BALTIMORE RAVENS TRANSCRIPTS: BENGALS WEDNESDAY
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. The guys had a couple of days to work on injuries and get in the weight room and study last week's game and study the Bengals, and we're ready to go to work today."
On how much T Willie Anderson has brought to the team:"He's done a great job with leadership, no question. With a young offensive line, Willie has schooled those guys up – not just on technique, but work ethic and taking care of themselves. But he's also a very good player. I'm sure glad we have him. With the injuries that we've had with our tackles and just that fact that he's such a good football player and has played so well, he's been a huge addition to our team."
On if RB Willis McGahee has made any comments about not getting as many carries:"I think Willis wants to win. Willis wants to contribute and wants to play as much as possible, wants to carry the football. He's a competitive guy, works hard. He's working to help our team be as good as it can be, and he's trying to do everything he can at this stage to be as good as he can be."
On his expectations for the offensive tackles going into this week:"We should… We're hoping that they'll practice. There are going to be some limitations with those guys, and it'll be day-to-day up until Sunday. Again, we want to make sure we don't have any setbacks."
On if DT Trevor Pryce feels better today from his concussion:"Trevor, I'm not sure exactly where he's at. He seems like he's OK. I don't know if he's woozy or not, but he seemed sharp this morning. I think he's all right."
On when Pryce was hurt: "You'll have to ask him. It was during the game. I'm not exactly sure when."
On his response to media and people saying Cincinnati does not have much to play for:"I would disagree with the premise. They have everything to play for. They're an NFL football team playing on Sunday. We've all been in those shoes at some time or another in this league, if you've been in this league for any amount of time. They have the game on Sunday to play for. They're going to play their hearts out just like they always do. They've got a bunch of competitive players, tremendous coaches, and they're a strong football team – a tremendously talented team, and we know what we're in for, our players do. The media can say what they want about who has what to play for, but I think the guys playing the game understand what kind of game it's going to be on Sunday."
On what he sees in Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick:"He's talented. He's a starting quarterback in this league. I know a little bit about him, because Tim Murphy, my good friend, was his coach at Harvard, and when he was coming out we talked about him at length. And he thinks the world of him. Obviously, he's a bright guy, but he can throw it, and he's a big, strong, talented guy. And he can run with the ball, too. He's a threat to scramble out of the pocket, makes throws on the run, so we think he's a very dangerous quarterback."
On if Cincinnati's offense has changed with Fitzpatrick:"Not really. They're different. [Carson] Palmer is more of a 'sit in there' and makes all the throws. Fitzpatrick can make the throws, but he does a little more with his feet. So like anytime you change the quarterback, the style, the way it's operated, it changes a little bit, but it's the same offense."
On what RB Cedric Benson has added to the Bengals' running game:"[He's a] former first-round pick, great size, elusive guy, powerful runner, so he's helped them. They've had some injuries there, so he's helped them overcome that."
On if Cincinnati's record makes them more dangerous in that they would throw caution to the wind:"I'm sure that they'll, like any team, they're going to enjoy the opportunity to get a victory, and I don't know if they'll 'throw caution to the wind.' I think in every game you do the things that you can do best to win. If there's a chance to make a play doing something special, you try it. I don't think teams button it down when they are trying to get in a playoff-type situation, per se, but we're going to get the best Bengals, we know that."
On how much of the Ravens' out-scoring their opponent in the fourth quarter has to do with the work put in during training camp and the offseason:"You try to put a finger on it, what exactly leads to that type of success, and it's really hard to say it was this one thing or it's that attitude or mentality, or anything like that. We do want to build a football team that is strong in the fourth quarter, and is strong in November and December, and we talked to our guys about that from Day One. I think our guys really believe in that. They have that kind of personality, so you take that personality and you build your football team to be strong at the end of the game and strong at the end of the season. They've rallied around that, and we're becoming a good football team. And good football teams do the things they have to do at the end of the game to win games. And when we've won games that's what we've been able to do."
On if the Ravens' defense scoring is an added boost: "It's huge. We talk about hidden points in a football game, and they are scores by the defense and the special teams. They are scores that are set up by the defense or the special teams. And whenever we've won the hidden point battle, we've won the game, we're undefeated. So just what you're talking about – that's a big part of the game."
On the Ravens' secondary matching up with the Bengals' receivers:"I don't know how many secondaries you could say in this league are better than their [the Bengals'] receivers, man-for-man. But our guys are going to go out there and try to prove that they are. That's what we try to do every week. So, we're not taking a back seat to any group of receivers, any group in the league. But they're as good as any in the league, and they're a threat, obviously, and they can play."
On the Ravens' secondary continuing to fight when it's been banged up all season:"They just keep getting better... Fabian [Washington], Samari [Rolle]. I'm not sure a secondary that I've seen has played a better fundamental football game than what you saw that secondary play against the Eagles."
On further explanation of that answer:"I just think our eyes were in the right place, footwork, position, communication, assignments, all the fundamental football stuff that relates to the coverage that Rex [Ryan] Chuck Pagano and Mark Carrier put in. It was just executed beautifully, and that's just something coaches are proud of."
T Willie Anderson
On what it will be like for him to return to Cincinnati this Sunday:"For me, until I get there, I'm going to try to keep it as regular a week as I can. But I'm sure when I get there and once I land and see the city and come in from the opposite end of the stadium, I'm sure there will be a rush of emotion at some point."
