Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody here. Obviously, we've been working since early this morning and going through every aspect of that previous game and starting up on the next big challenge we've got. I think we've looked at all the good things and all the not so good things, and [we'll] do everything we can to grow and get better and forge ahead into the next six games, which is basically, for us, is a six-game season as we look at it – an opportunity to accomplish really everything we set out to accomplish at the beginning. And it stands as, in terms of what kind of a team we are right now, what kind of a team we've become through all of the things that have happened to us to get us this 5-5 record that we're at right now… And I think as the record stands, we're a 5-5 football team, but we're also a real good football team – a football team that has an opportunity to achieve some very serious goals as this season goes on, really every goal that we had at the beginning of the season. So, that's what we're looking to do, and we'll go to work on Wednesday. As far as the injuries are concerned, the one major thing is Fabian Washington. It looks like he has an ACL tear. We'll find out later today. Maybe the MRI will come back and tell us something different, but as of right now we're proceeding as if he'll be done for the season. The rest of the stuff is bumps and bruises and soreness and things like that."
Does the heat of the battle knock your memory around when it comes to the procedures with challenges and timeouts?"No, it's not 'generally aware of the procedures.' I know the procedures inside and out. What I tried to accomplish there was… I basically got it backwards, and if I had to do it all over again, [I would] throw the flag. And you throw the flag to get the timeout and take a chance at maybe you get a different spot than what you got. Once I had called the timeout, I tried to get too much done, as I said. I tried to flip it and get the challenge before the timeout, and that was the mistake. So, I don't think I stated it exactly the way you just stated it. I think I stated it just how I stated it. So, that was my mistake. It was a bad job on my part. I should have taken a minute and thought it through a little better in the heat of battle and done a better job with that."
Is there a concern that teams are tilting coverages with all of the looks WR Derrick Mason and RB Ray Rice are getting? "No. I mean, yeah, people tilt their coverages different ways, but we had Derrick wide open in that last drive. So, I'm pretty sure they weren't tilting their coverages to Derrick. We got him open on two double-move five routes, and so they weren't tilting their coverages to him then. I think Ray got loose a couple of times in the last drive, and they ended up stopping our other backs. So no, I don't think that's the case right now, and I think we have plenty of weapons to go to."
What was your thought process in deferring the opening kickoff? "We had a long discussion about that, and I think we could have done it either way. You can hash it out either way you want, but I felt like no matter what happened on the first drive – whether we go out there and we stuff Peyton Manning and we get the ball back around the 40-yard line, which would be the goal obviously, or whether they take the ball down and score on the first drive, which is what they did, which obviously that wasn't the idea – we have a chance to go back out and answer that. And we had a good kickoff return, we had a shot to answer it, and we did pretty well early on. We didn't get the touchdowns, but we ended up with field goals as the half went on. But that was the thinking, and I think our defense is a good defense. We've played really good defense the last eight games. You know, we're the No. 1 defense in the league against the score in the last eight games. We're the No. 4 defense in the league against the score. I like the way we're playing defense right now, and I think that proved to be true throughout the course of that game."
Can you take us through the sequence of having S Ed Reed out there to return the punt at the end of the game? Did he put himself in there, or did you guys make the decision to insert him?"We have a communication between Ed and Jerry [Rosburg] that we work out. When Ed's on the field, depending on what the call is, Jerry and Ed have a communication system where if Ed feels like he can take it, and if Jerry wants him out there, they'll give him the thumbs up. We put him out there. [It was] pretty obvious why we did it. He's got a chance to go make the play, and he made a real nice play on the bouncing ball. I talked to Ed about it this morning at length, and about a lot of different things. It was a great conversation. Ed Reed probably had his best game of the season. He tackled extremely well. Weren't we talking about tackling a couple of weeks ago with Ed Reed? Ed Reed came out and fronted up and tackled people as well as you could do it. And he covered very well – had the pick on Peyton [Manning] where he set up the coverage a little bit, set Peyton up a little bit and got him to throw it where he wanted to throw it and picked it off. It was an excellent game. And, he had no intention of flipping that ball before that ball was punted and when it was in the air. He just made a mistake. I kind of related it to my mistake. I think we both made an over-aggressive mistake in an ancient moment, trying to do something a little too fast to try to find a way to make something happen, and we both over-reached. He over-reached on that play. You know, that's one play in the game… It's not the reason we lost the game, but I think it's indicative of things we can all do better."
Did you talk to the officials at all to ask if that was a forward lateral, if it would then be a penalty and you would have retained possession?"No, not during the game because as you remember, there wasn't that opportunity to have a discussion with them at that time. We're waiting to get that back. Our feeling was that his knee was down. Our feeling was that it was a forward lateral, so why was it ruled the way it was ruled? But, we'll get that back from the league. They do a good job of letting us know how those things work."
