JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"Good to see you guys. A lot of travel – did everybody get back safe? Apparently you have, since you are here."* (Reporter: "No delays.")* "No delays? You had no delays? I wish we could say the same. *(laughter) *We had some good bonding time in the plane, in the airport. We had the lottery winners with us, too; you probably didn't know that. They were great – great people. We had some fun with them in the airport, and it's all good. It was a good day all around. I am really happy with the performance of the players. The coaches did a tremendous job preparing for that game, and they have throughout the season with their guys. Now, the preparation is on for the Houston game."
You will probably not get sick of talking about the defense, but yesterday's performance also included a great job against the run, which is something you have had difficulty against. Could that be the start of a trend? (David Ginsburg)"We have been pretty good the last few weeks and overall through the season. We have probably had a couple of games where we weren't as good. But we need to be great against the run the rest of the year; there is no question about that. That is going to be critically important if we are going to play good defense."
Was there some form of alignment or was it just DT Brandon Williams in the middle did the job and everyone around him did their job? (David Ginsburg)"Yes, everyone did their job, ran hard to the ball. We were very physical up front. We played good run defense."
You guys lead Buffalo for that final playoff spot. Do you pay any attention to the standings, or is it just winning and it will take care of itself? (Todd Karpovich)"The latter – win, and it will take care of itself. It is not like we do not know what is happening. We certainly know who does what. We watched some games, because the TVs were on in the airport there, so we watched some games that were on. But you have to take care of yourself. What did Al Davis say?"* (Reporter: "Just win.") *"Just win, baby. That is really what we have to do."
You are always going to be excited when you win and your defense pitches a shutout like that, but DT Willie Henry with two sacks, OLB Matt Judon with two sacks and CB Marlon Humphrey had an interception. When you have guys that are younger players and not necessarily proven commodities, even though you are excited about them, is there an extra level of excitement thinking what they are doing now, but also thinking big picture?* (Luke Jones)*"It is. It is good to see guys you had hopes for. Those are young guys that we drafted that are practicing and developing. Maybe media and fans have not heard much about [them], because fans are not at practice every day. Then, you want to get guys to the games and see how they grow and develop once they get out there. Those are guys, and there are other guys, too. We have a good group of young players. But those three guys that you mentioned are very deserving of being mentioned. And yet, at the same time, you forge ahead. There is no reading the press clippings. Those guys have to play better next week, and the opponent is going to know them more. The opponent will be more aware of those players in the future than they have been in the past, and they are going to have to step up their game accordingly."
Alongside of those young guys, you had hopes for OLB Terrell Suggs. Has it surprised you that he has been able to bring it with the same intensity and success? (Stan Charles) "I would say, in some ways, yes, because of how long he has been playing. There are not many players in any sport – especially in this sport – that can play that many years and maintain the high level that he has played at. I really think he is playing the best football I have seen him play in a number of years, this year. I would credit the hard work. So, in that aspect, I am not surprised, because I saw the hard work he put in through the offseason and training camp. It seems to be paying off in a big way."
A lot of fans were surprised about T Ronnie Stanley's concussion and the fact that it lasted through the bye week and has carried into this week. When did it happen? Was it the final play there or at the end of the fourth quarter? (Jerry Coleman)"It was towards the end of the fourth quarter. I do not know exactly what play it was. It was on a screen pass."
Obviously, everyone is different with that, so it is just something that you are going to have to monitor this week? The bye week was just some time down where T Ronnie Stanley was able to recover, but still, more time is necessary? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes. You really already answered it. It is different for everybody. Concussions are what they are – they are very unique. You are not going to put a player out there until he is healed, and that is up to the doctors. I am sure Ronnie did everything he was told to do, as far as trying to get right, and he will continue to do that."
