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Head Coach John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Posted Dec 23, 2013

Opening statement: “We had a good meeting this morning and went to work on the things we had to work on, and now our attention goes to Cincinnati and a very important game. It’s a one-game season as far as we’re concerned. We’ve been in this mode for a few weeks now. So, we’ve been in a lot of tough fights over the last four, five, six weeks, and this will be an extension of that, and that’s what our challenge is. As far as injuries go – the different things that happened – nobody is ruled out at this time. We’ll know more on Wednesday – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – in terms of who practices and those kinds of things. When we have an update on that, we’ll let you know.”

Terrell Suggs said the tape of yesterday’s game could probably be burned, but how many positives can you take from a loss like that? (Joe Platania) “Well, what we are going to do is to go to work and continue to apply everything that we need to apply to the next game. That’s what matters. Anything that we can take from that game and apply to the next game, we have to do that. There’s a lot that we do. We’ll have an opportunity to do that, whether it’s corrections or whether things we need to look at in terms of how we are going to be attacked in the future. So, it’s important for us.”

So you definitely always watch the game tape? You never just say, “That was not us, so let’s not bother watching?” (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “No, we always watch it. The players watch it to whatever extent the coaches feel like they need to. As coaches, we watch everything all the time.”

The Ravens were first in red-zone defense a few weeks ago. The last six times teams have been in the red zone versus the Ravens, they have scored. Have you seen anything different, or is it just the styles of the offenses you’ve faced?” (Aaron Wilson) “I just don’t think we’ve played as well down there. We haven’t gotten the stops we’ve needed to get. Running the ball, [teams] have gotten a few too many yards running the ball at times on us, as you saw in this game. You don’t expect someone to be able to run the ball in on us down there like that, especially the defense we were playing. It should never have happened. And they made some plays in the passing game.”

After watching Joe Flacco’s performance and some of his reads from yesterday, how much do you think his knee injury from the previous week was a factor in his play? (Jerry Coleman) “Well, I’m sure. Every single player at this stage ... I can’t think of one player who is 100 percent who has played. Joe [Flacco] has played every single play the whole season. He’s definitely not 100 percent on that knee. But to say how much or to what degree is just impossible to say. I think he fought through it, he gutted it out, he battled, and that’s what you do this time of year. And that’s what makes Joe who he is. He’s a tough, hard-nosed competitor. So, we appreciate that about him.”

The game ended pretty sloppy with a few turnovers with the change in personnel. Does that lend some credence to the decision to stick with your starters despite the calls from fans and the media to bring in some players from the bench? (Drew Forrester) “Sure, I think that’s fair.”

Do you tell the players to focus on the need to beat Cincinnati and then let the chips fall where they may? (David Ginsburg) “The guys know the scenarios. They’re not living in a vacuum. They understand what else has to happen. But our job and our task as one single-minded purpose is to win the next game. Obviously, we have everything at stake, and Cincinnati has got much at stake, too – not everything. They’ve got the division, and they’re in the playoffs, but they’ve got some seeding issues that they are playing for. So, it’s going to be a highly-contested game. It’s going to be a tough fight.”

When you looked at the game tape, did you feel there were a lot of aberrations, or did you feel the last four dramatic wins masked some bigger issues on the team? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “I’m not following you.”

Were the things that went wrong yesterday, things that have been issues for this team for some time and you couldn’t overcome them? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “What specific thing? I can answer specifics, but that’s kind of general.”

The way you played against the run. Do you think there were a lot of uncharacteristic things there? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “I think they got a few yards late on us. That was the biggest issue. I don’t think they ran through us by any stretch. There were a couple of downhill runs that were an issue. We’ve had some issues at times with downhill inside runs in the box against big backs. Most teams do. We’ve been a good run defense for the most part throughout the season, but we’ve had a couple of games here and there when we haven’t been a good run defense. And this is probably one of those games.”

There were a lot of penalties in the game yesterday on both sides. Are you guys committing more penalties, in general, than you would like? Did you do that yesterday? (Clifton Brown) “It’s hard to answer that question, because I can’t comment on the officiating. The penalties that we committed that we can address, we will. Any penalty you want to talk about, specifically, I can. Other than that, it’s really off limits.”

The biggest [penalty] – the second one – was the Jimmy Smith pass interference. Did you feel that warranted [a penalty] or do you think that he was in position? (Jamison Hensley) “I can’t answer that. I’m not permitted to answer that. You’re asking me whether it was the right call or not? That’s what you’re asking me, right? How am I going to answer that and not have the league call me up in 10 minutes. I can’t.”

