Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held his normal noon Tuesday press conference in preparation for the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. Tomlin opened with really calling this game the AFC North Championship game and the team understands the magnitude of this game and the importance of the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Tomlin said the team has a lot of work to do this week and that familiarity does not breed comfort when playing the Ravens. Tomlin and the team are taking nothing for granted this week.
Tomlin went on to praise the Ravens plus minus turnover ratio and noted that they are +7 in the playoffs. Tomlin said that the Steelers must not lose this battle on the stat sheet as it is a very important stat and even more so in the playoffs.
Tomlin went on to say the team is still very healthy for the most part. Safety Troy Polamalu suffered a calf strain in pre game warm ups versus the Chargers, but was able to play and his fine. He will likely be limited early in the week of practice. Center Justin Hartwig tweaked his knee in the second quarter against the Chargers and was fitted with a knee brace and played fine in the second half. Hartwig will also likely be limited during the week as well. Tomlin said safety Ryan Clark, linebacker James Harrison and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all came out of the game fine as well. Tomlin said defensive end Brett Keisel and running back Willie Parker seem to have bounce in their steps and the time missed with injuries may indeed helped them both.
Tomlin said he has not had a chance to talk to former Colts head coach, Tony Dungy, but said he has a ton of respect for Dungy and has really learned a ton from him.
Tomlin said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is no longer a rookie and playing at a very high level right now Tomlin also praised linebacker Ray Lewis and called him the heart beat of their team. Tomlin went on to say that if linebacker Terrell Suggs does not play he will be really surprised. He said Suggs gives them the ability to be either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense by the quality of his play. Tomlin said the rivalry he feels is built more on respect than it is hatred.
Tomlin explained his aggressive style against the Chargers, but said it is game by game and situations that determine his aggressiveness. He explained his motto of “Defend Every Blade Of Grass”. He is not interested in evaluations of his coaching performance, nor his he concerned with his players evaluation of his performance. He has a job to do. Tomlin said Parker may be in the running again in short yardage situations.