On QB Joe Flacco's performance last week and what are the biggest differences from this year to last year:"The biggest difference is he's got more games under his belt experience-wise. That was a really good performance by an offense against a very good defense. That's the bottom line, and Joe was a big part of that. Obviously, the completion percentage was important. Not turning the ball over was important; that's something they've thrived on. He gets better every week. He's had some setbacks, and he's got to get better this week."
On if having a second chance to face the Bengals after the loss earlier in the season is a motivation for the team:"I don't think that's a motivator, per se. The motivation is the fact that we're in a really hotly-contested divisional race, and we have an opportunity to go in there and be a factor in the division. And the fact that they won puts the pressure on us to have to win to be a factor in the division."
On how he ranks red-zone proficiency as a key to winning:"Oh, it is right there. Red zone is the difference between four points and three points, obviously, if you make the field goal. The field shrinks dramatically in the red zone. That's why running the ball in the red zone is really important, and I think everybody would consider that to be true because it's a little tougher to throw it down there. You don't have as much space to work with in the passing game. The fact that the field shrinks makes it tougher to move the ball and put it in the end zone. So, third down, red zone, turnovers – those are the critical things."
On LB Ray Lewis telling CB/RS Lardarius Webb that his touchdown was going to occur on the kickoff return against the Bengals and if they've talked about anything else Lewis has seen for the future:"When I heard the story, I was curious to know if Ray was seeing anything else, like maybe the play before the opponent runs it or whatever. That could be a big advantage for us. Ray's just a visionary leader. Obviously, he's a great leader for our young guys. Ray and Ed [Reed], Matt Birk, Mase [Derrick Mason] – all those guys – our young guys really respect them a lot. And for that to happen and for Lardarius to have the success he had is just pretty interesting."
On how much the coaches go back and look at the last game played against an opponent or do they look at several of a team's last opponents:"You look at your game a lot because that's what they did against you. I'm sure they'll be studying that game also, but also the games since then that we've played and they've played. But, you build on past seasons' games against them, you build on your knowledge of the coordinators on both sides. Each team knows each other pretty well. We didn't have to spend a lot of time in the meeting today talking about the Bengals. We know them pretty well, so we just build from there."* *
On what the Bengals are doing differently this year from last year to be so successful:"They're healthy for one thing. They've got a quarterback. They didn't have Carson [Palmer] for most of the year last year. They've got weapons all over the field. The offensive line is healthy; it wasn't healthy last year. Cedric Benson is running a scheme that he really excels at. But, they've always been a zone scheme. The Bengals have been running the inside and outside zone since Icky Woods and Jim McNally and Sam Wyche in the mid-80's. That's been their thing, and they're running it as well or better than anybody in the NFL right now. So, it's just a part of who they are."
On what Benson was able to do against the Ravens' defense that other running backs have not:"He was able to run for over 100 yards. He had success."
On whether Benson's success was due to missed tackles by the defense:"It's just due to them blocking us better than we got off blocks and him running better than we tackled. And they did a better job than we did playing, coaching – all that stuff."
On if giving DE Dwan Edwards more playing time has kept DE Trevor Pryce fresh:"Well, we try to put the guys out there to do the things that they do exceptionally well in situations they do them well. Trevor is a pass rusher in a lot of ways for us and brings a lot to us on third down. But, Trevor can play the run. So, you put as many guys out there as you can. If Dwan wasn't out there and Trevor was out there more, you'd be asking me why Dwan's not playing. So, it's good to have good players. It's good to have guys you can mix in there and use them in different situations and, yeah, keep them as fresh as you can for as many plays as you can and keep them playing at a high level. It's really important."
On what his anticipation is that DT Haloti Ngata will be ready to play Sunday:"I'm anticipating Haloti is getting ready to play against the Bengals. It's a sprained ankle. We're hopeful that he'll be there, and there's a good chance he will. If not, someone else will play."
On what he feels the most important things are for a quarterback running a no-huddle offense:"The main thing, probably, is the ability to operate and manage the whole deal. You've got to think fast. You've got crowd noise, you're operating formations, you're getting people lined up, you're calling the play. He's just got to have a tremendous grasp of the offense, I would think. I'm amazed a little bit because I hear the play being called and the interaction that Cam [Cameron] has with Joe, and I see what's going on on the field and the substitutions that have to get made, and he has to recognize the defense. It's got to be one of the tougher things to do in sports. Joe, at a young age, has a pretty amazing grasp of it."
