This weekend's renewal of the hard-hitting rivalry between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will surely produce some memorable moments.
Heading into the battle, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger answered some questions from Baltimore media.*
Topics discussed ranged from the potential of a new kicker deciding the outcome to James Harrison's mounting fines and Roethlisberger's take on the Ravens defense.*
Here are some highlights:*
Coach Mike Tomlin
- What has this rivalry has meant to you?
Mike Tomlin:"It's just good football. Two teams that play a similar style of football, their desire to impose their will on opponents, it always makes for a good matchup."
- With this game historically being close, how do you feel about new kicker Shaun Suisham put in a pressure situation?
MT:"I'm not trying to present the crystal ball in terms of envisioning the outcome of the game. Just based on previous matchups, one could assume that there's a chance that this is going to be a close football game. Of course, if it comes down to our kicker, I'm comfortable of him doing the job, not because of what happened last week, simply because he's our kicker. We wouldn't have employed him if we didn't think he was capable."
- Is it an equalizer that the Steelers have Roethlisberger back and the Ravens have safety Ed Reed back, both of whom missed the Week 4 game?
MT:"Absolutely. It doesn't matter who plays and who doesn't play in these games. There have been games that Ben hasn't played in, of course, and they all come down to a field goal or two. We expect a tough, hard-fought game, and the people that make the significant plays at the end have got a chance to win."
- Is there something you can do differently with linebacker James Harrison with regards to him continuing to be fined by the league?
MT:"No, we're just going to try to play the game as hard and as cleanly as we can; try to play within the rules prescribed by the NFL , and really that's about it. All we can control is what we can control. Of course, we're trying to do what the league is prescribing him to do and us to do. Sometimes it doesn't unfold that way in the heat of battle, like a lot of things."
- Does it seem like the ref sometimes has his hand on the penalty flag before Harrison even gets to the quarterback?
MT:"You know, I'm not going to feed into all of that. Those guys are trying to do a good job, just like we all are.*We've just got to continue to focus on the things that we can control, and I'm sure they have the same mentality." *QB Ben Roethlisberger
- Has there been anything in particular you can pinpoint for your success against the Ravens defense?
Ben Roethlisberger:"It's always so hard, it's always tough sledding. Nothing ever comes easy against this defense or this team, because they are such a good football team fundamentally [and] instinctually. They've got some of the most – we were talking about it today in our quarterback meetings – they've got a couple football players on defense that are maybe the most instinctual football players that I've ever seen play a football game."
- Do you always have to look over your shoulder to see where linebacker Terrell Suggs is coming from?
BR:"Yeah, and I don't want to downplay him by saying this, but you have to feel where a lot of guys on that defense are, because there are so many guys on that defense that'll make plays. But he's definitely one, I mean, you always have to have your head on a swivel when he's coming."
- Do you think your play can be adequately described as "schoolyard" or "backyard" style?
BR:"Well, I try and play the game to win.*I feel *like I play it like a quarterback, and then when something breaks down it turns into backyard, but I don't feel like I just go out and do it with the intention of running around and playing schoolyard football every play."
- On whether there is deep animosity between these two teams that lingers beyond the contest?
BR:"You're asking the wrong guy, because I hate to lose any game. So, maybe that's a question better suited for other guys, but I don't ever want to lose a game. It burns me for a long time."
- Does the word "hate" come to mind when you think of the Ravens, or is it "respect?"
BR:"I don't hate anybody; that's a very harsh word."