On the deciding factor in choosing to come to Baltimore and play for the Ravens over other teams:"There are certain teams around the league, being in Cincinnati, and Baltimore was one of them [I liked]. I always envied the organization, the players, the mentality that they had, and we were always chasing those guys. I said it earlier, once I got here, my whole career I spent chasing Jonathan Ogden. Just the mentality and the tradition of the way the players are treated here and when they're gone, the way they play, the way they carry themselves… I wanted to be a part of that. And something just told me – and of course, [John] Harbaugh came here and improved on that – that this team would be a lot different than it was last season. So I felt strongly [about] coach Harbaugh and I felt strongly [about] the tradition this place was, how it was and the players that they had here, and I wanted to be a part of it."
On whether he left the Bengals on good terms:"Yes and no. It kind of startled me a little bit because it happened quick. I went down to Atlanta to get some more orthodics made, and they called me and said you've got to make a decision today. I was like, what? It kind of happened fast, but my thing was that the information they were given about me was wrong. I felt that I was hoping they might have given me a chance to prove myself to prove to them that the information that was given to management and coaches was wrong – that I still can play. Yeah, I'm banged up, but I was banged up for seven, eight game games. Before that [I played] 116 straight games. So don't compare me to myself where I was five years ago. Compare me to the guy that I'm competing with. And that didn't happen. There it's different. Once you reach a certain age they start to question certain things, and in their mind they have to make the right decision. At that point I wanted to leave. They made a good offer to me, but at that point I wanted to leave and see something different and see how the rest of the NFL is. So that's my luck."
On whether he was bitter about his treatment by the Bengals:"At first I was because I had to come to a change of scenery, I had to come and learn new people, which I was kind of bad at – good and bad. And not know how these guys, especially about how my guys on the O-line, were going to treat me as being a 13-year guy [was worrisome]. These guys, the oldest guy, I think, is Adam Terry. Just seeing I had to come here and prove myself to them and reprove myself to the coaches because the things that were said about me once I left Cincinnati were that I couldn't play anymore, [that] I couldn't even walk any more, you can't practice – and that was all a lie. So to get here and have to prove to the coaches, it was tough that first month and a half, but once I got through it my teammates embraced me, man, and they really pulled me through it."
On what is the biggest difference between the Ravens and the Bengals:"The colors, I love. I'm real big in purple."
On if he feels for the Marvin Lewis with the difficulties he is having:"Everybody called me this season [saying], 'I'm sure you're happy with what [the Bengals] are going through.' I'd say, 'No, I'm not, because for years I went through it, too.' I went through some of those bad times and I know exactly what they're feeling. When they're not playing the Ravens or divisional opponents, I'm cheering for them because I want them to do good. At the same time, me being there probably wouldn't have changed a whole lot. That's just how it is. I'm not saying if [the Bengals] would have kept me things would have been different. I'm not saying that because that probably wouldn't have been the thing. But I know there are some things I could have brought to the table, but I'm even happier that I'm here – very, very happy that I'm here."
On if thinks the Bengals need a change at the head coach position:"I really don't care. Marvin had a saying all the time, 'Don't let anybody else's problems become your problems.' That's their issue. I am happy with my coaching staff here, my players and happy to be here."
On what it has been like to be a veteran working with a lot of young guys this season:"It was different at first because [O-line coach John Matsko] didn't know me and I didn't know him. He had spent so much time with these guys. To me, there was a big part of me trying to come here and fit in because they had spent so much time in the offseason, so much time in the winter, spring, training camp, building their bonds, learning [about] each other. Then, here comes a 13-year [veteran], a 33-year old guy who some team said was done. So I had to prove myself to coach Matsko, and once he saw I still could play and had the attitude of showing him that I wanted to practice and show these guys how to be a professional, [our] relationship grew a lot more. Now he looks at me as just an extended version of him and trying to show guys how to play right, how to practice right. The great thing about it is that we have a good group of guys. Jason Brown, to Ben [Grubbs], and to Adam, and to [Jared] Gaither, and to Chris [Chester], and to Marshal Yanda – those guys all revived me because I was kind of down at first. But seeing their youthful spirit and the way they saw things, the way they see practice, the way they see football games, that revived me. And [being] able to watch them and be a part of them is a good thing for me."
On if he thinks the Cincinnati fans will boo him on Sunday:"I don't know. I don't touch the ball, and we don't come out as individuals from out of the hoop. So I'll be all right."
On if he would like to make a statement to the management in Cincinnati:"We've got to win a division game, man. It's already been proven, they said I can't play no more. So, I'm good. And me going out to California, they'd probably never have seen me play. Now they get a chance to see me play twice a year now."
On if he were as willing to get out there and play as hard for a team that is not a playoff contender:"I will, because as I said, I was a part of a team. You play for self pride because you play for… That film is going to be seen by someone, and you never want to be the guy who [people talk about that] you were 1-9 or down 3-7 and that guy quit playing. Because sooner or later you might turn it around and people will want to know who were the guys that stood there and played well and played their butts off when they were down a bunch of points in the game or their season was out of control. I know Marvin is going to have those guys ready to play because they've been playing when the media has been saying the Bengals are going to shut it down. But then they come back and play Philly to a tie ball game, when they come back and win against Jacksonville. So, especially on defense, their defense is playing the best in seven years because of a coaching change, because coach [Mike] Zimmer has that tough mindset, and guys are really paying attention. And at this point in the season, they're doing their job."
