JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Thanks for coming out. As far as injuries, we really got through [the game] very well. The two toughest ones were Brendon [Ayanbadejo] and Jameel [McClain], and they fought through theirs. They were right-to-the-last-minute decisions, and they came out of it OK. Ed [Reed] looks like he's all right with the ankle. Everything's come up OK, as far as the X-rays. And off the top of my head, I can't think of any other ones."
Any injuries with Arthur Jones or Michael Oher? (Aaron Wilson) "Nothing serious. I haven't been told anything yet."
Follow-up statement: "I just wanted to comment on the amazing connection with the fans that has happened. Obviously, it's been a long-term relationship. A couple of guys game up to me in the media and mentioned that, and it really got me thinking about it last night – just how much the Ravens mean to Baltimore and the people and the fans and how much the fans mean to the players and the coaches and the organization. It really was just optimized in that game last night. It was a tough game – it was a Ravens' game, I guess. [It was] a typical 2011 Baltimore Ravens-type of a football game. Our fans were right in there fighting with the team the whole way. And then when you go out in the community – I went to basketball practice on Friday night for my daughter's team, and our families are in the community all the time, schools and things – the incredible excitement that people have for this football team is just so awe-inspiring. It is really cool. We feel it, and we appreciate it and love being swept up in it. And I am really glad we can take it another week out, and potentially beyond that. That's really important."
You obviously have the faith and the confidence that your team can make a playoff run each year. After the loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game three years ago, did you think it would take this long to get back to the AFC Championship game? (Joe Platania) "Didn't think about it. Didn't consider it."
You and your brother have another thing in common now. You have both made the Conference Championship game as rookie coaches. How does that feel for you and your family? (Barry Barnes)"It's pretty neat. I'm proud of him. He's proud of what we're doing. Our parents are pretty fired up. They have a tough decision, you know? They're at home; they'd have a place to stay. So, they will probably go out there, I guess. It's good."
Your parents haven't told you yet which game they'll attend? Possibly your mother will be at one game and your father will be at the other? (Albert Breer) "No [they haven't told us]. Maybe that's what they are going to do. We'll have to see."
Now that you have played the first home playoff in your tenure, can you just talk about the difference of being on the road and sort of being the hunter versus maybe being at home and being the hunted? (Drew Forrester) "No. I have nothing to say about that. Is there a better way you want to say the question? That does not resonate with me at all. Anything else about being home or away?"
Can you talk about how Lardarius Webb has played this season in terms of his skill set and confidence? He had a big game on Sunday. What are you seeing from him right now? (Aaron Wilson) "I just think Lardarius just gets better all the time. Like every player, there are ups and downs, and they get attacked and things like that. But, he's becoming a really solid, fundamentally sound corner to go with his great talent. And that's a great combination. To me, that's what makes for a potentially great football player. He came up with two huge plays and a lot of other really solid plays in the game. Our pass coverage was excellent. It wasn't perfect. There were things out there that got open at times, but it was really excellent. We did what we had to do in the back end to keep them from getting big plays. Big plays were a big part of it. When you talk about this win – I just wrote some things down here – it was a team win. What did it boil down to? Turnovers, OK, No. 1 thing, right? Four to none. Penalties: No penalties. Field position: We won the field position battle. Big plays: We had three, they had one. It's kind of what you are talking about. Red zone: Offense and defense got the job done, for the most part, except for one time – offense one time, defense. [We] got it done three other times. And special teams: After the first return, special teams in coverage was dominant. So, to me, that's what you're talking about."
John, you mentioned the penalties. This was something that a few years ago, especially in the postseason and big games where emotions were high, personal fouls and stuff like that might pop up. What does it say about the team that they had no penalties in an emotional, tough, Divisional Playoff game? (Dan Kolko) "I think our guys understand how to direct their passion really well into football, and that's what they've done a great job of throughout the season."
