On what it's been like to step into and master the defensive coordinator position this season:"As far as the mastering part of it, I don't know if I would say that. It's been a great experience because of the players I have, because of the people that are there in that room. It's a great experience because of the organization. I don't know that there are many organizations like the Ravens, the way they do things from top to bottom. And then I keep going back to when you go to work every day and go in that room and have a defensive group like I have [that] I'm fortunate enough to be with that makes work fun every day. That's your job now, is to try to get them to play the best they can and to put something out there that the Ravens are proud of. That's what our guys try to do."
On what the defense has to do to play better against the Colts after containing QB Peyton Manning so well in the last game:"I think, obviously, you have to try to play him better because you want to win. The bottom line is that nobody really cares after a while whether you really played somebody good or not. That's kind of in the eyes of the people watching it. The bottom line is your job as a defense is to get them stopped and keep them from going in that end zone. We've got to play great red zone defense. I think that's the key. Peyton Manning is a tremendous, tremendous quarterback, and he's going to move the ball. He's going to complete passes. We understand that, but the thing that we have to do is make sure we play great reps on defense and minimize anything like that that happens."
On when he noticed his system clicked in players' heads:"Again, and I'm not saying this… It's not my system. This is a defensive system that fits our players. Again, the calls that a person could make aren't going to be successful if you don't have the guys that are out there executing them. When you've got guy like, and I don't even want to name guys, because then I'd have to go through the whole group – it's all about them executing whatever's called. They just make the best of it. They've been doing this for five or six or seven weeks now, constantly getting better, doing what they're supposed to be doing. They've been playing good defense."
On if it was difficult to play defense after losing two cornerbacks for the season and Ed Reed for a month:"That's very difficult, because those guys were great players. In this league, cover corners, guys that can play corner, they're on an island out there. Everybody knows what they do. You don't even want to talk about Ed Reed not being in there because Ed Reed is Ed Reed. He is such a fixture in our defense. But, as the Ravens do it, when somebody goes down, you're only as strong as the next guy that goes in there, and our guys have done a tremendous job of stepping up and paying attention throughout that. So, when your opportunity comes, when it's your time to do it, you step in there and the defense doesn't slip."
On what he remembers from S Ed Reed's interception of Manning in the first Colts game this season:"I just remember Ed Reed running down the sideline with the football. Ed Reed is a tremendously intelligent football player. Ed Reed studies tape. Ed Reed knows by alignments, knows by down and distance, knows by tendencies what to anticipate. And whenever you anticipate, as long as he's played and as great a player as he is, he even plays faster than he already is. That's what allows him to be above the other guys."
On if he feels like OLB Terrell Suggs' health has improved and allowed him to get to opposing quarterbacks better:"Definitely. Terrell Suggs has been banged up coming out of training camp. And credit to Terrell, he keeps coming out there and going. A lot of guys probably would have said, 'Hey, I've got to be off right now.' When he was out for those [three] weeks, it killed him. He wanted to be in there. I think now you're seeing Terrell Suggs getting healthier and healthier every day, and that's what we expected to see."
On if it's an advantage that Indianapolis doesn't run the ball well or often:"I think you have to, every time you play them, you have to make sure they can't run the football. I think any team that has a tremendous quarterback that has got a reputation as being a great throwing team, you've got to make sure you take away the run first because all you have to do is let them run it and throw it, and you're in a long ball game. Last year, I think they ran it 30 times against us. We never go in a ball game saying, 'This is not a great running team.' Every team that runs the football, you have to stop."
On why the Colts have given up the fewest sacks per play this season:"A lot of it is Peyton Manning, and they have a good offensive line. Peyton Manning, again, we talked about Ed Reed, [but] I think on the other side of it you talk about a guy like Peyton Manning, he sees what's coming. He sits in there, I would picture him, for hours and hours studying tape, so when he gets out there and plays a ball game, he's looking out there and it's like one of those video games. He has such a great sense of getting it off quick. They have a good offense line, also."
On the challenge Colts TE Dallas Clark provides:"Big challenge. He's an outstanding football player. We've had other guys that have done this… Dallas Clark is not only a great athlete and a great football player, he's one of those guys that plays hard every snap. When you have that combination, that's a guy you've got to really deal with."