On if he has an opinion why things have deteriorated with the team in Cincinnati after 2005:"We, and I say we because I was there, we all kind of got full of ourselves. We got full of ourselves and we let little things slide by. We had fought so long to get to that point in 2005. We had a great offense, a defense that leads the league in turnovers, and I think that we stopped doing the small things. They'll tell you the same thing, too, they'll tell you the same thing. We stopped doing the things that made us a tough, physical football team. And I think we became nonchalant about a lot of things that made us a tough and physical football team. So I know that's priority No. 1 on Marvin's list, to get back to that mindset in which he had us. The defense, they're playing that way."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he can apply anything he learned from the first time the Ravens played Cincinnati or if it's too old:"You definitely go back and look at the film and see what we did against them and see how they tried to stop us. Then you take what they've done since then and you try to apply that."
On if he can predict which running back will have the bigger game based on what he sees during the week:"Not really. All the guys are capable of doing a great job, and they've all done a great job in different situations all season. We have confidence in all of them, and we're going to give the ball to all of them."
On if Week 1 feels like it was a short time ago:"We've gotten to Week 12 pretty fast. I can't say I remember Cincinnati, playing against them, like it was yesterday, but getting to this point has definitely felt pretty fast."
On how his preparation changes for the longer NFL season compared to the college one:"I look at it like, 'Wow, we only have five games left,' because it just comes so quickly. I don't really think that we have a long ways to go. We have five games left, and then we're hoping we have four more, or three more, whatever it takes. But yes, our goal is right now to do the best we can in the next five and earn a 17th one."
On if he starts to see an advantage develop from playing a team a second time:"I think they change considerably throughout the year. They lose some guys, they gain some guys here, and they find out what works for them best. Do they want to bring pressure? Do they want to sit back and cover? Teams do change. I think the more I get to play them throughout my career it might help more and more. Playing for a second time, it should be a little bit of help, but like I said, they change a little bit so we're going to go execute our game plan that the coaches made up for us this week. There are some similarities from the Week 1, but we've just got to focus on this week. And we have changes to offense, too, so we do a lot of different things better than we did Week 1."
On if the offense is opening up more because of all the players being used:"Yeah, definitely. Teams are eventually going to come after you and take some risks. It's up to us to hit them over the head when they do that. On Sunday we happened to hit Mark [Clayton] and he broke wide open for the touchdown. They had all collapsed on Todd [Heap] because the play before we had hit him right in the flat. They all jumped over on him and we hit it. Teams are going to do that a handful of times a game, and we've got to take advantage of it when they do. If they have success on the first time they do it, they're going to come back to it, so you've got to be ready to hit it again. Like I said, we've had so many guys that have just stepped up and made plays. I'm sure it helps when you have so many guys involved in the game plan. They don't know who to worry about, and therefore it leaves one guy open on each play."
On if his chemistry with WR Mark Clayton has grown or if he's just getting open more:"Yeah, I mean, Mark has been getting open all year, and he's starting to develop and he's doing a really good job. I would say that we are starting to be on a little bit better page with each other, but Mark has been doing a great job all year, and our game plan is just starting to shift, and we're starting to realize what he can do and what everybody else can do. We're starting to realize how different people fit in different situations, and Mark has been doing a great job of doing what he's been asked to do."
On how the number of times he got hit in the Eagles game affected him physically:"I felt really good after the game. I didn't even realize I got hit that much until people told me, really. There were a couple of games before that that were a lot worse than the Philly game. They definitely came after us, and they're fast and they play fast, but you can't pay attention to that during the game. I've felt great each Monday after the games, and I plan on feeling the same way after our next five games and four after that. Our guys have done a great job protecting me, and they're only going to improve."
On if he senses that after playing the Eagles and the Giants he's seen the best pass rushes in the NFL:"You go against the Steelers, the Giants, the Eagles, the Titans, anytime you play teams like that, I mean, what more can teams give you? They can give you different looks and things like that, but you know you're pretty much going up against the best, the best of the best. We've still got to play a handful of good defenses, and Cincinnati is playing really well right now. They're playing really well as a unit, and they're really getting after it. Their coach has them playing really hard, so we've got to make sure we go in there and stick to the business, which is winning the game."
On the O-line getting him to pay for dinner and if he's been in other tests like that:"I have no idea. They may have, but I have no idea. I may have failed, I may have passed, who knows? I just kind of assumed I was responsible for picking up the check, so I didn't want to make an ass out of myself and not do that. I make sure I took care of the guys, because that's all they do on Sunday, is take care of me."
On if he noticed any discomfort in T Jared Gaither on Sunday:"No, not at all. He played in New York, two quarters I think, at least, with one arm. As soon as he got in there in the game I knew he was ready to play and ready to go. So there's no time where I ever felt that I needed to pay attention to what was going on backside. I knew he was going to hold it down for us."
On any Thanksgiving football traditions he had growing up:"In high school, we play on Thanksgivings. So, we have our rival game on Thanksgiving. My parents actually went to our rival high school, so growing up we'd go watch the game, and then once I got in high school we obviously played in it. That was the tradition, and my two younger brothers will be playing in the game this year, so we'll see."
On if he will be attending this year:"No, I won't be going. They play at 11 o'clock, so I'll be practicing."
ILB Ray Lewis
On the Bengals:"They're a talented group, offensively. They got Chad Johnson and [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh. Houshmandzadeh is the leader on third downs in receptions, keeping the chains going. They have a lot of capability over there, so defensively we really want to try to slow them down."
