BALTIMORE RAVENS TRANSCRIPTS: GIANTS WEDNESDAY
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On if he gets the impression that this game has more weight on it than others:"No. This game is… Everybody can make out of any game what they want to make out of it. It might be interesting for some people or some fans more than other fans, but nonetheless every single one of them counts the same. It's a win or it's a loss depending on how you play."
On what makes the NFC East special:"I think the NFC East has got great tradition. It's a lot like this division, a lot of traditional teams in it – physical, hard-nosed football. Then all the history, Buddy Ryan, the history of coaches in the division, and all the great players."
On if he considered the style and mentality of the NFC East when putting this football team together:"I don't think there's any comparison. It's not what we put our energy into, saying we're going to try and be like somebody else. That's not what we're going to do. We're trying to be the very best Ravens we can be. We've got our guys, and our personalities, and our talents and abilities. We just try to maximize what we have with our guys. Like we say all the time, we like character guys, men of integrity, and that's the kind of football team I think we're building."
On if the players are flying high after four wins in a row:"No. These guys are focused on Wednesday right now, they really are. They understand that it's a long season. You guys can get upset with us with the 'one week at a time' deal and other clichés, but they're there for a reason, because they're true. And our focus is on today's practice. It doesn't matter who you're playing that week, [it's about] that opponent and today's practice."
On the status of WR Derrick Mason's shoulder:"He's going to be day-to-day. It's going to be a game-time decision. What was hurt, he has a dislocated shoulder, so he's not going to practice this week. It'll just be a matter of whether he can go on Sunday or not."
On the Giants' No. 1 rush offense facing the Ravens' No. 1 rush defense:"Sure. They've got the best rushing offense in the NFL, like you said, and we've got, thus far, the best rushing defense in the NFL. And that's a challenge for both teams. I'm sure they're excited about it, and our guys are excited about it, too."
On how much it factors in that he's played the Giants twice a year with his past coaching job:"Well, it factors in the fact that I know their routes, and I know their schemes a little bit, personally. And special teams-wise I've had some experience with them, and I've been in that stadium. But our players have done the same. Our players, our veteran guys, have played in the Meadowlands before and they've played the Giants in the past. But maybe there's a little bit of insight, a little bit of a natural feeling. I'm more comfortable with them than maybe some of the teams in the AFC North right now, personally. But you know what? The coach doesn't play the game. The players do, and our guys are just getting ready to play the game."
On if the Giants are playing better now than they did when they won the Super Bowl:"I think the Giants are a better team now than they were last year. They've gotten better from last year, in the offseason, and they've gotten better every single week."
On the matchup with Giants WR Plaxico Burress with his height and leaping ability:"Plaxico has always been a guy that makes those catches on the sideline, back shoulder fades and in the end zone going high. And Eli [Manning] has got a lot of confidence in throwing it up there. So it's a factor. Sometimes when he's covered, he's not covered."
On if he believes any rookies are hitting the "rookie wall" since this is the time around which most college seasons would end:"Different guys are different. I would say that I believe in the "rookie wall"* *for the guys that aren't mentally tough enough to handle an NFL season as a rookie. And we want to challenge our guys to be mentally tough enough to handle the whole NFL season. I'm sure they're intending to beat that."
On what led to the decision to put CB Chris McAlister and S Dawan Landry on Injured Reserve and if McAlister has had his surgery:"McAlister has had his surgery. I'm sure it went well, I haven't heard from him yet. Dawan's situation was there was a little more damage, there's more of a bruise than we originally thought there was on the second MRI. And once they found that, then he wasn't going to be able to go again this year."
On if Landry will be ready to go by next year:"He'll be back for next year, just like Dwan Edwards will be back for next year. They'll be back in the offseason."
On if the Ravens are happy with their depth in the secondary:"I think that's probably been the biggest plus for us this year, the way the corners have played, and the way the safeties have played. You can name the guys, we all know who those guys are, but they've played extremely well. Credit, obviously, to Mark Carrier and Chuck Pagano, too, but our backup defensive backs have proven that they're starters in the NFL."
On similarities between Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Ravens assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan:"Well the similarities are in the way they play. What you just said – the aggressive, get-after-it mentality is the same. The scheme is completely different. The blitz packages are different, the fronts are different, but the mindset is the same."
On how he would rate Giants DE Justin Tuck and DE Mathias Kiwanuka as far as rushing the passer:"They're good. They're challenging, that's for sure."
