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Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 4

Opening Statement: "OK, good to see everybody. And again, congratulations to our coaches and our players for the opportunity to compete in the playoffs. And obviously, we have a big challenge against the New England Patriots coming up, and we're looking forward to it. We had a chance to go through the game and make the corrections like we always do, but the players will not be in here officially, or formally, until Wednesday. They've already been in for treatment. Guys are watching tape on their own – that process kind of continues. They'll come in here fully armed with information on the Patriots starting Wednesday morning, but we don't have anything formal for them today or tomorrow."

What were your impressions of S Ed Reed and LT Jared Gaither in their returns to the lineup?

"I think that they both looked pretty good, and obviously, it's tough to just go out there and play for the first time in four weeks. They haven't had a lot of practice. You know, both of them practiced this week. I think that they'll get even better, but it was good to see them out there. They both came out of it real well. Tavares Gooden will continue to… He was kind of close. I didn't think he was good enough or ready to play, although he did, of course. But he always thinks that. He always wants to play, so hopefully we'll get him back. And then Marshal [Yanda] came out of it pretty good. He'll be a little bit sore, but he should be fine. I don't think there were any other injury issues that I remember off the top of my head."

How about DT Haloti Ngata? "

"Haloti is sore. The ankle, it's always… He comes out of it a little bit sore. You know, he's a big guy, pushing off, but he's fine, too."

Is it a little bit of a relief to have a 1 p.m. kickoff Sunday, just like a typical regular season week?

"Right, well that will be our schedule. It'll be just like a regular schedule that we have. It's good, because coming back from the West Coast, we get in early – like some of you guys – early [this] morning. Some of you guys probably got back [later] today, but our guys get a chance to get an extra day of rest. We don't have to start tomorrow, which would have been tough. So, I think the league was fair about it, and it's good for us."

What did you make of QB Joe Flacco's performance? Was it the defensive pressure or just not his day?

"Well, I think a lot of it has to do with what they were doing defensively, and obviously, the pressure got us a couple of times. We missed a couple of things that we probably could have hit that would have made a huge difference. If we'd have found a couple of open guys behind some of those blitzes, like we're capable of doing, that would have made a big difference. I think the running game was working pretty well. They're kind of built in some ways… They do a great job in the back end, and there were times when they covered us. So, it wasn't as good of a passing performance as we'd like to see, but like we always say, every game stands on its own. Every week is a different drama, and I thought our offense did what they had to do to win that game."

Does a 1-6 regular season record against playoff teams present any indication of vulnerability?

"I don't know. I'm not sure what [New England's] record is against playoff teams. Maybe you could tell me? [Reporter replies: "2-3."] OK, so that gives them an edge going into this game, I guess. But every week stands on its own. That's the beauty of it. So, if that's a factor, then they have an edge."

How does the complexion of the game change with the probable loss of WR Wes Welker?

"Well, Wes Welker, obviously, is a great football player, and he's a huge part of what they do. But they've got Julian Edelman, and we call him 'Little Wes Welker.' Last time we played him… He's kind of the Wes Welker clone, and it's amazing to me that he's been able to do what he's been able to do. He goes in there and catches a bunch of balls this last week. When you watch him run routes, he's almost the same guy. So, they've done a great job of building their depth, and it seems like… If you look at their offensive line, they've had a bunch of guys nicked up on their offensive line throughout the course of the season, and they just plug the next guy in, and he plays just as well, and they look the same. To me, that's the mark of a real deep football team and a really strong program and a good coaching staff. So, they've been able to plug in for their injuries very effectively this year, and I don't see any difference here in this one."

Is the cleaner, smarter approach to the game that you got yesterday a result of better execution, focus, dialing back the intensity a bit, or maybe something else?

"Well, I think it's all of those things, but I don't think it's dialing back the intensity. You can't afford to dial back the intensity and have a chance to win. It's making better decisions in some critical moments of decision making. Right there at the moment of truth, you've got to make a choice to block a guy in the back, or not. Is he out of bounds or is he in bounds? We did a good job of that. And it's technique a lot of times in the back end. And sometimes, you're going to play great technique, and you're going to get called anyway. And it's just the call is made, and you've got to move on to the next play. That'll be our challenge up there in New England, too. This is an ongoing thing. As long as they play football, it's going to be a challenge for football teams to do that, and it's going to be a challenge for the Ravens. But we're going to need to play a very smart, a very physical, a well-executed football game to have a chance to win this football game."

