Postgame Transcript - Week 11 vs. Bengals


Head Coach John Harbaugh

(opening statement) "It was just a great football game. I don't think anybody that saw that football game would leave that stadium feeling like it wasn't worth spending the day at M&T [Bank Stadium]. Obviously, I think that at the end, we would have liked to have made it a little less exciting, if we could have. But, give credit to the Bengals. The Bengals are a very good football team. It has been a rivalry since 2008, that I know, since I've been here. This team is big and physical. The quarterback is playing really well. They have playmakers everywhere on offense. They have one of the top defenses in the National Football League, and you saw it out here today. Every game we play against these guys is going to be like this, just like the Pittsburgh game. That's the way it's going to go in the AFC North for a long time. "

(on how the team rebounded from the loss) "I think you learn from everything. It's a situation where there's always going to be trends. There's always going to be challenges and obstacles that you have to overcome, and we understand that. It can be taken as criticisms, and that's kind of what you look at. There's always going to be something that's an issue that you have to deal with, and you have to find a way to overcome it. Sometimes you can do that in one week. Sometimes it takes a few weeks, and it's like 'Why can't we get past this thing?' But, then you work to improve in that area, and something else pops up. You know, the other teams are getting better too, and they're attacking you. That's the beauty. It's the ebb and flow of the National Football League. Really, in the end, you just have to find a way to win on Sunday. Most weeks we have, but some weeks we have not. Now, we have to go to the next one and try to figure out a way to win the next one. That's really the best you can do, and that's what you shoot for."

(on what is the biggest challenge facing a four-day week) "That it's a four-day week. It's going to come fast. Our coaches will be back in the office tonight. We'll be going to work on San Francisco, and we'll do the best we can to put the best game plan together. We'll have our guys tomorrow afternoon. There won't be much physical practice. We won't be able to do that. We'll have to be getting ready physically, as far as healing and stuff, for Thursday night."

(on if Andy Dalton did not look like a rookie quarterback) "He's a rookie, but he's a very good football player. He's a good quarterback, and he proved it. He's very accurate, obviously, he does a nice job. He's a guy we are going to have to learn to deal with."

(on how big converting the two turnovers into scores was) "That was big. To be able to capitalize like that on those two turnovers and turn them into 14 points, was obviously the difference in the game. Joe [Flacco] made great throws. We can go through every player here, and we probably should. The plays that were made by guys in critical situations – even in the last drive, the coverage that we got from our guys was a three-man rush, eight-man coverage, and they had the third and fourth down at the 17-yard line. The plays that were made within those plays, that you'll never even know about, is the difference between winning and losing games. As a coach, that's what excites you. But, there are a lot of things we have to get better at, and that's what we're working on."

(on if the game plan for this week is to beat his brother) "I don't know if I'll be able to think about it like that. I'm sure, in the back of my mind, maybe that'll be a consideration. But, it's two really good football teams going at it. That's what it's really about. I think, for our parents, it's good. But, it's going to be the Ravens against the 49ers. It's going to be two very good football teams. You look at these players and what these players are going to have to do in a four day period to get past this game. [They are going to have to] heal up and get prepared for a football game and then play another physical game. Really, it's going to be a very physical game in here on Thursday night. It speaks a lot to the National Football League players and what these guys do. To me, that's the story."

(on Torrey Smith's performance) "Torrey Smith played really well. He came up with plays. He made some big catches. I think the catch on the five route, on the sideline where he got underneath the ball and got the third-down conversion for us, might have been his best play. The catch in the back of the end zone was fantastic."

(on how it felt to have Ray Lewis on the sideline) "I like Ray better out there [on the field]. But, he was good on the sideline. He was coaching them up."

(on if it was strange, for the first time, to not have Ray Lewis on the field) "Once the game got started, I would say no. I thought our guys did a nice job. You're really not thinking along those lines. You play with the guys you have. I looked down there and saw him in his sweatsuit, and he's down there [in his coaching posture]. But, we like him out there better."

(on what was going through his mind in the first quarter, with the team's sluggish start) "I think, what goes through your mind, as a coach is 'Let's weather this. Let's be poised. Let's not overreact. Let's not panic, and we can work through it.' If you do that, I think your players have a chance to respond the same way. They did a good job with it."

(on the development of Torrey Smith)"I don't if I've really looked at the arc of it. But, I think he's making more and more catches when he has opportunities to make them. He's been a guy that we thought could go get a deep ball, and he can kind of put in another gear at the end, and go chase down a ball. [He can] extend and make a catch. That's what we saw of him in college, and he's been able to transfer that. I like all of the other little things too – the out routes, the inside breaking routes he's making some plays on. That's part of becoming a complete receiver."

