Transcript - John Harbaugh Press Conference


Opening statement: "Obviously, [it was] a very good victory. Like we said last week, you win and you move; you lose and you're done. So, it's good to move on. That's the challenge that we have this week with a Divisional game against the Steelers."

Do you feel the team is playing more consistently now than it was in September and October?"I don't know. We've probably played for a longer stretch. I'd have to say last week we did. We probably played for a longer stretch this past game than any game I can think of so far this year. We played well for a longer stretch."

What did you see after watching the tape on the helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Joe Flacco and the incident after a play when Tyson Jackson put TE Todd Heap in a headlock?"We saw both of those on film. We sent those into the league. They got the one – the penalty to Joe in the knee. That was a good call. The helmet-to-helmet on the slide, Joe is protected at that point from a head shot. And then the other one, that speaks for itself. Everybody saw that. I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their poise. From that perspective, I was proud of the way they kept their poise. For the most part, [they] walked back to the huddle. We encourage them to do it. You can only take so much sometimes. But, I thought they did a good job of not getting penalized."

How important is winning this week's game for the city since no team from Baltimore has ever defeated a Pittsburgh team in postseason play?"Is that a psychological burden that we're placing on the team? The whole city's psychological burden? (laughter) I think the answer is obvious. It doesn't make a difference. It's going to be one game played for three hours on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, and the team that wins will get to play in the [conference] championship game, and the team that loses won't. And that's the bottom line. So, it's always one game."

How do you decide on the rotation of defensive players against the various wide receivers you have faced?"It varies based on matchups. Like you're talking about, that's part of it, for sure. But also, [it has to do with] the defense called. Tendency breaks, probably, from what we've done in the past against different formations and ways we line up. We bring different guys on blitzes for different reasons. So, it's probably a host of things that do account for it. Sometimes, it's who you like covering a guy the best. Sometimes, it's who you're double-teaming. So, you put somebody else on a single guy. It's a lot of different things. It goes basically with the defensive call, for the most part."

What was the halftime message to your team, or what adjustments were made, that seemingly helped the team elevate its game for the second half?"There really wasn't anything too fancy. I think the biggest thing we needed to do was tackle better, and I think we kind of adjusted to their speed a little bit, our guys did. You know, they're quick, they're fast, and on the touchdown run [by RB Jamaal Charles], they got us with a blocking scheme where they got us reached a little bit, and then he just changed the angles with his speed, and our guys had to make an adjustment for that. So, I think the Ed Reed hit was big in that sense, as far as just kind of changing the momentum there as far as tackling those guys. But, there were a couple little things. We just kind of figured out what we were doing well, and they came out in the second half and had a couple wrinkles they threw at us, too. But once we got them stopped… I think the biggest thing was the fact that, you know, you take their best shot. It's an emotional game for them, it's an enthusiastic crowd, [and] it's a young team. We kind of weathered the storm and then played a 60-minute game."

How much of a factor is it when you're facing a short week while the Steelers have had an extra week of rest?"As far as them having an advantage?"

Yes, how much of an advantage do you think that is for Pittsburgh?"I don't know. What would be the percentage advantage? I don't know the science on that."

As a coach, is that a concern of yours, or do you do some different things this week to try and get your players a little extra rest?"We'll just worry about our team, I think. There's an advantage, obviously. To answer your question – that you asked so carefully – (laughter) there is definitely an advantage to having the time off from a rest perspective. And there's probably an advantage to playing from a being sharp perspective. So, we'll try to take advantage of the strengths in our factor and hope the things that are strengths in their factor are minimized by the way we approach what we do. I'm very confident we can get our guys rested and recovered and ready to go on Saturday."

With S Ed Reed's family situation, do you expect him to be back in Baltimore tomorrow, or is it more of a Wednesday thing?"We've left that up to Ed. So, I know Ed knows this team inside-and-out – and we haven't talked to him yet today – so I think it's going to depend on the circumstances down there [and] what he feels he needs to do with his family. But we'll give him a lot of leeway on that."

When you look back at QB Joe Flacco's performance yesterday, do you see it as just another great game by him, or was this more of a developmental step with the stage he was on?"I'd like to probably stand here and say it's no big deal – and Joe will probably say it's not a big deal – but I was happy for him. I thought for him to come up in a playoff game – and he's had a few of those and he's always played well enough to win three times before this, so that's been a big plus for us – but I thought he kind of took the game over at times during the course of the game. And that was really good to see; that's positive. This week's a whole new challenge. I don't think you can take anything from one week to the next, and it was also guys stepping up and playing well around him – receivers making plays, offensive line, coaches putting guys in position. All those things, I think, Joe would tell you are a part of it."

Where are you as a pass protection team? Right now you're facing a lot of tough pass rushers. How do you feel the pass blocking has been? "I think it's good enough. Every week is a new week. We've got a lot bigger challenge this week, because they've got more of them. You're looking at two Pro Bowlers, two of the best pass rushers in football coming off either edge. Or, they might put them on the same edge at times, or they bring them up the middle. They've got a nice package with what they do, so we'll have our hands full. For us to win the game, it's going to have to be good enough."

