Head Coach John Harbaugh
(opening statement) "Thanks for being here. The National Football League, huh. Tough. The Cleveland Browns are a very good football team. We said it last week, and it was proven here tonight. This is the AFC North. This is the way it goes. It seems like every time we play these guys, this is how it goes. I think that their coaching staff, those young players they have are doing a great job, and that's going to be a team to contend with for many years to come. So, hats off to them. Hats off to our players. It's tough to win in this league, and sometimes you're going to win and you're going to look great doing it in one phase or two phases or all three phases. Sometimes, you're going to win and it's not going to look great, but you have to find a way to win anyway and that's what our guys did. Some guys stepped up and made some plays when they had to be made. I thought our secondary made some plays when they had to be made, especially at the end there when they are knocking on the door. Guys [were] coming up with plays. 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] made a bunch of plays there. Ed [Reed] was in great position to make plays. Cary Williams, the difference in the game with the interception return for the touchdown. Here is a guy who was under a lot of heat from you all, but he wasn't under heat in our building because we know what kind of player he is, and he comes up big. You have faith in your guys and believe in your guys. I think he deserved that. I thought Joe [Flacco] played exceptionally well. Anquan Boldin had some huge catches before us, especially that conversion down there on our sideline, where Joe threw that nice pass over his shoulder. I thought our defense, overall, played pretty darn good. They had three 50-plus-yard field goals. That's kind of what they did. Phil Dawson, he is a great kicker, and the conditions weren't great for kicking field goals. So, that's off the top of my head. Welcome back to the officials. Good to have you back."
(on if he noticed a difference in the officiating) "Sure, yeah. These guys are pros. These guys are really good. The communication was good. I didn't agree with every call. I would love to know what happened on the last one there that gave them the extra play. I haven't seen that yet. I heard about it. They were excellent. [Referee] Gene Steratore does a great job communicating. Guys on our sideline did a great job communicating, and I think now we're all kind of on the same page from a consistency standpoint."
(on why he anticipated a close game and how it played out) "You hope they're all easy, but they are not. This is the National Football League, this is the AFC North. When you watch the Cleveland Browns on tape, you knew what kind of game you were going to get. They've got two or three wins here, coming into this game, except for a few mistakes here and a few plays here and there. That's how it is. It's not college football. Every team in this league is really, really good. If you understand that, I think you have a chance to find a way to win. We're a very good team too. When you understand that, you have a chance to find a way to win games against everybody. If you don't understand that, you have no chance in this league."
(on if he likes the position the team is in, being 3-1 after four games) "Sure. We are always going to be mad as heck about the one that got away. That's how we look at it. But, we've won three games, against very good competition, in 17 days. That's an accomplishment. I am proud of our guys for it. They will get a well-deserved rest this weekend, and then we'll be back at it on Monday."
(on if the regular referees changed the flow of the game) "Yes, absolutely. It was much smoother. They communicate well. They are quicker. They know how to operate the game at this level. They did a nice job."
(on if he thought playing four games in 17 days had an effect on the players) "I don't think so, that I can tell. How do you know? I thought out guys did a great job of taking care of themselves. The guy I would cite is Ed Reed. Ed was bumped up. It was nothing major, but he was bumped up. He was in the training room, he was doing treatment on his own at home, taking the equipment home and treating himself when he went home. He was basically treating himself 24/7. I just have some admiration for the man. That's why it means so much to him, and to me, that's representative of our whole football team."
(on if he is glad the four games in 17 days are over with) "We'll be looking forward to a normal seven-day schedule, and we've got some 1 o'clock games coming up. So, we are looking forward to that."
(on if QB Joe Flacco was impressive throwing over the defense when they stacked the box) "Well, you have to do that, and there was a lot of tight coverage out there. I thought the guys did a good job too of making catches for him. Joe throwing the ball into tight spots with tremendous accuracy. That defensive front is really good. That is a good, young front. They did a nice job, and as you said, they were loading up the box. We still got some rushing yards too, so we popped a few through there when we had to."
(on RB Bernard Pierce's performance tonight and his explosiveness) "You've seen it. He is very capable of that. That is something that he can do. He is a young, talented guy. He has a lot to learn, and he is working hard at learning it."