The criticism of the offensive line, there has been some, yet the running game has done pretty well this year. Without getting a total evaluation of the offensive line, your response to the criticisms out there where some say they don't give QB Joe Flacco enough time, yet the running game seems to have prospered for the most part this year behind that offensive line. (Jerry Coleman)"Right." (Reporter: "Do you think the criticisms are fair?") "I don't get into judging it. I do not evaluate it. I do not even know what they are, really to be honest with you. I think that we need to continue to improve in every area. That is really the bottom line. Wherever you are at, in any particular spot, whether it is the offensive line, which is what you are asking about, or the secondary or the quarterback, the defensive line, you strive for improvement and you try to improve and get better every single week. In some cases, it is one percent better, and in some cases, you can use more improvement than that. That is what we are working hard for, trying to play your best football the next week, continue to do that through the season, and that is what those guys are really working hard to do, and we will see next Monday night if we can continue to improve there."
We talked yesterday about your 100th career victory, and I saw the video of the locker room. What kind of a moment was that when you get handed the game ball? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm not great at describing those moments, but it was fun. A winning locker room is really fun. Hey – I haven't been given too many game balls over the years, you know? That was pretty cool. For it to be handed to you by Terrell Suggs is a great honor, because my respect for him is as high as it can be. It's just fun. That's one thing about coaching … I think anyone who has coached at any level … You guys have done a lot of coaching, you know. It kind of keeps you young. When you're coaching, you're right there with guys, or the girls, that you're coaching. You're in there; you're part of it. To me, that's the great thing about this business."
What explanation were you given on the ball that they ruled a touchback? Did they say that OLB Tyus Bowser had touched it and had been in the end zone? (Stan Charles) "They said that they couldn't tell. It's in New York, so it's hard for the [officials] on the field to really explain the reasoning. I don't think they always know." *(Reporter: "I'm not trying to get you in trouble, but did you think it was a touchback?") *"I thought it was the greatest punt in the history of football. Seriously! I thought it was the greatest punt play in the history of football, or at least, the history that I've seen. I've seen all the punts in the National Football League for the last 20 years, and that's the best one I've ever seen."
Was it explained to you who was mouthing off or said something to the referees to get a 15-yard penalty of that nature? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, it was. It was announced, too. Ryan Mallett was the offender. You're welcome to ask him what he said; I won't repeat it here." (Reporter: "Did you hear it?") *"No, I didn't hear it." (Reporter: "Did it merit [the penalty]?")* "If he said what the officials said he said, sure. He will be disciplined, here, in-house, I promise you, because as much as I love Ryan Mallett, I'm not cool with that. He knows it. He's a competitor; he's into the game. He and I talk a lot, about the offense and the calls and things like that, during the game. But, [special teams coordinator/associate head] coach [Jerry] Rosburg and his special teams coaches – they don't need his help on specials teams; they're doing just fine. We've played, pretty much, penalty-free on special teams for a lot of games here, so it's a point of emphasis. Until Ryan starts sitting in this room in special teams meetings – unless he's cheering for us – we probably aren't going to need his help that way."
On a serious nature – even though his name is Ha Ha – Clinton-Dix is accusing C Ryan Jensen of dirty play. Is there any evidence of that after watching tape? He accused him of taking a dirty shot at DT Kenny Clark. (Jerry Coleman)"I can't speak to his comments. I talked to Ryan after the game, and he explained to me what happened. When I watched the tape, that was exactly what I saw. Basically, what happened was Ryan was blocking, and Kenny was engaged in the block. Our running back got hit from the side hard, from the outside in, and got knocked right into Kenny Clark's legs. He got bent over [backwards] and Ryan was blocking him. Ryan said he felt it right away, and said he felt him bending backwards, and tried to hold him up. When you look at the tape, that's what I saw. He was really trying to hold him up; he wasn't pushing him over the pile. He felt really bad about it. I know he has every intention to get a hold of Kenny and let him know."
*So many four- or five-year veterans were so excited after the game about the performance, but they kept using the word "consistency." You guys have proven this season that you can play with anybody, and beat anybody, when you're playing at your best. Is that the next step, do you think, for this team to get to the next level? You haven't won back-to-back games since Week 1 and Week 2. (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I do. That's the thing – we have to play winning football. The formula begins to present itself as the season wears on here, as to what that is for us. We need to put that together for a string of football games."
