Transcript - John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "It's good to see everybody. Obviously, we're pleased with the win, and we've already moved on to Denver, and we're starting to prepare for those guys. That's kind of how it works in the National Football League. But, I'm proud of the guys. It was an important win and it was a hard-fought win, and we're happy about it."

Would you consider looking outside to shore up the running back position if the injury situation is serious?"I don't see that being a problem right now. I think we're going to be fine."

How do you feel RB Ray Rice responded coming back from his knee injury last week?"I didn't think he really showed any signs of the knee issue. He did a great job last week getting himself ready to play and looked good on Sunday. Willis [McGahee] doesn't have a concussion, so he should be fine. Those guys are OK."

Did the fact that you had some banged up running backs affect the play calling inside the red zone?"That's a good question for Cam [Cameron] later in the week, but I don't think so. We had some things we wanted to attack. It's hard. You get down there on the 2½-yard line, you could say, 'Well, you should have run the ball.' But, they also had basically seven guys at the line of scrimmage, and we were spread out, and it was man coverage. So, we kind of liked throwing against that, too, and that's what we tried to do."

Do you think WR Derrick's Mason performance early in the game set the tone for the offense?"He probably did. He made some nice plays. I thought the play on the post early where Joe [Flacco] threw it up and gave him a chance to go make the play – in which he did get face-masked incidentally and still came down with the ball – I thought that was just a great play. It got us out of a hole [and] flipped the field. He made a huge catch on our sideline on the left side of the offense when it was out in front of him, and he tipped it up, flipped underneath it and caught it. I saw that one close up; that was right in front of me. I had never seen a catch like that before. 'Mase' came ready to play. He competed and made some big plays for us."

How do you feel at this point in the season being 3-1 after three road games and two wins against very strong teams on the road?"Probably pretty good, in terms of if you just look at the numbers. But then again, you always look at the one that got away, and we think we should win them all. The biggest thing is the fact that we are minus-six right now, I think it is, in turnovers. Is that what it is, minus-six? Is it seven? So, we're last in the league, and yet we're 3-1. Playing three games on the road, playing three divisional opponents, playing a team pretty good at home here that's turned out to be a pretty good football team, as we said, and we've managed to still do that when turnovers are the thing that really hurts you win/loss-wise in this league historically. So, that bodes well. That's an opportunity for us. That's something that we know we're going to continue to improve on on both sides of the ball and build on all the other things that give us a chance to be pretty effective as we go forward."

How do you feel about how the offense stood up to Pittsburgh's blitzing, especially on the last touchdown play? "As you know, pass protection is a group effort. Everybody on the offense is involved with it. But, our offensive line was pretty good – that's probably an understatement – throughout the course of the game. Our tackles did an excellent job against some good players. There wasn't a lot of chipping going on. It wasn't like we were giving them a whole bunch of help. They just held up out there very well. It allowed us to get some receivers out. They picked up the different pressures, as you said, slid the protection in different directions when we had to. They did a great job of recognizing where they were coming from and when they were coming. Our pass protection has been good all year. We started off against the Jets, [and] nobody gives you tougher stuff than the Jets, except maybe our defense in practice. And our guys have done a good job with that."

Can you assess DE Paul Kruger's performance yesterday and have you seen signs of improvement from him now that he's playing more?"I hope so. Guys always want to improve, and when you play – I get your point – you do get a chance to improve. Paul played pretty well. He was active. There are going to be a lot of things he's going to look at and he's going to want to get better at. But, he put pretty good pressure on the quarterback a couple of times. [He] would have had a huge sack/fumble if not for the offsetting penalties there. He jumped offsides one time [and] had the holding penalty on the kickoff return, so it balances it out a little bit. But, he did a good job against the run. He played well."

What is Kruger's status coming out of the game?"He's probably the one guy who has the one injury issue. He's got [what] is called a strained knee right now. He is getting an MRI today, so we'll just have to see how he comes through."

What did you think of DT Terrence Cody in his first opportunity to play in the NFL?"[He did well] for the plays that he was in there. I probably would have liked to have seen him play a little more than he did. But, it just didn't work out that way. [Brandon] McKinney was really playing well. Lamar Divens did pretty well. So, those guys were solid in there. But [Cody] is a guy we want to play more and more. He's got a bunch of ability, works really hard and came through it well with the knee."

Can you tell us what happened in your animated sideline discussion with head athletic trainer Bill Tessendorf on the fumble play with RB Willis McGahee?"Was it a discussion? All I know is I was trying to give Bill a little nudge to get out there, and I found out that Bill Tessendorf has a great anchor. He sits down pretty strong. Bill has a protocol for when he goes out and when he doesn't go out. I could see Willis was dinged. Plus, it would have been nice to get another look at the play on the replay. So, a lot of things go through your mind in those kind of situations."

