Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the Detroit media Wednesday via conference call, and also previewed the matchup in his press conference with the Pittsburgh media earlier this week. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked Wednesday about Sunday's matchup.
Here's what the Steelers had to say about this week's matchup at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh:
1. Roethlisberger was asked Wednesday about playing an 0-8 football team. He was quick to point out that his Steelers squad isn't exactly playing their best football right now, and are in no position to take any opponent lightly.
"We have a winning record, but if you'll ask most of the guys in this building they'd tell you we have a long way to go," Roethlisberger said of the 5-3 Steelers, who are coming off a come-from-behind win over Chicago Monday night. "Honestly, they're an NFL team that's going to come in here and want to beat us and we want to beat them. They are trying to get a win and so are we."
View photos of the starters for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Tomlin echoed his quarterback's sentiments, and had a pretty good line on preparing for the Lions this week.
"Their record is irrelevant to me," Tomlin said. "We're in the National Football League. This isn't college football. We're not playing an FCS team this week. We're not playing a group-of-five team this week. This is not homecoming. We better step in the stadium and respect them as the peers that they are. They're professionals. They're compensated that way – players and coaches – and so we're working with an edge. There's a fine line between drinking wine and squashing grapes in this league."
3. Running back D’Andre Swift has been one of Detroit's most consistent weapons this season, especially in the passing game. Tomlin compared the way the Lions use Swift to the way the New Orleans Saints use Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara. Pretty high praise for Swift, who leads all running backs in receptions (47) and receiving yards (415) this season.
4. Roethlisberger isn't surprised former teammate and current Lions receivers coach Antwaan Randle El got into coaching. Roethlisberger called Randle El a leader of men, and said he was either going to be a pastor or a coach.
5. Pittsburgh is one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the NFL, led by T.J. Watt, who is second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks. But consider Tomlin a fan of the two players who could potentially be tasked with limiting the Steelers on the edge Sunday – Detroit's tackle tandem of Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker.
"They need no endorsement from me, they are top quality players," Tomlin said. "The rookie was drafted where he was drafted for a reason. His pedigree is ridiculous, his talent is ridiculous. Decker has been at it for a while, he's a former first rounder."
Decker returned to practice Wednesday and there's a chance he could make his season debut Sunday after missing the first eight games with a finger injury.
6. Tomlin has a ton of respect for Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, who he said does a great job scheming up situational football and disguising packages in coverage.
7. The Steelers just played on Monday night. Tomlin acknowledged the difficulties of not only playing on a short week, but also playing a team coming off a bye week and the element of the unknown that comes with it.