Head Coach John Harbaugh MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "OK, I appreciate you being here. [It's] a beautiful day made even better by a great victory last night. So, congratulations to all the players and the coaches and the fans. The fans were really incredible last night. That was quite an experience. Also, the stadium people, everybody here … It was pretty incredible and amazing, wasn't it? The way the stadium, just [with] the graphics and everything, it was an exciting place to be. Now, we're moving forward and getting ready for the [Detroit] Lions. OK, what questions do you have?"
How tough is it to move past an emotional … I know you want to kind of focus on the Lions. How challenging is it to move past an emotional win like that? (Jamison Hensley) "It's really not that challenging, believe it or not, for us on the inside, because when you watch the tape, you're really watching it scientifically in a sense. There are so many things that we need to improve upon. We have 15 more games to play, and everybody is going to get better. We have to keep improving on all the little things. In order to win the next game, we have to get better. So, you kind of get flipped into that mode pretty quickly when you start watching the coaches tape."
The offensive line played really well last night. After you watched the tape, what stood out to you? (Ryan Mink) "I just agree. I thought they played really well together. [There were] really no missed assignments. Communication was so good. Physicality was there. The gameplan was really good. We had all different types of protections we were rolling through to take care of their blitzes that [defensive coordinator] Coach [Steve] Spagnuola does. So, they played really well together."
More specifically, how did you think G Ben Cleveland handled his first NFL action. It was a tough summer for him with the concussion and everything. (Luke Jones) "He did really well. He stepped up in a game. You never know until a guy gets into a game and plays his first game. He was very solid out there. He had a couple powerful, really physical blocks. His technique is still … I'd say he's young, technique-wise, when you watch him, but that's only going to get better, too."
WR Marquise Brown talked after the game about the tough week leading up to it and then having to kind of grit through it. How impressed were you with his ability to tough it out and play a really good game? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, that was great. He did. He came up big for us. He was playing fast, had some catches and blocked. The wide receivers did a great job of blocking on the perimeter. That was one of the big plusses in the game. So, it wasn't just the big plays, it was really the complete package of play for Marquise [Brown] and all of those guys."
What's going through your mind when you see QB Lamar Jackson going for that game-winning score, and he flips in the air going into the endzone? (Jamison Hensley) "I didn't see it. I didn't see it, I swear. I saw him throw the ball up in the air. Of course, I went like, 'Is that legal? It's not taunting, is it?' (laughter) But I didn't see the flip until later; my wife told me about it and I saw it. Then I heard his hip hurt, and I was like, 'Well, there … I'm not surprised." (Reporter: "But flipping is OK? There's no anti-flipping rule?") "As long as you hold onto the ball. As long as it results in a touchdown."
In terms of OLB Odafe Oweh, yesterday, I'm not really sure he understood the impact of what he had done. I think it was all kind of sinking in still. For someone as young as he is, he said he just wants to make an impact. How much of an impact has he made as a person on this team already? (Melissa Kim) "[He's made] a huge impact. We don't win the game without the way he played. Obviously, the last play on defense, but the rest of the game, too. He played 38 snaps out of less than 50 snaps, and he was all over the field. He was involved in coverage. He was involved in second-level rushes, first-level rushes [and] run defense. Then to come up with that play, it was just a phenomenal football play. So, he's well on his way."
There have been more fourth-down attempts league-wide through two weeks than ever before. How have you sort of seen the sport evolve on that? Has your approach to it changed through the years? (Noah Trister) "We've been going for it [on fourth down] for quite a while around here. You just have a sense of … We have learned a lot about the numbers and things like that, so we know more than we used to. But really, you just go by the … I've said this before. We've talked about this, right? It's really just whether you think you can make it or not. [It's] the same thing for the two-point plays; I'm sure I'll get asked about that. But really, in the end, it boils down to if you think you can get it compared to your chances of not getting it. That's kind of the coaching decision there."
DB Brandon Stephens, he came in being able to play corner and safety. He played some corner last week and had to come in for S DeShon Elliott last night at safety. How do you think he's been playing so far? (Cordell Woodland) "He's playing well. It's pretty amazing, because he hasn't played defensive back that much. That was a big stage against a really, really good offense that plays really fast and can get your coverage a little out of whack really quickly, and I thought he played well. He'll look at the tape, and he'll say, 'Man, I can do so many things so much better,' which is what I love about him. So, he's on his way as well, and he had a good, solid game."
