On if the team is preparing as if Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will play Sunday:"Absolutely. We've watched the other quarterbacks, but we're preparing for Ben."
On if there is anything that can be learned from the way Roethlisberger played against the Ravens last year:"The way he plays is what makes them so good on offense. They built their offense around his style. Obviously, they have a lot of good players on offense – playmakers at different positions. We play them a lot. He does the same thing; he plays the same way against everybody. So, we watch him on tape and we understand how he plays. It's just another matter in terms of getting it defended."
On the threat of Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Santonio Holmes as they continue to mature:"Well, Holmes, has [matured]. He's become, obviously, a great player in this league, and the kid from Ole Miss has played really well. We liked him in the draft as well. I thought that was a great pick for them. They've got weapons pretty much all over the field on offense."
On the Ravens/Steelers rivalry being something people cannot understand until they experience it:"It's that way with most rivalries. It's hard to feel a rivalry unless you've been in the middle of it. If you go back to high school days, college days and then the NFL and different divisional rivalries... But after having been in it for three games, I feel like I've been in for a lifetime – after last year. Obviously, they've got a little bit of an edge on us so far in that span, so we've got our work cut out for us."
On whether the experience of losing to a team carries over from one year to the next and can it be used in a positive way:"I don't know. All that stuff is there. All the stuff – the history – going way back even before last year, the players that have played. Our guys understand it. It just becomes a part of who you are as a team, probably, and as an individual player. So, that stuff is probably all there for both teams."
On having several games decided by close margins because of missed plays and if he can coach better execution at this point of the season:"We do all the time. You coach better execution all the time, and we see it in different little areas. Obviously, what you're saying is exactly right. You can go to each one of those games and you can point to one play and say for that number of plays you'd have won each one of those games. But, that's how it is in football. Our guys understand that. We get better every week in different things. The penalties last week, obviously, were a lot better. Everybody was talking about that. And there are a lot of different little things throughout football that we go back and we take a look and we know where we're going as a football team. But, a lot of that just has to do with not trying to push it too hard. Be confident, play as hard as you can, focus on the detail of the moment. And our guys are good players, and they'll come up with those plays. I know they will. They have in the past and they will in the future."
On what it is about the Ravens and the Steelers that make their games so physical, unlike anything else you see in the NFL:"Well, it's two teams that believe in playing physically, and obviously, that's a staple of who they are and what's made them great. Not even in just the last couple of years, but historically. And that's the same with the Ravens. It just seems like a natural thing for these two teams to play that way."
On if it's more fun to play in a game that is as physical as the Ravens/Steelers games:"It's fun to be involved in all these games, but it's fun to be a part of this rivalry and go against a team that you respect. You respect the way they play. I know our guys feel that way. We think a lot of them as a football team, and we're looking forward to playing them."
On what he's seen from rookie CB Lardarius Webb so far:"He's got cornerback skills, but I like some other things. I like some intangible things about him. He's a competitive guy. He's got a lot to learn. Chuck [Pagano] does a great job with him every single day. He's obviously a student of the game. I think he's more advanced than most rookie corners, most rookie players. He's very professional for this stage of his career. He's a bright guy. Then you see the physical stuff, obviously."
On if there is a hungry aspect to Webb's attitude that defines him as well:"Yeah. Any good player has that, don't you think? He has that. He loves football. We try to draft guys like that. We try to draft guys that like football and are hungry, as you put it, and want to be a part of what we're doing. I think he fits that mode."
On if he feels good about the cornerback depth with Chris Carr, Frank Walker and Lardarius Webb, even with Fabian Washington out with an injury:"Obviously, it's not as good as it was because we lost Fabian. We felt like we had five guys that we liked, and now we have four, and we brought one in [Cary Williams]. We like him as a developmental guy, and we'll see how fast he can develop into that mix. We need him to. And you're always building that part of the roster."
On if there is any reason the team has moved away from the "Suggs Package" this year after it worked so well last year:"I get asked that all the time, as far as the 'Suggs Package,' as you put it. We do what we think we need to do and what's best from week to week, and I don't want to get into any reasons for it. We have our reasons for what we do every week, and we try to do the best we can to score as many points as we can, and some games we've done better than other games. But, that topic is part of who we are. It's in there in the mix, and if I get into it than it's kind of tactical, I guess. I know it's a copout. Am I ducking the question? Probably. I understand that, but I just don't want to talk about it."
