Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "A real quick overview of the last ballgame: The players did a heck of a job. [They] executed well, with few exceptions. There is plenty that we have to work on; you saw the game. We covered those yesterday, and we have moved on to the New England game yesterday and today. The players are right in the middle of their preparation, and we have to get the hard work put in, and [it is] a great opportunity and a great challenge. New England has a big front. They play a physical style of football. Their second level is very, very good, and they have some excellent cover guys."
There is a lot made about teams that go up and play in New England and just how good the Patriots are there. This is your first trip up there since you have joined the Ravens. What have you taken from the way QB Joe Flacco and how some of the key guys in this offense are kind of approaching this week and that challenge? (Garrett Downing)"Well, we have approached the last many weeks like it is a playoff week. It is that simple. That is the situation we are in. This game is more of the same that way."
I know it is a different opponent every week, but in your mind, what clicked this past Sunday that was not clicking earlier? (Luke Jones)"The players did a heck of a job. The position coaches who are involved in the game plan did an outstanding job. It is just that simple."
Do you think that people are no longer going to use the word "conservative" after that game on Sunday? (Garrett Downing)"Well, every game is different. We will do what we think is best to win the game."
You have had the same offensive line for the past three games, in terms of spaces at their position. How critical is it to have the stability there? (Ed Lee)"We have talked about that before. Good teams [and] good offenses typically have a good offensive line. Part of that is being able to play together, and our line had an excellent game again. It was like all of us, with the exception of just a few plays. The O-line got the game ball after the game. They start everything we do – that big O-line of ours. That is a good point."
What about the challenge of trying to convert on third down? How big is that going to be, particularly this week in a hostile environment? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, that is big in every game, typically. Unless you are rolling on first and second [down] and you do not have many [third downs]. Third downs are always a challenge in this league, and that is one area that we are really focusing on getting a little bit better at."
Do you get the sense that the offensive line is playing better now than they have been in earlier weeks? (Ed Lee)"Well, here is the deal on the offensive line: You have to play well as an individual, but more importantly, as a unit. That part, they have done very, very well the past several weeks, yes."
Along those lines, how impressed have you been with what G Marshal Yanda has been able to do by flipping to the other side and essentially playing with one arm? (Luke Jones)"[He is] a valuable man to our football team. I can go through many, many strengths, and he has very few weaknesses. For him to be able to do that, both physically and mentally, it is quite a tribute to him. He is a valuable man for our football team."
What specifically have you been trying to improve on third downs? (Jerry Coleman)"Well, last week, what did we end up, 5-of-11? Now, one was a victory [formation], so 5-of-10. Jeez, you would like to be even a little better than that. It comes down, typically, [to] I need to do a better job and need to execute just a little bit better. It is just that simple."
Schematically, have you done anything different in the past couple weeks with your offensive line? (Mike Preston)"Well, every game plan is sort of individual-specific toward the next team. But in general, I think we have gotten better, and some weeks, we probably could not quite see it with the results, but you could certainly see it on film."
When TE Dennis Pitta has the kind of game he had on Sunday, should he be weary that other defenses are now going to have him marked in? (Ed Lee) "This team does that anyway with tight ends, so, yes. Dennis did have a good game, didn't he?"
Are you surprised TE Dennis Pitta got off the line of scrimmage with the ease that he did? He just took off and no one chipped him. (Mike Preston)"He did a good job with his releases, yes. He had a fine, fine game there."
A lot was made with your debate with QB Joe Flacco last week about being aggressive and all of that? Has it been your experience as a coach working with a quarterback where you have those kinds of conversations? (Luke Jones)"We have conversations daily on a lot of a different things. That is really nothing new."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
How much does the Patriots not having TE Rob Gronkowski change things? (Ryan Mink)"You would have to ask them. There's nobody that does a better job with personnel than the Patriots. I'm sure they wish they had him, but I'm just telling you that over the years and being around them, there's nobody that does a better job of setting up a game plan based on the personnel that they have. They'll be ready. The other thing I'll tell you about New England is that the more adversity you give them, the better they play. If you really look back over the years … I was there in '07. We had 'Spygate,' we went undefeated. When they had whatever the other 'gate' was, they went to the Super Bowl. They play through adversity, and sometimes, I think they actually enjoy the adversity and actually play a little harder and game-plan a little harder. The fact that they [don't] have 'Gronk'… I'm sure they would like to have him. I'm glad they don't have him, but it's just another set of problems for us to face on what they are going to do with the personnel they have."
