Quickie Q&A: Marvin Lewis

Marvin Lewis, the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, is also coaching the North squad in the Senior Bowl this week. He had a few minutes to talk Pittsburgh Steelers football with Jim Wexell.

Marvin Lewis, coach, Cincinnati Bengals

Q: Can you break down the Super Bowl for me?

A: Pittsburgh I and Pittsburgh II. Pittsburgh East and Pittsburgh West. No, I'm excited for Mike (Tomlin) and I'm excited for Kenny (Whisenhunt). And I'm sure that Big Russ (Grimm) will be fired up. Two good football teams. Arizona surprised everybody. They clinched their division very early; they had an opportunity to rest guys. Kenny did a good job of keeping them focused and getting them back on track. When they played this game a year ago, they did a great job against them. They were able to protect, keep the ball off the ground, run the football effectively. I remember in that game Kenny making a couple of good decisions. They converted a fourth down. There's one game left and nothing to lose after this.

Q: Won't the underdog status and lack of pressure help the Cardinals?

A: Don't say that. Again, they're going into uncharted waters now. For this next week all they're going to hear about in that valley is ‘Boy, you're going to the Super Bowl.' There's that element of it as well.

Q: Can the Cardinals protect Kurt Warner?

A: Well, I thought they did a good job of protecting the quarterback last year. I realize they played the game in Arizona, but they did a good job.

Q: What about the dynamic in the Super Bowl with the coach coaching against his old team? Is that an advantage?

A: I don't know if there's an advantage since he's been gone for two years. Arizona beat the Steelers last year. They're going to line up and play football and what we do standing on the sideline, that kind of goes out the window.

Q: What were your impressions of the AFC Championship Game?

A: I thought what happened is that somebody had to make the chunk plays, and the team that made the chunk plays was going to win the game. The plays down the field that Pittsburgh was able to come up with made the big difference in the football game. When you make those kinds of plays, a twisting, turning catch, stuff like that, you're going to do well. When you don't get Ben (Roethlisberger) on the ground, he'll make an unorthodox play and find a way to get it done.

Q: Did you hear Bill Cowher say on TV that Cincinnati's the team to watch in the division next year?

A: I didn't hear Bill say it. I think Boomer (Esiason) got him after Bill was teasing him about the Titans players stomping on the Terrible Towel. Boomer corrected him, saying, ‘You mean like a coach saying We Dey?' No, I hope Bill's right. I'm betting Bill's right. We'll be a better football team. We had an opportunity this year to really get some things aired out, really understand what it takes to win, what you have to do day in and day out. Our guys fought through a lot of adversity and they stuck together and played hard together, practiced hard together.

Q: You played good defense near the end, didn't you?

A: Well we fell into some plays without a lot of our players. Guys began to understand how to play. We've still got to get better rushing the passer. We'll work very hard getting better at that. But we did a good job stopping the run. We became a better tackling team.

Q: Now, are you still mad at Hines Ward?

A: Hines plays hard. Right now that's within the scope of the rules.

Q: They're going to change the rule, aren't they?

A: Well, I think it's going to be changed because he was an unprotected player. We've eliminated a lot of blocking behind the ball, so there's a chance that plays like that can get eliminated.

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