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Coach Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Posted Dec 31, 2012

Opening statement: “Happy New Year. Good to see everybody. I had a chance to look at the game, obviously, and I’m very pleased with many, many things that took place yesterday afternoon in Cincinnati. I thought our guys went in there – particularly our young guys – and played exceptionally well. The defense played tremendously well, especially some younger guys against [the Bengals’] first offense in the first half. That was a very strong performance by those guys. I thought our offense played well. The biggest issue that we had was field position. I think if we would have had better field position, we would have had a chance to dig out of there. And, really, it’s nobody’s fault other than the bounce of the ball. You talk about the bounce of the ball sometimes; it was literal. The ball bounced down inside our five-yard line a few times. Obviously, we want to go catch those balls. But, that was the biggest factor in the outcome of that game. But we got out of it what we needed to get out of it, and we’re looking forward to moving on to our second home playoff opportunity here in the last few years. I want to talk to our crowd and make sure they are ready to roll at 1 o’clock on Sunday: We need it to be a huge homefield advantage. We need it to be our 12th man. I’m quite sure that our fans are going to be very excited to be out there and a part of it, and we can’t wait for them to be out there and be a part of it. It’s going to be a great afternoon at M&T [Bank Stadium].”

 

You actually just touched on it a little bit, but what did you learn from yesterday, and how deep do you feel you are heading into the playoffs? (Joe Platania) “I feel we are a deep football team. We learned that. We’ve learned that over the course of the season, actually. At a number of positions, we’ve been forced to play different guys, and in the end, when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a plus for us. It’s been a plus for us. Guys have stepped up without fail. We really haven’t had any of our young guys that haven’t stepped in and done well at one point in time or another. So, we’re really pleased with where we are in that way. But, it’s a whole new season and it all starts fresh. It’s the playoffs. We’re all 0-0 at this point, and it’s time to move on and play this part of the season.”

 

It’s a tough day for a lot of coaches and general managers. A lot of guys that you know, including Andy Reid, lost their jobs today. Just your thoughts on the cold reality of what is “Black Monday.” (Aaron Wilson) “A lot of great people [have lost their jobs]. The toughest thing is on the families. As coaches, we all understand the nature of the business. Players, too, understand the nature of it. That’s part of the challenge, but it’s hard on families. It’s hard on kids who have to change schools, pick up and move and start in other cities and things like that. So, that’s what you feel for the most, and that’s kind of where your prayers go out towards.”

 

When you’re thinking about yesterday, obviously your goal was to get out healthy. Did you at least think about the fact of taking momentum into the playoffs? Was that not important to you at all? (Dave Ginsburg) “No, we thought about everything. We thought about all that stuff. We really did. We took all of it into consideration, and we weighed it all out. We felt like we could win the game with the guys we had, and we almost pulled it off. With a little better field position, we would have pulled it off. So, if momentum is winning the game … That was something we talked about, and we tried to win the game. But some other factors weighed heavier in our minds.”

 

What is it going to take for Ray Lewis to be back on the field? He’s been practicing for weeks now and everyone says he is ready for the playoffs. (Jerry Coleman) “What’s it going to take? I’m not sure I follow that. (Coleman: “In terms of being ready and activated to play because he has been practicing for weeks.”) I’ll just say that’s a really good way to ask the question, Jerry. Very, very clever. But, it will take me activating him on Sunday; that’s what it will take. (Coleman: “And what will that take?”) It will take me putting his name not on a piece of paper for the de-actives. And you will find out an hour-and-a-half before the game whether or not that takes place. (Coleman: “So it will be a game-time decision?” It’s all going to be a game-time decision as far as anybody knows. So, that’s where we are. This is the playoffs, and we’re not talking about injuries, we’re not talking about activations. We really don’t care what you or anybody else thinks about that – as much as we love you – and we’re getting ready to play a football game. (Coleman: “Do you feel that gives the Colts an advantage?”) I don’t think it really matters. That’s what we’re doing.”