On what the first half of the season has taught him about the team:"The question, the ranking questions, the comparison questions, the big picture questions – I haven't even thought about those things. And to stand here and give you an answer on that, I haven't thought it through. All we're thinking about is getting ready to have a great practice today and playing the next game. That's what you do during the season. It's not even fair for me to comment on it. I haven't even thought about it. I have no idea. I'm just trying to get ready for this week. Really, that's a truthful answer."
C Jason Brown
On if he feels there's something gelling with the O-line that makes them feel unstoppable:"Definitely. I wouldn't say that we're unstoppable because we never can have the feeling that we've arrived, no matter how well we're doing lately, because we still feel as though the best days are ahead of us and we have so far to go. There's been so much of a sacrifice to even putting [us] together as a unit, starting with the offensive line coach [John Matsko], starting with Cam Cameron. It's all about a mindset. Our offensive line, we haven't been respected as much as we would have like to be the past few years, and we're definitely trying to change that."
On if he feels it will be a big test for the Ravens facing the Giants:"Of course, every game that we have is a test."
On if this will be the toughest challenge so far this season:"The toughest? We've gone against some very challenging defensive lines, of course, very large men like Shawn Rogers and also very athletic men, [like Kyle] Vanden Bosch on the outside with Tennessee. So, there have been several challenges that we've faced already thus far. This week, it will definitely be another challenge. "
On if he's proud of the way the line has played this season:"I don't want to sound bragful or boastful, but you have to have a certain mindset and a certain mentality with the running game, and it starts with toughness and being aggressive. We pride ourselves in that toughness that we bring out there on the football field, but I'm not going to be bragful or boastful about it."
On if he feels the Ravens are getting the national respect they deserve:"I would hope so, but really when it comes down to it, I don't care. What I [care] about is how my teammates respect me and how my teammates feel about me and how we've come together as a team, and definitely, like we have mentioned before, as an offensive line. There's nothing more gratifying than a Ben Grubbs or a Chris Chester looking at me and giving me a wink like, 'Man, we just had a great double team.'"
On if he meant to say that his teammates wink at each other:"It might not be a wink. I think a wink is a little bit over the top. But [it is] definitely the satisfaction that you get from your teammates knowing that you're there for them and knowing that we're coming together as a unit and we're accomplishing our goals."
On how he feels the team has responded to multiple injuries and the numerous players on the IR:"I'll tell you what: With as much adversity as we've faced with our injuries, many people would have discounted us a long time ago. But we have some men that have definitely stepped up in our time of need. It just goes to show how strong our depth is on this team and also that those guys have stepped up. They want to show that, 'Hey, we're ready; we're ready to support the team and we can go on.'"
On if he is surprised the Ravens are 6½-point underdogs for the game on Sunday:"I don't even pay any attention to that. I don't even look at that. That's paper. This game is going to be played on the field. It's going to have nothing to do with paper."
QB Joe Flacco
On the impact QBs coach Hue Jackson has had on his development:"He's been great. We meet as quarterbacks pretty often, and Hue's in there, just as we all are, and we're trying to get better, and he's coaching us up really well."
On whether he's requested extra tickets for this Sunday's game in New York:"No. I'm pretty set. It's still about an hour and 45 minutes [from my home]. It's probably the same distance to the Meadowlands as it is to here for everybody at home."
On his home town being Eagles fans:"Yeah, everybody in my town is an Eagles fan. So, next week might be different."
On his impression of the Giants from what he's seen on film:"They get after it. They're the defending champs and they've been playing well. They've been playing like that this year. They like to put pressure on the quarterback and try to force him to make mistakes. We're going to go out there and concentrate on playing our game and doing what we've been doing the last four or five weeks."
On whether he feels the Giants' defense can get to quarterbacks a little faster than most teams:"We've seen some good guys and these guys are definitely good. We're going to handle it just like we've been handling the other guys all year, and we feel we have the guys to go up against them."
On how things will change if WR Derrick Mason is unable to play on Sunday because of his injury:"Derrick has obviously been great for us all year, and it's never good when a guy like that can't play because of injury. But Derrick is a tough guy and he's going to do whatever he can do to get out there and play for us and help us out. On the other side of that, we have a bunch of guys that can step in and do a great job, and I think we've been doing that at every position all year this year."
On if the team feels that playing a good game against the Giants will show that the Ravens are a playoff-caliber team:"I don't think we're worried about that. We go out each week and try to get a win. It doesn't matter who we're playing. The New York Giants are just another team. We're playing them this week, and that's what we're focused on."