Have you made any determination regarding the snapper situation for this Sunday, and was the snap the reason K Billy Cundiff missed the 51-yard field goal attempt?

"It didn't help. For that kind of field goal in those kind of conditions, we felt like 51 was our yardage. That was the yardage in pregame. We nailed those very well in pregame, and that was an opportunity to really put the game away. That's how I looked at it. I also felt like our defense was playing really good in the red zone and that whether they started from their own 10 or started from their 40, we were going to have a good chance to get them stopped once they got to the red zone. And we got them stopped before they got to the red zone, but I wanted to get that to11 points if we could. I thought we had a reasonable chance to make that field goal. But in order to do that, you have to snap it, you have to hold it, you have to kick it and all has to go well, and obviously that didn't happen. So we have to have a better operation in either one of those two attempts."

On if he is contemplating making a change at the long snapper position this week?

"No. Matt Katula is a quality long snapper in this league. You see it in practice every single day. You see it in pregame. You see it in most of his snaps during the game. He'd be the first to tell you he's got to be better in that situation, and he does have to be better in that situation. But, he's a really good snapper, and he's going to be fine."

Is the problem with the snaps a functional problem with field goals only as there has not been a problem with the punt snaps?

"Well, it's basically the same motion. It's just a little different angle and it's a little different tempo. He's had a little bit of tendinitis in [the elbow], and I think that's affected him a little bit. But by the same token, he snaps well enough in practice; he's really spot-on. He snaps great in pregame. So, it's just kind of putting it together in that situation that counts so much, and he's capable of doing that. We've got to move on. He's a good snapper, and I think he's confident, and he can get the job done."

Can you talk about the strides that rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe has made this year and if he's earned more trust and playing time with the coaches by the way he has been playing and practicing recently?

"Well, throughout the season he's gotten more playing time. Obviously, the Tavares [Gooden] injury has given him more of an opportunity to [play]. That's what happens. You get a chance to go out there and you play well and you earn more responsibility, and he's done well with that. There are so many areas where he can get better, and he will get better. But for him to come up with those two plays in that game… The difference in the game was turnovers – in the end. And he made the plays, and our offense did a good job of avoiding turnovers. He gets a game ball. For a rookie to come in and do that, it's quite an achievement."

Did the officials blow the call on the interference call on CB Chris Carr?

"Boy, I love the way you ask that. You trying to get me in trouble? A lot of those plays look like bang-bang plays, and that's maybe a classic example of that. But, we haven't found out from the league what they think. I thought it was good technique by Chris Carr. I thought he played it just the way you're supposed to play it. There's no technique coaching point that we're going to be able to discuss with him to say you could have done that better. We don't have that. So, that's where we stand with that one."

Was the penalty called on CB Frank Walker similar?

"Frank's call was similar. At some point in time you establish position, and I guess you've got to get out of the way. So, we'll talk to the league, and we'll find out what they say, and whatever they tell us that's how we'll coach our guy."

Fans have been expressing concern that Flacco has been holding on to the ball a little too long in the last few games. Is that something that you will address with him and did that contribute to him having an off game yesterday?

"You know you've got to make a decision. Yeah, there are times we'd like the ball out quicker, and I'm sure there are times that Joe didn't see opportunities to make throws or decided, 'You know what? In this game right here I'm not going to take a chance on this throw. I'm going to make sure that it's [right].' Maybe it's a sack, even, but it's not a turnover. He might have played a little conservative on some of those throws. Other times, guys were covered. Joe did a good job in the sense of understanding the situation we were in in a football game and making sure that we protected the football."

Does it seem to you like the defensive line has done a better job with the pass rush lately by getting to the quarterback and knocking him down even if they are not getting many sacks?

