Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q. How have the Bengals gone about getting to 6-2?
A. They're playing good team football. When you look at it, defensively they're extremely stout against the run, second in the league against the run. They have produced turnovers, they have caused nine fumbles and have three interceptions on the season, so they're providing their offense with opportunities to take advantage of a short field. They scored three touchdowns on defense this year. Offensively, they're doing a nice job of protecting the football, they're doing a nice job of keeping things simple for their young quarterback. He hasn't thrown a bunch of interceptions and he's only been sacked 12 times in eight games, so that is impressive in terms of him making quick decisions. Of course, they center their ball control to handing the ball to Cedric Benson, who we all know is a top-quality runner.
Q. Is Andy Dalton's poise his calling card?
A. He's done a nice job thus far, and I think offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has done a really awesome job of keeping these guys on schedule and minimizing his exposure to unique looks and unique situations.
Q. What is the key to slowing down Cedric Benson?
A. We have to be in our gaps and disengage from blocks and gang-tackle. This guy has great vision, and he also has great pick-and-patience. Of course he has all the physical tools in terms of being able to incorporate speed and power. The more important thing is that we have to be gap sound and be where we're supposed to be and play with great energy and emotion.
Q. A.J. Green is showing why he was the fourth overall pick in the draft. What makes him special?A. He's a big guy who is capable of running past people, but he also has little guy quicks in terms of his stop-and-go ability. He's consistently aggressive. He has all of the physical tools that come with being the fourth overall pick in a draft, and he's proving it week in and week out.Q. How has the Bengals defense been able to rank No. 4 in the NFL in fewest points allowed?A. First and foremost they do a nice job of stopping the run and they make people one-dimensional. Their sub-package football is very multiple, and they do a nice job of utilizing their personnel. They bring in some young, talented people like Carlos Dunlap, and Brandon Johnson at linebacker. They're doing a nice job both schematically and utilization of personnel in sub-package football.Q. The offensive line seems to be getting healthier. How much better is that unit playing that it was, say, back when the team played in Houston on Oct. 2?A. It's much better, but I wouldn't necessarily equate it to health. I think that over the course of a football season we have an opportunity to come together as a unit, as a team, as a position group. I think that is a group whose arrow is on the rise, as it should be.Q. Max Starks recently was the Steelers' winner of the Ed Block Courage Award. How much fortitude has he shown in this process?A. Max is a professional. He really is. He's been through a lot, just like a lot of men who play this game. It's about the spirit in which he deals with the things that come with this game that endear him to his teammates. Max is a positive guy, always has been, and I imagine he always will be. He dealt with his injury. He dealt with being unemployed. He got himself into great physical condition. He's a guy who is taking advantage of another opportunity to get back into the fold and run with it. Guys respect him for that, among other things.Q. James Harrison had three sacks last week in his first game back from orbital bone surgery. Does anything he does surprise you?A. Not at all, and not only because he's ridiculously talented but also because he has a ridiculous work ethic. That's displayed on a day-to-day basis in this building, and a lot of people don't get to see those things. That's the chief reason why he is so respected by his teammates. This guy demands a lot from them, he demands a lot from himself and he's working toward perfection on a daily basis.Q. What is the major key for the Steelers against the Bengals?A. We have to be better offensively in the red zone. Last week we were 1-for-4 in the red zone, and that's not going to help you beat good teams. Defensively, we have to right the ship in terms of what we do on third down and get off the field in those situations. Last year, the special teams contributed a fumble recovery on the opening kickoff and blocked a punt in the game in Cincinnati, and we expect similar contributions from that unit.