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John Harbaugh Press Conference (11/24)

Opening statement: "It's good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. Obviously, we're very pleased with the result and very proud of the team based on what happened yesterday. Our preparation and effort was outstanding last week, and it has been. Even before the Giants game it was outstanding and the effort was outstanding in that game. It yielded more results this week. The resilience of our football team really showed up in this game. Our guys were resilient, really, through the week, the disappointing loss last week, and then throughout the course of the game all three phases were resilient. Fighting through [it] against a good football team [and] some adversity. It was tight until the fourth quarter. It was, what 12-7, into the fourth quarter? And [with] that resiliency they hung in there and all of a sudden they were able to break the game out. Defensively, [the team showed] effort, attention to detail in this game. Fundamental football – being in the right spot, understanding the Eagles' offense, guys doing their own job – showed up in a big way. Offensively, again the resiliency. The fact that in a tough football game against a really good, fast defense, our guys protected the football [was crucial]. The turnovers were probably the biggest factor in the game [for] both sides. And for our offense to protect the ball against a turnover-causing defense like the Eagles was the key in the game. And then to stay after it, stay after it and be able to make plays when we needed to toward the end was huge. Special teams – we obviously had the kickoff cover thing that we talked about last night, which we feel like we can correct. But if you look at the rest of the game, how well they played the rest of the game… I was disappointed with the special teams on the spot after the game, but going back and looking at the tape, I'm pleased with them, believe it or not, because all of the other plays were really good, solid, positive plays. I thought what Jerry Rosburg did with the punt rush and the punt pressure was just outstanding. He caught them in a little protection adjustment they were making, as we talked about it with Ed Reed. They made a particular protection adjustment to handle Ed and Jerry set up a rush two times in a row. One time it got the tripping penalty when Jameel [McClain] came through there and got the tripping penalty which tacked on 10 yards on top of the 17-yard return that Yamon [Figurs] had and set up the field goal early in the game, which was a big part of the game and got us to 15, I think. Or, it got us to 10 – maybe you guys remember. And later it got us the blocked punt, which got us two more [points]. So I guess it got us to 10 and then got us to 12 with the safety. So, that was big. Coverage, punt coverage was really good. DeSean Jackson was a game breaker. I thought the punt coverage was great. The return game, the punt return game, was solid and we've just got to keep working the kick return game. We're close, [but we need] to make sure we get on our targets and block a little better. But really the key to the whole game – if you take all of those things, and I'm proud of the fundamental stuff that came up in the game – [but] the key to the game was players making plays. Our players made plays in that game. I've read some of the articles and some of the things you guys have written [and] you can go right down the line: Ed Reed, obviously, Jarret Johnson, Mark Clayton, Jameel McClain, Samari Rolle, Fabian Washington – just to name a few guys. Dan Wilcox, Joe Flacco, there's a ton more. Our offensive line [was] physical in the second half [and the] defensive line knocked back against their run game, and the pressure we were able to put on their quarterbacks [was important]. Gus making plays was what the difference was in that football game. So, that's where we are."

When the game was over and you shook hands with Andy Reid, what did you say to each other?

"I don't know if I really remember exactly what it was. It was along the lines of we care about one another. I guess he might have said he's proud of me or something like that, and I just told him thanks for everything he's done. There's not much you can say, really. But it was meaningful nonetheless. And it was meaningful for the players coming up before the game and then after the game. Tt meant a lot [to me]. I'll tell you it was meaningful with our guys. The Gatorade dump, I guess, it seems like we've gotten a coach every single week, so it was my turn. I kind of figured it was coming. Some people noticed I had a rain jacket on. That wasn't for that reason. But I didn't think it would come with three minutes left in the game [when I] was talking to the officials. The officials aren't supposed to be setting up the Gatorade shower, right? I was talking to the officials and it was shocking that it happened at that point. I'd been prepared for it with about a minute left, maybe. But then in the locker room after the game, you guys were in the locker room so you know the feeling. It was very special. I'm proud of our players."

Do you feel, from a neurological standpoint, Trevor Pryce and Adam Terry will be able to play next week?