You spent the offseason improving the defense. When you see a defense that has forced all those turnovers and gotten three shutouts – what does that say about this defense and the determination to make it among the best in the league? (David Ginsburg)"The story is still to be written, as to what this defense is. We're in the process of doing that. So, really, it's nose to the grindstone to try to accomplish that. What it says about that, I think, will be better said at the end of the year. We have a lot of work to do. We have a really good offense coming in here, with a really good offensive coach who knows how to attack defenses in a great way. Really, that's where our focus has to be."
CB Marlon Humphrey played more snaps than CB Brandon Carr yesterday. Is that a result of Marlon bringing a different element to the secondary? (Ed Lee) "It's just the way it worked out. Like I said last night, all three of those guys are considered starters, and they're all going to play probably different amounts, different games, [depending on] how they're feeling [and] what's going on. Sometimes, it might just be happenstance; I don't think there's anything to read into it."
How excited are you to have a home Monday Night Football game? (Garrett Downing)"I'm excited, but I'm kind of past all of that. I'm excited for the fans – big time. I'm really excited for the fans. Monday Night Football is a lot of fun, and we've been in a lot of stadiums – as you're alluding to – with the opposing crowd rocking. I'm looking forward to seeing our crowd in there shaking the place up a little bit. It should be fun."
*Are you going to adjust your schedule? A few weeks ago, you said you fell asleep at halftime. *(Jerry Coleman) (laughter) *"I definitely won't fall asleep at halftime of *our *Monday night game. *(laughter) *I might be accused of that by some of you at times. *(laughter) *But, *I'll try to stay awake."
You talked about the young players before. DT Willie Henry, specifically, where has he grown his game from the start of the season? (Ryan Mink)"He's just more consistent with his technique. He has really established himself as a physical player; he's getting his hands and his feet where they're supposed to be against the various blocks. That's not easy to do, because you see a lot of blocking schemes against some really good blockers in the course of the game, and he's just getting better and better at doing that. He has a lot of talent, he's playing really hard, and it's coming together for him."
Coach, can you talk a little bit about the special teams? Two of the big returns set up scores in the game, one right at the end of the half and another at the beginning of the second half. (Jim Forner)"No question. Great point. Our special teams are playing at a really high level – penalty free, except for Ryan Mallett. *(laughter) *Obviously, you can see that's on my mind a little bit. But the two big returns … The punt return that set up the score and then the kickoff return … What we did at the end of the half, too, we scored a field goal, and then we got the touchdown [to open the second half]; that was a 10-point swing. We kind of call that at halftime a 'possession sandwich,' where we try to get the ball at the end of the half and to start the half, and if you can score on both of those, it's a real big factor in winning games. So, that was a 10-point part of the game right there, and that was huge, obviously. Special teams were a big part of that. And then the kickoff return was beautifully blocked. Chris Moore did a great job with it. [Michael] Campanaro on the punt return … Our guys made adjustments on the punt return, just to explain to you … This is a formation-motion punt team, so we start off in a slot-formation, which is unusual, motion the gunner to the right, and Chuck Clark, who is a rookie, made the adjustment perfectly, where they were able to bump the vice all the way across to where he and the corner were on the right side and get that vice player blocked, which is really hard to do. That was the key to setting up that return."
Were you aware that WR Mike Wallace might do the "Lambeau Leap?" (Jerry Coleman)"I thought it was great. I wasn't aware of it. I would have done it myself if I could still jump at all. *(laughter) *We had a lot of fans there. I don't know if you knew that or not. We had a lot of fans there. I mean, man, the 'O' was loud, [there was] a lot of purple, and when we came out for pregame I was amazed by how much purple we had there. You see a lot in Miami and places like that, but that was pretty special for our fans. It was a real big statement for Ravens fans to show up the way they did in Lambeau."
Do you have an update on ILB C.J. Mosley? (Ed Lee)"Nothing negative, just kind of where it was at – just a sprain."
No prayers needed yet? (Jamison Hensley)"Pray. Always pray. Prayers are always needed. It says in the Bible to pray constantly. Pray continuously, always pray. You especially, buddy." *(laughter) *