On if he is expecting more of a downfield passing attack from the Bengals than the Broncos had last week:"The Broncos tried to throw it downfield. They couldn't because our guys were in position and they covered them. Yeah, that was a talented receiving crew. This is a talented receiving crew. They do have a little bit of a different system, somewhat, but Carson Palmer is one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. He can make every throw. So, it's just going to be a tough challenge for us with their passing attack."
On what difference WR Kelley Washington makes in the offense: "I don't know. I think you guys can see that for yourselves. It's pretty obvious, what he's done for us, on third down especially."
On if he savored his performance last week more than any other week: "I don't think so. A win is a win, and that's what last week was. I think we played well as an offense and played well as a team. That's good to see. We felt like we've played well all season. Like I said, a win is a win, and they all feel good."
On if the play where he flipped the ball to RB Ray Rice embodied what it means to just play football: "We messed up a little bit on that play. That's just what ended up happening. Every now and then you get lucky and you need to make a play like that. Like I said, we got a little bit lucky, but at the same time we made a play together. It worked out well for us."
On if he takes pride in making something out of nothing: "I usually just go back and laugh about it. I try to make myself feel good about it, but it's probably pretty frustrating for the defense because they had that play stopped, really. We didn't necessarily do it the way we wanted to, but at the same time you've got a guy like Ray [Rice] and myself, and we just decided to make a play together. I wish he would've scored a touchdown on it. I went back and watched the film, and he could have cut up and scored a touchdown for me, but he decided to run out of bounds instead." (laughter)
On if he enjoys the pace and challenge of a no-huddle offense: "Oh, definitely. I think every quarterback likes to do that kind of thing. It gets the tempo going and it gets yourself in a little rhythm, and it gets your team in a little rhythm. I think we do it well. If we didn't do it well, we wouldn't be doing it. But as an offensive unit, we do it really well, and it's something that we enjoy."
On what is hard about running a no-huddle offense: "I think we don't think it's hard. I think it's something that we feel like we do well. So, therefore it comes pretty naturally to all of us, and that's why we do it."
On if there are any advantages in running the no-huddle against defenses: "They can't substitute. If you don't want them to pressure you, it can limit that. Like I said, for me at least, it gets you into a rhythm. We are running plays that we do well, and that's the most important thing. No matter what they do on the defensive side of the ball, we know we have some way to beat it. We feel comfortable, and it wears a defense out. When a defense is rushing the passer and covering plays at that tempo and for that long of a series, it really wears on them throughout the course of a game. It gives you a lot of advantages as the game goes on."
On how much the noise effects him while he is playing: "It's noisy, but at the same time, when you're out on the field you're not really paying attention to it. You're just operating as you normally would. That's another thing that we do a pretty good job of doing, is handling the noise. I think that's partially why we play pretty well on the road. You've got to give our offensive line a lot of credit for that because they have to listen to all the calls and communicate between each other about all their calls. That's probably the toughest thing to do, for those guys to all be on the same page. For me, the receivers and the running backs, it's pretty easy [to be on the same page]."
On if he is comfortable in having T Jared Gaither back on the line: "Yeah, I don't really pay attention to who's out there on game day, but you know when you've got Jared out there you're going to have a pretty good day. He holds down that [left] side and Mike [Oher] holds down the right side. Our end guys here do what they do. I always feel comfortable back there with the guys that are protecting for me, and that's the way I expect them to be the rest of the season."* *
On if he has learned it's OK to take a sack in certain situations: "There are times you take sacks because you never want to force something downfield. You want to be able to throw the ball away, but at the same time, if you can't do that, then you don't want to make a bad decision down field. I took a sack in this past game, but it was more because I kind of just got stuck in the turf. I really should have escaped on it, but I got stuck and just decided to go down and take one. I'm not necessarily somebody that likes to take one, just because it doesn't reflect well on your offensive line, and you want to keep those guys going as much as possible. But you never want to make a bad decision downfield, and if that's the end result, taking a sack is better."
On if he has seen any other plays ahead of time, like him calling CB/RS Lardarius Webb's kickoff return TD:(laughing) "That's funny. No, I haven't seen too much. Hopefully it comes close to the game. No, it was just something… Sometimes you feel something, sometimes you see things, you just really want to just pass on true belief. That's what I mentioned to him [Lardarius Webb] walking out of the locker room, like, 'If you believe it, it's going to happen.' Once truly two or three agree, then whatever's going to be is going to be if it's supposed to be his will. That's why I came back and touched the man. He's a young kid with so much. Has a gift to just… You can transform quickly in your career, you can go through that long process, but he's the kind of kid that needs to go fast. That was my job, to just lead him."
On what he said to Webb on the sideline after the play:"I was just saying, 'Do you believe me know?' God is real. You've just got to believe it."
