“I just think the natural evolution of us and them as teams and what we’re hunting and NFL scheduling just kind of brings things together. It’s not something that has to be artificially stimulated. It is what it is.”
2. He is happy to have Joe Haden on his side now.
Pittsburgh signed the veteran cornerback after he was released by the Browns right before the season started, and so far the arrangement is working out quite well for the Steelers.
“He’s been a breath of fresh air,” Tomlin said. “The play is something we’re all familiar with being in the AFC North. What you don’t see on a day-to-day basis is he’s been a really good teammate and hard worker.”
Haden has three passes defended but is still looking for his first interception as a Steeler.
“We’re glad we have him.”
3. Tomlin doesn’t think the Steelers defense is any faster than last year.
The coach dispelled a commonly held notion about his team, which has gradually gotten younger over the past few seasons.
"I just think there’s an appearance they’re playing faster because probably they have more experience, they have a better understanding of how it fits into the big picture,” Tomlin said. “That allows you to hustle and play free. That’s probably what you’re recognizing.”
4. Cameron Heyward has grown as a leader for that unit.
The Steelers certainly had high hopes for the defensive lineman when they drafted him out of Ohio State, and he is living up to them on and off the field.
“I think the elevation and the maturation of his play has been a natural thing over the course of his time,” Tomlin said. "I think in recent years he’s done an awesome job of embracing the leadership role.”
Heyward is third on the team with 20 tackles, including three sacks. He also have seven quarterback pressures.
“He’s an elected captain and the unquestioned leader of the group. He wears it in a very natural way and uses those influences for good. He challenges guys, he encourages guys. It’s a very natural thing for him. I imagine he’s been a captain on every team he’s ever been on.”
5. Ben Roethlisberger is “the ultimate competitor.”
The quarterback from Miami University has endured some ups and downs this season, but his head coach remains in his corner.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” Tomlin said. “That makes him really fun to be around. This guy loves to compete whether it’s in stadiums or on the practice field, in football or anything else.”
After throwing five interceptions in a loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 8, Roethlisberger threw for 252 yards and a touchdown with an interception last week as the Steelers knocked off the previously unbeaten Chiefs.
“He’s an emotional guy, sometimes he makes statements you guys run with, but I’ve worked with Ben for 11 years now,” Tomlin said. “I know and understand him and obviously happy to be a partner of his.”