One week ago, running back Willis McGahee was taken to task by several media members for making what were perceived as selfish comments on a national radio interview.
McGahee intimated that he was playing for himself and seemed to put some blame for his diminished production and rash of injuries this season on the Ravens' coaching staff for asking him to alter his offseason routine and running style.
But, McGahee didn't want to come off as thinking singularly, further explaining himself before the Ravens headed to Miami, where they thrashed the Dolphins 27-9.
"It doesn't mean I'm not a team player," McGahee said at the time. "If I wasn't a team player, I would have shut it down in the middle of the season from the knee surgery and all that. It meant: 'I can't be what somebody else wants me to be. I can only be me.'
"I wasn't indicating it's all about Willis McGahee because Willis McGahee's season has been over since Week 5. It's not like the season I normally have, so it is over for me. So that's how I look at it."
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh saw it in a similar fashion.
"I know that Willis is a team guy," Harbaugh noted in a Monday press conference. "That's something that he's said many times. If you look at his comments up until what he said last week, it was really clear.
"I think what he was being pressed on was the fact of how did his season go personally. And he tried to answer the question honestly, that personally, he felt like he could have done better.
McGahee has battled through knee, eye, ribs and ankle injuries since training camp, which have contributed to a career-low 671 rushing yards in 2008 – a far cry from his career-high 1,483 total yards he posted last year.
Still, he has seen success in recent weeks.
In a Week 16 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, he racked up 108 rushing yards on eight carries, including an electrifying 77-yard scoring run. In the season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he gave the Ravens a 17-7 lead in the second quarter with a tough 13-yard touchdown dash up the middle.
And, McGahee had the biggest offensive gain in the Miami Wild Card contest, when he sprinted 48 yards to the Dolphins' 4-yard line, setting up a touchdown sneak from quarterback Joe Flacco that iced the outcome.
"I know one thing: He's focused on what he can do right now to help our team," Harbaugh continued. "We talked about what he can do in December, what he did, and what he can do in January. And, he's doing those things. He had a heck of a December; he's having a heck of a January.
"He's focused on this week right now."
After the Dolphins game, where he had 62 yards on seven attempts, McGahee was careful when he spoke.
"I don't want to get into trouble for saying anything," he stated with a laugh. "Every time I say something, it comes out different. I'm just chilling. I'm just happy we got a win."
Reed Passed Over
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison won the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year honor, getting 22 votes to pass Ravens safety Ed Reed, who only received eight.
Reed finished third in the running, also falling behind Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware's 13 votes.
The case was strong for Reed, however. The seven-year veteran led the league with nine interceptions this year, tying the career mark he matched in 2004, when he originally won the award. Reed also scored three touchdowns during the regular season.
And in the playoffs, Reed stepped up even more, posting two interceptions and a touchdown last Sunday.
"I think Ed Reed deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year, without question," Harbaugh said emphatically. "We've said it many times about all of our guys: We think we have the best players in the National Football League. Football teams win when really good players play really well. As a coach, that's what you try to get. We know each other, we recognize one another, and we're excited to play this week."
Reed has certainly won the endorsement of his teammates.
"He's the greatest safety in the game, and he's proven that week in and week out," said linebacker Terrell Suggs. "We as a team are disappointed that he didn't get the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, but then again we probably didn't want him to win it.
"Everyone who has won an individual award is either out of the playoffs or they didn't make it at all. We commend them on winning their individual award but we are trying to win a bigger award as a team."
Added Flacco about Reed's performance at Dolphin Stadium: "At this point we kind of expect it. We are spoiled. You see him catch the ball, and you are like, 'Not again.' He takes it to the end zone almost every time."
Rex, George on Hold for Interviews
According to reports, Ryan has been linked to the head coaching position with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, while Kokinis is in the mix for the general manager vacancy for the Cleveland Browns.
Both Ryan and Harbaugh have dismissed any notion that the job market would affect the way Ryan prepares his defense for this Saturday's AFC divisional showdown with the Tennessee Titans.
"Right now, on a short week, I know this: Rex's complete focus is on getting ready for the Titans," Harbaugh said. " And if some of that stuff happens at some point in time, it will be secondary to getting ready for the Titans, and that's how he wants it."
The Ravens were greeted by nearly 20 cars full of fans waiting to congratulate the team upon arrival to its training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Sunday evening. The cheering fans honked their horns and enthusiastically waved signs at the victorious Ravens. "It was neat to see that the fans and the players could share the moment together," Harbaugh said. "That's kind of what it's all about, right? I know our guys enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed it." … Punter Sam Koch had another stellar performance against the Dolphins, placing a kick on the Miami 6-yard line and another on the 2. "Sam has been a huge plus for us, pinning them deep in their side – not just the 20, but inside the 10," Harbaugh stated. … After three weeks of sitting out because of a deep bruise on his shin, rookie running back Ray Rice was active Sunday, but did not take the field as a health precaution. Harbaugh affirmed that he could have played and expects to utilize Rice in Nashville. ... Sarah Firestone of Mercersburg, Penn., will compete on behalf of the Ravens for the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass & Kick national finals this weekend. The event will be held at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte at halftime of the Carolina Panthers/Arizona Cardinals game. Firestone is one of four girls in the 12-13 age bracket.