How important is that to remain cool and not be goaded into penalty situations? (Dan Kolko)"It's critically important. To me, it's emotional smarts; it's playing smart football. It's understanding when to be aggressive and when not to be. And, basically, it's between the whistles, and the rest of it doesn't matter."
Have you ever been a part of a game when your team has never committed a penalty? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't remember, to be honest with you. I can't remember."
When you watched the game film, was there anything that came close to being a penalty that wasn't called? (Jamison Hensley) "Not really. It was very well-[played and officiated]. There might be something that's close, but nothing really blatantly callable. And it was pretty much that way both ways. There were a couple of things we might send it; there are a couple of things they might send in, but I thought it was a well-officiated and a well-played game – on both sides."
Now that you have had a chance to watch the tape, were they running a lot of loops with J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed, stunts, to get the penetration that they did. They are very good players, but what did you see there. (Aaron Wilson) "Well, two things, three things, really: They ran some blitz pressure and they did a good job with that. Basically, they bring the two outside backers off the edge and then five-man pressure and then play man coverage. They ran some games on the right side, especially, between Watt and Reed, that were really effective. Those two guys are explosive guys. They beat us on that one time, and then they beat us a couple of times one-on-one. So, we need to do a better job blocking that stuff."
Will this be a normal practice week for the players, or will the scheduled be altered? (Albert Breer) "No, it's a normal week – the same schedule we always have. We try to maintain our routine."
Given the statistics, is the third-down conversion rate the area that you will concentrate on this week the most? (Rich Sayers) "You try to correct things, but you can't really chase backward too much this time of year. Everything is looking ahead. We are going to try to play the next game, not try to replay the last game. But, third down is going to be really important – for both sides – getting off the field and extending drives. Time of possession for us is going to be important in this game. It's going to be a big red zone game on the defensive side, on both sides really."
You have some players on the team that experienced the playoff win in New England a few years ago. Is there anything the team can take from that? (Brent Harris) "A lot will be made of it, but I really don't think it does mean too much. We've been over there for a number of losses, too, in the regular season. So, all of that becomes part of who you are as a team."
At this juncture, do you think this team is better prepared to play on the road in a very big game? You're 4-4 on the road, do you think, at this juncture, you guys are playing well enough to win a big game on the road? (Dave Ginsburg) "You mean as opposed to the Pittsburgh game or the Cincinnati game this year?"
As opposed to the San Diego game, for instance? (Dave Ginsburg)"Oh, OK. I think I answered that."
Billy Cundiff hadn't hit a field goal at 40 yards since, I think, Week 9. He had two yesterday in pretty windy conditions. How does that feel to you? (Bruce Raffel) "The field goals were big. They were tough kicks, [in] windy conditions, and they weren't that short either. Billy came up big. He did a nice job for us. Points, obviously, were a premium, so that was good."
How much was yesterday's offensive performance based on just being rusty, or was it the Texans defense? (Barry Barnes) "The Texans' defense sure deserves a lot of credit. I wouldn't say rust has anything to do with it."
Lee Evans came up with a big catch down the sideline. What did that mean at the point, and what can that mean for him going forward as he continues to get involved? (Garrett Downing) "He's huge for us anytime. We would have liked for Lee to be involved with us, obviously, all the way through. It's something that we'd like to see as we go forward here, trying to get that done. We're not going to stop trying to get that done. Like you said, seeing that play get made, you get excited. You say, 'Hey you know what? He's certainly capable of making those plays.' We've seen him make them his whole career. I think it brought a smile to everybody's face. We'll be looking forward to more of that."
Does having two young, talented tight ends on your team help give your defense a better look at what you'll face this weekend in New England? (Gerry Sandusky) "We've got good guys giving them a look. It's more of a look-type situation now. We've seen good players all throughout the year. They're probably the two best … I mean, their offense has got weapons everywhere. It starts with the quarterback and it runs through the tight ends. They can run the ball. They've got guys on the outside that can play and get downfield. It's the most explosive offense in football right now, certainly the most explosive offense left in the tournament. So, that's the challenge we face."
