DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On paying off his bet with Oregon alum TE Ed Dickson after the Ducks beat Stanford, his brother Jim's team:"I want you to know the ramifications for losses ring all the way across from coast to coast. But, I've got to give the ducks their due. They won the game fair and square. They've got a heck of a club. I've got a couple of whistles. Am I blowing the [Ducks] whistle? No, that wasn't part of the bet. [The whistle] is pretty impressive right there, but I'm not going to put that in my mouth. But congratulations, Ed [Dickson]; it was a nice victory. We'll probably see you in the national championship game. Now, let's get back to business. Well, if we hadn't fumbled on the 1-yard line, I think we'd have had a good shot when we came back down at the end again. But that's past us. Beat USC last week, and we're moving on. All right, and now about the Ravens."
On what Ravens C Matt Birk means to the offensive line and the team:"Matt's a guy who has been great for us. We lost a really good center [in Jason Brown], and we were able to bring Matt in. Ozzie did a great job with that. And he's been the anchor of our offensive line. He's smart, he's tough, he gets us going in the right direction most all the time. He has seen so much. He is able to make adjustments. But the thing I'm so impressed with is physically where he is at. He's still got it. He's been around for a long time, but nobody works harder in the weight room, nobody trains harder than he does. And that's probably why he's been able to play so well for so long."
On New England WB Tom Brady having regained his former accuracy in throwing the football after his injury:"I'd say he's back. He looks like he always has in his career. He's drilling it in there in very tight quarters. Wes Welker's back looking good. They just look like the same offense that they have been for years."
On how much a threat the Patriots' newly-signed wide receiver Deion Branch will be:"It's going to be interesting to see how they plug Deion in there. Obviously, we don't know. It's not something we're going to know. We know Deion. The players know him. We've studied him, obviously, since they signed him. We can speculate all we want, but we won't really know how he fits into that offense until they get out there and start playing."
On how strong fundamentals are as important for a player as intangibles and mental discipline:"I think decision-making is a big part of it. Poise goes with confidence. It goes back to the fundamentals. I stand on that. I think that's what it is. [If] you play good technique, you tend to get confidence in your technique and you know in the most critical situation you can rely on your technique. None of us around here were athletes, were we? As I look around, I think it's safe to say that we don't know. But, if you talk to guys, [they will say] in critical situations, in pressure situations, they take a deep breath and go back to the basics. That's what it is."
On how difficult it is to match up with the athleticism of Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez:"They are figuring him out a little bit and realizing what they can do with him. And, he's done a great job. He's a vertical threat. He's a crossing-route threat. He can run all the underneath routes that they run with Wes Welker – actually, that's how athletic he is. He's kind of a new dimension for them. And he's a guy we're figuring out exactly where he fits. We assume after the bye week there will be some new wrinkles in there for him. Rob Gronkowski, he's a talented young tight end, and Alge Crumpler. They've got three really good tight ends that we're going to have to deal with."
On what he sees from the Patriots' defense:"Well, I see that safety, Patrick Chung. I see him all over the place. He's all over the field making plays on defense. He plays on special teams. He's been a huge playmaker for them. [They have] a good young corner. Devin McCourty is really good. Darius Butler has been in there [and Kyle] Arrington has done a nice job at corner. They've got a lot of talent across the board."
On what the Patriots are doing to get so many turnovers:"They're getting tipped balls. They're getting balls thrown to them sometimes. I've seen a couple of balls overthrown. They're just in position and catching it."
On how much a team might gain from a big loss in the playoffs in wanting revenge:"They're not going to overlook us. It would be great if somebody would overlook [us]. We'd appreciate that, but it doesn't seem to happen very often. But, I don't think it means too much, other than they studied the game probably."
On the Patriots being different team since the Ravens faced them last season in the playoffs:"We all are, [too]. Everybody's different. We were a different team. We were both different teams in the playoffs than we were the first time we played them. That's kind of the way it works."
On why the Patriots have been so successful coming off their bye week:"I don't know. It's probably because they're a good team, and they probably play a team that's not as good as them. That's probably what it boils down to. They've won a lot of games out of the bye, but they've won a lot of games over the last 9-10 years. So, I don't know if the [bye helps them]. Obviously, they're not undefeated since 2003, but that's probably the biggest thing. They do a good job of studying themselves and changing up their tendencies a little bit – and we will be prepared for that – and studying an opponent. It's an extra week off."
On Patriots DL Vince Wilfork:"He's one of the premiere run-stoppers, without question. And the interesting thing, if you watch him, he's a pretty darn good pass rusher. He's a power rusher, but he gets on edges and he can finish, like a pass rusher."
