DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to have everybody here. Obviously, it's a Wednesday, guys are in good spirits, and we've had a good start – a good work day so far. And, obviously, there's still a lot of work to do."
On if the new NFL overtime rules in the playoffs factor into his game plan:"It does, without getting into the strategy too much about it. Obviously, there's more value in the second possession than there has been in the past. They can't win on an immediate field goal. They can win it on an immediate touchdown either way. But, on that second drive, if a team goes down and kicks a field goal, they basically have four downs to move the ball down the field. It's not that they are only going to give them three downs and they would assume they would have punted if we weren't in overtime. So, that second drive has a real good chance to move down the field, I would say, odds-wise, percentages-wise, more than it normally would. So you've got to keep that in mind. And, you might see some teams defer. You might see some teams decide to kick. I think that's a possibility, depending on the wind and all that stuff."
On how T Michael Oher and S Ed Reed are feeling after a few days:"They seem good. They were out here. They seem like they were moving around OK."
On being optimistic that Oher and Reed will play on Sunday:"I'm always optimistic. I'm a very optimistic person."
On addressing false start penalties in the noisy environment at Kansas City:"Well, they're not helpful anywhere. We just can't afford that. It's tough to overcome that. We can overcome it. You can always overcome it, but you don't want to have to overcome it. So, it's a big emphasis for us."
On the speculation surrounding his brother, Jim, as a candidate for a head coaching position in the NFL:"I heard a couple of guys [talking about it]. I think Ron Jaworski called him John a couple of times on the broadcast. I felt very proud about that. (laughter) I've come a long way. That's right, I was coaching the Orange Bowl and didn't even know it."
On the value of LB Ray Lewis' Super Bowl and playoff experience:"Ray Lewis, his experience, and really all the [veterans]... We have great leadership on this team. That's one thing we are very blessed with. We have great veteran leadership. We've got young guys who want to learn from the veterans. They're all ears, they take it all in, and they jump on those guys' backs. The guys who have been there before understand what it's like to play in those kinds of environments. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it definitely helps."
On Lewis feeling a sense of urgency to go to another championship game at this time in his career:"Definitely. The guys like Ray and Derrick [Mason] and Cory [Redding] and the guys who have been around – without leaving anybody out – there's a bunch of those guys. There should always be a sense of urgency. Look at the Dan Marino situation: You just never know how many playoffs you're even going to make in the course of your career and have a shot at it. But those guys really feel it. The young guys figure they're going to be back there every year. But, the young guys are feeding off the veteran guys' urgency a little bit and understanding how valuable these opportunities really are. Life is short, and careers are even shorter. So, here we are."
On QB Joe Flacco being underappreciated in Baltimore:"I don't know, is he? I'm not sure. I don't know. I don't gauge it. He's a heck of a player, and I'm sure glad he's our quarterback."
On what he sees about the Kansas City Chiefs on film:"I think they're just getting better all the time. You see the same type of personality that they were trying to build when we played them the first game at the beginning of the year last year, and they've just gotten better. They've added players. They're very physical. They have a tough, hard-nosed defense, a good, young secondary led by Eric Berry, who is going to be one of the star defensive backs in this league for a long time, linebackers, two first-round draft picks playing defensive end, a veteran offensive line – especially the inside guys, two backs who can take it to the house at any time, a receiver who has 15 touchdowns [and] a quarterback that obviously is a veteran guy now. It's a really good team."
On what WR Anquan Boldin brings to the team as the player with the most recent Super Bowl experience:"Well, that's probably what he brings. He's a guy who took a team through the Wild Card road path to the Super Bowl just a few short years ago. He talked to our guys about how that works and what the experience was there, and he can draw a lot of confidence from that. And, it's a good thing."
On the replay challenges that did not work out this season:"They don't keep track of that. What you look at with replays is did you not challenge one you should have challenged and missed one. We had one last year that we didn't get challenged because we didn't see it. That's one where you look at yourself and say, 'Gosh, I wish we would have challenged that. We could have done better with that. How can we be better there?' Or, did you challenge and run out of challenges and lose your challenges and not have a time out to challenge at the end of the game? Neither of those situations has come up this year. So, all those challenges were all situations that sometimes we didn't get. You look back and you think still they should have been overturned. But, you've got to take a shot at some of those and see if you can get them overturned."
On what he's learned from his first two years' playoff experiences that will help him to prepare for the playoffs this year:"I really haven't listed them out. I could make something up. You want me to try to make something up? (laughter) I think that just being there and having experience and understanding the environment and having a sense of what it's like makes everybody better."
On past playoff experiences not impacting his focus on the upcoming playoff game:"We're just focused on this game. The whole bottom line is we have to win this game. Everything that you have gets poured into this game, against this team, at this time, in this stadium. And that's what you have to do. And you can't look past anything. You don't need to look back. You've already drawn on those experiences. They've already become a part of who we are as a coaching staff or as a team, and now we just take that forward, really, and that's all. That's what you have to do."
