DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On what sets Saints QB Drew Brees apart from other quarterbacks:"He's been around a long time. He's a really gifted athlete – has got a nice touch. He's very accurate, moves around there and can kind of escape a rush and find a guy. He just can make some uncanny plays. I think he's got a great understanding of defenses. Obviously, [he] knows their system. It looks like he's added a lot to the system with the things he does well. [He's] one of the premier guys."
On what adjustments the team will make to accommodate a short week:"We've done this before – just push [practice] back a little bit on Wednesdays. We play Sunday at 1 [p.m.]. The rest of the schedule will be the same."
On whether he thinks TE Todd Heap will be able to play on Sunday:"I'm hoping. I'm hoping he'll be back. We'll just have to see. Hamstring [injuries], you just never know about. He's making good progress. We'll just have to see."
On his assessment of the defense:"No need to make any assessment. You're trying to win football games. I don't think we're going to put any word on it right now. I think they fight like crazy, and that's what they do."
On how well DE Cory Redding played in Houston:"I thought Cory played well. Cory's been playing well, he really has. He's been playing very well. He's excited about being in the playoff chase. I think it's the first time in his career that he's really had an opportunity to play meaningful games in December. He's talked to guys about that and how valuable that can be. Sometimes, especially young guys will take it for granted. The only place they've known the last couple of years has been in the playoff chase. Then here's Cory, been in the league eight or nine years, and has never been in it before. It means a lot to him."
On what his "bottom line" is on the changes to the offensive line:"I don't have a bottom line on that. We're just going to try to keep doing the best we can to get guys out there. We have some good players. What you try to do with players is you try to find a way to put them in a position where they can help you. We don't want to have guys on the team that aren't contributing. There are things we can do better in every part of our team, including the offensive line, so we try to mix and match and move guys around if we have to [in order] to find the right combination to do the things we need to do to be successful."
On how tough it is to prepare for the Saints' multiple running backs:"They've gone through backs for reasons that they've chosen to and reasons they haven't chosen to, with the injuries and stuff like that. But, it seems like they've always had production. Those guys have all played well; they're all good backs. They've had veteran guys in there, they've had young guys in there, and they've all looked good. They all do different things. Reggie Bush is different than Pierre Thomas, [who is] different from some of the other guys. It's really just their run game, I think, more than anything. You understand who the back is and his style of running, but you have to apply it to the run game because they run the same plays for the most part. That's really [getting a] hand on the blocking scheme more than anything."
On whether the Saints being the defending Super Bowl champions gives the Ravens extra motivation:"I would say it is a motivating factor. You're playing the World Champs. If want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. Same thing as in that [cornhole] tournament in the locker room. *(laughter) *It's real. We know that they're a great football team. We know that they accomplished a great thing last year. We know they've got talent all over the place. Obviously, we're looking forward to playing them. They've earned the title; they have the title."
On whether CB Josh Wilson has an extra bounce in his step after scoring the game-winning TD Monday: "He does. He's always kind of an upbeat guy and works real hard. I'm sure it means a lot. It meant a lot to all of us for him to make that play. You find a way to win a football game in December. Look around the league, that's really the bottom line. You talk about assessments – I don't mean the question is not important – it's just it's not where we… We can't spend our time right now on that. What we have to spend our time doing is finding a way to be the best defense we can be this week, be the best offense, the best special teams that we can be this week to try to find a way to win a game. That's really where we're at. There's a lot of room for evaluation and assessment. We'll certainly… Maybe it's in the back of your mind. Maybe it's more of an offseason thing, but we have to find a way to assess, a way to be as good as we can be this week. I think that's what we're really trying to do."
On how much improvement he has seen from Wilson: "He's got ability. He's quick, he's got good speed, he made some plays on some deep balls. I liked the way Lardarius [Webb] played, too. I thought both those guys on the outside played very well. You look at the stats, you say, 'Wow, how could that be the case?' But, you watch the tape, they both played well, so it was good to see."
On whether WR/RS David Reed's kickoff return success has been due to improvement: "I would say so. Anytime a young guy has success and is out there and makes plays… David Reed has made plays on kickoff coverage. He's had some pretty good success on kickoff returns – in terms of getting the ball out past the 30-, 35- [yard line]. So, I think young guys are able to build on that."
On whether he thinks they have faced some scheduling challenges this year, like playing prime-time games on the road: "Well, yeah. You hate to get drawn into that, because I think different teams face different scheduling challenges. We've had our share. The one thing – I've already said it publicly – and we've shared it with the league [is] the fact that we play so many primetime games that aren't… The Sunday night game, there's no scheduling edge on the Sunday night game. It's about 50-50. There's a huge scheduling edge on Monday night, Saturday night and Thursday night when you look at the NFL stats. And there's a scheduling edge when you have to travel after a Monday night game, which we had to do earlier in the year. Those things show up, and they've shown up for us at probably an abnormally high rate the last three years for some reason. So yeah, we plan on letting the league know about that because when you're put at a disadvantage, it's a problem. Now, hey, everybody has them. Everybody faces it, and you just deal with the hand you're dealt. Playing any teams that have played on short weeks after Monday night, every team that has had a Monday night [game]. So, we're OK with that. We'll be ready to play."
On the intensity of more divisional games being scheduled during the final month: "I think it means a lot because the division races come down to the wire, and it's good to be playing the division teams at the end. There's so much at stake in terms of winning the division. There was so much on the line for the Pittsburgh game two weeks ago. Unfortunately, we didn't make the most of that. But, I like it. I think it adds more interest later in the season. I thought it was a really great move by the NFL."
