Head Coach John Harbaugh
**Can you give us an update on Torrey Smith and some of the guys that were injured and their status perhaps? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"I think you'll see the status after practice. We'll put a report out, and you'll know if they practiced or not. Really, we won't know until they've practiced to see what they can do."
**Coach, I know that coaches never like to use injuries as excuses, but how much have injuries impacted your defense this year? *(Tom Pedulla) *"You're right, we don't like to use injuries as excuses. Really, there is no point in measuring that. It doesn't matter. We've just got to play our best every time out."
**What have you seen from Ed Reed this year in terms of his whole season? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I think Ed's had a real good season. He's actually playing very physical when you study it. He's playing very physical football, especially the last three, four, five weeks. He's a leader for us. He's playing good ball."
**How much of Joe Flacco's turnovers in past weeks can be attributed to a makeshift offensive line and maybe a little less time than he'd like? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"I don't think anything. That's not really the concern. We're going to do the best we can protecting our quarterback, and we've got to do the best job we can protecting the football in the pocket – and all of our guys know that."
**What do you see from the Giants? Their general manager, Jerry Reese, has been building through getting pass rushers every year? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I see a lot of pass rushers, just for that very reason. They've got a tremendous front. That's probably the strength of their defense, although their secondary is really playing well, too. They've got a bunch of turnovers. That goes hand in hand, as we know. They've done a great job of pressuring the quarterback. They don't have as many sacks as they usually do, but they do have some pressures and things like that. We're going to have to do a great job one-on-one. They're not a big blitzing team, but they are a big matchup team. They move all their guys around. You'll see any one of their rushers on any one of your linemen based on their game plan. So, all of our guys are going to have to be prepared, really, for every guy and all those moves."
**How well did you get to know Tom Coughlin on the USO trip, and what are your thoughts on him as a coach and a person? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Thanks for asking that. I got to know him really well on the trip out there. He was the father figure out there. He may or may not appreciate hearing that. *(laughter) *But, he kind of had an eye out for all of us. I had a chance to spend a lot of time with him again this summer in Washington, [D.C.], with he and his wife [Judy]. He's a tremendous coach. He's a Hall of Fame coach, and I've got a lot of respect for him."
**Josh Bynes is one of the guys who is now playing because of the injuries. Where have you seen him grow the most? *(Garrett Downing) *"The thing we saw about Josh right away, A) he is physical, and B) he is really smart. Josh is a guy who's got a real high football IQ. He gets the game, and that's where I think his strength is. As he [gets] experience, he should become a really good player."
**Does Week 2 with Jim Caldwell as the offensive coordinator change at all from Week 1 with him as the coordinator? *(Bo Smolka) *"I hope we are always evolving and growing. So, we should be a week better than we were last [week], all of us together. But, it is still a seamless transition in the sense of we've all been here together, working together the whole season. So, you build upon that."
**How difficult is that transition for your quarterback? *(Tom Pedulla) *"We don't measure difficulty. We're not into that."
**You talked on Monday about how you would like to see the run blocking improve. Were you more disappointed with that in the Broncos game, or was this something that you've thought that is an area that needs to get better for a while now? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"I think that we have to get better in every area, including run blocking."
In terms of Joe Flacco and having the rough first half as far as turnovers, what did you see from him in the second half, where he seemed to pick up? (Aaron Wilson)"I thought all of us picked it up in the second half. We made some plays. If we had been able to capitalize on some fourth-down conversions, we might have been able to make a game out of it there. Obviously, if we hadn't had the turnovers in the first half, it would have been a game all the way through. It's going to come down to that. It's going to come down to not making plays that cost you the game and making plays that give you a chance to win the game in critical situations, and, that's what we are going to have to get accomplished."
When you look around the league, can you remember a rookie quarterback class this strong? (Robert Klemko)"I haven't given that any thought at all. Not whatsoever have I thought about that. I've been thinking about Eli [Manning] as a quarterback, though. He's kind of been the focus."
