Initial comments ...
"I appreciate you guys being here. Congratulations go out to the Bengals, who played really well, especially that first half. They earned the win. We did not play well, especially in the first half, and that was the result. In the end, I was proud of my guys — proud of how they fought all year long, (and) the way they work — and we move forward from here."
How unhappy are you with the result of the game?
"I'm never happy with any losing result. Maybe I am pleased with the work and the effort, but never the result. I was just disappointed with the execution. We really didn't have the edge in the first half like we normally do. We ran to the ball, we were finishing blocks — going hard in the routes. From an effort standpoint, the effort was there. But the execution was not, and we got run on like that. Credit to the Bengals, as they did a really good job. Rex Burkhead is a really good player. He's really special, and he showed it today. It was just a great performance by him. For whatever reason, its hard to put a finger on it. On the emotional level, (the team) wasn't where it had been in the past. It has to do a lot with what happened last week. Our guys came back and really worked hard. They didn't sulk; they didn't pout. We came to work, but to get to that level, you have to play to the level the way we usually do in order to win football games"
Are you disappointed going forward?
"I just think it was human. I'm not necessarily disappointed, because I know how tough our guys are. I know where we are going to go forward. Its just human. Its real. We fought and we tried. We just couldn't put our best foot out there."
Is C.J. Mosley OK?
"I don't have an injury report on him. I don't think it was anything major though. We will know tomorrow, but I don't think there was anything serious."
What can you say about Steve Smith?
"It's been a privilege and an honor, and a heck of a lot of fun to be around him every day. From the very first time we met back at the combine and at the Pro Bowl, and every time I saw him at games, we had a great relationship. But to have a chance to be around him every day, we developed a friendship, and that's a rare thing. That's a special thing. I hope we will be pals for a very long time. He's been in my house and talked to my daughter. I've spent times with his kids. I've been around his wife and (so on). He's a great family man. It's been a special thing. The competitiveness too, it's special as well. He's shown our guys a lot. He showed our guys a way to compete and how to play the game. He never took anything for granted. He made a point to make a play every single game. He wanted that to be some advice to the rookies and younger guys, and I think that's great advice. When you think you have arrived in this league, and then next thing you know you're out. If you're veteran football player, you're around for a reason. He's been here for 16 years and continues to play at a high level every game. One of the highlights in my coaching career."
How difficult will it be not having him here anymore?
"Whenever you lose a great player — he is one of the all time great players — (you) are going to have to fill the void. Guys are going to have to step up, and we're going to have to find a way to be better next year, but he doesn't have to worry about that."
STEVE SMITH SR.
Can you process your emotions right now?
"It's a little bit of a relief. You know, playing this game (and dealing with) expectations that are expected from you, it's a lot of pressure. I haven't really concerned myself with the pressure. The pressure I'll have now is getting kids to school on time. Do I eat a pint of ice cream or a gallon of ice cream? Do I want to work out on the treadmill or the Stairmaster? It's going to be different, but it's something I'll look forward to."
Do you think you'll miss that pressure?
"No, I'm not going to miss that pressure; I'll miss the competiveness, I'll miss the guys. I'll miss playing, but then there's some other things (that with) my makeup I'm looking forward to, not putting it on myself."
What does it mean to you that you've gotten kudos all year from not only guys you've played with, but against as well?
"This week, I just wanted to take the opportunity to appreciate things. I'm always, always, always looking ahead. I've said it before and I'll say it again — I grew up in Los Angeles and there's a highway, the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway ) you can take up north and for a long time, football has been (the) PCH highway. I've just kind of gone and done it over and over and over. Yet very rarely have I pulled over, and I appreciated looking at the sunset with my wife, with my kids, with friends (or even) just myself. That's what I'm doing. That's what I took this week (as).
"Part of it's emotional, but I'm just enjoying it. I'm never really seen myself as anything special; I've always worked ... This week there were a lot of emotions and a lot of anxiety, a lot of things coming into this week and I just said 'You know what? I'm just going to play.' I'm not going to concern myself with getting more passes or going out like Kobe (Bryant). I'm just going to go play. That's what I did.
"We didn't get the win — I saw Breshad Perriman do some great things — I was encouraged to see that. I'm going to miss these guys. I'm going to miss them but when they're in training camp and I'm not and I'm hanging at the pool. I'll be doing a lot of other things, going to Disneyland in September. I've heard it's really slow then with kids going back to school, so I'll be able to ride some rides numerous times — there's a whole lot of things to look forward to. Also, just being a dad. My kids miss me and I miss them, so I look forward to that."
What were some of the thoughts going through your head during the final minutes?
"Am I going to eat a gallon of rocky road ice cream? To be honest. I just tried to not to get emotional."
Did you start to get emotional? It looked like you did on the bench?
"Yeah I did. When (Elvis) Dumervil came over and Joe (Flacco) and the other guys, yeah I did."
You've made a lot of close friends here — do you anticipate stopping by and continuing your relationship here?
"Absolutely. Me and guys (on the team) have talked about taking family vacations together, coming back to Baltimore, going back to Baltimore and going to games and stuff. But I also want to take that time and get away from football a little bit. I'm going to have fun. I will be myself and I'll have a lot of free time, but at the same time, I'll get to be with my boys and come back to Baltimore and see some games and see Joe throw touchdowns. It'll be good; I'll mooch off some other guys that mooched off me for their seats, so I look forward to that."
Was there one moment today when it hit you the most?