*Along those lines, what have you seen from TE Martellus Bennett being in the mix for them? (Luke Jones) *"This guy is a Pro Bowl tight end. It's not like there's a drop-off to a nobody. This guy is a Pro Bowl tight end. They still have the same receivers. I know they don't have [Danny] Amendola, but they'll have some other guys in there. They'll game-plan it as good as they can. Bennett is a really excellent tight end. He did a great job against us when he was at Chicago. He hurt us. Personnel things, I almost don't even look at it, because I'm just telling you, I know them and how they think and how they game-plan. They're able to utilize their talent better than anybody there is."
Dean, I know you're not going to give up any secrets, but what are the musts when you're playing QB Tom Brady? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's the same musts you have, really, every week. You have to stop the run – can't let them get the running game started. You can't give up big plays. You have to make them go the long way. The thing about Tom is that he's much more patient than a lot of quarterbacks, and [offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Josh [McDaniels] is much more patient as a coordinator than a lot of coordinators are, but you still have to make them go the long, hard way. You just can't give up cheap touchdowns. You can't give up big runs after catch. You have to stop the run. It didn't change any with their team. That's just the fundamentals of defense, and that's what we have to be able to do."
Dean, there is always a lot made about the fact that you spent some time in New England. Do you think that still gives you an advantage? (Garrett Downing) "None, zero. There are three guys on offense that were there when I was there: No. 12 [Tom Brady], which is a big advantage. [Nate] Solder had just come there, and [Julian] Edelman was a rookie; he wasn't even playing hardly much. Those are the only three guys on offense that were there. And two guys on defense, I think [Rob] Ninkovich and [Patrick] Chung, and Chung left and came back. It's like our team. After seven years, the rollover is so much. There are probably five or six coaches that are still there. Josh [McDaniels] had left and come back, and we had gone through a different couple of coordinators. The biggest key is Bill [Belichick] is still there. To me, it's more about just knowing the mindset of them than it is knowing the scheme of them, because the scheme changes week to week. I've seen these guys go out and run no-huddle empty for an entire quarter against Minnesota in 2005 or 2006 – I can't remember what year it was – against a great run defense at that time in Minnesota. They went up and down the field. I've seen them come back the next week and go with three tight ends and run the ball. A couple of years ago, [Jonas] Gray, the running back, against Indianapolis all of a sudden emerged and had 200 yards rushing. Their playbook is so big and massive on offense. They just have a lot of stuff, and they utilize it to the best of their ability. That's what I know about them. The only advantage I have is just knowing that they have a lot of stuff, and they can do a lot of things. That's the advantage I have, if that's an advantage."
Does this game carry any extra meaning for you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "The meaning for me is the fact that we're in first place in our division and we need a win to keep that spot. The other significance is, anytime you're playing against a team that is a really, really good organization and good team – they have been a good team for a long, long time – it always means a lot. The fact that I was there, yeah, it's kind of like playing against your brother in golf. Sometimes you want to beat your friends and your family more than you want to beat somebody you don't know. The significance, really, of the game is the significance of where we are right now in the season. And we're playing a really good team, and when you beat a really good football team, it gives you even more confidence."
Can you speak to how well OLB Terrell Suggs is playing right now? (Garrett Downing) "I think the thing about Suggs was that I'm sure there were a lot of people that had a lot of doubts whether he could come back from an injury with the years that he has in the league and all of that kind of stuff. I can't say enough about what he has done and how he has kept his physical weight and stature and ability to play here late in the season. I can't say enough things about him. He's really, really worked hard. He's been a great leader this year for us on defense."
**Bill Belichick talked about how when he watches you guys on tape, it's striking how well the players play the scheme, and other head coaches have talked about that with us, too. What is it about this defense where they are very disciplined in doing it? *(Ryan Mink) *"I just think our coaches have done a great job of … We know how we want to play fundamentally. You just have to play that way. I think our guys have done a great job of coaching it that way. I hope that we're fundamentally sound, scheme-wise, but I think fundamentally sound technique-wise, too. That's nice that you hear that, and I hope that's how we play. That goes to the coaches and the players doing what they're supposed to do."
Now that he's been back for a couple of games, what have you seen from OLB Elvis Dumervil now compared to where he was when he tried to come back before? (Luke Jones)"The first time he tried to come back, he was not ready. He just really wasn't ready. He needed more time, and he took more time, and he came back. I kind of knew this time was going to look a lot different, just because he knew he wasn't ready after he went out there the first time. He was not going to come back until he knew that he really could produce something on the field. To see him go out and play the way he's played has been great."
