Mega task stopping Megatron:** The Steelers' defense will face their toughest task of the season trying to stop Lions all-everything receiver Calvin Johnson, nicknamed Megatron. Johnson has 904 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, while playing in just eight games. He missed the Lions showdown against the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury.
"He needs no endorsement from me," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He is the best wide receiver in the game and one of the best football players period regardless of position. You can talk about ways to minimize his impact on the game. We are going to take our swing at it. He is big, he is strong, and he is fast. He is a big dog. He is a great player. We'll do the best we can. He is a special player."
Still in the hunt: At 3-6 the Steelers are still in the hunt in the AFC North as nobody has taken control of the division yet. The Bengals are on top at 6-4 overall and 1-2 in the division, followed by Cleveland (4-5, 2-1) and Baltimore (4-5, 2-2). Don't expect Tomlin to be thinking about that much, with beating the Detroit Lions the only thing on his mind right now.
"I think our first charge is to handle our business," said Tomlin. "We haven't done that consistently enough to look outside of our own house. We need to do that consistently first. It doesn't matter what is going on in our division or around the National Football League unless we can start stacking significant wins."
Attitude check: The Steelers opened the season 0-4, but since then are 3-2 and Tomlin was asked to assess the team's attitude since the start of the season.
"I think our attitude has been fine," he said. "I like the approach we take day-to-day in terms of how we come to work. I like the energy. But what we need is results. I expect the attitude to be what it is. It's not like I am throwing a pep rally because the attitude is appropriate. We have a lot of challenges in front of us. This is something we sign up for and are called to do. It's been appropriate."
Dwyer a spark plug: Running back Jonathan Dwyer's role continues to increase on offense and special teams, and the results are showing. Dwyer has been getting some tough yardage for the team, converting on three third down carries against the Bills last week.
"I like the energy that he brings, not only on offense but he has been a spark plug for us in terms of the things we asked him to do on special teams," said Tomlin. "We have had some big returns in the punt return game and kick return game in recent weeks and he has been a significant part of that. He made a significant block the last several weeks in that phase as well. I like where he is. I like the contribution he has provided us."
Tomlin was asked if cutting him before the season, and then re-signing him after week one, has changed him.
"I would imagine unemployment does that," said Tomlin.
When the time is right: The Steelers continue to use the no-huddle offense, going to it early against the Bills in the first quarter. Tomlin said there isn't always a specific reason for when they choose to use it, but rather it's on a game-by-game basis.
"We employ it for a myriad of reasons based on game circumstances," said Tomlin. "It might be done to minimize what the defense is capable of doing to us. It might be done to make the defense communicate and operate at a different speed, or potentially a different speed. It may just be we like the personnel group we have on the field and want to stick with it and change the pace of the game.
"I think we consider all of those things and others when we talk about when and how much we utilize it."