JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. Obviously, we've had a chance to study the tape, and we're very pleased with the outcome. [There are] a lot of things to build off of, all three phases really, and plenty of things to work on. You get smarter by learning from your mistakes and learning from other people's mistakes. So, we try to do that, and we've got plenty to learn, but also plenty to build on on the good side. This week we've got the Steelers – a very important game. I guess that's why they put it on Sunday night. It's a great opportunity game for us. So, we're looking forward to playing."
As you said there are things to work on and after a lopsided win, things to clean up. With your special teams background, was their play yesterday particularly distressing? (Joe Platania) "Well, you've got to tackle, you know? The punt return, we looked bad on that. We didn't get down the field fast enough. We didn't look fast at all. We didn't tackle. It's not like we got blocked. We had six or seven opportunities to get them down, and we missed them all. So, that's the biggest thing about that play, and that's something we've got to work on."
Sam Koch commented that he should have had more hang time on the punt. Do you agree with that, or do you think he was OK? (Aaron Wilson) "Yeah. He could get more hang time. Sam wants to do it right. I don't know exactly off the top of my head what the hang time was; I don't think it was terrible. But, if you hang it up there and force a fair catch, then you don't have a return. He's capable of doing that. It's either that or you put it on the sideline. [There have been] plenty of times Sam has done that. So, I think that's what he's talking about. But we've got to cover it better, no doubt."
Joe [Flacco] played a lot in the shotgun formation at Delaware, and he seems to be very comfortable in that. Is there any chance now you will use more of it, and is that something that you need to do with Joe? (Joe Platania) "We've done a lot of it since he's been here. We've been in the shotgun a ton. Will we do more of it? I think it depends on the situation. Yeah, if it gives us the best chance to move the ball. [Will we do it] more than we did last year, more than we did in one game? I'm not sure what you're talking about. But, you've got to have him under the center, too. There are formations that he's going to be under center. There are certain concepts that run better from under center. But, we like him in the gun. We like him under center, too. He's been effective in the shotgun, that's true."
What advantage does Dennis Pitta give you when you go four-wide with that up-tempo offense in putting him in the slot as a receiver? It looked like he was getting in there a lot through the game yesterday. (Jason Butt) "Dennis is a big body; he's got really good hands. He runs good routes, and I think he and Joe have a good feel. He's got a good catch radius. Those kinds of things are very effective as a slot receiver. He's been outside plenty of times, too. He's a good player, and it's good to see him starting to come into his own. That's really important for us that he do that."
Can you get a read on this team? You beat Pittsburgh and the Jets and struggled in some games. Have you gotten any sort of read on your team yet? (David Ginsburg) "The only [way] I can think to respond to that – it's obviously a tough question – is a sense that when we play good fundamental football, we're a good football team. It comes down to that. It comes down to playing good, solid football. It's technique, it's attention to detail. It's getting a little momentum – that sure helps you on offense when you can get the chains moving and make a couple first downs. It's understanding the things that we do well and then doing them well. And, in the end, it's guys making plays. When guys come up and start making plays, it seems to have a little momentum-building effect. It helped us a little in the second [half] yesterday."
Normally when the Ravens go to Pittsburgh, it's one of those games where the Ravens are more the team that's hunting. After punishing them in Week 1, do you feel as though it's the first time you are going into Pittsburgh and they are hunting you down, or is it just another big game? (Barry Barnes) "I think it's a big game. It's a game that we love to play in. It's Ravens-Steelers. We know how to play that game; they know how to play that game. We're looking forward to it. I do know that."
The offensive line looked like they played better as the game went on. What adjustments do you think they made, or did they just play better as the game went on? (Aaron Wilson) "I think they played better as the game went on. We were getting the ball out faster as the game went on, obviously. The tempo helped us – Joe mentioned that. The fact that the no-huddle stuff kept them out of some of their pressure [helped]. They still pressured, but it's hard to rush the passer when you start getting tired. So, I think that helped us, too. The fact that we stacked up some first downs, that really helped them, too."