On how much of an advantage having former Patriots coach Dean Pees on the Ravens staff is:"Well, yeah, we like to think so. But then again, they know that we know that they know that Dean's here. So, what will they change? The big thing we concern ourselves with is us. You study your opponent and you try to have an idea what you're up against. And we do as good a job as anybody about that. But the main thing is how you play, how you execute the game plan and make some plays."
On the likelihood Bill Belichick will make changes to his defensive scheme during the bye week:"It's likely. It's likely possible. You never know with him. They could come out and be a whole different front, a whole different coverage system than they've played before. That's what they are – they're multiple. They game-plan teams week to week or they can do the exact same stuff."
On how the Ravens will prepare for such a multi-dimensional defense:"You prepare your guys for everything. There will be an NFL defense, there will be an NFL front and be NFL coverages. And we've pretty much seen them all. If they come up with something we haven't seen before, then we will be impressed by that."
On the possibility of S Ed Reed coming back to practice next week and the status of LB Brendon Ayanbadejo and RB Matt Lawrence returning from PUP:"I guess you've got to be careful what you say. I don't know. I am hopeful, I'm optimistic, [and] I feel like [Ed] is doing great. What I was trying to say was [Ed] is working really hard, and he looks good. But, you don't know. And that's going to be up to Ed and the doctors and the trainers to see how it goes. He's going to push himself as hard as he can, but then really it will be his call, because he's going to know whether he can [play]. He's the guy who's been in the league forever. He knows what he can do and what he can't do. The same goes for Brendon. And then Matt Lawrence is a little bit younger, so we'll just have to see. Matt Lawrence is probably the most grey right now, as far returning."
On why secondary coach Chuck Pagano is such a special coach and the confidence he gives a coach having him on the staff:"I might be a little biased, but I think Chuck Pagano is the best in the league at what he does. We just knew he was going to put together a group and prepare them and teach technique and give them great tips and indicators in what they can look for from one week to the next. And that gave us a lot of confidence."
On facing Belichick and if he challenges him in ways other coaches do not:"I don't know. I don't play chess. I'm not that smart. I don't know what he does. I just have a lot of respect for Coach Belichick, and really the whole staff. But when you're coming up as a coach and you look at the guys [who are successful head coaches], he's always treated me really well for whatever reason – way back to when I was an assistant in Cincinnati and he was the head coach of the Browns and he'd come in and scout. And you get a chance to meet a guy, and of course, you are like, 'Wow, he's the head coach of the Browns.' And then he treats you well. It's just been that way all the way through, for whatever reason, and that's what you respond to. It hasn't really changed. I don't know if he was as nice to me this spring as he has been in the past, but I respect, him and that's the kind of thing that you appreciate when you compete. And, of course, you want to compete. That makes it even more important to do well."
QB Joe Flacco
On whether he considers ending New England's streak of winning after a bye: "No, not really. I'm sure when we take the field Sunday, we won't even have that in our mind. I know Coach Harbaugh mentioned it – I think the other day – but I completely forgot about it until you just said it."
On RB Ray Rice's 83-yard TD run on the first offensive play of last year's Wild Card game: "Ray had a little crease, and from there he outran everybody. That's about all you remember. It was pretty exciting, because it was a good way to start the game."
On Rice breaking free on such a simple play: "That's usually the way it works. It's usually the pretty simple plays that you're not expecting too too much from. Somebody ends up making a good individual play and making it into a great one for the team."
On whether he has to elevate his play since he is going against QB Tom Brady: "No, I'm not facing Tom. That's our defense. I'm going against the Patriot's defense. I think we approach every week the same. We don't feel like we have to play better. I don't feel like I have to play better one week over the other. I'm going out there to play good each week, and that's all I'm thinking about."
On New England's young talent on the backend: "They're playing a little bit different in their coverage structure – a little bit. They're not playing as much 'quarters' on some of the sides. They're a little bit younger back there, and they're different than what we saw back there last year. So, we'll take a look at the tape and see what we can do and see how comfortable we feel with attacking them in some different ways."
On what it will mean to pass the franchise passing yardage record: "I don't know, not too much. Hopefully I can have a lot more passing yards than two-and-a-half years worth. (laughter) I plan on being here for a while, and hopefully… It doesn't really mean too much at this point."
On whether there is any difference in preparing to face a team coming off of a bye: "No, I think we're still preparing the same. We just came off another big win, and we're just getting ready for another one. I think they're the guys that have to worry about coming off the bye week, because they're the ones that had it. I think they probably had a little less of a workload last week, and now they're getting back in it today, getting ready to go. We're still kind of in that flow, so I think if anybody had that challenge, it would be them."
