Ed Thompson: You're in your second season with the Steelers, how are you feeling out there?
Anthony Smith: I'm feeling real good. The game is coming to me a lot more, I have a lot more experience and I'm just having fun out there. I'm making some big plays, creating turnovers, big hits and bringing a little bit of excitement for our team.
Thompson: You have a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception already this year. Talk about your interception against the Broncos.
Smith: We were in a Cover-4, and they were looking for a big play. I read the route on the receiver well. They were running a deep post and I was under it. I came over the top of him and he threw it right to me basically. I went up and made a good play on it.
Thompson: Is there anything that's coming to you more naturally this year?
Smith: Not knowing the defense last year, I'm more comfortable with it this year. This year I know the whole defense and it's allowed me to make more plays.
Thompson: You had eight tackles against the Bengals and your head coach, Mike Tomlin, said in a press conference, "When his number was called, he responded." Pretty nice compliment…
Smith: It's a real nice compliment. When you can go out there when they call on you, perform and contribute to a win, it gives them more confidence in you.
Thompson: Talk about your relationship with Mike Tomlin. How much has his confidence meant to you this season?
Smith: It means a lot when a coach trusts you and puts you out there to play with this defense. We have a good relationship. I know what he expects out of me, so we have a good relationship on and off the field.
Thompson: Did you guys expect that you could go out there and dominate Baltimore the way you did?
Smith: Yeah, we feel we can dominate any team when we go out there and play as one. If we play sound defense and don't give up any big plays, we can do that to any team as long as our offense is clicking like they were.
Thompson: What kinds of challenges do the Cleveland Browns present for you guys this week?
Smith: They present a big challenge. They're a completely different team. With their new quarterback, they're going down the field more and making big plays. They can be dangerous.
Anthony Smith puts a hit on J.R. Reed.
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Thompson: Braylon Edwards has nine touchdown catches this season. What do you know about him, and what do you have to do to keep him from having a big day?
Smith: Pretty much just what we did to (Bengals wide receiver) T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which is not give up any deep balls. Once we were able to make the big plays and we had the nickel and dime working, you can't beat us right there. So as long as we can make the big plays and eliminate the deep balls down the field, we'll be successful.
Thompson: Pittsburgh's defense leads the league in fewest points allowed and yards per game allowed. What is it about your defense that's helping you put up those kinds of stats as a unit?
Smith: I think compared to last year, guys are a lot more hungry. Coming off a Super Bowl and not being able to make it back to the playoffs last year, guys want to get back there. We're communicating on the field and backing each other up. We're just all making plays.
Thompson: What did you think about the game last weekend between the Colts and Patriots? Some people think the Steelers are the only other AFC team who can seriously give either of those teams a run for their money.
Smith: I watched the game and I knew it was going to be a fight. You have two great offenses and two great defenses, so the game came down to who gave up the fewest big plays. Indy gave up more and New England won the game.
Thompson: Looking back at the first half of the season, what's the most fun you've had so far?
Smith: Probably the Cincinnati game, making all of those plays. Plus (Bengals wide receiver) Chad Johnson was talking to me a little bit, so that was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun with that.
Thompson: Mike Tomlin was questioned about all that talking going on between you and Johnson after that game. He seems to back you up and supports you playing with your own style.
Smith: Yeah, I think a team can be great when you let your individuals be themselves and not try to control what they do and how the play. You just let them go out there and play how they want to play. I think that's the best thing you can do for a player.
Thompson: Is there anything you'd like to pass on to the Pittsburgh fans as we wrap this interview up?
Smith: We're going to win these last couple games, win the divisional championship and hopefully get back to the Super Bowl.