Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Thanks for being here. We have pretty much quickly bypassed much of the tape from yesterday and moved on quickly to Denver, obviously, because we are on the quick turnaround. We'll be playing those guys Saturday, so we'll start practice tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon. The players will start at noon, and then we'll work a late schedule tomorrow and then right into the rest of our week. So, that's where we're at as far as that's concerned.
"Injury report-wise, we really don't have anything to report today, which is good. We'll have an injury report for you tomorrow when we're required to, but it doesn't look like we have anything major coming out of the game, so that's good news. Just in the game, you look at the three phases, special teams … The field position was a huge part of the game. All three phases contributed to that, special teams especially with the coverage. They had no return yards. We had the touchbacks from 'Tuck' [Justin Tucker], which was pretty impressive because a few of those were into the wind. The coverage on the punts was really good. The return game was solid. We were close to breaking a couple there. A couple of shoestring tackles and they would have been out. We had a couple of penalties there that were disappointing; the first touching on the punt, and we had a hold that brought back about a 15-yard return. The key on defense really was the red zone defense, not giving up any touchdowns, and only giving up nine points – that's the bottom line. There were some run game fit issues. We had some real good ones, and we had a couple that weren't so good. They had a couple more big plays than we'd like to give up. We had some missed opportunities, too. Andrew Luck is tough to bring down. We would have had a few more sacks if we had been able to get him down. We had a couple of chances for interceptions, as you guys all saw. One of them was mechanically-induced, not getting the one interception. But, all in all, it was a very good day for us on defense when you just give up nine points to an offense like that. Offensively, we wanted to establish the run, and we were able to do that. That was really important – over five yards a carry. We controlled their pass rushes, which was big. [Indy has] two of the best pass rushers in football. We are going to see two of the best pass rushers in football again this week, as it turns out. So, that was a good thing. We got big plays – we had eight big plays of 20-yards-or-more. We think we can be better on third down. Obviously, the turnovers are something that you've got to control, especially in the playoffs. Those are two things that we overcame. All in all, we just have to keep working on the penalties. So, that's where we're at."
Obviously, you're not going to make lineup changes or decisions based on what fans or media say, but the offensive line configuration is something that people had looked forward to seeing with Michael Oher at right tackle, Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Kelechi Osemele at left guard. How do feel that worked out? (Joe Platania)"It worked out well. We played solidly. We did a good job, obviously, of run blocking, and the pass protection was good. So, those guys did a nice job."
John, have you ever been part of a team that has allowed no yards on returns on special teams with five kickoffs and four punts? It's like a perfect game in baseball. (Drew Forrester)"I hadn't thought about it like that. I don't know. I don't remember that. I don't remember ever giving up no yards in the return game, so it's a great accomplishment by those guys. It's good to have all the guys back. To be at full strength is really important, and it does trickle down through all of your units. So, those guys had some guys up and playing that hadn't been playing on special teams or had been taking so many reps because they were playing double duty with their phase on special teams."
You mentioned penalties. Bernard Pollard said that he knew right away that his aiming point should have been a little bit lower. What did you see from it now that you watch the tape? And also, he said that he was cursed at by a Colts personnel guy on their sideline.* (Aaron Wilson)*"As far as the second part of it goes, that's something that we are looking into. Apparently, there was something that was said. Obviously, you don't go back into their bench, and Bernard said that already. He knows that. You don't respond. But, there were some things, apparently, that were said that were out of line. You just have to get the strike zone down. What's happening is you take the strike zone into this area, this low chest area, and you think you're going to be legal, then all of the sudden the helmet is in that area, so the only answer is to go lower, and that's what we're going to have to do."
So, you have to hit them in the gut, huh?* (Aaron Wilson)*"Lower than the head, or wherever the head might possibly be. That's what the league tells us, and that's what we'll have to do. There was helmet-to-helmet contact there, so it was good call."
Also, you guys announced that Sergio Kindle was cut from the practice squad. Have you filled that spot, and what was the rationale behind that decision?* (Aaron Wilson)*"That was a conversation that was between Sergio and I. I think most of it should remain private, but it was positive. It was kind of mutually agreed upon between the two of us. It was nothing that he did or didn't do. I told him I have high hopes for Sergio. I really do. He and I have gotten real close. I feel some responsibility for him and really want to see him do well. I really think he has a chance to be good in this league. Just in the future, we'll be there. I'll be there to support him and do whatever we can to help him. He's hoping for an opportunity somewhere where he can maybe take the next step."
Did you guys fill the spot already?* (Aaron Wilson)*"No, we haven't filled it yet. We're still looking at that. We should have something done by later tonight. We're looking at possibly a linebacker or an offensive lineman, so it's just kind of up in the air right now."