(on OLB Paul Kruger's penalty at the end of the game)"I'd have to see it first. From what I have been told, there wasn't much there. I'll have to see it first, but we talked about it, and that's always a concern. That's always something, as a football coach, I think you have to look at. Sometimes, the smallest thing is going to be misinterpreted, maybe in your eyes, and you just have to walk away from everything. You walk away from everything in that kind of situation. He knows that. So, absolutely."
QB Joe Flacco
(on the design of his touchdown run)"It's just a one-guy option. I'm really looking to run it first, that's the design, but I honestly was trying to get a touchdown pass. I bled it out as long as I could. When I came around the corner, I kind of said to myself, 'OK, I have the run here, but let's see if Dennis [Pitta] comes wide open,' and he worked for me a little bit and then just nothing happened. So I said, 'OK, I have to get a touchdown run instead, I guess.'"
(on his touchdown spike) "I didn't really spike it. I was just excited, and that's what white guys do when they get excited, I guess."
(on if it's easy to forget mistakes made in the game) "I don't how easy it is, but on that one, the guy that picked me off was standing on the line of scrimmage and he just took off that way. I threw the ball and I thought I had a touchdown all the way up until the fact that, I don't know … I was probably a step from the sidelines still thinking, 'Man, how did I not have a touchdown there?' He started on the line of scrimmage and just took off for that corner and I didn't see him at all. It's just one of those things, it happens. You have to shake it off, and a lot of time left in the game. You can't let it affect you too much."
(on with it being a Thursday night game and being fatigued) "I think the biggest thing is physically getting ready to play on a couple of days' rest. Obviously, you can't go to practice and polish everything off and run all kinds of full-speed reps. I think we've done enough of that. It still comes down to the physical aspect of it. Normally on Thursdays, some guys are still getting some soreness out and things like that. And, we're getting ready to play a game, so it's pretty crazy. I think the fact that we played Sunday night, just that seven hours of difference between a 1 o'clock game and an 8 o'clock game, you're only talking about a short time period like this, that makes a difference, too. I thought we were fortunate to get both of the games home, so we didn't have to travel and something like that. It's tough, it's physically tough. It's good that we came out with a win and now can get a couple of extra days to heal up and get ready to play Kansas City."
(on if he saw a difference in the officiating) "I don't really pay attention either way out there. I didn't really put the officials at fault that were out here the first few weeks. It's a tough game to go out there and do when you don't have that experience at this level. It's not an easy job. The biggest thing is I think the game probably went a little bit smoother and a little bit more seamless and things like that, moved along a little bit and calls were made and everything went a little bit smoother."
(on if the number of pass attempts was by decision)"We go out there and things work out sometimes in the game to just happen that way. I think we tried to run the ball a little bit early, and they did a good job coming after us and kind of stopping us for a yard here and a yard there, no gain. I think we were able to get some quick game going and that was really what was hitting them. Then we tried to get some of our play-action, but they did a really good job of just getting off the ball and playing physical and getting after us a little bit that the quick game stuff was the stuff that was working a little bit better. I think when we did move the ball, that was the stuff that worked. Sometimes, like I say, you go into a game and you plan on being quick-based and mixing it up a little bit, but like I said, they played pretty physical. They're a good defense. It's tough to just get out there and take chunks of yards at a time. You have to be smart about it and that's just the way the game played out today."
(on how big of an accomplishment it is being 3-1) "It's big. I wish we were sitting here at 4-0, but, you can't look in the past. To finish the first quarter of the year 3-1, you give yourself a great chance to go on to the next quarter and the rest of the season and still be where you want to be in your division, in your conference. It's a big deal. This is a competitive league, and I think you've seen a lot of competitive games this year already. Teams are just really good, everybody is very evenly matched. We're going to have to play a lot of hard-fought games in order to come out with a lot of wins."
(on the kind of game he expected tonight) "You go in there and you expect to go out there and score every time you have the ball and you move the ball smoothly. Obviously, that's not the case. You have to go out there and you can't blink. You go out there and do your best, play-by-play and move the ball. I don't necessarily know if we look at a game and expect something. It just kind of goes out there and plays its way out. They're a physical team, we're a physical team and it was that kind of game tonight."