On if he realizes that is the same thing head coach John Harbaugh said about Sunday:"Oh really? Well, it's the truth. We're not worried about impressing people. It's all about wins. It doesn't matter how you get them, it doesn't matter how pretty they look. It's all about the end result and that's a win. It doesn't matter who you're going against. Every week we're playing an NFL team and that says something. They're all pretty good. We're going to go out there this week and we're going to play a pretty good team. So we're going to come ready to play."
On whether he feels the game is getting slower and the field shorter as he becomes more experienced each week:"You guys with the speed and that kind of question... Everybody has to ask me that once a week. I've been saying from the very beginning, if you let it get to you, if you let it get to your head, things are going to be real fast out there and you're not going to see things you really want to. So you've got to go out there and make sure you know what you're doing during the week. Preparation is everything. If you prepare then you're going to go out there and be able to play confidently and you're going to be able to slow things down a little bit more. If you're not able to go out there and play confidently because you didn't prepare right, then things are probably going to be going pretty fast."
On if he feels he is improving each week with more experience:"There are definitely things I'm doing better. As a whole offensive group we're doing things better. From Day One, I always felt like I saw things well and [was] going to the right place with the ball. It's just about improving each week, and we're getting better and we're obviously making decisions faster. We're improving each week on a bunch of things. Just our technique and being physical, there are a lot of things that we're improving on. I think I've been seeing things pretty good all year, and obviously, that's still improving. But I wasn't really worried about it."
On being able to win on the road not being so tough or does he just not know the difference:"I guess I'm too dumb from what I hear, but really it's just a football game. It's fun to play at home, and it's fun to be cheered and to have your fans on your side. And, it's fun to go on the road and quiet everybody up, to hear everybody against you. It's still a football game. Everybody talks about home field advantage, and there's some truth to that. But at the end of the day you're going out there and you're playing football, and it's who plays better and who wants it more on that given day."
On if he prefers to hear the cheers or the opposing team's fans get quiet:"It's kind of good hearing everybody get real quiet. But I can't say that. Our fans have been great all year. It's been a lot of fun for me."
On if he's watched Eli Manning mature in his career as the Giants' quarterback:"Obviously, they won a Super Bowl last year. It's kind of hard not to follow them and follow [Manning]. He was a big part of that. He's playing great, he's a good quarterback and he's going to be for a while. We've got the defense on our side of the ball, too, that's pretty good. So there are going to be challenges they'll have to face."
On if he's been told stories about the winds being bad at Giants stadium:"No, I haven't heard anything about it. We're not worried about the wind. We're going to go up there and do what we normally do, and if the wind is a factor, than it is. But I don't anticipate it affecting us too much."
TE Todd Heap
On whether playing the defending Super Bowl champions gives him incentive to go after a championship this year:"I don't think that's the incentive right now. I think we have to keep our heads on straight. They are the defending Super Bowl champs. We have to give them that credit. We've got to treat this game like that, where we're going in to play the best team in the NFL. I think that's the attitude we're taking toward this game."
On what he sees on film that impresses him most about the Giants:"As far as I'm concerned, their defense, they fly around. They're stout up front. They've got some great linebackers, great defensive ends, that really get to the ball. They really put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks. They're good stopping the run, [so] they get teams to pass a lot, and they're good at getting to the quarterback. So that's the thing that stands out. That's the thing that everybody notices. You can tell. They haven't lost too many games this year."
On if, after getting several catches last week, he will focus on blocking playing a team like the Giants:"I would think every week that's a focus. With our running game going the way it is, we want to keep that up. We want to make sure that we're putting that pressure on the defense every week. Then, when it's time to mix it up, we can do that, too. So that's always a focus for me, making sure I take care of business blocking-wise and running routes."
On how they would be affected if WR Derrick Mason is unable to play:"It affects us because Derrick has been such a big part of this offense so far this year. I think we're going to give him some more time than just today, but I'm hoping he'll be out there and he'll be ready to go. But if he's not, we're all going to have to step up. It's not just the receivers, it's the running backs, it's everybody stepping up together. It's going to be a collective effort."
LB Ray Lewis
On whether this week's game against the defending Super Bowl champs is bigger than other games:"For us, I don't think so. For us it's just the next game up. We take the same approach with every game, and the guys do a great job with it. The bottom line is everybody understands what [the Giants] are – the Super Bowl champs, bottom line. But outside of that it's just another football game for us."