(on if he is surprised by Torrey Smith's significant contributions at this point) "You hope so. I think we did envision the type of player he was going to be. That's why we drafted him. I think we did a good job of evaluating him. He's a really good person. He's a real hard worker. He's not a guy you get down on easily, because he's hard on himself. He comes back and tries to improve every single week."

(on if he is installing a new grooming rule) "We had that conversation on the sideline. He said he was considering that. He just has to run faster, to outrun the dreads."

(on if he thought the Bengals touchdown call would be overturned) "Yes we did. I thought that Ron [Winter] did a really good job on that. Obviously, I'm a little bit biased by the way it went. But, you have to complete a catch going to the ground. When the ball hit the ground, when he took the ball to the ground and it wobbled in his hand, and it came out – that's not completing the catch going to the ground. I thought that Ron Winter did a really good job with that."

(on if he is in favor of the rule regarding completing the catch and going to the ground) "Well, I am. I think it draws a bright line. I think what you want to do with the officials, is you want to draw a bright line, catch or no catch. All the players know now, when you go to the ground, you have to come up with the ball in both hands. Basically, you have to hand the ball to the official. I think it draws a bright line [for] what may look like a catch. I think we'll all learn the rule, but I am in favor of the rule."

QB Joe Flacco

(on the keys to the offensive success) "We stumbled a little early but we kind of hit our stride by making big plays. Torrey [Smith] came up huge, and we were able to capitalize on a couple of those turnovers and make a couple of those big plays, and shorten the field, and that helped out a lot."

(on his connection with Torrey Smith today) "He did a good job really getting up on guys. The one go-route I hit him on, they were playing pretty far off and that gave it a little extra time to develop. Like I've always said, when the ball is in the air he can separate. So, I put a lot of air under the ball, and he was able to go get it."

(on the run, pass ratio) "It was good. You want everyone to get involved whether it's run or pass. The good thing was we were able to break a couple long ones. We struggled a little bit there in the end, but we were able to hit some long ones in the passing game to shorten the field up for us."

(on this being a bounce back game) "It's huge. These guys are a good football team. And to beat these guys here, today, in a big game like today is a huge win for us. We're going to have to meet them a couple weeks down the road at their place, and we're going to have to do the same thing."

(on the shortened week) "We're going to enjoy it tonight. You have to enjoy every win you get in the NFL for a little bit, because they're so tough to come by. So we'll enjoy this one, and at the same time move on quickly. We're sure our head coach had this one circled as soon as it came out, so he's looking forward to it, and we're looking forward to it."

(on Torrey Smith's performance) "Torrey is getting better each week as a wide receiver. He did a great job, and he is a real difference for this offense against that team. They've been able to put some pressure on us with their coverage, lock us up pretty tightly, and get some pressure with their front four in past years. But with Torrey out there, he definitely has some speed and can hurt them in man-to-man coverage. That helped us out today."

(on the 35-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin) "We ran naked, meaning we ran a naked-boot. Torrey was running a corner-and-up, a pump-route on the outside. And they kind of all flew over that way. Anquan was just running a crossing route across the field and he decided to stop. I was on the same page with him and the defense just kind of over-pursued everything. There was no one left over there."

OLB Terrell Suggs

(on the Bengals comeback) "31-14, I thought [Andy Dalton] was going to tuck it in and throw the ball everywhere, and we were going to get a few picks and a few sacks. But he kept his composure. I tip my hat off to him. We're going to see him again at the end of the year, and we expect the same thing, a dog fight until the end. But, 7-3, No. 1 in the division, that's huge. And now we're the master of our destiny. We can't take any steps back anymore. November and December are crucial for us. So, if we want a chance to make a run at this thing we need to take care of business."

(on playing without Ray Lewis) "He was there. We didn't want to make a mental error because when we came to the sideline we were still going to hear from our general. He was very much out there, as he always is. Great win for our team offense, defense and special teams."

(on the grounding call)"I'm grateful for the grounding, but I would have rather had a strip-sack, to be totally honest with you. But I'm going to get back to doing what I do best. My legs felt the best they ever have since the season started. So, second half of the season, we have six left, here we go."

(on playing without Ray Lewis) "We're a great unit because he has led us. I think the man personally mentored every man on this defense. So, he'll be back next week and we're going to be 10 times better. But it was a great win for our team today."