Do you see the Ravens and the Giants as similar trying to enhance their playoff position and coming off a few losses? (Dave Ginsburg)"I really have not given their playoff position one iota of thought. It's important for us to win this game. We have a job to do, and we need to be the best team we can be on Sunday."
You haven't announced a move yet with Jameel McClain's roster spot. Would it be fair to us to consider that could be Ray Lewis' roster spot? (Glenn Clark)"I think it would be fair – and I'm pretty sure you're going to do it anyway – to consider any possibility on that."
**Talk about Will Beatty, their left tackle. What do you know about him? *(Bill Toth) *"He's from UConn, he's 6-6, 307 pounds. He's a very good athlete. He's got long arms and is rangy. He's done a nice job for him."
QB Joe Flacco
On his feelings after his interception that was returned for a touchdown:"You knew it was going to be a challenge from there. We have been in the situation before where we have fought to get back in games like that. Last year, I looked back, and there were a couple of times where we were able to. So, you just have to do all you can to try to get back in the game. I think we did that, we just weren't able to pull through. That was a mistake. That was a 14-point swing, and it created a lot of stuff to come back from."
On what he wanted to show his teammates after the interception:"I think we all just have to keep our heads up, and it starts with me. It started with me throwing the interception, it started with me trying to run the guy down and see if we could keep them out of the end zone at least at the half there. We just weren't able to. I think it starts with me keeping my head up and just keeping that positive attitude to move [forward] and play the full 60 minutes."
On if they knocked off the rust by running the no-huddle offense a lot on Sunday vs. Denver:"I think we did some things well, and we did some things we need to work on. It was obviously a little bit of a different situation [with the] no-huddle. We weren't really mixing too much. We were kind of just going after them and throwing the ball. So, I think when we were able to do that in the middle of the game and we were able to run our whole repertoire of things, I think it will go pretty well."
On how valuable it is to have C Matt Birk and how much he helps out before the snap with protection calls:"It's definitely valuable, not only for myself. Me and him are in constant communication and making sure that we see the things the same way so that I know when I have to get the ball out of my hands, I know when I am going to be protected. But, the communication that he has and the way he has to filter it throughout the guard and the tackles, that's very important. I guess the importance is to have a guy that can do all that quickly and get it to everybody, relay it to them very quickly so that we can kind of run at a high pace."
On what he thinks is the most important position on the offensive line:"There are a lot of different ways to look at it. At center, it's their job to be a smart player. They are going to be singled with the nose [tackle] a lot of times. It just depends what you're talking about. Obviously, when you are dropping back, the tackle positions are pretty tough, and that's where the premier pass rushers are. But, I think all the positions, in their own right, are pretty darn important. I think it just all starts with the center, so I think that's why you can say that about that position. It starts with them, they make most of the calls, and it's their job to relay everything and get the offensive line on the same page. So, it is very important."
On how much of the offense's struggles he puts on himself:"As much of it as I can – all of it. It starts with the quarterback, and that's the position that is looked at. You have to go look at yourself and see what you can do better in order to make everybody else around you a little bit better and in order to get our team to win."
On what his hope is, individually, over the next few weeks:"I hope we go out there, we play fast, physical, smart, and I hope we win football games. I don't hope; I know that's what we're going to do. It's what we've done here. My goal is to make sure that we come out here every day and work hard to get as good as we can get this week, next week, the week after, so that when we go lace them up on Sunday, we're giving the teams our best."
On how he would rate his confidence level right now:"I'm confident, our team is confident. These are tough situations, but it's about how you stand up, and you can't blink. I don't know if we've necessarily been in this kind of situation in the past, but we've dealt with things that are similar, and we know how to move forward and push through."
On how he would assess his season so far, and if he is content with the progress he has made from last year:"I don't know if I am content. I don't know if anybody is ever content. It's been an NFL season. We've played a lot good games. We've won some early, and we've played some good games and lost some late. That's the way it goes sometimes. There's not really much you can do about the past. You have to just live in the present, and move forward, and I think that's what we're trying to do."
