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Ravens Monday Quotes: AFC Championship At Patriots

DT Haloti Ngata

On how the team feels being the underdog:"We'll just do what we've been doing, have a great week of practice and study these guys as much as we can and go out there and play the game. You still have to play the game. We'll see how it goes on Sunday."

On if he feels that the game will be won between the offensive and defensive lines:"I think it's huge on both sides – our offensive line and defensive line against theirs. If we can create some pressure on [Tom] Brady, then it's definitely going to put pressure on [their] offense. Hopefully, we can do that and do that as much as we can, and [it's the] same thing with our offensive line. If they can protect Joe [Flacco], then definitely we'll have a good game."

On Patriots G Logan Mankins:"He's a great player that has been playing a long time. We've had a lot of battles, and he's a solid offensive linemen. I've always said he's probably one of the better offensive linemen in the league."

On OLB Terrell Suggs' game at Denver:"[That was] just Terrell Suggs. He was able to put some pressure on Peyton [Manning] on the edge. I just don't feel comfortable without him out there. So, I'm just happy that he's out there and that he's on our team."

On if Saturday's performance was the best he has seen Suggs play this year:"Yeah, it was one of top performances probably. He's been doing a lot of good things, and hopefully, we can continue to work well together."

On if he watched the Patriots-Texans game yesterday:"I did."

On if he shares LB Brendon Ayanbadejo's opinion that the Patriots' hurry-up offense is gimmicky:"I'm not going to comment on that stuff. That's all about him and his deal."

On how difficult it is to overcome playing so many snaps the last two weeks and how the team is handling it:"I don't think it's difficult. I think we are just doing a great job of being bent but not being broken. We're just a defense that has, I think, been playing a lot of snaps throughout the whole year. I think we are doing well with it, and hopefully, we can do a better job of not playing as much, but if we do, I think we'll do well with it and hopefully come out with the win."

On his reaction to playing the Patriots in the AFC Championship game again:"I think we, personally, kind of wanted to play the Patriots again. If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. So, it's another matchup that I think that we're excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time."

On if the way last season ended is a big reason of why he felt that way:"The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship. And then to actually have it be back in Foxborough, it's a good – I don't know – story."

On how much he thinks about last season's AFC Championship game:"I think we've definitely moved on, but I know we all wanted to get back to the championship, and we're there. Hopefully, we can get it done this time."

On if he was rooting for the Patriots during yesterday's game:"I wasn't rooting for anybody. I was kind of just watching both offenses, the Texans and the Patriots. Once the Patriots started getting away, then I started just watching their offense more. So, I wasn't rooting for anyone."

On if getting an extra day of rest makes a difference:"Yeah, I was able to relax an extra day. It felt great just to chill, hang out with the family and just have a good, relaxed day."

On the mentality as a team and as an individual to make it to this point through all the injuries they have encountered:"I don't think a lot of people expected us to be here. For us to overcome a lot of things, not only injuries but some family problems with Torrey [Smith]'s family, everything that has happened with our team, I think we all just understand that we're a family here, and we can lean on each other and depend on each other. I think we are such a close team here now that we just always went against the naysayers [of] our team and have overcome a lot of difficulties."

On if he was nervous when K Justin Tucker lined up for the game-winning field goal:"This year, I've never been nervous about Justin Tucker kicking a field goal. I kind of just sat back and then waited. It got kind of close. I got a little nervous, but then when it went through, I just kind of jumped up and got excited. Justin Tucker is a great kicker, and he'll probably be here for a while."

On if there is something about Tucker that instills confidence in him:"Just his confidence. I think everyone can tell that he has a lot of confidence and he kicks really well. I think, with that, people just believe in him."

On if being the underdog is a little disrespectful:"It's just whatever everyone else thinks. In here, on our team, we believe in ourselves, and whatever anyone else thinks, that's their thoughts. We'll just have to go back out there and prove people wrong again."

On Patriots QB Tom Brady's performance in the playoffs:"He has a lot of experience. He's been in the playoffs a bunch. He's won multiple Super Bowls and understands that he has to definitely play a lot better in the playoffs, and he has been. That just makes it a tougher task for us."

On if Brady is tougher to rattle than most quarterbacks:"Definitely. He has a lot of experience, like I said earlier, and has been to the playoffs a bunch."