How impressed were you with the way your offense was able to finish the game by keeping the Chiefs' offense off the field? "I was very impressed. I was really happy and pleased with it. I think we had the ball for almost 14 minutes in the fourth quarter. They had the ball for 68 seconds. And that's a two-way street. It's the defense getting off the field, too. Then, the offense converted a couple… I think we converted a real long-yardage play in there somewhere. Ray [Rice] and Todd [Heap], a couple times, kind of threw their bodies across the line to get first downs. Blocking… As the game went on – especially in the fourth quarter – I thought our offensive line started to really take control and dominate. If you want to win games, if you want to close people out, you better be able to do that. And that was good to see."

Is it reading too much into it stat-wise to say that the defense will be better rested because it was on the field for only 18-plus minutes yesterday? "No, I don't think it is. I think it's a factor. We had 40 plays; It's better than playing 80 plays. Again, that goes to both sides of the ball. That's the defense getting off the field and the offense staying on the field. It works together – complementary football. That's what we try to do. I thought that was probably our best team effort – all three phases – of the year, from that perspective. So yeah, it should help us."

For the majority of the season you've been ahead, controlled the clock and won the time of possession battle. How much does that contribute to the results you guys have had this season? "It all kind of goes together. Time of possession is a reflection of moving the chains and getting first downs, number of plays. We were in no-huddle at times, and sometimes we bled the clock. So, we used a lot of different tempos on offense. I thought they did a good job of managing that. We didn't have the false start penalties. All those things that contribute to doing those things well probably show up in the number of plays you have and the time of possession. It's a very important factor in controlling the game."

From an intangible and toughness standpoint, what were your thoughts on QB Ben Roethlisberger playing with a broken nose the last time you played him? "I was impressed. He's a Miami (Ohio) guy. He's a tough guy. He had the broken nose. I was glad we broke his nose, (laughter) and I was very impressed that he played through it. Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose. He proved that. We're going to try to get after him like we always do. It's going to be really important. He knows that. That's the key to stopping him; you've got to get him down. You can't let him extend plays, and when he does extend plays, you've got to cover those guys. And that's easier said than done."

Do you view Flacco and Roethlisberger as similar QBs in regards to their stature?"They're different. They're similar in a lot of ways. They both have very strong arms, they're both very smart guys, [and] they both are accurate. Ben's bigger; Ben is 260 pounds or something like that. You stand next to him, you can tell he's just a bigger, thicker kind of a guy. But I think Joe's done a really nice job in the pocket, especially recently and especially in this last game. He's been avoiding; he's been throwing guys off a little bit, doing some Ben-like stuff. But when you can challenge the pass rush by taking off and running, that is big for your offense as quarterback."

The Ravens and Steelers have scored a similar amount of points against each other since 2003. What does that say about how evenly matched the two teams are?"That's got to be close. And what is it against each other in the last three years? I'll bet it's just a couple of points that probably separates the two teams. I didn't realize that stat. It says we're very similar. It says we're about the same. It says we're both 12-4. They won the division because they had the better division record, so therefore, they got the bye and the home field advantage. For such a small margin, what a big difference that makes. But, we kind of understand who we are. We understand our path, our road. We're not intimidated by it at all. We're looking forward to it. We wouldn't have it any other way at this point."

Were there any thoughts about putting backup QB Marc Bulger in the game on Sunday since he hasn't played yet this season?"No, because there was nothing we were going to be able to do with him that would really help us. There wouldn't be any point in it at that point."

Do you think DT Haloti Ngata moved around well after coming off of an injury from last week's game?"Yeah, I thought he moved around well. It probably did take him a while. I think he probably wasn't quite as explosive, maybe, as he is at other times. But, toward the end of the game he was. We were able to get him out [of practice last week], which I think you guys talked about. But he came through it well, so it looks like he's in good shape."

Was the decision to make some of the players like WR David Reed and LB Tavares Gooden inactive a case of playing it safe and having someone who was 100 percent ready to play?"I think that's probably it. We had some guys that were just more healthy. I think David can go. He's getting better at catching the ball and stuff. He made a lot of progress last week. Tavares could've played, but the more healthy guy probably gave us a little more at that point. So, we'll just see how it is this week."

Is your brother, Jim, off the Christmas card list after becoming the 49ers' head coach?"*(laughter) *He's off the Coaching 101 list, I guess. We can't work together anymore. No, we can still work together. I'm very proud of him. He's going to work now."

What are your thoughts on the "tuck rule," which overturned a Kansas City fumble in the game?"My thoughts on the 'tuck rule?' When that happened, my thoughts on the 'tuck rule' were, 'What's the "tuck rule," again? How does that work?' (laughter) *Little bit confusing. It looked like a fumble to me. The 'tuck rule' – that's one of the more confusing rules in football. That was my thought." *(laughter)

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