Q: How tough is it on a short week to come back and get ready for a team like Pittsburgh? RF:
It's hard. The biggest thing you've got to tell yourself is that it's hard for them, too. This is a tough deal with how physical games are in the NFL, especially in this conference, to turn around and play an opponent like this that quick. It's a gut check for us. And we'll see how healthy we are going into this game, but we have to have some guys step up, and we're going to play hard and see what happens.
Q: Looks like injuries will change the look of the offensive line this week. How much does that change things against Pittsburgh?RF:
I don't know that it changes things too much because this is the NFL and the guys that are on our team, whether they be starters or backups, are here for a reason. If they have to step in and play, or if there's a particular guy that has to step in and play, we're expecting him to get the job done.
Q: Last time you played the Steelers, Hines Ward had the jaw-breaking hit on Keith Rivers. Is there any leftover animosity toward Ward?RF:
Not personally for me, but I don't know what the feeling is on the defensive side. I would assume not. It's just one of those things that happens during a game, and he's a physical player, and he kind of caught (Rivers) off guard.
Q: Do things like that add to the rivalry (Steelers vs. Bengals)?RF:
It's always such a physical game when we play them. I think there have been a lot of moments like that that have happened that just add to it. But it's an ongoing deal. We know it's going to be a physical game when we play them and we're looking to pound the ball on them.
Q: Last time you played the Pittsburgh, it was a one-touchdown game after three quarters and kind of came apart at the end. What do you think happened?RF:
That was a really tough loss. I think the final score was 38-10, which was so disappointing for how we played for the first three quarters and keeping it close. But we have to learn from that game. I think we're a different team since then. We've got a win and obviously what happened last week with the tie under our belt, and I think there's a better feeling in the locker room now. There's a little more confidence in terms of what we're doing and just getting that winning feeling back I think has helped.
Q: Are you more comfortable against a defense like Pittsburgh's?RF:
Yeah, the biggest thing with them is that you've got to be comfortable with your looks in the film room before you step on the field. And kind of anticipate and expect what's coming. With 43 (Troy Polamalu) back there running around, sometimes he does his own thing and he's a great player, and you've got to know where he is at all times. That's their game - they try to make sure that you're uncomfortable back there. And with their rush, and how hard they come sometimes, it's uncomfortable. You've just got to make decisions and get the ball out.
Q: Looks like T.J. Houshmandzadeh catches anything you throw at him. How important has that been for you?RF:
He's a great player. And I think the biggest thing with him is reliability, that whenever you go to him - whether there's two or three guys on him, whatever it takes - he's going to get open and catch the ball. It's nice being able to fall back and rely on him, especially when things aren't going right or we've got crucial third downs or even first and second down. He's our guy, that's no secret that we like to go to him. He's just a real special player in that way.
Q: He's kind of like Hines Ward in that way:RF:
I think in terms of value to the team or how teammates value and respect the player, I think they're similar.
Q: There was a point in the Eagles game when T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) had his helmet off on the sideline yelling and talking to you. Is that a normal quarterback/receiver thing?RF:
Oh yeah. T.J. wants the ball on every play, just like Chad (Ocho Cinco) wants the ball on every play. There's a balance you have to find. But he's a fiery competitor, and that's probably the thing I like most about him, that he wants the ball. Even when he's covered, he wants you to throw him the ball. And you know that he's going to make the play because he's done it time and time again. It's just something that happens during a game and it was nothing more than a conversation.