On his season personally:"The same way."
On how RB Ray Rice has handled this season:"Ray has been great. You'd have to ask him."
On if this three-game losing streak feels different than the last one they had in 2009:"No, I don't remember exactly what the last time was. I'm sure it doesn't feel too different. Three-game losing streaks don't feel too good, but at the same time, we feel optimistic about going forward, and we feel good about where we are headed this week."
On if he thinks about his contract situation:"I'm sure it's back there somewhere, but it's not something I've really thought about or really considered. I knew it wasn't going to be a topic of conversation during the season, and that's just the way it is. I kind of just made that clear in my own mind at the beginning of the season and just moved on."
On if he is upbeat about a deal getting worked out in the offseason:"Yeah, no doubt. I always am. This is a great organization, and you're always upbeat about that kind of thing."
On the fact that he has made the playoffs in all five of his NFL seasons and has not missed a game:"You don't think about it too often, but it's something that we've been accustomed to here. We're trying to live now, work hard, and we're trying to just make that push to win more games in the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl. So yeah, I'm sure I am pretty proud of it, but it's just not something that I or we really think about on a regular basis."
On if there is a sense of pride that a lot of things fall on his shoulders:"Yeah. For whatever reason, it falls on the quarterback's shoulders anyway. It's no different moving forward than it ever has been. It's not always reality. When you go out there and play really, really well as an offense, it's because your whole team played really, really well. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it's going to be moving forward. If we go play well, which we expect to do, then it's because us as a group – our offensive line, our receivers, our running backs, our tight ends, myself – we all played well together."
On if he will feel unfulfilled if the team doesn't reach the Super Bowl:"I think when the season is over and said and done for, if you haven't reached the Super Bowl and won it, then you probably feel a little bit unfulfilled. That's our goal, and we're not going to really look up until it does or doesn't happen."
On what kind of offense he still views this offense as being:"I view it as being a very good offense and capable of going out there and scoring 30-plus [points] a week, and that's what we have to aim towards, and that's what we're going to have to do to win down the stretch here. We are playing a lot of good teams, and we're going to have to make sure that, as an offense, we go out there and we put points on the board."
On if he is looking forward to the challenge of going up against the defensive front:"They're a good pass rush team. They create turnovers, whether it's from those guys or guys getting their hands on the ball on the back end. It will definitely be a good challenge and an exciting one."
On what the level of confidence is in the defense that it can stand up against a good offense:"I think they are playing really confident. I think they've played really well the last couple of weeks and really started to gain some momentum, even with some of the injuries. There have been times where they have let up some points, but I think with a lot of young guys in there and dealing with a lot of injuries, there have been spurts where they've played really, really well and given us some good chances. So, I think they're confident, really confident."
DT Haloti Ngata
On the Ravens and Giants being in similar situations this weekend with needing to win this game:"Oh, definitely. I think we've got to do a great job of focusing on the Giants this week, and defensively, make it to where they can't get too hot. With Eli [Manning], I think you understand that if he can get rolling, he can score a lot of points, and I think people see that and hopefully we do not let him get hot. And definitely, I think we need to stop the run this week, because they do a good job running the ball."
On if the Ravens' defense can be a force in the playoffs if it's able to get a little healthier:"I think that's with every team, really. I think if anybody can be fully healthy throughout a season, it's going to be a great team. And with us, we definitely had an injury bug this year, but we had guys step up and make some plays for us. And hopefully, we can get some guys back and see what we can do there and just have a great week of practice."
On if he is physically close to being 100-percent healthy:"Yeah, I'm getting there. I'm actually starting to feel better and better. And I think against the Redskins and last week, I actually felt pretty good, and hopefully, I can continue to get back to where I want to be and play some dominant football."
On how disruptive the injuries have been:"Watching film, I feel like sometimes I can make plays where I'm not making plays or get off blocks where I'm not getting off blocks. That just goes with getting the strength back and practicing it."