(on the referees overturning Jermaine Gresham's touchdown) "That was huge. Because, as you can clearly see, after they got the deep ball all they would have needed was three [points]. Cary [Williams] did a great job. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't pretty. But Cary got them down. He didn't keep control of the ball all the way to the ground, and that turned out to be the game changer."

(on bouncing back from a loss) "We are professionals. We have a great coaching staff. We have a great team. It's good to bounce back, but lets not take anymore steps back."

CB Lardarius Webb

(on his interception) "I saw the ball, and it was just an opportunity for me to make a play for the defense. We needed it. Jimmy [Smith] came in and made a great play. He really grew up today. He started it all off by getting a pick at the perfect time. So big ups for Jimmy, and always, to the defensive line. They get to the ball, which makes it easier on us. So we need to keep taking advantage of our great defensive line."

(on the secondary giving up a lot of yards to Andy Dalton) "We played ok. There were some communication issues, not communicating as well, and we gave them some plays. But they're a great team. Dalton made some great passes, and he was better than we expected. We knew he was good, but not that good. We're going to have to see him again. We just have to get on the same page in the backfield; I don't think we were all the way there today."

(on how they can develop better communication)"It's easily correctible. When you have Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, they're just going to go in and say, 'You be here next time.' They're our safeties and they know what they're doing. We have a short week coming up, so we really need to get it corrected tomorrow. But with those guys, it'll be easy."

(on playing without Ray Lewis today) "Jameel, Jameel McClain. We all knew Jameel had it in him. We knew Jameel is that guy. But we didn't want to tell Cincinnati that Jameel was that good. He does a great job. Trying to play behind Ray Lewis is a big, big job. I think he did great. He has a lot of room for improvement, and that's a good thing because we can have him here for a long time. It's going to be 5-3 later on, not 5-2. So, he did a great job."

WR Torrey Smith

(on what was said in the huddle before his TD catch) "We all knew it was time for us to get seven. We knew what type of play it was. We had an opportunity to get seven. The offensive line, Michael Oher, all those guys were excited. Joe [Flacco] was like, 'Come on, let's go.' It was great timing on our part, great protection by the offensive line and a great throw by Joe."

(on being tackled by his hair) "That was my first time having it happen. I was in shock. I straightened up my back thinking he was going to try to grab my jersey. Next thing I know, I'm getting pulled by my dreads. I started to pull away; I thought I was going to score, and next thing I know, I was getting dragged down by my dreads. I was kind of confused. That was my first time having it happen. I thought it was going to hurt. That's why I thought it was my jersey at first. Then, I was like, 'He got me by my hair.'"

(on if being tackled by his hair hurt) "It didn't hurt at all. I was surprised by it. I thought that … I was looking at the other guys. I guess their running back, he lost a few dreads on the field, and I knew it wasn't my dreads. It was actually a few drives before, we were in the huddle. We were actually standing by it, and they were like, 'Torrey, did you lose a few dreads?' No, I didn't lose anything. So, to have it happen, he grabbed a whole lot of it, so it actually felt like I was getting pulled down by my jersey."

(on his ability to get behind on defensive backs) "I think they definitely prepared themselves by the way their DBs were backing up. I was just able, when they squat, to try and stack them, try to use great technique. They have a great group of corners. We knew coming in, it was going to be a great challenge for us, and we had to take advantage of our opportunities when we get those shots. We get those shots a lot, which is kind of surprising. My receivers coach, Coach [Jim] Hostler is always like, 'You don't understand how rare it is to get behind someone.' So when it happens, you have to take advantage of it. I was focusing this week on my eyes, just focusing on the ball, looking it all the way in. Mr. [Ozzie] Newsome is always talking to me about that, my receivers coach as well. It paid off, just running, trusting Joe's arm, knowing he's going to put it there."

(on if he's considering getting a haircut) "I honestly thought about it, but my grandma likes it a little too much. I'm a momma and grandmamma's boy, at least for now."

(on making big plays against AFC North opponents) "To me now, it's just football, understanding the game plan, understanding my role, and basically understanding that every little thing you do is important. Every catch, every missed block, every penalty – everything is important. Those are things you can't afford, playing in this division. Week in and week out, you go against great defenses and great defensive backs. You really have to capitalize and take advantage of the opportunity when it does happen, because you really never know when it'll come about again."

