JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. A couple of things, just to preempt some obvious questions … First of all, did you all have a merry Christmas? Everybody's happy, well-fed? We had a great Christmas, thank you very much. My daughter had a lot of fun. My mother-in-law had a lot of fun. So, dad has a lot of fun. That's how it usually works. But, it was great, and I just wish everybody out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Injury-wise, to preempt your questions, right off the bat, Anquan Boldin continues to progress. He is doing very, very well. The swelling is out of the knee, so things are looking good there. Nothing's changed as far as when he'll be back, time-wise. Billy Cundiff is doing really well, so we'll have to see about this week. Like I told you, I want to see him in practice, so we'll know more Wednesday or Thursday. [Dannell] Ellerbe and Cary Williams had concussions in the game, as we said. Both are looking pretty decent today. With concussions, you never really know. We'll just have to see when and if they get cleared. We'll keep our fingers crossed on that. David Reed has a torn ACL, an isolated torn ACL, so he'll be out for the year. [He will] begin his rehab as soon as he gets surgery, which has not been determined yet as far as a date on that. Marshal Yanda has a rib contusion and has a thigh contusion. We'll just have to see how he does on that. They're good bruises. We'll just see where that goes. Cory Redding got out there [during] pregame but was unable to go before the game with his ankle. But, he's looking good today. So, that's where we are."
When it comes to filling the spots of injured players, in addition to the players down on the depth chart, do you anticipate signing anyone off waivers? (Joe Platania) "Not at this time of the year, really. There's really not a lot of guys out there. If anything, people have been signing guys off their practice squads for about the last six weeks very aggressively. So, unless a name comes before us, which [we] have not seen yet, I'd say that's probably not going to happen."
After going 8-0 at home, what would it mean to go 6-0 for the first time in the division with a win against the Bengals on Sunday? (Dave Ginsburg) "What it would mean, obviously, would be that we would be the division champs. And, that's the opportunity that we have. If you go undefeated at home and if you win all the games in your division, you're probably going to be in pretty good shape at the end of the year, no matter what else happens. And, we have an opportunity to do that, to split on the road and win all of our games in the division, which would give us a championship. That's what we are trying to get accomplished."
What did you see after watching the game film on the punt return? Was it just a matter of shading too much to the left? (Aaron Wilson) "The guys on the left side felt that way. The guys on the right side were too far to the right, and basically, they split up coverage – two things that really shouldn't happen. It wasn't one of the better punts we've had, but we can cover it. So many times Sam [Koch] bails us out with really great punts right out of bounds. That was not one of them. He's not going to bat 1.000, as good as he is. And then the coverage has got to bail out that punt. And we didn't do it there. It split us right down the middle of the coverage. It shouldn't happen."
If Billy Cundiff is able to go on Sunday, have you decided if you will keep Shayne Graham? (Drew Forrester) "We're not going to carry two kickers into the game if Billy is kicking. Correct, right."
Any explanation as to why there have been times this year [when] it seems like there's been a little bit of a let-up in the second half offensively after such a strong first half? (Jerry Coleman) "You talking about generally this season or do you want to talk about this game? (Reporter: "Well this past game. But there have been other occasions this year where it seems like you guys have taken your foot off the gas pedal. Any response to that?") I don't have a response to that. But, if you want to ask me a specific question about a specific game … I probably can't remember the ones from way back when specifically, but I can sure answer about this one if that's what you're asking about.* (Reporter: "After Joe [Flacco] threw the pick the other day, did you go to [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] or someone and say, 'Hey, let's start running the ball a little bit more and run the clock down.'?") *No. I mean the biggest issue in the second half of the game was, obviously, the drops. That was the deal. So if we catch the ball, the way we're capable of catching the ball, the way we caught it in the first half, those drives are going to be extended. We're not going to be punting the ball down to [Joshua] Cribbs. Our defense is going to be off the field. Those are guys who are open, who have made those plays, can make those plays, will make those plays, want to make those plays. So it's pretty simple what happened in the second half in this game I think."
When a guy drops a guy ball, do you have a carrot on a stick? How do you get him to focus more and make that catch? (Kevin Van Valkenburg) "It depends. It depends on the guy. It depends on the situation. With these guys, it's more encouraging. We do encourage them to get on the 'jugs' machine and catch more balls and run better routes. There are lots of things that go into it. Bottom line is if you throw a guy a ball, you want him to catch it, and that's what they want, too. So, it's important to our guys. That's really what execution is in the pass game."
