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Mike Tomlin season ending press conference transcript

Opening statement: “We acknowledge there can only be one and it’s not us this year. That’s what stings. It’s what we were working toward. There are always tough feelings that come with that. We’ll move forward and start the process of chasing it in ’12.”

On the injuries: “We have three significant ones. Max Starks has an ACL injury and we’ll determine whether surgery will be required. Casey Hampton can be put in that same category. Brett Keisel “significant” groin injury. Surgery might be an option for him, too.

On what’s up next: “We’re going to wrap a bow around our operations and visit with people and start the process of building toward 2012. We tip our cap to the Denver Broncos and we’ll join the rest of the league and watching these guys move forward to Indianapolis.”

On whether he ever contemplated the number of injuries to key players late in the season: “That’s a human response. But not for long. You can’t have those moments and do what we’re trying to do, which is win. Injuries are a part of the game. You’re not going to be so fortunate that you don’t have to deal with them. We’ve dealt with them to the best of our abilities. It is what it is. We feel like we’re fully capable of winning football with the men we had out there last night. Obviously, we didn’t do the job.”

On whether he would devise a defensive game plan the same way for the Broncos in hindsight: “Probably. The responsibilities associated with defending their run gaps kind of dictate at times how you attack them. Obviously, they made some plays on us. In hindsight, you analyze with a fine-tooth comb some of the things you did. But I think really your options are limited in terms of how you attack them because of the run gap responsibilities.”

On safety Ryan Mundy’s responsibilities on the game’s final play: “I’m not going to get into Mundy’s individual responsibilities and alignments on that particular play. What I will say is they made a nice football play and obviously, we didn’t.”

On why play cover zero on the final play: “We had done it in several instances leading up to that point. It wasn’t zero. It was a zone coverage that was inverted so the safeties could fit in the run box. So it was an inverted zone coverage where the safeties were close to the line of scrimmage so they could play alley responsibilities in terms of the run game, and they hit a nice play-action on us.”

Was that too high risk? “Not really. We’ve done that and done it quite a bit particularly against wildcat and wildcat type of attacks and plays.”

On whether surgery is a possibility for Maurkice Pouncey: “Potentially. We’ll see specifically what his situation is and how we can best move forward into 2012. If that includes surgery we’ll explore doing that. Doug Legursky potentially a candidate for surgery on his shoulder.”

On whether the lockout hampered the recovery of Pouncey’s high ankle sprain: “It’s just football as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t looked at the lockout’s effect on things of that nature. It’s just something we’ve dealt with for the better part of the season obviously. But it’s football.”

On whether Ben Roethloisberger will require surgery on his high ankle sprain:“I don’t think he’s a candidate for surgery. No.”

On whether the Steelers dared Tebow to beat them with pass plays: “He threw some very accurate passes down the field to some big guys who made nice plays on them. Sometimes, people will throw and catch balls. I thought the run after was significant on a number of them and their ability to create yardage after the catch. Sometimes, guys are going to make nice throws and have challenged catches on you, and you tackle it immediately. It minimizes the damage. In many of those instances they were able to [pile] up significant amounts of yardage after the throw and catch.”

On whether coordinators Bruce Arians and Dick LeBeau will return next season: “I anticipate it, but of course, we all understand what the end of the season is about. Movement is apart of it in today’s NFL. We’re going to work to maintain continuity as we always do. We believe that’s a benefit to us. But we also understand things happen and we’ll deal with those tings as they arise.”

On whether Roethlisberger has input on whether Arians stays or goes: “None. Not from a coach’s perspective. Not from a staff building perspective. Just in terms of hearing his opinion from a coach-player relationship, the same amount of say you give anybody who is in a significant position to contribute to our football team.”

On the makeup of next year’s roster: “There’s always going to be changes. I’m not going to sit here and pretend there’s not going to be changes. To what extent, I’m not ready to address. That’s why you enjoy these journeys. You know they are precious. At the end of this thing the wheels do continue to turn and there will be some changes. We’ll see where it all takes us. Right now, I just have a great deal of respect and appreciation for the men in the room and what they were willing to do for us.”

On when he begins to assess the future of the team: “Formally and informally, it starts immediately. That’s just how we’re wired. The wheels continue to turn and it’s time to start building for 2012. Informally in some form or fashion it has already started.”

On how broken up Ike Taylor was after the game: “Such is life in the National Football League. We have a great deal of respect for Ike and what he is willing to do for us. When I talk about what the group is willing to do for us, that’s one of the guys I think about. Week in and week out accept the challenge of covering tough people and things of that nature. Guys like Lawrence Timmons will play anywhere we ask them to play due to injuries. I like and respect all the contributions of all the men.

On the distance he would allow Shaun Suisham to attempt a winner at the end of regulation: “We were comfortable anywhere from the low to mid 50s.”

On the offensive execution in the final drive of regulation: “Hadn’t thought a great deal about it to be honest with you.”

On Pouncey’s Twitter posts: “I hadn’t seen him since then.”

On Hines Ward when asked if it was his final game as a Steeler: “I don’t know what I can say about Hines what hasn’t already been said. We love Hines.”

On why he called a timeout after Emmanuel Sanders caught a pass and rolled out of bounds late in regulation: “He was winding it saying he was in bounds. That’s why I called timeout. He did rtoll out of bounds, but the official who was right in front of me was acknowledging that it was an inbounds play and the clock was running.”

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