On past experience in the playoffs creating a greater sense of urgency in the game against the Chiefs:"I don't know. What do I mean? I mean, we're getting ready for the Kansas City Chiefs, and it's great for you guys to analyze that and come up with some meaningful analogy. I don't have one. All I know is we have a game on Sunday against the Chiefs and we have to win. We understand that."
On the likelihood that S Tom Zbikowski will return to play this week:"I'm always optimistic. I think he's got a chance. Like always, we'll have to see how he practices this week. We're planning on having him out there today. We'll just see how it looks."
On his plan to review the new playoff overtime rules with the team:"We will go over them tomorrow morning. That's our meeting where we do rules and officials and things like that. So, that will be a part of tomorrow morning's meeting. I think they have a pretty good handle on it. We haven't talked about it since training camp, as far as the playoff rules. So, that should be a fun meeting."
On comparing Kansas City S Eric Berry to Ed Reed:"I don't know. I think he stands on his own two feet without comparing him to anybody else. He's a young guy who was all over the field at Tennessee, and he's playing the same way at Kansas City. When a guy transfers those skills from college to the NFL, it's probably what you look for in a draft pick, and he's done that very well."
On the importance of maintaining a weekly routine in the playoff run:"Very important. That's what we try to do. Everything for us is built around routine. We'll have the same schedule, the same snack, the same travel schedule, basically. Everything will be the same as we always do it. As football people, we like that – we like routine."
On facing a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in some time:"It's interesting, in this league, it seems like you never see the same old team. It seems like everybody's always evolving and growing, and there's always differences. But, it's always challenging to play a team that you don't play a lot. And I think it will be challenging for them to play us, a team they haven't played a lot. So, it adds a new dimension to the X and O part of it."
On talking to his brother about his win in the Orange Bowl and the possibility of becoming a head coach in the NFL:"I talked to him about the game and stuff and some other things. But, he was excited. He's proud of his guys, obviously. And, it's a big deal for all of us. We're all proud of Jim and what he's done, and my dad was down [there] and mom was down there and extended cousins and everybody were down there. I'm the only one that wasn't down there. I didn't earn it. I did earn the opportunity to go down there. I'm kind of disappointed about that. I'm excited about this week, too. They won a bowl game. Now, we've got to take steps toward winning a bowl game."
On following their father's footsteps into coaching being a surprising thing:"Probably, if you know anything about coaching, you'd be surprised a little bit. We're doing OK."
On if his dad and brother will be with him on the sidelines at Kansas City:"Yes. They'll be there. We're going to try to keep Jim off the field."
On any problems with his brother being on the sidelines if he should take an NFL coaching position:"Between now and then? I don't know. I'll have to check into that. Good question. We don't want him getting any inside information at that point either, do we?"
CB Chris Carr
On what it's like to be a "good guy" after winning the "Media Good Guy Award":"A good guy? I don't know. Sometimes it's all relative, so it depends how everybody else is. But I appreciate [the award], and I understand that the fans want to hear truth, and I try never to lie. I won't lie – maybe I won't say something how I really feel – but I won't go out there and give a lie to you guys. And, so I always try to be insightful and truthful to everybody, because fans want to hear stuff and they want [honesty] and they want accountability, too. So, I just try to do that every single week."
On what he sees from Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe:"He catches the ball like he's a big target and he's going to go up there and he's going to catch it. I always say that's half of the game right there. If you have a good quarterback like [Matt] Cassel or a [Tom] Brady, they're going to get you the ball even though you're covered. So, a lot of times there'll be tough coverage on him, but he's still going to catch the ball. He's not one of those blazers like a Mike Wallace where he's just going to out-run you, but he catches the ball very well. And I say that and it sounds simple, but there are a lot of receivers that can't catch the ball with tight coverage, and he does a good job with that."
On whether Bowe is one of the more physical receivers he's seen on tape:"No, he's not overly physical, no. But, he just knows that when it's time to go up and get the ball, he's going to catch it. But, he's not really overly physical, kind of like a… You know, Brandon Marshall is really physical, [Terrell Owens] can get physical, but he's really not that type."
On how much thought he puts into Kansas City's lackluster performance on offense to close out the season at home:"Well, if you're preparing for a playoff game you should prepare for the best Kansas City Chiefs. And you don't know what their mindset was going into that game. They already clinched the division; they knew they already were going to be in it. They could have been like, 'Hey we just kind of want to relax and get ready for our playoff game.' And Oakland, defensively, they've been playing well this whole entire season. You've got Nnamdi Asomugha out there at corner; he's going to make it tough for anybody. And Oakland showed that they can play very well, too, so it wasn't like they lost to a bad team. So, it's one of those things that, hey, it's going to be a playoff atmosphere, they're going to be ready, [and] I'm sure they're going to be a lot more motivated than they were the last two weeks. So, we can't expect for them to go out there and just roll over."
