John Harbaugh Press Conference (01/09)

Opening statement: "Sorry about keeping everybody waiting. We're working hard to get ready for this next challenge. [We are] very excited to be in this situation where we'll have an opportunity to play in the Divisional game against a great football team. [We are] proud of the victory, obviously, yesterday. Our guys played well. At the same time, we feel like there are numerous things that we can work on to get better, and we're going to have to do that."

*When it comes to your personal philosophy that it's always about the team, does it ever come to a point – like the oversight of Ed Reed not being selected as the Defensive Player of the Year – where you think that it is wrong that some of your players don't get recognized individually? *"No. We don't look at it that way. I think Ed Reed deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year, without question. We've said it many times about all of our guys: We think we have the best players in the National Football League. Football teams win when really good players play really well. As a coach, that's what you try to get. We have a great staff. We've got the best staff in the National Football League. So we know each other, we recognize one another, and we're excited to play this week."

Do things like players being overlooked for recognition or being the underdog fuel the team's motivation?"I don't know. Guys get motivated a lot of different ways. It's a great question. It's interesting. I'm not sure exactly how our guys look at it, but we believe in one another. And, we've got a big challenge in front of us. We're playing a really good football team and our football team is going to have to play better than their football team if we're going to have a chance to win. That's how we look at it."

Have you spoken with RB Willis McGahee about comments he made last week that things weren't going well for him this year?"We did. I understand. I know that Willis is a team guy. That's something that he's said many times. If you look at his comments up until what he said last week, it was really clear. I think what he was being pressed on was the fact of how did his season go personally. And he tried to answer the question honestly, that personally, he felt like he could have done better. He's said that many times before. Whether he prepared the way he wanted to prepare, could have done a better job [or] is looking forward to next season – that's all kind of what he was talking about. I know one thing: He's focused on what he can do right now to help our team. We talked about what he can do in December, what he did, and what he can do in January. And, he's doing those things. He's had a heck of a December; he's having a heck of a January. So, he's focused on this week right now."

Do you expect RB Ray Rice to play this Saturday against Tennessee?"Sure. We sure do. Ray is getting healthier, and he looked good toward the end of last week, and we expect him to do well."

What was the reason that Rice was suited up and active for yesterday's game and then did not play?"We just didn't feel, as the game was going on, that we wanted to put him in. Not that we couldn't have. He was ready to play. [It was] just the way the game went."

Do you think you players prefer playing on the road versus in the comfort of home?"Our team loves playing anywhere – any time, any place. [Even if it] is in a parking lot, our guys will play. That's just the kind of guys we have. And that's the way they've been from the first day of mini-camps. They just love football, and they can't wait to play. They love playing at home, too. I know that. They love being in front of our fans. They loved being in front of our fans in Miami – the fans in the airport, the fans out here in the driveway when we got back. Those are all things that our guys thrive on, but they love to play the game wherever it is."

How many fans were here to greet you when you returned last evening?"I didn't count. Kevin [Byrne] may have gotten a count on that, but I didn't get a count."

What was it like to see that type of support and reaction from the fans?"It was exciting. It was neat to see that the fans and the players could share the moment together. That's kind of what it's all about, right? I know our guys enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed it."

What happened when CB Frank Walker blocked the extra point? Did he get a good jump on him? Also, did Frank say that he didn't realize the player was out of bounds when he was called for the personal foul earlier?"That play was huge in that game that Frank made. He got a great jump. He'd been studying some tendencies and he got a take-off – right as the ball moved, Frank moved – and he got around the wing and got it. It was just a tremendous play. It's not a play you're going to see very often. Yeah, and the guy was a little bit out of bounds. Frank didn't realize he was out of bounds, but he was out of bounds, and [Frank] should held up and let him go. That cost us some yardage. So, we were real happy with the one play, and I know Frank would like to have the other one back."

From what you've seen, what is it about the Titans that makes them such a good team?"Well, the fact [is] they're good. You can go across the board. What makes them so good is they've got great talent, they're well coached, they play football the fundamental way. They're tough, they're disciplined, they run the ball, they stop the run, they play great defense, they play great special teams, they block, they tackle. They're just a good fundamental football team all the way across the board."

If there a possibility that Rex Ryan will interview this week for a head coaching position?"We'll see. We'll see how that shakes out. Right now, on a short week, I know this: Rex's complete focus is on getting ready for the Titans. And if some of that stuff happens at some point in time, it will be secondary to getting ready for the Titans, and that's how he wants it."

Do you feel you need to make any major adjustments to your preparation schedule because of the short week?"With the short week, we've just got to move everything up. So, we'll start Wednesday on Tuesday and our guys… It's tough, it's difficult, especially coming off such a physical football game and such a stretch of physical games. But our guys, they don't flinch, and they're looking forward to getting back to work on Tuesday."

