Definitely. It's one of the biggest rivalries that we're a part of. They've been to the Super Bowl, they've been the team that's been on top for a long time, and they're a team that we always look forward to playing against.
Q: Stakes are high in this game with them at 4-2 and you at 2-4. Just how important is it?CP:
It's huge. Every game is huge, and everybody says that. This will be the biggest game we've played so far, and after this game, the Buffalo Bills will be the biggest game. A lot gets made of that. It's a rivalry game, it's a division game, and for us to keep up with the pace of this division, we need to get a win. That's all we're worried about.
Q: Coach Tomlin said it took two seconds to decide to stay with LeBeau. Talk about what Dick likes to do:CP:
Tomlin is smart. You can't let LeBeau go. To me, being a quarterback, he's the toughest defensive coordinator to face. In my opinion, he's the best there is. He does so much different stuff and you get so many different looks, and he does such a good job of adjusting to you during games. Mainly it's getting to your protections. He uses a lot of the same similar coverages and stays in the same game plan with his coverages, but he will change little things up here and there to get guys on backs, bigger guys on running backs in pass protections. They do such a good job disguising things and bringing different blitzes late. He's the best there is.
Q: T.J. Houshmandzadeh said it's not LeBeau's style to double up on Chad (Johnson) or T.J., and that he'd rather challenge you. Does that leave you licking your chops?CP:
They have done a little bit (doubling). They've gotten to Chad quite a bit, and they've done some things where they can slow down T.J., but you don't lick your chops ever when you play this defense. They're that good. Their front guys are big, strong, physical guys and then with (Clark) Haggans and the guy that replaced Joey Porter, No. 92 (James Harrison), they can get after the quarterback. They can get on edges, they can rip coming underneath the tackles and get to the quarterback. They confuse a lot. They're bringing their Mike linebacker a lot more this year. Just trying to get your big guys to try to block their little guys and their big guys on backs. They do such a good job of that, you never lick your chops and think you'll be able to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball all day. You just don't get much time against these guys. That's the way they play defense.
Q: The X-factor has been Chris Henry. Has the production at third receiver been because of defenses or Henry?CP:
Because Chris Henry is Chris Henry. Any other team, he's the No. 1 receiver. Here he's the third guy, and you've got to worry about Chad and T.J. He gets a lot of single coverages on the weaker corners, having Chad and T.J. on the same team, so a lot of that is Chris being Chris.
Q: Glenn Holt has to do something then, right?CP:
Yeah. He needs to step up just like he did last week. On third down he got a couple pass interferences because he ran good routes. He had a couple big catches in the game, and we've got to rely on Glenn, and he's got to show up again just like he did last week. And he will.
Q: Ike Taylor seemed to step up his game vs. Chad and T.J. Is that something you noticed?CP:
No, you notice Troy (Polamalu). You notice (James) Farrior. Aaron Smith, (Casey) Hampton ... they've got so many good guys who are all over the place. He has played pretty good on the outside, and he's a pretty good player, and we've got to hope Chad and T.J. can get open against him.
Q: Are you excited that Chris Henry returned to practice today and that he will be back shortly?CP:
I'm excited. As soon as we get him back, I'm fired up. How can you not be? His production speaks for itself. And it will be great when we get him back.
Q: Did he dislocate his ring finger catching a pass from you today? Marvin mentioned he had hurt his finger:CP:
No. I don't know who that came from. I didn't get a chance to throw with him today. He's doing a lot of scout team, just kind of getting back into it. So I'm not sure who threw that one.
Q: Those guys have won here, and you have won at Pittsburgh. The series has gone against the norm:CP:
When they come here, it seems like they have just as many fans as we do in the stadium. Wherever they go - you watch them on TV — you see a ton of black and yellow in the stands. There will be a bunch of their fans here, and they're loud, extremely loud. Normally you don't hear the opposing team in our stadium. But it's just the way it has worked out. I don't think we've played really well against them at home yet. We seem to play pretty well against them on the road and we're trying to change that this week.
Q: How important for Bengals fans to hold on tickets and not sell on eBay where Steelers fans can get them?CP:
Huge. Like I said, there's Steelers fans in every city in this country. There's a number of them in this city and we hope that they're not on eBay, and they're not for sale because we want our fans to be there to see this.
Q: What is your pregame ritual?CP:
Nothing, routinely. I don't have any big superstitions. I'm not a big music guy. I like to get on the field and get warm, come back inside, stay loose, joke around. Maybe look over some plays, maybe look over opening plays - or third-down stuff, red zone - but no strict routine or any crazy superstitions or anything like that.
Q: You ever harbor feelings of hate for their injury to you that ended the 2005 season?CP:
No. It's just a football game. They're just a team that's in our way. We need to beat them. Nothing like that.
Q: Do you ever look back at the playoff game and wonder how the franchise might have been different if you hadn't gotten hurt?CP:
No. It is what it is. The past is the past. It was a tough loss for this city, for this organization, but you could if and what-if yourself to death. They beat us fair and square at our place and moved on and won a bunch of games in a row, and ended up wining the Super Bowl. That's how it ended up.