On whether he thinks the Chiefs intentionally lost so they could play the Ravens:"No, I don't think that was the mindset, but you never know."
On whether resting players or relaxing at the end of the season could come back to hut a team in the playoffs:"Yeah, if you do relax... [When I was] in Tennessee [in 2008], I don't think that was the case. I just think… You know, we lost to the Colts. We rested all our starters in the last loss, again when I was there in '08. But yeah, if you do relax there are different… It's kind of weird. Every single time – like last year – the Saints and the Colts played, and it was like, 'Should they rest their starters or shouldn't they?' And so, the Colts rested their starters and they ended up not winning the Super Bowl, and everybody is like, 'Well, did they lose because they rested their starters?' There's not always a correlation. And, if they would have won, they'd have been like, 'Oh, they won because they rested their starters.' So, it's kind of hard to say. In the playoffs, anything can happen. I mean, you've got teams that are very good, and it comes down to one single game, and any game during the season you can slip up. But if you slip off in the playoffs, you're going to be done. So, I think it's kind of hard to always pinpoint, 'This is why they lost.' But I just think the team that prepares the most and goes out there and plays hard and is relaxed is usually the team that wins."
On going into the playoffs with experience versus the first time going into a playoff game:"You don't really have those jittery emotions like you do. I mean, you do, but it's different. The first time you play in the playoffs, you're like, 'Oh, OK. Oh my God, this is the playoffs.' But when you've been there before – especially with the same guys – you know we have guys who have played in the playoffs with each other before, and that gives you that added confidence going out there, being like, 'Hey, if we just prepare the same and go out there and play hard, it's going to be just like any other game, because we've done this before.' And so, it does give you that confidence, because you know what to expect, you know what to look for. And so, definitely with this team, we have a lot of veterans who have played in playoff games, and so that's definitely beneficial."
On what it is about Chiefs QB Matt Cassel that allowed him to throw 27 TDs and just seven INTs this season:"He's accurate. I think the way they run the ball, too… I mean they have a very good running game. Whenever you can run the ball effectively, that's going to set up to a lot of third-and-2, third-and-short [situations]. Watching the film yesterday, there are a lot of times in third down [where] it's third-and-short. And so, when you can do that for a quarterback, he's not going to throw too many interceptions. And he is a good quarterback; he makes good decisions. You know, if nobody's there he's going to take the sack or he's going to scramble and throw the ball away. He's done an excellent job of that all season. So, it's a combination of him and [offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis. Charlie Weis, he's a good offensive coordinator and he gets his guys in good position, creates matchups with [RB Jamaal] Charles on running backs and getting Bowe on crossing routes and stuff like that. And so, [they are] real high-percentage plays – kind of like Drew Brees plays. So yeah, it makes it difficult, but [there are] a combination of a bunch of factors that make it difficult to intercept him."
On whether he is surprised about the success from the secondary this season after a lot of scrutiny surrounding the unit early in the season:"No, I always had high expectations playing with all the guys. We know we're – playing with [Tom] Zbikowski at the start of the season – we know last year we played with him a lot and he played well. And I felt just during the offseason, the OTAs, me personally, I felt like I was getting even better. And so, I just felt like if I keep on getting better and keep playing, that I'm going to have a good season. So, going a whole year, everybody's played with each other. We had a year experience of playing with each other, we had [Lardarius] Webb back, Fabian [Washington] was back, and Dawan Landry has been here; he's been a steady member of our secondary. It really wasn't a concern. Everybody would ask me questions all the time, and I would just sit there… The way we were practicing, and the way I felt, I was like, 'You know we're going to do just fine.' We have high expectations, so it definitely wasn't a surprise."
On whether he feels the chemistry in the secondary is there heading into the playoffs:"We have great chemistry right now. We feel good, but I don't feel we're exactly 'there.' I think it's one of those things that if you don't get better, you're going to lose. I mean, that's just plain and simple, because other teams are going to get better, and if you don't get better, you're going to stay the same and really, you're getting worse."
On how you get better:"You keep on looking at your corrections. Even if you win a game, just like the past three, four weeks, we won, but there was a lot of mistakes out there that we need to sure up, because we know in the playoffs [and] everybody's going to be watching that film and be like, 'Hey, we think we can get this on them. Their technique is not so great on this.' So, if you really look at yourself objectively, and don't go, 'Oh we won, I don't have to get any better. We're doing real great right now…' You know, that's very dangerous. So, you have to stay humble and stay diligent on your study and look at yourself; you have to self-scout because you have to really make sure that you're doing things correctly, because they're going to look to expose your weaknesses. So, having guys like Ed Reed and everybody out here, it's just good leaders know that, hey, we need to get better if we want to win a Super Bowl. So, that's our mentality."
