Steelers vs. Ravens: Tomlin Tuesday


Fresh off the AFC North Division clinching victory over the Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media in his usual Tuesday presser. Tomlin reviewed the previous game against the Bengals, updated the injury statuses, previewed the upcoming Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens and answered questions.

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The biggest question on everyone’s minds all week is going to be the status of Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. But, before Tomlin got into that, he went over the positives and negatives in the win over Cincinnati. He thought the team played with a high intensity for the game, but still played smart.

"“I thought the guys did a nice job of managing the energy and playing with an edge but playing clean.” –Mike Tomlin"

He described significant plays in all three phases of the game played the biggest factor in the Steelers coming out with the victory.

"“The punt return by Antonio Brown was big and was a catalyst for more big plays.” – Mike Tomlin"

For the negatives Tomlin took from the win on Sunday night he lamented that the team didn’t run the ball effectively. Even before Bell was injured in the third quarter, they weren’t able to run the ball in the plan they had envisioned for the game, hoping to repeat the same type of performance as their last game against the Bengals.

On the defensive side of the ball he thought the unit had to warm up against the run and Bengals running back Jeremy Hill was able to gain the majority of his 100 rushing yards on the ground in the first half.

On the injury standpoint, aside from Bell, the team will monitor Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu the same as the previous weeks and Tomlin noted that Matt Spaeth was able to successfully contribute in his return while wearing the brace on his arm.

On Le’Veon Bell, Tomlin urged that the team is going to proceed cautiously to make the right decision on whether or not he will play on Saturday night. The MRI showed no structural damage to his knee but there is swelling and discomfort he’s dealing with.

"“Just rest assured we’re going to make the right decision. We won’t be swayed by circumstance – the magnitude of the game and so forth. If he’s healthy and able to protect himself and can be a positive contributor to our efforts, we’ll play him. If we can’t answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions and then some, we won’t. It’s just that simple, and we’ll proceed with no excuses. We feel confident that we can field the type of team capable of winning this game, but also any game if given legitimate time to prepare. And we have legitimate time to prepare.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin explained that Bell is preparing and won’t completely rule him out for Saturday night, but that Tomlin himself needs to be focused on what the game plan is if the team has to move forward without him.

"“There is pain and soreness and discomfort associated with his injury. We’re going to take it day-by-day. I met with him just moments ago, and he was in the training room on the stationary bike and riding like he was training for the Tour de France. But that’s just Le’Veon.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin also reminded everyone that there will be no bikes on the field on Saturday night.

A lot of us didn’t know a lot about him, even after we acquired him, but we pride ourselves in giving every man an opportunity, and during his time here he has proven he belongs. Not only in terms of talent but what he’s willing to do, and his willingness to work has earned him the respect of the guys

When discussing the Ravens, Tomlin reminds us how familiar these two teams are with each other. The teams have met in the playoffs quite a few times for some memorable games over the years, particularly during Tomlin’s tenure with the team.

"“The fact that we know them and they know us doesn’t make it less exciting.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin noted the difference “splash plays” have made in the previous meetings between the Ravens and Steelers and explained how the team needs to prepare for it but not expect them to come their way.

"“One thing that the history of this thing tells me is splash plays are going to be an element of it, but it’s not something you can prepare for. You can’t go out with the intent of getting splash plays. You just have to be solid, sound, have to play hard, and you have to play smart. I am sure they feel the same way.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin noted the importance of remembering that Haloti Ngata is back for the Ravens for this game, and the history of success he’s had against the Steelers. Among others who have burned the Steelers in the past were Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith.

The majority of the questions asked of Tomlin were obviously centered on Le’Veon Bell and his health and the Steelers’ plans. Tomlin acknowledged that Ben Tate was in the building for a workout. The Steelers signed Tate later in the day and released Justin Brown.

When asked about Josh Smith and if he’d be the top option for the Steelers in the case where Bell isn’t able to play on Saturday night Tomlin explained that Harris is at the top of the depth chart as of today.

"“We’re looking at our options, and Josh Harris is at the top of our list, but we’re not opposed to going outside the box with how we might prepare a winning formula for this football game. Josh is a hard-working guy. His story is not a sexy one. He didn’t come into this league with a lot of fanfare, or even to this team with a lot of fanfare. A lot of us didn’t know a lot about him, even after we acquired him, but we pride ourselves in giving every man an opportunity, and during his time here he has proven he belongs. Not only in terms of talent but what he’s willing to do, and his willingness to work has earned him the respect of the guys.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin also noted positive contributions from players like Ryan Shazier and the Steelers secondary.

When asked about the use of Dri Archer in the pass-blocking game, Tomlin was brutally honest on what he thinks Archer can accomplish on the field.

"“If I want him (Archer) to block Suggs then I’m stupid.” – Mike Tomlin"

Tomlin as inevitably asked about the punt fake that turned out disastrous and if it was an execution problem with the play. Again, Tomlin was brutally honest.

"“They did a nice job. We didn’t.” – Mike Tomlin"

When he was asked if someone on the play was supposed to check out of it if it didn’t seem like it was going to work he took total responsibility for the lack of success for the play.

"“Namely me.” – Mike Tomlin"

Can’t say he doesn’t own it when he’s wrong.

Obviously Count = 23

You can listen to Tomlin’s entire presser here.

Here we go Steelers! Here we go!

Next: Steelers Sign Ben Tate