WEEK 9: PITTSBURGH CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
On why the Steelers drafted LB Ryan Shazier over Ravens LB C.J. Mosley: "It wasn't us selecting [Ryan Shazier] over [C.J.] Mosley. It was just more about what we knew about him [that] we had a level of comfort with. We had a close, personal relationship with his program, with their defensive coaches, specifically. They spent a lot of time over here during the offseason and had for a number of years, particularly the years that he was there. We had taken Cam Heyward a few years earlier who played in that defense in the first round a few years before. So, it was more about that relationship and knowing the system in which he played and the parallels to ours."
On Ravens LB C.J. Mosley: "He's a quality player, but we knew that going into the draft. He [has] proven that with his play."
On the Steelers' young wide receiver corps: "They're just doing what they should do. They're taking the plays that come their way. They're being in position to make them by making proper conversions and being where it is they're supposed to be. They're a group very much in progress from a growth standpoint. But I like the daily gains that I'm seeing in that area."
On the Ravens' secondary without CB Jimmy Smith: "I'm sure that that's what they're formulating as they prepare for this football game. Jimmy Smith was a quality player, there's no denying that. He's a type of guy that you can build the remaining components of your coverage around because he's just that consistent. I imagine it's going to be an adjustment for them, but not an adjustment that they're probably foreign to making. I think the first time we played those guys they were playing without [Lardarius] Webb, who is also a really good player."
On whether the Ravens' focus on the quick-pass game has taken away the deep-ball throws: "I don't believe so. They're probably more equipped to answer that than I am."
On preparing for the Ravens' defense: "I was just having a conversation about this with somebody yesterday. The reality is that you can't get comfortable with the familiarity. I think always, anytime these two teams come together, the present circumstance has a big deal in terms of how the game is going to unfold, how we plan for it. Just the natural adversity that football presents to both teams and the adjustments that come with it, I think, makes the game different. The first time we played these guys they were heavily tight end-oriented because of the quality of the two tight ends. This time I turn the tape on, I see a fullback, [No.] 44 [Kyle Juszczyk] is an integral part of what they're doing. It's just the natural adjustments that happen to football teams as you push through a season, and I'm sure the same things that are happening to us, and they're realizing it and making adjustments accordingly."
On how different the Steelers are as a team since playing the Ravens in Week 2: "You know, I haven't really looked at it in that way, because it's just a journey that we're walking and you make adjustments along the way based on performance or availability and what have you. I imagine that we are [a different team], but I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about the ways that we we're different. I'm more concerned about the present and the group that we're working with right now and the division of labor that we have right now."
On whether QB Ben Roethlisberger's game against the Colts was the best he has played: "I've seen Ben [Roethlisberger] play really well over the years. I guess statistically you can't argue based on that performance. But the quarterback position is beyond statistics, and oftentimes he can play great and statistics not reflect it."
On whether any particular moment from the Ravens-Steelers rivalry stands out for him: "Not really. I think each game stands on its own. It's always important stuff. I imagine the AFC Championship game was a special moment there a number of years back, but what playoff football [game] isn't?"
On where QB Ben Roethlisberger's level of play is at this point in his career: "I think he's on top of his game physically and mentally."
On whether he thinks the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is the best in football: "I do, but that's my perspective. I'm sure people that are involved in other rivalries feel that way about the ones that they're involved in."
WR Antonio Brown
On what it was like to be a part of the Steelers' 639-yard offensive performance against Indianapolis last Sunday:"Well, it's something fun to be a part of – really special. It was definitely exciting to be a part of."
On if he's ever seen QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 522 yards and 6 TDs against the Colts, in that kind of zone:"Yeah, I experienced it before, and when he's in that zone, it's absolutely special."
On what has clicked for him this season:"Well, it's just preparation – being prepared and having a great rapport with the quarterback, obviously, and just taking advantage of opportunities."
On if QB Ben Roethlisberger can continue his hot streak:"Yes. I think he's working at it. He's preparing like a champion, and we have to continue to get better and make strides."
On his take on the Ravens' secondary:"I think they're doing a good job. For a gut-down alignment, you have to be a good cornerback. Those guys are covering well on the back end."
On how the Steelers have improved since they first met Baltimore this season:"I think we just improved overall as a team – from an offensive perspective, defensive perspective and just as a team as a whole."
On matching up with CB/RS Lardarius Webb and how he compares to CB Jimmy Smith:"Well, [Lardarius] Webb is more [of] a quicker guy and a lot smaller, more fluid [and has good hands]. Jimmy Smith [is] a bigger, stronger guy who they like to put on the line of scrimmage and be disruptive at the line of scrimmage. Those are the types of differentiating things between those guys."
On what has clicked on offense these last couple weeks:"I think the young guys are just continuing to get better. Every time they get out of the 20, they're sailing. We're going to need those guys to continue to be better."
On if he believes Pittsburgh has one of the NFL's best wide receiver corps:"I think that [it's the] making of it. We have to continue to work and continue to prove that."
On what it was like to come into the Ravens-Steelers rivalry as a young player:"I mean, it was always brutal. You have to know you have to hit the weight room two, three times, four times this week. You have to put the extra pads in, and you have to protect yourself at all times. It's just that type of game."
On if he feels it is the best rivalry in football:"Absolutely."