On stopping the Giants' No. 1 run offense this Sunday:"One thing you can't take away from them is that they're doing a great job with their offense and really letting all the backs really establish their mentality. They like to run the ball; we like to stop it. What the bottom line is, football is going to be football."
On how he feels about how well the Ravens' offense has been playing:"I just think it's nice just to have the overall team playing well, bottom line. Anytime you can have an overall team playing the way we're playing right now – with all these things that we've been through this season – it's always good to look at the season and know that as a team we're getting better every week."
On if he is surprised at how well rookie QB Joe Flacco is playing:"I'm not surprised. If you watch the way guys work around here, I don't think you'd ever be surprised about anything. The way people work, a rookie or a five-year vet, it doesn't matter."
On his response to talk that Sunday's game against the Giants will be a gauge of how good the Ravens really are:"I don't see it as a big test. I just see it, really, as the next game, bottom line. You get caught up in all that; there's no test. The only test is we've got to stop the run, and that's the bottom line. We're the best team in football doing that, so if there's a test, the test is just [to go] and uphold what you are already built to do, bottom line. And, I think everything else is going to pretty much take care of itself. Like I said, the Giants are 8-1, they're playing some great football right now and we're trying to just get over the hump. And, we're doing some good things. So we're going to find out."
On his impression of the maturation of Giants QB Eli Manning:"I think he's very patient. He stands in the pocket, and a lot of times he makes a lot of plays to his right getting out of the pocket. He made a couple of big plays last week getting away from key guys. He's very patient with the football, so we want to really just get in his face and make sure he's not that comfortable."
On how the defense will prepare for the different styles the Giants will throw at them:"You don't. You just play defense the way we play defense. That's the bottom line. It doesn't matter who catches the football. We'll find out a way to get it."
On the progression of Ravens DT Haloti Ngata:"[It's] the same way I gauged it from Day One. He's a phenomenon. He's one of those guys that you have to find out where he's at. He's playing the game at a very, very high level. It's surprising when you do see it. I've been around football a long time, but to see that guy's gifts athletically and what he does to destroy offenses, it's really special – definitely when you're playing behind him."
On whether there is any remaining rivalry memories from beating the Giants in the Super Bowl:"Déjà vu or something? I always try to keep guys up on what's going on, and there are always similarities from one season to another. But the bottom line is that they have a new identity [and] we have a new identity. So I think it's two totally different, new teams. I think the rivalry is what it was when it happened, but now they're the champs. Our job is just to go and try to get a win on the road."
On if he sees similarities between the Giants' defense and the Ravens' defense aggressive styles of play:"As an overall team, we're very similar. They like to run the ball, their defense is very aggressive and our defensive is very aggressive. It's kind of the same mold; it's kind of the same mold. I think when you do look at all the stats and the way they run the ball – with their three-headed attack, our three-headed attack, and the way we're playing defense and the way they're playing defense – overall you can see some nice similarities. I just think everybody carries their own identity though."
On whether he feels that the Ravens will get the national attention they deserve if they play well against the Giants:"We don't need it if we're 6-3. We've just got to keep playing. That's the thing. My challenge is to keep these guys understanding that. It doesn't matter who it is on the schedule. Sixty minutes is all that matters, bottom line – 60 minutes of football. I don't care who it is. And that's the way you approach every game. Don't get up more for one game and not get up for another. Those are the games you lose, the one's you say that you're not going to get up for. So I don't think it's about national attention or any of that. I just think it's about us going out and playing the type of football we know we can play – against the champs."
WR Derrick Mason
On how his shoulder injury is feeling today:"Right now I feel great. Sunday after the game it was sore, Monday it was sore. I went in and got treatment the last two days and now it's feeling a lot better than it did on Monday."
On whether there is anything he can do to prevent re-injury and strengthen the shoulder:"No, not really. Just rehab and try to do some exercises on it. Whatever can be done, I'm pretty sure Bill [Tessendorf] and the training staff, they'll find out a way to do it so I don't re-injure it."
On whether he jokingly told QB Joe Flacco to throw the ball a little lower after his shoulder injury on Sunday:"I mentioned it to him in the second half. I said, 'Just put it in the framework of my body and I should be able to deal with it.' He got one a little bit outside my framework, but when the adrenaline is going you typically don't feel it. I didn't feel it [in the game]."