Do you think CB Lardarius Webb showed that he is regaining his form after last season's injury with his play against Steelers WR Mike Wallace?"Yeah, that's probably the first time you got a chance to see him in a one-on-one situation going up to make a play. [It was similar to] some of the things you saw last year, too. Since he didn't go through training camp, this time of year you don't get too many of those kind of battles in practice. Just playing the ball is something he does extremely well, and that showed up in those two plays. Mike Wallace can run, he can go up and get a ball, and Lardarius made up a little ground on him and then timed it perfectly and got the ball out twice. Those were huge plays in the game."

Did you feel like the holding call on the Steelers' late punt may have occurred in the end zone and therefore should have resulted in a safety?"Well, that's what I was asking – were they sure? Because the ball being on the 2-, 2½ -yard line, you thought there was a chance that maybe it was in the end zone. Looking at the tape, it was border-line. I can see where they would call it either way, and I thought they did a good job the whole game calling the game. But that's what I was asking."

Would getting the safety and then getting the ball back further downfield have worked out better?"I really don't know. At the time I didn't know we were going to go down and score a touchdown, so if I'd had known that I would have said, 'No, you know what, we'll go ahead and take the ball at the 40-yard line.' *(laughter) *But if we hadn't scored the touchdown, I'd probably be sitting here saying, 'Yeah, we should have gotten a safety on that. All we would have had to do is kick the field goal.'"

What was your thought process on going for it on fourth-and-two from the Steelers' 2-yard line with 2:44 remaining, and did you ever consider kicking the field goal?"Yeah, there's a thought, but when we're on the 2-yard line, I think we've got a chance to win the game right there. We've got a good football team, and I'm pretty confident in our guys. We didn't get it done there, but we obviously got it done the next time. So, it proved that we can score in those situations. But you've got to give your guys a chance to win the game, I think. That's what we did. I'm pretty sure [Steelers head coach] Mike [Tomlin] would tell you that's what he did – gave his defense a chance to win the game. And our offense came up with the plays. That happens in football. I'm proud of our guys for getting that done. There's no way I think he should have taken a safety right there. So, he kicks it to us and we go down and kick the game winning field goal? What would they be saying right now? They'd be complaining. So, anytime you lose, that's what happens."

What are your thoughts on the play of DT Haloti Ngata and on the run defense in general right now?"I thought the run defense… Haloti Ngata, first of all, is playing as well as any defensive player in the league right now. And you guys see it, and there's no denying it. I'm proud of him. It's not just that; he's a great guy. Nobody works harder, he's a good family man, he's just the kind of guy you root for, and he's dominant. We played him at defensive end most of the game, you know, out there over Flozell [Adams] and Max Starks, and he just held up really well against some of their inside and outside zone schemes. [The] run defense, generally, was very disciplined. I thought we got off blocks really well. They bounced the ball outside a couple times that one drive, where it got us worn down a little bit. Of course, [Rashard] Mendenhall showed some real speed there; he's got some burst and some power that really showed up there. We tackled well; he's a jump-cutter and a spinner; he's hard to bring down. I thought our guys did a good job with that. We had good support out of the secondary, for the most part, the whole game. So, it was good to see."

What would you say to the critics who say, 'Well, they got the win without QB Ben Roethlisberger in the game?'"Just kind of what you're saying is exactly right. We were without a lot of players, [too.] And that's just the way it works in the National Football League. That had nothing to do with us anyway, so whoever they throw over there, whoever lines up against us every week is who we're going to play against. And the next guy comes in and wins games for you, or he doesn't. So, [I was] pretty impressed with Charlie Batch though. I thought he played well."

What was the thinking behind deactivating CB Josh Wilson:"Josh is a guy that's going to be a big part of what we're doing here. I felt really bad about the fact that we had to not activate him this game. But we did; we put the defensive linemen up. And we also have a certain number of offensive guys that we put up that kind of helped us in special teams a little bit. So, it really was a numbers game. You know, with Josh, there's no way he won't be active this week, obviously, knock on wood, [if] we stay healthy. But he's going to be a big part of this game plan."

How important in the maturation process of QB Joe Flacco are the late, fourth-quarter comeback wins?"It's got to be a confidence boost for Joe. But at the same time, I think he's been doing that pretty much since he got here. He's been in some huge games; he's played in hostile environments. Count them up. How many hostile environment, road games has he played in compared to any quarterback probably in the history of the game in his first however many games he's played? It's got to be more, because he's played all those road playoff games. And those are about as hostile of an environment as you can get. Not to mention our division, and places like Pittsburgh, and the Jets and things like that. So, it's all part of the process, but that was a big moment. I think we all can realize that."

