*With the Ravens preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *
Here is head coach Jim Caldwell and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Head coach Jim Caldwell
How concerned are you with the Ravens' running game and all three running backs?
Caldwell: "I'll tell you what: They put on such a devastating performance, in regard to just [a] dominating performance [against the Patriots]. They give you lots of problems. Obviously, their offensive line is blocking extremely well. They're a physical bunch, and they did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. And then you couple that with the fact that you have a great back – a great set of backs – that do a great job of not only being patient waiting for things to open for them, but once they find a crack, they have the long speed where they can take it to the house. So yeah, they certainly do concern us."
Is it tough to get a read on Joe Flacco because he only threw 10 passes against the Patriots?
Caldwell: "Not really. We've seen him, obviously, throughout the year. In our game, he got on a bit of a role and did a nice job of getting the ball outside. We know he has talent. He can make all the throws, so he's a concern as well."
What is the difference in the Ravens' defense from the first time these teams played earlier this season?
Caldwell:"Well, they played great against us. Obviously, I know you certainly recall that. They gave us everything we could handle, so they still play a suffocating defense. I've just seen a team that was doing, really, the same things against us. They're very tough to run on. They're very tough to throw passes on. They picked us off a couple of times and caused some fumbles."
What are the challenges of practicing for a team as physical as the Ravens?
Caldwell:"We try to do what we've always done, week in and week out. In terms of our preparation, we haven't changed. Our practices haven't changed around here in a number of years. We know they're a really physical team, but the thing you can't do, you can't go out and practice, particularly in the latter part of the year, and bang it around a whole lot. We did some last week. That was the great thing about it, we had an opportunity because of the fact that we did not have a game we got a lot of physical work done last week. We were in preparation knowing that one of the three teams we would play are a team that's going to run the ball and run it well. Cincinnati was a running team. The Jets, obviously, are a team that can run the ball at you. No one runs it any better than Baltimore, so we got a lot of work done last week in terms of preparation for this game."
Why have the Colts had to fight back to win after being behind in so many games?
Caldwell:"I'd like to put it this way: We've been very resourceful. We've won a number of different ways. We've won coming from behind. We've won with a lead. Our defense has stopped people on the last drive. Our offense has scored points to win games in the last 13 seconds. We've taken field goals to get it done. All around, we've just found different ways to win, and I think that's encouraging because that's what you need. You need a team that can adjust and keep fighting. One thing we know how to do, that we've learned over a time, is we've learned how to finish. I think that's important, but here's the other thing, too, that you have to understand: The great majority of the games, I think as you all know, in this league certainly come down to one-score games for the most part. For us to have an opportunity to win some of those close games in a variety of different ways, I think, has really helped us in terms of getting us battle-tested."
QB Peyton Manning
What was it like to be around John Harbaugh at the Pro Bowl last season?
Manning:"Well, I can't speak for the whole team, I guess, but I had the impression that the whole team really enjoyed the week being around Coach Harbaugh and his staff. They made it a fun week for the players. You know, obviously, we were organized, it was an enjoyable week, and it was very clear to see why he's a successful head coach in such a short period of time in the NFL. You know, [he's] very organized, and he sure made it for a fun week."
What are your thoughts about your success this season?
Manning: "Well, I just feel like this season every week truly has been different. Every game has kind of taken on its own identity. You never quite know what kind of game it's going to turn out to be. But, we've had a lot of close games as our scores indicate, had a lot of come-from-behind wins. It hasn't been perfect all the time, but guys have made some critical plays at critical times when we needed them, you know, on offense or defense or on special teams, which obviously has been important. It's been well documented how many young guys we have playing. I think the expression is true – these guys are no longer rookies anymore. They've played a ton of football, and it's been just valuable experience for those guys."
How do you address the "rust factor" and how your starters have not played in a while?
Manning:"Well, obviously every player has different ways of getting themselves ready to play, but as a team, I felt like we had good work last week. I thought we had intense practices and focus on the field, and I think it's important this week to have that same attitude. I think the key to playing well on Saturday is what we do this week in practice. You know, you can talk about it all you want, but you have to go out there and do it during practice to be on the details. It's a very difficult team to prepare for. They're very talented, and certainly, mentally, it's a challenge, and I think the key is excellent preparation and on-the-field work."
Does the Ravens' defense look more dangerous than the first time you saw it in Week 11?
Manning: "Well, I thought they were pretty formidable the first time we played them. Every time I've played them, I think they've been a tough opponent. They have excellent players, certainly a lot of guys that have been there for a number of years. Certainly, they have some new faces, but even their new faces, those guys are experienced because of where they are at this point in the season. They've played a lot of games, and they've been in a lot of different situations. And kind of like our team does, they're going to lean on their veteran leaders like [Ed] Reed, and Suggs and [Ray] Lewis. Certainly Suggs didn't play in the first game [against us]; he is a key player, I think, and certainly having him back is definitely a plus for them."
What did the Ravens do in the second half of that game to prevent you from scoring a touchdown?
Manning:"I can't really pinpoint anything specifically. I've always thought every possession against the Ravens, it feels like a grind. Every time you get a first down or certainly are fortunate to get a touchdown, you feel like you've done something really good. And I think that'll be important this week, trying to get first downs, trying to stay on the field and certainly trying to capitalize in the red zone."