On whether he gets to watch Rice when he runs: "Oh, yeah. I get to watch it if I'm not rolling away from it. (Reporter interjects: 'Are you able to see him?') Yeah, oh yeah, you can see all the things he's doing. Like I think I said after the game, even when Ray got one or two yards on a gain, I made sure I told him, 'Good job,' on a couple of them just because they were."
On how much more confident he is going back to New England after winning in the playoffs: "I don't know. I think it's definitely big to go in there and get a win in the playoffs. I think I heard Ray [Lewis say], 'Each year is new, and they're a different team.' We've got to just approach them as another team and go in there and just play our offense. We can't look at them as the 'New England Patriots.' I think if you do that then you can get yourself a little like, 'Oh, what are we going to do?' But they're another team, and they're our opponent this week. They're going to come ready to play, and we have to do the same." **
LB Ray Lewis
On the matchup with the Patriots' offense and QB Tom Brady:"It's one of the matchups that you always say… For me, it's here you go. You know exactly what you get. You're talking about a first-class organization. They had two weeks to prepare for us. There's going to be some things with all of the transitions they made – losing one person, gaining another and things like that. So, you really just come in and let the game play itself out. First quarter, see what comes out of it, and here we go."
On how different the Patriots' offense is without WR Randy Moss:"Anytime you remove a Randy Moss from any offense, you take away just a relief from any defense. I say that because that deep ball [he can catch]. No matter if you have great coverage on them or not, he's going to make a play. He's going to find a way to make a play. But I understand that they're going to definitely move on in their progression of offense. You don't prepare differently for them, but you do prepare [knowing] you're not playing against Randy Moss. And that's always huge."
On whether the win at New England last year or the wins at Pittsburgh and New York this year brought him more confidence:"For us, I think the only thing that gives you confidence is just trying to keep going what we've got going – and that's just winning. I don't think we've looked back yet. It's way too early to look back, and it's way too early to look forward. Right now I think it's just next game up. Like I said, we've been on the road for a good stretch at the beginning of the season. And now we're kind of settling in and coming to those two good little games [at home]. And this is a huge game. Everybody knows at the end of the year New England is going to be up there, fighting for the playoff berth and things like that. So for us to go up there and beat them, or try to get a victory at New England, is going to be huge."
On how RB Ray Rice is so effective in between the tackles:"Nobody can see him, first and foremost. And that's why I think if you go over the history of those little backs, they make cuts and things that a lot of people can't make. You can go back all the way to Joe Morris days and come up to Barry Sanders and all those guys. But I just think their shiftiness of being so low to the ground [helps them] make those cuts and make those plants that a lot of big backs can't make because their stride is [so] much bigger. And these little backs' stride is not that big. Their feet are always up under them. Maurice Jones-Drew is another one. Their feet are always up under them, and they can make those right-and-out direct cuts and get up field. Even last week, you watch one of the plays the linebacker and the D-linemen shot the hole on Ray, and you're looking at the 1- or 2-yard gain, but he extends it and makes it a 9- or 10-yard gain. That's what I think one of his greatest abilities is."
On how much LBs coach Dean Pees helps him:"For the game in New England, I think it takes care of itself because he's been there for so long. But I'm just saying overall... Overall his knowledge for the game is just overwhelming at times. And the things he prepares you for before going into a game… Me, just being the leader looking at it all, it's just beautiful to see that how many times we come into a defensive room where we don't have [any] mental errors or anything. But that's the case with Dean Pees – how he really prepares us. It's good stuff."
On the influence former Ravens LBs coach Maxie Baughan had on him:"I think Maxie was my influence. He went out on a limb for me. I'd love for him to tell that story. It makes me feel pretty good. But he went out on a limb for me when everybody was talking about size and this and that. And when I got here the first day, from the first camp we ever had, me and him played, messed around against each other. It was just a certain confidence, a certain part of leadership and of being who I was, that he wanted me to be and wanted me to go out and chase. Maxie was a great part of my life."
On whether he has to ask the officials before the game where they can hit Brady:"You know we don't even think about that. Whatever happens is going to happen, though. You know what I'm saying? Because if you do that, you're thinking and you can't think playing this game. You've got to react, and whatever comes with it, comes with it. You just hope the game is always called fair."
On where he ranks Brady among QBs as a respected competitor:"I think he's definitely up there – top one, two or three, however you want to number them. But the bottom line is you're talking about someone who understands the game tremendously. And anytime you get that type of student of the game and you put talent around him, you're going to have to do a lot of homework to really get a read on him. And Brady is one of those guys. He don't have three rings for nothing. He's going to take what the defense gives him, and I think that's kind of what makes him that type of quarterback. He don't force anything that other quarterbacks might force. He might take his little checkdown – that's why [Patriots RB] Kevin Faulk has been so valuable for them for so many years – and that's the kind of mind game you have to play with him."