 

You said before your record is 0-0. Is there anything you do differently than you would normally do over the course of a 16-game season to get your guys ready? You can’t have an off day, a bad day. You have to come in at your best, which you try to do over the 16 weeks, but it doesn’t always work out that way. (Mark Zinno) “That’s probably the best point right there. You try to do it all 16 weeks. So, in that sense, we will try to maintain the same type of a routine and process. Process is a better word that routine. It’s not really a routine, because it’s a different opponent, and it’s new challenges every week. But, we will stick to our process. We will try to do it the best we have done it all year. We’ve had 16 chances to practice it, to go through this process, [and] we should be at our very best this time of year. And we need to be. The team that is at their best this time of year will end up being the one true champion. And, that’s our goal, when it’s all said and done, to be the one true champion at the end of the season. And to do that, we need to be our best this week in order to play next week, like you said. Because if you stub your toe, you’re out. That’s the great thing about it.”

 

What is it about Anquan Boldin that whether he is covered or not, he is usually in position to make a catch? Is it the body control, the routes knowledge or all of those things? (Aaron Wilson) “All those things. He just has a knack at all those things. He is very strong, has great hands, great body control, great knowledge of the game. [He is a] incredibly tough, hard-nosed guy.”

 

I guess he has proved that you don’t need to be stopwatch-fast … (Aaron Wilson) “Absolutely. I would agree with that.”

 

You mentioned the importance of the 12th man. How important is it for a home playoff game? This is where it seems a lot of teams fold when they don’t have that homefield advantage in the playoffs? (Jim Forner) “There are different numbers on that as far as stats and all that, and it’s actually pretty even. The biggest one is the six-day turnaround that gives teams a problem, when you look at the numbers, when you are traveling. Other than that, it’s a playoff game. Both teams come in and play the game. [The field] is 100 yards long and 53-and- 1/3 [yards] wide, I believe.”

 

How much does experience help in this situation? The Colts have some guys who still have a Super Bowl ring from playing on their team, but most of that team is fairly young. You guys are now going through this for your fifth-consecutive year. How much does that play a factor for you? (Mark Zinno) “We’ve got a number of guys that have been here before. The shared experiences that we’ve had and then what we can impart upon the guys that haven’t been a part of all that – the triumphs and the disappointments – all factor into who you are and what you bring to the table. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to bring all that to bear on Sunday.”

 

Intangibly, how much does a week usually help a guy if he gets a week off at this stage of the season? (Aaron Wilson) “I don’t really have that measurement. It’s got to help. How much it helps is probably different for every guy, depending on what their injury might be.”

 

Courtney Upshaw played a lot yesterday. What did you see from him on film, and where do you feel he has made the most strides throughout his rookie season? (Jeff Zrebiec) “I haven’t really categorized it, where he has made the most strides. He has made a lot of strides across the board. He has gotten better in every area. He has become a very, very solid player, and he can get better.”

 

Joe Flacco had a heck of an AFC Championship game for you guys last year. How much does a performance like that in the postseason help a guy because he knows he has done that before on that stage at this point of the season? (Aaron Wilson) “It has to be a plus. He has been in a lot of playoff games, however many it has been – nine. So, that’s got to be a big plus for him.”

 

What did you see out of Tyrod Taylor that impressed you yesterday? (Craig Heist) “Probably all of the things that you and everybody else saw. I thought he handled himself really well. On the negative side, we had a few too many pre-snap penalties. That was some of the linemen getting used to his cadence and things like that. That’s why it was probably a good thing that he played as much as he did, to get used to that. He made plays. He made throws. He made runs. He moved the ball down the field. He did a nice job.”

 

I know you are just starting to look through things with the Colts, but what sticks out about Andrew Luck when you look at him on tape? (Garrett Downing) “He is a winner, first of all. His stats are phenomenal. I think he set some rookie passing yard records. You can tell he is very smart. He takes a number of play options to the line as a rookie, which he did at Stanford as well. He’s a Stanford guy – 4.0 [GPA].”