On how he thinks LB Ray Lewis has been playing and if he could play another year if he wanted to:"Definitely. I think Ray Lewis can keep on playing. But like he said, I think he has bigger plans and bigger things that he has to do, especially with his family and whatever other endeavors he has going on. But, he definitely can play multiple more years, but I think he understands that it's his time to move on. It's just great to see him play at a level that I don't think a lot of linebackers can be doing now. I'm just humbled and definitely lucky, I guess, to play with someone like that."

On how much Lewis' announcement has fueled some of the success during this playoff run:"I think, for me personally, when he announced it, I just thought that Ray Lewis has been in the league for so many years, 17 years, and he only went to the Super Bowl once. I looked at it as, 'I've never been to the Super Bowl in seven years, and times like this never come around.' So, you definitely have to make the most out of it and work real hard to try to get there. I think every individual has worked a little bit harder just to know that we probably will never be in this situation again."

**TE Dennis Pitta


On playing the Patriots again after facing them in the AFC Championship last year:"We're excited about this game. It's been a long road getting back to this point, and the way we left it last year didn't sit well with us. So, we're excited to be in this position again and give it another shot. The Patriots are a good football team. We know that, and they've played well all season. So, I think everyone in the building is excited about this game."

On how much of a struggle it is to get back in this position for a second-straight year:"It's not easy being back in this position. We've had a lot of highs and lows this season; we had a three-game losing streak when nobody thought we would win another game. We've battled and we've been through a lot, and I think it's better prepared us for this point now. We're excited to be in this game and to be able to get a rematch with these guys."

On how much he remembers the sequence at the end of last year's game, and what some thought was a missed penalty against him at the end:"I don't really know. In that situation, at that critical of a moment, you don't expect calls like that. It's a physical game, it's playoff football, and so I didn't even think twice about that. But obviously, the events shortly thereafter didn't sit well with us and the way we finished that game."

On how much he'll think about the way that game ended throughout the week:"Not much. We've learned from it, we've grown from it, and we're a new football team. We're a different football team, and so are they. It's about this year and playing the best that we can on Sunday."

On if he recognized anything different about QB Joe Flacco in last Saturday's game:"Not really. Joe is always kind of the same to me, and that's what we love about him. He's even-keeled, he's always poised, he stays confident, and we have 100-percent trust in him – especially in the critical moments. In these critical games in the playoffs, we know he's going to come up huge for us."

On if he feels like this has been an unusually eventual past 12 months with everything this team has been through:"Absolutely. I think the things you go through, through the course of a season, really mold you as a football team, define you and help you learn and grow. We've been through a lot. We've had a lot of ups and downs, and through all that we've learned a lot and we feel better prepared now than we ever have in this position."

On how this game feels different from last year's AFC Championship:"It's been a little longer road for us. We've had to play two games already, and last year we had the bye and got a little more rest. But we really feel good about the road that we've taken, and we're sitting here as a confident football team and excited for this game."

On what precautions he takes to try to maintain his health during this time of the year:"You've just got to do what you keep doing and eating right, staying active, all that. That's easy for us to do, but yeah, you've just got to manage your health and make sure you're taking care of your body."

On if he got a flu shot earlier this year:"We took care of that a few months ago, so I think we should be good."

On what he's seen from the Patriots' defense on film and if they are a little more aggressive this year than they were a year ago:"I think they are much improved, even this season, on defense. They're playing well, they're playing aggressive, and they've got a lot of talent. We've got our work cut out for us and we know how potent their offense can be, so we know we have to be able to put up some points against them, and that'll be our challenge this week."

On what it was like to be in a game like last Saturday's turned out to be:"I've never been part of a game like that. It was incredible. We knew we had a good shot of winning that game. We went into that stadium confident [and] really excited about getting another shot at those guys, because the first time we played them, we did not play well. Obviously, I think we were a different football team at that point in the season as well. So, we were excited and did everything that we needed to do to win that football game in all three phases of our team. It was a great win and one I'll remember for a long time."

WR Torrey Smith

On how much confidence they gained after playing in the 2011 AFC Championship game: "That was last year. Last year's game was last year's game. We were a completely different team, really all the way around. It was a bunch of different guys playing a bunch of different roles. Us being there last year, it really doesn't matter. It is a completely new year."

On his confidence level last year personally in the 2011 AFC Championship game: "Me personally, I just played in a game there before. It's not that I can take anything from it, because to me, you approach all games the same. At the end of the day, you have to play ball for 60 minutes – whether you are home or away. It is all about execution, and last year we came up a few plays short, and this year it is a whole new team on both sides – us and them. Both teams have a new identity, and it will be a great game."