On whether he would have a chip on his shoulder if he was in the Patriots' position:"No. I don't know, man. If you get into revenge… Every year is a new year, every game is a new game. [It] is a different game, and I don't think they're going back that far to think about it that much. I just think the bottom line for them is to try to get a win, just like for us this week is to try to get a win."
On what CB Fabian Washington means to the defense:"''Fabe-o,' man, that's somebody that you just enjoy playing the game with because you know what you're going to get from him. You're going to get 110 percent. He loves playing it, and anytime you get that, you know he's always going to be where he's supposed to be. And most of the time if somebody does break away, he's going to be where he's supposed to be – running them down. 'Fabe-o' just runs like that. I think going on our defense, every person has a very specific trait that they have, and his is covering anybody he wants to cover and running with anybody he wants to run with."
On how he attacks Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez:"That's 85 – 85 and 87. That's 85 and 87. I don't even know them by names. Like I said, I just think what you do is you put New England's offense in front of you and you don't worry about personnel. You don't worry about who is who, because no matter who it is, they're going to run their offense, regardless. And that's kind of what you've got to zone into."
RB Ray Rice
On what he remembers from his 83-yard TD run in last year's Wild Card game: "I remember that was last year. No, I'm only playing. It was a great way to start the playoffs, especially against that kind of team. They're a great team. The play was blocked perfectly. Those runs don't happen too often. Even though it was last year, that's still a good memory."
On saying three weeks ago that the running game would get going: "Yeah, you've got to be patient. You've got to be patient in the run game. Overall, we were talking about the run game not being as effective as we wanted it to be, but we were still winning games. So, that was a promising factor that we got things corrected. And last week, Denver showed some looks that were susceptible to the run, and our line did a great job of getting up to the second level. A lot of runs… It starts with the guys getting to the second level. The initial guys are going to be blocked, but getting up to the linebackers and leaving the safeties to me, Willis [McGahee] and Le'Ron [McClain], that's the part that matters."
On how satisfying it was to receive goal-line carries Sunday: "It felt good, and I knew that I can run on the goal line. But obviously, you look at the numbers, you look at how much success Willis has had down there. It's hard to take a guy out like that. Obviously, they know when Willis is in there. They're going to load the box up. We caught them one time, I think it was in our 'diesel' group. I'm a single back back there, kind of just get a quick-hitter. The second time we used two backs. Getting down to the goal line is a mentality. It's usually going to be one-on-one with another guy."
On what stands out about the Patriots' young defense: "That's Bill Belichick. He always builds a great team. They play together. Obviously, I've got my boy Devin McCourty over there who was at Rutgers starting. I'm not going to send any shouts his way until after the game. But, they look good. [Patrick] Chung is playing well, [Brandon] Meriweather… You look what they've got up front. You look at their linebackers with [Jerod] Mayo. They're a solid defense, and you've got to pick and choose when you want to attack them. Obviously, we're not looking for it to be a first-quarter kind of knockout game. We're looking to play the whole four quarters. It's just going to be one of those all-out… They're coming off a bye. They're going to be pretty fresh. We're coming off two great wins. Obviously, our bye isn't until another two weeks, so we're going to grind it out."
On whether New England will be looking for revenge: "I think it has to be in the back of their head. Obviously, because what we did last year was uncommon for that kind of team. We went up there; we dominated them. We were hungry. We still are hungry, because the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl, and we have yet to do that. We've won one in the past; they've won many. They have a lot of experience, but I'm sure it's in the back of their mind. They're going to think and look at last year's film, and obviously, their personnel is a lot different without Randy Moss. A lot of things have changed over there, but overall, we know what Bill Belichick stands for. He's a great coach, and he's going to build that team around team unity."
On how his health is after having an ice pack on his face Sunday: "Oh, I'm good. My helmet – I don't know if you saw it the last couple of plays – my helmet came off and my facemask hit me on the side of my face. [I] had a little boo-boo (laughter), but I think it's all right. I'm feeling good. Monday and Tuesday are the days that you take to let the body recover. Today, I'll be fine. Coaches tend to be smart with me throughout the week. They know I don't necessarily have to get every rep in practice to be ready for a game, but I'm definitely fine-tuning myself come Thursday, Friday and Saturday."