What does it say about the makeup of the Ravens now that they've gone into two hostile environments in New York and Pittsburgh and won?"I think it's something that just kind of happened. We've got a bunch of tough guys – mentally tough guys. I think we're a very composed team right now. I think we're a very smart team right now. We want to keep building on that. But the fact that we've been in those situations so much in the last year or so probably gives us an opportunity to do well here early in the season."

How do you keep the intensity level the same going into the Denver game after coming off such an emotional, intense game in Pittsburgh?"You know how you do it? You get the right kind of people on your team. You get the right kind of players, you get the right kind of coaches. I'm standing [here] and [the players] are sitting in those seats and I just don't see [complacency]. I don't see any way for [them to lose intensity], because that's their mindset. We're playing a really good football team. [Denver] has talent; they're a very sound, solid defense, a very disciplined defense. Offensively, they've got weapons all over the place. They're the No. 1 passing team in the league, by far. It's going to be a huge challenge for us that way. They've got weapons; four wide receivers that are all catching about the same number of balls [and] two returners that can hurt you at any time. So, how can you have a letdown when you're playing somebody like that?"

You were a little excited about K Jeff Reed's two missed field goals, weren't you?"Well, you know what I was excited about? I'll tell you: Yeah, I was absolutely [excited], sure. That's a tough place to kick. That end down there Billy [Cundiff] missed one before. But I was excited about our defense. I was proud of our defense. That was really what that was all about. I mean here we are, I don't know how many times we've been in that situation this year, seven, eight, nine times – something like that – and how many points have they come away with? You know, our defense in sudden change has been phenomenal. And that's something that we've got to keep building on. I'd like to have a few less of those in the next 16 weeks, or however many weeks we play. But they've just been phenomenal in sudden change."

How fitting was it that LB Ray Lewis got the interception at the end of the game?"Fitting. Laid-out, flat-out. He knew the… He did a good job of reading the route. I thought he jumped it pretty well. That's a defense that we put in just this year – we added this year – where he's got a chance to get back there a little bit deeper and read some things out. And he just did a great job with it."

How has Lewis been adjusting to the new defense?"It's just a call. It's just a particular call that's kind of suited for him, and he does it really well."

Was DE Cory Redding close to playing, and are there any updates on T Jared Gaither?"Jared's just getting out there today, so we look forward to hearing that report. I'm excited to see how that goes. And then Cory, I haven't heard anything on that. I would assume that would be clearing up. You would hope. But with a concussion, I guess you just have to wait and see."

How long do you let yourself enjoy the win, and when do you start focusing on Denver?"It's funny, because to come back and do the press conference here, it's kind of like you've got to readjust your mindset, because now it's gone. So for the last however many hours, it's been all Denver and studying their personnel. There's that certain process that we all go through. Everybody's got their own way of doing it; I've got my own method for doing it. And then you've got to come in here and say, 'OK, now let me think about this game that we had.' It was what, 24 hours ago it ended, but it seems like 24 days ago, really. And that's kind of the process. So we have moved on."

You just allow yourself one night to celebrate before you move on?"Yeah. Once you get up and come in, we watch the tape in the morning, mainly as coaches. And once you get through that, reality sets in a little bit."

What went into the decision to give offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the game ball?"You know what? That was kind of… First of all, I've got a lot of respect for all of our coaches, obviously, but Cam, certainly. That was a heated game. That was a tough environment. And there were some calls that went back and forth. He knows – third-and-one when we ran that waggle play – woo that was tough. And we didn't get the ball in [the end zone] on fourth down. But the thing that I admire so much about Cam is the fact that he is unflappable. He has got ice water in his veins, and he's always thinking. He takes input and he listens. And if I tell him to do something, of course he'll do it. But you try to stay away from that as a head coach, because that's not the best way to allow your coordinator to do his best work. And Cam Cameron's, I think, the best play-caller – the best offensive play-caller – in the game. So, for him to keep… The way he kept his poise through all that in that tough environment and come up with those calls down the stretch, that was just… I was proud of him, and I was happy for him. And I know our players felt the same way."

Did the offensive line make a statement yesterday, and do you feel like it turned a corner?"Yeah, I think they have turned a corner, but I don't think it was just yesterday. Probably yesterday was the statement, I think for everybody to say, 'Wow, going against that front, for them to play the way they did.' But they really have been playing that way all year. But for that to happen against those two outside guys and that front that they've got, I'm really happy for them."

