Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week's opponent – the Baltimore Ravens.
Q. This is Ravens' week. Does anything else really have to be said?
A. Matchups such as this require few words. If it's truly a legitimate rivalry, a great matchup, not a lot needs to be said. It's like when I was growing up, Celtics vs. Lakers was all that needed to be said. That's all you need to say for this generation of football fans: Steelers-Ravens.
Q. Are the Ravens really a similar team to the Steelers?
A. In a lot of ways. Quality leadership from players, passionate leadership from players, and they are the legendary players of this generation, if you will. There are a lot of similarities between the two ball clubs, and that's what I think makes it so interesting.
Q. Do you believe Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson is an underrated player?
A. Underrated in media circles, but this guy is highly respected in the coaching circles and playing circles. This guy does a lot for them. He's very similar to people they've had in the past, players like Adalius Thomas, in that he's very versatile. He allows Terrell Suggs to be Terrell Suggs and do what he does, but when you're playing opposite a guy like that it encompasses a lot of things you're required to do. He does well at just about all of it.
Q. Is Haloti Ngata Baltimore's most feared defensive player?
A. Without question. He is as feared a defender as there is in football. He is very unique. You don't know whether to describe him as a powerful player who's athletic, or as an oversized athlete. That's how significant his skill sets are.
Q. Ed Reed is back and has four interceptions in five games. What have you seen from him on tape?
A. Ed Reed is Ed Reed. We know what he's capable of. He's a legendary centerfielder, and that reputation is well-earned. We plan to be very cognizant of where he is at all times.
Q. In the first meeting between these teams this season, Joe Flacco was able to work the sidelines late to score the game-winning touchdown. Was that a lack of pressure by the Steelers?
A. It was the lack of a lot of things. We didn't execute extremely well in that segment of the game. But you can go back to all three phases in that segment of the game, and we failed as a team. We had an opportunity to close the game out if we were able to get a first down offensively, and we weren't able to do that. We were backed up and were punting the football – we had a great punt by Daniel Sepulveda that backed them up to the 50-yard line, but then we have a holding penalty on the punt team that gave the Ravens the ball on the 40-yard line. Then we let down defensively. On the bright side, we all failed collectively. On the negative side, we all need to be better in order to finish the game.
Q. You played that game without Ben Roethlisberger, and he's been the starting quarterback ever since. Is this a different team as a result?
A. I guess you could say that. But I think Baltimore could say similar things because of Ed Reed and others. We're all in the process of evolution over the course of a season. We're a different team than we were back on Oct. 3, and I'm sure they can say the same.
Q. Ray Rice seems to be a guy who is double-trouble for any defense because of his ability to run the ball as well as catch it?
A. He's a big part of their passing game, not only as a quality option as a check-down, but they free-release him a bunch in designed routes. He's a great screen man, too. He's just a complete players, and that's the reason he's a Pro Bowl caliber guy. He's central to what they do offensively. I know the Ravens have a bunch of shiny new offensive weapons who get a bunch of attention, but Ray Rice is the man.