Does Joe Flacco go over to guys and talk to them during the game like Tim Tebow does and say, "You're going to catch the game-winner."? (Bruce Raffel) "You'd have to ask Joe if he does that. Joe is very positive. Joe is not a real … He doesn't get down on guys very much. But he wants them to catch the ball, that's for sure."
After watching the tape, how well did Andre Gurode play having to slide over to right guard? (Ryan Mink) "How well did he play? He did fine. He did a good job. It's a tough duty. Andre has been put in that situation a few times. He continues to compete in there, and battle and do a good job."
At the end of the game, on offense, Tandon Doss was in. Could you see him having an even bigger role against Cincinnati? (Brett Hollander) "I could see that, sure. That's a possibility."
Can you just talk about what led you to activate Tandon? What had he shown you in the previous weeks of practice or anything before that that led you to pick him? (Ryan Mink) "I think Tandon has worked hard. He is a slot receiver, which Anquan [Boldin] is a slot receiver. That's probably the biggest factor. That's where he has majored throughout the course of the year. He can play inside or outside. You're asking as compared to LaQuan [Williams], right? (Reporter: "Yes.") So LaQuan can play inside and outside, too, but Tandon has probably majored more inside behind Anquan. He has kind of been behind Anquan there for most of the year."
You've talked repeatedly about getting better week after week. Where do you think you stand right now? Do you see that you have been getting better? And with one game left, is this team on course to be as good as it can be? (Dave Ginsburg) "I think so. We're on course to be as good as we can be. We're working hard to do that. What we have is we have a game this week. We don't have to play any games that are behind us, and we don't have to play any games that are off in the future. We have to play this one. Obviously, it's got major ramifications for what is in front of us, so that's our focus."
How disappointing is it to see David Reed go down, where it looked like he was starting to get on the right track after what has been a pretty tough season for him? (Garrett Downing) "I think it's disappointing for David and for all of us. He is about to run that kick for a touchdown. That's the thing that was probably most amazing. He had two guys [blockers] out in front of him, and I didn't see anybody between him and the end zone there. That was going to the house. Then the leg buckles. A lot of things are unpredictable in football. That is certainly not one we would have predicted. We'll just have to move forward."
Any difference between the Cincinnati team that you played a few weeks ago that you notice? (Bruce Raffel) "They had a couple of guys hurt. I think they are a little bit better. They have improved, but [they're] not dramatically different."
The defensive performance in the second half against the Browns, was fatigue an issue? That the defense was out there perhaps longer than usual? (Ed Lee) "I don't think so."
There has been a lot of talk about Ravens fans trying to get out to Cincinnati. I know you'd like to see them out there. Cincinnati is offering a 2-for-1 special now; they're giving season ticket-holders a free ticket if they show up. What do you think about that? Is them trying to fill their own stadium a desperate move? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't think about that, at all. I do think about the Bengals, though, and the guys we're going to have to play. It's always been a challenge playing there; it always will be, because of the team they put on the field. So, that's our focus."
A couple of guys said after the first Cincinnati game that Andy Dalton's abilities surprised them a little bit. They thought he was good, but they just didn't realize he was that good. Going in, having seen more tape on him now, does that give you a different look than the first time you went against him? (Kevin Van Valkenburg) "Yeah, I think the more you see a guy, the better off you're going to be. It helps you to have more tape on any player. So, we've got more tape on all their young guys, and obviously, having more tape on their quarterback is a big plus for us. It's good tape, and he's a good player. They've got weapons. Obviously, everybody has seen that clip of Jerome Simpson [from last weekend]; that was pretty impressive. So, they've got some talented young players on offense. They've got playmakers that we're certainly going to have to deal with."
John, it's no secret that your four losses have all come on the road this season. Is there anything to try differently this week to prepare for a road contest than you would with any other? Do you try to prepare the guys for the crowd noise more or anything like that? (Dan Kolko) "Nothing different that we'll do, preparation-wise. I think we've got a good routine. It's proven [and] we're going to try to play better than we have in the games we didn't win on the road. That's the main thing. Obviously, turnovers were a big factor in some of those games; like any game in the National Football League. So, those are the things that will be our focus, the things that you have to do actually to win a football game, really whether you're at home or on the road."
John, in terms of the run defense … Other than Peyton Hillis being a good, hard runner, did you guys see anything on the film – kind of the way they blocked it – that allowed him to have more success than the first meeting? (Aaron Wilson) "No, I think they ran the exact same plays, the exact same way they've been running them. He's probably a little healthier than he was in the first game; he bled some yards there, did a nice job with that. He's a good player. But, I thought we played good defense overall. We gave up one drive, essentially, and that's not bad."