On if CB Champ Bailey said anything to him before or after the game: "After I scored the first time, he was like, 'Great play, man.' I have a lot of respect for Champ Bailey. He is one of my favorite guys to watch growing up. The way he conducts himself as a pro, even though he is one of the best corners to play the game period, and now, currently, he is still is one of the best. He was just talking – no cockiness, no trash-talking – even though he has every right to, and I have a lot of respect for him."

On how valuable the offensive line has been: "Our offensive line, they are the heart of our team. They like to give the quarterbacks, the receivers and the running backs all of the credit, but if it wasn't for those guys, we wouldn't have anything. When they play well, we go well. We build off of them, and they build off of us. There is nothing like going back to the huddle and hearing a play call where we know we are going to have a chance. [Marshal] Yanda and [Matt] Birk are in there fired up like, 'Come on. We got your back.' That's what we're all about as a team. We love our big fellas, and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be this far."

On how well the offensive line has played the last week: "They played great the past few weeks and really all year. We have all been inconsistent at times, and they've made so many different adjustments with different guys in there the past few weeks. For those guys, it is a credit to them. They work their tails off every day, and I don't think there is another group on our team that really works as hard as them. You can ask anyone on our team that. Those guys work their tails off. They do a bunch of different things together, just as a group without coaches. That just shows how great they want to be."

On what he has seen from Patriots CB Aqib Talib: "I won't really see until today, but I just know about what I knew beforehand. He is a great corner. He is a playmaker. He is more of a man-coverage guy, but they kind of do more zone stuff up there. I'm sure he is versatile and can do a little bit of both. It will be a nice challenge for us."

On if he feels like this team is an unusually resilient team: "I think we're definitely a resilient team. I don't think it has anything to do with me individually. Obviously, I have my own personal loss that my team helped me get through, but that is just how we are. You look at the games that we have been in and the games that we have come out on top … Even in the games that we lost, we never laid down for anyone. We continued to fight, and that's just how we are and who we are as Ravens."

On winning the game against the Patriots earlier in the season and being a different team now: "I think I look at it completely different. It's the playoffs, and they are playing well – dominating guys out there offensively and defensively. It's a completely different team. And, the refs were just coming back as well. That was an adjustment for some guys, too. But New England is New England. We have a lot of respect for those guys, and they have been in this position so many times over the past few years. They have the history. They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and for us, we want to get to that point, get this win and get to the Super Bowl."

On if any of the team members watched the football games together yesterday:"No, everyone was in their own little world yesterday, trying to get your mind away from the game a little bit.  You find out who you play, but for us we knew we were going to play in this game, and we knew we were going to either be going to New England or Houston. So there really is no reason to stress."

On if he is surprised on how much he has improved this year from last year: "It's definitely a process. I don't think I am surprised, because with hard work you expect to do well, and you expect to continue to get better. For me, it is all about having Anquan [Boldin] there as a mentor, and my receivers coach Jim Hostler – those guys push me, especially coach Hostler. I never get complacent anyways. I'm not the type of guy to get complacent, but those two have really taught me how to be a professional and continue to grow. I have a long way to go, trying to work each and every day to get there, and later down the line, there will be some trouble." *(laughter)


On if he reads what the media reports before games: "They are irrelevant. None of you all thought we were going to be right here this week anyways.* (laughter)* It doesn't really matter. People say things. You can say whatever – whether we are trash-talking or they are trash-talking. Even during the game, you still have to go out there and play. The plays need to be made, regardless of who is out there. You have to play football for 60 minutes, so words don't mean a thing."

On if he likes being the underdog:"I don't really care about the underdog stuff, either. It's not like I am going to out there, catch a first down and be like, 'Oh, these guys didn't think we were going to do it.'* (laughter)* It's not about that at all. For us, we want to go out there and win. It's football game, and that's what we are about."

On his thoughts on what he has been able to do with the Ravens in such a short period of time: "I was just talking to Vonta [Leach] about it. He was like, 'I have been in the league for X amount of years, and this is my third time in the playoffs.' Two-for-two, and I have the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl again, and I am thankful for it. I am definitely not taking it for granted. I just want to get there, and when you get to the Super Bowl, you just want to win it. That's everyone's goal. You say that confidently, because you don't prepare to fail; you want the best. The NFL isn't like college; there is one winner at the end of the year and 31 losers. We don't want to be one of those guys. It doesn't matter if you get to the Super Bowl. If you don't win it, it doesn't matter. You are just another one of the losers; that is the way I look at it. So, the goal is to ultimately get there, get to the top and win it. We have to go through a tough New England team up north, play up there. They are playing great – great offense and great defense – and it is going to be a heck of a challenge."

