Tomlin on the Patriots

Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the New England Patriots

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Q. How does the loss of starting left tackle Max Starks change your offensive approach against the Patriots?

A. It doesn't at all. Jonathan Scott is a veteran player. He's been in some adverse situations in multiple locations. He's game to the task, and he understands that the standard is the standard.

Q. Does James Farrior amaze you with his 25-year-old attitude in a 35-year-old body?

A. He's unique. He's like Hines Ward in that regard. I know what Hines does on a week to week basis gets chronicled, and rightfully so, but what James Farrior does at the linebacker position is really impressive for the length of time he's done it.

Q. Did you feel you had to address with your players the rash of penalties that contributed mightily to the Bengals touchdown drive that made the score, 27-21, in the fourth quarter of that game last Monday night?

A. I didn't agree with the calls, so I'm not going to come down on our guys when I don't agree with them. I understand that officials make mistakes. We're all imperfect. They have a tough job to do, and we respect that. We don't believe that a call is going to determine the outcome of a game, and so we move on. Ironically, later in the week we found out that a couple of those calls were incorrect, like we thought in the stadium. But such is life. We're moving on.

Q. Tom Brady is the brand name, for sure, but is the Patriots offense more than just him from a talent and scheme standpoint?

A. They are, but he's the face man now. He makes it go. He's as special as advertised. They have some legitimate weapons around him – Wes Welker chief among them – but they're a complete football team. Keep an eye on their two rookie tight ends – Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez – they have a chance to be special players. Hopefully not against us, but we respect what they're capable of doing.

Q. Welker leads the team in receptions. Does he have some sort of mental telepathy thing going with Brady?

A. They have a great working rapport, and schematically the Patriots do a nice job. You're talking about a guy who's capable of getting open against some of the best cornerbacks in the league, but how they utilize him is they put him inside in the slot, and so many times he's working against sub-package football players or linebackers. Quite frankly that's a mismatch, and the Patriots do a nice job schematically of getting him in those situations, he has that great rapport with Tom Brady, and the results are the results.

Q. Does the threat of Tom Brady help the Patriots running game?

A. It does, because you have to play pass first, particularly formationally and situationally. You have to have clean feet on the back end particularly, because Tom does a great job with play-pass. It kind of puts you on your heels from a run-game standpoint.

Q. What does the Patriots offensive line show you?

A. Very rarely do they turn people free. They get hats on hats, and that's a great place to start. They have some good individual players – Logan Mankins just came back and he's a headliner, and left tackle Matt Light is a really good player as well.

Q. Is the Patriots version of the 3-4 defense similar to the Steelers'?

A. Really, it isn't. It's probably a more traditional 3-4 in that their inside linebackers take on guards more so than ours. We reduce our front down so much that we try to keep James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons running and hitting. Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes take on guards, and they're adept at doing it. They're tough, physical guys. They have a good group.

Q. The Patriots seemed to run into a buzz saw in Cleveland. What did you see from watching that tape?

A. That buzz saw was named Peyton Hillis. New Orleans ran into a similar buzz saw, with the third down defensive package that Cleveland employs. More than anything, we found out that Cleveland is capable of playing some pretty good football, which we as a team already knew. Others in the league are finding that out now, too. The Patriots will be ready to play and will be looking forward to putting that behind them. We better be ready to match their urgency.

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