Every week during the regular season, the opposing head coach and sometimes a player speak to the Detroit media via conference call. This week it was Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and running back Le'Veon Bell on the conference calls. I also perused steelers.com to see what else Pittsburgh players were saying this week.
So, what did they have to say about Sunday's nationally televised matchup?
1. "Opportunistic." That's the work Tomlin used to describe Detroit's defense. He said Lions defenders are very good at getting their hands on balls and turning teams over when they do. He joked that not a lot of footballs fall harmlessly to the ground when up against Detroit's defense. He knew that six of Detroit's nine interceptions came off tipped passes.
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2. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also commented on Detroit's opportunistic nature on defense, but he was equally impressed with Detroit's scheme on third down. He said Detroit has so many different calls on third down that he might not see the same coverage in the secondary on third down twice.
3. Who is the best running back-receiver combination in the NFL? Bell wasn't hesitant at all to give the belt to himself and Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. They'd certainly receive a lot of consideration if the league put it to a vote.
4. Both Bell and Brown have been playing at a very high level of late. Bell's combined to rush for over 300 yards the last two weeks, and Brown has 220 receiving yards over Pittsburgh's last two contests.
"We expect our A players to play A, as they say," Tomlin said.
5. The Steelers rank among the NFL's leaders in a lot of defensive categories, including scoring defense (third), overall defense (second) and passing defense (first). Tomlin said the biggest development on that side of the football this year has been individual players understanding and fitting into their roles. He likened it to the right pieces fitting into the bigger puzzle. He also said his defense is tackling really well right now.
6. When asked about Detroit's run defense, which has held opponents under 100 yards in four of their six contests this season, Bell said the two things that jump out to him on tape are how active Detroit's front four are in stopping the run, and how the Lions' secondary really steps up and pitches in against the run.
7. Tomlin always has a lot of respect for teams coming off their bye week, like Detroit is this week.
8. Eric Ebron has taken his fair share of criticism here in Detroit for some of the inconsistencies he had this season, but opposing coaches like Tomlin still consider him a dangerous threat they have to game plan for.
"He's got a vertical threat," Tomlin said of Ebron. "He's the type of guy who can produce big plays after the catch. You have to be thoughtful about how you play him, particularly in man-to-man circumstances because oftentimes he's too big for DB's and too athletic for linebackers."
9. Roethlisberger's biggest advice to his defense this week playing against Matthew Stafford: "Stay back because he can throw the ball a long way."