Opening Comments:ML: "Obviously, getting ready to play a division opponent and the past World Champions at home, it's an exciting week. It's a very, very important game. We know they have a fine, fine quarterback, great skill players, and an offensive line that came together and played very well last year, gelled together and led them to a World Championship. Defensively, they really haven't changed much. They're going to continue to get after you, and come with the different zone pressures from all over the place. There's a little different variety at times now, taking another step with some of those things, but it's very similar to the things we've seen in the past. On special teams, they've improved themselves with the kick returner in (Stefan) Logan. So they have another threat there along with (Santonio) Holmes, when he's back there. They're a fine coached football team, and very well rounded. They're coming off a close game. Chicago made one more play than they did, and obviously they missed a couple field goals that would have won the game. So they come in here after that, and it's an important game for us. "
Q: How hard are these next three weeks, because they are three straight division games?ML: "I don't know if that lends to more or less toughness. It's a division game. You have to put your team together to prepare and play against teams in your division, and I think we've done that. Whether we play them now, or play them later, they're important games. They're division games, and that's the way it is."
Q: How much does it change their defense with Troy Polamalu not being able to play?ML: "The schemes aren't going to change, but Troy Polamalu is a great football player. In the first half of that game against Tennessee, he made three of the finest football plays I've ever seen, and he was doing a different thing in every one of them. He's a smart player, he understands, he studies the opponent's offense. He knows tendencies, and he plays to those tendencies very fast. So obviously they're going to miss him, no matter who is in there for him. (Tyrone) Carter has played a bunch of football for them. He's replaced Troy (Polamalu) before, he's replaced the other safety, and he's been in there in the system. So he understands what to do and how to play."
Q: The Steelers have had a lot of success recently in Cincinnati. Is there a common theme you've noticed, either on their end or yours?ML: "Well ... our inability to play well enough to win. Other than that, every game is a different football game. There comes a critical point in a game, and they've been able to make the plays to win and put it out of reach, and we haven't."
Q: The Steelers and Ravens have set the standard for tough defenses in this division. How close is your defense to being in that discussion?ML: "It can only be that way when you get to the end of the year. To talk about it now really doesn't make any sense. The end of the year is how you're judged. What you do through 16 games is how you're judged. At the end of the year, we can sit and have a long discussion about it."
Q: Why is Ben Roethlisberger to elusive? He doesn't look very quick. Does his size help?ML: "I think it's his size, and he has a great feel for the game. He's a strong guy, obviously, in his upper body, to ward off tacklers at times. And he does a great job with that. All that being said, he has the focus to get out of that jam and then move forward and throw the football, which makes him all the more efficient. He's so productive once he avoids the rushes and then throws the football. He's able to refocus his eyes and his vision and find the wide-open guy down the field."
Q: What makes Pittsburgh's run defense so good?ML: "They've got good players up front, really good players -- Casey Hampton, (Brett) Keisel has come in and done a great job, (Aaron) Smith. They've been doing the same things for a long time. The run principles haven't changed since 1992, they've just plugged in new guys. I think that makes a huge difference. When James (Farrior) came over from the Jets, he was able to plug right into the system and fit in well. He has a great understanding of the fits, understanding where they are. So they just continue to plug the guys in. You keep doing that time and time and time again, you have a great understanding. When there is a breakdown, a lot of times a player understands what happened and why, and they're able to fix it before you even get to the sideline and the coaches."
Q: What does Rashard Mendenhall add to their running game?ML: "He adds another guy who has fine speed. They have Willie Parker, and you know, Willie generally is not given much credit for being an inside-the-tackle runner, but he's a great inside-the-tackle runner. (Rashard) Mendenhall is a little bigger, physical guy, and not with quite as blazing speed as Willie Parker. But he's a good, hard runner and obviously a guy that we know a lot about, having gone through the draft a year ago.
Q: On Bengals injuries: ML: "I think Andre Smith is the only guy whose services we definitely won't have this week. I I doubt we'll suit up David Jones, but he'll get back to some work this week. And Nate Livings will get back to some work this week. We'll limit Cedric (Benson) and Chris Henry today, and they should be back in full participation probably tomorrow. Other than that, I think we're in pretty good health. I think any of the other guys who got bumped and bruised in the game, we'll continue to work through those things and pretty much be at full strength."
Q: Were you happy with the way Evan Mathis played?ML: "Yeah, pleased with what Evan has done. We just have to keep going and see what the best combination of guys is."
Q: You had Dennis Roland at tight end:ML: "Dennis played tight end, he played tackle. I thought his snaps were productive. We're trying to find what the best group is. We'll keep working at it that way."
Q: Could Roland catch a pass?ML: "Well, if he's playing tight end, then yes, he's eligible to release and become a pass-receiver."
Q: Do you see right tackle up for grabs between (Dennis) Roland and (Anthony) Collins?ML: "We're trying to continue to see what the best mix is. We'll work with that. I don't know if you want to say it'll be up for grabs, but we played both guys a little bit last week, and we'll make a decision later in the week about how we'll go through it this week."