Is Ben Roethlisberger one of the toughest, if not, the toughest quarterback to sack?
He is. From last year, taking him down personally, you see quarterbacks who sometimes go down easily, and you can bring him down. But he's one of those guys who will fight and gets out of a lot of sacks, and the sacks that he does give up, he's still standing.
As you can see from the game last night, he continues to make plays by breaking those sacks and those tackles and letting his receivers get open down field.
*A lot of guys on this team have ties to Pittsburgh or the Steelers somehow. You with your dad spending all those years with the Browns, how did you grow up feeling about the Steelers? *I really didn't have a whole lot of resentment or anything for the Steelers. Obviously, I'm a Browns fan, still am. But it just didn't mean a whole lot to me, if anything. I was a Steelers fan coming into the draft and what not, just because of the conversations I had with Tomlin and with the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff. But I guess they're our enemy now.
Talk about Dom Capers approach and vision for this defense.
Well, you know, what we're doing right now. I think we finished up number two behind Pittsburgh this year in defense. Last year I think we finished up number one and two in yards per game and points. But overall we've been playing some great ball.
It asks a lot from the guys. Like myself from the outside linebacker position, to guys like B.J. Raji dropping into coverage, as you saw, to our DBs who were not only playing coverage, but blitzing. You see Sam Shields getting interceptions, also rushing the quarterback. That's a lot, but I think that's why we're so successful at it is it's so limited as to players who can play it. But the fact that the guys have bought into it, and the coaches are really stressing to us what we need to accomplish.
How would you grade this season as an individual? If you look at it, I guess you're not crazy about it.
I thought it was your job, guys, to tell me.
*Can you talk about the Pittsburgh guys talking about you all this week and next week? What's that feel like when a lot of that is on your shoulders?
*It feels good. It's everything I wanted. When I came here, I didn't want to be just another guy on the team. I wanted to be a playmaker and I wanted to be a leader of this defense. And I think I'm taking the step in the right direction. You guys forget I'm only in my second year, so I think the possibilities are endless. I look to build upon my performance. Obviously, finish this year out the right way with a win, but build upon this performance and continue to climb as a player and as a leader on this defense going into my third year.
In terms of a guy like Ben who never gives up on a play, yet he holds that ball, and holds that ball, is there more of a chance for a turnover in that situation? You guys approach it any differently?
*We'll have to watch the film. But obviously with quarterbacks like that you just need to stay alive in your pass rush. I think last year, obviously last year was last year, but we had some success against him rushing the passer as well as I'd like to think stopping the run. But obviously we gave up way too much in the passing game, so if there's anything to learn from last year's loss, you know, it's that. So yeah, we've got to stay alive, really get after him, and kind of collapse the pocket on him, and force him to not be able to complete those passes where he moves around and breaks tackles.*
*Did anybody tell you how it is to take care of this stuff now? I'm sure there were things that they told you about family things, etc? *We have an administrative meeting within these next couple of days, we need to have to have our tickets, hotel accommodations and so on and so forth. Come around Wednesday, we'll be done with that and it's back to football.
Is it a given your dad will be at the game?
I don't know if it's a given. He told me he's been to two BCS National Championships, lost them both. Been to a Super Bowl in which my uncle lost. So I think it's up in the air right now, but I think we plan on him coming though.
Do you ever watch Harrison on film?
What do you think of him?
He's a great player. He's unique in his size and speed and what he can bring to the table. Obviously, he's real compact and explosive. He can get around the edge as well as bull-rushing people back. He creates a problem for tackles across the league. He's been doing this for years now, and a Super Bowl MVP. So, you know, he's some guy to keep an eye on.
You mentioned before wanting to take a more leadership role. Do you think guys in the locker room forget that you're a second-year guy, too? And how do you go about taking that?
I think that's a good thing. Despite being a second-year player, I know I'm regarded as much more than that. As far as you know, it's not how many years I've played, it's how I contributed on the football field within the huddle and the locker room. I got off topic. What was the question again?
Becoming a leader and what you've done in terms of that?