(on WR Anquan Boldin's game) "He came out big, huge for us in the second half there. [He had] just really strong catches. At the end there, I threw a nine-route to him and he did a great job going up for it and came down, allowing us to run more time off the clock. That probably proved to be pretty big. A couple of huge catches for us in the scoring drive. He had an awesome night. When we were struggling a little bit, we looked for him, and he came up big for us."
(on the importance of having the best referees on the field) "Yeah, it's important. We are the NFL, and people are probably going to watch NFL games because it's a pretty darn good sport. In my opinion, the product on the field matters and that's what it's all about and that's why the NFL is what it is, and why it's growing and growing every year. I kind of had the opinion that we were saying that the product on the field didn't really matter, it was people were going to watch it anyway. And I don't think that's the right attitude. I think the product on the field is very important, and those guys are part of it. Like I said, they run a seamless [operation]. They help it go seamlessly and go smooth and there's going to be calls that we complain about with them, but we have to live with that and I think we'll all be happy from now on the way the rest of the season goes."
RB Ray Rice
(on playing four games in 17 days) "I'm tired man, I can't wait to have this weekend off. Four games, 17 days, 3-1, I just can't wait to have this weekend off. This win wasn't one of our prettier ones, but it's a division win and we're alone in the top of our division. It feels good to come away with the win at home."
(on fighting through tonight to get the win) "That's a good team over there, their record doesn't show how good they are. They are stout, they just have a hard time coming through at the end. Obviously we like to protect our home and win our games."
(on having the regular referees back) "We had to win this game, because we couldn't blame the referees tonight. They did a great job tonight, they let us play through a lot of things and it was great to have those guys back. It didn't feel like they missed a beat. The way the game was played made us feel like, 'Yes, the regular referees are back.' I'm not really a guy that gets controversial with calls, but tonight you saw those guys battling down the field for the ball and the referees letting them play. There wasn't really any pass interference calls, so cornerbacks got to do what they do. And that was the case on both sides. Nobody's perfect, but obviously the way the game was called, we have the integrity of the game back. To have our guys back is pretty good."
(on whether the integrity of the game was in question with replacement referees) "It definitely was, it wasn't my job to complain about the officials. Those guys have been doing it for some time now, just like I said, none of us are perfect, so you can't get mad at them [the replacement officials] when they miss a call. Obviously, they're trying to call the game as close as possible. It's sort of like going from Pop Warner to the big leagues, and it's just like a college player going to the pros. We don't know how hard the transition is. I have to commend the replacement officials for stepping in, otherwise who were we going to play with? So, you have to give them some credit. Bottom line, I'm glad the regular referees got an agreement done."
(on being 3-1) "Three wins in 17 days, it could have been 4-0, but I'll take three wins. We'll get our rest, and treat this kind of like a bye weekend, and we'll come back ready for Kansas City."
(on not being as successful against the Cleveland Browns, as last year) "I think I did my job tonight. If you come into the game and your main goal is to stop the run, you're going to stop the run. It's not hard to put a pencil on a guy and say were going to shut their guy down, and make the rest of the team beat us. That's what they did in the run game, but I was effective in the pass game. Sometimes my role changes, I like to be an all-purpose back, if you want to take me out of the run game, I'll be effective in the pass game."
(On RB Bernard Pierce's performance) "He had a great night, he came in and gave me a spell and found the holes. They opened the defense up and he found the holes that I couldn't find when I was in there. He did a great job of running the ball. We didn't get the total yardage we wanted as running backs. But when he was in there he gave me a nice blow, and gave us a nice burst to get the ball down the field."
CB Cary Williams
(on the interception) "It's great. It's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm just thankful to be in that position. I'm glad I was able to recognize the route and the formation, and I just went out there and made the play."
(on what that interception meant to the team) "Those guys in the locker room, we play for each other. They understand my frustrations last year not coming off with a pick. It's great camaraderie in the locker room, and they understood the emotion behind my first interception."