On if he predicts he will play in the game on Sunday:"Yeah. I think right now if I can play, I'll play. And if I can't play, I'm going to play. So we'll see how it goes."
On how much pressure he will put on himself to play since the game against the Giants is so important:"I'm not putting any pressure on myself. My body typically responds well whenever I have had injuries. Just because I'm a little bit older doesn't mean it's not going to respond well again. So I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Hopefully, the training staff [can help me be ready]. I'm going to leave it to them. They're going to do what they need to do. I'm going to make the trip to New York, and I expect to be on the field."
On if he is pleased with what the Ravens' offense has been able to do this season:"Yeah, I am. We've achieved, I think, what we set out to achieve for ourselves. Obviously, we didn't [limit] some of the turnovers earlier in the season, but I think as a whole, the biggest thing is our cohesiveness and our attention to detail. I think the main thing is that we played hard in Houston the way that coach Cam [Cameron] wanted us to play and coach [John] Harbaugh."
On if he has ever played in a game after he hasn't practiced during the week:"Yeah. I've done it a few times. Not the first couple of years of my career, no. But as the years went on [with] nicks and bruises here and there, you just try to rest. There's been a period in my career where I didn't practice for a day or two or the whole week and still managed to go out there and be effective. I think when you get to a certain point in your career, practice is important but I don't think you need it as much as you would if you were a first-, second- or third-year player. Not to say that [practice is not important]. If I could practice, I would practice. But I don't think me not practicing will hurt me at all."
On if he feels a win against the Giants can prove that the Ravens are a playoff-caliber team:"No, we're going to take it for what it's worth. We're not going to put all of our chips on the table just because it's the Giants. They're a very good team, like you said, they're defending Super Bowl champions. They're playing good football right now. But this is not a make-or-break-the-season [game] for us. We're going to continue to do we've been doing the last nine games – playing hard, physical, Raven-type football and we'll see what happens at the end of the game."
On if the style of the Giants' defense reminds him of the Ravens' aggressive defense:"They're a very aggressive defense. They do a lot of things in the back game. They have two very good end rushers. Their linebackers are very fast. So they try to do some things to try to rush the pass and they're very good at it. I think they have close to 30 sacks, so obviously they're doing something good. But this is a physical team on defense. They pride themselves at stopping the run and they make you do some things that you don't want to do in the passing game, and it's worked for them. That's why they're 8-1."
On if it is his professionalism that makes it mind-over-matter for him when it comes to his physical ailments and how he has played through them:"It has to be. Some people are hurt; some people are injured. If you can go out there and you can run, then you can help this team someway, somehow. It does get to a point where mentally you have to will yourself to play, regardless of what injury you have. If it's unbearable, then of course, you've got to sit down and be smart. But if you think you have an opportunity to go out there and help your football team win a game, then you go out there."
DT Trevor Pryce
On whether they can take anything from the fact that they swept Cleveland, who gave the Giants their only loss:"No, everybody gets paid in this league. Cleveland is a good football team, whether or not people want to admit that. You look at their record, and it's easy to kick a dog while he's down. Cleveland's a good football team, and the Giants got beat that day. You can't take anything from it."
On if it stands that anything can happen on any given Sunday:"Yeah, that's why we have the salary cap. Best players money can buy."
On whether he looks forward to facing the Giants' top-ranked rushing attack:"You do, but statistics are for you guys. It's not really for us. Win, lose or draw, statistics… I played on the No. 2 defense and went 6-10 one year in Denver, so stats don't come into play. The only stat you care about is winning or losing. We gave up 300 yards passing to a team last week, to a quarterback that no one really thinks much of. I think he's a great quarterback. We won, so do you go, 'Ah, we won the game, but we didn't play well?' How do you… You can't emotionally separate the two, so you just pick one. What's more important to you, the stats or the wins and losses? The wins and losses."
On the continued maturation of DT Haloti Ngata:"There are lots of big guys around the league like that. We had a guy [Anthony Bryant, last season] that was 365 that could dunk a basketball, and it wasn't [Ngata]. But that doesn't show, football-wise, what he could do. As a football player, he's more complete a defensive lineman than I think a lot of guys in the league are. There are lots of big guys out there like him. The best players money can buy, that's what we all are. But what he can do from a football standpoint, playbook, angles, power base and those things [is impressive]. You take someone who's athletic, and you teach them those things. That's how he becomes a good football player. Athletically, he's a great athlete, but there are lots of those in the league. He's a step above because all those things are important."