On the benefit of having Suggs this weekend since he was inactive due to injury for the first Colts game:"Anytime you add Terrell Suggs to your lineup, you've got to feel a lot better. I'm looking for Terrell to play like we expect him to, like he has the last couple of weeks – just like he's tried to do every time he's gone out there. We're really counting on him."
On if he saw any signs before the Patriots game that the defense was ready to play at that level:"I think every week through this stretch you've had that sign. They've come out, in my opinion, every ball game trying to do their best and trying to play our type of defense. I think it's just a matter of the whole thing – offense, special teams and our guys making plays. I don't think it was any different as far as our preparation, their preparation, how they played."
On if it will make his job easier if the offense runs the ball and keeps the defense off the field:"My favorite thing to do is to look up at the clock and watch that clock go tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. In answer to that question, there's no question. You know what? I can't be a real bad coach when I'm not out there calling defenses, right? *(laughing) *So, when Cam's [Cameron] running that football, I'm the most excited guy there is on that sideline."
On if rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe is still trying to grasp the defense:"All rookies that come in with a defense like ours… Just picture yourself standing next to Ray Lewis, and all of a sudden you say, 'OK, that's how Ray did it. I better do it that way.' Anytime you're a rookie like that, you always have room to grow, but he's done a tremendous job of trying to learn. Ray's helped him a lot, and Vic Fangio has done a great job with him, of bringing him along and bringing him along. Every time he makes a mistake, I don't see him make that again. He learns from it. He's got a great opportunity."
On whether he feels like the offense is improving in the red zone:"I mean, every week is different. Every week is going to be a challenge. The Colts, they did a great job all year of keeping teams out of the end zone, and especially when we played them. So, obviously that'll be a challenge, and those guys will be tough to beat at home in the playoffs if we don't score seven instead of three."
On whether he feels like the red zone play has improved since the last Indianapolis game: "Was that tape recorder on the last 10 seconds? (laughter) How far have we come? I mean, I don't know. It's always a work in progress. It's not like after… If you have a successful game and you score touchdowns in the red zone every time, it's not like, 'Oh, ok, we've got it fixed.' It's every week is a new challenge, every defense is a new challenge and obviously it's always – no matter who we're playing – it's always a point of emphasis."
On whether they feel like they can out-muscle anybody with their size on the line, and sometimes putting six or seven guys up front: "You know, like last week, that was just the package we had in because Coach [Cam] Cameron, he saw something that he thought would work, and it worked well. But, it's different every single week depending on who you're playing, what you've done previous weeks. You know it's kind of like that whole – I don't want to call it a chess game, because it's not chess – it's checkers. Connect Four? Yeah, Connect Four. I'm a big Connect Four guy. (laughter) But yeah, that's up to the coaches and what they see would be to our advantage each week."
On whether the media makes too much of the crowd noise inside a dome with the echoes and whatnot: "I think every stadium is loud, you know? It can only get so loud. If you can't hear, you can't hear. You know, it's not like you can't hear more or [can't hear] less. But certainly, that's a place where fans get into it. They've got great fans, a great crowd and it's something… Every time you go on the road, you've got to be able to deal with it."
On whether the Colts present a different challenge than other teams because of their speed on the front seven: "Yeah, they're a little bit different from that standpoint, that the guys are smaller. But I mean, they move around, they get in cracks, they get penetration. That's what they do, and that's why they've been so successful for so long. A lot of guys on that defense have been playing in that system for a long time, and they completely understand where they need to end up and where they need to be in. That's why they've been so good for so long."
On RB Ray Rice finding his way in this league at such a young age: "I think the biggest thing that probably gets overlooked is for young backs, being a three-down back, before you can be in there for first and second down, but third down for protections. And he does a great job with that. That probably takes at least the real talented, young backs I've been around. That's the last thing to come. That takes the most work."
On whether that's challenging because of the blocking: "Yeah, and blitzes and things like that. Obviously, I wasn't here last year, but he's been real impressive in that aspect."
On whether head coach John Harbaugh's motivational techniques come across to most guys in the locker room:"I can't speak for most guys, but I can speak for myself. He's certainly a fun guy to play for. He's got great energy; he's into it. Probably one of the best things I like about what he says is let your personality show – you know, be yourself, be us, and that's great. In this game there's all this – especially when you get to this time of the year – things like pressure and this and that. But he's like, 'Hey, you know, be yourself, be us and play hard.' As a player, you appreciate that. You definitely appreciate it."
