Tomlin Takes

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Tomlin: 3 things to know vs. Bengals

  • Staying focused: The last time the Steelers and Bengals met, a 16-10 loss at Heinz Field on Nov. 1, the Steelers offense wasn't in the groove it is today. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had just returned after missing four games with a knee injury, and running back Le'Veon Bell left the game with a season-ending knee injury. The offense is clicking now, but so are the Bengals and Coach Mike Tomlin expects their defense to attack the way they always have.

"It's a combination of rush and coverage and then when the dam breaks splash plays for them usually occur," said Tomlin. "They got a couple of turnovers late in the game that were significant (last game). It was probably a result of consistent rush and coverage. They mix it up with pressure and non-pressure. It's how they play.

"We are focused on how we play and the things we do and quality of our execution. They have great continuity, scheme and players. We are focused on the mix of guys we have, how we can play good situational football. Something that stands out when you talk about the balance of this group is how they complement themselves offensively and defensively situationally. They are good in the red zone on offense, on defense. When you are third in the NFL in offense and defense in the red zone, there is a point swing that could produce a 10-2 record."

  • Slowing him down: Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert leads Cincinnati with 12 touchdowns this season, and one of the responsibilities the defense will face this week is keeping Eifert out of the end zone without opening things up for the Bengals other weapons.

"Defending Tyler Eifert doesn't happen occur in a vacuum," said Tomlin. "When you focus solely on minimizing someone's contributions, there is an unintended consequence for that. Our job is to minimize the Cincinnati Bengals offense. We are going to try to stay focused on that end. At times that may mean minimizing Tyler, at times it may mean minimizing A.J. Green, or (Mohamed) Sanu or (Marvin) Jones or the two-headed monster in the backfield. It's going to require all of the above for us to be successful in slowing those guys down."

Quick start: Speaking of tight ends, rookie Jesse James started his second game in a two tight end set against the Colts on Sunday night, with him and Matt Spaeth playing in place of the injured Heath Miller. James finished the game with three receptions for 30 yards, getting off to a quick start which is something Tomlin liked.

"Jesse is doing some nice things," said Tomlin. "More than anything I like his overall game day demeanor. He is a good guy and a clean guy to communicate with. It's obvious the stage is not too big for him. He made some nice plays for us early. It's good to see early contributions, he didn't have to warm up to play. We're going to keep him on the upswing."

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