Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 6

Opening Statement: "Good to see everybody. Congratulations to Willis [McGahee], who was the [AFC] Offensive Player of the Week. That's a great honor."

On being listed as "Jim" Harbaugh on the Patriots' press release:"Why not? He's been on the field for us. He can do the press conferences, too."

On what it means to him to be confused with his brother even though this is his second year as a head coach in the NFL:"It's an honor, man. It's an honor. Jim Harbaugh is my bro, and I'm proud of him. I've been called Jim my whole life. He's been called John occasionally the last two years. I'm proud of it."

On feeling more prepared going into the playoffs this year than he did last year as a rookie head coach:"It's hard to think about comparisons like that. It's not something that we dwell on at all. But obviously, the benefit of our team having been through it last year is a plus."

On how improved he feels the Patriots are from the first time the teams met this season:"Is that a comparison question? If you look at the numbers, obviously, the numbers have improved. But we've had some injuries. So, we're trying to overcome injuries. Obviously, our coaches have done a good job. We've done a nice job pass rush-wise. In the last game, we got some hits on the quarterback – that's important. But every week is a new challenge, and look who we're going against this week."

On how he feels QB Joe Flacco has profited from being in the playoffs last year and how will he handle he them and/or even do better the second time around:"That's kind of the big picture comparison. How can he do better? But, within the way he plays, he can do a lot better. That goes for all of our players. It's really not from last year to this year as much as it is from last week to this week. You just try to make your improvement from one week to the next and play the best football game you can against the team you're playing – which is a huge challenge this week – and see what happens."

On how Flacco handled being in the playoffs in his rookie year as the Ravens quarterback:"Well, he obviously handled it well. Joe is not a guy that get's intimidated, obviously. He's very tough, he's very competitive, he's very smart. He's got talent, and he's got a lot of confidence in his ability. But that doesn't substitute experience, and he's still a very young quarterback in this league."

On whether he is concerned about his defense's ability to be its natural aggressive self after the way the first game this season was officiated:"We'll be our natural aggressive self, and we'll play, and I'm not concerned about anything."

On not being worried about the officials wanting to protect QB Tom Brady:"They'll protect both quarterbacks the way the rules dictate."

On the experience of playing all of the playoff games on the road last year and having to win three games on the road in order to get to the Super Bowl this year and whether that plays to the team's favor:"I don't know exactly what would give us an edge. To me, all that stuff is interesting as far as if you want to make a prediction. We're not doing that. We're not making predictions. We're just trying to prepare to play the game. So, the things we have to do are prepare for good players and great schemes that we're going against. The challenge of being on the road? Probably. But, we've been on the road two weeks in a row already several times this year [and] three times in the playoffs last year, so I don't think that's going to be a challenge for us. The challenge is going to be the opponent and ourselves and playing the best football we can play, really."

On WR Mark Clayton's dropped ball late in the game against the Patriots earlier this season and if Clayton looks at this week's game at New England as a second chance:"Hey, you always have second changes. If it were perfect the first time around, it's never that way. There are always things that you can improve. All of our guys feel that way about every game. I guess you can go back to the last game and talk about that one, but that was so long ago. Yeah, that's part of it, but more a part of it is recently. What are we trying to do to get better from last week to this week and see what we can accomplish?"

On the contributions WR David Tyree has made to the team and if the perception of him as a player has changed after coaching him this season:"It would be hard to improve my perception of him. I guess when you're around a guy every day, like David Tyree now, you get know what makes him tick. But I've always admired him. He's been a guy that we played against all those years in the Giants/Eagles rivalry, and I just think he's probably even a better player than I thought. But he's really a good leader, a very mature guy. [He is] a really hardnosed guy – a guy that can do a lot. He can play receiver, obviously he did it in the Super Bowl, and he can do it at any moment. So, he's a very valuable part of our team."

On Maryland Governor O'Malley coming to practice today and the support for the team around town and what it means to have the city rallying around the Ravens:"We've got great fans – from the Governor right on down, obviously. It's exciting that people are getting excited. I don't know about the [logo] stenciling. Where's it at? City Hall? All right, the Ravens logo. Hopefully, everybody will get their flags out and drive around town with those flags waving on their cars. But, we're looking forward to seeing the Governor."