On if that happens a lot:"I think it happens a lot with my teammates. That's why you see, why I always most of the time go jump on them in such a crazy way, just like [Dannell] Ellerbe when he made the play on the screen. Different plays, you see so many things on film, and you can try to go affect it yourself, or you can go just line somebody else up to go do it on a couple of those plays. That's why you really see me running and a lot of times jumping on my teammates, because it's the kind of thing that we'll be really in tune about and on the same page."
On what about defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has made him click with the defense:"I think we clicked with Mattison last year, as soon as he came in. Coach is an old-school coach. He gives you the call, you run it, you execute it, you make it work however it is. That's the beautiful part about him. He treats you completely like a man, but more importantly, he wants to know your input on how big it is. And almost every coordinator who has left here has really added that part to us. That's just really conversation, really going through it with each other to really figure out what's best. I think that's what makes him a real good person for us."
On if he has to transition his game when he's playing next to one of the three young linebackers:"No, I don't think you transition the way I play. I just think the thing you do is you really just focus on getting those guys lined up no matter who it is – whether it's [Dannell] Ellerbe, whether it's [Tavares] Gooden, Jameel [McClain]. It keeps me really keened in because I've got to, 'OK – you've got this, you've got that, we've got this.' It's really just working together. I really think it's been a bonus, I know for them, but I think it's been a bonus for me, also."
On if the young linebackers have things that they each do well:"I think all three of them do. All three of them do. All three of them run very well, and they love the game of football. They love playing the game of football. Anytime you find young kids who love playing the game of football, your job, my job and the coaches' job, is to put them in the right position to make the plays. I think individually each one of them can do things totally different, but at the same time, I think all three of them just love the game."
On what he's seen from Bengals rookie LB Rey Maualuga:"Wow. Have I watched him enough? I don't think I've watched him enough. I really haven't. I've watched the games I could pretty much catch at times, but I haven't watched him enough to really say how good he is. I've watched him at USC. I think he was a young kid who liked flying to the ball. I think they're kind of bringing that same atmosphere over there. Marvin's [Lewis] got him somebody who can turn into a thumper and be a leader over there. But outside of that, I don't know that much."
On if his hit on Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco has left an image for people going over the middle:"Yeah – the image it left on my dog-gone checkbook. (laughter) I'm not running by Chad [any]more. Shoot. (laughing) The game is always going to play out. That's what I do, just like what he does is catch the ball. I roam the middle of the field. My job is to be coming in there and delivering whatever blow there is. I don't think [anything] will change. He understands if he comes in there what's going to go down. Here we go."
On if they've talked about the hit because they're friends:"Absolutely. But there isn't [anything] to talk about, not on game day. Everything is free. We text, I talk to him, things like that, but the game is the game. What happens on the field, we give each other love, give each other respect after that. Do what you do, I do what I do. After that, we're homies and friends off the field."
On if they trash text:"No, heck no. Never. With Chad it's always something about, 'Give me a Bible scripture. Give me something to read. Give me something to focus on.' Maybe something's going bad, maybe that's going good. Whatever. We just have conversations about it."
Opening statement:"I think you all love when I come to the [microphone], because I give you all a laugh first. What are you all going to do without me in a year? Boy oh boy. We'll figure that one out later. I didn't say I was retiring." (laughing)
On if he enters this game with a mindset of payback:"You look back on that game, and that's one of those situations, one of those games, where as a team, you kind of let it get away from you. They played good, but we had some opportunities here and there that we didn't capitalize on. They did what they needed to do as a team, and that was to get one away. And at the time, it meant two games, because it's a divisional game. So what we have to do, our mindset now, is we have to put it back on the even playing ground. We have to go down there and figure out a way to pick up a win in their house."
On what makes the Bengals' defense better:"Everybody's healthy. Their defense is for the most part healthy. In previous years, they had a lot of guys that were injured or nicked up or trying to go out there and trying to play that were not 100 percent. The first six or seven games of the season, those guys have been fairly healthy, and it has shown because they're playing lights out on defense. Now, they have a few injuries here and there, but they're still playing well. I think that's been the biggest thing for them, is that they've been able to keep guys on the field. You've got to understand that they've got a bunch of first-rounders on that defensive side of the ball. Now, when you can get all those guys healthy and playing, that's going to be a very good defense. Coach [Marvin] Lewis has those guys playing."