 

You mentioned Stanford … Do you plan on talking to Jim [Harbaugh] at all to get some scouting reports on [Luck]? (Garrett Downing) “I hope he would share some stuff with me. (laughter) What are you going to get? You can see it on tape. He’s a tremendous quarterback. He’s got pluses, and he has things that aren’t so plus. So, it’s like any quarterback. We’ll be looking forward to playing against him.”

 

You guys were really good early in the season at forcing turnovers. In the last few games … You didn’t get any yesterday.  I don’t think you got any against Eli [Manning] or Peyton [Manning]. Is that just a matter of where the ball bounces, or is something going on there where you aren’t creating those extra opportunities for your offense?  (J. Michael) “[It’s] probably both. We need to create those. We need to get pressure, knock the ball loose. We’ve had a couple of not-so-good breaks, as far as some review calls and things like that on some sacked fumbles that were rightfully overturned. We need to create more turnovers. That’s a huge part of it. That will be a big difference in the playoffs.”

How do you feel about where you guys [as a team] are at this point early in the playoffs? (Matt Zenitz) “I feel great about where we are at. I’m very excited about our team right now. I like us a lot. I’ve liked us all year. I’ve liked us when you guys haven’t liked us – as a group, media. I’m talking about the pundits and prognosticators who have to make predictions. I like the fact that we’ve overcome a lot of adversity – both personal and team. I like the fact that our guys have stuck together through a lot of that. I think that’s what makes a team what it is. I’m looking forward to seeing who we are for the next one game through however many games we are able to play. It’s going to be a big challenge. It’s a great opportunity, and I wouldn’t want to be coaching any other team besides the Ravens at this stage.”

 

You look at [Robert] Mathis and [Dwight] Freeney … These guys are, obviously, so accomplished. What do you see from them just at this stage of their career? Are these guys still putting all this heat on the quarterback? (Aaron Wilson) “Yes, they are still the same. Like any player as they get a little older, they compensate for one thing and add another thing to their game. They are both playing a little bit different of a position in the base defense. They are playing a similar defense to what you are used to seeing here. They are playing outside ‘backer in the base, but they are still playing edge rusher in the sub packages. They look like excellent players, and they are capable of changing the game at any time rushing the passer.”

 

A couple of times you’ve had the opportunity to walk across the field and see a guy you worked for in Andy Reid when you played against him. This week the opportunity is going to be flipped. Chuck Pagano is going to walk across the field and shake your hand as a head coach. Just talk about your relationship with him, and have you thought about what that experience is going to be like? (Mark Zinno) “I got to do that with [Jets head coach] Rex [Ryan], so that counts. It will be great. It’s something that you take a lot of … In this profession, kind of what [an earlier reporter] was alluding to, it’s a big deal. Relationships are important, but by the same token, it’s a game. They are the opponent, and right now, they are just the opponent, and that’s what we are going to compete against.”

 

How much does being hot for lack of a better term – momentum – carry into going into the playoffs? Is it important, or is it its own individual thing? (Craig Heist) “Whatever team plays the best in the playoffs is going to win it, so [if] you want to call that getting hot, I’d say it’s pretty important. Starting this week, whoever plays the best will be the champion.”

 

When you see some of the things that happened with [Vontaze] Burfict, is that just a guy that retaliates. Was that what happened there? The two personal fouls – one on Ray [Rice], one on Bobbie Williams. (Aaron Wilson) “Ray’s [Rice] thing was he was trying to finish a block. I thought it was more of an aggressive foul than anything else. I would counsel him not to do that in that future. He felt like the play was still on. He didn’t know the play was over, and he thought he [Burfict] was getting up to go rush the passer, not that we excuse that. We don’t want any personal foul penalties. Bobbie’s [Williams], there wasn’t much there, but there was enough to be called, obviously, because it was called. [I’ll] counsel him to not get involved in any of that. We don’t need any of that. We don’t need any penalties. We certainly don’t need any post-snap shenanigans. I don’t care what they do. I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what they do. We do not need a flag thrown. [We need to] be smart enough to make sure the flag is thrown on the other guy. It’s just that simple. If we are smart football team, that’s what we’ll do. I believe our guys are smart enough to figure that out. They better be.” 

 

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