On whether RB Cedric Benson gives the Bengals a different look from the last time the teams faced each other:"If you watch the film, him and Chris Perry bounce it in and out, very similar backs. So when you really focus in on them, you see they do similar things. Cedric Benson, I think, has a little more speed, things like that. But they're sticking to the same package with what they're doing with those guys."
On what the term "trap game" means to him:"I don't know what that means. I just know the next team on our schedule is the Bengals, and that's the way our guys are approaching the game. We're just fighting and not taking anybody lightly. Also, they're in our division, bottom line. So any time you come up on a division foe, it's always extra attention that you pay to your opponents and just keep going from there."
On if the team would be watching less film this week with Thanksgiving:"There's nothing else to do but get ready for the Bengals. Bottom line, Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. We're going to enjoy tomorrow with our family and celebrate. But the bottom line, come Sunday, is business as usual. So hopefully you prepare the same way that you always prepare."
On what he's seen on tape of Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick:"He's capable of getting out of the pocket. That's one thing he does very well. When protection breaks down, he really knows how to scramble and get out of the pocket. If you look on film, that's how he's been keeping a lot of big third downs going. Also, he can run, not just to get out of the pocket. He actually uses his legs very well."
On whether he looks like a smart quarterback, having gone to Harvard:"I don't know. I don't look at it to know if he's smart or anything."
On if he thinks Marvin Lewis worries about rumors regarding his future status:"I don't know. I couldn't even comment on that. Whatever Marvin is going through, Marvin is going through. I don't even know anything about that."
On whether Marvin Lewis frets over what outsiders think:"No."
On if he takes a similar approach as John Harbaugh in thinking about the next game and not the postseason or standings:"Sixty minutes. Sixty minutes, man. That's my job as a leader on this team, to keep my guys focused. It doesn't matter what goes on. The bottom line is, win 60 minutes – not looking on or looking to the next opponent. The bottom line is we've got 60 minutes against the Bengals, and that's all we're focused on. Sixty minutes of football."
On having to feel good about where the team is right now:"You've got some teams feeling good; you've got some teams feeling bad, just for this week. Some teams won last week. Some teams lost this week. So the bottom line is you're always up and down. But I think our focus over here is, bottom line, let's just get another 60 minutes in. When Sunday rolls around, let's just stay focused to our task, stay focused to what we've all bought in to. That's just taking each 60 minutes, and at the end of the year we'll look up and see where we are."
On how much of their fourth-quarter success goes back to hard work during the offseason and training camp:"I think it's a combination of both. When you have the kind of guys that we have around here, man, we really take pride in, once you get a lead, the fourth quarter is grind-out time. So defensively, I think we're just doing some great things in the fourth quarter after we've settled in this year. The fourth quarter is usually just bread-and-butter against bread-and-butter. Right now, we're making a lot of plays as a defense, but we've got a long way to keep going to make sure that it holds up."
WR Derrick Mason
On if they prepare any differently for a 1-9-1 team:"No. We're going to approach it the same way we approached the Philadelphia Eagles, who were, at the time, 5-4-1. This is a game that we've got to win, and we understand what's going on. We see the big picture, and we have to go into their stadium and play them. They've played some very tough games – the game against Pittsburgh – they played that game tough all the way into the third quarter. We understand what we're going into. They're still a very good team, and I believe they still have a lot to play for."
On if the key is to get an early lead and then you can think, "We've got them":"No, not at all. If we do get that opportunity to get up on them, then you have to continue to try to score points, and the defense has to continue to try to stop them. Never in this league, I know it's easy to say that if you get a team down in a situation that some teams might be in, win-loss record, then they're done. No, it's not that way. In this league you've got to play for four quarters. I'm pretty sure Cincinnati is practicing hard. They're preaching that this is a game they've got to have as well. And like I said, they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain."
On the Bengals' defense:"They're still playing good. They still have the same coaching staff; no one has changed. Their defense is playing good. They're still playing some young guys, some guys that were backups, but they're still playing hard. They're still making it difficult for offenses to score. I don't see, necessarily, and big changes in their philosophy or their defense, what they're trying to do against other team's offenses."
On what T Willie Anderson has brought to the locker room: "Veteran leadership. Before he got here, the oldest guy [on the O-line] was Jason [Brown], I think. And talking in terms of planning, you've got to add big Willie. He brings that veteran leadership to a very good young line. He brings some stability of a guy that has played in a lot of hard-fought battles. We just have another vocal leader on the offensive side of the ball, and that always helps."
On how much of their ability to close on teams in the fourth quarter goes back to training camp:"I think it's a mixture of everything – guys working hard, going back to two-a-days. I think the mindset and the mentality that [head coach John Harbaugh] set back in even the OTA days, that we are going to be a very physical team, from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. Typically games in this league are won in the fourth quarter, and we understand that. We realize that. And as we move forward with games, our offensive line gets stronger and stronger, and our running game gets stronger."
On what makes S Ed Reed so good:"He's smart, that's what it boils down to. Is he athletic? Of course he's athletic. He's a very good football player, but I think what separates him from a lot of other free safeties in this league is that he's smart. I would rather take a guy that is smart over a guy that has the ability. With Ed, he shows both each and every time he goes out there. I think that's what separates Ed from a lot of guys that are in this game, and a lot of guys that have played this game, is that his intelligence out there."
On if Reed's intelligence comes from film study:"I think it comes through film study, I think it has to. Understanding the game, understanding your position, understanding why you're out there, your roll as the guy at the back end. He's pretty much the point guard out there. He has to make sure that everything is right in that back end, and he has to make sure he's in the right position to either make a play or not get a play thrown over his head."
