Q: Nothing has changed. You guys are going against a pretty good defense on Sunday.
TB: Yes, an excellent defense. They have been one of the best for a long time, so we have our hands full. Everytime we play them, it seems like it is tough. We are in there trying to figure out a way to get some guys open.
Q: You guys have scored first 14 games in a row. How much do you guys stress that?
TB: It is important us. It is something that we are working on. We are always working on the opening plays of the game and it is usually most of our best stuff. Every Friday, Charlie [Weis] and the quarterbacks meet and we talk about our favorite plays. Usually those are the ones that we feel are going to be the most successful. Before that streak, there werenâ€™t many times we scored first. They were few and far between. I think it started at the Cleveland game or maybe it was the week after that. Before that we hadnâ€™t scored [first] in eight weeks. The coach was dogging us saying that we couldnâ€™t score on the opening drive. Maybe he dogged us enough and we finally figured it out.
Q: How do you explain how opportunistic this team is? The Jets put 12 men on the field and roughed the passer and you take it right down the field.
TB: I donâ€™t know. I think we are always trying to execute the best we can. Hopefully we do get second chances, but there are not too many times that you do. When we do get second chances hopefully we take advantage of it. Last week we did and sometimes we havenâ€™t. I would like to see us do it a little bit more and not really rely on them making a mistake for us to succeed. I will always take a mulligan or something like that.
Q: You know how difficult the quarterback position is to master. Are you impressed with how quickly Ben Roethlisberger has come into the league and had success?
TB: Yes, it is tough. As a young guy you are trying to learn your own guys and trying to learn the team and the routines. It seems like he is doing a great job. We saw some clips from him this morning. He can really throw the ball. He is a big guy and he is elusive and he has a cannon out there. I think there was one game in college where he threw for 600 yards. He is a very good player.
Q: Does he remind you of you when you first came into the league?
TB: Yes, except he is about 50 pounds heavier than I was. He has a big, strong arm and I think he makes a lot of really good throws. It seems like he is making a lot of good decisions. Probably better decisions than I made when I was in my first year. I think he started his second or third game and he has been in there ever since, so he is doing a great job.
Q: The Red Sox have given you guys a lot of kudos saying they are trying to be like the Patriots by taking it one game at a time. Do you smile when a baseball team starts using your credo?
TB: We are trying to be like the Red Sox right now. They are one game from winning it all. I wish we were one game from winning it all. We have the whole season ahead of us. It is pretty tremendous with what they have done for this whole area. I think it is a great thing that is happening.
Q: Names and faces change, but you pretty much know what you are getting when you play a Bill Cowher team.
TB: You are getting one of the toughest and smartest teams youâ€™ll face. They have some real football players out there. [Troy] Polamalu and [James] Farrior and Casey Hampton was a great player for them. Larry Foote and Kendrell Bell. They have some really good players. Deshea Townsend is a good player. They all play hard. They run to the ball and they hit. That is why they are 5-1. They have won the division seven out of the last 12 years. They are doing a lot of great things. I think that all starts with the way that they are coached. They are really stressing how they should play.
Q: Hines Ward is almost a linebacker playing wide receiver.
TB: He takes a really tough attitude. I got a chance to meet him a couple of years ago. He is like the ultimate football player. He is tough and hard nosed. He always finishes every run. He is one of the best blockers in the league for a receiver. He plays the game how it should be played. He leaves it all out on the field. He is out there every week and never misses a game. It is pretty tremendous and fun to watch.
Q: Is it fun to throw to guys like that?
TB: Heck yeah. It seems like whether he catches it or whether he is blocking for a guy who is running it, his enthusiasm is the same for it. He is just the ultimate team player. He is one of the top guys in the league for receptions for good reason because he gets open all the time and catches every ball you throw to him. He makes some great catches.
Q: You know other teams are going to bring their very best when they play you guys. Knowing that every week how do you make sure that you match that intensity week after week without ever having a let down?
TB: We just try to bring whatever we can every week. A lot of teams we have played this year have all been tough opponents. They have all been gearing up and ready to go. We have been trying to gear up too. I think for the most part we have done that. We always try to bring our own intensity and sometimes it shows more than others. We do go out there and get the toughest tests that teams want to give and they put everything they can into that week. We do too.
Q: You guy have scored first 14 times in a row. Do you feel the game change at that moment and how big of an advantage is it to score first?
TB: You would always like to. Ultimately, it is whether you are ahead at the end is the most critical. You get up early and for us that is always something we are trying to do. When you get the ball first you want to get the ball and go down and score. If the defense goes on the field first, they want to stop them from scoring. Fourteen in a row is a nice thing to do. It is a good feeling being ahead, but we were behind last game. We were behind in a few other games this year. We have to go out and continue to push on when we are behind or even when we are ahead.
Q: Does that say something for preparation? You guys are ready for anything they are going to throw at you.
TB: I think we go out and try to execute. We try to put our best plays at the beginning of the game. You want to get out to a lead. You want to get out to a fast start. It is especially important out on the road because you donâ€™t want to be behind a whole bunch of points because then the crowd is into it the whole game. You would like to go out and establish your style of play for the day. Both teams are preparing well. Teams have prepared well for us all year and we are trying to prepare well for them. It comes down to executing those plays.
Q: On the coin toss, are you guys taking the ball first every time?
TB: Every time.
Q: David Givensâ€™ 24 receptions have all been for first downs. Is that a fluke or is it a product of the offense and routes he runs?
TB: I think whenever you throw it past the first down sticks he catches it, and if he catches it short of the first down sticks he will turn around and run over some guys. He has really done a great job of running after the catch this year. Any time you throw it to him short, he is making guys miss. He is so strong. If you look at him, he is a big, physical guy and he can get open down the field too.
Q: Is it a product of the routes he is running or the position he plays?
TB: He is running all different types of routes. He is running hitches. He is running slants. He is running comebacks. He is running fades. He is running short routes and long routes. It is just a matter of what he is doing with the ball when it gets in his hands. If he is catching it down the field, it is always going to be a first down, but if he catches it short he has good run-after-catch abilities. We have to keep that streak going.
Q: Pittsburgh likes to blitz an awful lot as you have seen and teams have been blitzing you some this year. What difference is there with Pittsburghâ€™s 3-4 zone blitz scheme?
TB: They run it very effectively. They have been running it for an awfully long time. All the players know how to run the defense. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the blitz zones and they know how to disguise their blitz zones. They have multiple variations of their blitz zones. They are very aggressive. It is a fast defense that moves really well and attacks the ball. I think some teams mix in the blitz zone and arenâ€™t as good as they are. With a team that runs it as much as they do, they can make some plays blitzing because they know actually what to do.
Q: How have you been against the blitz this year? Have you been better against it this year?
TB: I donâ€™t know. It is the sixth game of the year. I think we are trying to get rid of the ball quick. I think our guys do a great job of not letting guys run free. I watch a lot of other game tapes and I see a lot of other quarterbacks stand there with the ball in their hands and guys running free on them. That rarely and probably never happens with our guys because they always know what to do and they know who to block. It is not like we have one or two different protections. We probably have 20 to 25 different protections that they are all running. Our guys have to know what to do and then ultimately they have to go and block them.