What are some of the good lessons that ILB Zachary Orr has taken from the other good linebackers that he has worked with to get to where he is right now? (Jonas Shaffer)"I think he's watched practice habits, but I think it's just an innate characteristic that he has, and he's just a hard worker. I think he's seen how C.J. [Mosley] studies. That whole group has a real different chemistry. They are really close. I think all of them don't want to let the other one down. It's kind of that same way on defense. Nobody wants to let the other guy down. I think that's really been the biggest thing that I see with him."
You guys were one of the top defenses in the league in the second half of last year. What has been the key to becoming more consistently dominant this year? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Coming off of that was nice this year from having that last half of the year last year. I think we felt like this is kind of maybe what we are, and what we can do, and who we can do it with. The personnel haven't changed a lot. It changed a little bit at safety and stuff, but overall, the personnel has kind of stayed similar to what it was in the second half of last year. We've been able to build on that. I think that second half of last year had a lot to do with what we've done so far this year. We have four games to go. We have four great teams we have to play and a lot of football left."
CB Jimmy Smith
On having defensive coordinator Dean Pees at the helm:"We're sitting at the top of the league right now because of the things he's been doing."
On if the Ravens' secondary has been able to confuse opposing offenses this year:"I'd agree. I think [Lardarius] Webb and [Eric] Weddle have been doing a great job. Our coaches sit down and really go over disguises a lot with them. They're very in tune with that, and Coach Pees definitely has a hand in that."
On the defense not changing its plan in TE Rob Gronkowski's absence: "You see what they did without [Tom] Brady [early in the season]. They can win games. They're an excellent team, very well-coached. They execute very well, so we're going to have be on our Ps and Qs, but we definitely think we can get after them."
On if the confidence going into this game is because of the team's history with the Patriots: "It's because of the Ravens."
On if he is glad he won't see Gronkowski on the field: "No, he would get hit like everybody else gets hit. (laughter) We're not going to back down from anybody. Obviously, he's a really, really good player. For them not to have him is big on both of our sides, but at the same time, we know they're going to figure out how to make up for his production. We're ready for that."
On what it is about Dean Pees that makes him such a good defensive coordinator: "He's been coaching longer than my oldest brothers have been alive. (laughter) *I think he's been coaching for like 46 years. *(laughter) I don't think there's a play he hasn't seen, or a formation. The thing that I've always admired about Coach Pees is he covers everything. Even the things that you're like, 'What if?' he already thought about that 'What if?' He gears up with the game plan for every team, and I think we cover everything that we can possibly cover going into each week, and he gives us a chance to go out and make plays."
On if the Patriots present more options to cover than other teams: "One time, I think three years back, we got caught off guard against the Steelers. Form that day, coach has never not put in a package just because he hasn't seen it, so we're going to go over everything we can possibly go over. Whether they actually use it or not, we don't know. If they have an 'empty' game, we're ready for 'empty.' If they have a 'giant' game, we'll go 'giant' – it doesn't matter. We'll go every package, just because coach makes sure that he leaves no stone unturned."
On the play against the Steelers where they were caught off guard:"The game? It wasn't a play; it was the game. We went into a game, and we didn't have a certain package, and they caught us off guard. They came out with a lot of 'bigs,' and we didn't have our 'bigs' ready for that game. Since that game – it was like a few years back at the Steelers – since that game, I don't think we ever went out and didn't have a package ready."
On how exciting it is to know the defense can get even better:"I'll tell you this: Our defense is going to look even better if – and when – our offense goes out and puts up points, because we can start playing the defense where we can get after a lot of guys, pin our ears back, get sacks and a lot more turnovers. How our offense goes for the next four weeks will be how even more great our defense can be."
On the defense successfully containing QB Tom Brady in the past: "It's just two good teams. Like I said, execution. What they do isn't rocket science. It's just they execute well, and they're very well coached. They don't miss tackles on defense, and they don't drop a lot of balls on offense. When they catch a 5-yard crossing route, they get extra yards. I think that's what helps their offense go so well. On our part, we have to be a great tackling defense and a very physical defense that helps stop what Brady does."
On if he will be prepared if it starts snowing in Foxborough: "I went to Colorado. (laughter) We played Minnesota, I believe, and that was the only game I've actually played in that was a snow game. They have to prepare like we have to prepare, so it's equal."
On if he remembers the Ravens' last playoff game against the Patriots: "2014 – I was at home watching it. I could barely walk, still."