On if, due to his time at Tennessee, he can relate to some of the emotions T Willie Anderson will feel when he plays his former team:"Yeah. But I don't know if Willie and my situations are the same. But I can understand or sympathize somewhat with his emotions going back to Cincinnati – a place where he had some good memories. Getting the opportunity to play your old team is always good, so he's, I'm pretty sure, Willie's going to be ready to play this upcoming week."
S Ed Reed
On if he ever wondered if his neck injury would allow him to play this season:"I still wonder about that. My neck still has pain in it and it's still something I'm dealing with. I'm still taking it day by day. It's not something that's weeded out, so to say. It's still something that's lingering on."
On whether it was difficult to step back into the action on opening day after being kept out of contact the whole preseason:"Somewhat. Not being in total football shape actually it took a toll as weeks went by with my hamstring, and I'm dealing with that still. But that was not really a worry. It was just a matter of being in true sync with your defense."
On how he feels the defense has stayed in sync so well, especially the secondary with so many changes due to injury:"[We're] just keeping things simple, likeable and learnable. Guys take it upon themselves to learn the defense, know their job, know what they're supposed to do and understand that this is their responsibility. This is their job. We have a great bunch of guys and a great coaching staff that gets us prepared to where just about anybody can fill any position."
On what the reaction he's gotten from his performance in Sunday's game against the Eagles:"[I've heard things like], 'You look like you're old self,' stuff like that. It keeps me going."
On who he has heard from over the past few days:"Just friends and family."
On whether he felt like his old self before Sunday's game:"I never really changed. I'm still the same Ed; I've never really changed. I got a little older. I had a birthday this year like every year; which is a blessing. So I just try to keep it going, man – do the things that God has blessed me to do."
On what it means to hear players like T.J. Houshmandzadeh call him the best safety in the league:"It's an honor and it's a respect thing because I respect Houshmandzadeh's game also. He's one of the best receivers in the league. He's proven that week-in and week-out with his consistent play. So definitely, [I want to say] thank you right now. I hope so, but I appreciate it, man. I think it comes from guys who play with their heart and understand this game because it wouldn't be a respect factor to him if I didn't understand that he knows how to play the game."
On what type of challenge the Ravens have this weekend against the Bengals receivers:"This is a huge test because they're a great tandem of receivers. They always, always play us hard. We know that they're not going to lay it down. They haven't laid it down. So, we've got to come out and do the things that we've been doing – get after these guys and try to do our best about letting us get our hands on them."
On how effective LB Ray Lewis is as a leader when he talks to the team:"A lot. Ray is the leader of this defense; he's one of the leaders of this franchise. When you talk about Baltimore, you speak defense. And when you're speaking defense, you're speaking Ray Lewis. That's football in general. Everybody listens. I hope that they listen because I know how much Ray puts into this game. If they consider me to be one of the best to play this position to play football, I know how much work Ray puts into it and to see him do it and know that he's doing it, man, shoot, I'm listening."
On how much he feels he's been the leader in the secondary with all of the injuries the Ravens have had this season:"I'm just trying to do my job, do my part. This is a bunch of grown men. This is an organizational thing; we're talking about a corporation. So I understand that they have to do their job, too, and I let them do their job. I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes by any means. So it's about me just knowing what I have to do and doing what I've been doing and not changing anything."
On would he consider Sunday's game against the Eagles to be the secondary's best game of the season:"We still have got five, hopefully plus, more games left. Hopefully, we haven't played our best game yet. I always believe we haven't."
On whether interceptions automatically make him think a game is his best of the year:"No, I don't think interceptions make one particular game being our best game because we had interceptions. I would think [it's a great game] when we're having less mental [mistakes], great communication. Great communication with guys that are flying around, doing things that they're supposed to do and we get a shutout, that's more like a good game for the secondary."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On what concerns him about the upcoming game:"What do you have to be concerned about? Losing. If you don't show up, they're going to beat you. They play really good at home. This is the NFL. Wins are very hard to come by, so this is no easy task. We've definitely got to show up for this rivalry game."
On whether he's still harboring memories from losing twice to the Bengals last year:"No, I think that was a tale of two different teams – not talking about them, but I'm talking about us. We were a different team last year than we are this year, so we're not worried about last year or any years prior. We've got to worry about this game. This one is the most important."
On if RB Cedric Benson gives Cincinnati a different look than in the first meeting:"Yeah, he's definitely a different style of back, where he resembles the Rudi Johnson that they had. He's definitely a different back, and we'll try to do some things to try not to let him have a good day."
On how much success of the team has been derived from winning the games they are expected to win:"I don't know. I think success of the team comes from us being a very good team – not a very good team, but that we have a good team atmosphere here is what I was trying to say. We're trying to build something here, and we're doing a good job. So as long as we keep trucking away, good things should happen."
On what he has seen on tape of Bengals QB Ryan Fitzpatrick:"Of what I've seen from him, he loves to get out there and run. He can have a good game. It's the NFL. He has thrown some picks, but he shows potential to have a good game. And the kid went to Harvard, so he's pretty smart. You definitely have to worry about that. It depends on what kind of day he's having and what kind of day we're having."
On if this is a team that they can put away early if they get up on them because of the situation that they are in:"I don't know. I wouldn't [be surprised by] them. Last time we played them, they didn't have the weapons that they have now. They didn't have Chris Henry, and they didn't have Cedric Benson. But they're full-fledged now, so I think it's going to be a different game. I'm just excited to go play."
