Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday tried to downplay the seemingly growing disdain the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals have for each other.
“I’m not here to build a rivalry or to make promos in regard to that,” Tomlin said during his weekly news conference. “We’re just going to prepare and show up and play.”
The teams meet at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in a wild-card game just four weeks after a skirmish-filled meeting in Cincinnati. That game resulted in scores of fines levied by the NFL and plenty of trash-talking through the media and via social media.
Is Tomlin concerned more of the same could happen Saturday?
“Not at all,” he said. “We’re singularly focused on the opportunity. It is the playoffs, and it’s about winning games. That’s where our focus will be.”
Blake, Shazier benched?
Tomlin said cornerback Antwon Blake and linebacker Ryan Shazier were not limited in playing time Sunday as a result of their performance.
Ross Cockrell and Vince Williams played extensively in place of Blake and Shazier, respectively, as last weekend’s game against Cleveland wore on.
Tomlin said it was just part of the game plan.
“We don’t give you guys a great detail about the method to the rotation, but there is,” he said. “But it’s also capable of changing week to week.”
Tomlin said the Williams/Shazier move was more of a credit to Williams than an indictment of Shazier.
“Vince has been a capable guy, and he had a good week’s practice,” Tomlin said. “The game was unfolding, and it fed into his skill set.”
No change in philosophy
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said his team was preparing as though AJ McCarron would start at quarterback in place of Andy Dalton, who fractured a thumb in a loss to the Steelers last month.
Tomlin said the Bengals quarterback situation won’t change how his team prepares, mostly because the Bengals haven’t shown a tendency to change much regardless of their quarterback.
“I see very little schematic difference in terms of how they’re attacking people, whether (McCarron) is in there or whether Andy is in there,” Tomlin said.
“It’s probably a compliment not only to him and his preparation and his ability to learn to prepare on a limited number of snaps but also to their coaching staff.”
Tomlin opened his news conference by expressing just how excited his team is for the postseason.
“We are not ‘Powerball excited’ like we won the lottery,” he said, “but we are excited about getting new life and an opportunity to pursue and chase our goals for this season this week.”