DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "It's Wednesday. We just had our early practice, and our guys are excited to play. We've got a tough opponent against Cleveland, and we're looking forward to playing them. Obviously, there's a lot on the line, and we've got a lot to get ready for."
On the way to approach playing against Browns RB Peyton Hillis:"Obviously, he's a really talented guy – talking about Peyton Hillis. He complements their offensive line very well. They come off the ball. They're very physical. They run pretty much every I-formation running scheme there is, and they do it really effectively. And that's the kind of back he is. So, they just complement each other well. He's a hard runner. He's tough to bring down. If he gets in your secondary, he's really tough to bring down."
On the defense being motivated to stop Hillis after his performance in this year's first game against Cleveland:"I'm not sure it does [motivate more]. It's part of it, obviously, and we're motivated because stopping the run is important. They're a team that prides themselves on running the ball [and using] play-action pass. The quarterback has been playing really well, Colt McCoy. His quarterback rating is through the roof. So, you've got to stop all those things, but the run game is a good part of it."
On seeing improvement in the Browns over the course of the season:"It's tougher to judge it because you haven't seen them through the course of the season. We see [video] cut-ups and clicks and stuff like that, but you can see what they're trying to do [and] what they are trying to become. [They are] a physical, aggressive defense, and they're a fundamentally sound team. So, they're definitely improving."
On his message to the team to keep focused:"The Browns are going to be focused on stopping the run. That's where it's going to start for them. It's going to be important for them. We know that. You have to block, you have to run the ball well. It's going to be won in the trenches like it always is, to start with. They've been very adept at getting turnovers. They've got a lot of interceptions. That's been a big part of what they do. They're a very aggressive defense. The Ryans' style – Rob and Rex have a similar style. They're going to blitz you. They're going to run all kinds of different blitzes to stop the run and stop the pass. So, we're going to have our hands full with that."
On OLB Sergio Kindle's Twitter comments that he is concerned whether he will be able to play next season after talking to doctors:"I don't have anything new on Sergio. We haven't met with the doctors since the last time we talked about that. So, I really don't know anything new on that. It's just going to be, the way I understand it, how far he comes along, how fast he comes along, with his recovery."
On being able to clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win:"I don't think we have been scoreboard watching. We've been focused on every single week. We've had a lot at stake every single week, and that's no less this week. Obviously, you get to the point when finally you can clinch that playoff berth. That's right there in your hands and it's very tangible. It's a lot of motivation."
On being aware that the Ravens margin of victory has gone from 16 points in his first season to 7½ points this year:"I'm probably focused on other things right now. I haven't really thought about that. [We're] just trying to get to the next week. That's probably something at the end of the season we'll take a look at."
On the attempt by opponent's offenses to neutralize Ravens DT Haloti Ngata:"Haloti is a guy that you pretty much have to put two guys on every time. When he gets singled up, he's a problem. He's a problem in pass protection, and he's a problem in the run game. I don't know how many times he's really been blocked one-on-one all year. I think most people find a way to get two guys on Haloti."
On DT Kelly Gregg:"Kelly Gregg – he's an amazing guy. He's played all these years, in the middle – probably one of the toughest positions in football. He's not the biggest guy, but there's nobody that plays with better leverage. There is nobody who understands blocking schemes better. And, Kelly is playing at a very high level. He is playing as well as he ever has. He's a big part of our defense."
On what he's seen from Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy:"He looks really smart. Colt McCoy looks like a guy – for a rookie – at his stage of his development he looks like really has a great feel for the game. The things you saw at Texas he's transferred to the NFL, which you don't always see with quarterbacks. They do a nice job of setting up the passing game around what he does well and what he understands, but he's looked very comfortable."
On his memories and thoughts of the holidays:"We could have a sit down, 60-minute conversation about the holidays. I love Christmas. I think most people love Christmas. In our house, we try to keep it focused on the reason for the season a little bit. Of course, we've got a lot of presents for our little girl. It's just a very special time of year. We're going to make sure on Saturday our guys get a chance in the morning to get time with their families."
On whether he looked forward to Christmas as a child:"Who doesn't? Did you look forward to Christmas when you were a kid? Absolutely. Christmas is the best day of the year when you're a kid. Christmas and your birthday, right?"
On having a normal Christmas with a career in the NFL:"I've never had a normal [Christmas]. Well, with college coaching I guess we did. Not in the pros. Not since we got to the NFL. There's always a game or practice or something. We'll get the morning off."