On if he listens to what quarterbacks say when they start yelling at the line of scrimmage:"No, because I think they understand that people probably do listen and they probably throw a lot of bogus stuff in, so you don't really know. I'm not really listening; I'm just focusing on what I've got to do and trying to get off that ball."
On if he echoes S Ed Reed's sentiments that last weekend's performance was "embarrassing":"Yeah, I think anybody would be embarrassed with that performance. I think we, as a defense, have a lot of pride and know that we can play better. Hopefully we can have a great week of practice and show that on Sunday."
On if they want to restore some of that homefield pride by winning at home this weekend: "I think us and the fans have a lot of pride in having that homefield advantage. And us as players haven't shown as a team that we're a good home team lately. So hopefully, we can pick that back up and end it off with a win."
On if there is a feeling that this team can make a playoff run if it gets healthy:"Definitely. I feel like if we can get healthy, we could have a good run in the playoffs. And so, if we can do that, then definitely, I think we can do some things in the playoffs."
On what goes in to getting healthy:"Rest. I think at the end of the year, it's getting a lot of rest and whatever you think is needed. For me, it's just getting some strength and rest."
On how the weekly game plan is affected when you don't know if a guy is going to play and you have so many rotating players:"It would be hard, as a defensive lineman, if I didn't know who was playing next to me, just getting the feel with him there in practice. But other than that, with our defensive line, whoever I think is going to be up or dressed … I mean, our linebackers and [defensive backs], they've been shuffling so much throughout the year, I don't even really know who is behind me sometimes."
On what he's seen from LB Josh Bynes filling in for injured players:"Josh Bynes definitely has stepped up. He was huge for us Sunday, and against the Redskins came in, and I don't think he took any reps during practice and ended up starting the game after Jameel [McClain] went out. So, he's done some good things, and he'll get better and better the more experience he gets."
On if this game is very important because they could win the division and possibly rest some players in Week 17:"We just want to win, just because we haven't been winning. It's a big game for us – last home game. But we just need to focus on what we can do and not worry about what other people are doing."
On how important it is for them to win the AFC North by winning it themselves this weekend:"That would be huge for us. We've been losing these past couple weeks, but making the playoffs, it's kind of crazy. But like you said, it'd be a lot better if we could do it ourselves."
On if the pieces are in place for this defense to stand tall again:"Definitely. I think we have the pieces and we definitely have the guys that can do it. We've just been playing inconsistently, and hopefully, we can just get back to [playing] the type of football we know we can."
On what he is most thankful for at this time of the year:"Family."
On what he's seen from DE Arthur Jones this year:"Art Jones, he's been huge, stepping it up and making a lot of plays for us. I think he understood what he needed to do this year, and he's been helping our defense out a bunch with his play-making abilities."
RB Ray Rice
On the criticism QB Joe Flacco has been receiving and if Flacco is playing the season that Rice would like to see:"We had to go through a lot of adversity this year. Joe being Joe, he's responded to it really well, I think. It's not easy going through a change the way that we've been through this late in the season. With the way that Joe has handled it, obviously, he is still Joe. This being a bounce-back league, this week gives us a great opportunity, No. 1, to bounce back, get out there … Everything that we still want is still right in front of us. I've always said that the players have to play, and the coaches have to coach, but we have put on the pads and go out there and make plays. The quarterback is the toughest position in the game. I just think with that amount of pressure, he has handled it really well. Joe's still a great quarterback. Joe's our quarterback, and we are always going to defend him to the end."
On the mood of the team after three losses: "The criticism hasn't gotten to us. Obviously, no one likes losing. We aren't going to sit up here and sugarcoat anything about not going out there and not performing well. We can say our guys were hurt. We can say this – that's it: 'It's always next man up.' Obviously, we have to do a better job of, No. 1, preparing but going out there preparing to execute at a high level. We've shown flashes of that. With all of that being said, we can't sit back and say we aren't thankful for being in the playoffs. It's been five years in the running for me, and this year it just happens to be a little bit different. No matter how you get in, it's always the team who gets hot right about now. You look at the New York Giants – they got hot right about right now, and they went ahead and won the thing last year. No team has to be perfect right now, but if you go in there and start executing and you start playing that good football, you never know what can happen."