On the Broncos playing him with single coverage when he caught his touchdown pass:"You can't cover me single coverage. You can't. It hasn't been done in 13 years, and it won't be done. But it is what it is. You try to take advantage of coverages and how they play you. But Cincinnati did a good job, a very good job, the first game at totally taking me out of the game. In the back of my mind, I just need to go into this game, work a little bit harder, find a way to, if they choose to do that again, find a way to get open. If not, then other people will be open. One person, it won't happen. But with two or three… Two is a possibility. Three, I've got to work a little bit harder. Four, then Mark Clayton's open, (laughing) Todd Heap's open, Kelley Washington's open, so I don't mind."
On how much he can learn from the first game against Cincinnati to adjust for this one:"We just understood as a team, not just me, I think as a team, that we left a lot of plays out there on the field. We didn't have as many to start off, but the ones that we had, we didn't capitalize on enough of them. So, just being patient and understanding what they're doing or what they're trying to do to us on defense and making an adjustment from there [is important]. I think that's going to be our biggest thing. Whatever they do to us, we have to adjust to it or make them adjust to us, one of the two. They played a very good game the first time, and I guarantee you they're going to come back with that same attitude and mindset that they're going to do whatever they need to do as a defense to stop this offense."
On his thoughts on using trash talk as a weapon:"The best trash talker I've ever seen was Marvin Harrison. He said nothing, but he beat you every play. You don't have to talk. If you beat a man every play, that's your trash-talking right there. Some guys do it. But, I've found that it just tires you out after a while. Physically, it tires you out. Some guys it gets to them, but if you've been in this league long enough, it doesn't bother you whether they're trash-talking or not. You're going out there and just playing. You're not worried about trash-talking."
On if he reads Chad Ochocinco's Tweets:"No, I don't. Next question. I don't care for his Tweets."
On if the loss to the Bengals in Baltimore earlier this year motivates the team for this week:"It's another football game. That's it. We're ready to play. We know who's on the schedule. We know what's at stake. They know what's at stake. So, let's go."
On what the difference was last week that made the Ravens' defense step up:"We had to get the bye week out of the way. We didn't have a bye week last year. So, it kind of threw us off with a bye week and everything. We were kind of ready to play."
On if he feels like the team is back on track:"We've still got a long season. We focus on this one. Like I said, we know what's at stake. [It's the] next game, who's on the schedule, let's go."
On how close he was to blocking the punts last week after he's had a chance to watch the film:"The ball went through my hands. That was a rookie mistake. You've got to have those hands tight to take it off the foot."
On whether the games against guys who talk a lot and teams they face twice a year and have more history with are more fun for him:"No, I don't care who it is over there, so long as we are playing football. It's fun any time we're out there playing ball. Actually, wherever we playing football at it's fun. It really doesn't matter who you're playing against."
On if LB Ray Lewis has ever told him about a play he was going to make, like he told CB/RS Lardarius Webb he would score on the kickoff return against the Bengals:"Yeah, plenty of times. You get a feel for things. He actually told me about a play Sunday. [He told me], 'Just look out for this.' And they ran the play exactly how he said it. [There have] been many instances when many guys will be out there and alert calls or say something about a play. The Lardarius thing, I don't know, I wasn't right there. I'm sure he told him, a lot of guys have told Lardarius that he's going to break one. I even told him a couple of weeks ago. So, if that counts, hey."
On whether he agrees with Lewis that his predicting the play with Webb was a spiritual thing:"I wouldn't say there hasn't been one. I'm sure there has. It's really all spiritual when you think about the connection that we all have and just the whole feel of the game. So, it's all spiritual."
On what RB Cedric Benson has brought to the Bengals' offense:"It's somebody else you've got to pay attention to. You definitely want to stop the run, so you've got to pay attention to it. And, they're running the ball good. He's a very capable back. I've been watching Cedric since he was at Texas. He's more than capable. You've got to make sure you know where he's at."
On if he takes offense or finds it a compliment when people call him gambler:"Most people who talk about my play don't know how to play football. So, it really don't matter what they say."
On what the challenges are from a defensive point of view when facing a no-huddle offense:"Just getting lined up. No need to panic, get the call and get lined up. We see it enough against Joe [Flacco]. Against teams that we've played, we expect it. So you've just got to get lined up and play your defense and execute."
On what the defense has to do to shut down Ochocinco and QB Carson Palmer on Sunday:"We've just got to play our ball. Just play our ball, execute the defense and be where we're supposed to be."
On the comments of Palmer that Reed is a sure Hall of Famer:"It don't mean nothing to me right now, man. I couldn't care less about Hall of Fame and all that stuff right now. I've still got this year to play. We've still got games on the schedule. That stuff is out the door for me, man. I'll think about that when the ballots are coming."