QB Joe Flacco
On how important the running game is this week to keep the ball moving and away from QB Peyton Manning:"Obviously, I think we have confidence in our defense that they're going to go out there and play. Last week they got us a couple of turnovers and that was huge, and if they can do that this week it's going to be the same thing. But obviously, we're doing things pretty well right now in that part of our game, and it will be a big part of keeping the ball and controlling it and hopefully putting the ball in the end zone. When we get down there, inside the five, we're going to have to rely on our run game to get the ball in the end zone. That's what we've done all year, and that's the kind of team we are. The last time we played each other they did a good job of stopping us down there, so we've got to make sure we come up big and get some scores down there."
On if he thinks the team has solved the problem of getting into the red zone over the last few games:"Yeah, I think the biggest thing is we come in each week and we just try to continue to get better and have good weeks in practice. I think we're playing well right now. I think we're practicing pretty good. We feel great about how we feel going into this week. So, it's just a matter of going out there and executing, and we feel real confident in our ability to do that right now."
On the team feeling confident about how it is playing in the red zone:"I think we did a great job last week. We're off to a great start. We've done a pretty good job down the stretch. We have the confidence in our ability to do it, and we think we can get it done."
On how his hip feels after a couple of days of practice this week:"I feel great this week. I'm moving around really good. There's nothing really to it."
On if he thinks the media is making too big of a deal in their reports about his hip bothering him:"I don't even look at them. I really didn't even know it was out there like that. So when you guys ask me the questions, I just answer them. I really don't pay any attention. I don't really laugh about it because I don't really know. I feel pretty good, that's all I care about, and I'm ready to go."
On if he feels any problems with throwing?"No, none at all. No, throwing is perfectly fine."
On what way he feels more comfortable this year in the playoffs compared to last year at this time when he was a rookie:"Well, we've been through it. We've played the No. 1 seed on the road before. We understand what it takes to go in there and [win]. It's going to take a good amount on our part, and we understand that. We thrive in that situation. It's going to take going on the road in Indy, a pretty loud place [and] a place where the fans are going to be into it. Those guys are going to be ready to play. They're going to come out of the blocks fast. That's what kind of team they are, and we're going to go in there and we're going to have to control that and use it to our advantage. So, I think we have learned how to do that from a certain point."
On if the team feels the key to beating the Colts is putting together long drives and keeping the Colts' offense sitting on the sideline:"The bottom line is we want to put points on the board, and it doesn't matter if they're long or short. I see where you're coming from, but at the same time we just want to put points on the board. And we have confidence that our defense is going to be able to keep these guys off the scoreboard."
On how key it will be for the Ravens to capitalize on being in the red zone to score touchdowns against the Colts great red zone defense:"You've got to score points, and obviously, scoring points usually comes in the form of a touchdown. You're going to get a few field goals here and there, but we need to convert some of those drives into touchdowns and have those points multiply faster."
On what he learned from his interception to LB Gary Brackett in the first game against the Colts this season:"There are certain coverages where they do that. If they play 'zero,' they're going to mug up in there and drop out. [I learned] just keep your eyes up, make sure you see everything and that's about it."
On whether he's hoping the game plan against Indianapolis calls for him to throw the ball a little more this Saturday than last week:"I don't care. If we win, we win. That's the bottom line. It really is. Obviously, like you said, quarterbacks like to throw the ball and do it that way, but it doesn't matter. When you're in the playoffs [you want to win]. Come on, we were up 24 points after the first quarter. Do you really think we're going to throw the ball 30 times? I don't think so. So the bottom line is we believe we can do either thing to win the football game, and if that's what it's going to take, that's what it's going to take."
On if he'll have a low-key birthday celebration on Saturday:"I don't celebrate my birthday, are you kidding me? That'll be after the season is all over, and maybe we'll do something for it."
On if he just ignores his birthday during football season:"Yeah, ignore it. It's not until Saturday anyway. So, I'm going to ignore it and hopefully celebrate with a win."