On the concerns he raised after the last game against the Patriots that the officials were giving Brady preferential treatment:"I don't really remember it that way. It was a long time ago."

On if he took up his concerns with the league and if he got any official response:"Our concern is us – always. What you try to do is you try to relate every part of the game. Obviously, penalties are a huge part of the game. You try to improve that part of your football team if you can. Obviously, it relates to the way rules are interpreted, and that's the thing you try to do as a coach – give your guys the best chance to play the game within the rules and avoid penalties as much as you can."

On how much the loss of WR Wes Welker will limit the Patriots' offense:"I don't think it's real limiting. Obviously, he's a great player. He's a leading receiver. He's done things in this league that really haven't been done before. But, they do a great job with personnel, and they have weapons all over the place, and Julian Edelman is very similar. He doesn't have Wes' experience, but he's got tremendous talent. Obviously, they have confidence in him. So the challenge remains the same."

On Brady's comments that the absence of Welker may be an advantage for the Patriots because teams won't know what to expect, and if he has concerns about what New England might do without Welker:"Yeah, there is, and there always is with [a change in players]. They do a great job, no matter if Wes is in there or not, of changing it up from week to week. They do a great job of attacking your weaknesses and strengths, whatever it might be."

On the Patriots' tendency to go for it on fourth downs and if he expects for them to try that more often than other teams might:"We'll be watching very closely to see whether the field goal team, the punt team or the offense stays out there in that situation. So, if the offense stays out there, we'll keep our defense out there and play defense. It's not complicated."

On if he seriously expects the Patriots to try to go for it on fourth downs more than usual:"Sure. They've got a lot of confidence in their playmakers – and they should. Obviously, that's held true over the years, and that's why they do that."

On the experience of playing against many of the good quarterbacks in the league being helpful to the Ravens going against Brady:"Yes, the fact that we've played all these quarterbacks [will be helpful]. The AFC, both sides, and the NFC – we've seen [Brett] Favre and those guys, [Aaron] Rodgers – that's a plus for us. That's a challenge. But in this league, more and more, it seems like it's every week. There are great quarterbacks across the league."

On whether it's more savoring to make the playoffs as a veteran:"Well, I think you know what it takes to get there. You don't take it for granted. Just for me personally, my first three years, we went to the NFC Championship game twice, deep into the playoffs once. You know it's not easy. As the years go by, you realize it's not easy. So, it's something to be proud of, it's an accomplishment. You know you're in the playoffs, but you surely want to make the most of the opportunity while you're there as well."

On his thoughts of the challenge going against NT Vince Wilfork: "Oh, huge challenge. He's a great player, has been for a while. I played against him a few times. Always been impressed by the way he plays the run and the pass and just the disruptive force he can be. So obviously, a huge challenge for me and a huge challenge for the entire offensive line with a guy like that."

On how beneficial it is for the running game to have RB Willis McGahee step up right now: "Well, we feel like we've done a decent job of running the ball all year. But last week, we needed it. That was basically the difference in the game. We needed those guys to come up big, and you know, up front we just try to do our job – cover our guys up and then give our playmakers chances to make plays. They've done that all year, and I think they've got confidence in us, and we've got confidence in them, and whether it's running the ball, throwing the ball, whatever it takes."

On if it's different blocking for either RBs Ray Rice or Willis McGahee:"No. They call the plays. To be real honest with you, a lot of times I don't even know who's in there. Doubled over, gasping for air or whatever. (laughter) But, there are a lot of other things going on, and a lot of times I don't even, and I think most linemen, we don't even realize who's in there. They call the play, and we go block it."

On if McGahee's stiff-arm in Oakland was more of a pass rush move:"It was a heck of a play, and we needed it. Instead of being a 20-yard gain, it turned out to be a touchdown. Big plays, normally teams with the most big plays, win the game. And that was obviously a huge* *play."

On players in the NFL from Harvard, and if he feels like he's in a select fraternity:"I don't know if you want to be in that fraternity. No, actually last week, there was a defensive lineman from Oakland who I didn't even know about. I told him, I didn't even know you existed. (laughter) So it was good. He's a rookie, so it's good to replenish that pipeline once in a while, I guess."

On who the Raiders' player from Harvard was:"Desmond Bryant."