RB Ray Rice
On how often QB Joe Flacco trash talks to him: "Every day. Joe doesn't bother me too much. (laughter) *We just try to make plays. He doesn't really yell at me. He'll make some smart comments here and there, but he's our quarterback. So, I've got to stay on his good side for him to get me the ball." *(laughter) On how often QB Joe Flacco trash talks to him:** "Every day. Joe doesn't bother me too much. We just try to make plays. He doesn't really yell at me. He'll make some smart comments here and there, but he's our quarterback. So, I've got to stay on his good side for him to get me the ball."
On the process of gaining the starting RB job:"It was just constant work for me. Every week there was something different. You've got to game-plan for each team, and every game plan is different. The last week, they did a couple things in the pass game that tried to take me out of the pass game, and other guys were coming open down the field. I ran between the tackles pretty well, so it's just a game plan thing, and I'm just cherishing every opportunity to play. Whenever I'm in there, I just try to make plays and help the team out."
On his feelings about the no-huddle offense: "I think the no-huddle offense is great. Last week was a perfect example. When you play against a great defense, the longer you keep those guys on the field, the more they unravel – having to get guys on and off the field for longer drives. It rattles a defense. Coach [Cam Cameron] does a great job with it. That's just a different tempo. Once you get into our tempo, it makes your game plan a lot easier. When you can execute and get into your regular stuff, then you can switch it on. So, we like to call ourselves a multi-dimensional offense. We try to keep everything involved."
On how Flacco runs the no-huddle offense: "Joe does a great job. He's poised. One thing with a no-huddle offense, you have to be poised at quarterback. He also has to listen to the calls. Obviously, it's easier to run it at home, but when you're on the road and can do it, it makes it 10 times better for your offense. Defenses are not going to just sit around anymore, they're going to move around. So, when you're in a no-huddle, it doesn't give them time to make all the checks that they want to make."
On if the loss to Cincinnati sticks with him more: "Yeah, they played a great game that game. That's a game where I definitely felt like we didn't come out and play to the best of our ability, but they played a great game. As bad as we said we played, we were that close to winning the game. Give them credit, they've been winning games. They're on a little hot streak. They did a great job against the Bears, but when you play in divisional games, these are like playoff games. If we split the series with them, we'll still be fine. So, that's our goal, to go in there and split the series."
On if he gets a growing sense of what division rivalries mean: "Definitely. It's almost… If you lose two of them, you're three games behind – if you lose a divisional game. But you really try to go out and take them all. When you win your divisional games, that sets you up good later in the year. Right now, we're winning games, but if we win our divisional games we'll be pretty good."
On what the first game against Cincinnati means this weekend: "Well, we're 0-1, and they probably did us a favor. They humbled us a little bit. We came off a disappointing loss against New England, and we thought we would just bounce right back. We kind of took that [first] game for granted. But no, we don't feel like we're gone. We just know that this is a division game. This is a very important game for all parties involved. We better play some good football, otherwise Carson [Palmer] is going to have one of those kind of days."
On stopping RB Cedric Benson: "It goes back to the principal of winning. When you defend the run pretty good, you've got a good chance of winning the game. That's what we did last week. We defended the run pretty good. He's having a good year. He's having a really good year. This is probably his breakout year, his best year yet, and he wants to keep that rolling. We are just going to try to get our consistency to snowball and get back to what we do best, and that's play good defense."
On if there was anything Benson was able to do that no other running back has been able to do in the past: "I don't know. He squeezed through some holes, some very tight holes. Then his offensive line did a great job of creating some big holes for him. Sometimes they creased us. Like I said, he had a good day. They had a good day as a team. We just have to do our part and make sure that doesn't happen again."
On if ILB Ray Lewis predicted any plays for him like he did with CB/RS Lardarius Webb returning the kickoff last week: "I don't know. Is that what happened? No, he hasn't really predicted one for me. Maybe I've got to bring him to lunch or get him some donuts, maybe bring him some coffee. But he hasn't predicted anything for me. But if he did do that he would be 'The Great Aristotle.'" (laughter)
On his thoughts about playing the same team a second time: "Well, you've got to understand, the first quarter you're going to expect a lot of different things that they didn't do in the first game. But after that it should be back to business as usual. They're going to do what they do best, and we're going to try to lineup and do what we do best. It becomes a chess match all over again. So, you don't want to be too predictable, but then again you don't want to get away from what you do that got you to where you are. So, I guess we just have to wait and see."
On if he has ever been completely surprised with something somebody has done: "No, probably except for 2006 when they threw a flee-flicker on me. That was pretty surprising. Other than that, no. This is the NFL and you've seen everything. They've invented the Wildcat and all these other different type of offenses. So, there really isn't anything extra I haven't seen."