Head Coach John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Opening statement: "Thanks for being here. First of all, by way of an announcement, it's good to see Ozzie [Newsome] here. He's working. He's been here all afternoon working. So, he's back, and he has a clean bill of health. I don't think they know exactly what caused the situation yesterday, but it wasn't anything serious. So, he's doing fine. We've been working all day. The players were in. We spent a lot of time on the tape as coaches and as players, and we feel pretty much the same way about it as we did last night. We have a better understanding of the specifics, different situations. But in the end, it comes down to winning a tight game and doing the things you have to do to win a game and a tight game in tough conditions, making the plays you need to make and not giving them opportunities that they don't need to have. That's what we have to continue to work on doing a better job, of because we haven't done a good enough job in close games of getting that done. So, that's where we are."

**The defensive backs were cited for their play in the Cincinnati game last week. Yesterday, it seemed like the offensive line had a bit of resurgence. How would you assess the way the offensive line did yesterday, in particular A.Q. Shipley and Gino Gradkowski? *(Joe Platania) *"The whole offensive line played well for the most part. There were things that we have to do better. There were a couple of pass protection issues that we will look at. The yardage is better, the schemes were better, the combination blocks were better. We did a better job of cutting off the back side. We did a better job of handling the linebacker run-throughs. We had one linebacker run-through we didn't handle. We had one sack off the left side that shouldn't have happened. It was a technique error on a pass-off between the left guard and left tackle, but those are things that happen in games. That's part of the battle, that's part of the fight. So, we'll continue to try to improve in every area – including that one."

**Did you know early on that Ozzie was OK or were you concerned about the level of seriousness of the issue? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"I found out after the game after speaking with the team and doing the media thing. After that is when I heard about it and went back and saw him. At that point in time, they said they thought he was OK. They had done all the tests, so they didn't think it was anything serious. But, they had to keep him overnight for observation just to make sure. I know they ran tests pretty much all night, Ozzie said. But it looked like he was OK at that point."

**The run game finally had a breakout game yesterday for the first time this season. Looking at the tape, was there anything you saw that was dramatically different this game as opposed to other games where the production wasn't there in the run game? *(Mark Zinno) *"One of the things we did a better job of was with our combination blocks. We did a better job of [identifying] which linebacker we were working to. The angles through the double team up to the linebacker were better. We got on those guys a little better. I thought we got them running. We stopped penetration a little bit better up front. We had fewer situations where we had to navigate a defensive lineman in the backfield. Those are probably the main things."

**This is a philosophical punting question, not specifically about yesterday: Has there been a sea change over the years not to use the corner of the field for punts? No one seems to punt the ball into the corner any more. Is there a method to that? *(Drew Forrester) *"Are you talking about going in and pooch punts?" *(Reporter: "Yes, the proverbial coffin corner, if you will.") *"There may have been. You've got a lot of field to work with, and what people have done lately is they've used a rugby-style punt. Sam [Koch] uses that punt, and you get pretty good control of that thing, and you have the field to work with. When you go coffin corner, you have a better chance of missing it to the sideline and having a short punt. It's a pretty tough shot. It's a pretty tight target in there. We've done it. Sam has put some balls down there in the corner in the past. Sam is actually what you'd call a directional punter. So, we directional punt all the time, all over the field – that's what we try to do. He's got a pretty good percentage with that. It's difficult to be a directional punter. It's not easy. Even over the years when you look back, we remember the good ones at it. [Jeff] Feagles was a great directional punter, but other guys like [Sean] Landeta, that wasn't their thing. They punted down the middle. It depends on your punter probably more than anything."

**In terms of protocol, when a play comes in to Joe Flacco, does he have the ability to change or check that play based on the personnel on the field, or if it something that has been run previously? I am referring to the third-and-16 play yesterday specifically. *(Jerry Coleman) *"I'm not sure which play was the third-and-16 play." *(Reporter: "The third-and-16 play where Joe Flacco threw the interception.") *"He has the ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage depending on the play. Some plays are call-and-run-it plays. Other plays are check plays that give him options. Other calls give him a gamut to run whatever in that system at the time. So, we're pretty flexible with that."