That being said, there were no sacks on [T.J.] Yates. Were you happy with the pass rush, and how important is it for you to get to QB Tom Brady? (Jen Royle) "It's going to be really important. It's a different offense we're facing. It's a different scheme. It's a different type of protection. It's a different format, so one doesn't relate to the other. But you have to get pressure on Tom Brady, certainly."
What have you seen from the Patriots' rushing defense? (Ben Shpigel) "I don't have an answer for that right now."
What do you remember about you guys looking at Rob Gronkowski when he was coming out of the draft? He was a guy that had missed some time with the back [injury], but had obviously had a clean bill of health once he was picked. How interested were you guys in him? (Aaron Wilson) "We were very interested in Rob. There were medical concerns, but we loved him – loved him as a player, loved him as a guy. We were pretty certain he was going to be a good player, and he's exceeded our expectations."
Talk about Danny Gorrer. He had a couple big special teams tackles yesterday. Just talk about his development all year and the decision to keep him activated. (Jason Butt) "That's important for anybody that's not a starter, so to speak, and had starters playing out there. You saw, on the first punt, Cary [Williams] and Jimmy [Smith] were out there and made a huge play for us. But to see guys like Danny step up, and even other younger guys and some of our veterans … Haruki Nakamura made a big play across the middle. We have to play great special teams; that's got to be a big part of our formula. So, if we're going to get to where we want to get in the next couple weeks, that has got to be a part of it. We're off to a good start, but we're playing an excellent special teams group this next week. They've got great returners. They're unbelievably well-coached. They've got a real diverse scheme. So, it's going to be a big challenge."
Along those lines, how rewarding is it to have a guy like Kris Wilson step up in a big game as a third-string tight end? (Evan Washburn) "It's funny, you've got guys, and these guys are talented guys sometimes, and you don't hear much about them. Kris Wilson is a football player. He's a vet. He's a pro. He doesn't need a lot of reps in practice, and he comes in and executes that play perfectly. That was a great catch. Joe [Flacco] kind of got bounced around a little bit. So yeah, it's very rewarding."
With Chris Carr, was it just kind of a numbers game? Normally he's up, but was he healthy again? (Aaron Wilson) "Right, normally Chris is up. Obviously, Chris is a big part of what we're doing, especially when we play teams that throw the ball a lot. So, that could be a big factor this week. We put an extra defensive lineman up this week because of the type of offense we were playing. Special teams was a part of that decision, too."
What do you think would be the No. 1 key to winning on the road in the playoffs? (Jamison Hensley) "Turnovers. Doesn't that go down to every game, though? So, I just don't think it's that specific. The interesting thing about the playoffs is – if you look at the numbers – it's a little more 50-50 than you might expect, especially in the first two rounds. So, the fact that the home teams won this year is really interesting. But we were at home, and we're glad we won, and that's really all we're looking at."
Did you have conversations with Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith about their first playoff experience? (Barry Barnes) "Not really, specifically. I talked to Torrey this morning at breakfast; I guess we did have a conversation. Now that you mention it, we had a conversation at breakfast this morning with Torrey. (laughter) I forgot about it; a lot's happened since breakfast! (laughter) But we did talk about it. You're going to talk to him. You can ask him about it. But it was positive, obviously. We won."
Can you talk a little bit about the mutual shared respect between you and Bill Belichick and how he sort of mentioned you for a head coaching job back when you were an assistant still? What is it about having that sort of mutual respect? (Kevin Van Valkenburg) "Maybe it's the old special teams guys, you know? I just respect Bill Belichick as a coach and as a man. I just really do. I think he's the greatest coach in our league right now, and that's proven. And that's why you get so excited to have an opportunity to play against a guy [like him] as a coach. But that really … That's for most of the guys around the league; I just respect them. What he stands for as a coach and the way he puts his team together and all that, you admire it. And then he's always treated me well over the years. He's always been at the top of the profession, and when somebody in that position treats a younger guy well, you certainly appreciate that. So, those are the two things I can think of. He's a big [Johns] Hopkins lacrosse fan, so that's cool. You like that, too. But, that's really not that relevant this week."