On evaluating his season: "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I just got over 1,000 yards. Like I said, it was a little different. One thing I did is I stayed on pace. I never tried to make a play that wasn't there. Yes, we want to be a lot better in the run game. We definitely do. That's something that I take pride in – our offensive line [takes pride in]. We want to be better. We want to execute, but we also don't want to be stupid with our runs. We don't want to take a nine- or eight-man front and run the team into the defense. That's when you have to have your play-action game. One thing we know on offense is that the run helps the pass, and the pass helps the run. So when you're executing at a high level, you're being hard to stop. That's where we are at right now. We just have to make everything look the same."
On holes not being open on Sunday versus Denver: "No, we played a great defense on Sunday. I'm not going to take away from Denver. We played a great front – a physical front. They got after us, but we did show glimpses of us being able to move the ball. That probably wasn't a game where we needed to have two-back sets. When we got into our empty sets and single-back [sets], we were able to move the ball on them. The momentum change was … Obviously, when they caught the pick before the half, that happens. Those things happen, but we have to overcome them, because if we score right there, that game's different no matter how you want to slice it. That's all on us. That's something that we have to take and evaluate. Obviously, we looked at the film. It was all said and done. We know what we did wrong, but we also know [that] the game was right there for us, because our defense played great in the first half."
On how injuries have affected the offense: "The thing is with offense, everything is about timing. When you get a new face – new guy in there – it's about getting the timing right. When you lose a guy like Marshal Yanda, he's had the timing at right guard, and then we have Bobbie [Williams] in there … One thing we know is Bobbie is veteran. He can get the job done. That timing issue is just something that we all as a group have to fix. We have to revolve our offense around making sure … Coach [Jim] Caldwell preaches it – it's the timing of the offense. It's very precise at what we are doing. We have a veteran group up there mixed in with some young guys, and those guys work very hard. They are a prideful bunch. It's great to always come back after a loss and come out here and have a good practice. That's the only thing that gets it off is preparing for the next week. It's not like we are preparing and we are about to pack our bags at the end of December. We are going into playoff football. We have to execute right now and win one to clinch the division, and then go ahead and start going to the playoff football field."
On if playing the New York Giants carries any significance to him, being from New York: "It is another game to me. I'm not going to treat it any different. Last year when I actually had to move back to New York in the offseason, I had all these Giants fans in my building. I just had to take that on the chin. I told them that I don't have any disrespect. Obviously, when you're sitting there and you were that close to the Super Bowl game, and you have to go back home and [watch] the Giants win it all. It was a reality check that when you get that close you have to try to get to The Dance. Playing a New York team, obviously, with me having to go back home in the offseason, especially … I've actually been converting a lot of them, somewhat New Yorkers. They will trade their New York jersey in for a Ravens jersey this week – maybe my jersey, because I'm from [New York]."
On how he would describe the Giants' defensive front: "Very physical, very physical. It's no surprise why they won the Super Bowl. When those guys put it all together they, obviously, look like the best team in football. They have showed their little glimpses of things where they need to work on as well. That front we are playing is tough – very tough. The thing that sticks out to me – I'm not going to sugarcoat it – is the amount of guys that they play on that defensive line that come in and out and … Sometimes – whatever you call it – their NASCAR package, you get four precise pass rushers, and they do twist games. They get you all misdirected, and the next thing you know you get a guy running free to the quarterback. When they put it all together they are tough. We have our hands full this weekend."
On if he ever thought someone would approach Eric Dickerson's rushing record: "Adrian Peterson has brought the value of the running back back up. We all love to see him do well, especially coming off that knee injury. Running backs are a big fraternity. What everybody's saying … The quarterbacks are playing and everything else, it just shows that we are still out there, but he's that one exception. Everybody knows how special he was when he came out and what he's been doing. I'm rooting for him. I'm definitely rooting for him, because as a running back position … You know what they say about us: Our value went down, but you have a guy that is about to go for over 2,000 [yards]. It helps to bring you back up. That's where it is."