On LB Terrell Suggs' injury and if he's made progress in working his way back to being able to play:"He's making progress. You just don't know with that [type of injury]. It's the same kind of deal that some other guys have had around the league, and everybody says the same thing. It's day to day, week to week. When it starts feeling like he can run, he'll play. He's getting close; we'll just have to see. We're not afraid to put him out there. It's not like he has to practice all week to play. If he's ready to play Sunday, he'll be out there playing."
On if there has been a message to the team that even though the record is 5-5, if the Ravens win on Sunday they are back in the thick of the things:"Oh, sure. We talk about all that stuff. The point is that it's a six-game season. The point is that every NFL season comes down to the last six weeks. So, everybody talks about the first three weeks, or the first six weeks, or the first eight weeks, and decisions are made who's going to do this and who's going to do that. Everybody makes judgments on what teams are and what they're not. The last six weeks make every team's NFL season. We realize that, and the Steelers realize that, and everybody else knows it. So, it's this game, but it's also the five games after that."
On what he thought of the crowd on Sunday after he spoke about the importance of the fans being loud last week against Peyton Manning and the Colts:"I'm glad you brought that up about the crowd. I haven't had a chance to really talk about that in the midst of all the other things we've been talking about. But, the crowd was fantastic. I think I saw Peyton say it. He struggled a little bit with some of the communications, some of the recognition issues. And obviously, he handles that stuff better than any quarterback in the league, probably, right now. And our crowd made it tough for the Colts to communicate on offense. I'm sure it will be even better against the Steelers on Sunday night. So, we're counting on it. It's a big part of what we do defensively."
On how important it is to get more guys involved in the offense this week:"I think you just let the game plan run its course, and at the end of the game you look up and see what's happened. For the most part, we try to get as many people involved as we can, and I think we'll do a good job of that when we put the game plan together and when it's all finalized come Saturday and Sunday."
On how many checkdowns to RB Ray Rice are designed for him:"Every now and then, he's the first progression. But most of the time it's when we have a route downfield and they're doing a good job of covering it, and I'm just dumping it down to him. He's my third receiver, and if they're playing off him, it's easy to just give him the ball and let him go. I would say there's a little bit of time where he's the guy, and then most of the time he's just getting the checkdown."
On if he felt like he was going to Rice more quickly than normal in the Indianapolis game:"No. Whenever they had stuff covered, I went down to him. There are certain coverages that we can't… Really, I'm just waiting for things to develop downfield, and then just dump the ball to Ray because the coverage they played took it away. I didn't go to Ray at all during the game too quickly when he was the checkdown guy. I didn't do that."
On how important it is for him to beat the Steelers, as he's now 0-3 against them:"I think this year it's really important right now because we're a 5-5 football team, and they're a 6-4 football team. Whoever wins this game is right in the middle of things. I think that's what's most important right now, is the time of the year it is, what our record is, and for what we need to do to get ready for the playoffs and be in the playoffs. We need to win this game, and I think that's what we need to go out there and make our goal on Sunday."
On the intensity of the Ravens/Steelers rivalry:"It's two physical football teams, and they're going together head to head. Each of us wants to prove which is the better team and which is the more physical team. I think the way you do that is you go out there and win. You put more points on the board than the other team does. It's a heated rivalry between the fans. It's a great matchup between the players, and I think both sides enjoy it. Whichever side wins is going to enjoy it a little more."
On what he learned from facing Pittsburgh last year:"We played them well the first game and lost. Played them well the second game and lost. Played them somewhat good the third game – we didn't play great – but we came back at the end and gave it up there. They're a tough team. We've played a lot of games this year that have been tough games and close games, and we haven't come out on the right side of any. We didn't come out on the right side of any against those guys last year. Eventually, we're going to have to learn from those situations. I think this game coming up and the next six games we have left, I think all those tight games are going to help us fight through those situations if they present themselves again."
On if he's surprised the "Suggs Package" has disappeared from the offense:"I don't know. I haven't even thought about it, really, to tell you the truth. We're out there, and we're trying to do what we can to be successful. Some weeks we're more successful than others, but I don't think any of us have really blinked an eye about what we have and what we haven't done."