(on if the interception was even more sweet since he struggled last week) "It's great. It's a great opportunity to get some individual accolades in the game. But at the end of the day, I think that winning the game is more important."
(on if he had any kind of touchdown celebration)"No, I didn't. I just wanted to give God the praise because without Him, I wouldn't be in this position."
(on if he had the sense that his teammates had his back all week) "Oh, no doubt. They've always been there for me, and they're going to continue to be there for me regardless of whether I have a good game or a bad game. One thing about this league is that it's hard to win games here. It's hard to play at a high level each and every week. Sometimes, you're going to get balls caught on you. What you've got to do is bounce back and learn from those mistakes you made in the game and just continue to fight."
(on where the team is now one quarter of the way through the season) "I think it's great that we won the first quarter, but it's not over. We've still got three more quarters to win of the season, and we understand that. We're going to get some rest, which is huge for us. We're just going to get back to work."
(on what he noticed about the regular refs being back) "They basically controlled the game from the beginning, and they made good calls. They may have made some mistakes, but at the end of the day, it was definitive calls. They wanted to control the game from the beginning. I think they did a good job of that."
(on the play where he made the interception and scored) "It was a surreal feeling. [Lardarius Webb] told me that when he got the interception against the Jets that it felt kind of the same. When I had it in my hands, it just [felt] like I didn't have it, you know what I mean? I just was thinking don't fumble this ball because it was wet. Once I got in the end zone, like I said, I just gave God the praise because without Him I wouldn't be here."
S Ed Reed
(on tonight's win) "The Cleveland Browns played a really good game tonight. They put themselves in position to get themselves a win at the end. You have to take your hat off to those young guys fighting. We are blessed to walk away tonight with a win. Definitely too close for comfort tonight, but a win is a win. In this league it's always going to be tough, their defense played hard, and their special teams made plays at the end. That return at the end put them at great field position, but our defense stood up."
(on playing four games in 17 days) "With this league changing, and the people upstairs making decisions to adapt to this economy, we're the ones who are in jeopardy as far as injuries and stuff like that. That's why you have to take care of yourself and do the things that are going to help you rejuvenate and recover. And put yourself in the best position health-wise, I know a lot of guys out there were fighting fatigue at the end of the game."
(on trying to confuse QB Brandon Weeden) "It was really no different than what we did against Brady, [Patriots QB Tom Brady] and no different in what we did against anybody else. We have to get better week to week. Weeden did a great job of getting the ball out of his hands and getting the ball to his receivers who are trying to make a play. You have to take your hat off to that guy. I really enjoyed playing against him. Those guys are really competitive."
(on being a veteran leader) "Yes, I have been there one too many times. It's kind of frustrating to play your hearts out against a team like we played last week, and then come and do what we did tonight the way we did it. I know it's frustrating for people watching it, and for people paying the bills, so to speak. But Cleveland is a great team. I know we wanted to dominate a certain way, but that's not always the case."
(on not playing for 10 days) "It is what it is. A couple days off, but you're really right back to work. It's how you approach it, and it's how you take care of yourself. I do a great job teaming up with my doctor, trying to recover. I had a sprained knee last week, and I made it back doing constant treatment. They make it tough on you, It's how you invest though, you can either buy fancy cars or take care of your body."
(on the regular officials being back) "We don't get treated the way we want to get treated. When we speak out and say the things that we should say, or the truth that we speak, we get criticized. It is what it is, I'm glad those guys got back on the field, and got what they deserved. People are going to be people; they're going to judge you the way they judge you. You guys are going to write what you want to write. You're going to say Ed Reed is whining, but I'm the one out there playing my heart out. And not getting what I deserve. I know the business, and you don't see the work that we put into it. You don't know the investment that we put into our bodies. You don't know how we get treated and talked too. You don't know the behind the scenes of what those referees were going through being locked out. But we think that regular old Joe, division two and division three guys can come in here and do a good job. There was a lot of pressure on those guys, and I commend them, that they came in and did what they did. Not every call is going to be a great call, even the guys that were out there today didn't make every call. It's good to see those guys back out there. I shook a bunch of hands tonight, and had a lot of jokes. It felt good having those guys out there again just talking to us."