You've talked a lot about the potential for CB Anthony Averett, especially after CB Marcus Peters' injury. What's it like and how did you evaluate his performance last night? (Kyle Barber) "He was very good. He had the huge play in the fourth quarter there. I mean, that was a big-time play against a great quarterback and receiver running a really good, well-timed route. There are some other things. I'm going to be on him about a couple things, assignment-wise – one thing, mainly. So, he knows what's coming. But he played like a very good starting corner out there. I thought he had a really good game."
Do you expect to continue rotating G Ben Cleveland and G Ben Powers? Did they both play well enough to earn that chance going forward? (Childs Walker) "They did. They both played really well, so yes, they should both play going forward, and we'll see where it takes us."
How much is this kind of win, the way you did it, against who you did it against maybe a catapult or something that can motivate you guys going forward? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, I don't know. I feel like it'll be as much as it effects every guy individually. It's definitely going to be a confidence builder. To win a game like that, against a team like that, and to do it in your home stadium when the fans are so into it, that's going to be something that's going to be a big boost, I think. But, we'll see."
The running game has performed at a high level consistently over the past three years. Even last night, you didn't have your Top 2 running backs and you had a revamped offensive line. How do you keep this running game moving consistently when all these parts are consistently changing? (Jamison Hensley) "We have a philosophy; we have some principles that we believe in. [Offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] is the author of the system. He's been building this system for many years, so we've built on that even more. The offensive line, obviously, is very important – wide receivers, like we talked about, tight ends. It's a group effort, but in the end, it revolves around the quarterback. Lamar [Jackson] is the thing that gives you the opportunity to do the things that we do and make the thing really go the way it does."
You talk a lot about stacking practices, and so much work goes on in training camp before you even get to this point. Is there something that you saw from those practices – a small detail from last night – that maybe transitioned to the game and caught your eye when watching the tape? (Kyle Barber) "We've practiced really well from the beginning, so it's really a cumulative type of affect. There were a lot of things in the game that wasn't good. The game could have easily gone the other way on a couple different things here and there, and we'd probably be having a different conversation, so I don't think you want to get too caught up in all those kinds of macro-observations. That's a pretty good word right there." (laughter)
How about your tackling in this game? (Mike Preston) "It was spotty at certain times. [On] the two big plays, we missed 10 tackles. We had some good tackling moments. It's a hard team to tackle; they get you in space a lot. But they had big plays where we didn't tackle well at all, and we've got to work on that."
After QB Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions, one for a pick-six, and for him to come back and have a game like that, does that just show you how mentally tough he is – that he doesn't let things affect him like that? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, he's a mentally tough guy – no question."
Is DT Brandon Williams OK? With it being his neck, is it more on the minor side? (Luke Jones) "I think so. I think so."
How big was it for T Alejandro Villanueva to be able to step in there at left tackle during a week when he got a lot of criticism from outside of the building? Just how much do you think his experience at that position really kind of helped settle things down? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, he played well. The experience is a big part of it – for sure. He's played that position, and I'm sure it helped him a lot. He was on the side he's used to playing. It's not easy to go to the other side. And I don't doubt that he could play on the right side very effectively; it's just time on task. But that was a tough assignment. The two pass rushers they [Kansas City] have are really good. I thought he, and then Pat Mekari, cannot be overlooked. Both those two guys played really well."
On the two-point conversion when G Kevin Zeitler was called for an illegal man down field, did you get an explanation on that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, that's one that the league is going to have to look at, and we're going to need to understand better why that was called."
The relationship between you and QB Lamar Jackson was caught on camera – you asking him whether or not he wanted to go for it. Can you just talk a little bit about the relationship with your quarterback and how much it means to be able to trust him like that? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, he's a great player. He's a great player; he's a great guy; he's a great competitor. I've never been around a more competitive player. We've gotten to the point where there's a lot of trust there. Hopefully, it runs both ways. So, that's what you want to have."
What did you see on that play when LS Nick Moore had to hold the guy on the punt? (Jonas Shaffer) "Just poor punt protection. We didn't do a good job on the right side, in terms of keeping our spacing tight enough to help the center, and the center didn't do a great job with his footwork at all after the snap. So, we'll be working on that really hard this week."
Is it impressive though for LS Nick Moore to have that awareness? (Jonas Shaffer) "To tackle him before the punt gets blocked? Sure, absolutely – yes. (laughter) Yes, absolutely. [With] centers, I think it comes pretty naturally; when a guy is running by you, grab him. (laughter) It's a natural instinct thing."