On if he feels confident in the fact that he can hand off to any one of the three running backs and get results:"Yeah, I think anytime you have guys that are able to do the job no matter when you put them in there, it gives you a lot of confidence as an offense. The biggest thing for us is that it's going to keep everybody healthy. If you can give each guy a little bit of the load, then the better chances you have of keeping everybody healthy and lasting throughout the playoffs."

On if he has any idea who will be the primary back when he gets into the huddle:"I don't really care. *(laughing) *It doesn't matter to me who I'm handing the ball off to, really. It's just a matter of what they do with it afterwards."

On what he saw from his last game at Oakland that wasn't one of his best throwing the ball:"They did a good job, and we can clean up on some things. But the bottom line is we went in there and won a game that we had to win, and we did it in a certain way. I think that's what you've got to look at. I don't think we look at it any other way than that. We're ready to go into New England now. We're not thinking about that game at all."

On if he worries about carryover from last week coming into this week:"No, not at all."

On how he looks at the challenge of facing the Patriots' defense:"Just like any other one. They're a good team. They're a playoff team, obviously, so we've got to go in to their place and play a good game. It's going to take a lot on our part, but we feel like we have the guys to do it. Obviously, they have some guys that can play over there, but we're going to take the approach that we've got to control what we can, and we believe that we have the guys to match up with them."

On how weather will impact the offense this week:"I don't think it will impact it at all. If it's cold, we expect it to be cold. If it's any other thing, wet, snow, whatever it ends up being…"

On if wind will be a factor:"You just go there, and you adapt to it. It's the nature of playing an outside football game. We've all done it throughout our whole lives, so it's nothing that we really look at. Like I've always said, as long as you go in there and play the way you feel like you're supposed to, then they can't say anything about it. Obviously, if you don't play the way you want to, then you guys are going to say what you want and make it out to be the weather or whatever it may be, but that's not the case. Whatever the weather is, it is, and we'll adapt to it."

On if he can go back and look at the first game against the Patriots or if that was too long ago:"Yeah, you look at the things they did against you and see what they had success doing, so you can kind of expect to see something like that again. You definitely go back and watch that game, and like I said, see what they did to you to get you off balance."

On what the Patriots did to take away WR Derrick Mason last game after his impressive first drive:"They started rolling up to him a little bit in the slot and everything like that. I'm sure they'll have ways to do that again, but Derrick's going to want to get the ball, and if he's open and he's part of the progression, then we're going to do a good job of getting it to him. There's certain ways in certain routes they can take him away, but other routes it's going to be up to him to beat the one-on-one coverage, and it's going to be up to me to get him the ball."

On what makes Patriots QB Tom Brady special:"He's done well down the stretch in games – won games in the playoffs. Obviously, they've played good defense, and they've got some good guys. But the bottom line is he's done a good job of going down at the end of games and winning them for them. That's what it takes in the playoffs. They're all going to be good, close games, and it's who makes the plays toward the end of the game, and that's what he's done."

On if the penalties called on the defense last game vs. the Patriots get brought up before this game: "You've got to just play football. You can't worry about the penalties. If you do, it's just going to slow you down, and if you give this guy [Tom Brady] any time, he's going to carve you up. So, you definitely want to be mindful when you're around him, but you can't be worried about penalties."

On how important it is to get pressure on QB Tom Brady: "The better the quarterback, the better the pressure has got to be. Every year, he's an elite quarterback. You can put him up there with anybody. So, if you just let him stand there, he's going to kill you. He's definitely a guy that you've got to put pressure on, but you've got to put pressure in different ways. You can't send zero-blitzes every play. You've got to get some three-man pressure – on down the list – you've got to get pressure in every way."

On how healthy Brady looks after surgery and playing a full regular season: "Well, obviously, he's played pretty good. You can look at the stats. I guess they say he's a little banged up; I don't know. I know we're going to get his best. The guy is a ridiculous competitor, so it's going to take a lot to keep that guy out of the game."

On his thoughts about the Ravens' defense and how it has improved even with injuries: "I think we've just gotten a lot more consistent as the year has gone on. We took a lot of heat early – gave up some plays, didn't rush the passer so well. But I think in the end it kind of came together and we started playing more consistent. It's good to get back in the top of those rankings. For a while there, I'd look us up, and I'd keep scrolling down and down saying, 'What the heck?' So, I'm really happy with how we've played down the road."