On if there is any more significance on this game or what this game could mean:"I think the only thing it could mean is we might have to play them again in the Super Bowl, if we get there – if we're lucky enough to get there and if they're lucky enough to get there. That's the only impact it could have, quite honestly."
On if RB Brandon Jacobs is a unique kind of back:"Yeah, he is. There are not many backs of that size in the NFL, much less college. So he presents a unique challenge. That is the truth. If he gets to your DBs, it's lights out. It's bad. So our job is, hopefully, to stop him from getting there."
On how much confidence the team has in stopping the run and where it comes from:"It comes from the fact that we can do it. It comes from the fact that you watch how we play, how we play the run. That's the thing that our coaches harp on: 'If you want to play fun football, you have to do the dirty work first and stop the run if you guys want to get after the quarterback, [get] interceptions and all that type of thing. You have to stop the run.' We've been good at it around here for a long time. That tradition continues. I think it starts with Ray [Lewis], quite honestly. Let's just call a spade a spade. Ray, he does all the work."
On if maintaining at least a tie for the division lead gives you incentive to play better:"We're tied for first?"
"Yes. I honestly did not know that. Because Pittsburgh beat us, I don't know how we could be tied for first."
(Reply: "They lost, and you got up there.")
"OK. That's good to know."
On what he has seen in LB Terrell Suggs' development:"I think 'Sizz' is probably… It's hard to compare him and Ray. I don't like buying into the hype of things. If you watch it, he doesn't have the stats that a Joey Porter has or something like that. But I can tell you he's 10 times a better player. There is no doubt about it. Just watch the tape. If 'Sizz' gets a couple lucky breaks, he has10 sacks. It is hard to put into words what he does because unless you watch the film and work around him, you don't see it. But he's a man now. I don't like saying he's a beast and all that thing because we're not animals. But he's a grown man. There's no doubt about it."
CB Samari Rolle
On what the Giants' receiving corps brings:"They have a very good offense. They're very well-balanced. They can run equally as well as they can pass. They present a challenge for us this week."
On the challenge of covering WR Plaxico Burress with his height:"He's just long, and he uses his physicalness to his advantage. He's got a great quarterback throwing him the ball."
On if Burress is good at pushing off and getting away with it sometimes:"Yeah, he does the Vlade Divac sometimes. He'll just flop here and there. But he's having a great year. They've got a great offense."
On whether he looks forward to this game more than others because people will be seeing how the Ravens compare to the Super Bowl champs:"It's another game for us. We can't get caught up in what it means and all this. It's just another game against a very good team."
On if he is being honest:"Yeah, honestly. I just told you. If you want to ask the question then come up with the answer, you can. But that's honestly."
On whether he will talk about the wind in the Meadowlands in preparations for the game:"No, I won't talk about it. We've got enough guys on this team that have played there before and know what it's about."
On if there should be concern over Burress' height advantage against some of Baltimore's defensive backs:"I think that would be a concern for everybody. If that were the case, they would win every game, if it were just because they've got a tall receiver."
On whether he is surprised that the Giants lost to Cleveland:"No. It's the NFL. Nothing is promised."
NEW YORK GIANTS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Tom Coughlin
On what makes the NFC East so special:"Well, it's a highly competitive, traditional-rival-packed division in which all the teams are very talented. The competition is very high, very physical football games, and most of those games go right to the wire."
On preparing for the Ravens since they have a viable offense this year:"Yeah, they sure do. The last four games will certainly hold true to that with their average, scoring 33 points or more per game. The young quarterback, [Joe] Flacco, has really played well, and they've added a wrinkle here or a wrinkle there. They always do an outstanding job with the physical nature of the game, running the ball and defending the run. They've got some big plays involved in their offense now. Of course, I'm sure the defensive guys are excited about that."
On how he explains a QB like Flacco or Eli Manning playing well in their rookie season:"They're totally different, I think, in experiences for each individual. It's very difficult to compare, but I do know this: Talented guys surrounded by a supporting cast, excellent protection, someone who is focused and has the ingredients this guy has with his strong arm and his presence and his ability to hang in there in the pocket to make plays, he's doing the things that his coaches are asking him to do to win."
On whether there is any familiarity since he once coached against the Ravens and John Harbaugh used to coach against the Giants:"We certainly are aware. We've played in preseason games for a long time with Baltimore. That subsequently stopped, but there's still familiarity that way. We know John very well, know the quality of coach that he is. But it's one of those things where they have a unique style in Baltimore. They play the game their particular way. It requires, as does every team in the league, a lot of detailed study to understand what they're all about. That's the process we're in right now."