"Well, I don't know. We're not ruling them out at this stage. We think there's a good chance they'll be able to play. From an injury standpoint, the good thing was we didn't have any new injuries. [There were] no new major injuries. I think some guys really gutted it out. Ed Reed has been gutting it out all year. Jared Gaither gutted it out throughout the course of the game [and] he played well. There were a number of little bumps and bruises that guys had that they fought through, but we'll see as we go again this week. We're not, obviously, a completely healthy football team."

When you put your game plan together for the week, do you know what running back will get the most carries?

"We go into the game with a plan every week, and obviously, the best laid plans change often times. We were going into that game with the idea that we were going to get each back a significant amount of carries. We put the number, say, at 10, maybe. It wasn't exactly that, but we wanted to get each back around 10 carries. [We wanted to] change up the pace a little bit on their defense. All three guys bring a different style to the table, and we wanted to use all three backs in this game. And it pretty much turned out that way for the most part. We got Le'Ron [McClain] going a little bit, so he got a few more carries. But that was pretty much the game plan going into the game. I think Cam [Cameron] does a great job. You talk about our coaches – Cam and Rex [Ryan are great]. Cam sticking with the offensive game plan, not panicking like so many coaches might do in a game like that where you're going against a tough defense in a tough defensive game [was terrific]. Being willing, sometimes, just to punt the ball back, protecting the football, and then having the thing break out and getting a couple of big plays against blitzes at the end of the game, I thought Cam did a great job. And then Rex, obviously, what he did and what he put together was phenomenal. He did a great job, [along with] the assistant coaches on defense, of getting our guys to play good fundamental, disciplined, Raven-football, and then getting them to play with the type of confidence that they can play with to make those kinds of plays was a great accomplishment."

Will you stress focus this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the road trip to the Bengals, who the Ravens have beaten already this year and have had a difficult season so far?

"If you look at the Cincinnati Bengals, the holiday aside, it's gong to be a tremendous challenge. There may be some people out there that want to look at the records and say it's not, but that's just not looking at the tape. They're playing very well, especially well on the defensive side and the special teams side. The history says that the Ravens going to Cincinnati is a big challenge. It's been a long time since we've won there; it's been a long time since we've been able to sweep them as a divisional opponent. It's a divisional opponent. We've got our hands full. So, the focus part of it and Thanksgiving, you want to respect the holidays. Our guys have families and they want to make the most of Thanksgiving, but they want to get their work done. We met with the veterans and worked out a schedule along with the players where they feel they can maximize the week preparation-wise and still get some time with their families."

What is your assessment of RB Willis McGahee 11 games into the season?

"I think he's working hard. I think Willis is running the ball very hard. He's been physical. He's been a north-south runner for the most part when he's had an opportunity to be. I'm sure there are times where he'll look at a tape and he'll look at a play and say, 'You know what? I could've done this a little differently or that a little differently.' Other times you'll look at it, and you'll say he made the absolute most out of the play, based on what was there for him. Sometimes, there's more there than other times, but we're happy with Willis, with the way he's worked in practice. He's had a couple breakout games, and we sure want a couple more as the season goes on. So I think we're counting on him the rest of the way."

At 7-4, there's excitement starting to build as the team has a shot at the playoffs. Are you feeling that excitement?

"Any excitement you feel is tempered by the fact that you have the Bengals in front of you, and you've got a challenge in front of you, because that excitement goes away pretty quick when you don't go out and play up to your capability on a Sunday afternoon. No matter what happens next Sunday afternoon, we want to be – and I know I say it all the time, and I know maybe we get sick of hearing it – but we want to be a better football team next Sunday than we were last Sunday. That's our responsibility as a football team, and that's what we need to do. We feel like if we do that, then you can look back at your body of work and say, 'OK, this is how we got there.'"

How big has P Sam Koch been in helping the defense by pinning opponents deep?

"Well, field position is huge, and the punter is the key element of field position in the punt game, no doubt about it. It's hard to have a high net if you're not punting the ball very far down the field. And it's not just the distance. It's his ability to pin good returners over on the sideline. He did that, really, pretty much the whole game with DeSean Jackson, and our punt coverage team responded really well. Sam has been great all year. There are always two or three punts, maybe in the last five or six weeks, that he'd like to have back. He's his own worst critic. He would probably tell you that I'm his worst critic, but I think he's his worst critic."

Is Koch a Pro Bowler?

"Sure, he's got a shot. He's got to finish up strong."

