Steelers-Bengals Conference Calls

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 STEELERS at BENGALS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009 KICKOFF 4:15 P.M. PAUL BROWN STADIUM

BENGALS CONFERENCE CALLS

Head Coach Marvin Lewis

Can you talk about never beating the Steelers at home during your tenure?You had to bring that to my attention, huh? You didn't think I knew that did you?  

You're due for a win then?
Let's talk about that on Monday.
 
How much better do you like your chances this week after the big win over the Packers?
I don't think the chances change any one way or another. I think every week in the NFL you go out and play. The margin between one team and another is very, very slim so the teams that make the most plays win football games.
 
Where did you improve the most between your first and second game?
I thought we did a much better job of scoring points offensively. We were able to get the ball in the in the red zone, capitalize on that and score some touchdowns. I thought that was the biggest difference in the football game even though we gave up the ball a couple of times on offense and threw an interception for a touchdown, we were able to move the ball up and down the field much like we did against Denver, but this game we got points. That makes a huge difference – we got touchdowns.
 
Can you talk about Antwan Odom's first couple of games compared to last year?
I think the biggest thing is, when you bring in a guy as a free agent from another club, the fans and everybody else has such high expectations. We had high expectations for Antwan. He got injured during training camp and then he got injured once he came back three weeks into the season so he never really got going. He really had a non-productive season last year. It was frustrating for him. You are in a new city where everyone has high expectations of you. I think he had a very good offseason where he worked very hard and added some strength and body weight, which I think he feels good about. He has had two great football games thus far in terms of rushing the passer. We still have a lot of other areas to keep improving in and getting better at.
 
Are you surprised at the Steelers not being able to run the ball effectively?
Yeah, but I've seen them in this position before in years past. It's something they believe in and has been their foundation for a long, long time. I know they'll get back to getting after it and doing that. We know the teams in our division, to be successful, have all been able to run the ball. Week in and week out, year after year, the teams that win this division, the production comes from the running back into the playoffs, and in the Steelers' case, on into the Super Bowl.
 
Have you found a pounding back in Cedric Benson?
I think we have found a back who can be a productive player in the NFL. I think we still have to mix our other guys in and not wear Ced out. He is a football player, and I like that about him.
 
Is it easier to sustain long drives on Pittsburgh without Troy Polamalu in there?
I don't know how much easier it is. Troy is a fine, fine player. There is only one of him in existence in the NFL so if he is not in there, you obviously don't have the exact replacement. Troy understands the game, he studies the opponent and he plays the opponents' tendencies. Prior to him getting hurt in the Tennessee game, he made three of the finest defensive football plays I have seen in one half. They were all doing something different. He is an excellent player who does a lot of things that go unnoticed on the tape that makes guys around him better. They miss Troy.
How was the Hard Knocks series for you as a coach?
There were certain things where we had to keep the cameras out and so forth. I think it was good exposure for the NFL and for Bengals' fans, locally and nationally. I am glad it's over.
 
Did you watch it?
Yes, I got a chance to see it on Wednesday mornings prior to you guys getting to see it on Wednesday nights.
 
Are you up to speed on the new lingo now?
I don't know. You are probably more aware of that then I am. If he (Chad Ochocinco) gets you guys talking about him, you have played right into his hands.
 
How is Keith Rivers doing after the hit from Hines Ward last year?
Keith broke his jaw, but he recovered from that late last season. He has had a good start to the season this year.
 
Is he looking forward to this game in particular?
I don't think it matters to Keith one way or another if one game is more important than another. This is our first division game so that is an important game for us all.
 
Can you talk about why you weren't able to get Ben Roethlisberger to the ground last year?
Unfortunately each time we play them last year they would give up six or seven sacks the week before and then we'd get them and we'd look like the 'Sisters of the Poor' because we couldn't get him to the ground. I think it is our inability to rush the passer and their ability to protect him. Obviously it is something we hope changes. They have done a good job and he has done a good job avoiding us when we have had free shots at him.
 
Did you get that gate fixed in the parking garage?
They got it fixed for me. I was just worried the car didn't work. I wasn't worried about the gate – I figured they would just change my code.

Quarterback Carson Palmer

How would you access your team's start this season?
It's not perfect. If we were 2-0 it would be a different story but we struggled a little bit the first game and did some good things and did some things that got cleaned up and needed to be cleaned up. We have a good thing going right now. We played pretty well last week and we just have to keep that momentum going.
 
Can you speak towards what a tough loss it had to be in Denver and then winning in Lambeau Field?
It shows what kind of character we have, going into a hostile environment and a really tough place to get a win and coming off of the heartbreaking loss we had the week before in Denver. It was good to see the guys come out and shake that one off and come out the next week.
 