On how tough it was to watch from home, especially when there was an issue on the eligible/ineligible plays: "It was really difficult, because obviously, I thought it was cheating.* (laughter) I didn't know who to cover on TV. *(laughter) It was a little crazy, but they kept jumping up and having the 14-point leads. It was one of those games. I was actually being a fan going through it watching it. I'm happy I get to be a part of it this year."
Head Coach John Harbaugh Conference Call with New England Media
At the risk of asking a question that will irritate you right out of the shoot and ruin the conference call for everybody after, I'm going to ask you about the ingenious play that you had against the Bengals a couple weeks ago, where you had the hold against the punt block, and that worked out effectively. [Vice president of officiating] Dean Blandino said the Competition Committee will take a look at it. In what way is that different from finding and exploiting a loophole than what the Patriots did in the 2014 Divisional Playoff game [against the Ravens]?"You are right. I do not want to even get into all of that. That has all been hashed out, as far as that goes. I believe what I believe, and I think it has been proven to be right. The point about [the punt] is that has been talked about, that has been looked at, that tactic has been used by punt teams for 20 years. So it is not a new … It is nothing new. It is nothing that has not been addressed before by officials or by the Competition Committee. Matter of fact, after we did it in the Super Bowl, my brother [Jim Harbaugh] brought it up, and I supported him to change it and to extend it on special teams plays. The Competition Committee and the coaches on the Competition Committee and Dean [Blandino] did not want to look at it back then. They had a chance to change it four years ago, so everybody knew about that. It was not a surprise to anybody, so it did not create an unfair advantage for anybody."
Just to follow up on that – the Titans had done that earlier in the year – the formation stuff – and Alabama had done it, so it was not fully unprecedented. I think the upshot of it was that it just gave the taste of discrediting a Patriots' win after that game. "Like I said, I do not want to get into that. That was not the intent. I think if you go back and read my comments at the time and the tone of it … Anybody that takes it that way is taking it the wrong way. That was not the point at all. The point was that you had an eligible receiver that was not identified and an ineligible receiver that was not identified as such, and the league … The official had no way to identify that for the defense. They had never addressed it before, so there was no signal or anything or any other way to do that. That was something that was addressed the very next week when they put in a method to identify an eligible number as an ineligible player. That is all technical stuff. If somebody wants to look at it some certain way, that is not my concern."
He [the referee] literally said on the microphone though, "Don't cover that player." "That is not something that has ever been gone over. Players were never taught, 'Don't cover a player.' When you are on the field, you cannot hear that microphone. There is not something you can even hear, and that is not something you are listening for. There is a signal – they tap the player on the shoulder, they brush the numbers to say that an ineligible player is now eligible. They had no method of doing that for the opposite. They put it in next week, where they tap the shoulder, then make the safe sign, and that meant the eligible number was now ineligible. The fact that they changed that the next week was a good thing. I think that it made it more fair for the defense."
You said that you were proven right. I am just curious, what were you referring to there? "I am done talking about it."
How would you feel if the Competition Committee outlawed the punt play you had against the Bengals? "I support that, I support that. I supported it four years ago."
So the intentional holding, you would be OK if they took that out of the game? Or if they allowed the team to extend the game if the game ended on an offensive penalty? "Like I said twice now, I supported that four years ago when my brother suggested it in the coaches' meeting with the Competition Committee."
A question about the Patriots' commitment to running the ball: RB LeGarrette Blount is having a great year. But over the past decade or so, there have been spurts where it seems like they have [committed to running the ball], but it seems like more of a commitment this year. Is that what it appears from where you are, and what do you see from their running attack?"I think their running attack is excellent. They have three excellent backs led by LeGarrette Blount and an excellent offensive line. They do a great job with schemes. They are very well-coached. To me, I do not think it is a renewed [run game] or any kind of a change for them. I think they have always been committed to doing whatever they need to do to score points or win games. To me, they have always had a very good running game. It is just an extension of* *what they have always done well."
What kind of runner is RB LeGarrette Blount, if you had to describe him?"A big, physical, downhill, tough runner – very talented."
We talked a lot with Bill Belichick about toughness yesterday, and the fact that you have always built a tough and "unintimidable" team, if that is even a word. When you match up with New England, is that toughness a mental toughness, too? Because you guys don't seem to be cowed at all about coming up to New England and playing in these games? "We don't really think too much about that. We are just trying to prepare for the game and come up there and play the best we can."