From what you saw on the film, is there something you could tell him not to do? Is there something that he needed to correct on that play, from how he played that? (Jamison Hensley) “No.”

We asked you about this yesterday, but the field goal try at the beginning of the fourth quarter … You said you wanted to take a look at that and you’d have an answer for us today. Can you take us through the decision? (Luke Jones) “If I had to do that one again, I would have gone for that. I would have gone for that one, too. I’d have gone for all four of them, looking back on it. The situation of the game … We had just gone for the one previous to that that was on the 4-yard line with a foot to go. Obviously, this is fourth-and-five on the 20-yard line with five yards to go. It’s a little bit different and, during the flow of the game, I think I felt differently about it at the time – in the middle of the game. Looking back on it, I would agree with anybody that feels like we should have gone for it.”

Do you think at the time, it was the notion of [thinking], “Let’s just get some kind of momentum.” Is that what you’re thinking was at that point? (Jamison Hensley) “That’s part of it. There are a lot of things going on in your mind. What happened was we got stopped the previous time with the idea that you’re inside the 5-yard line, and when you go for it inside the 5-yard line, you’re chances of forcing them to punt the ball back to you, get the ball almost in field [goal] position, and at least get that field goal back if not the touchdown, is your thinking. The thinking there was, ‘OK, that’s exactly what happened. We’ll get that field goal back, and we’ll be within 17 with a chance here.’ If you look at the opportunities down the stretch – especially in the red zone – we had a chance to get back in that game throughout those couple of sequences there in the end of the third quarter, beginning of the fourth quarter. But, we didn’t do it. Would I happen to do it again? I would have gone for it.”

In these past couple of games, are teams paying a little more attention to Dennis Pitta or doing things to take him away because they know what kind of weapon he is? (Matt Vensel) “The Patriots … We call it a ‘hit’ call. Whenever [Dennis Pitta] was aligned within striking range of the box, the defensive ends came out and took shots at him. I think they were hitting him pretty much every opportunity within five yards on crossing routes and things like that. They did quite a bit to keep him under control.”

You guys obviously have a lot of experience playing against A.J. Green. The last time you played them, he got a couple long catches that were on tips, and otherwise, you guys did a pretty good job. How much does he factor in when you’re preparing for them and just what a tough matchup he is? (Jeff Zrebiec) “I think I was the first guy who came out two years ago and said I thought he was the best receiver in football. So, I’m on record with the A.J. Green kudos. I’ll stand on that. He’s a great player.”

Do you think they are very different from when you saw them, or have you not watched them recently? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “I don’t really want to say. I haven’t watched them that much; just starting on them today.”

Do you know them as well as anybody basically? Is this a good matchup? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “We should. We play them all the time, so they are in our division.”

Just generally about Cincinnati, they haven’t lost this year at home. Do you see anything different just as far as the kind of home team they are? (Aaron Wilson) “No, not really – haven’t thought about it. I haven’t watched Cincinnati enough to really comment too much on them other than to say that they’re good. Look at them. They’re the division champs, they’re 7-0 at home, they’ve got very good players, they’ve got very good coaches. What they’ve done this year speaks for itself, so we’ve got our hands full.”

After the game, Bill Belichick said that late in the season, sometimes the Monday to Sunday sequence is tougher than it would be earlier in the season. Did you feel at all like that might have hampered you yesterday – losing a day? (Drew Forrester) “I did. I did. We felt it. We fought through it all week as best we could. Our guys were excited to play, and I thought the effort was there. They fought like crazy, but we just didn’t have enough juice to pull it off. It’s a legitimate factor. If you go back and look at the numbers and those kinds of things, it’s true. But, you’ve got to overcome it. It’s part of the deal. Everybody has scheduling issues that they’ve got to deal with in the National Football League, and that was one of ours.”

One of the things that Lardarius Webb said yesterday is that you’ve already had to be resilient. You lost the three, and you had to come back. Do you buy that, do you agree with that, does that serve your team well this week? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) “Absolutely. That’s part of who we are. If you’ve been watching us all year, you would know that. You would understand that about us. Or, for the last six years, I think you would understand that about us.”

Along those same lines, does it help at all that you’ve been in this situation? It’s been a couple of years, obviously, but you go into Cincinnati in the last week of the season in kind of a must-win situation. Do you draw from those experiences at all, or is too much of the team different to go back to those experiences from a couple years ago? (Garrett Downing) “The guys that were there can draw from it, and the guys that haven’t been there won’t be able to draw from it.”

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