On what it means to have a guy like LB Ray Lewis in the huddle and in the locker room at this time of the year:"Oh, it's just great. Whenever you have a Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, you have confidence that they're going to go out there and they're going to play well and they're going to be the leader and they're going to play great. And you know they always show up in big games; they always have. And so, it just gives you that added confidence going out there in the game, and it really… When you're playing with great players like that, who have experience, you go in the playoffs and it doesn't seem as big of a deal, because that's been our expectations the whole entire year. And Ray always has those high expectations every single week. So, everybody's going to be feeling real comfortable having guys out there like Ray Lewis with us."
On finishing 12-4 and how you factor in what happens going forward to determine whether this season was a success:"A Super Bowl. I feel like we have the most talented team in the NFL. If you look at our roster from top to bottom, I think it's fair to say. I've talked to people who have played on other teams, who are on other teams, and I talked to Prince Miller – who was in New England for a week and came back here – and saying the talent level that we had compared to them... So, when you have the most talent, it should be a disappointment if you don't win the Super Bowl. So, right now, 12-4, 11-5, all that's irrelevant right now. It doesn't matter if the defense played great or if the defense played bad all year. It's about what we do now. With the talent that we have and with our experience, with the mentality that we have, we expect to win it because we know that when we line up against any team, we feel that we should beat them. We feel like we shouldn't lose to any team. Anything less than that would just be a complete disappointment to us, because we have those high expectations."
QB Joe Flacco
On his new haircut and growing a beard:"I just needed a haircut. I don't know, you can consider it a playoff beard, I guess, if you want. Really, I usually get it to about a week's length and then I cut it off for the game. But a couple of guys said I should probably try to keep it, and I said, 'All right, why not?"
On being aware that fans are growing playoff beards now:"No. I'm not. I like it."
On keeping his beard until the Super Bowl:"Yeah, I'll keep it."
On playoff games feeling commonplace after being there his first two years: "I think we're getting spoiled around here thinking this is an every-year occurrence, and so far, it has been. But, to get in the playoffs is a big accomplishment, and having that experience the last two years I think is going to help this team. [This is] a veteran team in some respects. We have guys that have experience in the playoffs, and anytime you go in and play important games like this, especially on the road, that can help you out. To go out there and get off to a fast start rather than trying to take it all in in the beginning and let a team jump out on you, I think when it comes to that, being in the playoffs the last couple of years, and losing playoff games and seeing what that feels like, it's going to help us out come this playoffs."
On being a playoff veteran helping him from getting rattled:"When the game starts and the whistle blows, it's a football game. There's a little more hoopla surrounding the game and all that. But, the bottom line is it's a football game and you have to do the same things you did during the regular season in order to get ready for it and in order to play well."
On preparing for the crowd noise in away playoff games:"Definitely. You can see when you look at the tape, there are a lot of offenses that have false starts against them a couple of times a game because it's so loud. And, we're going to have to make sure we go in there and handle that well. It's going to be a loud place. It's going to be rocking, and rightfully so. They're going to be excited about this game, and we're going to have to go in there and make sure that we handle that in order to play well."
On the offensive plan this week being similar to New Orleans and less like Cincinnati:"I think we were pretty similar. We just didn't have as much success in what we did against those teams. Against New Orleans, we were able to score on third downs, and against Cincinnati we weren't. I think we want to keep these guys on the field, and in order to do that, we have to convert first downs. So, we're going to need to have both aspects of our game working really well in order to do that. And, I think that's what we're going to get ready to do against these guys. They've got a good defense, and they can get some pass rush. We're going to go in there, and our goal is to get first downs, keep ourselves on the field and run a lot of plays. And, I think when you see that, then we're going to be where we want to and we're going to be scoring points."
On the players on Kansas City's defense who are the most dangerous:"[Tamba] Hali is. [Eric] Berry is playing well. They're young guys back there, but they're playing well. Hali, No. 91, he has the ability to get some pressure. So, we're going to have to account for him up front and make sure we handle it well."
LB Ray Lewis
On his sense of urgency heading into the playoffs: "I can never change that. Here we go again. From the beginning of the season, we've all sat here and watched it, the same journey that we talked about. Through that journey, you had your peaks, your valleys, your ups, your downs, your wrongs, your rights, your dos, your don'ts. You had all these different things, and now you find yourself with the only reason you play the game, and that's the opportunity to be in The Dance. We have that. We have that right now. The more exciting part is what we went through to get here. Now, as a team, I just like who we are as a team, no matter where we play, whoever we play. It ain't about being cocky, it ain't about being nothing. It's about being very confident in our ballclub, and our ballclub, right now, has really been battle-tested. So, we're ready for the playoffs."
