Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q. What do you remember about the first meeting between these teams?
A. That we had some splash plays early and it set the stage for us. We had some significant plays in the kicking game – we caused a fumble on the opening kickoff and blocked a punt early – and it was a shot in the arm that we needed to get started. We're going to need a similar shot in the arm from some of those guys again this week.
Q. Will we see more of the pistol-formation from Ben Roethlisberger this week, where he lines up in a short shotgun with a running back behind him?
A. If need be. That's solely based on his mobility. We did what we had to do in Baltimore to give him an opportunity to be effective. We know we're capable of calling on it.
Q. Is Ben's pocket presence what makes him unique?
A. He has a unique skill set. It's what makes him him. He's mobile, he's aware, he's competitive, he's a big guy who's tough to get on the ground. All of those things, all of those ingredients, provide a recipe that makes him different than most.
Q. How did Shaun Suisham do last week as an emergency punter?
A. I thought he did a really nice job. I was less concerned about his ability to punt and more concerned about him just catching the ball. It's not like placekickers use their hands too often. There was some uneasiness in terms of watching those snaps go back there, but we knew he was a capable kicker.
Q. In Baltimore, Ravens guard Chris Chester committed a false start penalty on an extra point and James Harrison took it personally. Do you agree with James?
A. I do, and the reason is this: that technique is not consistent with PAT/field goal protection. It leads you to potentially believe it was premeditated and therefore deliberate.
Q. The Bengals come here with a nine-game losing streak, but seven of those games were lost by a single score. What does that tell you?
A. They're not making the significant plays at the significant moments to win football games. This is the ultimate parity league, and there's not much difference between being a good team and a bad team. The good teams consistently make the necessary plays situationally to win games, and the bad teams consistently do not. For whatever reason, the Bengals haven't made those plays this year – very similar plays that they made in winning the division a year ago. I'm not necessarily worried about their ability to make those plays and more concerned about ours, and thankfully this year we have made those plays.
Q. Is there one area where they seem to be consistently coming up short?
A. It's popcorn, as we say in the business – it's a combination of things. There's no question they're a well-coached team, no question they're a talented team in just about all areas. It's just not coming together for them, for whatever reason.
Q. Has the theme from the coaching staff to the players this week been about not letting Cincinnati un-do what you accomplished in Baltimore?
A. It really hasn't. It's really been more about AFC North football for us. We set out at the beginning of this journey to be a world championship caliber football team, and we realize that starts with division dominance. It's an AFC North game, these guys swept us a year ago – all of those are reasons why we're fired up.
Q. Do the Bengals run a pressure defense?
A. They're capable of that, particularly when they put those two linebackers in the A-gap. Look for that with Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson standing in that A-gap. They have a myriad of pressures that come out of that look, but they're also capable of dropping into coverage.
Q. If you had to boil it down to one player on their defense you fear, who would that be?
A. Probably it would be Leon Hall. They have a first-round shutdown cornerback in him. He's capable of playing inside in sub-package football, also getting involved against the run, and pressuring and covering. He's a linchpin kind of guy for them.
Q. One of the Bengals offensive tackles – Andrew Whitworth – leads the fan voting for the Pro Bowl. What have you seen from him on tape?
A. He's playing extremely well, especially considering some of the things going on around him. The other tackle position has been a revolving door in that they're played three people at that spot. Whitworth has really distinguished himself and done a nice job.