You had said you have to get healthier and you have to get better. That seems to be encapsulated in the tight ends, because now
John, you talked yesterday that it was important to win the game, but what is the incentive to win at Cincinnati? Is it all about momentum? What is your incentive to win Sunday? (Dave Ginsburg) "It probably goes to what Joe [Platania] was just talking about. That's how you improve, that's how you get better. Momentum, sure it's a good word, [but] what does that mean exactly? It means that we're improving. We always say that you either get better or you get worse. Sometimes, you are getting better and it doesn't show up in the results all the time, but I think we see it. We're recognizing when we see it, so the idea is that there are plenty of things to work on. We have to continue to improve to be at our best that we can in the playoffs. This week is an opportunity to do that."
Is getting the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs important to you? It is conceivable that you could move into the third seed, in which case you might face Cincinnati again. (Dave Ginsburg) "It's hard to predict all that. There is just no way to be sure. Certainly, there are percentages. We've looked at all that. We understand what has to happen all across the board, as far as the way that could shake out on Sunday, but there is no way to say for sure what's going to happen, so we'll just have to see how it plays out."
Players are always talking about being coached up. Can you talk a little bit about your staff and how you were preparing after the Denver game? (Stan Charles) "Our staff does a great job. Thanks for asking that. We have a great staff. I believe – maybe I am a little biased – we have the best staff in football. Top to bottom and all the way around, we have great coaches. They do a great job with our players. It's not just after one game. Our guys did a great job after last week's game throughout the course of the week game--planning and coaching our guys. But, it's more of a process from the beginning of the offseason program and developing players all the way through. Every player benefits from working with his coach, whether he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame-shoe-in-type player, like we have, or whether he is a first-time rookie draft pick or free agent. Our coaches do a great job of working with every single guy on our roster so that when the time comes, he'll be best prepared to play his best. And, that showed up. That showed up over the course of this season probably more than any season since we've been here, the number of guys that have played for us and played well."
With the balancing act that you have this week of getting ready and trying to keep your momentum going, if the outcome of the game is in hand one way or another, how much would you want to rest a guy if he has an injury or if he is a key player during the course of the game? (Aaron Wilson) "It's definitely a consideration. The biggest thing is that you can't play this game half-speed. You have to play this game full-speed. Our guys are going to play the game full-speed to win the game. How that type of thing would shake out is definitely a consideration, but I would expect it to be a tight game all the way through. These are two evenly-matched teams, and it's going to be a highly-competitive game. So, I haven't really thought along those lines right now."
You said yesterday that you guys emerged relatively unscathed as far as injuries. Is
I know you credited the offensive line yesterday. What did you see from them once you actually went back and watched the tape? How did they actually play? (Matt Zenitz) "It's always never as good as you think and never as bad as you think. The first thing that I saw were things that could have been better. There were a number of combination blocks – two-man combinations and three-man combinations – versus movement that we didn't block all that well. Our backs made some good plays. By the same token, there were lots of really good blocks. Anytime you pass protect the way that we did against a team that can rush the passer like the New York Giants, that's a big plus. I thought Joe [Flacco] did a good job of getting the ball out, too, to help that. He also scrambled and made some plays, which was really positive. The run blocking was good. We rushed for a lot of yards, and it's because those guys were very physical upfront. The offensive line continues to improve. As you know, it's a young group, so that's something that we really expect to have happen."
And with that, I know K.O. [
John, how much did [Dannell] Ellerbe provide a boost for you guys? He seemed to get his burst back, especially on the blitz even though it didn't count – the sack. (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, he was in there. He timed that up really well. I thought the whole defense timed that up really well. (laughter) [Dannell] Ellerbe played well. Dannell has played well all year when he's played, and getting him healthy is a big plus for our defense."
On watching the film today, how did
What did you see from the
Have you heard from the NFL yet, or do you expect more later in the week thing? (Aaron Wilson) "It's usually later in the week."
Coach, after struggling a little over the past three weeks, it seemed like things kind of came together yesterday for you guys. Was it better preparation in practice? Communication? It just seemed like it all came together on both sides of the ball yesterday. (Bill West) "It's kind of a running process. We've been practicing really well throughout the course of the last four weeks, and as a coach, at some point in time, it's going to show itself on the field on game day. And it probably just did. It was our best overall performance, I think. It was the best we've done at putting all three phases together and playing well. We blocked, we tackled, and our playmakers made plays. We didn't turn the ball over. We didn't do things that cost us and hurt us like we did in the other three games. So, that's probably the difference."
Is there a little concern about the number of penalties you guys have had? (Ed Lee) "I never want to be highly-penalized. That's something that's not good, but you've got to look at each of those penalties again, individually. Some of them were good calls that we can do something about, and some of them weren't, that we really can't do anything about. But when they add up, that's something that we just have to keep working on, and it's a goal of ours to be a low-penalized team."
Did you get an explanation for what the officials saw to nullify the
Quarterbacks take the blame and they take the glory. Joe [Flacco] said yesterday that he believes in himself, and he looked like a quarterback that believes in himself with the way he performed … (Jim Forner) "Joe is confident, and I hope our whole team is confident; you hope all your players are confident. That's something that you want to see out of your guys. He performed at a real high level, in a critical situation, in an important game, against a very good defense that was very determined. So, that was big for us."
Would it help to win a game on the road this weekend? It hasn't been really a problem this year, but still nice to win one away from home? (Dave Ginsburg) "It'd be a big plus for us. An opportunity to go play on the road like this, in a real tough environment … It's a rivalry game, because it's in the division. These two teams go at it pretty good every single time, so yeah, that's something that will help us build up our calluses a little bit for the playoffs. It'll be a plus for us."