In his post game press conference following the Steelers 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the game plan with first-time starting quarterback Devlin Hodges.
“We knew we couldn’t give Duck (Hodges) a lot of exposure to that defense, so we had to do some things in other areas.”
Along with the defense stepping up and getting a score as well as creating situations where the offense could have a short field, Tomlin expounded on the importance of the running game in their overall success to aide Hodges against the Chargers.
“A quality running game to minimize his exposure. And not just him, anybody playing the quarterback position with a limited amount of experience. I think sometimes the more exposure is not necessarily good.”
When Coach Tomlin was asked about the importance of the rushing attack on Sunday, his response showed the Steelers were prepared to commit to the run throughout the night. With 36 rushing attempts for 124 yards, the Steelers kept the ball on the ground more than in the air for the first time in 2019.
“We didn’t have a lot of other options. Sometimes that’s life when you’re backed up against it. We needed that, and they delivered.”
By rushing the ball consistently and effectively, the Steelers put themselves in a situation to where they could sustain drives by converting third downs. In the Steelers previous five games, they only had three third-down conversions in each contest. Sunday night against the Chargers, the Steelers were 8 for 13 on third downs.
“We were on schedule,” Tomlin explained. “We put together a good plan, but those guys executed it. More than anything and we were in manageable third downs. We’ve been working hard to be in manageable third downs but haven’t necessarily done what we did tonight, so I’m not taking that for granted. But largely, when you have that kind of success, it’s because you’re not behind the chains.”
When Coach Tomlin was asked specifics about Devlin Hodges performance, he kept his play in context of what he was asked to do on Sunday night.
“We’re not getting over excited. This is a guy that played good tonight with very limited experience. We’re thankful to get a win and hopefully it will be a good learning experience for him and us collectively as we move forward.”
Obviously, Coach Tomlin was not willing to comment on who will be the Steelers starter moving forward beyond the upcoming bye week. But acknowledging that Hodges entered in a big spot with limited experience, the Steelers not only developed a good game plan, the execution of the game plan came along with it. With the defense forcing turnovers early and the offensive line opening holes for the running backs, Hodges was not asked to carry the team for the night but to work together in all aspects of the game in order to secure a victory.
“It’s just a good overall team win.”
The Steelers now head into their bye week with their next contest being Monday, October 28 at Heinz Field against Miami Dolphins.
Coach Tomlin‘s entire post-game press conference can be seen below.