On how critical it will be to establish the run game:"Well, for us, it's always about balance. We know we're going against the No. 1 rush defense in the National Football League and a defensive team that seems like, whatever category you want to look at, they're 1 or 2 or somewhere in there. They're very, very good in defending the run, and they're very aggressive. But that's the style of game that we play, in terms of trying to rush the ball and trying to create some balance off of that."
On if he senses that, with his three-back rotation, teams have trouble adjusting when he sends in a new back:"There is a different in style. The style adjustment itself allows for some of that to take place. It's not that we do a lot with different plays or anything. They basically all three will run the offense, but they are different styles of runners, and that's the effect."
On the defensive line's ability to pressure the quarterback and the luxury of not having to send in linebackers or safeties on blitzes:"We've had good success with pressure from our front four. Then when we've brought some form of dog or blitz, we've added to that, and we've been able to pressure the quarterback to a certain extent. The result being that we've covered better, and we've done a better job of that in the secondary. So it's allowed us to have some flexibility and some freedom, when we do have to cover, that we do have some people that can rush the passer."
On whether there is a difference for them between division and non-division games:"I don't know. You say there isn't, and you say that… You just have some familiarity with the teams in your division. I don't care if you're Baltimore talking about Cleveland or Pittsburgh or whatever, Cincinnati. It's just that in your division, you have some familiarity. You don't have that many games against divisional opponents, yet it is so important that you do well and play well in your division that you can't help that the first thing you study in the offseason is your divisional foes."
On what he sees on tape from the Ravens as far as talent level and scheme:"I think they're very talented, and I think they've adjusted a scheme to the players. The players have responded very well. The coaching is doing an outstanding job. Their special teams are doing a real good job. I think they're talented. They're very talented. They're 6-3 in this league. You've got to be talented."
On if the Giants are a better team this year than they were last year:"I'm not into that kind of stuff. We're trying to do the best we can. As I say, we're one week at a time here. We're trying to take what we did last week that we need to improve upon, and get better at that, and take into consideration the talent and the ability of the team we're playing."
On the one thing about the Ravens that stands out to him:"I think the two stats are [ranking] 1 against the run and 3 with the run. So obviously, their style is such."
On the developing chemistry between Manning and TE Kevin Boss:"Well, it's an ongoing process for us. At the beginning of the year, we were asked why the tight end is not getting the ball. Now you're putting it in the terms of chemistry. It's just a young player whose experience is growing in the league, who has played against so many very good football teams – and he'll play against another one this week – that he's learning. He's experiencing. He's a good player to start with, but there's an awful lot that has to be digested in terms of how you play your position in this league. It's an ongoing thing, and he and Eli were able to get together last weekend for some big plays and the weekend before. So that is good because we've been able to bring another force into the offense."
On whether there is a difference pre-Super Bowl and post-Super Bowl in Manning:"I think anyone that goes through the experience that we were fortunate enough to go through – where you play your way through the playoffs on the road, win any number of tight games, get into the Super Bowl, drive the ball twice the length of the field in the fourth quarter, make some spectacular plays along the way, and then find a way to win – I think anybody that goes through that, certainly, it's a tremendous experience that you can understand the confidence that goes along with it. From that standpoint, without a doubt."
On if he sees a lot of similarities between the two teams based on the style of play they take pride in:"You know, I was asked that once before. I think the styles are different, so I don't think there's similarity there. I think perhaps the philosophical approach to the game is similar."
QB Eli Manning
On if there are differences in playing division games as opposed to games outside the NFC East:"I guess the difference is you just know those teams a little bit better. You know what they might do, what they've done in the past. You tend to have a decent feel for what they're doing when you play [those] teams. Non-division, you just haven't played them as often. You don't see them as much. But they're still all big games. Every game you play is important, and it means something, and it affects your record, which affects the future, the outcome, of your team down the road."
On if he gets the sense that teams go after the Giants more now that they are Super Bowl champions:"I don't think I've noticed anything differently. I think in this league every game is important, and every team you play, you have to be up for it, you have to be mentally and physically ready for it. Because players are too good in this league, teams are too good, where if you're not as prepared and ready as you can be, then you won't have a shot at competing."