Are you seeing anything with the two Ray Rice fumbles? (Stan Charles)"The ball got away. He was trying probably too hard to make a play and trying to create, like Ray does. He was able to create on that screen pass, but [he was] probably trying to do a little more than he needed to do, and the ball got away from his body, and he exposed it a little bit. He knew that right away coming off the field. He said the same thing, so that's what it turned out to be."
A very emotional game and emotional scene after the win. Do you want to try to carry that same emotion going to Denver or wipe the slate clean and start over? (Mark Zinno)"We'll probably build on that. I don't have an either or on that. It's probably yes to both of them. There is probably an element that we'll carry forward, because you're always building on what you are. Hopefully, we take all the things that have happened, and we take it into that game emotionally, and carry it with us. But, this is a new game. It's whole new environment, it's a whole new situation for us. So, the slate is wiped clean in that sense, and it will just be a new challenge for us."
With Paul Kruger and his recent stretch of games over the last two or three months, do you notice something technique-wise or skill set-wise he is doing differently that he wasn't doing before? Even though he had a productive year last year and a good start this year, obviously he has reached a different level statistically. (Brett Hollander)"Last year to this year, he is bigger, he is faster, and he is stronger. So, all those things he did in the offseason to make himself, physically, a better, more explosive player … The technique stuff as well. He has done a great job. [Linebackers coach] Ted Monachino has done a great job working the technique stuff. He has built an array of pass-rush moves that have been really effective. They've built him around his specific talents. He is able to get on that edge. He has some real deceptive quickness at the top of the pocket where he can turn the corner, knock down the arms and turn the corner or counter back inside. So, he's used that stuff very effectively."
Why has Dennis Pitta emerged so much as a weapon in the passing game, particularly in the red zone, where he has caught a bunch of touchdown passes in the last 8-10 games? (Matt Vensel)"Probably because he is a heck of a player. We had those hopes for him. He's got great hands. He's got a knack for catching and getting up field. He's done a better job more than anything of making plays on his feet after he catches the ball. Maybe that's something we didn't see earlier in the year. He'd catch it, and he wouldn't be able to keep his feet sometimes, but it seems like he has been able to maintain that balance and get yards after the catch. It's led to a lot of production."
You had a chance to actually go back and watch the film. What did you see from Ray [Lewis]? (Matt Zenitz)"He played well. He played well. He was physical at the point of attack. He did a good job in the pass game. The crazy thing about the game was we were on the field for so many plays. Everybody on defense got a little tired toward the end there. They held up pretty well, but 87 plays is a lot of plays to only give up nine points. Ray [Lewis] probably felt that at the end a little bit just like the rest of the guys. [There's] really nothing negative. He played a good solid game."
Joe Flacco seemed to be out of the pocket quite a bit yesterday. Is that something that he and [offensive coordinator] Jim [Caldwell] have been working towards? (Stan Charles)"Yes, moving the pocket has been a goal of ours, and it's going to be important in this next game, also. Whenever you have great edge pass rushers, you need to move the pocket. They have been working hard on [that] – whether it's stepping up in the pocket making plays or stepping outside and making plays when the pass rushers loses contain and then keeping the play alive and trying to make some throws while he's doing that. Joe [Flacco] can run. He's faster than people think, so he can get out of there and run for some yards, too. Yes, it's something they have been working on."
You look around the league, there are a lot of teams that aren't even throwing the ball down the field very far. They don't try it because of the possession games or whatever. It seems like you guys are real comfortable in Joe [Flacco] throwing it. Is that his big arm or what is it that leads you to … Is it his mentality? (John Eisenberg)"I don't know about other teams, but from a defensive perspective, it sure is a lot more of a threat if you can throw the ball downfield. If you can't throw the ball downfield, the defense can suffocate you pretty quickly and sit on routes. In order to get people off you, you have to throw the ball downfield. You have to run them off. You have to push the ball downfield. Yes, Joe does throw the ball really well downfield. He made some great throws on the run, like you are talking about. He made a couple of great throws with pressure in his face. Even kind of off balance, he made a great throw on a comeback. That's just one of his gifts. That's something that he does really well and something that we need to continue to take advantage of."
The Chiefs announced Andy Reid as their new head coach. Just your thoughts on Andy being back that quickly and what kind of a job he can do at Kansas City. (Aaron Wilson)"Yes, was he ever gone? It was pretty quick. [I'm] not surprised at all. It's something that, personally, I expected him to be coaching right away. Andy's a great coach, a great man. [I] have a lot of respect for him. He'll do really well there."