**With that throw yesterday on the interception, was that Flacco's decision? After looking at the tape, was the decision ill-advised? *(Jerry Coleman) *"Here's the thing, and you need to understand this: You've been here with me for a long time. I don't ever get into all that in the public forum. Those things are all addressed very aggressively in-house in our meeting room. And our guys take responsibility, and there is accountability, and it's never one thing. But, that's how we do it. So, we all need to be better. We need to collectively be better. What we can't be doing is turning the ball over in those situations – for whatever reason. And we've had too much of that this year. We've been given … You talk about turnovers, let's talk about all of it – all three phases. The thing that we talked about today was the fact that we create too many opportunities for our opponent. That's what we've done too much this year, and that's the biggest difference [from] other years when we've won these close games. You can't give your opponent opportunities that they don't necessarily [create]. They are going to make enough plays on their own without creating opportunities for them or plays for them. And that's where we have to be better. We've got to do a better job of that starting right now. And that's got to be Job One."

From a pass rush standpoint, did Chicago do anything in particular to slow down Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil? (Aaron Wilson) *"They were chipping the edges quite a bit. That had a lot to do with it. It was a tough pass rush day as far as the field conditions. But they were chipping the edges for the most part all day, then getting guys out." *

**When you're talking about giving up too many opportunities, offensively, turnovers would probably be the logical [facet]. Defensively, where do you think you've been giving up too many opportunities? *(Jamison Hensley) *"We haven't gotten enough turnovers – that's one thing that would help us. But yesterday, it was the third-down conversions. They got a couple crossing routes against us that extended some drives that hurt us. Those things really shouldn't happen. We should've had those covered better. We all know that. Those are the two biggest ones. They hit a couple reverses on us to convert on a couple other third downs. If not for those two situations … They had one flip play that they got outside on us. They're going to get a few of those, but if we defend those better, I'm not sure they even get a first down on a third-down situation."

**The third-and-goal at the end of regulation with the low snap – is that a function of the clock moving, not getting a dry ball, muddy field conditions? Is that something that doesn't happen midway through the second quarter where you probably get a dry ball on every play? *(Gerry Sandusky) *"Maybe. It's probably logical to assume that. I don't know exactly all the formula for why that would happen. I just know it can't happen. [In] a critical situation like that, the ball needs to be where it's supposed to be to give us a chance to make that play."

**On that last drive when you guys got down there, were you surprised that the Bears didn't call timeout at that point in time and let the clock run under two minutes? *(Mark Zinno) *"I don't know. I don't really want to comment on their strategy. I wasn't thinking about it as much. I thought they might. At one point, I was waiting to see if they would, but they didn't."

**So, it didn't have an effect on what you guys were going to do, whether they did or didn't? *(Mark Zinno) *"No, we had the timeouts that we needed. What we wanted to do was be in a situation where they didn't have any time left to hopefully not kick off to [Devin] Hester, and if kick off to Hester, not put their offense back on the field. That was the goal. Our goal was to score a touchdown with no time left, and I think we did a really good job of being in that situation. We managed it really well to be able to do that."

**In terms of the rule book, with Marshal Yanda and some of the pre-snap stuff, Marc Trestman said today that they were going to turn some of that stuff in to the NFL to ask them to look at it. What's your take on that and his compliance with the rules? *(Aaron Wilson) *"My take is that's what Marshal [Yanda] has been doing exactly all year. What they tell you is as long as it's consistent all year that that's the way it is. You have to have the mechanism to snap the ball with crowd noise. It's a silent mechanism. The fact that the Bears don't choose to use that one, they have other ways to do it. They do it with their center – their center is nodding his head all over the place. So, we're not going to send that in, but the one that Marshal got called for was the same thing he had been doing the whole game. It was no different."

**There may have been only one or two reviews that have gone against you this year. Do you ever sit down with whoever your eye in the sky is when a review goes against you to say, 'I just want to see what you saw in that process,' or once it's done, does it not bother you? *(Drew Forrester) *"If it was the situation where I had an issue with it, then I would certainly [address it]. The two that we had against Cincinnati that went against us, we were told they should have gone for us – that happens. There's not one challenge so far that I would take back, except for the one we didn't challenge in Denver. The one yesterday, we understood the rule very well. [Referee] Gene [Steratore] even told me it was a good challenge. He knew what we were getting at there; he just didn't have the angle to be able to tell that it was an incomplete pass. We were going for an incomplete pass there. I know it was a good challenge."

Did you make it out of the game relatively healthy or did you have anything that you considered to be serious? (Aaron Wilson) "We'll have our injury report on Wednesday, but we look pretty good there. We'll have more on Wednesday."

Just to follow up with that on Haloti [Ngata] … With the anticipated field conditions – natural grass – it's going to be wet.* (Luke Jones) "I'm not getting in to all that. There's no reason for us to put that out there publicly. What advantage would there be for us to comment on that? It wouldn't help us. But, I appreciate you asking. *I understand why you do. It's fair, in all honesty. I just don't want to put that out there right now."

