Tomlin on the Ravens

Coach Mike Tomlin looks at this week's opponent – the Baltimore Ravens.

Q. Is hate a part of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry?

A. On some levels, I'm sure, and that's OK. We're competitors, and this is a competitive business. At times it's funny to me that we're bashful about saying things like that.

Q. Last year, the defense managed 12 interceptions in 16 games, and this year it has five in the first three games. What's the difference?

A. It's a combination of rush and coverage. Anytime you're looking for turnovers, it's not a one-man job or a two-man job. It's an 11-man job. We're getting consistent pressure, and that pressure is creating an environment where the quarterbacks are making questionable decisions at times and providing opportunities for us. And lastly, we're catching the ball. We're cashing in, and that's the most fundamental element of it. Generally, the opportunities are going to be there, but whether you get turnovers or not depends upon whether you finish plays.

Q. What was the difference between the Charlie Batch in Tennessee and the Charlie Batch in Tampa?

A. Very little from my perspective in terms of how he handled himself and what he did on the field. A week ago, I said he put the ball where it was supposed to be and gave some guys some opportunities to make competitive catches, and they weren't made in Tennessee. They were made, and made emphatically in Tampa. Mike Wallace had two contested, competitive plays that he made in Tampa, and there were others as well, and that was the difference statistically and from a perception standpoint in Charlie's performance.

Q. How did Doug Legursky play in his start against the Buccaneers?

A. He was more than serviceable. He answered the bell and played winning football, and we're excited about that.

Q. The Ravens defense is No. 1 overall, No. 1 on third down, No. 1 against the pass. Is it better than last year's edition?

A. It's too early to tell. A three-game body of work is drastically different from a 16-game body of work, but they have the makings of a special crew. They got some big, dominant people up front – guys like Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg are scary people. Of course they have Ray Lewis, their ringleader, and they do a nice job schematically. They're well-coached, very rarely are they out of place, and that's why they're at the tops of the league every year.

Q. What does Ngata do that makes him so special?

A. He's extremely large and has great athletic ability and initial quickness in a short area. He's very similar in that way to Shaun Rogers. They're unique people, freaks of nature who can't be blocked by one guy. If you try to block him with one guy, quite frankly he's going to be in your backfield a lot. We acknowledge that and understand that, and hopefully we get him handled.

Q. It has been said that Ray Lewis has lot a step. What do you see from him on tape?

A. It would only be natural for a guy to lose a step or two. And he's the kind of guy who can afford to lose a step and still be effective, as evidenced by the tape he's putting out. He's a special, special player, has had a special career so far, and is doing his usual this year – kicking a lot of butt.

Q. Joe Flacco has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this year. Does that represent a bump in the road in his development?

A. I just think it speaks to the transition that goes along with the meshing of the new players with the guys who have been there. They have some new players in Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and they're trying to find ways to fit them into what they do, along with Derrick Mason and Todd Heap and Ray Rice. It's a process. It's a process every team goes through in the free agency era of the NFL.

Q. What does Boldin bring that makes him a special challenge for your defense?

A. He's a Raven, and that's probably the reason why they went out and got him. By that I mean he's a football player first and a wide receiver second. This guy is a physical guy, he has strong hands, he does things without the ball in his hands, he's tough to get on the ground once he catches it. It's obvious Flacco has a lot of confidence in him, as evidenced by what they did to the Cleveland Browns.

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Q. If Ray Rice is less than 100 percent healthy, how does that help the Steelers win this game?

A. I don't know that it does. We've had some days against these guys, and we respect Willis McGahee. He scored two touchdowns on us last year in our stadium, and Le'Ron McClain, the fullback who happens to be a ball-toter every now and then, is a dangerous man as well. Regardless of who their featured runner is, we've got our hands full. I will say that if Ray is hampered in any way, it could affect the game from a check-down standpoint. He is uniquely different from the other options in the way he's able to exploit you in the passing game.

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