You guys haven't had to as an organization go to Denver since 2006, so you haven't coached in that altitude. Is there any concern about it? Are you doing anything different this week to prepare for the high altitude? (Mark Zinno) "There are some concerns about it. We have done our homework on that. We have a plan for that. We are going to go out there the night before. We feel like that's the best way to do it to try to stay within a 24-hour window in the altitude. We have some other advice for our guys in order to take care of their bodies out there and be ready to go. Other than that, there's not much more you can do. I think our team is in very good shape. I think we're going to be physically able to handle it."
The last time you played Denver, obviously, not the way you wanted it to go. Do you look at it as that one play that turned it around, or do you have guys back now that you believe you can compete better against that Peyton Manning and the rest of those guys? (David Ginsburg)"Yes, we believe we can compete better against them. Give them credit, they came in here and played a whale of a football game. They kept the pressure on us – all three phases. In the end, they were able to extend the lead. That's something that we are just going to have to do a better job of dealing with."
**Do you believe there are times during the season where a team is more confident than others, and do you think that the Ravens are a more confident football team right now than they were when Denver came into town? *(Stan Charles) *"No. I don't feel that way."
They are on an 11-game roll. What do you seen form them throughout this as you guys go back and study them, just why they have been able to be this affective and have played some really good teams? (Aaron Wilson) "They are a very well-rounded football team. They are one of the more complete teams in the league. They are very good on all three phases. Obviously, their offense is clicking on all cylinders; they can run it, and they can throw it. They have a premier quarterback. They have playmakers outside. They have really strong receivers outside. They do a great job of bodying up and pushing off and creating separation that way. It's kind of what they do. The offensive line is really solid, really good. Defensively, it starts with the pass rush. They just get tremendous pass rush, but they are also playing good run defense – two really good inside 'backers, two really good outside 'backers and some really physical guys inside. They have corners that can play. They have a whole secondary back there that does a great job of hawking the ball. Special teams has played well. It's a really good football team."
You mentioned [Von] Miller. He looks like he's as fast as the backs and receivers, and I guess his time [at the Combine] going back a couple of years sort of bears that. (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, if you look at the Combine time, he's as fast as most all the backs. Von Miller is a great talent, and he's emerging as one of the top players in the league."
Do you have any concern that if guys start lowering the strike zone, like you talked about on your team and around the league, that it may result in more knee injuries? Is this safety issue a solvable thing for the NFL? Is there a solution to all of this? (Robert Klemko) "Probably a conversation best left for the offseason. It's going to be something that is going to be really important. We have talked about that before in here. The league and the players association … I ran into [executive director of the NFL Players Association] DeMaurice [Smith] before the game. Everybody is concerned about [safety]. Everybody wants to do the right thing. Safety is really important. It's just going to have be talked about and just keep trying to keep chasing that thing down."
You mentioned how Denver is clicking, and obviously, in one sense it's an advantage with the bye week because you get to rest. But when a team is operating that well and winning 11 in a row, is there any danger or is there anything you can exploit with the fact that they've had a week off and they're maybe not as crisp as they would have been? (Mark Zinno)"There are pros and cons. There are pros and cons when you play; you usually think of what are the cons of playing. The biggest con is you have to win. If you don't win, you don't get to go on. When you have the bye week, you're going to be in that Divisional round no matter what. The fact that you played is a plus, because you've played, and you have a chance to be sharper, especially if you get out of it healthy. We had that concern last year with the bye, so there are pluses and minuses both ways, and we'll try to maximize the pluses of our situation, and they'll try to maximize the pluses of theirs. But, I would say yes, that's true."
Can you talk about the 12th man yesterday, the fans and about putting Ray [Lewis] in that last offensive play (Bill West)"Yes, thanks for bringing that up. The crowd was incredible. It was one of those historic moments that all of us in here, and anybody that was there, is never ever going to forget. I had a chance to just see a couple of pictures, and when we did the introductions … I thought we're supposed to run out of the tunnel. (laughing) There was no running out of any tunnel. The tunnel was blockaded, right, with our players, and basically, our players and anybody else that was nearby? I came out for pregame and the place was almost packed. I'm talking about way early – an hour before the game. And then obviously, we came back out 10 minutes before the game, before the introductions and the place was just stuffed. It was as loud as it would be during most games. It was one of those great moments. I felt so proud of our fans – so pleased that we all have something that we will be able to talk to our kids and our grandkids about. [It is] a Baltimore football moment that is going to just live on. That's kind of why you do this – it's kind of why you're a fan, to be a part of moments like this."
Is there anything quantifiable that you can say the team was able to do yesterday because of all of that surrounded that game? (Stan Charles)"There probably is. I just wouldn't know how to quantify it. But, there's got to be. It had to have an impact. The emotions were real – it was tangible. We all felt it. But they had it, too. They had their reasons, too. So both teams had a lot going on, had a lot of juice that way."