"Well, we have gotten to the quarterback better. We have gotten more sacks, but we've hit him a bunch more. And probably the story of the game yesterday was hits on the quarterback. Obviously, Charlie Frye got knocked out of the game, and any time you can knock the starting quarterback out of the game, that's a plus. Our defensive line deserves a lot of credit for that."

Given the impression that QB Tom Brady gets favorable calls, and keeping in mind the published reports that he has broken ribs and a broken finger, does that figure into your plans in preparing your defense to play New England this Sunday?

"We're not going to target a guy's injury, per se, but we're going to try to hit the quarterback. That's part of the deal, and you try to do it within the rules. And there's a strike zone that they talk about and there's a two-step rule that they talk about. Our guys are just going to try to get to him and sack him. That's the idea. So if the quarterback holds on to the ball too long and they don't protect as well, then you have a chance to get there. But, he's the best. He and Peyton Manning are probably the two best in the league at avoiding sacks. They don't have very many sacks because they have a heck of an offensive line. Their running backs understand pass protection, and the quarterback knows where he's going with the ball and he gets it out quick. So, he's not a guy that lends himself to getting hit too often."

Is there anything you can do, from your standpoint, with the officials regarding Brady's injuries?

"Well, I can't imagine that the officials are going to take into account any of that. That's not what they do. They're going to call the game consistently. They're going to call what they see and our guys are going to play within the rules. We're going to work on that all week just like we have been, and I think when you watch us play, you see that stuff coming around. You talk about the hits on the quarterback – you see that stuff coming around – same thing in the back end on defense. So, we're just going to try to keep doing that."

If OLB Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti Ngata hit Patriots QB Tom Brady the same way they did on Oct. 4, would they get flagged?

"I don't know. I think that's going to be in the eye of the beholder, but I think we've learned better [on] how to hit the quarterback. We understand better… Our guys do a better job, technique-wise, of attempting to sack the quarterback, than we did earlier in the year."

Is the 1st game against New England on Oct. 4 something to look back on and apply this week?

"Well, it's a great opportunity to see how you kind of matchup personnel-wise – how this guy played against that guy, what you're capable of doing, maybe what you're not capable of doing – and then you build on it scheme-wise. They'll be looking at it, we'll be looking at it, but that was a long time ago as you were saying. It's how many games ago? So, we've changed; they've changed. There are different players out there playing for both teams. You kind of take it where you're at, at this time."

Why hasn't RB Willis McGahee been used more this season, and will you use him more after the game he had vs. Oakland?

"It's like we do every week. You try to… We have three very good backs, and they all have a role. Going into the game, I don't think you're necessarily sure what their role is going to be. So, you kind of get a feel, you have an idea what plays guys are going to run, but you get a feel for how it's affecting their defense. Willis had some success against Pittsburgh. Ray [Rice], obviously, has had a heck of a year. Le'Ron [McClain] has done well when he's been in there. It could be Le'Ron McClain this week. It just might go that direction. I think he'd be happy about that, and he's capable of having a good game. So, we're blessed to have three really good running backs."

Are you gratified with your team after getting a win in such tough circumstances?

"Well, it was a tough situation. Making the playoffs is tough. Going across country in a game where, obviously, so much is at stake for one team and not for the other – it's a little different stakes as you play. I thought our guys handled the pressure, if you want to call it that, really well, and got the job done. That was the bottom line: We got the job done, and I thought we played well."

Can you share what you said with RB Willis McGahee after he scored on his 77-yard TD run?

"No, I could never share that. I don't remember what it was. (laughter) I'm proud… As a coach, that's kind of what you're referring too. You go through a lot together as coaches and players, and the fans are a part of it too. I know the emotions of the fans. We do that radio show, and you get that [emotion] first hand a lot of times. So, there is a lot of emotion into sports and a lot of emotion to football. [As] coaches and players, you're right in the middle of that. So, when a player has that kind of performance and there is a lot at stake for all of us, and it matters a lot to us, I guess you want to share with him how you feel. I don't think there is anything wrong with that."

One of the rumors floating around after the coaching dismissals today is that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's name is connected with Buffalo. Have they contacted him or you about that at all?