Do you have an idea of how different New England is now from the last time you played them? (Albert Breer) "It's hard to say that right now. Maybe more later in the week, [I'll] talk about that. We just aren't deep enough into them yet. Then [again], we probably wouldn't share it with you anyway." (laughter)
Does familiarity help in these types of situations? (Albert Breer) "Everybody is pretty familiar with everybody else to some extent in the AFC, at least, because you play them regularly. At least once a year it seems like we play most everybody in this conference. It's a little tougher when you go to the NFC. So, they know us and we know them pretty well."
Of all the years going on the road and playing in those playoff games, does it help you this week or is it a different set of circumstances? (John Eisenberg) "It helps, just by the fact that we've done it. Most of our team has been there before, and then those young guys can relate to the older guys, and the older guys can share some wisdom. But it's not going to impact necessarily this game, except to the extent that our guys have been there before and it's certainly not going to be anything new for them. And that's a good thing."
You achieved your goal of winning the division and you're obviously closing in on the main goal. Would winning the AFC mean anything, or is that just a stepping-stone to where you want to be? (Matt Vensel) "It would mean a lot, but it's not the ultimate goal. You're not going to win something like that and just stop. You're not going to say, 'That's enough, we don't expect to go any further.' In hockey, they don't touch the [conference] trophy, right? Is that how it works? (Reporter: "That's right. It's bad luck.") It's bad luck to touch the trophy. I don't think we have that superstition in football, but we're going to be proud of that trophy if we can manage – just like we're proud of this last division [win]. We're proud of every accomplishment. We're humbled by every defeat. And then you look ahead, and really, to me, that's the answer. That's what we'll do, just like that's what we're going to do this week. That's what we always do."
Ricky [Williams] and Ray [Rice] have kind of spelled one another well. Do you think the NFL has sort of changed a little bit in the last few years about where you see a lot more two-back, three-back sets as opposed to one guy getting 400 carries? I'm sort of wondering why that is? (Kevin Van Valkenburg) "I don't think you see so much I-formation. It's not the same NFL as it was 10 years ago. That's not the format. You'd love for somebody to come up and line up in two backs the whole game and run the ball at you the whole time with one back downhill. Good defenses would [like that]. People spread you out; they use their backs in different ways. So, you see Ray and Ricky and a lot of backs around the league, [and] they're out running routes out of the backfield. They play as receivers, too. It's just a little more diverse, and you just use more guys for that reason."
What have you seen from the Patriots defense? (Matt Vensel) "I see a 13-3 … 14-3 defense. That's what I see. That's the bottom line. They're good enough to be 14-3. So, it's pretty impressive."
Can you explain the importance of Joe Flacco beyond just the numbers? (Jamison Hensley) "I've done that many times, and I don't really feel like running down all those things right now. I can just tell you in this last game, he won, and his quarterback rating was what? (Reporter: "Ninety-seven.") Ninety-seven. That's a winning performance, and Joe – I told him last night – I thought he played very, very well. In a lot of situations in this game when he was under duress, he handled himself really well. There were plenty of things he'd like to have back and could have done better, and he'd be the first to tell you that. So, you just try to get better, you try to improve and you try to play winning football, no matter what position you play. And that's what we value around here."
OLB Jarret Johnson
On if winning at New England in the 2009 playoffs gives the team confidence going into this weekend's games: "Every game is different. You can't rely on the last game to get you through the next game. The last four times we have played them, going back to , all of them have been wars. Even though they have won three of the four, they had to earn it. This one is not going to be any different. It's going to be, obviously, an extremely intense situation, environment, and we're looking forward to it. It's going to be fun."