On whether there is any benefit in playing Houston's offense before playing the Saints:"The systems are probably different. They're running a different-style passing attack. But, the fact that you're playing a real explosive offense is probably a benefit. We have a chance to work on a similar-type game plan. I would say it's a plus, as opposed to playing a downhill running team. The thing about the Saints that's interesting is… The Saints, they have a downhill running attack. The running games are completely different. They're a power run team, north-south, hit-you-right-in-the-mouth-type of running game. So, that's a lot different from what we saw from the stretch-and-cut style that Houston uses."
S Ed Reed
On whether he is happy with the way the defense has been playing as of late:"Yeah, we are [happy]. I mean, we got up early in the game [at Houston]. We knew that they were a professional team, first and foremost, and that they've got an explosive offense. Those guys didn't quit, their defense didn't back down, and their special teams didn't back down. It doesn't matter how far up you are in a game; it's a 60-minute ball game. And they played the full game, [and] we played the full game. The most important stat right now is winning at the end of the game. It doesn't matter how many leads we've blown. At this point, we're 9-4, trying to get the next one. Everybody is fighting to get in the playoffs. You can ask anybody across the league what's the most important stat right now that they care about… Whether it's passing for 300 or 400 yards and lose? You rather win ugly or lose pretty? So, of course we want to stop them every time. Of course we want to get off the field. We've got to execute better, but at the end of the day, they're professionals just like we are. We've got to continue to play the game just like they continued to play the game."
On Texans WR Andre Johnson's first TD catch right before halftime:"It was a Cover 2, and he scrambled a little bit, got out of the pocket. And as I stepped up, [Andre] just kept trickling down the field, and [I] just misjudged the ball. [I] probably should have stayed on my feet at that time, but thought I had a good chance to play it and just misjudged the ball. I was running at an off-key position and just have to be more disciplined."
On what sets QB Drew Brees apart from others and what makes him so effective:"The guys around him – the guys around him and also having a coach like Sean Payton. He's a quarterback's coach, because they're throwing the ball and he likes to throw the ball as a quarterback. Brees can throw every ball. From when we played against him in San Diego, we played against him twice here, [and] we knew he could throw every ball. And I mean he's an MVP-type quarterback – we already know that. He won the Super Bowl. So, it's about the guys he's got around him just as much as it's about him. So, you've got to cover those guys as well as be disciplined in doing your job."
On whether the defense played softer in the second half Monday, meaning less aggressive and not as tight:"I think it was more or less execution. I think it was more or less execution at the end of the day. Guys were a little winded, because I think it was like 53 plays in four drives they had, so guys were winded. Guys were definitely winded. And I can't say you've got to be better about your conditioning at this point, but like I said, it's a team game and we all know that. Offensively, we know we want to do more, and defensively, we know we've got to get off the field come third down."
On what a win against the defending Super Bowl champs would mean to this team:"I'm sure the Saints would tell you right now [that] there's no Super Bowl champ this year right now. It's a whole new year. That Super Bowl is gone, and [we're] in December of a whole new season. So right now, we're playing the New Orleans Saints of 2010. They're not the Super Bowl team from last year. They are a great team – they are still a great team and they are the defending champs – but it's a new season, and we're just trying to get another win. We're trying to get to 10-4. That's all that matters."
On whether games against the Saints mean something to him, being from Louisiana:"It's playing against that home team. It's like a dream come true, either being on that team or playing against them."
LB Terrell Suggs
On whether it means a little bit more to be playing the defending Super Bowl champions:"Definitely. I mean, these are the champs. Everybody watches them every week, and until there's a new champion, they're still going to be the champs. So, you definitely want to see where you measure up against the team that won the World Championship."
On the Saints having three different running backs with versatility and unique styles:"It's kind of tough when you're dealing with a three-headed monster. Anytime you've got a three-headed monster in the NFL, you're a pretty good team. Especially with their group of receivers, their three backs, their tight ends, you know, they're a really deadly offense. So, you definitely have got to get in your playbook, you've got to watch some film, maybe you need to put a little bit of overtime [in] this week."
On their Saints T Jermon Bushrod being a local Baltimore guy who went to Towson:"I saw that he's from Towson. He's going to be coming home. So, I think he's going to be fired up to have a good game, so we've just got to be ready to play and let's do it."
On how much he might see Bushrod on the field:"I might see him a lot. I see both tackles a lot. I just line up and play football."
On what makes QB Drew Brees a special quarterback:"I don't know. I guess it's just… I don't know. I mean, you can't define greatness. He's a great quarterback. So, whenever you've got a quarterback that can break NFL records, it's kind of good. I think he's done that with touchdowns and yards, so he's just a really good quarterback."
On whether Brees presents the same challenges as guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning:"Well, in my eyes he's better. Maybe it could be my personal vendetta against the other guys, (laughter) but he's definitely one of the premier quarterbacks in this league, and he's got the numbers to prove it. And not only that, he's got the hardware to prove it."
On what the defense needs to do to be better:"I don't know. I guess what we need to do better as a team is just play the whole 60 minutes. Everybody, they say out of the four losses we had, I think they say all of them we went into the fourth quarter with the lead. Except for the Atlanta game, we didn't [enter the fourth quarter with the lead], we ended up capturing the lead, but we didn't go into the fourth quarter with it. But, I think it's just finish guys off – just continue to do what you did in the first half the whole game. Just finish people off."