Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addresses the New England media during his conference call, on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.
Q: (On the rivalry between the Patriots and Steelers)
MT: You know, it's a big game for a lot of reasons. [It is] an AFC game. They're a good team. They're 6-2 like we are. We recognize the potential playoff ramifications of it. But more than anything, it's an opportunity to pit ourselves against a good football team and get a measure of where we are at this juncture.
Q: How difficult is it to transition from a Monday night game to getting ready for the Patriots on Sunday?
MT: We're not overly concerned with that. We don't spend a lot of time worrying about things we can't control. The schedule is the schedule. Everybody plays on Monday night for the most part and has to come back and deal with it. We are no different than anyone else. It won't be an excuse for us in terms of how we play on Sunday.
Q: How has Ben Roethlisberger handled himself since he returned to the team?
MT: I think he's done a nice job. He's himself. He's appreciating being around his teammates and preparing to play games and ultimately, play winning football for us. It's a process - one that we understand he will continue to go through, as will we, but it doesn't dominate our thought by any stretch.
Q: How important was it for the team to be successful during his absence?
MT: You know, the standard is the standard for us, and the standard is winning. We don't put all of our eggs in one basket from that standpoint. He's a significant part of our team because he's a good player. But regardless of who's playing when we take the field, we take the field to win. We prepare like it. We try to play like it and none of that changes based on circumstance.
Q: What changes have you seen from the Patriots offense since the departure of Randy Moss?
MT: I haven't seen any difference whatsoever.
Q: No difference at all?
MT: No. No, they've got too many weapons. [Tom Brady's] got too many options and he knows how to utilize them. I haven't seen any significant difference or even minimal difference, for that matter, in terms of how teams approach them.
Q: What have you seen out of the Patriots no-huddle offense? What is their intent there?
MT: I think that's one of their many personalities that they go to or are capable of going to. I don't know the rhyme and reason of why they do it. I know they don't let opponents dictate how they play to them. I think they make choices about how they choose to attack people or how they put their schemes together. I know they're effective at it and I know they're capable of it. I don't know the reasons why.
Q: Do you enjoy this rivalry?
MT: Man, I enjoy everything the National Football League has to offer us, and week in and week out we're faced with big-time challenges. This is a big one this week, most importantly because it's the next one.
Q: (On James Harrison's contribution to the team's success)
MT: You know, he's a good player, but it's the things you don't see [that are] how he affects our defense and our team the most. This guy is a diligent, detailed worker. He's a very regimented guy. He puts a lot into it and it's good to see it pay off for guys like him, and his play mirrors that. I think our guys feed off his play, but more importantly than that, I think they feed off of how he approaches what he does. He's extremely professional.
Q: What have you seen out of this young Patriots defense?
MT: They have a young nucleus of core players that appear to be getting better week in and week out. They are really solid down the middle. Vince Wilfork of course is Vince Wilfork. We know what he's capable of. He's done it at a high level for a long time. But [Jerod] Mayo, [Brandon] Spikes, [Brandon] Meriweather, [Patrick] Chung, if you look down the middle of their defense, they're rock-solid with quality young players. I think they have a chance to be really good.
Q: Why did you leave Dick LeBeau's 3-4 defense in place when you arrived in Pittsburgh and how difficult was it to make that decision?
MT: It wasn't a difficult decision at all. We had 3-4 personnel, some of the best 3-4 personnel in the world in my opinion, so I wasn't going to try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Part of coaching is putting your guys in a position to excel and win. No question, our personnel was geared toward that. I wanted to add to that and not take away from it because I don't have an ego in this thing and neither do the guys. We just focus on putting ourselves in a position to win. Switching to a 4-3 or anything of that nature wouldn't have been conducive to winning.
Q: Does it matter in your matchups where Vince Wilfork lines up?
MT: No, this guy is going to be disruptive and a force to be reckoned with regardless of where they choose to line him up. We're going to have to block him along with the others.
Q: What have you seen from the young tight ends and have they changed the offense?
MT: I don't know if it's a new philosophical approach. I think if they have a few guys that are capable of getting after you, they utilize them. To me, it's no different from when they had [Daniel] Graham and [Benjamin] Watson. When they have good players, they're going to put them on the field. [Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez] are good players along with Alge Crumpler, who is as good a blocking tight end as there is. They have some good tight ends and they utilize them.
Q: Will you prepare as if Fred Taylor is going to play this weekend?
MT: Yeah, we have to be prepared to stop whoever they choose to play. So yes, we understand that he's potentially capable of playing. We also understand that they have some other good options as well. I've really been impressed with [Danny] Woodhead in film study, along with the other ones.