(on Ravens CB Cary Williams) "I'm proud of that kid, to fight through what he has fought through, everybody going at him, for him to keep his head and play the way he's been playing, honestly he hasn't given up much. For him to make the plays he's been making. From being the guys that's dug himself out of the hole. I'm proud of that kid. He's more deserving of an interception touchdown than any other person on this team. I'm just proud of him, to go through the ups and downs he's gone through and the criticism he's gone through, and the stuff he takes on a personal level"
WR Anquan Boldin
(on if Cleveland brings out the best in him after a big day personally) "My number was called tonight. We knew coming in that it was going to be a real tough game coming off of a short week and having a division opponent come in. We knew we were going to have a battle, and I think we were prepared for it."
(on battling Browns' DB Dimitri Patterson and if he was talking to him much out there) "No, I didn't talk to him. He kept saying something, but I just played ball, let my play do the talking."
(on the big fourth-quarter catch that kept the drive alive) "We just called a fade and Joe [Flacco] just gave me a chance. I tried to pin the guy as much as possible – get on top of him and pin him – so he won't be able to make a play on the ball, and it turned out the way we thought it would."
(on if he anticipated getting single man-to-man coverage)"At that point, yeah, because we felt like they were in a situation where they were desperate; they were trying to get the ball back."
(on his thoughts from the sideline during the last few plays of the game) "Let's get out of here with a win." (laughter)
(on it never being easy to win and if it matters who you're playing) "No, it doesn't. You've got to realize, those guys get paid, too. They're very talented, although they're young, but they are very talented. It's a division opponent, and any time you play a division opponent, it's going to be a tough game."
WR Torrey Smith
(on the route he ran on the touchdown catch) "Yeah, I saw the coverage and I just knew with the route I had that I had a great chance of getting open. And I got even with the safety, and I knew once I got even with him – Joe threw a great ball – and all I did was cross his and just catch it."
(on if he enjoys watching WR Anquan Boldin make plays as much as making his own plays) "Oh, yeah, I love watching Anquan play. He's a dominant player and a great mentor, so I look up to him as a person and a player. It's a pleasure just playing beside him."
(on if it was any different with the regular referees out there tonight) "We just played our game. It's not like we did anything special; we ran our offense and we just executed."
(on what type of jump-start Boldin provided the offense in the second half) "He was just out there making plays and playing the way Anquan is capable of. All he has to do is touch the ball, and that speaks to [him being] a dominant player and he showed that tonight. He's our top receiver and we all feed off of him, and I think that helps us out a lot when he's touching the ball. Really, everyone was moving the ball well; Joe [Flacco] was in a groove, our offensive line was protecting and Ray [Rice] was running the ball and B.P. [Bernard Pierce] as well. So, I think we did all right."
C Matt Birk
(on if the outcome was closer than what people may have thought) "Whatever people think – people don't play this game. *(laughing) *It's a hard game, it's hard to win. This is my fourth year here – Cleveland always plays [us well]. It's always a battle when we play those guys, and it was a battle tonight. I think they're a good football team, and I certainly think they're a good defense, and I'm just happy we got the win."
(on if there was a moment in the game where you noticed that the real referees were back) "No, no. Once you start playing, you're just playing; you're not thinking about that kind of stuff. Obviously they did a great job. Everybody knows Gene Steratore; he's a celebrity. *(laughter) *So, it was good. Obviously he did a good job tonight."
(on how he thought the offensive line played tonight) "We played good enough to win. There's obviously work to be done. As a lineman, part of your make-up is you don't remember your good plays, you just remember your bad ones. That's what makes you a good player, as an offensive lineman that's what makes you a good offensive line. Obviously there are plays we'd like to have back. We ran a lot of plays, and at the end of the day we put up enough points to win, and that's what you've got to do. That's your No. 1 job, is to find a way to win."
(on Cleveland's defensive line being pretty good) "Their whole defense is good. I don't know what other people think about them, but you turn on the tape and you watch them; they play hard, they play tough, they're very well coached and we knew. We knew we were going to be in for a fight tonight, just like every time we're playing."