On if he is looking for inspiration on Thursday night when Alabama [his alma mater] plays Texas for the National Championship: "They're going to do the talking. I've shut a lot of people up this year. 'Bama has… I haven't had to talk any trash this year. So, I'm excited about the game, but they're going to take care of business."

On what he's seen from rookie LB Dannell Ellerbe: "He's a steal, a guy that was a sleeper in camp and coaches loved, but nobody really knew him – an undrafted guy. Very explosive, a young guy running around, and he's just gotten better every game. He made a big play last week, so he's definitely a steal for us."

On if there was a point in the season where the light bulb came on as a team:"I don't know. I think going into the bye week we were a little confused on what we were because we had given up a lot of yards to San Diego. We still won the game, but [we had] just been kind of inconsistent. I think, probably, the Denver game, [when] we came back and ran a lot of older calls, it felt good. It felt like a complete game, defensively. The Denver game is when we got our swagger back and kind of settled down like, 'All right, we can still do this. What are we doing? Let's play defense.'"

On if he's worried that he can't play this game with his same passion because of how it was officiated in October:"No. I don't think it matters. If you're stuck back that far ago, you've lost your focus on the game. That week, whatever your frustrations [were], they [were]. Nothing that you went through then or nothing that they did, that the refs did, will ever slow me down the way I play football. That's just football."

On him being very upset after that game:"Yeah, and that was 10 weeks ago. [I'm] not upset anymore. It's a new year." (laughter)

On if he's worried that it will happen again:"You don't worry about that. You go play football, and I'm preparing my team to go try to win at New England. You don't go and say, 'What if they try to do this, what if they do that?' No. It's too much to worry about. The game is way too fast, and I know they're not thinking about it. So why should I think about it?"

On how the loss of Patriots WR Wes Welker affects the Ravens' preparation:"I don't think it… It [doesn't] change, not a bit, the way we prepare. If you look at the young guy, the No. 11 [Julian Edelman] who's coming in the game, he's kind of the mold of Wes Welker. Of course, he's not him, but he has a great chemistry with Tom Brady. If you watch their offense, their offense doesn't change much no matter who comes in or who goes out. I think it gets huge anytime you lose a person like that. At the same time, I think them being the professionals that they are, they moved on very quickly and understood the next man had to step up."

On if not having been able to beat the Patriots has angered him:"No, you can never be bothered. If you go at the game, and you know me, I've been in the game kind of a long time, and if you go at the game with everything you've got – win, lose or draw – you can always hold your head up high. The bottom line is, all of those games don't matter right now. The only game that matters is this Sunday coming up, and me getting my team prepared, along with Joe [Flacco], just going in there and just trying to win the game in New England."

On the biggest challenge of facing a QB Tom Brady offense:"I mean, you're talking about probably, arguably, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. We're not talking about somebody just off the streets. You're talking about a true professional in the way he plays the game. He's surrounded with crazy talent on that side of the ball, and then you look at their head coach [Bill Belichick]. Their head coach is a genius when it comes to drawing up schemes and drawing up different things, so it's a lot. You're not just playing Tom Brady. You're playing a whole lot when you go up to play in New England. That's why the games are… That's why they've won three championships and things like that. You really have to go up there and play a 60-minute ball game."

On how much he welcomes the challenge of facing the Patriots where they're 8-0 at home this season:"There's no greater challenge. There's no greater stage that you can go in. The bottom line is being in the playoffs is being in the playoffs, and any time you start to hear all those records and start to hear all those things, the first thing you do is say, 'OK, y'all talk about all this. We're going to throw them out and just go play football.' Because that's what it all boils down to, just going to play football."

On his thoughts on what New England LB Adalius Thomas has done for the Patriots this year:"I don't know, really. I kind of just answered this over there [on the conference call]. The only thing you can do is tell him [to] just keep playing. I don't go into people's business like that. We have enough to deal with over here. I don't know what's going on there, whether it's the scheme, whether it's him, whether it's coach. It's just too much, and once you try to get into that to try to figure out somebody else's life, then you confuse yourself. That's just too much for me to think about."