On how much he respects the Steelers' pass rush and secondary:"They do a good job. They do a good job of bringing pressure off the edge and playing your eyes, reading routes in the secondary. You've got to be aware of that, and at the same time you've got to take advantage of it and use it as a strength for yourself. I think playing those guys in the pass will help us out. We'll come out, and we'll do things that we know we're going to be good at. We've just got to execute."
On how different Pittsburgh's secondary is without S Troy Polamalu:"They're still pretty good. Troy's obviously back there, and he freelances a little bit and gets to do his own thing. I don't know if they're going to have as much [of] that, but they still play good, still play aggressive out there. They really jump on routes, and they're still going to have to be a team that you're aware of, their secondary players, and we're going to have to do a good job running our routes and throwing the ball to the guys."
On if Polamalu's absence makes it harder because he doesn't know what to prepare for:"Yeah, I mean, I know there are certain things you can do with Troy, but we're going to look at their defense as a whole, and they're playing pretty well right now. I think we still go after these guys the same way we have, even though Troy's not in the game. They have a good pass rush, they stop the run well, and we're going to take advantage of both of those things. We're going to have to use them as a strength for us."
On if he feels like the offense is on the verge of getting out of its drought:"We feel good. And what better game to do it than against these guys? We feel confident that we're going to go out there and score touchdowns, and when you don't, it's disappointing. We've got to do whatever we can do to fix that, and I think we're on our way to getting the job done."
On if the intensity of the game changes when the Ravens are battling the Steelers for a trip to the Super Bowl or challenging them for a Wild Card spot:"No, I think you're going to get what you're going to get. It's just the way it is. The way we play each other, it's always a physical ball game. It's always going to come down to one of the last plays, and it's just the way it is. They have a great group of people over there, and we've got a great group of people over here. So, it comes down to those classic battles in the AFC North, not excluding Cincinnati, who's up there at the top right now. We both know each other, what we bring to the table on Sunday. So it's going to be one of those types of games again."
On getting more turnovers the last few weeks and if it is the product of scheming more or studying more or just hard work:"If you go back earlier in the season, it's kind of [like] those balls that didn't go your way then, and now it's going our way. That's the only thing you've got to keep doing, is just playing through it. Just be consistent enough to truly play through it. Right now, I just think overall we're just doing a great job. Ed [Reed] and Dawan [Landry] are back there doing their thing. Corners are playing great. Everybody's just getting to the football – all at one time. I just think it's the turns of seasons. I talked about this the first half of the season, where games go your way or they don't go your way, breaks of the ball go your way or don't go your way. I just think a couple of breaks of the ball have kind of [gone] our way."
On how much the team is buying into the fact that QB Ben Roethlisberger is injured and how much does it really matter:"Ben is always banged up. Ben is one of those warriors, man, who's just going to come out and just play football, no matter what the situation is, no matter how he is feeling. The bottom line is [to] prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers, prepare for Ben Roethlisberger, because that's who you're going to get. Whatever they draw up after that is a secondary thought, I believe, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, because their heartbeat starts with Ben Roethlisberger. So, I'm definitely expecting to see him."
On if Sunday's loss to the Colts was an emotional game for him:"Yeah. It gets no harder for me than Sunday. I have a problem and I've always had a problem – and I pray about it a lot – but I've got a problem with losing. I don't like losing. I don't like losing fricking close games, I don't like losing nothing. I like to finish games out 60 minutes – whether it's players, coaches' decisions, whatever it is. And when you've got a team like that on the ropes, finish it. And that was my thing. When you reflect back to 2006, it was kind of the same situation that happened: We hold [the Colts] to five field goals, and you then lose, and then they go win the Super Bowl. I don't want to relive that again. So Sunday for me, man – excuse me for not talking [to the media after the game] because it's definitely not me – but for me, the way I play this game and the way I study and how we had them, that game we were supposed to win. We didn't win it. They made the play, but we were supposed to win that game – bottom line. So for me, that didn't sit well with me on Sunday, outside of the things I was already going through, whether it was a foot, whether it was this or that. Sunday was a very bitter taste in my mouth. I don't like that stuff."