I know it's difficult enough making a cross-country trip. Players talk about that all the time. How much more challenging does it make the preparation this week, just with it being a short week? (Matt Zenitz)"Well, it's a big challenge, because we just have one less day to get ready. Obviously, they've been preparing for us for a week; I'm sure they prepared for us and the Colts last week, so that's an edge. That's something that [the reporter] is talking about there. We just have to deal with it. It is what it is, it's not a problem. It's a good problem to have is a better way to say it. It's a good problem to have. We'll attack it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, as Jack Harbaugh would say right back there in the back of the room."
**How important is it to get ahead on a quarterback like Peyton [Manning], particularly on the road for you guys? *(Lamont Williams) *"You can't win the game if you don't get ahead. If you get ahead, you have to stay ahead. So, at some point in time, we have to get ahead. The main thing is to be ahead at the end, obviously. But, playing from behind is a challenge, and that's kind of to your point. It's because Peyton keeps the pressure on you, certainly, and they can play a little more free if they have a lead, but more so maybe the defense. That defense, when they get a lead on you, they can kind of crank it up a little, bit because you become a little more one-dimensional. So, we would sure like to get ahead, and then once we get ahead we need to stay ahead."
Bernard Pollard compared Peyton Manning to a "MacBook" computer. How difficult is it to prepare for someone of that stature? (Bruce Cunningham)"He's not a computer; that's for sure. He may have a computer for a brain, but he's a man. We're going to need to try to confuse him, and we're going to need to try to put pressure on him, and we'll need to cover their receivers and stop the run game. They've got a very good run game with the running backs. So, it's a great analogy. *(Reporter: "It wasn't mine!") *It was Bernard's [Pollard]. OK, I'm going to try to get in Bernard's head there a little bit. But no, he's a real smart quarterback; I think that's the point."
Would it be easier to just simply try to keep Peyton Manning off the field? (J. Michael)"It's really critical. First of all, we have to get first downs. We did not do that the first time around after the first turnover we had there. We went a long stretch … We had a number of three-and-outs – we probably had more three and outs in that game than any game we've had – which is a credit to our defense, and that's a good thing. But then we couldn't capitalize on them and stay off the field, so we just had too many plays. We were on the field for too many plays yesterday, too. So, getting off the field on third down is going to be critical. If we can create a couple of turnovers, that would be big. And then extending drives on offense is going to be really important."
John, what have you seen with the recent effectiveness from the running game? (Aaron Wilson)"Throughout the course of the season, if you look at it as a whole, we've been pretty consistent with the run game, big picture-wise. We've had games where they haven't been as good. You know, if you get behind, it's hard to run the ball. When you can't run the ball as well, like the last Denver game, which we really wanted to run the ball, and they just did a great job – give them credit – they did a good job against us up front and we couldn't run the ball. So, you want to be able to run the ball. They would say that, most every team in the league would say that, and for us that's going to be a big part of our formula."
In Denver's altitude, how important is it to have two running backs with the capabilities that yours have? (Stan Charles)"That's a great point. The fact that we've got two guys that every time they touch the ball they're a threat to go … The fact that the altitude is probably going to be a factor as far as guys who are carrying the ball getting gassed, those two guys are going to take care of each other, and that's something that we've been building on."
Obviously the game situation will dictate it, but do you think you would be more likely to go for a longer field goal given the altitude? (Mark Zinno)"Absolutely. Their guy has proven he can kick a long one, and I think our guy has proven that he can bang it. So, the whole key on the long ones is to kick it straight, because the further it travels, and the more it's off originally – just slightly – the more it obviously tracks, and it tracks outside the uprights. So, the one thing about Justin Tucker is he kicks a very straight ball. So, that gives us an advantage in that kind of situation where we might be able to do that."
John, I know you don't like making excuses, especially for injuries, but you'll have three important players back that you didn't have against Denver the last time. How does that affect things? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's got to be a positive. You're right – we haven't mentioned the injury thing. It's not something our guys have talked about. The guys who went in there and played well this year, I'm really proud of the way those guys played. Our guys went in there and played well. We've probably played more guys – I don't have the stats on this – but it's hard for me to imagine a team who's played more players than we have this year extensively. And we're more full-strength now than we've ever been all year, so it's the right time to be healthy, and I'm hoping those guys will have a big impact."
John, injuries have given players like Chykie Brown an increased amount of playing time. What did you see from him yesterday? (Kris Jones)"He and I had a conversation coming off the field, and he told me, he said, 'I'm growing up coach. I'm growing up.' And he is. He's playing technique. He's playing good, solid technique. His eyes are in the right place. I'm quite sure that Peyton [Manning] is going to try to double-move our guys – especially guys like Chykie, the young guys. And we're just going to have to play good, solid technique against that. We're more equipped to do that now than we've ever been."