Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at the Steelers' opponent in Super Bowl XLV – the Green Bay Packers.
Q, Has this experience down here been what you expected, with the exception of the weather?
A. It has been that and then some. Being in Fort Worth and not in Dallas has been really beneficial to our football team. It's been normal, if there is such a thing, particularly the time we spent together preparing. It's just really been a good week.
Q. Any different than the experience in Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII?
A. Yes, but they're all different. They're unique, and that's why they're so precious.
Q. Have your players practiced with a purpose?
A. They were their usual selves, to be quite honest. They work hard, they enjoy each other, they laugh, they wire in when it's time to wire in. That's been their approach to this thing all year.
Q. You have called James Farrior the unquestioned leader of the defense. What makes him special?
A. Just him. Not only what he's capable of doing from a football standpoint, but his personality. He brings people together. He has natural leadership skills. He's 36, but he can relate to a 21-year-old Jason Worilds. They respect him, but they enjoy him at the same time. That's a unique quality.
Q. You have used the term "alien quarterback" to describe players over the course of this season. Does Aaron Rodgers fall into that category?
A. Yes, particularly based on the way he has played of late. This guy can kill you with his arm, he can kill you with his legs, he makes quick decisions. He's been very special for them, and he's one of the major reasons the Packers are here.
Q. Do you believe your defense can pressure him onto some mistakes?
A. I don't know about pressuring him into mistakes, but I do believe we can pressure him. We're not trying to beat Aaron Rodgers, we're trying to beat the Green Bay Packers. Obviously he's a big component of that, but there are 10 other guys who are capable of making mistakes as well. We just want to win.
Q. Which of the Packers wide receivers do you really have to consider when making up your defensive game plan?
A. Greg Jennings is their clear-cut No. 1. They move him around a lot. He's an extremely talented guy, one who has both youth and experience on his side. It's all coming to a head for him, so no question we respect him.
Q. Is the James Harrison vs. Chad Clifton matchup a key one?
A. It's no more important to me than LaMarr Woodley vs. Bryan Bulaga on the other side. We have two outside linebackers, we like them both, and they better get home.
Q. How did Clay Matthews roll up 13.5 sacks?
A. Just pedigree aside, he's an unbelievable hustle player. His motor is unique. When you have the talent that he has and you put that with great energy and enthusiasm and a motor, you have a recipe for a guy who has garnered some of the recognition and accolades that he deserves.
Q. Will the Steelers running game be a positive factor?
A. In my mind I see it as such, but I've been wrong before. Whether it is or it isn't, we better do enough to win the football game.
Q. Are these defenses really as similar as the media has been making them out to be all week?
A. It's overblown. Structurally, yes, with some things. Base defense, yes. But they built a plan to fit their people. What they do with Charles Woodson is unique because Charles Woodson is unique. They have one guy who's a unique edge rusher, where we have two guys who can do that, so they move their one guy around. In structure, it's the same, but it's not exactly the same.
Q. What is different, better, about this Packers defense than the one against which Ben Roethlisberger passed for 503 yards last December?
A. Oh, gosh. Just the maturation of Matthews, the addition of B.J. Raji. That was year one of Dom Capers' program, and in year two you have the maturation of those men within the system. There are a lot of things that make our game against the Packers in 2009 irrelevant.
Q. How has cornerback Tramon Williams improved?
A. All of those guys stay close to receivers, and when you do that you have an opportunity to challenge throws. In doing so, they've had an opportunity to intercept some. More than the interceptions, those guys stay close to receivers and they just about challenge every throw. There's not a lot of separation. He's a heckuva player, but collectively, they play extremely well.
Q. When it comes to general defensive philosophies, is there a tried-and-true method for dealing with an exceptional quarterback?
A. It just depends on who that quarterback is and how he ticks and what are the strengths and weaknesses of his game.
Q. What are the strengths of Aaron Rodgers' game?
A. He appears to be emotionless. He's thoughtfully emotional – he has showed outward excitement, but in plays, in the midst of pressure he appears to be a flat-liner. He can slide away from unblocked defenders and deliver the ball. He doesn't panic. Those are the things that stand out. He utilizes or maximizes his natural ability.
Q. In answering questions during a lot of these media sessions, you often get to saying something like, "We just have to do enough to win," or "We just have to do that better than the Packers." Is that what you're telling your team?
A. It's not something I'm telling my team this week because of this game. It's something I tell our team every week. The reality is we start with the premise that we acknowledge we're not going to play a perfect game. I think that takes a lot of pressure off people. No one has ever been associated with a perfect game. What we need to do is stack good plays upon good plays and put bad plays behind us, and at the end of the day do enough to win.
Q. You often talk about good coaching being the art of giving your team what it needs at a particular time. What does it need in a week like this?
A. Surprisingly, not very much, and that's a credit to our veteran leadership. I come prepared for anything, but I really have had to do very little in terms of giving them new and unique things in terms of preparation. More than anything, we've just tried to be as helpful as we can logistically in terms of helping people accommodate their family and friends, to unload them from that standpoint so that they can remain singularly focused on their jobs.