On if he was fighting through an ankle tweak during the Colts game:"Yeah, yeah. And it's kind of been the foot thing that I've been dealing with. The bottom line is it just got caught between two people on a freakish play. That's kind of always the way things happen, but I kind of came out if it OK. The limp was obvious, and the plant was whatever. But it's going to be what it's going to be. Everybody deals with injury this time of the year. All you can do is keep nursing them and making sure that you can hopefully be 90-95 percent when Sunday does come around."
On the Ravens losing a lot of close games this season and winning close games in past seasons, and the difference between winning and losing:"There is no difference. There's a team that has to win, and there's a team that has to lose. Just like if you do go back a couple of years ago, even when we went on the run last year, all of the games were close. Bottom line. The three you lose against Pittsburgh, you lose by less than a touchdown every time. So, all the games are close. Now, you start a new season – a six-game season. And the bottom line is if you can get that to turn a little bit, where we do start winning those close games, then everything we're talking about now is a myth and we keep on moving on."
On what it takes for the Ravens to finish and win those close games:"Easy. It's so much, it's so much. Decisions. [It is] whether you get a flag, you don't get a flag; you get a flag against you, you get a flag not against you – things like that. You make the play, you don't make the play; you make the catch, you drop the catch – whatever it is. And it's always that, it's always that. That's the beauty of football. The beauty of football is some teams figure it out sooner, some teams figure it out later. Our bottom line is just to finish, just to finish games. Yeah, we played some close games, great exciting games, but the bottom line is our thing right now is we have to finish games. We have to finish."
On the physicality of the Ravens' matchup with Pittsburgh and what it is about Pittsburgh that brings out the most physical nature in him and vice versa:"There's a certain respect. Me being around that long playing against them, it's always been their mentality. It's always been their mentality. And then for us coming into the AFC North [in 2002] and taking that step, too, we kind of took that same identity, being just hardnosed, playing defense, running the ball, things like that. So now we clash. Now the two teams clash because we're very similar in styles and the way we play defense and things like that. That's what makes it a very physical game because we know the way their defense is going to play, and ultimately, it's going to come down to one of our defenses making a play."
On if it is safe to assume that he dislikes the Steelers more than the Baltimore fans:"Do I dislike them? I don't like them."
On what he thinks when he sees the Steelers' logo when he walks onto the field:"Here we go again. It's what it is, man. Their tradition, their legacy, is respectful, so respectful. There are so many great ones that came through there, and that's why, honestly, if you want to know why I always try to give them my best game, [it is] because I know all of the great Pittsburgh Hall of Famers are watching. I know all of them are dialed in. I know how many Pittsburgh fans are out there, all of that good stuff. [I feel] like, 'OK, if that's what you want to see, let's go at it.' I think it's just a final respect for the organization and their legacy and definitely the way the guys they have on their team uphold it."
On if he will wave one of the new Ravens rally towels at Sunday's game:"No."
On there being a nagging feeling that the Ravens could be in a much different position if they had closed out a couple of this year's close games with a win:"Is there a nagging feeling? Nah. I just think there's a feeling that we've just got to [finish]. Bottom line, it goes back to what I've been saying: We've just got to finish games. It's no harder than that. It's simple mathematics with us – finish games. You can go through the four games, five games that we lost, and you can find one play from those games and say, 'If you do this, we do this.' And that's a bottom-line fact. So for us, these next six weeks is about finish. Let's finish what we started, and everything else will take care of itself."
Opening statement:"Ray [Lewis] had a Thanksgiving event yesterday, and he always – just like many of us – he always goes out and helps those that need something during the Thanksgiving month or Thanksgiving Day. I am saddened to say that not too many [media members] were out there, and I'm talking serious, for real. That kind of pisses me off as a player and as a teammate of Ray. It's about football, yes, but I think this time of month it's about giving to others, and I think a lot of you guys should have been out there supporting that. But now, let's get to football, because I said my spiel."
On what if the media was out giving back to the community as well: "Excuse me? Well you should have been… You're all here today. OK, then. OK, let's go."
On how he looks at the first six games of the season:"Well, we should have tightened up a long time ago. But obviously, November, December is when teams separate themselves, and you start to make that playoff push. And it's very imperative for us as a team to win every game from here on out. We don't want to have to sit and wait. I think our last game is in January, somewhere around there, the third of January, and we don't want to have to sit and wait as we're flying back from Oakland to see if we made the playoffs or not. So, in order for that to happen, we need to take care of business for the next six games, and that means winning them. I'm not guaranteeing anything, but as a team, we are in a situation where every game is a must-win if we ultimately want to get to where we want to go, and that's the Super Bowl."