Kevin Kolb was in a walking boot on his right foot post-game yesterday. He said in his media session that he was hurt on the first play of the game for them. Was there any awareness on your sideline or words from your defensive side that pointed that out, and did that affect the pressure? You guys got to him a lot throughout the entire game. (Mark Suchy) "After that play, that was the sack-fumble that they jumped on there, the very first play, backed up around… I think it was inside the 10 [-yard line]. You could see him limping around, but throughout the game you could see him kind of limping around, so we knew there was something there. But, he still made some plays moving around. He had the first-down scramble right there in the fourth quarter when they were trying to get back in it, when it was tied. I still thought he made some pretty good plays with his feet. He is a really good athlete, and he is a really tough guy, obviously."
Could you talk about Paul Kruger's breakout [game]? He has been really developing gradually, and now it seems like it is coming together, and he is getting those sacks. What have you seen as the difference for him, where he has made progress? (Ryan Mink) "Probably the biggest thing is, just recently, he is getting the sacks. He has had [quarterback] pressures. He has been doing it in practice. I think just even from the start of training camp, Paul is much improved. He has added a couple of moves into his pass-rush repertoire, and he has been quick and explosive. I think he is a dangerous pass rusher right now."
How much of an impact has Bernard Pollard made on this defense? And just the threat of the big hit that he provides, how important is that? (Dan Kolko) "Yeah, he is a physical presence. He is a sideline-to-sideline kind of a guy. Obviously, he is an excellent tackler. That's valuable for any defense, and he is a leader, too."
You've seen the video now. What do you make of the taunting calls? It looked like they were making that a point of emphasis. It was difficult to tell from the press box, but it looked like they were quick celebrations. (Aaron Wilson) "What do I make of them? (Reporter: "What did you see? What did the guys tell you?") Well, I saw what happened. They were both right in front of me. I am going to have to save that for the League, to be honest with you. I don't understand them, so we'll look forward to seeing how the League explains it to us."
You are going to be playing Pittsburgh [twice] before you play any of the other division teams. Would you prefer to play Pittsburgh, have that game always be like one of the last couple games of the year? Is it kind of strange having the series be over – unless you play them in the playoffs – by the first week of November? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know. I don't know if we have played them this early twice in the last four years. Maybe we have, and I forgot about it, but whenever you get them, you get ready for them that week. We just really haven't thought about it."
What did you see from Tom Zbikowski and Chris Carr? And how much can a healthy secondary help you going forward? (Jen Royle) "It builds our depth, which is going to be big. We have had games where we have had seven [defensive backs] active in the last few weeks. I thought they both played well. They are only going to play better as they get healthier. They both played well."
What's the difference in the Steelers team now vs. the team you played in the opening week? (Stan Saunders) "They are eight games into the season, so they are more experienced. They are the same team. They have injuries, they have adversity [that] they have been battling. I think they are the same Steelers they have always been – they are a tough, hard-nosed team. They have a great quarterback, and they have a great defense, and they are as physical as can be. It's a team we respect. To me, they are the Steelers. Every game is a little different. They are in a different injury situation or they are in a different record or whatever. But, that is the only difference."
What do you see from Jah Reid that made you want to insert him for the first time into some of those jumbo packages? (Ryan Mink) "Well, he's been practicing well; he's been doing a nice job. He's just a guy, we felt like, it's time to get him on the field and start expanding what he does, and that's a way to do it. So, we want to get our guys on the field as much as we can."
What's your overall assessment on this offensive line [and] their struggles, especially in the first half, since the bye week? I mean, from Houston to their struggles in the first half yesterday? (Luke Jones) "My assessment is that they'll be ready to play against Pittsburgh, and we'll be the best offensive line we can be. They're capable of playing winning football against Pittsburgh. That's the only thing you need to assess as a coach. You look at where you can get better, and how specifically, and you try and work on all those things, and you build on the good things."
The Steelers play yesterday, defensively, was more man-to-man and they normally play the zone. Do you think they gave you something more to look at as far as preparing for them this week? (Barry Barnes) "Well, they play man… You've got to prepare for it. They have it in their system. They pressure you with man. They pressure you with zone. They play every coverage – zone coverage, behind their pressures – they play all the basic zone coverages as well. So you've always got to be ready for all that stuff against them."