Where does the mentality come from that allows the Ravens to close the door on games with a strong fourth quarter?

"It's a great point, why we've been so good in the fourth quarter. I think our guys, first of all, believe in one another. Is it the intangible things? What exactly is it? Killer instinct, believe in one another, trust, confidence. I think good football players and good football teams, if they'll stay at what they're doing and not make mistakes as a game wears on, that they'll find a way to win a game at the end. And our guys have done that, for the most part. Even against the Giants, I felt like we were coming on a little bit at the end of the third quarter, so that's something we have to take with us for the next five weeks."

Can you talk about the progression of rookie LB Jameel McClain?

"Jameel McClain is in a lot of packages right now for Rex. He's done some good things on defense. You feel like he's going to be a heck of a defensive player. That's why he's such a good special teams player and vice versa. He's made a few mistakes, still. He can get better in a lot of areas. But right now, he's a core special teams player for us, and he's got a bright future."

How is Pryce feeling? Do you expect him to play next Sunday?

"I don't have enough information to say. We'll have to see."

Is there a definitive yardage set up for deciding whether Matt Stover or Steve Hauschka will kick a field goal?

"There's a definitive line for the kicker every week, but it changes. So based on the footing, the conditions, which end of the field you're at, that pretty much determines how far out we're willing to go with Matt. We had a line last week [of] how far we were willing to go out with Steve. At the end of the half, you might go a little farther out with Steve because there's no field-position implication right at the end there. But that was within his range. We felt like he had a chance to make that kick."

How is T Jared Gaither feeling today? What do you think of him going back into the game and still playing?

"I'm not sure how he's feeling. I'm sure he's in pain. He did things he needed to do to play. And like I said last night, I just felt like he took a major step as a pro football player to play through that kind of pain. He's got an injury that you can play with, but the pain is another matter. He'll have it again all week, and he'll have to fight through it, get out there and practice a little bit and get ready to play next week."

Are you inspired by something like that, by watching Gaither go out there hurt?

"It's a good question, because I think what these guys do in this league is inspiring. Guys who play in the National Football League, the collisions – I had a first-hand experience with that, as a matter of fact, last week, as you guys may know. The collisions are pretty amazing, and they bounce right back up. And they get in there and they do it for 50 or 60 plays, and they're back out there again practicing on Wednesday. I mean, these are physically courageous guys. You can't help but admire them. And I certainly admired Jared for what he did in this game."

With all the injuries you've had on the O-line, do you get the feeling that you can't afford to have anyone else go down?

"You just can't control what happens. We can't say that we can't afford anything. Whatever happens, we've got to be able to afford. We've got to be able to overcome it, and our guys have been able to do that. And we've had a lot of injuries this year, but you don't hear our guys breathing a word of it because it's not relevant. We've got to come back with the guys we've got and play, and our guys have done a good job of that."

You talked a little bit about Ed Reed earlier, but what do you think about this game he had compared to earlier ones this season, when he struggled with injures, etc.?

"Sure, you can talk about Ed Reed and Jared Gaither. Ed has been doing that for a long time in his career, and probably the first time this year where he's had one of those kinds of games, where he basically takes over the football game. It was fun to watch. It was fun to watch, me being here for the first time, to see it first-hand. I know what you guys have been watching all these years. And then he's done it through the injuries. He rehabs really hard. He works the neck and the shoulder, and the weightlifting, like crazy, and maybe that's paying off as the season goes on a little bit. I know he's playing through some pain, but it's a testament to his courage and his toughness."

What are your thoughts on the Ravens vs. Redskins game being flexed to the Sunday night game?

"Has it been? Is it? Do we play them? Do we play the Redskins? I'm not sure who we play after the Bengals."

But do you have an opinion on it?

"No. (Laughter) I couldn't care less, couldn't care less. It doesn't matter. We'll be there. We'll show up on time."

LB Antwan Barnes made one of the more interesting tackles that I've seen on Brian Westbrook. Have you seen anything happen like that in your tenure as a coach?

"I haven't. I think it's probably a testament to the resiliency of some the football equipment that they're putting on nowadays."

You're not going to take the bait are you?

"(Laughter) No, I can't go there on that. You guys will take that as far as it needs to go, I'm sure. All set? Thank you. That's fun."

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