On how he feels about the media and fans saying Thomas isn't as good of a player on the field without Lewis there:"I don't know. That's the first time I've heard that. I don't know if they said that, and I don't too much get caught up in it. I just think what I have here is who I'm trying to make better. 'A.D.' has been gone from here two or three years now. Maybe three or four, so the bottom line for us is to not worry about people that are gone. Whoever… Once you leave this program, you leave this program, you know? If you come back to this program, then you're a Raven. But once you leave it, you're not a Raven anymore. That's just the bottom line. Yeah, you played here. So I don't focus my energy on people who have left the game or who's left us. I focus my energy on the guys that are here."

On if he's talked to Thomas at all this season:"No."

On if the fact that the Patriots are 2-6 on the road suggests that they are not the old dynasty team:"By them doing what they do, I think the thing that you can't do is get, and this is the thing I keep talking to my team about, don't get caught up in all of that, who they're not, who they used to be. Bottom line, that's not what you're going to play. You're going to play the New England Patriots in a 60-minute ball game in New England coming up this Sunday. That's it. You're not going to play the legacy of them, none of that. You're just playing the New England Patriots coming up this Sunday, and that's our task. That's our focus, and that's where we are right now."

On how impressed he is with the secondary playing so well even when being so banged up:"My secondary is one thing… I think I'm just impressed with our whole defense, period, with having so many key starters out. [Terrell] Suggs has been out, Ed [Reed] has been out and all these things, but you have all of these different guys who've really taken the time to say, 'Ray, come study with me. Show me how to do this, show me how to do that. Tell me what they're doing here, tell me what they're doing there.' And I think that's the thing that's most attractive more than anything is just how much these guys study, because football doesn't change. Football will never change, so it's always next man up for us, and I think these guys have done a great job."

On what the rivalry with Patriots RB Fred Taylor has meant to him:"Yeah, 'Freddy T.' Fred is… There's some people you look forward to playing, and then there are some people you don't look forward to playing. Fred is one of those you don't really look forward to playing, because he's a total back, to me. Barring injury, barring injury, definitely outside of a good friend of mine, but just barring injury, he's, to me, one of the greatest talents we've ever seen touch a football. You kind of put him in that same category, I don't want to go too far, but like a Bo Jackson, going through the injury, play year-in and year-out. But, what Fred can do with a football in his hand, it's special. So, it's always a good rivalry anytime we see that."

On if Taylor brings the same mentality to the offense that Lewis does to the defense:"I think so. I think so, because he's always done that. He's done that since his Gator days, since he's been in Jacksonville. He's always been that type of vocal leader who really sets his by example."

On if making the playoffs becomes more special as you progress in your career and get older:"Yeah, I've got a birthday coming up next week; I'll be 36 years old. So, I better take advantage of it while I can. Every opportunity to get in the playoffs – we've been fortunate to get in the last two years. So you take advantage of it and use every opportunity to prepare yourself until the next round. We've got a big task coming ahead of us this week going down to New England, but I think if we take advantage of the opportunity and make the best of each play that we'll be all right."

On his success on the first drive against the Patriots this season and then not having many more opportunities the remainder of the game:"Well, they kind of saw it like you saw it. We went down on the first series and I was able to catch a lot of balls, and they wised up. I don't think I caught a ball after that – maybe one. So, they kind of switched things up. That's what you expect from a well-coached team. They're not going to continue to let you beat them with the same thing. They force other guys to make plays – which they did. I don't know what to expect as far as what they're going to do to me, but I expect them to play a sound defense and make us work for everything that we do get this upcoming Sunday. As far as what they're going to do to me – I don't know – because Mark [Clayton] is playing well and Todd [Heap] is playing extremely well now. So, they've got to account for other guys, too."

On how the Patriots' defense has changed since the Ravens faced it earlier in the season:"It's changed some. Their philosophy is the same. They've changed scheme-wise, but I think the philosophy is the same. They've plugged some guys in that probably didn't play as much the first game we played them. But I think as the season goes on you have to evolve as a team. You have to continue to get better, and they've gotten better on the defensive side of the ball. They started off kind of slow and they've gotten extremely better from their fourth game that we played against them to the game we're going to play against them this coming Sunday. So, they've changed some things scheme-wise, personality-wise, but I think their philosophy as far as going after guys and being physical is the same."