On the road wins in New York and Pittsburgh, the home teams drew double-digit penalties. Is it something the Ravens are doing to cause opponents to make mistakes?"Sure. There's a lot of other things you look on the tape and say, 'Well why did they call that?' That goes both ways, too. So that's not a fluke. That's something that has been a big emphasis for us. I think when you pressure an opponent consistently in all three phases, then you pressure them into doing things like that, because they get out of their technique a little bit or whatever. And that's something I'm proud of our guys; they've done a good job of that."

It looked like T Michael Oher got a jump start on a couple of plays. Did you notice that or does he just understand the snap count so well that he's ahead of everyone else?"Well, that's what it is. We've watched it real carefully. As a matter of fact, he got called I think two or three times last year early in the year when it appeared that he was offsides, that he was early, and he wasn't. And we sent that in [to the NFL to review] and tried to be real specific with that, because when you frame-by-frame it, he is right with the ball, and we practice that every single day. So we frame-by-framed those two, and he was right with the ball. He's right with the ball, and he's so quick and athletic getting depth, it looks like he's out there earlier than everybody else – similar to [Steelers LB] James Harrison. There were a couple times on the sideline yesterday where I thought James was offsides. He timed up a couple things just like Michael does. If you don't time up the snap count going against a guy like that who can time up his takeoff as well, you have no chance. It's something Michael does really well."

Did DT Haloti Ngata get you your Oregon Ducks jersey yet?"I haven't got the jersey yet. That's why I'm not wearing it right now. I'm a little bit disappointed in Ed Dickson, because I was supposed to have to wear it in the press conference. I have to admit that I didn't really work real hard to find him today for that jersey. *(laughter) *So I have a feeling on Wednesday I'll be wearing an Oregon Ducks t-shirt around. I owe Haloti a few bucks. Haloti opted for the dollar bet. I was a little disappointed. I thought the Cardinal played with a lot of heart. And you've got to give Oregon a lot of credit. That offense is something special. So, we'll see how it goes the rest of the year. We're not conceding anything for the Cardinal."

QB Joe Flacco

On what the bus ride and plane ride with his teammates was like last night: "It was just pretty normal. After a win, everybody is usually excited and having a good time on the plane. I think we usually are anyway. It was pretty normal. I just sat there in my chair listening to some music and got home as fast as we could."

On what it feels like to finish a tough stretch at 3-1: "It always feels good to be 3-1 and have a good start like that. I think as a player, you don't really think too much about being on the road and being at home. But, it'll definitely be nice to come home for a few games. I think the first quarter of the season is over, and to start at 3-1 is definitely a step in the right direction and a good start for us."

On whether he remembers how emotional he got after throwing the winning touchdown yesterday: "Yeah, anytime you score, period, is a pretty emotional event. I think my demeanor all week and throughout most of the game – you wouldn't see that too much – but if you pay attention, I can be pretty emotional. It's just… It's a little uncomfortable, but when things happen the way they did, you can't control yourself. That happens more than just one time like it did yesterday. Every time we score and we have good drives and things like that and we win games, I think everybody on the team – including myself – is pretty emotional about it."

On where his ability to enjoy a moment and then quickly move on comes from: "I don't know. I think it's what we all do. It's just part of our game, and it's just what we have to do to be successful. I think everybody enjoys the win, but at the same time, we take it for what it was. It was another win, and we have to move on to the next week. I think as players… Most people don't get to go into that locker room and see what we go through, but we're a close-knit team and we understand what it takes to be a good team. I don't know. I think it's just something that we do. We go to it from game to game, and we understand that we have to play well in each of those games. You can't look back on one that you just won for too long, or you know it's going to jump up and get you the next time."

On whether it feels different than previous years with the caliber of his wide receivers: "I don't know. I think we've shown a lot of success in the past. Obviously, we've got some different guys and the ability to do some different things, but we've had some drives in the past where we've done the same things. Yeah, it felt good. I don't know how much different it felt, but it definitely felt good."

On whether yesterday was a defining moment for his career: "I don't know. I'm not going to look into that too much. It's another win. Yeah, we were all excited about it, and it was a pretty sweet victory. Two-minute [drill], coming back in the fourth quarter and winning the game is one thing, but we'd like to have them locked up. And that's how we win most of our games. We get the lead and we hold on to it. When you do it that way, you don't need a lot of two-minute victories and fourth-quarter comebacks because we feel like we're a good enough team offensively and defensively to get the win and hold on to it. A lot of our victories come with four-minute drives at the end of games where we're sealing it and not putting our defense back out onto the field. I think we've always had the ability – if we're going to be put in that situation – to get the job done. We went up there my rookie year on Monday night, down by a touchdown, and went down and put a score on the board to take us into overtime. We didn't win the game, but we felt like we should have. It's kind of a similar moment; we just came out on the better side of it this week. I think it looks a little bit different, but I think we've been presented that challenge in the past, and we rose to that challenge it the past. We just hadn't completed the victory."