Having looked at the tape, was there anything you were able to pin-point as far as the offense's ineffectiveness inside the 30-yard line?"It's like all these plays. It's a fair question, but it's never one thing. We can sit here and say it's one thing, and what you go to is it's execution. We all would like to call better plays, we execute the plays we call better, we put in a better game plan. Give them credit for making some plays. But, what it boils down to is in critical situations, getting over the top. It's a couple of blocks in a goal-line situation down at the 1-yard line that needed to be made. It's a throw or not a throw that needs to be made. It's a catch or not a catch that needs to be made. Those are all things that we can do better. We played a really good football game against a really good football team. We came up short, and I think that's happened this year in a few losses down the stretch here. These losses have been against teams that are quality football teams. Call them elite football teams in the league, but we aspire to that. We aspire to be one of the elite teams in the National Football League, and in order to achieve that, those are the games that you've got to find a way to win. Not all of them… You're not going to win them all, but you've got to win your share of those games. Now, we've got two of those games coming up in the next two weeks, and another one in Week 15 that we're excited about. So, the season is not over by any stretch, and we still aspire to be that kind of a football team. I guarantee you that's what we're fighting for – to make those plays that you're talking about, make those blocks, make those throws, or whatever the case is."
What is your assessment of LB Ray Lewis' play yesterday? It seemed like he came back strong after Joseph Addai's touchdown."I think Ray played really well. Every player's not going to make every play. It's give and take, and backs can make people miss. He came back and caused the fumble on the 2-yard line that stopped that drive cold. Ray is an accomplished player, he's a future Hall of Famer, and he's still playing at that level, at a really high level. [I have] no problem with the way Ray's playing."
What did WR Derrick Mason do yesterday to produce so well? "Well, I think he played really well. He probably didn't play as well as he wanted to. I think he probably said that about the last couple games. That's the kind of guy he is. Guys bounce back and play better. When you're that kind of a football team, everybody doesn't play their best every week because of different reasons. It might be rolling the coverage to you, like you talked about, or it might just be things don't go so well. Then other people have to pick up the slack. That's what we've got to be about becoming – a team that can pick up the slack on other side of the ball for the guy next to you and make the plays we need to make to win those tough games."
Is it late in the year to be playing a division rival for the first time? "I don't know what the records are on that. I don't know how they set the records up. I'm not sure how often that has been the case, but it's the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they are our rival as we look at it, along with the other teams in the division. They're the defending world champs, and there is a lot at stake. We're looking forward to it."
What are your thoughts on CB/RS Lardarius Webb stepping in for injured CB Fabian Washington? "Lardarius is going to be a big part of the plans. I'm not sure exactly how we're going to set that up right now. We've got, of course, Chris Carr's in the mix, and Frank Walker is in the mix, and we'll see if we bring somebody else in at corner to bolster us up a little bit. But we'll be sharing the duty with that. Obviously, Lardarius has played well, so he'll be a big part of that."
Does QB Joe Flacco need to raise his comfort level with some of the other receivers? "Well, I think he's got a comfort level with those guys. If you look throughout the season, he's hit those guys on a lot of plays. Todd [Heap] has been hitting some big plays, obviously, Kelley [Washington] – Mark Clayton earlier in the year. Different plays, different guys are open, and in different situations they're not open. Every play stands on it's own, and we've studied those with Joe. So, we're going to try to get the ball to everybody."
Are you optimistic that OLB Terrell Suggs can play this Sunday? "We'll see. If Terrell can play, he'll be playing. If he can't be playing, there will be a lot of guys in the mix like it was this week. I know one thing: He's going to do everything that he can to get back, and we'll just have to see."
Can a false start by the O-line throw the quarterback off during a specific play?"I haven't thought about that. I don't have an answer for you on that. There are times when it appears that a guy false starts, but these guys are so quick and so athletic that they know what our snap count is. We time our snap count. So, you'll see Michael Oher, a lot of times it appears that he's early, but he's not. He's so athletic, he sets so deep… When you take that thing frame by frame, he's right with the ball. It's really tough to officiate because of the athleticism of these guys. So, whether he was offside or not, I have to back and take a look, or whether he's false started or not, I'll have to take a look. But I don't think that has anything to do with Joe's progression."
Is there anything you take from losing to good teams by such a small margin? "Sure. It's interesting to me, and it's part of what makes the National Football League so great – the drumbeat outside, in a positive way and a negative way. It's so fierce, and you naturally hear that. But inside and around our team, we just can't let that affect you either way. When things are going great, everybody tells you how great you are, and you get carried away that way. Then you lose a couple games, and everybody can tell you how inept you are. You can't let it take you down that road either. We know we're a good football team. I guarantee the people that play us know the kind of football team we are. The difference is finding out a way to win those games. That's our challenge against good football teams. That's what you have to do to be an elite football team in this league, and that's what we're striving for. I know we're going to be that. It's a matter of when, and we need to make it happen this week."
Have you observed that the last six games can completely change a season around? "No doubt. It's a great point. It's not the first six; it's the last six. You can look around the league already this year. It's not the first three in our case. I think that's proven. It's the final six games that make the season, as far as the regular season, and that's where we're at."