On whether anyone didn't feed his snake in college, like WR Reggie Wayne claims S Ed Reed didn't at Miami:"No, I did wake up with a snake in my bed one time. It belonged to [Minnesota Vikings LB] E.J. Henderson. We shared a suite, and it was lost for like two weeks. Apparently snakes can go a long time without eating, and they like crevices. My bed was against the wall. So, one time I was fixing my bed, and I was like, 'Hey. There's a snake.' A boa constrictor. There you go – snake stories."
On head coach Harbaugh's ability to motivate this team:"I think we have a lot of leaders on this team, so I think everyone kind of… We all kind of motivate ourselves, and I think some people turn to Ray [Lewis], obviously, as a big motivator for this team or turn to Ed [Reed] or turn to whoever you feel comfortable with. And Coach Harbaugh is just another one of the leaders on this team. Obviously, he's the head coach. But you don't always go to him for that type of motivation. I think it works for some people, and it doesn't work for others."
On what makes Colts WR Reggie Wayne such a tough matchup:"I think their offense is just one big monster. If I were to separate each part, like their O-line, led by Jeff Saturday, who is really good, and Peyton [Manning] is really good, and their receivers are really good. But all of them as individuals are not as good as they are together. It's kind of a well-oiled machine, and it makes it really difficult."
On how much better the Ravens' defense can play this time against the Colts compared to last time: "We played well [in November], but there were plays – the touchdown. They only scored one touchdown, right? Yeah, that was a miscommunication. It was a miscommunication between myself and Ed [Reed], which is something that we can eliminate. And they got down there by a deep pass, which is something that we've done well eliminating. So, if we can eliminate those two plays or at least one of those plays, then obviously the outcome of the game would have been different."
On whether it was frustrating earlier in the season when they had the defensive pieces in place and just weren't always clicking: "To be honest with you, it wasn't that frustrating. You have confidence, and none of us have gotten here by being this overreacting type of person. I felt comfortable – and I guess I can't speak for every player on the team or every coach in the building – but you believe that things are going to come around because they always have, just to be honest. For most of us, we don't get here by going through rough patches and then just getting really down on ourselves. So, I personally wasn't playing as well as I wanted to, the team wasn't playing as well as we could, but at no point did I think like, 'This sucks.' It's just always, 'This is a rough patch.' I've been through much tougher in my professional career and much, much tougher in my personal life. So, as a team – or at least as this one member of the team – at no point did I feel like the sky is falling."
On what the key was for the defense to go from "struggling" to where it is now: "I know it would make your job a lot easier, and the media in general like to simplify things, and say, 'This one thing was the solution or this one player is the problem.' But it's never that simple. I can't pinpoint it. I guess maybe, like I said, other people might have a different perspective, but I feel like at times there was one player dropping the ball, figuratively, and other times, it was someone else. Inconsistency is kind of what I felt I was seeing. And I think it's gotten to a point where we've minimized mistakes and we've been more consistent as a unit. That's kind of like one thing. Does that work for your story?"
On what he remembers about S Ed Reed's interception off of Peyton Manning in November:"Oh, yeah. Well, it depends what Ed told you about it. (laughter) We play well together and we all communicate, and the more we play together, the more we understand what each other is thinking. So, I think that's obviously a great physical play, but I guess Ed didn't tell you too much. So, it was more impressive as an entire defense working together and mentally all being on the same page."
On whether there is any carryover defensively on what you can apply to Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in back-to-back games:"Great passers with great receivers, and that's pretty much every team in the league. Any good team in the league is going to have a great receiver and a great quarterback, so it's a lot of carryover."
On whether the keys are the same to help him with his assignments:"I think they both have a tremendous amount of poise. Most quarterbacks, you run some 300-pounders at them and get them in the face, you'll shake them up for at least a series or so. I think that's one of the things that's going to carry over, is they're smart guys, and they're probably going to figure out what defense you're in. So, it ends up just [being], 'Are we better than you?' because you're not going to fool guys like that."
On what it says about their offense that they can bring new guys in and just keep rolling: "Well, obviously, Peyton is the main cog to that offense. I don't think you'll get any argument out of anybody about that. So I think it says a lot about Peyton, and it says a tremendous amount about their front office that they know what they need in their system and they get them in there to get those type of players in there – smart guys who work hard. And they fit right in, and Peyton kind of… They move on without missing a beat."
