Steelers-Bengals Conference Calls

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STEELERS vs. BENGALS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009 KICKOFF 1:00 P.M. HEINZ FIELD

CONFERENCE CALLS

HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS

How is this game different from the first meeting.

I don't know if it is. We are coming there and Troy (Polamalu) is back playing for their defense but Aaron (Smith) is out. I think from our standpoint we still have a lot of football left and that is what I am telling our guys. This is a key important football game but we still have a lot of football left and it is important for what transpires after this game as well. And that is truly what is going to be the deciding factor to the success of our season. This game is big, we are going to put all of our eggs in this basket and then we are going to regroup and get back to work for the next week.

Can you talk about all of the weapons the Steelers have in the passing game?

I think they have done a fine job of really continuing to put guys around Ben (Roethlisberger) that can make big plays and that is key. When you look at what they are doing offensively now, being able to stretch the field vertically, it makes a big difference because it opens up some other things. So they have done a nice job at that. Mike Wallace has added a big dimension. Santonio (Holmes) is already fast and in my opinion an illusive deep threat and then you have Hines (Ward) doing the things that he does well. So you open up things for your tight end, the screen game, things like that that they do. So it is a complete offense.

Re: (Rashard) Mendenhall didn't play against you the last time.

I think he is maybe a little different style than how Willie (Parker) has been lately, but not too much of a different style of Willie of '04 or '05 when he started playing. Very fast to the hole and making big plays happen in a hurry.

Holmes was held to one catch last game. What does that say for Leon Hall and how well your corners are doing?

When you play pass defense you don't play with one guy and last time's game was last time's game. Our guys are doing a good job. Our perimeter players are doing a good job in the passing game. I don't know how many times Leon was matched on Santonio in that situation. So that is really a question of how the overall group has to do a good job and we know it is a big test again this Sunday.

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Why are the Steelers so good against the run, is it personnel or scheme?

It's a combination of both, fundamental discipline that has been taught for years and years.  When a new guy comes in and is plugged in he understands the scheme because the other ten guys around him already know. If you are going to play there you have to be able to tackle, you have to be a secondary who can tackle and will tackle and it is empowered to the whole unit.  Obviously the constant has been Dick (LeBeau) and he has been there from the time I started there in '92.  They understand it and that's why it is the way it is.

The Steelers long have said that their top priority on defense has been to stop the run, do you think that can be the case still with the way the NFL is going?

Yes. When you can make a team one dimensional for the most part, you can have a pretty good day defensively. The second part of that is you can't give up the big explosive plays in the passing game.

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Is that how you go into a game against the Steelers? Do you worry more about Mendenhall than you do about Ben?

I don't go in worrying.  We are going to go in and defend and attack and that is the way we are going to play. You still go in, you need to be gap sound, defend the run and then react and play from there.

* *

You guys have done a good job against the run this year, what has been the key that?

Tackling.

People have talked about how tackling is lost in the NFL.

It is because these guys come out of college and they see some of these guys that get notoriety in the NFL because they get interceptions, but they won't tackle. But I think the key thing is that you have to be good at tackling if you want to be a winning and productive defensive football team.

Is this your best defense you have had since you have been there? And why?

Well we will see. It's not time to talk about being the best at anything yet. We have a lot of football left. Our guys are playing extremely hard. They understand the things that are going on defensively. They are doing a great job of learning and understanding their opponent and trying to apply it on Sunday.

Re: Balance on offense

I think the difference is that the quarterback is better now. I think that Carson (Palmer) is really understanding the game in a whole new level, that he doesn't have to win the game so heartedly by himself. I would say in past years he thought he always thought he had to do that and I think he is in a better place now having watched the guys play last year. Having him sit and watch enabled him to become a really, really fined football player. All of the ability to do the things that he could always do, but really the mental part of the game and for him to play within himself has been good,

How about your defensive coordinator, Coach (Mike) Zimmer?

He is doing an incredible job. Since he has been here he has instilled a sense of pride, a sense of discipline, the ability of what we are doing, as far as schematically as well. Mentally he has really gotten the guys in tune on how to learn and how to play defense.

In the first game it looked like Carson really was aware of the Steelers blitzing. Can you speak to that?

I think, like I said with pass defense, I think when you play the teams in our division, particularly Pittsburgh and Baltimore, it has to be 11 guys aware, on the same page and that is really important.

WIDE RECEIVER CHAD OCHOCINCO

Did you watch the Steelers on Monday?
Yes, I watched some of the game, they played exceptionally on defense. It was a really nice game. I'm familiar with everything that they really do and they do it really well.

Talk about your matchup this week with Ike Taylor. I know he's looking forward to the matchup.
I would hope he is. I'm really looking forward to that. Ike [Taylor] is one of the best in the game. He doesn't get the credit he deserves playing on such a great team where they have so many great defensive players, but I'll be one of the first to let Ike [Taylor] know he's one of the best in the game. I always look forward to going against a challenge against one of the top tier corners of the game.

Talk about trying to beat the Steelers at home going up against their solid defense.
It's not easy at all. I'll be the first to tell you especially someone like myself who's very brash when it comes to playing against opponents. In no way is this going to be an easy job or task for us offensively, we damn near have to play mistake free football. We have to be accountable for 92 [James Harrison], 51 [James Farrior], 43 [Troy Polamalu], everybody else in the secondary. They're a disruptive force when it comes to playing the Steelers. It's going to be an extremely good game.

They say your new teammate Cedric Benson plays with a chip on shoulder, does he?
I don't think it has anything to do with a chip. You don't just all of a sudden just turn into this unbelievable back. I think he's always been a great back since he was in college and I'm not sure what happened with the [Chicago] Bears, but what he's doing right now, I'm sure he's been able to do it all his career.

Talk about Carson Palmer being healthy, that's a big plus for your offense.
Most definitely. Offense doesn't go, Carson is the engine over here to our offense. Without him it doesn't work, he's back healthy, he's playing unbelievable right now. We have a great balanced attack with the run and pass and as long as we're able to keep the ball and not turn it over, I think we'll be successful.

Usually, when I think about the Bengals, I think offense, not defense, but that has changed this year.
Most definitely. The defense is the one that's really carrying us as a football team. Offensively, we're playing o.k., we're not playing great. We're up and down week to week. We just have to find a fine line where we can be consistent week in and week out.

What's Marvin Lewis doing different than he's done in the past.
Nothing. Nothing's different. He's still coaching the same way, he still has the same approach in practice. There's no magic to it except work, that's all we're doing, we're just working hard.

Does this game feel like 2005 all over again?
No not yet. We're not there yet. That year, our offense was unbelievable, we were extremely explosive. We could attack you from anywhere on the field. I think we're still working to get back to that point. Where we are right now, we're kind of iffy, but we're playing good.


Where did you get the dollar bill from last week?
I got it, it doesn't matter where I got it, but I got.

Critique your performance this year thus far.
It's ok, my whole thing about approaching this season is my concept of, "I need to play two seasons in one," and make up for what I've missed last year and I'm trying to do the best I can in doing that and really being focused week in and week out, but still having fun at the same time and being productive.

Was that as much you last year as it was not having Carson Palmer there as well?
Well you have to understand I was in the wrong state of mind the entire season, so, it kind of messed up the whole thing for myself.

What's a win do for your team?
The same that it's been doing for us. It's another win for us, and it would be good for us as a team going into the bay area next week, it should be fun.

With Carson [Palmer] and Ben [Roethlisberger], can you win a shootout here?
We have to wait and see.

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