On getting a sense from the team that it is really ready to play the morning of a game at the team hotel:"You learn as a coach over the years to not try to make that judgment, because you just never know. I've never seen our guys not ready to play. But, in terms of the emotional level – and there are different games that, obviously, are different levels – you just can never tell. Sometimes they're laughing and they're really loose and they're really intense. And other times they're not and you don't see as much emotion. We joke as a staff; it's one thing you can never try to judge."
WR Anquan Boldin (who has been named the Ravens' 2010 Walter Payton Man of the Year)
On being able to help his community and the importance of giving back: "I see it as almost an obligation for us. I feel like we're here for a specific reason, and it's more than to play football. We are here to make a difference in our communities, because if it wasn't for those people supporting us, we wouldn't be where we are today. For myself, honestly speaking, I was a kid in need growing up, so I stay real attached to the community where I'm from and also the cities where I play football."
On having a focus on helping kids:"Anybody in need, I'm willing to help, but helping kids is definitely an area I target because, like I said, I've been there. I know what it feels like to not have anybody around. For us – I know it's cliché – but kids are the future. I think If you can get to a kid early enough, you can definitely make a difference in their life."
On his favorite Christmas memories: "My best Christmas memory was getting a Walter Payton jersey."
*Reporter interjects: "And that's ironic that you get this today." *
"Definitely, which is crazy, because that was my favorite player growing up. I always looked at Walter Payton, what he brought to the table as far as a football player, just the passion and drive that he had on the field. It definitely means a lot to get this award."
On how proud he is of his accomplishments in his hometown of Pahokee, Fla.: "Real proud. That's always been a goal of mine. Even if I didn't make it to the NFL, it was always something that I wanted to do, give back to my community, because I definitely feel like where I grew up and how I grew up definitely impacted me getting to where I am now. I had a lot of people in that area supporting me throughout my career, whether it be high school, college or in the NFL now. So, I definitely felt an obligation of mine to give back."
On what he thinks of Baltimore in general: "I think it's a great place, but it's just like every city. There are struggles here and there. Like I said, it's no different than anywhere else that I've lived. There's always going to be different levels of needs in each city that you go to, whether it be homeless, whether it be underprivileged youth, whatever it is. There's always going to be a need, and like I said, professional athletes, anybody with a voice, has an obligation to give back."
QB Joe Flacco
On what Christmas means to him:"Just time to spend with your family and have a nice meal. I don't think too much of that will be going on with my family this year. We'll be traveling to Cleveland. So, it's usually just a time to spend with your family and have a good time."
On what he does outside of football during the holidays:"There are a bunch of guys on our team doing things in the community. Whether it's going over and helping kids shop and giving them some time to enjoy themselves or making a visit to a hospital to see some kids or to see some people, I think our team and the people that are in charge of that do a great job of getting us out in the community."
On thinking about more global things at the holidays, such as world peace:"No. No I don't think about that."
On playing the Browns the day after Christmas:"They played us really tough when they came in here earlier this year. We won it in the fourth quarter. But, they're a good football team, and I think that shows when you turn on the tape. So, we'll be ready to go in there this week."
On feeling like they know the Browns after having played them earlier in the season:"To some degree, yeah. But you still want to take a look and see what they've been doing in recent weeks. We have an idea what they're going to do. Their coordinator likes to show you multiple looks and bring a little pressure, and we're going to be ready for that."
On getting balance from short, soft passes to the long pass:"On Sunday I felt like I had pretty good control of the ball, and I've felt that way all year. There are going to be some games where you don't have your top control, but you have to deal with it. I feel pretty confident with the ball in my hands right now doing a couple of different things with it."
On his goal of keeping his interception numbers in single digits this year:"I don't know. It just depends on how the games go. You can throw a lot of interceptions, but as long as you're putting points on the board and the defense is stopping people, you're going to be playing pretty good. You want to control the ball. We want to be able to control the ball offense and move the ball down the field, and whether it's a big play or scoring a long drive, we want to be able to do that. And I think when you throw a little bit of interceptions, it gives you the best chance of doing that."
On how he adjusts his passes to deal with windy, cold conditions:"I think if anything there are some times when you probably have to keep it lower than others. Honestly, I believe, sometimes it can be harder to throw the ball with the wind than against it – depending on how strong it is. – because if you get the ball with the wind, you can throw it nice and easy into it. But, sometimes the ball just takes off and goes too far or gets dragged to the left or right too much. When you're throwing into the wind, I can feel pretty confident about keeping the ball down a little bit and not throwing the ball deep sometimes, maybe, and throw more crossing stuff."