On what he thinks about Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calling this "redemption Sunday" and if the Ravens look at it that way: "I mean, hey, if [Tomlin] wants to call it 'redemption Sunday' for his team – I don't know why – maybe because they're on a two-game losing streak… I guess you want to try to pull your team out of a rut. If that's what they're in… I don't think that's what they're in. I mean, [it's] a couple of plays here and there, and they're possibly on a two-game winning streak as opposed to a two-game losing streak. For us, it's a game that we have to win. We're not labeling this as a 'redemption week' or a 'redemption game.' It's just a game that we have to win. And the next game is going to be the same way. So, we can't start putting themes to every game. Our theme is basically, we need to win, and keep it moving."
On how much of an impact the Ravens' rally towels will make for the fans: "None, whatsoever. The fans just need to make a lot of noise. I think the other stuff is just props here and there. I mean, you welcome them. I would love to see every flag waving."
On whether the Steelers' fans can use it as a tissue: "Yeah, they can use it for whatever they want to use it for. They can wave it if they want to. I hope they do. (laughing) But ultimately, what it's going to come down to is us playing good football and the fans making it hard for the Steelers' offense to run their plays. They did a terrific job last week in making it hard for Peyton Manning, so I know that they know the scope and the magnitude of this game. So, how many people does the stadium hold? I think what, 60 or 67 [thousand]? *(Actual capacity is 71,008.) *So, Mr. Bisciotti, please put in about another 20,000 seats before the game, bleachers or something, so we can get that thing to 70 or 80 [thousand], plus to make a lot of noise. But, if the towels help, hand out all of them. Bring some extras if possible. But what it boils down to is us making plays and stopping their offense, and that 12th man – which is the fans – making a lot of noise."
On what the offense has to do differently this weekend: "What do we have to do different? Score points. Only way to change the situation is to score points. There is no magic, there is no whatever, magical play. There is no spell that we can put upon that. We just need to go out there and score, and what that entails is us doing what we need to do on offense – staying on the field, converting on third down and scoring in the red zone when we have an opportunity to score. We had six [chances] last week, and came away with five field goals, somewhere around that. Five field goals. So, we have to turn those field goals into at least two or three touchdowns. We can still live with some field goals here and there, but we have to be able to score touchdowns. I think that's the only thing that's going to solve our touchdown problem, is to score touchdowns."
On whether the up and down performances put more pressure on him to have a good game: "It's been up and down. Let's keep it real, it's been up and down. I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself than what it needs to be. I've been in this game long enough to say that if you press, then bad things happen. So, I'm going to continue to stick to what I've been doing. I kind of got away from some things. I've got to go back to basics and trust in my technique and trust in what I'm doing, and I'll go out there and have the game that I'm supposed to have. What that means, I don't know. But if I go out there and play hard, I know that whatever comes my way, I'll make the play. And I think first and foremost, I need to block first, and then once I do a good job blocking for the running backs, then our plays come in the passing game."
On if playing against the Steelers is the same no matter which game it is: "It's very intense. I'm new to it still, but obviously, being outside… It seems as if it doesn't matter if we were playing for a championship or playoffs, the Steelers are the Steelers and the Ravens are always going to be the Ravens. It's always going to be a rivalry. You'll see things that typically don't happen in normal games. So, we've got to expect the unexpected against them. That's just who they are. They play hard, fast, and physical. I think we do the same. It's just one of those games where you buckle those chinstraps and say, 'Let's go.'"
On if he is seeing more "extracurricular" than usual: "Not extracurricular. I'm just talking about the intensity, a little more jawing at the mouth. But at the end of the day, it's just football. To those guys I'm not really a big talker, so if you're going to waste the extra energy trying to talk to me, I think it's just going to make you more tired in the fourth quarter. Talking to me, it's going to go over my head."
