that mentality and that approach since Day One. He is a veteran player. He doesn't ask out of anything. He works extremely hard. He has a ‘can-do' attitude. All of those things endear him to his teammates, and there is a lot to respect there. He's a big reason why we are here, and those guys felt that it was necessary to honor him, and I'm just glad that they did."
(On what he sees as similarities and differences between Steelers' defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers) "No different than any two coordinators who spent some time together in the National Football League. You can turn the tape on and see some similarities, and you can also turn the tape on and see some things that are individual to those men. Both of them are great innovative coaches. First and foremost, they cater their attack to fit the men. That goes for any coordinator, whether it's offense or defense. You do what your guys are capable of doing. The differences start there, I think. They (the Packers) cater a lot of what they do to specifically to the unique skill sets of their men, as do we. If you want a starting place where it's different, I think it's the utilization of Charles Woodson and his unique talents are a good place to start."
(On what benefits the Steelers get in having several players who have been through a Super Bowl before) "The benefit has nothing to do with the game, in my opinion. This is the third game I've been involved with, in some form or fashion. There is always uneasiness and things that go with preparation and ultimately playing in the game. There is a certain level of comfort that comes with being experienced in terms of dealing with some of these things. The gauntlet, if you will, is the things that you have to do to once you get on site. You know the lay of the land; you know the direction of some of those things are going. It probably lessens the anxiety in terms of some of the non-football things. If that allows you to focus your energy more clearly on preparation, and ultimately play, then if there is a benefit, it's that."
(On what he had to do with James Harrison as he was dealing with the NFL on fines, on dealing with the Packers' four-wide receiver sets) "I didn't do much with James, to be quite honest with you. James is a very disciplined and very regimented player and is also a very emotional player. Once the emotions wore off from the initial shock of some of the things he had to deal with, he generally quickly gets back to focus on what it is he does, which of course is play outside linebacker extremely well. So not a lot was needed to be done with James other than maybe give him a day off and let it burn itself out like I knew it would, and it did. He's still James Harrison, and he still plays high-quality football, and I don't think that will change. In terms of some of the four-wide receiver sets, we have a plan in place to deal with that. We have no control over when they (the Packers) utilize it or how much they utilize it. We better be prepared for it. At this point, I feel comfortable in saying that we are, or as about as comfortable as I can say on a Monday before a football game. We have a lot of work to do between now and Sunday of course, in preparation for not only that but for everything. I'm sure we'll all feel better the closer we get to gametime."
(On Doug Legursky's contributions and what he brings to the offensive line as a starter) "If Maurkice (Pouncey) can't go, there will be no probably about it. Doug (Legursky) will be our center, but it will be old hat for him. This guy has started a number of football games for us this year at guard. He's played some short-yardage and goal-line situations at fullback and tight end. This is the guy who kind of embodies the ‘more you can do' attitude that our football team has. He competes, he's mentally and physically tough, and we expect him to meet the standard. Of course, Maurkice didn't get injured on the last play of the AFC Championship Game, if you know what I mean. Doug came in, and I think Maurkice went down on the first series of the game. Our plan did not alter in any shape or form, and he (Legursky) played to the standard which we prescribed. We're comfortable if we have to go in that direction with Doug Legursky."
(On what part of the Packers' secondary makes him take notice on tape) "They stay close to people. As an old secondary coach, when you got guys who can stay close to people, you got a shot because you can challenge throws. They've gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so, because of their ability to pick the football off. It starts, first and foremost, with staying close and being combative and challenging as many throws as possible. That's something that they do extremely well, not only at the cornerback position but the safety position. I have a lot of respect for Nick Collins and his ability to cover grass and make plays. He is a multiple Pro Bowler, particularly here of late. He touches a bunch of footballs. We have to proceed with caution when we're talking about attacking this team vertically down the field, and that's being said after you get them blocked."