On how much it helps knowing that the Ravens played the Patriots so close in their first matchup, given New England's success at home with a record of 8-0:"Close doesn't work in nothing but horseshoes and hand grenades. So, it didn't help a lot at all. We can just go in there and hope that we make the best of every opportunity that we get and that we don't allow opportunities to slip by us this time. And they can say the same thing. They can say they had some opportunities that they didn't make the best of either. What we want to do as a team is just go in there and play sound football and take care of the football and just try our best to keep that high-powered offense on the bench and us methodically move the ball down the field."

On if the team uses the underdog role as a rallying cry:"That don't work, no, that don't work. You can't play the underdog role. They've won one more game than we have. So they can just as well say they're the underdog. But if you're in the playoffs, you deserve to be in the playoffs – especially this year – because there a lot of hard-fought games amongst everybody in the AFC. So, if you're in the playoffs you deserve to be in the playoffs. There are no underdogs. Obviously, they're probably favored because they're at home. But we played this team earlier in the season, and I don't think they're looking at us as being an underdog, and we're not looking at them as being an underdog. We're just going in there, and may the best team win, basically."

On how he thinks QB Joe Flacco has profited from the experience of being in the playoffs last year and if he's hoping it will help him this time around:"I don't deal in hope. Joe will be all right. He's had enough games up under his belt, enough playoff-type games up under his belt. Obviously, he won two or three playoffs games last year. Was it two? He got us to the AFC Championship game. He understands the magnitude of the playoffs. He understands how to play in the playoffs. So, I'm just looking for him to go out there and be himself – don't try to do no more than what he has, to because he has 10 other guys who are out there helping him. I know he doesn't feel that he has to win this game by himself. He's going to go in there and just be the quarterback he's been the whole season."

On if he ever had a feeling about how things would go in the playoffs with any of the teams he's been on:"That bye week doesn't help. If you're a team with a bye week, that really doesn't help you out a lot. I've been on teams that have had bye weeks, and we were out that next week. So, that's the only thing I can give you. You play the first week [and] your odds of winning goes up higher – your odds of advancing in the playoffs goes up. So, I'm just glad we have to play this week as opposed to having a bye week, because I don't think too many teams, unless you're just beat up, need a bye week or want one. But I don't think there's a feeling that you get from one year to the next. You just realize that you have an opportunity to make the Super Bowl. You have an opportunity to do something that a lot of other teams haven't done, and that's to win a championship. You go in with that mind frame and the rest you just kind of put behind you."

On if the defense should be careful around Patriots QB Tom Brady: "No. I don't think… [If] you take your aggression away, you take away the way you play the game. And if you take away the way you play the game, what are we? We're the Lions. So, we don't… You leave that where it is and you move on from it. You play within the rules, and if something happens, something happens. But you can't take away your aggression."

On if there is any part of him that thinks Brady gets special treatment: "Honestly, I don't think so because if you hit Peyton Manning, it happens. If you hit any quarterback… I know quarterbacks make this league go around, so if the business of the NFL doesn't protect them, you're not protecting your biggest asset. That's just called reality. That's what it is."

On how healthy Brady looks to him after a full season: "He looks like Tom Brady after 16 games. He can make any throw he wants to. He can probably hit the goal post from the other side of the field. He can do whatever he wants with the football, and that's what makes him what he is."

On if Brady is sliding better now than he was earlier in the season: "He's sliding as much as he did when he was young, which is not much. That's not what he is. He wants to stand there, stand up real tall, command the presence on the field and make the throw he needs to make. He's never been a guy to dodge things. He'll take it like a man. He'll take a sack like a man, and he'll get up and stand back there again. That's the way their offense works."

On if he thinks the playoffs are special or if it is just another game: "A little bit of both. You don't want to get too wrapped up in the emotions of it, but then you don't want to treat it like just another regular game because if you lose, you go home. So, there's a tempo to it, and there is a rhythm to how you approach the game or how you approach a playoff game. So, it's a little bit of both if you want to call it that."

On if he appreciates the playoffs more as he gets older: "Absolutely. The older you get, and when you're young, you really don't understand it as much. My first two years I won a Super Bowl, so I was kind of like, 'Oh, this is easy.' But it isn't. The older you get, the more you relish the fact that you have a chance. There are 12 teams fighting for a Super Bowl – that's it. Not 32, not 21 – there's only 12."