On focusing on this week's game instead of looking at goals in the future: "The extra focus is on this week. First, we had to do what we had to get in the playoffs. With a little bit of help, we appreciate it, but playoffs are there. Playoffs are dead. It's either going to be a game here, or it's going to be taking the show on the road. That's something that we have to focus on one week at a time. To speak on them – you're looking at the Giants; they are in a three-way tie right now. If you think that team is going to come in and lay an egg … We have our hands full. This team won the Super Bowl last year. They have a lot at stake – same as us. We appreciate the home playoff game, because our fans are phenomenal. They are amazing at home. It's always comfortable being at home. When you don't have to pick up and travel and get on that airplane, it helps out. That team coming in here has a lot more at stake than we do, because they, obviously, are battling to get in the playoffs."
On how tired he is about getting questions about his number of carries: "The carries question, I've always dealt with them. That's something that … I can sit up here and agree to disagree, but it's something that I know that I'm being real about. If we execute at a high level, we execute on third down, there's no doubt in my mind that I'm coming out of the game with 18-25 touches. When you're getting three-and-outs, three-and-outs, three-and-outs, and then the other team is scoring, there's no time to hand the ball off to Ray Rice. We have to score fast. That's where I've tried to become more effective in the pass game. That's just being honest about your touches. My touches are going to come when we execute at a high level. But, am I disappointed? No. This year, I think I made the best of my touches. The numbers might be where they are, but I did gracefully go over 1,000 yards rushing for the fourth-consecutive year. I think the O-linemen are going to want a gift for that. *(laughter) *It definitely feels good. I'm just trying to stay effective, and obviously, I know my role on the offense hasn't changed."
On how hard it is to wait a week to play after losing a game: "For me, I'm going to tell you my formula. You know what I do? After a game, if you lose, go home, kiss my daughter, come back to work, lift weights and I get ready to go to work. You can't play the game on Wednesday. That's something that we know we can't do. Lift weights today, go out there and have great meetings and just perform day-by-day. Obviously, that moment that you get out there on Saturday in the hotel, the whole thing becomes real. Saturday in the hotel, you realize that you are getting ready for a game tomorrow. When you get there and I get my late night snack, it's almost time to play. I just have a little boiling factor that goes in. I know I can't play the game on Wednesday, so I know I'm not going to leave anything hanging at practice, but I'm not going to give it all on Wednesday. Sunday will be here – 4: 15, I think? [I] get a little bit extra rest, get these legs recovered, we're good to go."
G Marshal Yanda
On how close he was to playing last week:"I was pretty close. It was just too close with the way it felt and stuff like that, so I didn't want to … It was just too close to getting re-injured."
On if having the week off helped:"Every day that you get it seems like it's getting a little better. I went out there and did the [walk-through] and it felt all right, so we'll see."
On if it was hard or frustrating to watch the game last weekend:"Yeah, I'm a guy that usually plays no matter what, so it was tough to watch. Just not being out there, no matter what the outcome of the game was, just not being out there with the guys was tough."
On if there is a bit of urgency to play in these last few weeks:"No matter what, no matter how the season is going, this and that, I want to get back as fast as possible and help the team win. If we're 15-0, if we're 1-10, whatever, I want to help the team and do my job."
On how important these final two regular season games are:"They're very important, there's no doubt. We need one win out of the two, and we're looking to get that this week versus the Giants. That's enough said."
On his percentage chance of returning for the game this Sunday:"I don't know yet; we'll see. It's Wednesday, it's early. We're not playing until Sunday, so we'll see."
On what the Giants do on the defensive line and how hard it is to defend them:"They're a good defense. It's the NFL, and they're led by their four guys up front. Those guys are good pass rushers and get after it, so we'll have to be ready."