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Tomlin on the Ravens, gadget plays


Q. For the first-ever Thursday night telecast on CBS, the NFL selected Steelers at Ravens. What does that say about the state of this rivalry?**

A. I think it says it all. It's really humbling to be a part of it. It's great to be a part of a game fans want to see.

Q. Does a Thursday night game early in a season present a different set of challenges than a Thursday night game later in a season?

A. If you're talking about a division opponent, it's easier to do it the second time you're playing them, because you have the familiarity of playing them the first time, and the familiarity of the game-planning and so forth. The first time you face an opponent, there is some angst there, but it's evident on both sides. So from that standpoint, the playing field is level.

Q. In the game against the Browns, you called for a fake punt and it worked beautifully. When it comes to a gadget play, what goes into you actually pulling the trigger and calling for it? Is it simply the opponent's alignment, or are there game situations you also consider?

A. It's game situations that you consider. The key component for us is opportunity. We work gadget plays like we work other plays. It's not something we just pull out of a hat. We fine-tune it until we get to a level of comfort, and then when and if the opportunity presents itself then it's under consideration. It's done as a spark for us, as an opportunity to flip the field, or produce a big play. We needed it at that time even if it didn't produce any points. I think it was a momentum shift and one that was really needed for us at that time, and it really bought us about 25-30 yards of real estate.


The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Q. Does a gadget play have to have worked in practice before you will call it in a game?**

A. It does. And not just once. We've actually worked that concept since last season. Robert Golden has been our personal protector for a number of years now. It's not haphazard, because we want to have solutions. We want to be sharp and be right and be fundamentally sound. We were in that instance.

Q. Gary Kubiak was hired by the Ravens during the offseason to coordinate their offense. What are the characteristics of a Gary Kubiak offense?

A. They're a zone-scheme running attack, and they're play-action pass is a very vertical game because they look to get yardage there in chunks. They do a nice job of mixing their screens in, and they'll throw screens to anyone. They'll throw screens to fullbacks, tailbacks, and wide receivers, and they do. They also have the capability to go up-tempo and spread you out. Those have been characteristics of his offenses not only in Baltimore but also from his days in Houston.

Q. What has veteran wide receiver Steve Smith brought to that group?

A. Fourteen years of NFL know-how, and at a high level. He's one of those professionals for whom you have a lot of respect. He knows how to play the game. He plays it with a great demeanor, and he has great charismatic leadership capabilities on game day, not only with his playmaking but also in how he goes about playing the game. He's a true competitor, and a big-time asset to their efforts.

Q. How do they utilize tight end Dennis Pitta in the passing game?

A. He fits in to what they do. He fits in nicely with the misdirection pass and the play-action pass. He's got a vertical game. He, along with Owen Daniels who was in Houston with Gary Kubiak, provide the multi-tight end stuff that they enjoy employing. That was evident by Pitta's 10 receptions in the Ravens' opener last weekend against the Bengals.


Q. The Ravens primary ball carriers are Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett. How would you describe their styles?**

A. They're two really contrasting styles. Forsett has a balanced game. He's got good contact balance. He has burst, he's quick. He's stronger than you think. He's one of those guys who isn't small but he's short. Bernard Pierce is more of a bruising type, a one-cut runner, downhill-type back. He plays behind his pads and has really good leg drive on contact. Both guys present different challenges, but challenges nonetheless.

Q. Do you expect to see Joe Flacco attempt 62 passes as he did last week vs. Cincinnati?

A. If things are going well for us we will. I don't know of too many situations where you see 62 pass attempts from a team if things are going great for them.

Q. With Ray Lewis and Ed Reed gone from the Ravens defense, has Terrell Suggs taken over those leadership duties?

A. Without question, but like a lot of things, that was transpiring while Lewis and Reed were there. Suggs is that kind of guy. It's the food-chain, it's the law of the jungle. He's the alpha male and has been for a number of years within that group. And he's got a pretty good lieutenant in Haloti Ngata.

Q. What are the keys for the Steelers tonight against the Ravens?

A. We usually absorb some negativity early in this hostile environment, and because of the energy with which they come out for the opening kickoff. I want to strike a few blows of our own. I want to start faster than we normally have in the history of this series at this venue. And I think if we do, it'll put us in good position to win the game. It seems like we're always storming back at the end, and whether or not we win or lose depends on whether or not we run out of time. If we rectify that with a strong start, I think we'll be comfortable with our position within this game.

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