On how much of a rivalry the Patriots-Ravens game has turned into: "They are one of the top teams in the AFC every year, so we seem to always meet some way, somehow. It's usually up there [in Foxborough] for some reason. But, it's a cool place to play, it's always cold, it's awesome. Their guys, starting with Tom Brady and going down to their linemen … Their receivers are some of the most competitive dudes in the NFL. And when things aren't going good on their side, they are even more competitive. So, it's a lot of fun. If you slack off one bit, they are going to hurt you. It's a good game to be a part of."
On the explosiveness of the Patriots' offense: "We'll start watching film tonight. The coaches have already been on it, but we'll start tonight. If you watch SportsCenter, you've seen their offense. They can hurt you in 100 different ways. They use their personnel groups really well, whereas most teams, when they go two tight ends, it's usually a somewhat running formation or at least a balanced formation. They can do anything. They can go in diesel, which is a two-tight end look, two receivers and a back, and they can spread them all out and make them look like five-wide [receivers] and can be just as efficient if it was five-wide because their guys are so athletic. It's a big predicament for us. It's a challenge, but it's what you like, because we can be a challenge, too."
On if the trash talk between the Patriots and Ravens is because of a proud quarterback vs. a proud defense: "I don't know Tom [Brady] personally. I don't know what he thinks of us. What I do know is that he is super competitive. Competitive people like a challenge, and we're a challenge. We play a certain way that I think he likes, and I think he looks forward to playing. He gets fired up and expresses that. That's my opinion. I think he looks forward to playing us."
On if playing the Patriots is a different mental game: "The thing about them is they do what we do defensively. They are going to look at every little minute detail of what you do defensively – your stance, your alignment, everything – and they are going to use it to their advantage. Everything that you give away, they are going to take advantage of, and your weakness is what they are going to attack. What you are weak at is what you need to expect to get. That's why they are good."
On if the dynamic of the trash talk between the two teams is trying to get into each other's head:"I don't know. I don't know if you can get in people's head. Just because a guy talks trash to me, it doesn't get in my head. I think it's more competitive people telling the truth, saying the way they feel. I like it."
On if the Patriots are one of the tougher offenses because of the different looks they show: "Yeah, they are not your typical offense. Personnel groups are a big thing in our league. Identifying who is on the field is huge. Normally, when you get a certain personnel group, you pretty much know where the guys are going to line up. They'll give you a personnel group and line up nowhere close to what you think they are going to do. You just have to roll with it and know what's coming and adapt to it. That's why communication in these games is so vital and not going crazy and overthinking things – just getting lined up and playing – because you can get anything. You don't know what you're going to get."
On what the Texans' offensive line did so well in their blocking scheme: "They are a max-protect [unit]. If you watch their passing game, especially in the early downs, they are a boot max-protection team. On early downs, you don't blitz more than five guys, and they are going to be blocking seven, so it's tough to get pressure, especially in boots. Even when you have a free run at the guy, he's 15 yards deep, and he is just waiting for you to get close enough so he can throw it. You're not going to see a lot of sacks, and anytime you don't get sacks, you guys [the media] bring it up. Late in the downs, he was getting the ball out really quick. I thought we rushed the passer pretty well. [We] didn't bring a ton of pressure. You are just leaving guys in back end so they didn't get the ball thrown over our head. You have to give a lot of credit to them, and a lot of it is their scheme. They are going to leave guys in and take shots."
On how important it will be to get pressure on Brady: "You have to pressure Brady. If you let him stand there, he is going to kill you."
On the 2008 AFC Championship game and getting so close to the Super Bowl: "It was a very emotional game. We were coming off a battle with Tennessee, had a ton of guys hurt, and it was a war. [We] lost it in the end. It was a tough loss."