Jimmy Smith is getting more involved in the defense as he comes back from the injury. What do you see from his continued progression? (Garrett Downing) "Well, to just get in the game and play was big for him. He didn't have a chance to play as much the week before, against Jacksonville. He played very little in the preseason with his injuries that he had. So, he's a guy that we're going to be counting on going forward. He's going to have an expanded role, I would think, hopefully every week as we go forward. He was in the dime package a little bit last week and did a good job. We'll just have to see how it goes from there."
After the last game with Pittsburgh, their defensive linemen were very outspoken about your blocking style. I don't know how to classify it. You weren't penalized in that game; I don't believe since that game you've been penalized. Have you adjusted anything to that, or are you still blocking the same way from that season-opening game, especially in the run game? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, it's just what I said after the game: Go back, and if you find that quote, that's the quote that stands. It was, you know, a lot of teams do that. That's how people block. They've done a pretty good job of defending those schemes since, so… We haven't changed anything."
Have you seen your apparel commercial, and what do you think of it? (Ryan Mink) "I think my wife is beautiful in the commercial and she's a fine actor. (laughter) It was a lot of fun to do. I didn't realize how many takes it takes to do something like that, even without lines. (Reporter: "You look pretty natural.") It takes a lot of work to look natural. (laughter) She threw the jersey over my head a couple times. You know, I had to make some diving catches. But it was fun; it was a lot of fun to do. I think it's neat the NFL includes NFL families. A lot of people in that shoot are daughters and wives of coaches or players or owners of NFL teams. So, it's pretty neat that they do that; it's a good thought. And, it's nice apparel. My wife likes it."
Emotions are going to run in this meeting on Sunday night. Are you going to make it a point to specifically tell the players we can't afford to have the penalties that we've had since the Arizona Cardinals, specifically? (Ed Lee) "Well, penalties are always really important. It's always a point of emphasis for us. I think what you do is, you look at the ones that you can do something about and you correct those. The ones we can do something about, whether it's a false start – we didn't really have too many holding penalties – but those are always something you look at and see what we can do to correct, things like that, you do. The personal foul penalties, I'm not sure what I would tell our guys about that, but you try to be careful about that. We try to play with class. I think… You look at Ray Rice, for instance. This guy is nothing but class. He's been that way since the first day he stepped on campus, so to speak. He's just a star. He plays with emotion and enthusiasm. I look at Bernard [Pollard] the same way. That's the way Pittsburgh plays. That's the way the great teams in this league play. They play with enthusiasm, with emotion, with love for the game. The NFL has drawn a real clear line on what's tolerated and what's not tolerated, and I think our guys are really good at understanding that, and our guys are very respectful of their opponent. So, we just try to walk on that line."
Ray Lewis was a little shaken up during the game yesterday. Is he OK today? (Barry Barnes) "Yeah, he's fine. Yup."
What was the sentiment like yesterday in the second quarter after you guys fell behind 24-3? Was there any panic? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think that the sentiment was basically that we're a team. We are a team, and we've got team players. And team players – the consummate team player – does not criticize. We don't criticize one another, we don't point fingers at one another, we don't blame one another. That's not what a team does. A team trusts one another, believes in one another, supports one another [and] has each other's back. And when you do that, guys are going to come through. Our guys are very mature about that; our guys understand that. I saw a couple quotes where the guys said that. When you build a team, the kind of team that we built, you can withstand adversity and stay together, hang together, play together and try to find a way to win. And whether it's within a game, or from one week to the next, to me, we've proven, as a team, that's something that we're very good at. And that's why I said I was proud of the guys. That's what I was proud of."
I'm guessing the Steelers may have felt a little embarrassed by the way they played in the first game. Do you buy into that could be motivation, when you face a team again, and especially this close together? (Brent Harris) "Sure, I think there's a lot of motivation in general. We've all got a lot of pride, and I don't doubt that they'll be very motivated for the game, as will we. I don't know if it's any more motivated than either team would have been, but I'm sure they'll be very motivated."
Coach, is Ricky Williams a work in progress, maybe a few steps away from breaking out, you think? (Stan Saunders)"Well, I think he's a veteran player, so you kind of, what you see is what you get with Ricky. He's a north-south, hard-running guy. And that third-and-two play down the right sideline was huge. And that was a veteran run – very patient, broke one tackle [and] made another guy miss. [He] read his blocks really exceptionally well. So, I think Ricky is there, and he's a big contributor for us."