On what gets to him on the field: "I'm not sure what gets to me. I don't like losing, but I've learned how to deal with a loss. Nothing really gets to me out there. A hard hit doesn't really get to me. I get up and fight the next play. At the end of the day, I think I'm just out there playing football and just happy to be blessed with another opportunity to get up and just keep playing. So, you'd have to do something… Guys don't really get too personal with their words, so it's really just intensive talk. But otherwise, this game… A lot of the talking is going to be done with your shoulder pads and helmets. That's how I see it. That's what I've learned about this rivalry. You see the hitting in this game – it seems to amp up a bit. They play with intensity. We play with intensity. It doesn't matter if it's at their stadium or our stadium. It's just one of those games where… The biggest plays in your career can be made in rivalry games."
On if he pays attention to trash talking around town: "Even though I was a little banged up last year, I remember coming out of that tunnel getting chills before the game. The butterflies are definitely there – all the little things that you grew up as a kid [feeling] when you see that opposite color. I actually felt it last year driving to the stadium, even though I wasn't playing, seeing the black and yellow going to the stadium kind of gets you ready to [go]. What I've seen in our fans – I've seen them at an event a few times – our fans definitely do not like them."
On how the fans feel about the Steelers: "If you're in black and gold, and we're out here in purple and black – that's just not a good mix."
On what QB Joe Flacco is like in the fourth quarter of games and his thoughts from the INT that Flacco threw: "The guy was trying to make a play. After watching the film, I knew – me and Joe both knew – that the play that Gary Brackett made was just a smart play. That's just being a leader, being a veteran and watching tape – the little things that make you better in this league. That's the thing about me and Joe: We're still going to be growing. He's in his second year, and I'm in my second year. I don't like to say that you like to make mistakes in that crucial part, but if you make that mistake now, you don't make it again in the future. Joe will be smarter, and that's part of our growing process. We have to make the mistakes now in order to get better in what we want to do in this offense. Obviously, we're not going to hang our head on that. Looking back on that game, if we put up any kind of touchdown in the red zone, we probably wouldn't be in that situation in the fourth quarter."
On if it's more painful to lose close games: "It's a feeling where it's one or two things that you've just got to fix. Obviously, the feeling… It's not nagging. For guys like us, the guys I know that are on our team, we just want to get back to work. We're going to be playing here for a while, and those things will get fixed. We're still a growing phase on this offense. In the games that we lost… We know we're not a bad team. We're not getting blown out by anyone. Last year, we got blown out by [the Colts], but when you play good teams like that, you've got to make the plays that count. That's where we've got to take a step forward in this offense. I think down the line we'll make some plays."
On how tough it is to look back on those plays now: "It's not tough to look back on them because you watch the film and say, 'All right.' You actually have to criticize, analyze, take the criticism and just keep going forward. One thing that's great about our team and our players, our guys do a great job of taking criticism. Joe can take it, I can take it, but they want to get better each day. So, that's just a growing phase that we're going through in this offense."
On if it's a team thing to move forward on offense and score touchdowns: "It's a team and an offensive thing. The defense is down there saying, 'We're not going to give up seven. We'll give them three in the red zone if they make the field goal.' This offense, you've got to have that mentality of, 'We want seven.' When you get down there that many times, if you get seven [points] or fourteen [points] two out of the four times, you look at that game totally different. Instead of them punting the ball to us, Peyton Manning is probably throwing a pick to Ed Reed back there for a kneel-down. That's just part of the mentality that I was talking about. When you get down on the one [-yard line], it's a mentality. It's just football, but it's a mentality when you get down there that you want to score by sevens. We'll take the three because, obviously it's points, but in this game, when you play a great team in the Colts, Steelers, anybody – you want to score by sevens."
On how humbled he is that things are going so well for him in his career:"This is pretty fast, but I think the way I worked this offseason I can say that I'm kind of not surprised, because this offseason I really put in the work. The things that are happening… I get lost in the stats. I'm just happy to know that I'm helping my team out to put us in position to, obviously, win games, and helping our offense out to move forward. It's just something that, throughout my whole life and whole career, you just want to keep chopping away – one thing after another – each day try to pick up something and get better by it."
On if it's a mental thing to get over the close losses: "It's a mental thing you get over, and in this league you'll learn that you've got to get over things real fast. If you get stuck with a bad mental thought, that's when bad things happen. As far as the team, we're in a great mental state right now. Who couldn't be? The Pittsburgh Steelers are up next."