You put a lot on QB Joe Flacco this year, even more so. I think your passing numbers this year, your attempts are significantly greater on average than they have been in years past. Is this just part of the evolution of Joe the quarterback and how you are running your offense? "It might be. I think we have had more plays to than we have had in the past. I really have not looked at the numbers too much. But we certainly do have a lot of confidence in Joe, and I have a lot of belief in him, personally. He is very important to us, obviously. That is something that would make sense for us to do."
You guys throw the ball a ton. Is run-pass balance overrated, do you think? "I don't know. What is it rated? What is the rating on that?"* (Reporter: "I do not have an exact number, but I guess the conventional wisdom is you like to be as balanced as possible.") *"Well, balanced on first and second down or on all three downs? What are you looking for?"
What do you attribute QB Joe Flacco's ability to make whatever adjustments he has needed to make with different coordinators? This is his fifth offensive coordinator in the last five years, and granted, the styles with some have not changed dramatically. But in terms of quarterback psychology and what he has been asked to do physically, how he has he adjusted? and what does it say about Joe that he has adjusted?"I think Joe does a great job. You try to build an offense … Anytime you build an offense, you try to build it around your players and what they do well. We have always tried to do that here, really in all three phases. We have tried to do that on offense based on who we are playing with at any particular time. The thing that has been consistent has been Joe, so we have always tried to build an offense that he can be most effective in. That speaks to him as a player, and he does a great job of that."
We have seen kickers all across the league miss extra points, obviously field goals. Your guy [K Justin Tucker] is perfect this year. Just curious what you have seen from him this year and how has he been able to avoid some of these pitfalls that have befallen on pretty much every kicker in the league? "That is a kick-to-kick, game-to-game type of thing. Every game is different with situations and field conditions – all of the different things that can happen from one kick to the next. I think our guys do a really good job of just focusing on the next kick, whether it is in practice or the game, and just trying to execute it as well as they can. Justin [Tucker] and Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch] have really done a good job of that so far. They are focused on the very next kick, and that will be the most important one."
TE Dennis Pitta and WR Steve Smith Sr. are obviously big components in your offense, as well as WR Mike Wallace. What makes them so good still at post-30, especially Steve closing in on 40? Why have they continued to be so productive, and was there ever a doubt that you had that they would be at all productive all at the kind of relatively advanced age? "Steve is probably different than the other two guys, age-wise. That is probably a really appropriate question for him, and it really is amazing. For him to be playing at that position at the level he is playing at, at 37 years old, is phenomenal. I guess you can only really attribute it to the man himself. He is a super-talented … If you go back and you look back at his history and all the way back to when he was drafted, and watch some of the old clips, his talent level is off the charts. We have a lot of history together from the first Pro Bowl and the draft and all of that – I mean off the charts talent. That talent, that foundation, is still there. He is a super-talented athlete. Then add the competitiveness to it and the work ethic and coming back from the injuries – he deserves the credit. The other two guys, I think Mike feels like he is a lot to prove, probably, and Dennis, too, for different reasons. For Dennis, injuries, and for Mike, coming back and being productive. But those guys are … I would say they are kind of more in their prime. They are still … What are they, 29 and 30?" (*Reporter: "31 and 30, I think.") *
Between S Eric Weddle, WR Steve Smith Sr., TE Dennis Pitta and WR Mike Wallace, how much an impact do those veteran guys that you have brought on have on the rest of the roster? "That is a great point. They do have a big impact. I know New England has done a good job of that, too, over the years. [They have done a good job of] bringing in players – veterans. Having veteran players that are present and guys that know how to play the game, know what you are doing, have been in these situations, the leadership that they provide to me, is really a must if you want to have a winning football team."
Speaking of older guys who have been around for a while and are still doing it well, you spent a little time with QB Tom Brady with your brother Jim's program at Michigan this past offseason. What did you find out about him that you did not know before? "Oh man, I don't know. It was really great. It was probably nothing that I did not know or suspect. We had a lot of fun. I do not know if he has talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride, along with my daughter and a couple of friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours, and really, more than anything, [my daughter] Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady about competing and what it takes to be just great at what you do. One of the funny things about it is that he was so nice to her. So he gets off and they go, and we get back in the plane and we are talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom sure is a nice guy.' I look at her and go, 'Tom?! I was thinking Mr. Brady would have been more appropriate.' She said, 'He said to call him Tom!' *(laughter) *I got a kick of it. It was good. [I have] a lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he has accomplished. He is very tough to compete against. [He] is the best quarterback that has played, certainly in this era, without question, in my mind; that is how I would rank him. It is just another tough challenge to have to play against him. But he is a Michigan Man. He has done a lot for the program there, and we like that, too."