On if he thinks about making adjustments based on conditions during the game:"No. I don't really pay attention. Once the game gets going, I'm kind of zeroed in and not really worried about the wind."
On agreeing with head coach John Harbaugh's statement that he isn't getting the same penalty calls that some of the higher profile quarterbacks in the league get from the officials:"I would agree that I haven't gotten any calls in probably three years – maybe one, maybe two. So, you can look at it any way you want. I've definitely been hit there a couple of times, and I don't get the calls. And that's all I'm worried about. I want to get the calls so that it can put us in a good situation to score a touchdown. I was mad on Sunday because I felt like if they do call that – which they don't have to call it all the time – but if they do call that it puts us first-and-goal again and gives us another chance to score a touchdown rather than kick a field goal. And that's what kind of gets to me."
On if he's seen video of his outburst to the referee from Sunday's game:"No. They showed it, but I didn't watch it though."
On what he's heard about his reaction to that play:"I heard a lot of things about it. I heard it was pretty funny."
LB Ray Lewis
On what he thought of QB Joe Flacco showing emotion on the sidelines on Sunday when he did not get a personal foul call:"I'm always with Joe. I was pissed off, too. You don't get that out of Joe a lot, but when he does something like that, there's something on his mind. When you go back and watch the tape, [the Saints' defender] did hit him in the head. We got called for one [personal foul] early, and they… Whatever. Joe is Joe, and for him to brush it off the way he did… Here we go."
On whether he likes to see that fire out of Flacco:"Yeah. You have to love it. More importantly, I think the offense really needed to see that, because then it turns into a whole different ball game. It's kind of like we are on defense. When somebody comes at one of us on defense, the whole game is personal from that point. I think that game became very personal when that happened to Joe."
On whether the outburst is part of the leadership he would like to see out of Flacco:"I don't know if I would go into that. Like I said, I just think Joe, to see what happened and see how he responded… You can't do nothing but back him."
On what he thinks about the Browns running game and RB Peyton Hillis who had success against the Ravens in the last meeting:"A blind cat will find a meal every once in a while. It's just the way it happens. The thing about this league is about consistency. We understand the two big runs that we gave up against them and things like that. To be our team's leader, it won't happen again. So, I hope they understand that. We're not coming in there to overlook them or [anything like that]. We definitely aren't coming in there to give [Hillis] over 100 yards again. So hopefully, they can buckle up all their chinstraps, do whatever you need to do, but we're definitely coming in to play a very physical football game. And let him understand that my son could've run through the holes that we gave him in Baltimore, and we just don't do that. But, when you find yourself getting cut out of gaps and things like that, that's what happens, and it's his job to run through them. But when we get back to Cleveland this weekend, it'll definitely be a different outcome."
On what it means to be in control of their destiny to get into the playoffs:"It [doesn't] get [any] better. From Day One, I've always talked about this journey. We've been on a journey, journey, journey, and now we find [ourselves] at a great place to where we control our own destiny. We don't need [anybody] to do this, [anybody] to do that. All we have to do this week is go to Cleveland and win. I think the excitement is that. The excitement is that. This team has been through so much, and we fought so many hard-fought, close games at some hard opposing stadiums. For us to be able to go into Cleveland right now and clinch a playoff berth, and as healthy as we are right now, I think it's an exciting time for us."
On what he sees from Browns QB Colt McCoy and whether he still has a rookie mentality:"Definitely. You definitely see the rookie mistakes, but you also see the potential, why they did draft him, too. He really moves around with the ball way better than people might think he does. His delivery is great on the ball – on actually getting the ball out of his hands. He's using his key pieces very well – [Peyton] Hillis and [No.] 82 [Benjamin Watson]. They're really getting to become his favorite targets. To see his development, you're really seeing him slow down and really trying to read the game. They're really using him on a lot of boots and stuff, getting him out of the pockets. Even on third downs, he's made some plays with his legs. So, it'll be a challenge. It'll be a challenge because the unpredictable, you don't know. But, at the same time, we'll definitely go in there and try to pressure."
On whether there are any specific Bible passages he reads before a game:"Yeah, I just read a lot, really. Psalm 91 and pretty much whatever Proverbs, based off the date – whatever the date is that day – is pretty much what I read. I grab something from that day, and then I hold onto that throughout the whole day, and that's what I try to focus on that day. There are a lot of things I do read and I do go over, but there are some things I definitely stick to – whatever passages that grabs me that day."