(on his development of the underneath routes) "Looking at film from when I first came into camp to now, it's a big difference. Coach 'Hos' and Anquan [Boldin], they would talk to me a lot about technique and just preaching that I can run, so the fact that the technique that Coach 'Hos' has been talking to me about, just getting in and out of breaks quicker, and everything just focusing on the ball … my routes, I can run the whole route tree with confidence. I am able to get open fast and separate, and that's pretty much credit to Coach Hostler. He has been on me a lot, and I can see a development in myself, which gives me confidence."

(on how his routes early in training camp looked)"Maybe a little off-balanced, not getting out as quick as I should. I can get out, I am pretty explosive. If I can show that quickness so I can get in and out of breaks fine, it's just trying to translate my speed and trying to get out. I was going 100 miles per hour, and then having those rough turns, but now that I understand the technique and things like that, everything is a whole lot smoother."

(on the quick transition to Thursday's game) "We know it's going to be a big game on Thursday, another important one. They mentioned it right at the end. We've got to come in tomorrow and get prepared for another great team. After we walk out these doors, I'm sure our iPads will be ready by tomorrow morning, and it will be on to the next one."

CB Jimmy Smith

(on fumbling during his interception return)"I learned a long time ago – this is the NFL. You get beat, and you make plays. Like they say, 'They get paid too.' He is going to make a play."

(on his interception) "It was a Cover 2 [defense] call inside. He tried to run an inside [route]. As soon as I looked, the ball was there, and I wanted to show my returning skills a little bit, and it came out. The next time, I'm going to hit the sidelines."

(on if he's gotten a chance to return kicks)"No, believe it or not, but it felt good. You get out there, you play some more and make the most of it."

TE Ed Dickson

(on a big home win) "We're back where we want to be. First of all, we'd say that this was for 52 [Ray Lewis]. We know how big his heart is and how badly he wanted to be out there. Unfortunately, he couldn't be out there today, but you know the defense played for him today."

(on whether they could hear Lewis on the sidelines throughout the game) "Oh, we heard him the whole game. That's the kind of person he is. He isn't going to quit, it's like he was out there anyway. Maybe he wasn't there physically, but he was there vocally, leading, just with us the whole game."

(on the quick turnaround playing San Francisco in a few days) "It's going to be a mental week. You've got to know these guys by Thursday, you've got to study hard this week and be ready, physically, to play on Thursday. This is a great team coming in, and they're playing at an extremely high level right now, and it would be good to get a victory in our house. We've got to protect our house."

(on whether the team feels good about where they are at 7-3 right now)"We control our own destiny. That's all we can do, is win one game at a time. We'll celebrate this victory tonight and move onto the next game quickly. We're thinking about San Francisco now, and it would be great to get that victory."

(on the chemistry developing between him and QB Joe Flacco) "We talked about it at the beginning of the season. With the offseason that we had, we just tried to continue to learn each week, develop more and more chemistry as we go. It's not quite there where him and Todd Heap, or him and Derrick Mason were, but we're going to get there, because we're going to keep working on it.

LB Jameel McClain

(on whether it was tough playing with all the noise) "No, not at all, we practice it every time. We put ourselves in the most difficult situations in practice, so we know with us being home and the way that our fans are it's going to be loud. And that's the way we want it."

(on whether he was having a little trouble with the microphone)"Yeah, I mean the microphone always has it's difficulties, but that's a part of the business. That's a part of the game. Other than that, we get lined up, and we make the call and play football."

(on what it was like not having Ray Lewis out there) "I mean, Ray Lewis is a dominant force in football. Everybody knows that, so not having him makes the game different. But, at the end of the day, we've got 11 guys out there that are prepared to play and go out there and do what they had to do. So, just playing Raven ball, but you definitely miss Ray when Ray's not there, because you know what, he's a Hall of Famer. So, everybody knows what he brings, but it's still football at the end of the day."

(on how he feels about where the team is at right now) "We've got to get better. It's not a matter of how we really feel, because you don't get any time to feel anyway, because our next game is on Thursday. So, we just need to get better and play this game the way it's supposed to be played and the way we played it today."

RB Ray Rice

(on the offense being more balanced) "What I found out, it was 28 [runs], 28 [passes], and we played a very balanced game today. It was a total team effort. You've got to win your divisional games. You've got to win the games you're supposed to win. This one felt special. [We know] that it's a short week, but right now, I think we're sitting at No. 1 in AFC North. It's no time to get complacent. You've got to stay humble and stay hungry."

(on how quickly they have to turn things around since there's a game Thursday) "Yes, it's going to be quick. Coach Harbaugh does a great job. I'm sure it's going to be a different week for us. We'll take care of our bodies. Not to look past this game, but I'm sure this film, you know, I'm probably going to have look at it tonight. We're on to San Fran. It's so fast that you're on to San Fran right now. I'm going to have my book loaded up and will try to watch some film on San Fran tonight to get the jump start."