After missing so much time last year, where do you feel your game is?
I still need to improve. I feel that I am getting better each day at practice and with each rep I am getting. I just need to keep moving forward. I had a little bit of rust the first couple of reps last week and the week before, but I started to feel comfortable as the game went on.
 
Can you talk about Steelers week and is it any different with them coming off of a Super Bowl?
No. It is still a heated rivalry. The same preparation process and the same mental focus you need to have. There is just a little more added incentive to win because they are supposed to be the best and they are defending a title and it is just a little sweeter to get a win from one of your rival teams that also won the Super Bowl last year.
 
How much more difficult is it that they have won eight straight now at your place and does that begin to wear on you?
Oh definitely. It is one of those things where you look forward to that game so much that next year because you want to stop that streak they have going. They have come in here and played very well, carried a lot of fans in with them and had a lot of support. We want to keep their fans quiet and come in and execute our game plan. 
 
Are you going to miss your old roommate from college, Troy (Polamalu)?
I am going to miss him a little bit. It changes things a little bit when he is not on the field. I definitely feel for him because I know he wants to play in this game really bad and hates having to stand on the sideline and watch. But when you can keep the opposing team's best player off of the field it makes my job a little easier.
 
Did you learn a lot about the Steelers' defense from watching tapes of the last two games?
I watched Troy play in the first game and it was amazing. It seemed like he made every single tackle. But the Steelers' defense is as good as it has ever been. Couple new guys. Couple changes here and there. Still very stout up front, really good guys in the back hand and coached by one of the best. Nothing has changed. They are still the Super Bowl defense they've been, for what seems like five, seven, eight years they have been this good. We have our hands full offensively. 
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Can you speak to how your offense played against the Packers?

We came out and did a really good job up front. We established the line of scrimmage and moved some guys around and let Ced (Cedric Benson) get some holes, broke some tackles and was able to get open field. It is going to be much more difficult this week. Similar scheme but a different group of guys, guys that have been playing on this scheme a lot longer than the Packers have been. So it will be a lot more difficult, we have to come out, establish the line of scrimmage and move some guys around and get Cedric some open holes.
 
How much did the injury in '05 set you back?
I don't think there is really a way to judge that or determine. It was a tough blow at the time but that was three or four years ago. Definitely in the past and I have moved on but I don't really think there is a way to gauge that or to judge how much it set me back.

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Do you feel you are back to where you were at that point?
I think so. I think the more you play in this game, the more experience you get at the quarterback position the better you are going to get. I felt I lost a little bit with quickness or speed, but as far as what I gained from sitting and watching and studying film and playing and going through all of the experiences that I have, I feel like I have come a long way since then.
 
What has been the reaction to Hard Knocks in Cincinnati?
Really indifferent. I am really not sure. I haven't heard much about it. We were down in Kentucky for training camp so you don't really hear much about it from the outside world. We watched it as a team for the most part and to be honest I have forgotten about it. It was awhile ago. There were a lot of cameras around and a lot going on but since then it has been really about this next game plan, next practice, next walk thru, so it hasn't really been a distraction or a thought in our heads.
 
Would you want to go through something like that again and did you learn something about your team since there were cameras isolated on certain players.
No, really when it came down to it, it was business as usual and I don't think anything changed other than a couple more cameras here and there and I wouldn't mind it again. I don't think it was a distraction for our group of guys. We went about our jobs as we normally would have done and got the work done we needed to get done,

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This is your first sellout on the schedule and a lot of people are saying that there are going to be a lot of Steeler fans there, is that disappointing?
No, not at all. We like to play in front of a full stadium and understanding what is going on right now with the economy and the city of Cincinnati it is probably not going to be packed all of the time so we have to find a way to create our own momentum and hopefully our fans will show up loud and proud and make it difficult for the Steelers offense when they are on the field.
 
In training camp and practice could you tell right away that you had something going there with your defense?
Absolutely. Back in OTAs is when we noticed it as a unit. They are an attacking defense. They have a lot of big guys up front that can run, two really big corners and two really experienced veteran safeties. It was something we noticed from the get go. What we saw in the first two games is what we expected. Pretty much shut them out in the first game and did the same in the second game and with my two turnovers it made it a little easier on their offense. But what we have seen so far is what we expected to see all year long and we expect to see it as we move forward.

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What are you hearing from your teammates in the locker room regarding Keith River being back on the field with Hines Ward?
It hasn't even been an issue that has been brought up. That was a football play that happened last year. Two good football players. Unfortunate thing for Keith and for Hines to go through what he went through because he was just playing football.

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In your career you have only been in the playoffs once. How important is it to you to make it to the playoffs and do you think this team as a chance?
I think so. I think we will find out as we go forward but it is extremely important for me. I have been in the league for seven years, have been playing for six and haven't had that taste of a good run in the playoffs that a lot of guys have and it is something that I want badly and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there. I think of all of the groups we have had since I have been here I think this is one of our best chances to make a run and see what we can do.

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