On whether the team talks together during Bible study or if he reads passages alone:"Both, both, both. Sometimes, Rev. [team chaplain Rod Hairston] will get up there and deliver his message. Then, sometimes the guys will just get in there and we'll have discussions ourselves, which really opens it up to a totally different thought process when you see how we actually interact with each other about that type of thing."
On what Christmas means to him:"First of all, we're talking about the True Creator – the creator of all. Jesus Christ was the creator of all. When you think about Christmas, we're talking about birth; we're talking about giving; we're talking about sharing time of love. That's what it's all about when you bring all your family in town and everybody comes together. That's what we've got to really get back to. I don't think even… What I'm trying to train my kids to [understand about Christmas], it's not about presents, per se. I know we go buy all these great gifts, but it's really about fellowship; it's really about servant hood; it's really about love and coming together with family and being able to help the unfortunate who can't have Christmas and who don't understand what Christmas means. So for me, Christmas has a lot of different meanings."
On what message he would give to people who are less fortunate:"I think it's the kind of message that I give everybody: If you're going to worry, don't pray. If you're going to pray, don't worry. You can't stay on both sides of the fence. If you're going to trust God, you've got to trust Him with everything. And if you do trust Him, then you understand the joy that comes in every morning. And if you understand the joy that comes in every morning, that means no pain lasts always. If you can ever grab onto that and just live with that the rest of your life, then life will take care of itself because we're going to all go through peaks and valleys in life. But the problem is when you find yourself on a peak, will you go back down to the valley to get somebody from that valley and show them what the peak feels like? That's what I believe life is. Until we close our eyes and go home, one day, one day, we're going to find ourselves here, and somebody's going to have to pull us up, man. So, no matter what you're going through, just understand that joy comes every morning. That's kind of what I always ride off of."
On whether DT Haloti Ngata and former Ravens DT Sam Adams are two of the most destructive guys he's played with:"Yeah. Playing with Sam was a totally different thought process until I actually got here. And actually, before Haloti even got here… I made my fuss, and then when [Haloti] got here, to see that talent… I had already [seen] it on film, and just to see him get here… I think his talent is one thing, but I think his humility as a man is a totally different thing. I think that's what makes his talent stand out so much. Playing with Haloti is like playing with that brother that you've always wanted to have. That's why me and him are just so close. He's going to try to keep me around forever, but I've already told him that there's a time, and I'm going to let him have it. But, just playing with that young man – just playing behind him, watching him, what he [does], and me being able to help him in whatever small way there is to help him – is just a true, true, true honor to play with him."
DT Haloti Ngata
On his favorite Christmas holiday memories: "Just spending time with family, really. Most of you guys know my parents are deceased, and just those memories of having time with them was a lot of fun. We didn't have much, but some of the toys my parents bought, and my parents would play around with us for a little while, and just eat a lot of good food."
On whether he was mischievous as a kid and looked around for his hidden presents: "No, my dad was too big." (laughter)
On if he ever thought he would be drafted by the Browns: "Yeah, I was actually on the phone with them when their draft [selection] was up. They said that they were just waiting to see if they were going to make any trades or anything, and then they just hung up. Baltimore called me right away, so that was just the best day of my life."
On whether he is thankful things worked out the way they did:"Definitely. We probably are going to be in the playoffs four out of the five years I've been here. Being on a team like this is just amazing. You have great athletes in the locker room. You see a lot of teams that are out there that don't hardly make the playoffs. To contend for that Super Bowl trophy ever year is a great feeling, and hopefully, we can get there this year."
On LB Ray Lewis saying that Browns RB Peyton Hillis won't be able to run on this defense like he did earlier this season: "Oh, definitely. [It] definitely won't happen again. There's some things that they did a good job [of] at scheming us and finding the holes for Peyton to hit because he's a north-and-south runner. He doesn't really like to run sideways and cut down, so we know that if we just close those holes for him to go through, then he's going to have to run sideways, and we can probably get him better that way."
On whether this game has a different feeling knowing that a playoff berth can be clinched with a victory: "No, it's just a division opponent. We definitely have to play big against these guys because we know that they are not going to make it easy for us. These next two weeks are going to be real important for us because they are both division opponents, and it's never an easy game with those guys."
On whether his tipped pass that clinched the game Sunday makes him feel invulnerable: "No, not at all. We knew that with [Drew] Brees that he passes kind of low sometimes, so you've just got to get your hands up. We knew that was going to be a passing play when we drew that play up. He said, 'Just get your hands up when you can,' and I got in front of him, saw his eyes behind me, and threw my hands up and was able to get it."
