The Steelers will face a challenge this week when they host the San Francisco 49ers at Heinz Field on Sunday – a team they share a 2-0 record with.
Last week against St. Louis the 49ers sacked quarterback Marc Bulger six times and even though Bulger put up big numbers with 368 yards passing, it wasn’t enough.
Ben Roethlisberger is expecting the same kind of pressure this week.
“They did a lot of different things, the mixer is what we call it,” said Roethlisberger. “They’ve got a lot of guys moving around and doing different things, just trying to make plays and it seemed like they did a good job of that from the film that we watched.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us and we all know that. We know how good their defense is and they don’t give up big plays. That’s kind of been our M.O. so far, so we’re going to have to be able to grind it out and run the ball and just take what they give us on defense. If that’s the short little passes that lead to the big one, then hopefully it does. We’re going to take what they give us and go from there.”
A week earlier against Arizona the 49ers intercepted Matt Leinart twice, sacked him once and held him to 102 yards passing.
“They’re an opportunistic defense,” said Roethlisberger. “They find ways to get the ball and create turnovers. They’re always moving around. They throw different looks at you and it’s not going to be easy.”
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Head coach Mike Tomlin has been pleased with the play of his defense that has allowed only 10 points in two games, with the only touchdown coming in the third quarter against the Browns.
“They are playing the game together,” said Tomlin. “They are playing at a high level. They are playing with great energy and enthusiasm. That is a tribute to them. I think that Coach (Dick) LeBeau will tell you the same thing. Those guys take a great deal of pride in how they play. They care about one another and it shows. “
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San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan might be facing the Steelers for the first time as a head coach, but he is familiar with them having faced the black and gold while the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2002-2004, and their receivers coach in 2001.
“They’re a good football team. I’ve played them several times,” said Nolan. “They’ve got a great home crowd. Pittsburgh people are typically tough. Their football team is built that way. It’ll be a real challenge for us, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about going back to play them. I’m sure they’re excited about us coming in, too.”