On whether he feels like things are gelling in the Ravens' secondary now:"Yeah, I feel like they have. And like I said earlier, it's not always as simple as people want it to seem. I think that football is the consummate team sport. I think that everybody understands that. So, one particular unit can play well, and the team cannot win. Or one side of the ball can play well, or special teams can be terrible and then everyone… I mean, it's not always like you can point out and say, 'This unit is awful, this unit is great, this player is bad, this player is great.' It's a lot more complicated than that, and I think obviously the secondary has had some miscues at some points along the season, but the sky was never falling like at times people believed."
On how many times he has intercepted Manning: "None. We played him once in Denver and then once this year. Yeah, I'm taking credit for the [Ed] Reed one. I want partial. I was close enough."
On going from the challenge of taking on Tom Brady to taking on Peyton Manning within a span of a week:"Once we got in the playoffs we kind of knew the road that we were going to take. And what other road is there to take when you go from probably two of the best quarterbacks of the last decade and things like that? So, the challenge is going to remain the challenge, really. Those guys are always playing at a high level. Peyton always has his team playing at a high level. So, it's going to be a big challenge for us this week."
On if there is any carryover with what the Ravens did against Brady that can be applied to Manning, or are they two different entities:"I think they are totally two different quarterbacks. Brady controls his offense totally different than Peyton does, so our challenge is totally different, even the way you study. You've got to study Peyton for Peyton, and last week was last week, and that's done."
On if there was any adjustment for him with new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and if things are going quite smoothly right now:"I think the adjustment, definitely for him, came easy because last year being under Rex [Ryan] he was our linebacker coach. So, he kind of [knew] the vibe of how we work and how we talk to each other. That kind of started when he first got here, so that carried over. I think it just carried right over. And once Coach [John] Harbaugh made the decision to make him defensive coordinator, I think it was a very easy transition to go into from linebacker coach to defensive coordinator."
On how much Harbaugh's vision for the team has steered the team this year:"I think what he does is he lays out the plan for you, which makes it simple to flow through. When you don't know kind of what's going on, you're kind of up and down. But when you kind of lay out the vision where we want to go – and the bottom line was just get in the playoffs – and you lay out how we're going to do it and why we're going to work this way and why we're going to work that way, I think the guys definitely understood where coach was coming from, and that's why I think the transition for us once he gave us the vision actually flowed smoothly."
On what he thinks it will take to get the Ravens over the hump and beat the Colts after losing to them over the last few years:"There is no thinking. You just go in and you play the game that's coming up this Sunday. That's kind of the same question that we were asked about in New England last week. [Everyone was saying], 'You've never beat them. Do you worry about that?' I don't think you worry about that. We're a totally different team than we were eight weeks ago. We're definitely a totally different team than we were last year. So, whatever years that we didn't beat them, that's way behind us. We have a totally different team right now, and the bottom line is whoever plays best on that Sunday, then that's who wins the ballgame – not based on history of anything else."
On what the Ravens have to do better this time against the Colts that they didn't do in their first meeting this season:"Finish. It's the same thing. It's kind of the story of our season, no matter what it was. We started every game pretty much fast, always in it, but the bottom line for us right now is just to finish games. And that's kind of the energy that guys understand. Let's just play for a whole 60 minutes, and at the end of the day let's see where we're at. That's kind of the excitement, the challenge, of just going to play. No matter where we play, it's really just playing our type of football for 60 minutes."
On how much he appreciates the opportunity to make another Super Bowl run at this time in his career, 10 years after the Ravens won their first Super Bowl:"It's not long when you were in the AFC Championship again last year. So, going back, you just try to keep these guys understanding that these opportunities don't come around a lot. I've witnessed some of the greatest players go through this game and never win a Super Bowl. So, to actually already have won one, the excitement to get these guys to be visionaries on trying to go back and win another one, that's always exciting. Definitely for an old school player like myself, it's trying to get those guys to clue in, to understand, how important it is and how beautiful it is just to really always have the opportunity to fight for one. You look at 32 teams that started this season, and now you're [one of] four teams left in the AFC. That's pride. We go through ups and downs, but it takes a lot of character when you do come at the end of the day and you are the last couple of teams playing."