On whether there is anything unique about Cleveland's offensive line in the trenches: "It's just weird. Their offensive line is like they're big on one side and athletic on the other side. So, it makes it kind of hard on a defensive lineman because you've got to adjust at different sides, and you kind of get lost throughout the game. They're a real big group that can get you off the ball, and so, if we work with our techniques and do a great job, then we'll get a win."
RB Ray Rice
On whether he is running like a "little big man": "No, it's still little man, because on the field when you're running, sometimes they have little jokes, until I start running around them and through them. I don't want to say through the big guys because it's usually [defensive backs] and linebackers I've got to make miss. But I don't try to mess with those defensive linemen. I leave those big guys alone."
On the resiliency of this Ravens team: "The win we had this past Sunday was a win that definitely – for me and my career – is one of the best wins that I've been around with this team, including the playoffs and everything else, just because, like you said, the resiliency of our team and our guys. For us to fight back… We were winning games, but even this game was close. But at the same time, when you find a way to beat the team that is on top – they're the defending Super Bowl champs – [it] says a lot about your team. It was just a great total effort. I was just glad to be a part of the night before the game, Ray Lewis speaking to the team, and then us going out there and performing the way we did."
On how his performance this year compares to that of Cleveland RB Peyton Hillis: "I'm sure they're saying the same thing over there about what they're going to do to prevent me from having a big game, because if you look at their offense, Peyton Hillis is the guy. Not taking away anything from him, he's a great player. He leads the team in receptions. He's the leading rusher. You've got to put a focal point on where Peyton Hillis is at all times. The guy has just done remarkable things for them this year. Not to boost up my class of running backs that came out, but he came out in the same class of running backs with me [in 2008], and we came out with a pretty great group. So, it's not a surprise to see him doing the things that he's doing for that team."
On whether he has hit his peak this season: "I still think I'm peaking. I'm being honest about that, because I think late in the year is a time where this team emerges, late in the season. One thing we know as a team now is what we have ahead of us. There's no surprises. If we win, we're in the playoffs. Regardless of what Pittsburgh does, we have to win to be in the playoffs. It just feels good to know that you have a playoff-caliber kind of team, and for myself, I feel like I'm peaking right now, but this team is peaking as well. It's just one of those situations where the Ravens are on the run again."
On how it feels to get back to the formula of running the ball that won so many games the last two years: "It feels good. For me, it felt like another day at the office. I always told myself [that] if I had 25 or more touches, I could make the best of them, and that's rushing or receiving. I will get you over 100 all-purpose [yards] if I touch it over 25 times. One thing Cam Cameron did that game was he stuck to what was working. Whenever the play was getting called… It got to a point in that game where we knew that we were going to run it, and that's no knock on the Saints. We knew that we were going to run the ball. We knew that the big play was going to come, and that situation just felt good to know that."
On what Christmas means to him: "Christmas is a special time. It's just one of those situations… Yesterday on my off day, you have little Christmas parties, being able to give back to the community. [I'm] having another little Christmas event on Thursday where I'm giving back to the community as well, to some kids. It's just a time where you reflect. For me, I reflect on life, from where I came from, where I'm at now, and how I can help others. Being that I'm a family man, getting calls from my brothers and sisters saying, 'What can I have for Christmas?' is pretty cool, because I was on the end of that spectrum of asking my mom. Being able to give my mom and my brothers and sisters the Christmas that they never had is a big thing for me."
On what he wants for Christmas: "All I want for Christmas is a win on Sunday. We travel on Christmas. May God bless us with a great victory on Sunday, everybody stay healthy on both sides of the field – we don't wish injuries on people – and come back to Baltimore and celebrate the playoff berth."
On what makes this team resilient: "You know what makes this team resilient is the leadership we have on this team. I always go back to Ray [Lewis]. It starts from Ray, being [that] that guy's been here [for 15 seasons]. He knows what it's about to be a Raven. We always talk about what it's like to be a Raven, and it's a certain mentality that you've got to have. It's tough, it's rough, but at the same time, you're respectable and people respect who you are as a player on and off the field. I think the resiliency comes from guys knowing that when another man speaks on this team, everybody responds. Whether it's the head coach or another player, when something is being said, nobody is really jawing back at each other. It's more like it's a family problem, we get it fixed, and we go out there and we play the game. That's part of being part of a great team and a great family, and that's what we consider each other. It doesn't matter what ethnicity guys come from, we all just come together for one goal, and I think that brings the resiliency out in this team."