On what he sees when he watches the Ravens' defense:"I see a very talented team. They're tough in all areas on defense. They do a great job of stopping the run, where teams get stuck in a lot of third-and-long situations. They get to the quarterback by causing pressure. It's tough to convert because they do complex defensive schemes, and do a good job of getting to the quarterback pretty quickly, and playing different coverages on that. It's a team where you have to prepare very hard in the film room, on the practice field, and try to just play as smart as you can, knowing that they are going to make some plays on defense. And you can't just turn the ball over or make the costly mistakes that they can rely on."
On if the game plan has been altered since the Ravens' defense is so successful against the run:"We've still got to try to run the ball. It's not going to be that we're not going to attempt the run. We'll still try to do that. You've just got to have a plan and try to find ways when you can run the ball, try to be efficient doing that. But we know we are going to have to throw it. We're going to have to throw efficiently, we're going to have to pass protect, and guys are going to have to get open down the field so we can make some plays and change the field position."
On if he has talked to his brother, Peyton Manning, about the game the Colts played against the Ravens:"We might talk a little bit. We just play such different styles of offense, in a way. We're more of a tight end, two-back offense, where they're more two tight ends, one back. So, there are some similarities at times. But I haven't talked to him this week. I might talk to him down the road, and I've watched their game, and ask him a question about something. We might talk a little bit, but we're not comparing notes and giving everything. We really don't like giving each other's secrets away, because you never know, you might have to go against each other."
On how he and the team have grown since winning the Super Bowl:"I think the thing I'm most proud about this team is just the fact that we were never just satisfied with winning the championship last year. We came into the offseason committed to get better. We knew we could be a better team all around. We knew that at the end of the season last year we were playing great football, but we wanted to become a team that could play great football all year round, and really compete each and every week. So that's been our drive, to just be more consistent, and not just be a team that fluctuates being hot and being cold. And I think we've done a good job of doing that so far. We just continue to work extremely hard, and we're never satisfied with a win. We always go back and look at things, what we can improve on, and that's been, I think, the difference with this team."
On if he sees comparisons in the ways the Giants and Ravens play defense:"I think nothing's going to be easy, and that's what you see with the Ravens' defense. There's never a time when the quarterback just drops back and has a clean pocket and throws a 15-yard end route with no one around. Every drop is moving around and buying an extra second. Every catch is going to be contested and a defender nearby. Nothing… Running the ball, anytime a big run happens it's usually because a running back happens to break a tackle. Nothing comes easy, I think, on both defenses. You've got to earn everything you get."
On what he remembers from the first time he played the Ravens and if any of it is still applicable:"It was a long time ago. It was a time when we were struggling and trying to find an identity. They were a great defense, and I think we've… I've grown a lot as a player. This team has grown a lot since then."
On Ravens QB Joe Flacco and when things started settling down for him as a quarterback in the NFL:"Joe has been playing terrific, and for a young guy to come in and play as well as he has is a credit to him and the coaching staff and those players. You never know. It's different for every player and every quarterback, and he's really come in and played well. I think as a young quarterback, and even anybody, you get better every game. You get more comfortable with what you're doing, kind of finding your identity of what plays you like, what plays you really have a great feel for, and you just feel comfortable no matter what the defense is. And the coach has got to get a feel for that also. And it sounds like, especially these last couple of weeks, they've really found that."
On how critical it will be to establish the running game Sunday:"We're a team that, we're going to try the run the ball. We've done a good job of doing that, so hopefully we can continue to do that decently. We know it's going to be tough, but we've got to try to be physical and just show that we can get into some of our play-action and get into some third-and-manageable situations by running the ball and setting that up. We've just got to see. You never know what kind of game it's going to turn into and what's working, but we feel confident with, whether it's throwing or running, we've just got to be efficient and play smart."
On if they might throw the ball more often since the Ravens are ranked No. 1 against the run:"We've just got to see how things work. It just depends on how things are working on Sunday."
On if the Ravens' defense is one of the harder ones to figure out because of all their movement:"Yeah, they do a great job, and they're obviously very confident at what they're doing. And they do a good job of disguising and mixing up their blitzes with different guys. They do a terrific job, so it's a combination of just continuing to look at as much film as you can just so you get a feel for what's going on. The first time you look at it, it could be very confusing, and you could just kind of be like, 'Goodness gracious, what's going on here?' But the more you look at it, not that it simplifies, but you kind of get a better picture in your head. You've just got to have a plan for it, and hopefully we can see some things and get blocked up as best we can to get the ball off and make some plays."