On what it says about the team that the Ravens have been able to win on the road, especially in the playoffs:"The thing that it says is we always say we don't care where we play at, realistically. And I think that's kind of the motto of our team. Over the years, no matter where we go play at, playing on the road, playing at home – of course playing at home is always an advantage because of our crowd – but playing away as well is kind of an advantage because we always look at it as there's no pressure on us. The bottom line is, no matter where we go play at, no matter who we're playing, going to play in somebody else's home, there is no pressure. Just go let your hair back and just go play football."
On the similarities and the differences in getting ready to play Manning versus Brady:"I think the difference is one week you prepare for Tom and another week you prepare for Peyton. I don't think you compare them. They're totally two different quarterbacks. They're totally two different offensive systems and things like that. So, I don't think there is [any] comparing. You close that chapter last week, and now you've got to move on to a totally different chapter. And it just so happens you move on to probably two of the best quarterbacks of the last decade. So, bottom line is you have to really focus on him and not focus on what you did last week."
On if QB Peyton Manning makes his WRs better: "Football players are football players. If they keep drafting football players, they're going to have football players. If you look at their offensive line, you think they're just plugging guys in there. They're not plugging them in there. They know what they want in the draft, and they're going to make sure they get it."
On how Manning makes his teammates better: "He puts the ball… If you don't catch the ball for him, you don't play. That's what I've heard. If he throws you a ball in practice and you drop it, you're not playing."
On what momentum means to him: "To me? The theory of gravity – mass times size equals… That's what momentum is. (laughter) The formula for it is: Mass times speed equals force."
On if he believes in momentum in football: "No, because it goes back and forth, and at the end of the day, whoever is ahead when time runs out, that's who has the momentum. It's kind of like whoever has [the ball] last has the momentum."
On if one week carries over to the next week: "In my mind, no, because that week is over and there's nothing you can do about it, good or bad. It's over and done with, and if you keep thinking about it and keep looking at it, you'll get killed the next week."
On if confidence means anything to him: "Yeah, confidence means something. You can be confident, mentally. That's just me though. I'm old." (laughter)
On Colts WR Reggie Wayne saying that S Ed Reed killed his snake when they were roommates in college: "Next question."
On if he anticipates or reacts to QB Peyton Manning: "Yeah, we've just got to out and play ball, play what you see. Peyton poses a lot of problems. He's a good actor. Obviously, we all know that. I saw him on a ping-pong commercial. (laughter) But, you've just got to play ball. He poses a lot of problems. You've just got to play what you see."
On if he felt like they had the Colts on the ropes earlier this year: "No, not until the game is over, and even then, once the game is all said and done, they won. You don't have anybody. So, like I said, Peyton is a great quarterback, the best of our time, so you've just got to go out and play your ball."
On if he thinks the time he missed gave him fresh legs for the postseason:"I wouldn't say that because my legs still hurt. It was my leg that was bothering me, so I don't know about the fresh leg thing. Like I said, I still have pain that I'm dealing with. It probably helped a bit on the right leg, but I had pain in my right [leg] because I was favoring it because of the pain in my left [leg]. So, I really haven't felt that."
On if he learned something from the lateral he tried to make in the Colts game on a late punt return earlier this season: "No, I didn't answer that question when you asked me back then. I would never change my game regardless of any play. If I feel like it's there, I'm going to go with it. It's not about being successful or unsuccessful, it's about winning, and at the end of the day, there was 17 seconds left on the clock, and we had 59 minutes and something seconds to win the game with many other plays. So, one play didn't make the game. Yeah, it probably would have gave us a chance, but what are you going to do on a great defense with 17 seconds left and no timeouts?"
On how important it would be for the offense to get off to a great start on Saturday: "[It's] not important at all because this team… You just saw them play, and I know this team. My brother plays over there, obviously – Reggie [Wayne] – we talk a lot, and I know… I've been watching these guys for the longest [time]. I know their work ethic. I know their heart for this game. They're going to play 60-minute football, and they're going to try to score. Every offensive time they have the ball, they're trying to score, so you've got to play the full game – that's 60 minutes plus OT."
On what he's learned about making it to the playoffs over the years: "It doesn't come very often. You've got to take advantage of your opportunity when you have the time and just play ball. Like I said, just take advantage of it. It's always special being in the playoffs, being amongst those elite players and teams, but it's nothing until you take it to the next level."
