Coach Mike Tomlin talks about this week's opponent – the Oakland Raiders.
Q. Did you get a sense of an increased focus in practice this week preparing for the Raiders following the loss to the Patriots?
A. We had a spirited week of practice. The team responded during the course of the week the way I would expect them to, the way we would like them to. Now, it is time to use preparation to produce the type of result we desire.
Q. Did the coaching staff take away any positives from the loss to New England?
A. Not many positives, to be quite honest with you. I liked the way that we fought to the very end and at times were seemingly getting back into the game, but when you get beat soundly like that, and you're a competitor, there aren't many positives. And that's OK. Sometimes you try to draw positives in an effort to feel good. We are professionals. We are very capable. We don't need feel-good. What we need are results.
Q. Both the Steelers and the Raiders have had some issues protecting the passer this year. Are there any similarities in how that has happened for the two teams?
A. Every situation is different. I haven't really analyzed why their issues are what they are. I know that we're capable of better, in terms of blocking people and making quicker decisions. That's the thing about football when you have people moving in and out of positions, whether it's in the offensive line like we have, or at quarterback like they have. Those things don't matter. The end result does. Today, we need to do a good job of protecting our quarterback and getting rid of the ball, and hopefully we continue their problems by getting after their quarterback.
Q. The Raiders are starting a rookie at left tackle – Jared Veldheer. Can you take advantage of that?
A. Absolutely, if given one-on-one situations, but you would think they're going to do some things to help that young man, whether it's body position, blocking by tight ends, chips by running backs. Usually when a rookie is given a daunting task, he's usually given assistance. This guy was highly regarded, drafted in the third round, and he's proven that it's not too big for him. They're doing a lot of things well offensively, and he hasn't stood out as a possible weak link.
Q. The Raiders have played both Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback this season. What's the dynamic of that situation?
A. It appears that regardless of who is playing quarterback, he has managed the game for them offensively. There are a lot of reasons the Raiders are a hot team, and the quarterback position is just one part of it. They're running the ball extremely well, second in the league, and Darren McFadden is doing a great job for them. They're getting significant contributions from their receiving corps, whether it's the reverse game or some tricks and things of that nature. They're very balanced, and they try to keep you off balance with the way they approach it.
Q. The Raiders already have won as many games this year as they did all of last season. Does that success this year date back to the latter part of 2009?
A. I'm sure it does. Their lack of success over recent years has been well-documented, but what they do have is a core of guys who are pretty much intact from a year ago and a coaching staff that's intact. They have some continuity, and usually continuity breeds comfort, and comfort breeds success.
Q. When you watch Darren McFadden on video, what other running backs do you see?
A. He's a slasher with some great straight-line speed. He's a little bit unique. He's a high-cut kind of guy, but he has better feet than you'd think. Nobody really jumps out at me in today's NFL, and he's kind of a unique character.
Q. Would you describe the Raiders defense as a pressure-style defense?
A. They create pressure with their manpower, and that manpower is led by Richard Seymour. They have a bunch of sacks, but the majority of them come from a deep, talented four-man front, with as much as an eight-man rotation. It starts inside and up front for them. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are the guys who drive the bus.