Q. Is there a different dynamic to the rematch game against a division opponent?**
A. I think there can be if not a lot has changed between the two groups in the time between the two games. This particular matchup is different because so much has changed for the groups. They've had to do some major adjusting; we've had to do some major adjusting.
They were a tight end oriented group the first time we played them, and now Dennis Pitta is on injured reserve and Owen Daniels is highly questionable for the game. That's a change offensively in how they go about their business. Defensively, they were a cornerback-dominated group the last time we played them with Jimmy Smith playing bump-and-run coverage on the line of scrimmage and with Lardarius Webb doing the same thing on the other side. They're different this time because Jimmy's not playing and Lardarius was limited throughout the course of the week.
For us, the young people we played with on defense against them on Week 2 are a better prepared, more seasoned group, if you will. We've also sustained some injuries we have to adjust to. Ike Taylor was a staple for us, and Ike did a nice job of matching up down the grass vs. Torrey Smith and was familiar with that matchup. Now we have some guys unfamiliar with that matchup. We have a division of labor change in terms of the receiving corps, which is different than it was the first time around. I think when things happen due to the natural evolution of a team or roles or significant injuries on either side of the ball, it changes the dynamic of the re-do.
Q. Do you put anything into the emotional part of it, where the team that lost the first game is more motivated, the payback angle?
A. That's low-hanging fruit. That's only going to sustain you so long.
Q. Have you found that in the course of these Ravens-Steelers games that the teams do to each other what they always do to each other, as opposed to doing the things they had been doing against other recent opponents?
A. I think it's less about what we do and more about how we do it. Our offense has changed and their offense has changed over the years, and our defenses have evolved, and I've had a couple of different special teams coordinators as have they. But the bottom line is, you know how to win this matchup. It's physicality. It's man on man, and it comes down to splash plays in all three elements of the game, and who is going to make them.
Q. How do you see this game against the Ravens unfolding?**
A. Red zone. Red zone. And not only for us offensively in going head-to-head against a really good red zone defense, but also our defense's ability to play in the red zone as well. I think it's ultimately going to come down to that. It came down to that last week for the Ravens. Cincinnati stopped the Ravens in a red zone/goal line situation, and the Ravens never stopped the Bengals. Cincinnati ran the ball into the end zone on the Ravens a couple of times from the red zone. That's the bottom line.
Q. What will Cortez Allen's role be in this game?
A. He's starting off as the fourth cornerback. There are some four wideout things that are going to dictate that he plays immediately. Because of their injured tight ends, the Ravens have evolved some and there will be some four wide receivers. But in terms of playing in three wideout personnel groups or fewer, he's the fourth corner so he's going to play special teams and be ready.
Q. Elvis Dumervil has only 13 tackles all season, but seven of them are sacks. How does he manage that?
A. He's resting when other people are defending the run. Courtney Upshaw shares the position with him, and Courtney plays on first and second downs to absorb some of the heavy lifting, if you will, and beats up on tackles and tight ends. Then Elvis gets to cruise out there on third downs, fresh as a daisy. It's a nice plan by them, and it's effective. Courtney is great against the run, and Dumervil is very good against the pass.
Q. The Ravens' No. 1 draft pick, C.J. Mosley, leads them in tackles. How would you describe him as a player?
A. He's a sideline-to-sideline guy, a versatile guy. He has a savvy veteran in there next to him – Daryl Smith – who does a lot of the thinking and aligning and adjusting. Mosley has a chance to play free, and he does and he's making a lot of plays.
Q. Is Haloti Ngata the kind of player who demands constant double-teams?
A. It goes beyond that. He's a 350-pounder who plays in all situations. Most guys who look like him are first down defenders. But that's what makes him unique. He's a big guy who's highly conditioned. He plays on third downs. He plays in two-minute situations. He probably logs more defensive snaps that anybody with that body type. You think about guys like (Cleveland's) Phil Taylor and others of that size in our division, they don't play as many snaps as Ngata. And that's the chief thing that makes him unique and produces the results.
Q. How does Steve Smith continue to do what he does, even as a 14-year NFL wide receiver?**
A. He does it with a big chip on his shoulder, and often times that produces the results he's sustained over the course of his career. Much in the same way as Antonio Brown competes with a chip on his shoulder. They're very similar competitors in that way. He's a small guy who plays big and doesn't back down from challenges, and we have a lot of respect for him.
Q. Joe Greene will have his No. 75 retired officially at halftime of tonight's game. Has one man every had as much of an impact on an NFL franchise as Joe Greene had on the Steelers'?
A. Not any I've been associated with. His success and the success of this franchise and how he carved out a culture change is something that's unmatched.
Q. Who's the Joe Greene you know? Not Joe Greene the player or coach, but Joe Greene the personnel assistant?
A. It's probably the same Joe Greene who was a player and a coach. He cares. He's a competitor. He's thoughtful. He loves the Pittsburgh Steelers. Leading up to drafts, we had a co-worker relationship. A lot of formal interactions about what we're doing and building, and talking about the potential additions to it through the draft. Those things come out in him in formal settings and in informal settings anytime you're talking about football or specifically, the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's just who he is.