Would you say that you were able to contain DT Albert Haynesworth when you played Tennessee earlier this season?"I probably wouldn't characterize it that way. He's a great player. We played well last time around, but we didn't play well enough to win, and obviously they did, and that was the difference."

Were there a couple days where you felt like the energy and focus weren't there and you needed to gather the guys together and shake them up a little this season?"I don't remember that. I wouldn't say you saw anything [like that]. Our guys like to practice. There are times – we all do our jobs – when you're excited to come out there and everybody gets everybody going. On this football team, I think everybody gets everybody going. We don't have to talk our guys into practicing. That's for sure."

Do you think the first game between the teams was a little chippy because it's a rivalry?"I don't get that sense from our side at all. That term, I would never use that term with our team because that's not us. We're classy. Our guys are a tough, competitive, classy outfit. That's the way we play, and that's how we'll play in this game."

Can this team draw on the history of the 2000 team winning a Wild Card game and beating Tennessee on the road on the way to winning the Super Bowl?"Will I draw on that? I don't think so. The guys who were part of that can draw on that. Rex has talked about that with me, and I've talked to Ray [Lewis] about that. I know they talk to different guys about it. It's neat. I think it's something that's positive. But this is a new year. That's a long time ago. This is two new football teams. We're different football teams from the first time we played them, so I don't think that'll have any relevance in this game."

While the defense dominated yesterday, can you talk about the offense's ability to make explosive plays?"Yeah, we have the ability to make them, but we need to make them. If we'd have made a couple more of those plays on offense, I think it would've taken a little pressure off the fourth quarter. But we continued to take shots. We were close to making some of those plays. I know that we sure want to make them."

The first time you played Tennessee, QB Joe Flacco was dealing with a tendency to throw the ball away on the sideline, resulting in some picks. How much has that part of his game improved?"He doesn't… I don't think he throws interceptions as much as he did early. That can happen at any time, and we saw that yesterday. You're never out of the woods when you're going against a good football team, in terms of protecting the football or running the football well or making big plays. And you talk about the big plays – we did have a big run in the fourth quarter. That was a huge play. They can come in different ways, interceptions can come in different ways. You can't really categorize it as looking a guy off or not looking a guy off. He's just become a better quarterback every successive week, but it's a new challenge this week."

Is it unusual to see a line this young be so good?"I don't know if we've thought about it like that. It might be. These guys have done a great job, and we needed them. If we were going to be a good football team this year, we needed the offensive line to play the way they've played. John Matsko has done a tremendous job. I think they've done a tremendous job of being coached. And, Ozzie [Newsome] bringing in Willie [Anderson] when he brought in him, when that thing happened, I think that was just vintage Ozzie Newsome from the way I understand it. We knew we had a situation, we knew we wanted to upgrade there if we could with a veteran player, and he was patient. He wanted to have the right guy, and it worked out. That may have been the best offseason... That may have been the best move any team made in August ever. It was just a great move by Ozzie and it made a big difference for us."

Can you talk about FB Le'Ron McClain, how he put the ball on the ground during the first drive but then came back and finished strong the rest of the way?"Which part? The putting the ball on the ground we weren't too happy with. Coming back from it we were happy with. And he protected the ball the rest of the way, ran north and south, and did a good job. Le'Ron's confident, and he wanted to make it right. He was disappointed that he put it on the ground early, so he did a nice job after that."

How much of the long runs is due to McClain and the punishing style of the offensive line early on?"Well, it's probably part of it. Cam [Cameron] is a very patient play-caller. He doesn't get discouraged with any part of it. He keeps taking shots. He continues to run the ball. He mixes it up really well. Eventually, if you're physical, running the ball and blocking, you're going to get some yards in the running game."

P Sam Koch again had several punts inside the 10-yard line. In the upcoming game, is he a very valuable weapon to have?"Field position is going to be huge in this game, just like it is in every game, really. And Sam has been a huge plus for us, pinning them deep in their side – not just the 20, but inside the 10. We've had a few touchbacks. We probably had more touchbacks in the Jacksonville game than we've had any other game of the season put together. So, it's going to be a big part of what we're doing. Our gunners have done a great job. I think Marwan Maalouf has done a fabulous job of coaching the gunners to get down there and make some plays. There're not too many times you see our guys make a mistake in ball-handling down there. Coach [Jerry] Rosburg works with those guys really hard. We do it every single special teams practice, so it's been a huge plus for us."

Do you envision WR/RS Yamon Figurs getting back there on kickoffs now that he's over the concussion?"Sure. We can envision Yamon back there on punts and kickoff returns, and gunner and vice and all the other things we're doing."

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