On his message before the New Orleans game to the young guys about cherishing the opportunity to be in the playoffs: "It was a real message that I think a lot of men don't share. I've been in this business now 15 years, and I've competed against some of the greatest warriors to come in this business. And, I've watched some of the greatest warriors come in this business and leave this business – I won't name names – without a ring, without that. When you get that, the thing that waters your mouth again is to feel that again. So, when you find yourself back here, the message starts to become simple: What will you sacrifice for your team? What will you give up for that ultimate prize? We're talking about regardless of who it ends up being – three weeks. [In] three weeks, there will be one NFC champ, there will be one AFC champ, and that's it, out of 32 teams. There will be two teams standing. What would you give up to be that team? And for me, when New Orleans was coming in here, they are still defending champs until somebody else touches that confetti. And that's what I try to get my young guys to clue in, like this is what you play for. This is what we watched. This is what we all sat there and watched. The team that's coming in here tomorrow, we watched this. We watched them win the Super Bowl against the Colts last year. Do you want to feel that? Because I do. I do again. That's the only reason you play the game. And I'll say it again: We have that opportunity now. We're back in The Dance in the third year. Some people say three is the charm; I say let three stay [the] charm. I say finish. Let's finish now, because we've done everything else. We've been to the AFC Championship, we've been to the Divisional rounds, we've done everything we're supposed to do. What's next for us? The next step is finish."
On whether there is something about the pain of losing a playoff game that moves him to make sure it doesn't happen again: "Always, always. What you feel when you get that pain is: I've got to go back and work harder. There is something that I need to do more. As a leader, that's always been my thing, that anytime that I lost a playoff game, the next year, I wanted to make a point that I'm still pissed off about that one. If you watch any major sport, when somebody loses, that next year it motivates them even more – the true great ones. That's kind of what has motivated me every year. I'm not biased of the Super Bowl. I do watch it. I will never attend one without playing in it, but I do watch it. You sit there and you're like, 'Wow, somebody will experience what I've experienced.' I want that. I want that. It's the only reason you play the game. Right now, my job as a leader towards my team is to tell them, 'Man, look, we've got three weeks to make up your mind. We've got Kansas City this week, whoever next week and whoever the next week. Whatever you've got to do. Whatever you've got to do.' Let's see if we can make that trip to Dallas."
On whether this team has played its best game yet: "We can go back 10 years ago. I don't believe it's about playing your best game. I believe it's about playing your best game on whatever Sunday [to do whatever] you've got to do to win. That's it, because when you go back to 2000, and you look at even this year, there were games that we weren't supposed to win, but we won. You take the Divisional round against Denver coming here the first week… I mean, who draws up that play of Shannon [Sharpe] catching the ball off a bounce? You don't draw up those plays, but it happens. It happens because of what you've been through as a team, and how hard you feel that you've got to keep climbing the mountain, keep climbing the mountain. So, whatever we feel about having our best game, I think our best game will come as long as we keep winning."
On what he thinks about Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles:"Pure explosive. That's the way they draw up his schemes. That's what they like to do with him. That's why he's the second-leading rusher in the National Football League. He's just one of those talents that they love him in Kansas City. And, if you watch him, you see why. He's one of those guys that really controls the tempo of the game. And then you bring in a veteran like Thomas Jones, so that one-two punch alone… Then, you look at Dwayne Bowe and the young tight end, so they have a lot of young pieces in a lot of places. If you watch the way they're playing, they're getting those young pieces really involved in the game. So, good test for us this week. I mean a real great test for us this week, because it's going to be a real good game."
On what it takes to slow down a great running game like the Chiefs': "I think just be us. Let's be us. You don't have to create nothing. That's one thing about the playoffs – records don't mean nothing, rushing yards don't mean nothing, how many times you did this don't mean nothing. The only thing that means something right now is if we come play through our identity, and hopefully they play through theirs."
On whether Joe Flacco has the ability to play at a higher level than Trent Dilfer did during the Super Bowl season: "I'm biased from both sides. I love Trent the same way I love Joe. I do. I do. Maybe that's just the way I will leave this game. Anybody that puts on a purple jersey with me, we're going to ride it together, and Joe is that type of guy. For us, it doesn't matter with numbers, because me, as a leader, I always go tell him, 'It's just football. The game will never change. It's just football.' And if he keeps playing it the way he keeps playing it, we have a great chance to do something very special because of who he is and the talent that he has. So, forget numbers and all of that. At the end of the day, if we come out of Kansas with a 'W', I don't care who did what. We did it as a team."
On Kansas City QB Matt Cassel: "He makes a lot of plays. He makes way more plays with his legs than people think he does, and that goes back to speaking about the talent that they have. They're using him the same way they're using their young back. They're putting him in position. They're getting him on bootlegs, they're getting him on edges, they're getting him to where he's spreading everybody out and then running for 10, 12 yards. So, they're using, I think, their talent very, very well, and Cassel is really managing the game well as well."
On Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis praising Lewis' leadership and heart: "That's the guy who gave me everything that I have. I came in this business with Marvin Lewis, so the knowledge that he taught me and the passion that he taught me to play with is one thing. But, what he taught me to do for my teammates and my team was something totally different. And, that's what I sacrifice with my team. So, what he's talking about is me just always clueing my team in to let them know that these moments only come around once. That's it. That's it. In 2011, once again, there will be one person that hoists that Lombardi [Trophy], one person that touches that confetti, and another one will be there with not such a good feeling in their stomach. Hopefully, if we're that team, then it was meant for us."
On what playoff experience means: "Playoff experience is simply a chess match, and that's what happens with experience. You take talent… Talent is one thing. Your first, second, third quarter, talent is doing great, but then that fourth quarter, experience and playoff knowledge on what you do in these tight situations and what you do against this or against that, that's where it all clicks in at. That's where it all clicks in. And when you watch the teams that go on to do something like that, it is those veteran teams who have that type of experience, has that type of knowledge that goes on and wins games like that, as well as win championships like that. So, for us coming in, we understand that we're a very veteran ballclub, that we have the right pieces in the right places that have been in there. You bring in an Anquan Boldin over there, who lost a Super Bowl to Pittsburgh… That's experience of understanding what that felt like. He doesn't ever want to feel that again. As for myself, you take a guy like a Cory Redding who has never been to the playoffs a day in his life, and now he comes here and he's in the playoffs. It's more emphasis because he's now older, he's now understanding how important it is. Talent-wise, you get over there, you get a bunch of talent together, and you're like, 'Do you understand how serious this really is? Like, do you know much you've really got to study? Like, do you know?' And most of the league [players] don't. So, I think experience takes over in that realm."
On whether he feels the love and energy directed at him from Baltimore residents during playoff time: "Yeah, I think you feel it. Definitely, like when you go out to dinner, like a lot of your tabs might be covered or something like that. (laughter) Baltimore, it's always been a football city. It's always been a football city. The environment, even watching the mayor pretty much try to paint the whole downtown purple and things... But, just the environment of how we love the game of football. That alone makes you want to do things for your city. That's why a lot of times, even in my messages, our city is always brought up, because our city is a very important part of who we are."
DT Haloti Ngata
On what he sees from Kansas City on film: "A great running team. I think everybody knows that. Their offensive linemen, they're experienced. They do well moving guys around. They've got a great receiver in [Dwayne] Bowe and a great quarterback, so they're pretty much, offensively, a complete offense. Hopefully, we can do what we want to do in stopping the run first and making them a one-dimensional team, and hopefully when we do that, we can pin our ears back and get to [Matt] Cassel."
On a great rush offense going against a great rush defense: "We love when teams like to run. We'll see how it goes during the game, but if we can take away their best thing, then that's an advantage for us. Like I said earlier, we're hopeful we can do that and we can get to Cassel instead of worrying about the run more."
On whether there is anyone else in the league like RB Jamaal Charles: "Just a smaller running back. He's just real shifty and quick to the hole. I think he's kind of like a Chris Johnson, because I've played Chris Johnson more. He's just so fast and quick. He does a lot of things really well. He definitely is different from last year. Last year was just only his second year, and beginning of the season we had them first game, so this is a totally different Charles. Hopefully, we can get a good feel of him and get him down."
On the differences between Charles and Thomas Jones: "They are different. Jones is a little bigger, so I think he's able to hit it in between the tackles a little bit better. He's just a little older, and he's a little bit more patient, I think, than Charles. But Charles, man, once he hits that hole and sees it, he does a great job of just hitting it and getting some yards after that."
On whether Cassel will go to a three-step drop to get the ball out quickly: "He does a lot of things well. He moves around the pocket well and he scrambles quite a bit. I was actually surprised to see on film that he does tuck the ball and run, and he's not really scared to do that. I think our defensive backs do a great job covering, and hopefully, we can get to him and when we get there, we can get him down because he's a pretty good scrambler, too."
On the Chiefs giving up seven sacks last week: "That's any given Sunday, really. That could be totally different this week, and it probably will be just because it's a playoff game. We'll just have to do our game, and hopefully, we can get him down a bunch, too."
On whether opponents are using double teams against him: "It's pretty much been the same for a while now. People have been double-teaming me more. I got more of it last year, and it's kind of been the same this year, just getting double-teamed. It's just part of the game, and I love doing it and opening up other guys to make plays."
On having more playoff experience than Kansas City: "It's big. I think some of us do take it for an advantage. You have guys like Cory Redding that come, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, that have never been on a playoff team. To see them work so hard and to want it so bad lets us know that it's not easy to get in the playoffs. Cory Redding had been in the league eight years, and this is his first one. It's a great feeling that I can be in the league four out of my first five years and in the playoffs. Hopefully, we can get our experience and use it against the Kansas City Chiefs."
