Q: You, like Ben Roethlisberger, have been in a program and system with the same coach for an extended period of time. What does it do to a quarterback's peace of mind to have that touchstone there - to know that you're in the same program and same system. What does that kind of consistency do to a quarterback?
TB: It's been very important for me to never really change offenses or learn new terminology and I think we've just built on it over the years - things I learned 12 years ago when I came here. There are certain plays in our offense that I've literally run thousands of times. You make a lot of mistakes over the course of those plays and you learn from them and hopefully you don't make them again. It's great for a quarterback to have that continuity with coaching and obviously the terminology of the plays. It's been a huge benefit.
Q: How has Dan Connolly made the transition in taking over for Dan Koppen? How difficult is that for him and also for you as the quarterback?
TB: The center for the quarterback - obviously there's nobody we rely on more than those guys, not only for the execution of the snap, but also the calls, the communication between quarterback and offensive line, and the offensive line and the quarterback, because a lot of what we do depends on us all being on the same page. How quickly we can get the calls and relay them to one another and then in the same amount of time be able to snap the ball and get ready to play, it's hugely important to the execution of the offense. Coach always says 'Foxborough High School can execute the snap' and you see us in training camp running laps around the field because we'll fumble a snap on occasion. Fortunately, Danny has been here and he's worked at center. He's really stepped into his role and was kind of called the duty when Dan Koppen went down. It's been a good spot for him. We all have a lot of confidence in him and he's just gotten better.
Q: Are you surprised he's been able to do it as seamlessly as it appears?
TB: It's probably not as seamless for other teams. I think I've seen that a few times this year, where center-quarterback exchanges…it's frustrating. You lose one or two plays in a game [and] they're critical plays. Every play is critical. You only get 60 to 70 plays in a game. You give away one without the defense really having to do anything. It's tough. I think he's worked hard at it over the years. He's always put himself in position and is taking advantage of the opportunity.
Q: How do you explain the success you've had against Dick LeBeau's defense for years and years?
TB: They've played us pretty good a few times, too. We've had our moements and they've had their moments. I think we realize the kind of challenge that it is and we put a lot of time into the preparation and we put a lot of effort into understanding what we're trying to accomplish from a game plan standpoint and then we've executed well. It's a good defense; it's a very good defense. They're first in the league in pass defense and I know you probably don't care about that, but there pretty damn good if you ask me.
Q: If you have a pretty good understanding of what they're trying to do and they don't change from year to year. Is it safe to say that you're going to have a pretty good game?
TB: Would it just be like last year? We didn't score much in the first half last year. What was the score -10-3 or something like that? I don't remember, but we didn't do too well and I think the second half we played a little bit better. It all comes back to execution. Every week you go in and put together all these plays and you think, 'Yeah these are going to be pretty good this week,' and then some weeks they look pretty good and some weeks they don't. There're times we've scored no points - like Miami in 2006. I thought we had a whole bunch of good plays in the game plan. You go out after the game and you're like, 'We didn't have a clue.' Every week when you put in the play you never think, 'Yeah these plays will be pretty average against what they're doing.' You really think every play has a chance to score - that's what you're trying to design. These guys make it tough on you. I think they're very physical, they cover well, and they have continuity in their defense. If you watch the Super Bowl from last year, they get after the quarterback, they really do. That's the hallmark of this defense - they rush the passer, they stop the run, they're a big physical defense that plays very hard and is very well coached. They don't make very many mental errors at all. And then they have some exceptional playmakers like Troy Polamalu who, when he's not in there you see how big of an influence he actually has on that defense because of his ability to make plays for them. They're very well rounded. They always lead the league in defense - you can see why. They're one of the best we play all year.
Q: Troy Polamalu obviously has great physical skills. Can you talk about from a quarterback stand point having to go against him and about his mental acumen and how that keeps improving year after year?
TB: He's very instinctive. I think that's the thing that separates him. A lot of guys can have good physical skills [and] he has that. He runs, he's quick, he's good in man-to-man coverage, he's got great zone awareness. They play him in multiple positions - as long as it's safety - but in their sub groupings. They put him down there at linebacker level. He plays the run. He covers a lot of ground in zone coverage. You have to keep your eye on him because he has a knack for the ball. Just because his assignment is on one side of the field, doesn't mean he won't be on the other side if he thinks that's where the ball is going. He's tough and he makes a lot of plays for them and he's made some incredible interceptions and plays over the years. He's a guy we always need to understand where he's at and where he is lurking and what he's trying to get accomplished.
Q: Because of the bye week, have you had more time to study the Steelers than you normally would another study an opponent?
TB: I would say it's Wednesday, but we've got a lot installed at his point - more than we would normally have on a normal week and we practiced yesterday, so we're ahead on our preparation. They've played seven games this year. That's what you look at; you look at what they've done and what they've done in the past and try to formulate a game plan. We got off to a decent start yesterday.
Q: When you play in that stadium, once they start to get momentum, the Steelers crowd really gets going. I remember the Halloween game in 2004. What do you remember about that game specifically and how that stadium can get?
TB: It was a tough day for us. That was a rough day. They were going crazy, the towels were waving and the fans were really into it. It's a great stadium. It's very loud. It's a very imposing stadium. What makes it the most imposing is the way that they play and their physical style. I think they've always had that hallmark there of what they try to accomplish on defense, which really sets the tone for their offense. They're a tough team that's always run the ball well that's always played good defense. Then when they get ahead of you, they can rush the passer. They've got a lot tough blitz combinations that they bring to force the ball out quickly. Quarterbacks don't typically have a lot of time and the crowd going crazy obviously doesn't help the communication with the offense very much.
Q: Going back early in your career,especially going on the road, it seems that you take the emotion of the crowd and bring into yourself and redirect it to your teammates. I remember you getting angry on the sidelines after the Cleveland game and during the first half of the Pittsburgh game. Do you feed off the crowd?
TB: I think we always talk about the night before a game, you look around your meeting room and you go, 'Look guys, this is all we got and this is all we need.' If we make good plays, the crowd's not going to be a factor. If we don't, you better believe they're going to be there all day long. The better we play, the less of a factor it's going be. And there's less margin for error because you're playing in a place where you're very unfamiliar and they're playing in a place where they have the crowd noise and a lot of the energy is focused on the home team. We get that same thing here. We're pretty tough to beat here at home. The Steelers are pretty tough to beat at home. We've been fortunate to do it a few times, but I tell you that the times we've beaten them, we've had to play very, very, very good games, and we have. I think that's probably what I am most proud of; some of our greatest games that we've ever played have been against them and that's just the level of execution.
Q: You talk about the success of their defense at stopping the run and rushing the passer. Why have you guys been successful, specifically throwing the ball, against their secondary?
TB: Like I said, it's just execution; it's guys getting open and us completing it. There's no special thing that we do. There's no magic dust we put in our cereal in the morning or anything like that. We just played really well. That does pretty well against any defense. Like I said, we've played them when we haven't played very well, like in 2008; we didn't play very well and they kicked the crap out of us and in 2004 they kicked the crap out of us. We have to go in expecting to play our best game. If we don't, it's a long hard day. If we do, we're confident that we can get the win.