(on if he knew he'd be a big part of the game plan) "Every week, I expect to be a big part of the game plan. It's no surprise. I think this week we see when it's in a tough game, you see the balance. The run sets up the pass. The pass sets up the run. On Torrey's touchdown, you know, nice play fake, the ball goes in the air. As long as we play balanced football going forward, and the running game being a big part of it, I think we'll be pretty successful."

(on his thoughts on watching the late comeback) "I look at our guys. You know, on third-and-1; we didn't get it. So I looked at the time on the clock, and I said our defense will get it done. That's the faith that I have in our guys. Just look, look at the guy who made the play at the end of the game – Pernell McPhee. You expect that would be a [Terrell] Suggs or somebody, but we've got young guys stepping up making plays. That's what's going to carry us going forward. Three rookies who made big plays in the game today: Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith and Pernell McPhee, basically finishing the game. These [are] three rookies that finished the game for us."

(on capitalizing on the Cincinnati turnovers) "It's big. We had to get points today. I'm sure our defense appreciates that when they get us the ball back, and we put up points. We get there, get down to the one, I'm sure they would have wanted to score to get that [defensive TD], but I don't mind taking those stats."

(on what Torrey Smith means to the offense) "He stretches the field for us. You've got to play us honest. For a guy like Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans getting back healthy, our receiving corps is only going to get better. He's a stretcher. He's going to stretch the field, and the thing that he's added to his game is he's catching underneath routes now. And that's big for us. Teams are going to notice that. Now he's starting to come up, catch underneath, and that's going to be big for us going forward."

(on Torrey Smith's penalty on the crack-back block)"I told Torrey, 'You're going to cost me about 150 yards on the ground this year.' (laughing) He made up for it with the touchdown. He's a rookie. He's learning. As long as we're winning, that's the overall stat."

S Ed Reed

(on what the take-aways meant) "I mean, it's huge. To get things going and stop them when they were driving, those plays are always huge. Those are plays that [can help] you win the game. We know that. It's not always the case like today was, and hats off to Cincinnati, they played a hard-fought game. They always do. You know, that's AFC North football for you."

(on his thoughts about rookie QB Andy Dalton) "I said it during the week, the guy throws good balls. He has the poise. He completed passes and moved the ball when they needed to. They gave themselves a chance at the end of the game to win the game [or] tie the game up. That's what you want from a quarterback. You've got to like what you see. He had poise."

(on what it was like playing without Ray Lewis for the first time in awhile) "I talked to him the whole time. He kept me motivated. It's always tough playing without your leader. But like I told the guys, there's 53 leaders on this team, and the guys know it. Ray wanted to give everything to be out there. We told him, "Just stay focused and do what you need to to get yourself back.' We knew we had to win this game to give him some time to get back, get healthy. Ray had a chance to play today, but the smart thing to do was not to rush it, and we knew that. We knew that coming into the game, and we held it down for him."

(on the leadership during the game on defense) "It's 11 guys. It's the whole defense, making sure we communicate. We didn't have … the perfect game. The communication wasn't there all the time … with Ray not being out there. We missed it, But guys made plays. They made plays."

(on being 3-0 in the AFC North division and what that means) "There's only one game, and that's today. We don't look at the past. We embrace it. We know what it is … the best thing about it that you can do is not make those same mistakes. I thought we kind of got back to that a little bit calling plays and stuff like that, giving them a chance. We've got to learn that to be a championship-caliber type of team, what we want to be. This is the NFL. You've got to know how a team is going to play. You've got to come out and play week in and week out."

(on playing in four days) "The challenge is going to be being healthy. Short week; guys got banged up. I got banged up. We've got to make sure we're taking the time and being smart with it. You've got to be very smart with what you're doing. We'll be ready. This game was on the schedule a long time ago, and guys will be ready."

(on his interception and his impressions of Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb)"So long as we hold them, I couldn't care less. Every team is not going to throw the ball my way. I've earned that respect. I'm [not trying] to pat myself on the back. I know it's going to be like that. My thing is just to do my job and be where I'm supposed to be. Lardarius [Webb], the guy is awesome. He's a football player. Same thing with Jimmy [Smith]. I've been talking to Jimmy the whole time just to be smart, understand that you have time. You have a career out of this. It's not one year. It's not a one-year career. Don't rush back [after your injury in Week One]. Don't rush back at all."

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