On what he has learned from previous playoff games: "I think it just turns up a little bit more with speed and strength. I think guys do turn it up a little bit more, and it's kind of like a one-and-done. You've got to treat it that way, because if you lose, you're out. And so, I think guys play a little bit harder in the games."
On receiving the Most Valuable Player award from the Baltimore media: "That's pretty cool. Thank you, guys. I felt like this year has been a little bit different with my pass rush. I feel like I got a little better there, and hopefully, I can continue to improve in that game and just get better. Hopefully, I can be around Baltimore, because I love being here, I love the guys here – and not you guys as much (laughter) – but I love the fans. (laughter) Thank you, guys."
RB Ray Rice
On whether it is "Ray Rice" time in the playoffs:"No, I would say it's our team's time. I couldn't bust out an 83-yard run without my offensive line. It's just a great time to be a part of this team and part of the program. Everybody's racing to get to the playoffs, and it's finally here. We won 12 games, everything else is set right now, and we've just got to go ahead and take care of business."
On what he has learned from his playoff experience:"I think the adversity that we've been through in the playoffs will definitely help us out. We faced tough games, we faced situations, and we've played a lot of situational football this year. I think going into the playoffs, you're going to have situations in the playoffs where you're going to have to overcome them. I think that's where our team [has] an advantage over a lot of guys. We've faced a lot of adversity this year, and we still managed to win games."
On what it was like to go into his first playoff game in 2008:"My first playoff game, I was coming back off an injury, so it had a lot of emotions. There [were] just a lot of butterflies going through [me]. I'm just going to be honest with you, I didn't know what the playoffs were like until I got into the game and realized how hard the hits were. The hits are a lot harder in the playoffs when you've got guys fighting for a ring. I've got buddies and friends, who have been in the league, and they haven't even scratched the playoffs; they haven't even been there. I've been telling them the playoffs are [like] no other. Being able to say that I've played in some playoff games now, I know what it's all about."
On the team's confidence level with QB Joe Flacco:"[Joe] Flacco is just… If you watch the guy from Year One to Year Three, you see the growth and maturity that Joe has put into this team and put into this offense. I put myself in a similar category, because you look at where I came from, Year One to Year Three, and we've both taken on roles that we don't have to say a lot, but we're leaders on the offense. One thing about Joe I know [is] that whatever the play call is, we just want to execute it. No matter what [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] calls, we've just got to go out there in the playoffs – it doesn't matter what the play call is – we've just got to go out there and execute it. That's a great confidence factor going into the playoffs, knowing that Joe and everybody else along the offense – the leaders that we have – we've just got to go out there and do our job."
On the speculation that the offense is not playing well enough to advance in the playoffs:"From inside, you think… You're winning games; that's the No. 1 stat. But from inside, you're thinking that there were times where our defense wasn't playing its best football, and we had to pick them up. So when you look at a great team, you look at hitting it on all cylinders. One thing great teams do [is] they find ways to win. [Offensively], I always say we haven't played our best football yet. But, the great story about that is that, like you said, we're 12-4, no matter what stat you want to put behind it. We know we have things to pick up. We know that in the playoffs the margin for error is very small. We were able to overcome some of the little errors that we made this year in the regular season, but the margin for error now is very small. One thing about it, we're all fighting for one goal, and that's to get to the big dance. The better we do of putting it all together right now – and I mean, like, right now – the better our team will be, and the better our offense will be. One thing we're doing is we're playing overall great team football, regardless of what the stats say of offense, defense – the ratio – or special teams. We're finding ways to win games, and that's what matters."
On whether the offense held back against the Bengals:"No, I've said it: Cincinnati has a good defense, and they got after us. Cincinnati has a great defense. The great thing about going into this week is we don't have to see Cincinnati; we have to see the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Kansas City Chiefs haven't run a totally different front. The Kansas City Chiefs run a defense that we're used to seeing, and that should play into our hands a little bit. We're not saying they're not going to get after it. Every team has a plot and a scheme that they want to execute, and we've got to go out and execute ours as well."
On what it is like to be on the sideline when the team is fighting back to put points on the board:"For me, it's never really arguing. It's more like [looking towards] the next drive. You've got to get it corrected and get to the next drive, the next drive, the next drive. If it doesn't happen, we don't bow our heads. Our defense came up with plays and plays and plays, over and over again, that bailed us out. Good teams, that's what they do – they look out for each other. We all call ourselves 'brothers.' We're playing with unity right now. One thing about it that I can say is that as frustrating sometimes as it may seem, it's not as bad as people think it is, because one thing about it is [we have] great communication on the sideline. 'What do you see here? What do you see there? What can we fix?' We're always trying to find ways to get better. During a clutch situation, that's going to help us out in the long run because the team that points fingers at each other is the team that always loses. That's one thing that we don't do around here. We don't point the finger; we just go out there and take care of business."