It is tough beating the Patriots, as you know from the record. It is tough coming up here and winning. But the one aspect, if you look at the numbers, is that it shows if you keep QB Tom Brady from running up points and touchdowns and make New England convert field goals, instead of touchdowns. It is easier said than done. You guys have been able to do it, among a couple of other teams. Whether you have won or lost, you have been in a lot of games. What is key, what is paramount to really making this and keeping this a game where you can come in here and win? What are some of the keys to attacking QB Tom Brady? "There are a lot of keys to it, in terms of game-planning and Xs and Os and matchups and things like that, that we are focusing on. Those are things that you look at every single game. It is just tougher against New England and against Tom Brady, because they are not going to be loose or sloppy with anything they do. They are going to be on point. They are going to be very precise. They are going to play very hard throughout the course of play. They run with the ball after the catch, after the hit. They finish blocks. All of those things just make them really good at what they do, so it is going to be tougher than it is, but we have to keep them out of the end zone, like you said. But we also have to score points. Whenever we have played against them, we have had to score points, too."
S Eric Weddle Conference Call with New England Media
On his first season with the Ravens:"It's been a seamless transition. Obviously, knowing the history of this organization and the defense that they play, the style of defense fits what I bring as a player. With my personality and off-the-field-type of things, I thought I could fit in perfectly. It's been an amazing experience. It's been humbling. I spent nine years in San Diego, and then you move your family and start over. It's been nothing but great things. I'm just trying to finish strong, lead the team and continue to play well."
On the Patriots' run game and RB LeGarrette Blount's production this season: "It's pretty impressive. Blount has always been a physical, downhill runner – very hard to bring down. They're definitely committed. You look at how many touchdowns – they have 13 touchdowns – and tons of carries. They run the ball efficiently. It obviously sets up some big plays for them in the pass and what not. You look at the New England Patriots over the years, and this is by far … You can look at it that they've run the ball as much and stayed committed to it for whatever reason. They're good at it. They're obviously one of the best teams in this league. We've got our hands full. We're excited for the challenge."
On if he has had a taste of the Ravens-Patriots rivalry this week: "They've had some meaningful games to say the least, whether it's in the playoffs or the night games throughout the seasons over the years. You're a fan of football, and being in San Diego the last few years and not being in the playoffs, you watch those games from afar and are envious of wanting to play in them. Now is my opportunity. It should be a great game – two great organizations, great coaching, great players. It's going to be electric. Monday night, it doesn't get much better than that."
On what has helped the Ravens turn things around from the losing streak and heat up toward the end of the season:"We had a tough stretch, obviously. Teams go through that throughout the year. We hit the injury bug, so our offensive line was hurting. In the back end, we had a couple of guys down. C.J. [Mosley] was out for a few weeks. 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] was out. 'Doom' [Elvis Dumervil] obviously has been out the whole year, and we just got him back. I just think we just got back to the basics, got back to the fundamentals. We were in games. We just weren't playing well enough in the third and fourth quarter to overcome our deficiencies at those times. We finally went back to the basics, fundamentals. We got back to playing our style of football. The defense has continued to get better and kept us in games. Now, our offense is starting to come together at the right time. Four weeks ago, [beating] Pittsburgh was big, but now the confidence that we gained since then and winning four out of five – we're just trying to continue to play team ball. That's going to be a huge task this week. We're playing good ball at the right time."
On if the Patriots were interested in him when he was a free agent and if it would have been an appealing offer:"Obviously, I was interested. I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it's always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn't end up [working out]. I'm good buddies with Patrick Chung. I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don't know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly. I'm still wondering why they just didn't draft me in '07; I could have been still playing there now."* (laughter) *
On comparing the experience of playing in San Diego to playing in a blue-collar city like Baltimore: "This town, this city, it's hard working, it's tough. They live and breathe their Ravens. It's just cool to see on Fridays everyone wears purple throughout the whole city. It's Purple Friday. You open your eyes a little bit when I first got here. San Diego is an amazing city, but it's not a football town, and that's just the reality of it. They have great fans there, but this is a football town. This is football. You think of football, you think of the Northeast. You think of New England. You think of Baltimore. You think of Pittsburgh. That's football. That's the way I am. I live, I do everything I can for my teammates, for the game. I don't take anything for granted. I try to get the most out of every day, and I think that resembles a lot of this city and this organization. It's about winning championships. It's about doing whatever you can for the team, and it shows on the football field."