John, having the momentum and the lead coming out of the half and then the storm coming in … Mentally trying to bring the guys after a long sit there, it's got to be very difficult to try and get them back up to game speed into the game. Sitting around all that time in the locker room and then trying to get everybody built back up … Going out, you've got the momentum [and] been through it a couple of times now – Super Bowl, Denver… (Bill West) "Yes, it's not ideal. You'd like to continue the game. I thought we did a good job with that. Both teams had to deal with it. That was not the issue. The issue was the couple of plays that got them back in the game that gave them the opportunity to score the points. That was the issue – it's execution. To go beyond that and try to analyze it would be fruitless. We did all the things … We were prepared for it. We did a great job in the locker room with nutrition. We did a great job in the locker room with warming them back up. We did a great job of making adjustments. We came back out on the field and we ran through a warm-up. We ran through an individual 'skele' [skeleton formation] and a team [drill], just like we do before a game. I think we had them warmed up and ready to go. We did our best with that; the best that we thought we could do."

It's tough playing a lot of games on the road. Now, you've got a three-game stretch at home. I'm sure you're not thinking about the next two. How important is it to get back in that playoff mix with the Jets coming up this week? (Garrett Downing) "It's pretty obvious that it's critically important. We're playing two teams in the Wild Card chase with us. We're chasing the Bengals for the division championship, and we're still chasing both of those. If we don't win this game, it's going to be really tough. That's what it is. It's very important – couldn't be more important. I can't think of a situation – this year – that could be more important than this game. I could go back and say every game is important; there's no game more important than in this game. Win this one, and there will be no one more important than the Pittsburgh game. If we win that one, there will be no more important one than the Vikings game. The answer is yes, an obvious yes."

When you look at the state of the AFC right now, it's still pretty much wide open in terms of playoff seeding and all that. (Jerry Coleman)"What it goes to show you is how close it is, and what a razor thin margin it is in the National Football League. And that's what makes the National Football League great. We would all rather be sitting here talking about being atop the division and chasing a homefield advantage or something like that. And that's something that we were shooting for. We wanted to be in that position. We haven't done the things we needed to do to be in that position. But we're in the hunt, and we're playing the two teams the next two weeks at home that are right there in the hunt with us. We're chasing a division leader that we have in our sights, and we play again. So, we are right there. We can do it, and we're good enough to do it. We've got every tool we need; all we have to do is go get it done. But that's on us. We believe we have what it takes, but it's up to us to prove it, and we've got to go prove it by winning these games."

John, on the fourth-and-eight in the third quarter when you went for it, was there any discussion of a field goal by Justin Tucker? Was it the footing that was the problem? He made the 52-yarder earlier with ease, it looked like. (Mark Zinno)"There was no chance of going for a field goal there. It was the footing and the wind. The wind was howling. There was just no chance. I'm not sure we could have got the snap back there at that point in time. The only possibility would have been to take the delay and punt it, and I was a little concerned about snapping the ball back there on a punt and felt like we had as good a chance of anything as converting right there. I thought that was our best bet."

I think I saw yesterday that since the rule change, there have been roughly 20 overtime games and no one has ever deferred to start overtime. If you weren't going to defer yesterday with the wind, you would never consider it, right? (Drew Forrester)"We had that conversation. We thought real hard about taking the wind there. It's not so much deferring; you would take the wind is how you would do that. Then we just couldn't decide which way the wind was blowing. Honestly, it was swirling back and forth both ways, and once we had disagreement on which way the wind was blowing, then it was pretty straightforward for me to say we're taking the ball if we win the toss."

But if the wind would have really decidedly been blowing one way or another, you might have done it? (Drew Forrester)"We might have. We talked about it, yes. I'm not saying we would have for sure, but we talked about it."

John, were you aware at the time of the severity of the storm? Obviously, it was severe for you to be off the field, but the fact that tornados had touched down and were destroying towns, were you concerned at all that the game might not get continued that day? (Gerry Sandusky)"We weren't thinking about that; we were thinking about getting back out there and playing the game. I don't think we had any thought that we weren't going to go out and resume play. We did hear about some of the devastation that the tornados and the storm caused around Illinois, and you hear about that stuff, that got back to us. We went out and you could look out the tunnel there … I walked about halfway out the tunnel at one point and it seemed like … It almost seemed like a tornado came up the tunnel. They grabbed me to get out of the tunnel; the security guys, they screamed at me. *(laughter) *It didn't take much to get me back up the tunnel, though, at that point. But it was unbelievable. It was just a really incredible storm. And the field – when we came back out – the field was completely soaked. It was sloshy; it was really bad conditions. And that's just the way it is. It was new sod, so it doesn't drain that well."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content