LB Jameel McClain
(on the game tonight) "It's always going to be a tough game when you play against your division opponents. Every game is tough in the National Football League. But we've got to finish better and we've got to stop beating ourselves with penalties. Regardless of how it goes, those are my thoughts right now. I'm just thinking about the penalties and how we need do better on our end."
(on Cleveland having a pretty good team despite their record) "They definitely are a good team. All around, they're better than people give them credit for. They're looking for a way to get it rolling on all cylinders, and they'll find it. And when they find it, we're definitely going to have to play way better than we did tonight and finish way stronger."
(on if there is any sense of relief to finish the first quarter of the season 3-1 and now have 10 days off until the next game)"We definitely have some time to recuperate, to heal all of our injuries, whatever we have on this team. And then to scout ourselves and see where we went wrong and try to correct it. As far as it being a relief, I don't think so. We know where we should be, and that's really where our focus is at. But there aren't a lot of teams being asked to play all of those games in 18 days, and we came out the way we came out. It wasn't exactly the way we wanted, but it's still a good way to come out. Now it's time to finish the next quarter of the season."
DT Haloti Ngata
(on RB Trent Richardson)"He's a great running back. He has a great knack of falling forward for a couple extra yards. We'll see him again, and hopefully, we'll do a better job of not letting him get the extra yardage."
(on why games with Cleveland are so close) "It's a division game. It's always going to be tough with every division game we have, and Cleveland is a tough team. Wins don't come easy, we'll take it, and hopefully we can rest up this week and do a better job with Kansas City."
(on his sack of QB Brandon Weeden) "I was able to get there and bring him down. He's a big kid. He's going to be a good quarterback. He makes some good throws, and gets rid of the ball early. We'll see him down the road and he'll probably get better."
CB Lardarius Webb
(on CB Cary Williams' play) "That was a huge moment. They kept messing with him, but we knew that he would eventually come through. I've been working with him every day since training camp, and I know what he's got. He started off a little slow, but you see the big play potential in him. He makes plays and that's why we believe in him."
(on being 3-1 after playing four games in 17 days) "Yes, we have no choice but to be happy. 3-1 record, 2-0 in the division, we certainly wish we could be 4-0, but it's nice to be 3-1 in 17 days. We feel we won the first quarter [of the season]. We still have things we have to improve on and it starts tomorrow."
(on the way the game ended) "Once we got through it, it was like 'Oh, finally.' But, it's nice to have the game on our [defense] back. We really stepped up when we had to. We did a great job getting them off the field. We had a crazy call at the end. But, still that adversity we faced it, and we won the game."
LB Ray Lewis
(on the Cleveland Browns keeping it close)"If you've been around here as long as I've been around here, you'll understand that the National Football League every Sunday is going to be like that. You may get a break every blue moon to where you can get up on a team real fast, but every time you have an 0-3 team in your division, then you know it's going to come down to that type of game. I just take my hat off to my team. Short week, both teams had a short week, and for us to come in here and get the win – that's huge, that's huge."
(on having the referees back) "The first thing I went up to them and we had a little bit of an intimate conversation. I think they understood how much we were fighting for them as players and how much we really respected their jobs and what they do. So, I think having the guys back there was more real conversation between each other. Whether the calls were good or bad, you were really able to relate what was going on. Guys had a calmness. You didn't really see a lot of pushing. The referees were just letting the games play out."
(on if he was ever happier to see the real referees) "No. No, I haven't. It's the first time I really got excited about the referees. I walked to the headman and the first thing I said was 'I was fighting for you guys.' But, like I said, I'm glad we got to the point where it was settled because the game, as we saw, was suffering. There was just too much going on. I think guys prepared too hard, we were fighting too hard, and guys really sacrifice their lives for this. So, I think it was very important for us to get the referees back."
(on being this close to being 4-0) "That's kind of the thing we talk about, but we also have that rule 'Once it's over, it's over. Win, lose or draw.' I think we understand what we did in Philadelphia. You never want to put it on anybody else. We should've come out and won that game. But, for us to be sitting at 3-1, with no losses in the AFC, that's huge. When you look at the people who are going to be fighting at the end of the year, when you get off to a fast start, that's huge."