Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the New York Giants:
Q. As a coach in the NFL, have you ever faced a travel challenge like the one posed this weekend by Hurricane Sandy?
A. If you're in this league long enough, you get faced with obscure situations, and I thought the 9-11 week and the ones that followed were irrergular ones. I can't really pinpoint others, but there have been irregular weeks. Our job as professionals is to make the irregular regular, to find routine in chaos. That's what we intend to do, and it definitely won't be an excuse in terms of how we perform.
Q. Was your late-week preparation normal?
A. It was very routine. I think there are benefits from this situation in that we operated Saturday in the comforts of our own home in terms of working in our facility, we stayed at the William Penn in Downtown Pittsburgh like we do for home games. It was very routine, and hopefully that will be a winning edge for us.
Q. Are the Giants relying on QB Eli Manning more and more?
A. I think like most teams in the NFL, particularly ones that are well-coached, they tend to play to their strengths and you can't deny that Eli has been a strength for them for a number of years. I think with the big-time emergence of a guy like Victor Cruz, it just lends itself to playing to your strengths. If you turn on some tape and you watch the 78, 80-yard touchdowns from Manning to Cruz, you know why they throw the football.
Q. How do you handle the Giants' running game?
A. We have to minimize what they're capable of doing. Ahmad Bradshaw, particularly, gets great yardage after contact. He has great contact balance, and he has one of the better stiff-arms in football. He's also supplemented by Andre Brown, their secondary runner, who has five touchdowns on the ground himself. It's important that we get off to a good start to minimize their running game, because their play-action pass is excellent. If they have the running game going, we have double the trouble because of the play-action that is associated with it.
Q. Eli Manning has thrown eight interceptions. Do you see a pattern on those plays?
A. He's a great anticipation thrower, and things don't always go according to plan. That's the negative of being a great anticipatory passer, which he is. He can throw the field-comebacks, and the field-outs with great rhythm. At times, if things happen, receivers fall down, coverages aren't what they appear to be, sometimes that manifests itself in the form of negative plays or turnovers.
Q. Why have the Giants been able to intercept 16 passes this season on defense?
A. It's simple, they put consistent pressure on the quarterback which provides opportunities on the back end. Rush and coverage work together. It always has and always will. I think with the talent that they have up front and the way they employ them and the consistent pressure that they put on opposing quarterbacks, it breaks them down over the course of football games and the ball eventually ends up in the hands of guys like Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster and others.
Q. Who gets the assignment to go against Victor Cruz?
A. Obviously, it will be Ike Taylor. Ike doesn't run away from those opportunities, he embraces them. He is the veteran of the group, even though Keenan Lewis has been playing well, as has Cortez Allen. But Ike is the veteran of the group, he's battle-tested, he understand what's at stake. He gets the assignment.
Q. The Giants come into the game ranked No. 4 in the NFL in offense. Is that a reflection of the job their offensive line has been doing?
A. That unit sets the tempo for the group. Those guys play with great energy and enthusiasm both individually and collectively. It's very impressive on passing plays how they end up down the field, as their linemen do a great job of finishing. That permeates throughout the group.
Q. How would you assess the Giants defense, which has 21 sacks and 24 takeaways yet is ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed?
A. They're an opportunistic bunch. They make plays. Some people are interested in holding you down and minimizing yards, some are interested in taking the ball away. That's them. Their quarterback sacks speak to that. The 24 turnovers they generated, an average of three a game, speaks to that. They're splash play driven, and it has been a winning formula for them.
Q. With 5.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss, is Jason Pierre-Paul the best player along the Giants' defensive line?
A. No question. He is the alpha male. This guy is physically talented. He's big, he's strong, he's long, he's mobile. He's a guy to be reckoned with, and they do a nice job of moving him and others around so you can't get a bead on where they're going to employ them.
Q. How has safety Stevie Brown managed to have five interceptions through the first half of this season?
A. The ball is hitting him in the face and he's catching it. We're talking about Jason Pierre-Paul and that group up front – they do a nice job of putting consistent pressure on quarterbacks. Over the course of 60 minutes, balls get launched too far or too short, and to his credit, he has been Johnny-on-the-spot. When those balls are mis-thrown and they hit him, he catches them.
Q. Your running back situation continues to be fluid. Will we see a lot of Chris Rainey vs. the Giants?
A. Absolutely, because he's healthy and that's just the reality of it. We're always faced with a lot of challenges over the course of a football season. This has been one of those for us in recent weeks – looking for healthy runners. We won't blink or make excuses or complain. We'll simply ride with the healthy ones, because they're competent.
Q. Is it true that Rainey has yet to even miss a practice?
A. Yes. At 178 pounds, he the most durable of the group. That's kind of funny, isn't it?