On if this season has been frustrating for him: "No. Football is always fun, man. You don't expect injuries. You know they're going to happen, and when they do, you deal with them. It's not frustrating for me at all. You want to play, but you've got to do your best to get back, too. If you get frustrated, you don't do your rehab and you don't come back. So I'm back, I'm feeling the same, my attitude hasn't changed, and I still don't like you guys. (laughter) I'm OK with you guys. Ya'll are all right."
On if the defense can play much better than it did earlier in the year versus Indy: "I'm hoping we are better than that. That was weeks ago, so we should be a lot better, and we expect to be a lot better as weeks go by. We don't know what Saturday is going to hold. We don't know how they're going to play offensively. We know how we want to play defensively, and that's what we aim to do. Whether or not that happens, you've got to wait until after the game."
On if they do different defensive schemes at the end of the year to be so successful or if it's a maturation process that takes place: "No. We didn't do anything as far as the scheme. Players change and attitudes change, but guys work extremely hard around here. There's a certain way we work. There's a tradition we have around here, especially on defense, that we work a certain way and prepare a certain way, and come Sunday or Saturday, whenever the games are, you're prepared and ready to go out there and execute what you have to do."
On the snake story between he and Wayne: "Old news. Next question." (laughter)
On if he believes in momentum: "Yeah, to some degree. To some degree there's a little momentum, but you use it or you don't. [It's] kind of like that momentum that just came to help me with this interview, but didn't take over. It'll kind of bump you away. It's good if you take advantage of it and you're using it and really playing the way you're supposed to play when you have momentum. There's a certain attitude you have when you have momentum. You see the great teams take advantage it. I've seen the team that we're playing against take advantage of it the last time we played them. They took that [2006 Divisional] game and road it to the Super Bowl because we played our hearts out, but we didn't finish. You've got to finish, and they know that. They know that because, obviously, they won the Super Bowl. So, you've just got to fight that feeling that you have and go with that momentum, like you said, and run with it."
On if he has any stories about how Colts QB Peyton Manning plays games with safeties: "I never knew, honestly. I never knew he played games with safeties. (laughter) Do I have any funny stories? No. There's nothing fun about that. There's nothing funny about me going against Peyton. After the coin is flipped, that's it. Whether I see him out there, I'll speak to him then, I'll speak to him before the game. It's a different ball game once the whistle is blown. I'm not playing any games with him – trying to hide or [have him] not know where I'm at – or stuff like that. You read it – here I am, there you are – are you throwing it? Are you breaking it off? Are you hitting him? Are you picking it off? Are you scoring? Ravens win. Extra, extra, read all about it."
On what makes Wayne so hard to cover: "His work ethic. The guy… He's a hard worker. He came out of that factory – football school – and he's a hard worker. He's a champion. I've known Reggie for a long time – watching him on Friday night football in high school. Him returning kicks, scoring touchdowns and vice versa. From me to him, we worked together one-on-one. He helped me with my coverage. He helped me become a better safety, a better coverage safety. He didn't help me in practice, but he's been an inspiration, a big brother even though he's younger than me. He's meant a lot to me, and I know his heart is for his team and for winning. He's going to work hard on every play."
On what the Pro Bowl is like being able to see other players like Manning, and who they are off the field: "It's just a bunch of guys hanging out, having a good time, just enjoying life, family, friends, talking about things that we've been through, jokes, having fun. Peyton is that guy you see on the commercials – having fun, the ping-pong – all those things. He's a real, real genuine guy off the field and likes to have fun. [He] likes everybody to have fun and enjoy themselves, and he's a competitor."
On if he feels any difference between a regular season game and a playoff game:"I mean, you've got to put it in perspective. It's just another game, but obviously, it's the playoffs. You lose, you're home. You lose, you pack it up for next season. To say that it's just another game, that's the mindset you have to take, but deep down inside we know that this is not just another game. It's a game that you win, you keep going. Obviously, when you start your season goals off, a Super Bowl is always [first]. It's definitely not a lofty goal for this team. We scratched the surface last year, and we've been through our adversity this year. We're right back where we want to be."