"Not that I'm aware of, no. Nothing has been done. Cam's a great coach. I know him as a head coach. I worked for him for a year and know his reputation. I've had a chance to be around him the last two years, probably, as close as any two coaches can be, and [I am] more impressed with him than ever. I hope he's the Baltimore Ravens' offensive coordinator for many years to come. That's going to be my position."

Was that the best stiff arm you've ever seen by RB Willis McGahee?

"Yes. I don't even know. Can you count it as a stiff arm? It was like a pass-rush hump move, you know, bam, tilted him over. It was a good play."

I saw the bottom of Hiram Eugene's cleats. It was that bad.

"I'll tell you one thing about Willis – he's physical. I thought that he ran the ball… He ran hard north and south, but had the presence of mind to have that kind of a thought process in open field like that. To pick a defender up and throw him on the ground is pretty impressive."

Yesterday, Commissioner Goodell was on at halftime saying that they were looking for ways to provide incentive for teams to play hard at the end of the season when they don't have to. Do you have any idea if that's possible to do?

"That's an interesting thing to think about. I wish I could tell you I've thought about it. I haven't. I think it's a good thought. You want to see every game matter. You want to see meaningful football games, and you want to see great football. To me, that's the beauty of the National Football League. And it's so close, it's so balanced, it's so competitive, it's such a fine line, and I hope they can find a way to do that. We'll just have to see how it shakes out."

What's the procedure this week to ensure that your players get enough reps and work, but still get the rest they need?

"We've been doing that as we've gone throughout the course of the season. Week to week, you evaluate your guys, and we'll make sure our guys are fresh and ready to go on Sunday. We'll alter practice to some extent, but we'll have to get the work in, too, so we've got a plan for doing that."

Is today sort of a strange day around the league, the so-called "Black Monday," with a lot of coaches losing their jobs?

"I haven't really had a chance to look at any of that. It is tough, I'm sure. Some of those guys are really good friends and really good coaches. They'll be coaching again in some form or fashion, doing really well, but it's part of the business."

What is the advantage to having been in the playoffs with this team before?

"To me, experience is important. We've been together. I think that these guys, all the guys who were in there last year, have been through a playoff run. We've been through the whole season this year. We've been through all the good things, the tough things, and all the different things that make you what you are, so we should be that much further along. It doesn't mean we're going to perform better, but we're going to try. We're going to work real hard to try to do that."

Does the fact that you've played all the AFC playoff teams except for the Jets in the regular season hold a little advantage?

"And they've had the same advantage. Even the Jets, we saw each other in the preseason. I don't think there's an advantage to it. It's just a matter of we're all in the same conference, and we happen to play each other."

Regarding G Ben Grubbs making the Pro Bowl as an alternate, is it just that he's now being noticed after having done the job for a long time, or has he made a sudden turnaround from a year ago?

"I think Ben played really well last year. Maybe he's been noticed more this year. I think Ben's very steady. Ben has his ups and downs. He's had some games that he'd like to have back, but he's also had, obviously, some really good games. People have noticed it. I think it's also a reflection of our offensive line as a whole, the way they've been playing, and Ben being a guy they pointed out, maybe, to give recognition to the whole group. He's well-deserving of it, and he gets better all the time. I think Ben's going to be a lot better player next year than he is this year because of the way he works."

Is Grubbs a mauler or more of a finesse guy?

"I think he's got both qualities. He's a very talented athlete. He can move his feet, and he can bend. He's not a big, stiff guy by any stretch. He's a very good athlete, but he's also very physical. I think he can be more physical, and he can be more athletic because he's still young, and that's what he's going to try to develop as he goes."

Do you like the fact that this team has some momentum going into the playoffs, as opposed to some teams that have been coasting in?

"I don't know. I think that will all shake out. There's something to be said for coasting in, because obviously, you've earned that right to do that. You've gotten to the point where you've won a lot of football games up to that point, where you were able to rest some people. I think there's an advantage to that. There's an advantage to having to fight your way in. If you look at the history, probably, of who's won the World Championship, you've seen it come from both places, right? The bottom line is going to be who plays the best football over the course of the next four games. Whoever does is going to be the World Champion. There are going to be 12 teams fighting to try to do that."

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