On how much this team is battled-tested this year: "I think we are definitely battle-tested, and I think it starts at the top with our leaders – coaches and players – as well. Everyone's a fighter, everyone has heart. When you have leaders like we have on our team, it is hard to not want to follow them and be a fighter and never throw the towel in. We have been through it all – whether on the field or off the field – and we became stronger for it. Our coaches always say, 'Iron sharpens iron,' and I think we are definitely a testament to that."

G Marshal Yanda

On controlling the line of scrimmage against Denver:"I think every game starts upfront as far as if we can control the line of scrimmage and control those guys. It gives Joe [Flacco] time to open up the running game and keep a good balance. It's a huge factor every game. We try to do that, and it was a big success a couple of days ago, and it will be huge this weekend."

On his key fourth quarter block for RB Ray Rice: "It was a one-back power play. It was a great double-team by K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] and B-Mac [Bryant McKinnie]. I pulled around there. When they have a good double-team, there's really no place for the linebacker to go as to fill that hole, and it makes it easy for me to run around there and pull tight and kick him out, and Ray hits it."

On how important it is for him to help make big blocks for Rice: "It's just a good, well-executed play. We needed it. It was a good, big run. It got us down there on the goal line. It was a big play, and we needed it."

On his thoughts on Patriots DT Vince Wilfork: "Vince [Wilfork] is Vince. I've talked enough about him. He's a great player. He disrupts a lot of offenses, offensive lines. He's a force in there. We will have to have him blocked and get after him and contain him. It starts with him upfront for us – creating problems."

On Wilfork's quickness: "That's one of his attributes. He's a real big guy, but he also [has] quickness and a lot of power. He's not just a guy that we will be able to cover up. He has a lot of lateral quickness, which makes him good."

On the challenge the Patriots' defense poses: "[Rob] Ninkovich, obviously, he flashes, making great plays at great times. He's always going hard. We'll have to keep him blocked and all those guys up front. They play well as a group, and they've made big plays when they've needed them. Their rookie [Chandler Jones] on their left side, he's playing well, too. It's another test for us, and obviously, we understand what we have to get done. There's really nothing else."

On if the offensive line is playing at the highest level it has this season: "Yes, I think so. We had a big test last weekend, and we gave up one sack and kept Joe [Flacco] pretty clean. Obviously, that's a huge part of what we try to do every week. If we can get that done, Joe can really put the ball down the field. I think it's a great job by everybody across the board – B. Mac. [Bryant McKinnie] and Mike [Oher] – to contain those guys and get one sack. They had only one sack on us, which is great. I'm excited."

On how long the 2011 AFC Championship game stuck with him: "Probably about two months, I'd say – two months probably. Obviously, I can't even remember Week 1 of this year, so let alone last year at that time. We're a different team; they are a different team. Obviously, there are going to be different plays made. Obviously, it's all about making plays, and hoping we make more than them come that game."

On if the last 12 months have been unusually eventful: "I think that we are battled-tested. We went through a lot of injuries. We went through line shuffles. We went through losses. We went through losing streaks, and every team goes through that during the year. It's all about just battling through it and trying to get hot and trying to play your best football at the end of the year. I think we're doing that. We are just going to have to do a lot of things to continue to do that come next game."

On if he ever wondered if the season would end the way the team wanted it to: "You can never tell how it's going to go. [It's a] one-day-at-a-time mentality in this business, because you just never know. When we were losing three straight, we were kind of holding our butts a little bit, but obviously, we just got back to playing good football and keep fighting though it. Stuff happens. You can't control injuries and stuff like that. We kept battling. This team does that. We have a lot of guys on this team with a lot of pride and go to work every day and just get after it and want to win."

On if he likes being the underdog: "Yes, obviously, at this point in the year, most of the time you are going to be on the road. We understood that after we weren't going to be in the top two seeds. No matter what, we were going to have to go on the road in order to get to the Super Bowl. We understand that, and obviously, we have been there before. It will be a new challenge. It will be a tough battle, but we are looking forward to it. We're excited. I'm fired up – we are all to be in this position and keep playing and be ready to go."

On if he will get an assist on the final first down in the Divisional game: "No, that was just me giving him [Ray Rice] an extra shove. A lot of my family members were like, 'That was a huge play,' and it was a huge play. But, that was just me trying to do my best, do my job. Obviously, everyone on the team has their job, and my job is to block and do my best. Ray was right there, and I just gave him an extra shove, and he really kept his feet going, too. I was just doing my job."

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