On if he feels the Ravens' defense has gotten better as the season went on: "Yeah, but we've lost some games, and I'd trade being the worst defense in the league for being undefeated in a minute."

On his memories of the first game vs. the Patriots: "My memories up there. I just remember being in the game, honestly. I remember being close to beating the New England Patriots. You look at them then, and you look at them now on defense, they're totally different right now, but they possess some of the same things. They're a physical front, and you cannot play that defense without recognizing that guy, Vince Wilfork. When he wants to stop a play, he'll stop a play. At the same time, we have to pick and choose our spots when we run at that guy."

On if he feels like he wasn't as fresh last week as he has been all season long: "I wouldn't call that accurate. I was more like… I'm a rhythm player. Obviously, last week, it was a Willis McGahee kind of game, and he had a great opening. But I think going into the playoffs right now, the way my body feels, I feel great. Last week, with the 14 carries coming off of a 30-carry game, it could have been, but I wouldn't assess that… Coming into any game, you come ready to play, but I'm a groove player. Obviously, you want to get going before anything starts to happen, and that comes with the game slowing down for me. I don't want to hit a play too fast, and every run is different. You'll see, when the explosive plays come, they come."

On what it means to be a groove player: "Once the game gets started, you have to feel it out. You can't start off a game getting too ahead of yourself, because you've to remember there's four quarters to a game. If you exert your energy in the first quarter, [in] the second half what do you have left in the tank? I'm not saying go out there and not play hard, but you're going out there the first series… You're going out there to try to score every time you get the ball, but not everything is going to work out in the instance, and that's where the game has slowed down for me. I'm not saying that I play in spurts, but you've got to play in spurts where, if it's a play that you're supposed to hit, you have to hit it. But not every play is going to go 100 miles per hour."

On in what ways QB Joe Flacco has matured in his second season: "Joe's matured. He's learning his checks, he's learning his hot [routes] and sights, he can feel pressure. I don't like to see the guy get tackled though. So, that's one thing. We still think he can still throw the ball away when he has a chance, but that comes over time. One thing, like I said, about me and Joe, every game is a learning experience for us. What's great is that Joe has playoff experience all ready. I'm a guy… This will be, not my first playoff game, but this is my first game actually being a full asset to the game. Last year, I was healthy coming back for the playoffs, but I wasn't used as much until I played against Pittsburgh. But both of us having that playoff experience in our first two years, that will pay dividends, not only this year, but anywhere down the line when we say we're a playoff team."

On if he appreciates a trip to the playoffs: "The playoffs are something else. It's another season. Right now, you can erase everybody's stats – erase all the rushing yards, all the 2,000 yards that I had to get to the playoffs to say that we have to start all over again, essentially, for four games. I speak to my buddies around the league, and I've only been in the league two years – going on my third year next year – but I've got a boy that played on Jacksonville. It was that close [for them making the playoffs]. You never know when the playoffs come, you never know. To say that we fought through what we fought through to make the playoffs is pretty remarkable. We wouldn't have rather had it any other way. We would rather it the hard way. We would love to be 16-0, [with] a first-round bye, but I think the hard way, you fight through a lot of stuff and your team becomes a lot closer."

On how meaningful it is for him to be named to his first Pro Bowl: "Being named to the Pro Bowl, it was definitely a team honor. For me, I set season goals. The Pro Bowl was just one of those things that when it came along, it felt surreal to me at first. But I'm very appreciative that, not only in my second year, that the fans, players and coaches acknowledged me as one of the players that got voted to the Pro Bowl as an elite player in the league. It's just one of those honors where, when the season is over, I'll have a chance to sit back and say, 'That's something really special.' But right now, when you're four games away from that other Bowl, it's hard to really think about what goes on with the Pro Bowl. It's a great honor for the team, for the Ravens community and everybody else that helped [me] along to get there."

On if he is bummed that it isn't in Hawaii this year: "This is new to me. The Pro Bowl is new to me. Whether it was before or after, I could say it's my first experience. So, until I get voted to many more, when it's in Hawaii, I can't really tell the difference. I just go on what somebody else is saying like, 'Man, I liked it in Hawaii better.' I can't judge. I'm a first-time comer."

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