On whether this is the most comfortable he's felt with his available targets: "I don't know. You're not thinking about that at all on the field. You're just thinking, 'That's the guy that I have to go to.' It doesn't matter who it is. Yeah, I have all the confidence in all my guys. It doesn't matter if we signed them yesterday. If they're out there on the field, then we're going to have the confidence that they're going to get the job done, and I'm going to have the confidence that they're going to get the job done. It's just my job to put the ball on them. It's not like T.J. [Houshmandzadeh] hasn't played in the NFL before. He's played a long time, so he knows how to run a route and catch the ball. It's my job to put it on him."

On the offensive line picking up the Steelers' blitz on the game-winning play: "Yeah, they were on top of things, man. The line was going right, Ray [Rice] had to pick up his guy, Todd [Heap] had nobody coming on his side and scanned back across the field for Troy [Polamalu] I believe. That's what makes good plays. That's what makes good teams – is everybody being on the same page and doing their little job. Everybody had a job on that play, and that's what they did. They executed it perfectly and allowed us to take the time on the outside that we needed and score."

On whether the offensive line is becoming more cohesive: "Yeah, they're doing a great job. I said a little bit last week… I think any time you get to play next to each other for a good period of time, it helps you out a lot. I don't think people realize that playing together as a unit, you start feeling each other out and getting a good feel for how to pass things off and everything. I think our offensive line is really starting to play well together, and I think it's showing a ton. To handle those guys the way we did was great. We got them into a couple-man rush sometimes also, but when they brought it, our guys did a great job of standing in there and really protecting me and protecting the running backs."

On whether the coaches said anything when the Steelers took over at the 2-yard line after failing to convert on fourth down: "Not really. You come off to the sideline and you missed it. Everybody was a little disappointed we didn't convert, but not too much was said. You just look at each other and say…"

**

[reporter interjects]

On whether he said anything on the sideline to keep the offense focused: "Maybe, 'Be ready. Be ready, we're probably going to get the ball back here.' I think that was kind of an understood thing at that time. There was still a good amount of time left on the clock. With our defense – and you knew they were going to run the ball – I think we all felt confident we were going to get the ball back. It was just a matter of how much time we were going to have and where we were going to get it."

On whether the first pass to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the final drive set up the route for the game-winning touchdown: "I would think so. We hit a couple of those during the game, and that one was fresh in their mind, so I would say it definitely affected them a little bit."

On whether it is safe to say that WR Derrick Mason set the tone early for the offense: "Yeah, Derrick's going to be a big part of our offense. Just because he has two catches or three catches one week doesn't mean he's not going to have 10 the next. All of our guys have the ability to have big games, and Derrick definitely set the tone for us a little bit. He had a couple great catches, and he's going to need to be there for us just like he was yesterday."

On whether this was one of the most exciting games of his career: "Yeah, it was very exciting. It was one of the greatest wins we've had since I've been here. It was a great win, but honestly, we've already moved on. Yeah, we're excited. You go out last night with a couple of your buddies and just sit there and watch the Sunday Night game and talk about it a little bit. But honestly, it's just another game. We moved on. It's over. I'm not lying to you and sitting here and just trying to say stuff that sounds right. We honestly… We're moved on, man. We're getting ready for Denver. It was a great win. We're happy that it turned out the way it did, and [it's a] new week."

On how many times he has watched the game-winning pass: "We watched it. I sat right there and watched it in our offensive meeting and that was it."

On whether he has the same attitude that he did two weeks ago after throwing four INTs: "Yeah, definitely. I think you have to move on from four interceptions. You have to really prepare yourself to move on from that. It can definitely sit in your mind a little bit if you let it. I think right now we all have good feelings about how we did, so you've got to just continue to push yourself to get better. So, I think they're a little bit different. I think sometimes getting over the interceptions can be harder – and depending on what kind of team you have – getting over the victory can be harder. But, I think we have the right kind of team that we're just going to work to get better, and we still have a lot of areas to improve and score more points. So, I think it's going to be pretty easy for us to move on and get ready for Denver. They're a good team, and they've been playing well, and we're going to have to come ready to play."

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