On if two-tight end sets are becoming more of a trend in the NFL: "Tight ends are obviously a big asset in the league, especially today. It seems like offenses are using tight ends more. There is a wave of really, really athletic [tight ends]. If you watch the San Francisco game with [49ers TE] Vernon Davis and [Saints TE] Jimmy Graham on the other side – and San Francisco has another guy that probably runs just as good as Vernon Davis – this week is no different. You still see the traditional blocking tight end and receiving tight end. You do see that a lot, but this week, these guys … One looks like a blocker and the other one looks like a receiver, but both of them can get down the field and both of them can get up and get the ball."
On if TE Ed Dickson and TE Dennis Pitta give the Ravens' defense the same kind of look in practice: "Obviously, we are not going to be practicing against them, because they don't do a whole lot of scout looks. But, we have seen them before – probably not to the extent that New England uses their tight ends, as much as they spread them out and use them, but we do see it a lot. Houston uses Owen Daniels that way. They move him all over the place, but probably not to the extent. I don't think anybody in the league uses them to the extent that New England and New Orleans and those guys use their tight ends."
On being the underdog in this game and if that can rally a team: "We like being the underdog. We're used to it. I think we handle it better. Psychologically, I don't really know why, but I think we do. Should we be? I don't know. Obviously, it's their place, they are the No. 1 seed, they have earned it, they are one of the top offenses in the league. They deserve to be the top team, but I like being [the underdog]. I am an underdog myself. So, I love it."
On if Gillette Stadium is an intimidating place to play: "Intimidating … I don't know. You never really stand on the field and look in the stands with big eyes and kind of freak out, you know what I mean? There are places that are louder than others. You definitely feel the energy in certain places that you don't feel in others. It's a cool place to play. It's always cold. The fans are always rowdy. They got that cool bridge in the background. I don't really know what that is, but it's pretty cool. I don't know what that's all about. (laughter) It's a nice stadium, but I don't know. We've been in a lot of wars up there, and we've only won one. We're going to be looking to go in and win another one."
On how difficult it is to confuse Patriots QB Tom Brady before the snap: "They do a lot to get you to get in your spot. You can't be a wooden Indian in this game. You can't just [be] a little stick figure. You can't just stand there. You have to disguise, you have to move, but you can't show your disguise too early, because if he knows what you're in, he is going to hurt you. Disguise is very important, but you have to do it smart. It's a very cerebral game playing against them, because he is definitely thinking about what you're in. He is not a quarterback that just lines up and runs plays versus what he thinks you are going to be in. He is going to be looking every down to find out what you're in."
On how much the veterans are trying to seize the opportunity, considering the rarity of it: "It's huge. It doesn't matter if it's your 16th year, your ninth year or if you are a rookie. Anytime you are in the playoffs, you should cherish it, and you should appreciate it, you should have fun with it. You need to take advantage of it, because you never know when you are going to come back. We've had a ton of coaches over the years. Every year we make the playoffs, we will always have a coach that will come in from somewhere else, and he'll have a story about how he has been coaching for 25 years on five different teams and this is only his third time making the playoffs, and you are like, 'Third time? Wow.' You never know if you are going to back. You always have to take advantage of your opportunities, especially when you are this close. And when you are in the AFC Championship, you have to take advantage."
On the atmosphere of playing a home playoff game for the first time in five years: "It was awesome. [We] love being at home. The fans are fired up. I really can't say enough about them. The atmosphere kind of speaks for itself."
WR Torrey Smith
On if any veterans spoke with him about how important this game is: "Definitely everyone from Lee Evens, Anquan [Boldin] and Cory Redding … You can go on down the line. They tell me all the time that I am lucky to be in this position, especially being so young. You just never know. Look at a guy like Lee. He has been in the league around eight years or so, and he has never been in the playoffs – never had the opportunity to be in the AFC Championship. It is something you have to cherish the moment, but at the same time, you want to capitalize on it, because you never know if you will get the opportunity again."
