On preparing for the Steelers and if it is the same every time: "For the most part, there's some different pieces to the puzzle but it's really the same scheme. There's always a new wrinkle or two each week. As far as preparing for a fist fight in the trenches, battles on the outside, and getting rid of the ball on time and finding ways to run the ball, that's the way you prepare for them every time you play them or play against them. It's the number one defense in the league, it seems like, every year or every couple of years, so you just know going into the game it's going to be a fist fight for four quarters."
On executing better: "Oh yeah. Whether you win or lose, you always want plays back. You always want to improve on missed opportunities, or third downs, or first and second down, play-action passes – whatever it is. We'll continue to grow within this offense, continue to work it. Had a great practice today, continue to do some of the same stuff we've been doing for a long time and just get more and more reps at it. We want to go out there and perfect it on Sundays."
On problems converting on third down: "The main thing was we were on third and long, I think, eight of the 11 times we were on third down. It was third and eight, nine, 10, 11-plus. We can't do that to ourselves. That's absolutely our fault not doing enough on first and second down when we have our opportunities. We did a good job on first and second down with some big, explosive plays. But getting four or five yards here and there to make it third and two or three, because you're not going to convert half of your third downs when you're third and long every time. We know that, we've talked about it, we've addressed it and we're going to continue to work at it."
On his confidence in the run game, considering its struggles so far: "You don't let it frustrate you. And you know the saving grace is [Darren] McFadden's back there. He's one arm-tackle away from breaking off a 40-50 yarder. He's got that potential. He's got that ability. He's done it before. We're going to stick with it. We're not frustrated. We're disappointed in ourselves for not executing it better, but we're not going to let it frustrate us. We're not going to let it deter us from our goal. Our goal is going to be to run the ball on people and we're going to do that. It hasn't worked the first two games, but we're not going to change anything we're doing. We're going to continue to grind on it and continue to work at it. It's our second game in a regular season game with this new system [and] with a new group, so we have confidence in each other [and] we have confidence in the system. We're just going to continue to work at it."
On if McFadden is frustrated with the running game: "No, Darren doesn't get frustrated. Darren's such a 'glass is half full,' upbeat guy – just a happy guy. He's generally just bouncing around with a smile on his face. Whether he had 50 yards or 180 yards in a game, you're going to get the same guy. He's going to continue to work. He had a great day of practice today. He looked really good. He was definitely under the weather last week with some issues, but he's feeling better, he's recovered, and I'm excited to give him the ball this week and see what he does."
On Steelers S Ryan Clark: "Ryan's probably one of the most underrated players in the game. If not that, he's one of the most underrated players on defense in the league because he'll come up and hit people. He lets guys take chances like Troy [Polamalu] and like their linebackers and shoot gaps, take chances in run games that they can get you beat, but he's always there to save them. He can cover a lot of ground. He understands the system. He's a 10-year vet; a really complete player and complete safety. "
On how his arm feels after throwing so many passes: "You throw 50 passes, say, in a game. Today I probably threw 120 - something like that. Obviously, there's the warm-up passes in a game and the stuff you do pre-game, but that's not our goal is to throw as much as we've been throwing. Our goal is to run the ball. We fell behind in games and we haven't done a good enough job on offense early in the games to give us a chance to throw the ball in the third and fourth quarter. Especially last week in the fourth quarter, they were kind of pinning their ears back and coming after us and we were forced to throw the ball with some of the mistakes we had made earlier in the game.
On his arm physically: "My arm feels great and hopefully pray that I stay healthy. But my arm feels great."
On Denarius Moore in his first game back: "I thought he looked good. He and I got a lot of reps today. I jumped in with every rep with him today. We haven't really thrown since last season. He was out all of OTAs and then all of training camp, and that was our first time and I missed him on some things I shouldn't have missed him on. We're just a little bit off on our timing and accuracy, but it's just something that we need to rep. We repped it. I threw a ton of balls to him today. I don't know how many it was, but I'll throw a bunch with him today and tomorrow's another good day to get in some reps with 1-on-1s and things like that. We're going to start catching our stride here pretty soon.
On Moore's 3 catches for 60 yards performance: "I didn't do a good enough job getting the ball to him a couple of times. We left some yardage on the field. I'm excited to get a second game and really kind of get back in the groove with him."
On the replacement referees: "You try to block it out, but you can't help but notice things out of the corner of your eye that you see downfield or you see in front of you. At the end of the day, there's nothing you can do. Arguing a call, yelling at a ref, trying to get an explanation for something – you just can't. You just have to focus on your job. What they call is what they call and what they don't call is what they don't call. You've just got to focus on the next play."
On what makes the Steelers such a tough opponent: "Personnel wise, they do a great job drafting. They don't miss on draft picks. Their first, second, third and fourth round picks, especially on defense, are on the field for them and they're starters. If you look at the years of experience, there's 60-70 years of experience. There's three or four guys that are 10-year guys, a couple guys that are eight, couple guys that are nine. There's a lot of experience in the same system for all of those years together. When those guys go in the off-season [and] they study film, they're not studying a new defensive coordinator scheme, they're studying the same scheme. They're studying the guy that was a starter in front of them and now it's their turn as they've kind of waited for their opportunity. It's really a combination of hitting on draft picks, drafting good players and just keeping them in the same scheme so they all understand their jobs."
On Ben Roethlisberger: "He's obviously won Super Bowls and been on great teams. He's had a phenomenal career. He's tough to beat. I've played against him 12, 14, 16 times – I'm not sure. A great quarterback and a great team."
On trying to exploit the replacement referees inexperience: "You've just got to play. You can't worry about what they might or might not call. There's so many other things to worry about aside from a referee. You've got to worry about what your job is, the guy next to you, and what the guy across from you is trying to do. You can't focus on the refs right now."
On whether he is surprised by their offensive struggles so far: "You go into the season and you don't expect it but you think that there might be some issues with just timing, execution, a number of things. But we're not making an excuse for this is our first year doing this. We need to play better. I need to play better and that's it. You can't worry about how many reps you've had with this guy on this; all that's irrelevant. When it comes down to it, I need to do a better job playing quarterback and that right there will get us in better situations, shorter distances on third down, better execution in the red zone. We're not making any excuses for first year, second year [in this scheme], anything like that."
On his chemistry with TE Brandon Myers: "He's caught a bunch of balls. There's a lot of balls to be caught by that position in this offense and he and I had some good chemistry last year in some similar situations. Obviously, [it was] a different offense, but there's a lot of balls to be had at that spot and he's done a great job taking advantage of those opportunities. It's been good to see him really develop in there."
On TE David Ausberry's performance being "an eye-opener": "Not to us. Dave's shown that in practice a ton. He's that type of athlete: that strong, that powerful. I mean, he's a receiver, really, that's stuck in a 270-pound body. But we want to see more of it."