On how much the red zone offense has improved since the last meeting with the Colts:"I think they're a totally different team, we're a totally different team. One thing we've done, we've established that we're going to run the football when we want to run the football, and we're going to pass when we want to pass. But, that's just a mentality. It all starts up front. It all starts with execution – going back to fundamentals, doing the little things that coaches talk about. We know that they're tougher on short yardage and goal line and that kind of stuff, rather than open-field stuff. You've got to score seven against that team. You give Peyton Manning any kind of a chance, he can light the scoreboard up. But, the way our defense is playing, I'm pretty confident going into this game."
On what the offense needs to do to finish this time:"It's fundamentals. We can't trick ourselves, but we can't trick them. We're going to have to just go after them. Coach knows that, everybody knows that. As you can see, our game plan even leading up to this game has been very simple. We run the ball when we need to run, and we pass. This is the time of year when the run game tends to emerge a little more. Everybody knows that. But our passing game, starting early in the year, we passed the ball a lot. We're just establishing ourselves as a team right now. I think we're blossoming as a team. Our defense is playing well, our offense is playing well, our special teams is playing well."
On if there is a different feel going into this game after the way the team played last week:"I think our team is just a team that looks forward to challenges. You look on our defensive side – they're thriving on the fact that they get to play the [offensive] MVP. We're thriving on the fact that we get to play the Colts. It all starts with preparation. As long as you go into a game knowing that you're prepared, and you prepared all week for this game, it starts early in the week at practice, and that's where the confidence begins. Our confidence going into last week was our confidence beginning in practice. We just continue to stack up these practices, and we know we're going to be confident going into this game."
On if the Colts' speed on defense makes him run any different:"With their speed, you've got to almost attack them straight ahead. They have the fastest front seven in football. But, we have to pick and choose our spots when we run the ball, and we're going to be smart about it. We don't know how the game's going to pan out. We never go into a game saying we're going to run it 50 times or throw it 50 times. It all depends on how the flow of the game goes about."
On if the Colts' defense can catch him from behind:"I don't know. I pulled off an 83-yarder [last week]. I'm saying they're fast, but as long as our guys… Everybody's accounted for. You design a play, everybody's supposed to be blocking somebody. Hopefully, if I get an opening, my receivers will be the last line of defense."
On how much physicality contributes to red zone success:"As much as you say physical, they're a team that moves around up front, so we have to pick up their movements, and then we've got to capitalize when they move. When they move, dice guys in and out, slant, up front. When they move, we've got to capitalize on it."
On if the running backs helped to block DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis last game:"Who wouldn't help? They're great pass rushers. That's what they do. We've got to be smart. You can't just give them a free run at the quarterback and say, 'Hey, here's a free run.' They're great players – well-respected, well-deserved, well-deserved honor. To be getting chipped on every play is just like a guy trying to chip me getting out of the backfield. It's just a respect that we have for them and them showing respect for me coming out of the backfield."
On how much head coach John Harbaugh sets the tone for the team:"Our coach is a fiery coach. He only knows one way, and that's the way to get after it. He only knows the work way, and there's no easy way around here. That's one thing we've developed as Ravens, and that's what our franchise is about. There's no easy way out around here. You've got to get it done on and off the field. Like I said, no game we had this year was easy. We can't say we've been through adversity, but we're right here standing, playing a divisional game with the Indianapolis Colts, and everything else speaks for itself after that. I mean, quite honestly, some people probably counted us out depending on the stuff that we were going through. But we knew deep down inside, if we kept fighting, and we kept battling, that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it doesn't work out. We'd love to be 14-2, 16-0, or whatever you want to call it, but our record is what it is, and we're playing right now good football."
On if he believes in momentum: "I believe in playing together as a team. I think momentum comes when you play together as a team. I believe in setting the tempo for a game. Last week, we knew we wanted to come out and play fast. Whether it was going to be a 5-yard run by me, or an 83-yard run, we wanted the New England Patriots to play catch-up to us. We didn't want to play from behind. We don't know what's going to happen this week, but we know we're going to come out playing fast."
On what he sees from the offensive line when he gets the handoff: "What I do is I see those guys moving people around. Whether it's a zone scheme or a gap scheme, I see those guys moving people. When you see the job that they're doing, they might come back and tell me I make their job easy. Well, they make it easy for me. The second level stuff, that's what they brought me here to do. They brought me in to make safeties miss and take it to the house. They brought me in here to do stuff like that, but getting past that second level… Any back could tell you, when you're one-on-one with a safety, you're ready to go."