It's what I've been asked. It's what I want to do. I know the coaches look up to me as far as making plays and being a leader on this defense. And despite this being my second year, this is a young team. Someone needs to kind of take that. Obviously we've got guys like Charles Woodson who have been around here for a while, excelling at his position who are going to help this defense out. But hopefully I can help the younger players as well as the older just through my play and through my growth.
With so many guys with Steelers connections, do you think this means something extra?
I think the fact that we're playing the Super Bowl alone, means a great deal to them. Obviously with our coach being from Pittsburgh, it's got to be fun to play I'm sure his childhood team. But it is the Super Bowl. There's obviously extra motivation, but the fact alone that we're playing in such a big game should be enough motivation.
Because it's a Super Bowl, obviously there is a lot of off-football focus. How much attention do you feel your hair, and Polamalu's hair will get?
I imagine it will get some. Obviously, two of the best hairs in the game, so there's no doubt about that. I don't know. It will be fun. I'm sure there will be some good video and print on that. We'll see how it goes and where it goes.
Do you talk about hair conditioner and shampoos?
I'm not so much a Head & Shoulders guy, but it's something that we usually leave out of our conversations when talking with one another.
You should have ads too, shouldn't you? Shouldn't you have commercials?
I'd like to.
Is that the next step?
I think that's the next step right there. I'm working on something right now, so don't be surprised. But we'll see. Obviously you've got to perform on the field in order to get those type of endorsements, and hopefully I'm taking a step in the right direction.
What do you see from veterans like Donald and Chad and guys that have been around here a long time that haven't played in the Super Bowl? What did you see on their faces and their reactions to this point?
It's really interesting for a guy like me who has had a good amount of success coming in here, both personally and on a team level. We made it to the playoffs last year. We had a pretty good season, obviously came up short, and here we are in my second year winning in the NFC championship and going to the Super Bowl. It's almost as if I don't know any better. I don't know how to act after we win games like that. I think it's just another step on the road to being great as an individual and as a team.
But you look at these guys who became so emotional after playing for 10, 11, 12 years and understanding how rare this opportunity is. So it's something that I think especially coming home last night it was pretty unique to get home and be at the airport and kind of see how the city is responding to us. We have songs on the radio that are being played that are a play on our colors and our teams, so that's pretty unique. I think it's still setting in, especially with being such a young team. But I think those guys will help lead us in the right direction, and you know, winning this game.
Having played a BCS championship game, all the build up to the game and the activities that week before the game, how will that help you going into the Super Bowl game?
It's not to get distracted by it. It's all of those, I guess, distractions really with so much time off and there's so much build up, so many events to partake in, and media days and what not. It's just staying focused on the overall picture. I think everybody is here. You obviously wouldn't be in this situation, being an All-Pro if you weren't ready for such rigors. But we've made it three games on the road. We've been playing for five weeks now with a win or go home mentality. So it's just one more on the 2010 season.
What was your impression of Ted before the draft, and after the draft, and what do you think of the job he's done?
Obviously, I've met with a lot of coaches and staff and personnel, and Ted was one of them. I'm not going to sit here and say that I personally remember the Packers meeting. I figured I wasn't going to end up here with them having the ninth overall pick. But obviously I think he did a great job. Obviously he obviously traded up. He brought me in here. The great thing about it is he was one of few who saw potential in me and kind of brought me in here to make an impact and obviously took some heat for giving up three picks.
But I'd like to think it's paid off. You look at the guys who he's brought in, he's built through the draft, B.J. as well in my 2009 draft class. We're a young team that continues to grow. He's obviously taken hits through the media and maybe not picking up a guy here or the whole Favre situation. But we're in the Super Bowl now. There's not a whole lot you could say about him that's not positive.
*There's always a standard of all these other guys and what do you do? Do you now suppose that's something that you take that is the right move and that it just defines you even more? *You appreciate the fact that the team believes in you enough to give up numerous picks and draft up and pick you. But at the time I was just so elated to have ended up in the first round and end up in such a great organization and team. But you truly realize kind of what it means, and especially if I did live up to the expectations. But no matter where I was drafted in that draft, I was going to give the same effort and energy, everything that I put on the field, whether it was first round or a free agent.
Really like I always say, the pressure I put on myself is greater than any media or coaches or what people expect from me. Everything that I do out there is from within.