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Mitchell: 'We're playing more confident than ever'

Head coach Mike Tomlin has let it be known the Steelers' defense needs to improve its tackling, and free safety Mike Mitchell isn't about to argue.

"Coach is always right," Mitchell insisted.

But even with the periodic missed tackles of late that have contributed to the surrendering of big plays on occasion, Mitchell let it be known he likes the way the Steelers' defense has been playing.

"I like us being an aggressive, swarming defense," he said.

Mitchell missed the Steelers' 40-17 win over Tennessee last Thursday night (ankle) but was a full participant in practice today.

He spoke afterward about the number of quarterbacks and receivers he's seen hitting the deck rather than trying to take on Steelers' tacklers as revealing in terms of the reputation the Steelers' defense is earning.

"I think dudes know when they play us they're going to get hit," he said.

Even with tackling issues to address, Mitchell maintains the Steelers' defense is gaining confidence as the season progresses.

"If we don't mess up, no one's messing with us," he said. "It's just a belief. It's a belief because I've seen it for three years where I've been working with you on a daily basis. It's just what we believe.

"I think right now we're playing more confident than ever because we've all been playing together for a while now with the exception of a couple guys. We've all been playing together for years and I think people are starting to see that."

NEXT MAN UP: Tomlin also credited cornerback Coty Sensabaugh this week for being "very much above the line," in replacing Joe Haden (fibula) against the Titans.

"I felt decent about it," Sensabaugh said of his performance. "I felt best about the win."

Sensabaugh had contributed as a backup and on special teams before stepping in after Haden got hurt on Nov. 12 in Indianapolis.

Sensabaugh may be a little late to the defensive party, but he's most appreciative of the invitation.

"This is a fun group to be with," he said. "You can tell it's truly a brotherhood.

"When one person makes a play, unless you can see the person with the ball, you don't know who made the play because everybody's celebrating."


WORDS THAT RESONATE:** Offensive players had been quick to credit quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the speech he delivered at halftime of the victory over Tennessee.

But as it turned out defensive end Stephon Tuitt was likewise inspired by Roethlisberger's passion, by his words and the manner in which they had been delivered with the Steelers leading 16-7 through two quarters.

"What I heard from Ben this past game was true leadership," Tuitt said on Tuesday night on his weekly radio show, "Steelers Huddle," on WDVE-FM. "For my young career, being in the NFL, I heard him talk a couple times, heard him do things a couple times but you really felt this one. You really knew he wanted to put on a great performance for the Steelers.

"I was just getting ready to go to the training room and I hear him talking to the offense and he is getting after them. In my head I'm like, 'Wow, what's going on?' But you're hearing the words that come out of his mouth, he's not degrading anybody. He's saying, 'The defense is doing what they're supposed to do; c'mon guys, let's go.'

"Everybody heard, it's like you felt that. The room was quiet. It's like 'OK, we need to do this. Our quarterback is saying something. We need to put on a show.' And they go back out there, what did they score after that? Forty points on the board.

"Sometimes, to get over that hump your leader has to take that role. Your leader has to step up and do that, be that person the team is looking for at that time. Ben did exactly what he is in the room to do, being the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the franchise quarterback, being the Hall-of-Famer that he could possibly be.

"It was awesome to see that. I would never forget that, what he said in that locker room at the time and the way he preached it in that locker room. That was one of the moments, if I ever had to talk about him I would say, 'I really noticed him there.'"

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