On whether he did anything related to football for Thanksgiving as a kid:"Every kid, you watch the games and go out and imitate what you've seen on TV. Everybody played football on this day every year since they were little. I mean, we did. I don't have any memories of it. Just 'Go to the Buick,' stuff like that. 'Fire hydrant and out.'"
On if he will watch football this Thanksgiving:"Yes, I will."
On even watching the Lions:"Yes, I'm going to watch every game. I'm a football fan."
On "but the Lions?":They're in the same league as me, so I'm definitely going to watch every game and enjoy it with my family."
On how he would define an upset and if any happen in the NFL where there is parity:"I don't know. That's for you guys to define an upset. We take every team serious because every team has the potential on every Sunday to win a game, and these guys have beaten us before. So I don't know how you'd define an upset. Like I said, we leave that to you all, and we'll do our work on the field."
On how LB Ray Lewis has helped him not just as a player, but as a person:"He's more than just a football player. Everybody thinks Ray is this mean guy, just all football 100 percent all the time. But he's not. He's a really great brother. He's a really great teammate. He really helped me become a professional. I remember my rookie year, I was late all the time. I mean, not all the time; I was late a few times. I'd do some things where I'd fall asleep in the meetings as a rookie. He helped me with things like, he even started making sure the defense was my alarm clock. He used to call me. A.D. [Adalius Thomas] used to call me. Bart [Scott] used to come pick me up or drive by the house or something like that, something crazy. So he's a really great leader. He's a really great person. I think people should get to know the other side of Ray Lewis, the softer side when the pads are not on. He's really a very intelligent man. I don't have enough good words to say about the man. I'm just happy that I've had the privilege of being his teammate. Hopefully, some years down the line, because I'm still a young guy, I'll get to mentor and help a guy like he helped me."
On how much film Lewis has made him watch:"A lot. 'Hey, Sizzle. I'll call,' and if I'm not watching at that moment, he'll make me feel guilty. He doesn't know I'm not watching it, but he'll just say to you, 'You know, you've really got to watch it. If we do that this week, man, we've *got *these [guys].' You know he's very passionate. I'll be like, 'Yeah, Ray, I just got done watching it.' And then I'll get off the phone with him, and I'll be like, 'Man, I've got to go watch that,' because he'll know. 'Remember I was telling you about that?' You can tell when somebody is selling you a bag of goods. He's kind of leaning on me, but he makes sure I get my good share of film."
CINCINNATI BENGALS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Marvin Lewis
On what he looks back on and says caused problems this year:"I think our inability to make plays to win football games at the critical points is really the biggest thing. You've got to do those things when you get the opportunity to do them or you don't get a second shot."
On how much a role he feels injuries have played in the difficulties:"Well, we've had some injuries, but I think that happens to every team and you've got to find a way to overcome it. Ours have occurred, and unfortunately, they seem to go through the same position at times, which makes it a little difficult to catch up because you're having to catch up by one or two or three guys at a time."
On if he's been personally frustrated by what has been going on this season:"Anytime I don't win I'm frustrated, so that's easy."
On what differences he sees in the Ravens and rookie QB Joe Flacco after facing them in Week 1:"I think he's very confident with the football when he's having to throw it, and they've obviously built and designed some runs for him to carry the football or to hand the football off based on his read. They've continued to expand the offense as the season has gone on for him."
On his impression of the Ravens' defense this season:"They're playing very, very well."
On what he feels LB Ray Lewis' legacy will be:"The thing I think that everybody that knows Ray [knows] is the fact that no matter what it is, he wants his football team to win. And I think that's the thing that characterizes him more than anything else. He's put winning above everything else."
On if he's surprised by Lewis' play in 2008:"No, nothing Ray does has surprised me from the day he walked in that door."
On whether it bothers him to hear speculation that he is on the hot seat:"No, it doesn't. It's just part of the business."
On how he deals with that type of speculation:"I can't worry about that. That's really nothing that bothers me, nor is it in my hands or whatever. So, there's really no reason for me to worry about it or spend any time thinking about it."
On how optimistic he is that QB Carson Palmer may be able to return to play this season:"Well, he's got an opportunity to, and things continue to progress very well. And he would like that opportunity if it's at all possible and would not put him at any more risk. So, that's what he's looking forward to, and we'll just continue to play out the string."
On when in the season he might begin to play some of his younger players to allow them to get experience:"Because of the injuries it doesn't really matter. We've gone through a little bit what the Ravens went through last year. Because of injuries in different spots, we've already got the young players playing. We had a number of rookies begin the season playing and in our secondary we had a number the entire year. Now we have some at the offensive line position and defensive line, so it's kind of rolled through our team and there's nobody left. So, it's next man up and that's who goes."
On if there are any young players who have impressed him more than others:"I think all of the young guys have done good things, but it's a week-to-week proposition and they've got to go do it this week."
On how strange it will be to see former Bengals T Willie Anderson on the other sideline:"Well, it will be strange but I'm very happy for Willie. Willie is an extremely hard worker; he's meant a lot to this organization and a lot to me. I'm very glad that he's getting an opportunity to play again. He's playing on a team right now that's winning, and that's all that Willie has strived for his entire career is a chance to play on a winning football team and contribute to a winning football team, and he's doing that again."
On how he thinks fans will greet Anderson Sunday:"I think they love Willie. They loved Willie being here and what Willie stood for."