On whether games like this separate the stars from average players: "You've got to think about these kind of games. That's every week. We don't want to single out the Patriots, but the success that they've had… You can't forget that. They have a long-term history of success. The organization itself… They've won Super Bowls, and I think we're an organization on our way to winning multiple Super Bowls. So, obviously, this kind of game you don't really have to ramp yourself up for. You get up there to New England, you come into the stadium and you feed off their environment. Obviously, we've got our own little ways of feeding off M&T Bank Stadium. We'll go up there, I'm sure we'll have our little pack of Ravens fans up there, and we look forward to cheering them on after the game."
On whether he feels like a target is on his back: "Oh, without a doubt, without a doubt. My yards this year have come very tough. That's an adjustment that running backs that have success in this league have to make. All the great ones had to make those adjustments. Last week, the game was slow for me. There wasn't a run where I had to rush it. Everything slowed down for me. [I'm] not saying I was rushing stuff the first couple weeks. We've faced some tough defenses, but last week the game actually felt slower to me. When I got out there, I was comfortable. I got my reps in practice. The same looks that we've seen, I got them in practice, so I was just happy to go out there and not do too much, but do enough that was needed to be done in the offense."
CB Fabian Washington
On how he expects the Patriots to be different without WR Randy Moss:"I don't think they're going to take as many shots [downfield] anymore, because with a guy like Randy Moss, that's what he does. You throw it up and he catches the ball, as we've seen [last] Monday night. That's what he does. But, they still have a receiver in [Brandon] Tate that's a nice vertical threat, so I do expect them to throw deep balls, but just not as much."
On whether he feels a little bit more comfortable now that he doesn't have to see Moss out there:"I was going to be comfortable regardless, but I'm not going to lose any sleep that I don't have to guard him." (laughter)
On whether it has frustrated him at all that the secondary has yet to force an interception this season, or if that's something you can't force and can only make the play when it's there:"I think it's a mixture of everything you just said. Yeah, we have been getting a lot of stuff from the guys on the team that we need to catch the balls when they throw them to us, because we've dropped a few. We've left some on the field this year. And at the same time, you can't force it. I feel like if we just keep playing solid defense, they'll come."
On how he would grade his own performance from last weekend against Denver:"It was a solid game. [Broncos WR Brandon] Lloyd's a very good receiver. You know, I watched film and I knew that coming into the game. He's not a receiver that a lot of people are talking about around the league, but slowly but surely he's making a name for himself, and he's a good receiver. And I felt like we had him bottled up for the most part, but he did get away on two deep balls against us."
On whether that game did anything for him confidence-wise, coming off last year's injury:"With the injury, I would say I let that go in camp. Like I said, I was doing a lot of dangerous stuff in camp. I was diving around on the ground, colliding with guys, so I was pushing it in camp so I would know it would be healthy enough to play this season. I didn't want to go into this season playing tentative on the knee."
On head coach John Harbaugh saying that Washington wanted to be one of the elite corner's in the league:"Well, I feel like if there's a guy on this team that doesn't want to be the best, he shouldn't be here. Because I feel like at this level of play, you've got to want to be the best. So, that's my mindset, and I work every day to try to do that."
On some of the things that QB Tom Brady does that make it so challenging to stop him:"One big thing that you can see is his accuracy. He's going to get the ball where it needs to be. Even if it's tight coverage, he knows how to put it where only the receiver can get it, and he can find the open guy. You know, you say Moss isn't there, but I think he won three Super Bowls without Moss, something like that. So he's going to find the open guy. You just have to cover the receivers and hope he makes a mistake."
On what secondary coach Chuck Pagano specifically does well as a coach, and what he has meant to his career since they've been together:"Oh, man, Chuck's been big in my career. First of all, he drafted me in Oakland; he was my [defensive backs] coach in Oakland. Since we've been here… You know, Chuck is big on X's and O's. He's going to know the opponent's offense pretty much inside and out, especially on third down. So, you've just got to get with him and pick his brain as much as you can, because he's going to know the stuff is pretty much up to you to get it from him."
On being recruited to college as a wide receiver, and if playing that position has helped him to become a better defensive back since he knows the position so well:"No, man. High school receivers don't know what professional receivers do – not at all. But yeah, in high school most of the SEC schools wanted me to play receiver. As you all can see I can't catch, so I made a pretty good decision to play cornerback where a [pass defensed] is a good thing, not a bad thing." (laughter)
On whether it makes him hungrier to win in New England since he missed the playoff game there due to injury:"I just want to get a win, because I want to get to 5-1. You know, the guys won that game in New England last year, and I was proud of them."
On whether there is any concern in the back of his mind with New England coming off a bye week:"Not really. I wouldn't say any concern. I know they're going to put in a few new wrinkles, because they're going to have two weeks to prepare for us, so we're expecting something new."