On what S Ed Reed said to him on the field during the Cincinnati game:"Interesting point. Ed Reed actually told me to go into the huddle and get the guys to make it happen. In that drive, if you remember, we scored. I went in there and I said, 'They gave us the field position, [so] let's help our defense out a little bit.' And, we did our job. For me as a young player, when you get a guy like Ed Reed to come up to you and say, 'You know what? It's your turn to go take care of this offense,' I take that with a lot of respect and pride to go out there and boost our guys up. I'm not saying we need to boost them, but I'm talking to men that are a lot older than me, and people respond to me. It just shows that I have a leadership capability. When a guy asks you to do something like that, it means that he has a lot of respect for you as well."
S Ed Reed
On what he has seen from Kansas City on film: "I just want to get myself together right now. I'm looking at a very explosive team. They've got some guys with a lot of speed over there. I've been watching [Dwayne] Bowe since he was at LSU and know he's a great player. Jamaal Charles is another fast guy, like I said. He can go to the house from anywhere on the field. We've got our work cut out for us, but it's that time of the year. They know it's tournament time, it's the playoffs, so here we go."
On whether he expects the Chiefs to throw the ball a lot Sunday: "I expect them to try to do both. I expect them to come out and try to run the ball and try to get some balls passing. That's what you see on tape. They're not just doing one particular thing. They're doing them both. I remember watching them throughout the year, because I'm a fan of Eric Berry, and just watching them throughout the year, I saw them come back a couple times, so they definitely have a good team."
On not letting his rib injury keep him from playing Sunday: "I'm trying not to let it stop me, but it's painful just dealing with it. We'll rehab up until this Sunday. That was a good reason not to be playing Indianapolis, because if we would have been playing Indianapolis, we would have probably been playing Saturday. And that's the only thing, honestly, I was praying for. So, if that's what you want to call not playing Indianapolis, then so be it."
On whether he is feeling more urgency at this stage of his career: "No, no, not at all. You just want to be successful throughout the season and have a chance to play right now in January, and try to get to The Dance. I'm not basing my career off of one game, or getting to one game, even though that is the ultimate goal of all of us once we come here. But, we all know how that goes. At the end of it, we'll see how it goes, assess it. But right now, we're focused on this week and will go from there."
On whether this team has played its best game yet: "Hopefully not. Hopefully not. Hopefully, it's this week."
On how much tape he has watched on the Chiefs: "Probably about a couple hours or so, just breaking stuff down. It's probably a repeat of things. It's no different than any other week."
On whether he would characterize his rib injury as a bruise or muscular damage: "Both. Yeah, it's probably both. I didn't see any fracture, so that was a good thing, but it's definitely both."
On how tough this year has been returning from injury and playing through pain: "It's been tough, but I've been focused on it. After having surgery, that was something I had never been through. That was a whole different pain. It's been tough, but trainers have been doing a great job, my doctors have been doing a great job, and me personally, [I'm] just trying to stay up on it. There's a lot of things I had to cut out and I couldn't do and just didn't do because I would much rather get the rest and get off my feet."
On what the playoffs mean to a guy like DE Cory Redding, who is going for the first time: "Me and Cory talked about it at the beginning of the season, and I know for him, it means a lot making the playoffs. It'll mean more just going forward. I know he enjoyed it when he knew we were in, but I know Cory; he wants the ultimate thing."
On whether Redding adds something extra to the defense: "Oh yeah, definitely. You can see just the energy and the leadership he brings to the defense. That's the type of guy you want on your team."
On what he sees in Chiefs S Eric Berry, who has said he studies Reed's game: "I see growth in him. I see he's growing throughout the year. He's making plays – had a very impressive interception he returned a couple weeks ago. I was screaming at the TV for him. I'm definitely rooting for him, too. I talked to him when he was in college before he came out. I've never met him, personally, so it'll be interesting to meet him this week, being that it's going to be in the playoffs, in his first playoff game. So, it's going to be fun."
On what led to his two interceptions last Sunday: "It was just coverage. The first one was Cover 1 and [Lardarius] Webb just tipped the ball and I had defense on the guy, good coverage on the guy. He tipped the ball up, and that's just me running to the ball, hustling. The second one was just Ray [Lewis] being in the guy's face, putting pressure on him, and the ball is tipped up, and just breaking on the ball once again."
On being in the middle of the field behind a couple bodies on the second interception: "I was behind everybody, and I was actually on a whole different guy, but was able to break on the ball once the ball was thrown. The ball was tipped, so as I broke on the ball – just like the first one – I just happened to get there before it hit the ground."