On his impression of how S Ed Reed is playing and if he feels his nerve impingement affects him:"I think Ed has continued to be the guy that can really track and go after the football. He has a great awareness. I'm sure in [this] year [the neck] probably bothered him more, but I think the more you play when you have something like that you're dealing with, the more you put it behind you."
On how he feels John Harbaugh has handled the Ravens in his first year as head coach:"He's done an outstanding [job]. I told John, even prior to us playing the first game, I admired how he's kind of gone about it. Obviously, when you take over somewhat of a veteran football team with some veteran players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, it can be a difficult adjustment. We kind of went through a little bit of that here, offensively, on the other side. He's done a great job of handling it and then putting his stamp on it, doing it his way, and obviously they've been successful."
On how things are between Chad Ocho Cinco and his teammates:"I took Chad out of the mix. Chad was a little bit late for a meeting, and so I chose to deactivate him and kind of took him out of the mix after that point. So there's really not much else to say. He didn't effect them in any way, he wasn't going to be able to play, so there was really no reason for him to sit there being on the sidelines."
T. J. Houshmandzadeh
On if he senses an advantage playing against the Ravens' secondary, which has been troubled by injuries this year:"They're secondary is not [in trouble]. What really makes their defense go is they have so many guys with [Terrell] Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Bart [Scott], Ray [Lewis], even Antwan [Barnes]. They've got so many guys that are big and that can do so many different things that it really doesn't matter. As long as they have those guys and Ed Reed in the back, it doesn't matter."
On what he feels has happened to the Bengals that has brought them to this unsuccessful season:"Man, it's hard to put a finger on it. Obviously, we have different guys on the offensive line. You guys have got one of our linemen [Willie Anderson] up there playing well for you all. But I don't know, man. It's frustrating, to say the least, to go through what we're going through right now. You can't even put it into words, really. But football is fun, and so that's what I plan on doing Sunday. But to answer that question, it's hard to put a finger on it, man, because after 2005 – you look at all our guys were all young, we're all just now getting into our prime or the middle of our careers, and for me it was just starting – you would have thought that for the next four, five, six years it would have been somewhat like Indianapolis and it hasn't been that way."
On how Marvin Lewis has taken what has gone on this season:"You know, he's frustrated, but he's the head coach so he can't show his frustration outwardly towards us because I don't know how that will rub off on us. You know he's frustrated. Anybody that gets in this profession, coaches down through players, everybody wants to win. But when you're the head coach you can't really show your frustration. I think maybe you go home and tell your wife, but you can't really bring it to the players as much. You're frustrated after the game when you lose, but when you come in the next day you have to get over it because if we see that he's still frustrated, it might start to rub off on guys and you don't want that."
On whether he gets the sense that Marvin Lewis gets frustrated with talk and rumors that he might not remain the Bengals' head coach:"I'm sure. Again, he's not going to show that to us. But Marvin is a human being, just like anybody else is. Now, you guys work at your local newspapers or whatever newspapers you work at, if you were hearing that you were going to lose your job, I'm sure it would bother you. But he's in the profession that he's in; he chose his profession and he gets paid a lot of money to do what he's doing. It's weird, because coaches, quarterbacks, they get too much credit when things are going extremely well and they take too much of the blame when things are going bad. Every coach, every team, you need good players to win. When we're playing the way we're playing and we're losing the games where we're losing, obviously we don't got as many good players as we need."
On if he feels he has a future in Cincinnati:"Oh, man. To be continued."
On if he's open to moving to another team, say Baltimore or in the AFC North:"Yeah, I'm open to everything because I figure I want to win. I think Cincinnati can win here, but it's just a tough situation. It just gets to the point [where] I haven't signed a contract, and so when you haven't signed a contract up until that point, your own mindset tells you – and it's sad to think like this – but your own mindset tells you that you're going to leave because you haven't signed a deal. So [at] my age, I'm older for a guy that's eight years [in the NFL]. But, guys, I haven't played a lot of football. Man, I played one year in high school football, I sat the bench for three years here, I was hurt, and so this is really only my fifth year playing. I feel great. This is the 12th game of the season; I feel great. My body is not beat up; I feel great. I've got plenty of years left to play, and I just want to win and to continue to play. That's all I want to do."
On whether he'd come to Baltimore if Ravens LB Ray Lewis told him to:"Hopefully I'm fortunate enough to get to Hawaii, because I know Ray will be there, and we'll talk about it."
On his impression of how Ray Lewis has played this season and if he's surprised people:"No, he hasn't surprised me. When you sit down to talk to Ray [you understand]. [I would] see Ray do interviews on TV when I didn't know him and I'd watch him do interviews. I was like, 'Why's this guy talking like this, man? Quit acting.' And I'm sure a lot of guys think that, but when you sit down to actually talk to Ray, he's passionate like that in just a regular conversation. And then, don't talk football with him. The passion and the love and the how he talks and acts about the game, man, is ridiculous. It's not too many guys that have that passion. You can tell, [with] the guys on the defense, how they've picked up, mentally, things Ray has taught them. Baltimore has a defense that they're not just big and athletic, those guys are smart and they understand football. And when you have big, athletic guys and they're smart and they understand the game, it's a crazy package."