On his experience with New England prior to the draft: "I pretty much did everything you could do with New England as far as the draft process goes. I met with them at the Combine, did a private workout, and I saw them around a lot. They have a great coaching staff, and you can see with the way their track record has been [that] they know how to win."
On putting his first playoff game in perspective: "I was thinking about it this morning. I was talking to coach [John] Harbaugh just really sitting back thinking about how lucky I am to be in this situation, to be on this team and to be a part of this organization – really, to have the opportunity to be great. Not too many people have this opportunity. I just talked to him about basically taking advantage of it and to do my part to make sure when I walk off the field [that] I felt like I did everything I could do to help us win."
On what he learned from yesterday's game:"At the end of the day, you know what is at stake. You lose, you go home. It was just a football game. It just feels a lot better when you win."
On if he views it as a sign of respect having the Texans best cornerback playing him: "It is the NFL. There are great corners on both sides. I think it is a sign of respect with them putting [Johnathan] Joseph on me; he is a Pro Bowler. I think even more so than that is every time I am taking off down the field, I see a safety streaming over. I love to see that, because it opens things up for my teammates, the tight ends, other receivers and the running backs as well."
On him missing the deep ball yesterday: "I just did not track it all the way through. It drifted on me a little further outside than I anticipated. I was trying to catch that thing and roll down the sideline. I had a little more room [than I thought]. If I had a chance to do it again, I definitely would make that play. That is my play."
On if the Patriots' defense will provide chances to make plays: "We have not had the opportunity [to look at film yet]. For me, the Patriots are going to be brand new, so I am looking forward to it. Coach [Jim] Hostler makes a cut-up every week of their coverages and pretty much everything they do. I am looking forward to coming in tomorrow morning and checking them out."
On going to high school games in the Baltimore area: "I am a big fan of high school sports, especially this area where there is a lot of talent. Anytime you can go check them out and see some young guys who are trying to make it to the next level to get to college and things like that, I will definitely go check them out."
On going to New England for the first time in a playoff game: "I am excited about it. The biggest thing I know about New England is my brother always picks them in Madden. They pretty much always have the best offense for some years in that game. It is a great place to play. I played at Boston College, so I am familiar with the New England area a little bit. It is not the same as going up there and playing against the Patriots – with one of the best offenses in the league and a talented defense and it being the [AFC] Championship Game. Nothing really compares to it."
On what team he plays with in Madden: "I play with the Ravens all the time now."
On if playing Madden gives him some familiarity with the Patriots: "I would be lying to you if I say I did not know their names before we play them. I mean, my brother plays with them all the time. It does not fail."
On if there is more pressure on the offense because of the Patriots' high-powered offense: "I think it would be safe to say we are going to have to score points to win this game. We have one of the top defenses in the league, and we stand by our defense and believe in our defense. They are pretty much the rock of our team. For us, we know we are going to have to help them out a lot. We have to try and take care of the ball. We can't have any three-and-outs. We have to keep their offense off the field, keep our defense rested and score points."
On if he has noticed New England's defense struggling: "It will be all brand new. You ask me tomorrow, I will have some great answers."
On if New England's defense presents an opportunity to score points:"I look at every team, whether they are struggling or are the best in the league, as an NFL defense. You are going against 11 other guys that were drafted or 11 other guys who deserve to be here and proved that they deserve to be here. [If] you are starting for an NFL team, you have some kind of talent. So for us to disrespect them in any way and just feel like we are going to just run the ball all over them and throw the ball all over them while they are just laying there and letting us do it is not the right way to go about it. You have to prepare the same and go out and execute."
On the Ravens' offense struggling over the last three quarters of yesterday's game:"Obviously, you have to take your hat off to those guys [Houston's defense] did a great job. They had a lot of great pressure on us. They did a great job in the secondary, as well. At the end of the day, it all comes down to execution. I feel like any team, you ask them whether they win or lose, if there were plays they would like to have back, it is because of something they did rather than what the defense did themselves."