Rivalry football: The Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, with both teams sitting at 2-1 and looking for a win after coming off of disappointing losses. Coach Mike Tomlin knows that it will be a challenge, and that AFC North football brings out the best.
"We have a big-time opponent in a big-time venue this week going into Baltimore," said Tomlin. "We respect rivalry football. We respect the ball that is AFC North. Every rivalry needs a good dance partner, a like-minded one. Baltimore has always provided that for us. I am sure they say the same thing about us. They are a competitive group.
"There is going to be a lot of energy in the stadium. There is going to be a lot on the line in terms of establishing position within our division. They are playing good ball. This is a formidable bunch. This is the Baltimore Ravens."
Not so special: Tomlin didn't hold back when pinpointing issues that helped lead to the Steelers 23-17 overtime loss against the Bears last week. Two special teams plays, including a fumble on a punt return by Eli Rogers that eventually led to a Bears touchdown, and a blocked field goal that resulted in the Bears putting three points on the board. He did, however, sing the praises of Vance McDonald, who tracked down Marcus Cooper and knocked the ball out of his hands at the one-yard line, preventing a touchdown and instead forcing the Bears to kick the field goal.
"The game largely can boil down to a couple of catastrophic mistakes that we made and us spending the rest of the day trying to overcome them," said Tomlin. "We fumbled a punt. It gave them an additional possession early in the football game that they turned into seven points. We had a field goal blocked, that took three points off the board for us, and gave them three points at the end of the half. Thankfully through the extraordinary efforts of Vance McDonald it was a six-point swing, that very well should have been a 10-point swing. I can't say enough about the efforts of not only him, but Jordan Berry in saving us four points in those sequence of events."
This one's special: While Tomlin highlighted the special teams' issues that played a role in the loss, he did praise Tyler Matakevich, who once again was a special teams' captain against the Bears for his continued strong play in that area.
In the Steelers opener against the Browns Matakevich blocked a punt that Anthony Chickillo recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
The following week the Vikings attempted a fake punt, and he broke up punter Ryan Quigley's pass to Blake Bell, giving the Steelers great field position at the Vikings 36-yard line.
"He has made some significant special teams plays for us," said Tomlin. "He blocked a kick in Week 1, he foiled a fake punt in Week 2. We're doing our teams captain position based on merit and play in games, and he has been a really positive and consistent performer thus far."