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Tomlin on the Buccaneers

Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Q. Have you ever seen a better regular season defensive performance than the one the Steelers authored in Tennessee?

A. That was arguably the best regular season defensive performance I've seen or been a part of, but they've had some memorable moments since I've been with them, no doubt.

Q. What keyed that performance?

A. Overall, just an energy and an urgency. We knew we had a tall task in terms of slowing down running back Chris Johnson. I think guys made a special emphasis on shedding blocks and getting to the football, because of the challenge he presented. That produced a frenzied atmosphere, which is conducive to defense.

Q. Could you talk about the work done by the training and medical staffs before, during and after that game?

A. We went in there with kind of a three-pronged approach to dealing with the situation. We were committed to playing as many people as we could – and everybody who was suited played in the game – we executed a pre-hydration plan where we encouraged guys to go through certain steps leading up to the football game, and then we had the shade on the sideline and some of the other in-game things we did to stay ahead of the curve.

Q. In the opener, it was Atlanta's Michael Turner, then it was Chris Johnson and this week it's Cadillac Williams. Where is Williams in terms of ability and style as a running back?

A. This guy is a square-shouldered, downhill runner. He has jump-cut ability, but his personality is north and south. This is the kind of guy who can wear away at you over the course of football games. We have a great deal of respect for him. We have a different challenge than we had a week ago, but it's still a tall one in terms of combating and shutting down Carnell.

Q. Josh Freeman is rated 10th among NFL passers this week. What has he shown you as a starting quarterback?

A. Similar to the maturation process Matt Ryan has displayed, Freeman is a young, dynamic franchise quarterback. His passer rating is 95, but his passer rating on third downs is 107.2. He knows how to take care of the ball, he knows how to step up his performance in situational football. He's got all the physical talent in the world – 6-6, 250 pounds and mobile. This is an exciting guy and a lot of the reason why that organization is excited moving forward.

Q. The Buccaneers are plus-4 in turnover ratio. Is that more because of their defense, or their offense?

A. The big thing is they're getting turnovers, and equally impressive is the fact their offense is taking advantage and cashing them in. Last week, Ronde Barber had a big interception and ran it down to the 3-yard line, and on the next play their offense scored a touchdown. They're doing what we're not – they're creating turnovers and turning them into touchdowns, and that's one of the many reasons they're 2-0.

Q. Is cornerback Ronde Barber now their unquestioned leader?

A. There's no question. He's similar to a James Farrior for that football team. He's an old sage. Actually, Ronde and James played together at UVA. He is that kind of a guy for them.

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Q. What makes Ronde Barber tick?

A. He's a sick competitor. The game within the game, watching him and Hines go at it is going to be interesting, because being around both of them they're similar people. They're competitive people, they're not going to lose under any circumstances, and they're extremely talented.

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Q. Is it still the same Tampa-2 defense?

A. No. It's very multiple. They've evolved, as we all do, and they're tailoring it to fit their people. You're going to see some 3-4 football with hybrid-like bodies, with guys like Quincy Black at one outside linebacker and Stylez White at the other.

Q. Tim Crowder is listed as a backup defensive end but leads the team in sacks. Does that prove they use a continuous rotation along the defensive line?

A. He's a second wave of terror, if you will. He plays on passing downs or when they're behind the chains, but he's a starter-like player in that they expect him to provide big-time pressure as a rusher opposite Stylez White.

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