Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the New England Patriots.
Q. What makes Tom Brady so special?A. He's extremely talented, both physically and mentally. I think everyone knows that he's an extremely smart guy. His physical skills are very underrated. He moves very well in the pocket, he's got a quick release, he's got a strong arm, and he's highly accurate – maybe the most accurate man in football.
Q. What about the on-field relationship he has developed with wide receiver Wes Welker?A. He's got a great rapport with Welker, sure, but he's developing a great rapport with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The list goes on and on, whether we're talking about the past or the present. Daniel Graham and Ben Watson and Randy Moss – he's had a great rapport with just about everybody he has worked with, and I think that just speaks to him.
Q. How do you slow Tom Brady down?A. We have to do a nice job on the pieces around him. We have to disrupt routes, we have to stay close to receivers, and of course we have to beat offensive linemen and apply pressure to him.
Q. Because Welker lines up in the slot so much, will he see a lot of Ike Taylor?A. He's going to see some of Ike. We're going to pick our spots, take our shots with that. We understand that Ike is a weapon of ours, but we also understand that he's a little out of his comfort zone sometimes inside. We'll pick our spots, and hopefully it'll be situational football and be a winner for us.
Q. What makes Welker so good?A. He's got great rapport with his quarterback, but it's not only that. This guy has a great understanding of defenses, specifically coverages. He's very adept at breaking down man-to-man with his quickness, but he does an awesome job and is underrated in his ability to settle in zones and find open areas.
Q. How does the New England offensive line keep Brady so clean?A. Brady helps them, first and foremost, because you can't trick him. He knows where unblocked guys are coming from and he's very good at getting the ball out. But they work very well together, in concert, and very rarely are there unblocked people. They communicate well.
Q. Would you compare BenJarvus Green-Ellis to any other running back you have seen?A. He's a north-south, one-cut runner similar to a Willis McGahee-like guy, a Correll Buckholter, those types of guys. Very tough to deal with, very competitive. We have a lot of respect for those kinds of guys.
Q. How do they complement him with Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley?A. Ridley is very similar to Green-Ellis, actually. We were down at his pro day, and he's a one-cut runner, north-south type of guy who finishes runs strong. I think Woodhead is the guy who brings a little something different to the table, and they utilize him in passing-type situations. He's much like Wes Welker in his ability to get open against both zone and man coverage.
Q. The statistics the Patriots defense brings into this game, do you believe they're at all misleading?A. I've said for quite some time that statistics lie, and this is a clear case of that. They're not the 32nd best defense in the NFL. They've been up on people, and so people get one-dimensional and throw the ball up and down the field on them and accumulate some yards, but it's insignificant in terms of winning the game. A classic example is what happened when we played them a year ago. If you read the stats line, you would think we had a great game offensively, but really they beat us and beat us soundly.
Q. Is Vince Wilfork the key man along their defensive line?A. Not only is he physically strong, but he's also unique because he just about out-tempos everybody he plays against. Very rarely do you see a man that big play with that kind of general motor and tempo.
Q. Does Wilfork's presence free up the other guys, because Andre Carter has 2.5 sacks and Mark Anderson has 3.5 sacks?A. More than anything, Wilfork does create some opportunities for the guys around him, but I just think the game circumstances that New England works in create opportunities for those men. The Patriots generally play with the lead, people generally get one-dimensional, and when you're talking about guys like Carter and Anderson who are edge rushers, they're going to have plenty of opportunities to get after the quarterback. And they have.
Q. The Patriots three leading tacklers are all from their defensive backfield. Does that tell a tale?A. Not really. It just tells a tale of the type of defense they have been playing – sub-packages and so forth. I'm sure they've had a lot of defensive backs in the game with dime and maybe quarter packages. They've whupped a lot of people and been ahead on the scoreboard in a lot of football games.