"This morning my wife sent me a text. My family wasn't here. If my family had been here, I would have lost it.
"I enjoyed it but it's over, it's done. I know it's my time. Some people say 'Could I play another year?' I probably could, but what I would lose, I'm not willing to risk (it)."
How tough is it to see Steve Smith walk out of the locker room for the last time?
"It's tough. What a competitor, what a player. He did so many things for this team. It's definitely a tough reality."
Do you have the same feeling about this season and the way it ended because up until last week in the last couple of seconds, you had visions of being in the playoffs?
"It's disappointing, but we've had a week to think about it already. We came up short last week, really, and we came to work this week and got after it but didn't go out there and perform well today. We didn't play our best football, and it's definitely a little bit disappointing."
Did the Steelers loss take an even more emotional toll on this team than you expected?
"Hey, any time you play a big game there's — win or lose — you're going to have to deal with a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and that's what this league is about on a week-to-week basis anyway. Dealing with your emotions and coming to the field Sunday and having them in check and being ready to go. It would be too easy to use that game as a reason why we didn't come out here and play well today. Obviously, we had some emotions there, but we came to work this week and really got after it and expected to play well."
Is there something you can pin down as to why you weren't as sharp today?
"We had a bunch of drives today that were a bunch of plays; we just couldn't convert any points. Listen, it's a tough deal. You can't completely discount the way we played last week and leaving it all out there and coming up short, you know? It makes you feel certain ways. But come Sunday, there's so many things — bullets are flying — all kinds of different things and you want to go out there and prove to yourself (you competed). You want to be able to look in the mirror and say 'I fought in a NFL football game,' which we're all very fortunate to be able to do. Like I said before, you just can't use last week's game as an excuse."
You passed Vinny Testaverde for the most passing yards in a single season in Baltimore Ravens history this season — does that achievement mean anything to you?
"No, not really. I'm sure 20 years down the road nobody will really remember what the season was exactly like, but those things don't really mean too much to me. I'd rather be sitting here at 12-4 with a division championship in my mind and going on to the playoffs and playing next week — or maybe not playing next week but playing 2 weeks from now (off a bye). So yeah, it really doesn't. I don't feel too much about it."
You rehabbed hard to get ready for this season. What are your emotions right now? Do you need a break to get away from football?
"Well hey, we're definitely going to be living with this season until we get together in the offseason and get going for next year. That's just the reality of it. You have to live what you put out there this year. And no, I don't have to 'get away from it. I have to go back to work and get back in the weight room and continue to throw the football and do all the things you would normally do in a regular offseason. I still think I have a little bit of work to do with getting everything back to the way it was, and this offseason will be a huge opportunity to do just that."
How big of a challenge will it be to replace a guy like Steve Smith and what he does?
"Reality is going to hit us at some point that we don't have him on the field anymore and to be able to be the guy that he is on Sundays. Nobody has to do anything spectacular; we've just got to go to work and get better and better each day. Guys just have to be who they are. We have guys that can step in and do the job and they don't have to be Steve Smith. They just have to be themselves, and that's the most important thing."
What's your assessment of today?
"Well, Pittsburgh took a lot out of us when we lost that game. In a game like this, there's nothing to play for but yourself. We came up short and didn't make enough plays. That's why we got the loss."
Do you feel like the team let up and didn't play as hard as usual?
"I wouldn't say we didn't play hard. They made more plays and we didn't make plays. They made more plays than we did."
You guys ran a lot of short routes ...
"They were playing a lot of cover-two and zone. They didn't want to give up the deep ball. They were letting us have all the stuff underneath."
What has Steve Smith meant to you?
"At 37 years old he comes back and plays another year after an Achilles injury. To be able to come back and attack the game the way he did — I should never have a day of me complaining."
How did your opinion about Steve Smith change after playing with him?
"I was his fan growing up. I used to watch his YouTube videos all the time. I didn't care what people said about him, I liked his style of play. At first, playing with him was a shock because I had grown up watching him."
This was a tough way to end the season ...
"Every time we step on the field, we expect to win. We didn't get it done today. We'll remember this loss and use it for hunger next season."
What did it mean to play with Steve Smith?
"It was huge. Having Steve in the room, and him being one of the greatest of all time and giving you tips and pointers, it was great. I never imagined playing with him. It's a blessing."
Were you hoping your touchdown would stand?
"I was hoping I was (in the end zone), but once I saw the replay, I saw that my elbow hit before crossing the goal line."
What's your assessment of today?
"You can't expect to win when you have a terrible first half on all levels of defense. We had a great week of practice, but we didn't come out the way we should have. We came back in the second half and played our style. It's unacceptable. It will give us more motivation."
Was the emotional toll from last week still lingering?
"You can say it is, but it's not an excuse. Everything came crushing down on us last week, and it's hard to overcome. That falls on us, as older guys. We still have to go out there and compete and play together. We didn't play Ravens defense. Hopefully we can use this as drive during the offseason and come back better next year."
How disappointed are you?
"Well, we lost an emotional one last week and we're kind of banged up. We came in and tried to win. I don't think it was lack of fight. Cincinnati definitely executed, and I wish we had executed better and played a better game."
What are your thoughts as to what it will take for the Ravens to get back where they need to be?
"We have to address some issues. We may have to take some hits — hopefully not — but we have to get healthy and address the issues that hurt us this year. We have to be honest with ourselves and address those issues if we don't want to be on the outside looking in. We have to get healthy and go to work."