Head Coach Marvin Lewis
Do you guys have all the scenarios figured out or are you just trying to play ball?
I’ve been working on the same scenario since the last time we got beat by the Steelers, just play football and win games. That’s all you can worry about.
What do you think decided the first meeting?
I think we weren’t very good on third-down in the game on both sides. That was a key to the game, and I think that’s always important. We gave up big penalties, big plays and explosive plays. Those are things that get you beat.
Re: Your team being hot and the Steelers scuffling:
Well, your scuffles get over in a week and so can your hotness. We’ve got to play good football and continue to do the things that give you an opportunity to win. What happened last week doesn’t matter a bit for this game. We know we’re playing a very good team led by a great quarterback, and we’ve got to play well.
Re: Proving to people that your team is a legitimate contender by beating Pittsburgh and Baltimore to earn a playoff berth:
I’m never worried about having to prove anything to anybody. We’re competing to get to the playoffs, first to win the division and then to get to the playoffs after that. I think that’s really the only thing I was ever concerned with. The proof is in what you do every week. You’re never going to prove everything to everybody all the time anyway.
Re: How the Steelers did against WR A.J. Green last game and how you expect it to change without CB
I thought they did a good job. I think if you go back and read what I told you last time, I think Ike is one of the best corners in the National Football League. I’ve watched this guy for how many years he’s been over there, and I think he’s a very good player. I watch him week-in and week-out. I guess he’s not going to play and it will change a little bit. The rest of the guys are what they are. They do a great job rallying around and guys play up. That’s what they do. They plug in the new guy and they’ve been doing the same thing since ’94-’95. They plug a new guy in and the other guys play up to it. They give you their best.
Have you seen CB
I think Keenan’s been a great prospect. He’s played well since he’s been there and in the lineup. He’s got length like Ike does. He’s got good speed. He’s got long arms. He opens and closes his hips well. He does good and he’s competitive at the football.
What have you seen from S
When you sit around and watch like Troy he ends up being like a coach, too. You can kind of see the cerebral part of the game as he was playing. Having them playing Dallas last week and we just played Dallas, you have a little bit of insight into their tendencies and their offense. I saw Troy playing to those tendencies and that offense, with them having followed our schedule the last two weeks with San Diego and Dallas. Troy knows what the offense does very well and he plays to that.
Re: Having four victories in Pittsburgh in recent series history:
I tell the guys here, I don’t know if it matters where we’re playing. We won the game over there in I think ’03 with [Jon] Kitna, and it was a big football game. We won there in ’05 but, again, every time is a new battle and we know it’s going to be a battle. We have to play really good football.
How is your offensive line shaping up? Are you still using both centers?
We really feel like our young guy, Trevor [Robinson] has done really well since he came into lineup. Having started the season where we were, if we weren’t opening up with a 3-4 team like we were, he may have been the starter coming out in the first game. He’s done well. Kyle [Cook] has come back. We try to work Kyle a little bit into the lineup and give him opportunities. We’ll make those determinations down the line.
What has WR Andrew Hawkins meant to your offense?
Andrew, number one, is such a hardworking guy and makes everybody around him better. Physically what he can do as a football player, he’s got such great quickness and speed. He provides separation and so forth, and he’s a difficult matchup for some players, as far as his ability in there.
What is the difference in the mindset of the team and how they are playing coming into this game as compared to the game earlier this season?
I don’t know that our mindset is much different than it was then. We know the importance of every game and we’ve taken that approach since the bye week, after the Steelers game, and we know that each game and the ramifications of it. We just have to continue to do that.
What do you see from the Steelers running game right now as opposed to the last time you played?
[Jonathan] Dwyer and 33, oh, my mind is bad, that happens when you get old, [Isaac] Redman. They have such great lower bodies and they’re really guys that have the quickness to the hole and you have to really wrap up and tackle these guys. Too much of the defensive players and this block-tackling stuff, you’re not going to block-tackle these guys. You have to wrap these guys up, and you’ve got to bring help with you. Then they put [Chris] Rainey in there, and he’s such a change of pace guy. If [Rashard] Mendenhall plays, he has that exceptional speed and the ability to slide outside. They’ve got a great stable of guys and compliment of guys. We have to do a great job of leveraging gaps down and gap control. We never got the ball back. They were able to keep the ball at the end of the game and won the football game.
What would it mean for the organization to put together back-to-back winning seasons?
It would mean just that. It’s important to continue to get better. We do this in order to win championships. In order to win championships, you’ve got to go through the teams who have been the best on our side, and that’s Pittsburgh, number one, and Baltimore. I’ve been in this division for longer than anybody, other than Dick [LeBeau]. We know how it’s built and how tough it is.
Wide receiver A.J. Green
Dez Bryant played last week with a broken finger. Looking at the Steelers’ secondary on tape, did you agree with his decision to play?
He played through injury. That’s something that you have to do. Their defense is great. They have some people banged up but their other guys are stepping up.
Re: Excited about not facing Ike Taylor this week:
[Laughs] No I am not excited. It’s always good to go against somebody like him. It’s unfortunate that he is not playing. They have other guys that really can step it up.
How are you different now than when you first played the Steelers this season?
I’ve been able to be moved around more. The defenses aren’t keying on me on one spot of the field.
What did the Steelers do well in the first game to take you out of the game?
They always brought somebody up and put the safety over the top, the usual.
Re: Keenan Lewis:
He’s another long cornerback. He has long arms. He is playing very well. I am going to have to be patient on my releases and keep his hands down.
What does your team need to do to get a win this Sunday?
We just have to play sound on offense, no turnovers. And we have to stay consistent.
What team has more pressure on them?
I think it’s both teams. It’s going to be like a playoff game for both of us. It’s a must-win for both of us. It’s going to be a great game.
Re: Possibly making the playoffs in back-to-back years being a statement for the franchise:
Oh yeah, definitely [it would be]. We can’t control the past. This is only my second year, so making the playoffs again would be great.
Re: Andy Dalton’s maturity:
He’s getting better every day. He is communicating better. We always talk about what I need to do better to get open, and what he needs to do to get better. The biggest thing is that he is growing with his communication.
Re: Other players on your team helping you not see as much coverage:
It’s helped a lot. Some of the young guys came in and made plays. That really took some of the pressure off of me. We have other guys. Jermaine Gresham is playing well. Our running game is doing well. That takes some of the pressure off of me.
Re: Steelers having trouble getting turnovers:
I think other teams are taking care of the ball. Turnovers happen. I think every team just takes care of the ball. Pittsburgh has a great defense. They rarely give up big plays.