Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watches replay of his sack against the Cowboys.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Coach Mike Tomlin dismissed Ben Roethlisberger's post-game comments about Todd Haley's play-calling and game plan as frustration, but said he met with the Steelers quarterback anyway to make sure "he's on board with what it is we're doing."
Tomlin said he routinely meets with Roethlisberger on the Monday following a game, but this time the philosophy and execution of Haley's offense was a point of discussion.
"That was a tough, hard-fought football game, an emotional one, and. when you come up short, there are frustrations associated with that," Tomlin said of the Steelers' 27-24 overtime loss in Dallas. "I'm sure if anything was read into his comments, it was just that. I met with Ben yesterday, and he's ready to move forward with this week."
Roethlisberger made several veiled comments after the game that suggested he did not like how the offense either performed or was deployed against the Cowboys.
A lot of attention has been heaped on Roethlisberger's comment that Haley's original play-call on the touchdown pass to Heath Miller at the end of the first half was "not a good call" because of the type of defense the Cowboys showed when Roethlisberger went to the line of scrimmage.
But having a play-call not fit a certain defensive look happens all the time, Tomlin said. Quarterbacks routinely change a play when that happens by calling an audible at the line of scrimmage.
"That happens all the time during the course of football games for us, particularly with a veteran quarterback," Tomlin said. "That's really a non-issue."
Roethlisberger also said the Steelers did not call enough plays to get Miller the ball in the second half. Miller had six catches in the first half, but only one after halftime.
The reality is, the Steelers called nine plays designed for Miller in the second half, but the Cowboys' coverage forced Roethlisberger away from throwing to Miller.
"Maybe in some instances, he was covered," Tomlin said. "Maybe in other instances, Ben chose another option. Maybe sometimes other options were dictated by coverage.
"For us, it's just about finding the necessary combination of plays to win. That needs to be our focus and, had we done that, it might not be a topic of discussion. That's where we're going to focus our energies."
Then he added, "The guy caught seven passes in the game. That's pretty good."
Roethlisberger also complained that the Steelers did not use their no-huddle offense enough against the Cowboys. But there were reasons why they didn't.
One is that the offensive line was starting two rookies -- guard David DeCastro and tackle Kelvin Beachum. And it was DeCastro's first NFL start.
The other is that the coaches did not like the way the offense was performing or the decisions being made when they were in the no-huddle against the Cowboys.
For example, the interception Roethlisberger threw in overtime that, basically, ended the game came in the no-huddle offense. It was a pass that was behind wide receiver Mike Wallace and, according to Roethlisberger, did not have as much zip as he would have liked.
"It depends on what it is that we're doing," Tomlin said when asked the circumstances under which the no-huddle is used. "It depends on how the teams that we play respond to the utilization of it -- if it reduces their menu in any way, if it reduces their personnel packages in any way, if they struggled to make diverse calls under those circumstances. There's a myriad of reasons why we go to it. ... In some games, the utilization of it is easier than others, particularly on the quarterback. "