On what he's seen Ed Reed do since he's been in the NFL and if the Bengals game-plan for him more than other guys:"Ed Reed is the best safety in football, followed probably by [Troy] Polamalu. Ed is just a receiver playing safety. When he gets the ball he's like a running back. Then, he's not just going to come up and bang you, but if you don't see him, he will hit you, because he did that to me last year and I've got a scar on my face that every time I look in the mirror [I] remember who did that. But he catches the ball so smooth – great hand-eye coordination, great understanding of the game. I think that comes from playing with Ray and Ray helping him understand the game and offenses' tendencies and things like that. [Ed] will probably go down as one of the best safeties ever to play because of the way he's changed the game. When Ed came into the game, safeties weren't getting big deals. Safeties were looked upon as guys that were safeties; they weren't big playmakers. When Ed came into the league all that changed, and I think it was because of him."
On if it will be strange to see his former teammate Willie Anderson on the other side of the ball this Sunday:"Yeah, I talked to big Willie last night. I talked to Will. It's funny because when Will left I was kind of upset about it, you know, that he was leaving. He was like, 'Man, T. J,' when he was deciding what he was going to do he [told me], 'It's between Baltimore and San Diego.' When Willie was here all he kept saying was, 'I want to win, I want to win.' I [told him], 'If you want to win, why are you thinking about going to Baltimore? Why wouldn't you go to San Diego? It's great weather and you're going to go to San Diego.' I told him yesterday, 'You're almost a prophet,' because when he went to Baltimore he [told me], 'T. J., we can win here. With these guys on defense, we can win here.' And he's right. Look at the record of Baltimore and look at the record of ours and San Diego. I'm glad. I'm glad he's had an opportunity to go to the playoffs if [the Ravens] continue to play the way they're playing. Hopefully, we can throw a monkey wrench in that. But it's good to see somebody like Willie [have that success] because Willie busts his tail, he takes care of his body and it's good for him."
On what the feeling was on the team when Anderson made the move to Baltimore:"I think a lot of guys [were disappointed]. Willie is like a big, old teddy bear. He's cool. Willie was one of those guys [who] was a lineman but he was the face of the Bengals for a while. He was the mouth of the Bengals, [even] with being a lineman. He never shied away; Willie likes to talk. It was tough, man, because I was here when Willie got here, and there are not very many guys that have been here as long as I have with Willie, and Willie taught me by the game. He was teaching guys the game, and you don't realize how much a guy like Willie does until he's not here. You say, 'Oh, OK, he did more than we thought.'"
On if he's talked to Anderson about what his experience in Baltimore has been like:"He's told me the pros and cons and the things he likes and the differences. Yeah, he's told me everything, yeah."
On how he feels Bengals backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played:"I think 'Fitz' has gotten better each game. A quarterback is only as good as his offensive line and the guys around him, but I think he's gotten better each week. Getting thrown out there, I think it was the Cleveland game was his first game, and not being able to practice, I think he's just gotten better. If the offensive line plays well then we can run the ball, and [if] me and Chad [Ocho Cinco] get out there and make some plays, obviously, you're going to play better. And that's any position, any position in football. If everybody's not playing well, nobody's going to do anything. I think 'Fitz' is getting better, and I'm just hoping he'll have his best game this week."
On what he would say the Bengals are playing for at this point in their season:"Pride. Just pride, man. You play for pride. I love to play. When I tell you I love football… I watch football all day, every day, I just watch everything about football. It's fun. You play for pride, you want to compete, you don't want the guy across from you to beat you, and that's how I look at it. I don't want the guy covering me to cover me; he's not going to cover me. If everybody has the mentality… If I've got to block a guy, I'm going to block. I'm not scared. I'm going to block, because it's fun and it's because I want to win. You play for pride at this point in the season when you have the type of record we have, 1-9, 1-9-1. People are forgetting that we have a tie. Man, you just play for pride at this point."
On if he has any negotiations that are ongoing with the Bengals at this time, or if not, when did they cease:"No, you know what it is, I basically just told my agent I don't want to worry about it during the season. Man, I think about it. Who doesn't? But you make it to this point in the season, there's really no need to negotiate. You wait until the season ends and then you go to free agency and see what happens. That's how I've looked at it and that's how I'm going to continue to look at it. I told my agent, 'Don't call me and say they called and they did this and they did that, because it doesn't matter.'"
On if a decision on Marvin Lewis' position might impact his decision on whether he will stay in Cincinnati:"I haven't even thought about that, really, to be honest with you. You would think Marvin is going to be OK here. When Marvin got here to the Bengals, man, we were terrible. Just the perception of us has changed since he's gotten here. Now the perception might not be really good right now, but he's changed the whole attitude and just everything about our team. I haven't even thought about that. I like Marvin. Marvin is a player's coach, but he's really not a player's coach. You know what I mean? He has fun with the players, he talks to the players, but we practice hard. So would it have an impact on [a decision]? I'm sure it will. I'll be talking to Marvin regardless if he's here or he's not here about my situation. I would assume he would be here, so I'll probably be talking to him more. I'm not sure the answer to that, honestly, I'm not sure."
On his impression of the Ravens' CBs Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington:"Samari has been doing this for a long time. [He has] great ball skills, real fast. If you watch him on tape, he'll come up and hit you if you don't see him coming. Fabian, he played at Oakland, so they played a lot of man-to-man, real fast. Corey Ivy [is] real quick. Corey Ivy, he's better than what people give him credit for because he's small, but he's strong and he has great quickness. But you know how Baltimore plays. They're not going to play a lot of man-to-man. They're going to play a lot of cover two, two-man, and then they'll mix it up with their blitzes and all that type of stuff. I hope they play us like they played the Eagles. They played the Eagles a lot of cover one. Hopefully, they'll see that me, Chad and Chris [Henry] haven't been doing much this year, and they'll do us the same way."