Transcript - John Harbaugh Press Conference


Opening statement: "It was a great pre-Christmas performance. I'm still proud of our guys, and really, the fans. What a great atmosphere, what a great environment. It really was loud. It was electric. I'd look up and I didn't see any empty seats the whole game. People were in their seats and they were into it. To beat the defending World Champs in that kind of atmosphere – it really was a playoff-type atmosphere. One of you guys said that yesterday in the press conference, and I would agree with that. It was one of those environments. And now we move on. It was 10 [wins], and that was the key, to get our 10th win. But, now we have to get our 11th win. And, it's going to be a tough, tough game against the Cleveland Browns. We know what kind of game they're going to play. We know what their style is going to be. We know what their mindset is going to be. It's always a challenge playing those guys at our place or there; and it's especially been that way there the last two years. We had to come back two years ago. Last year we had to play a great game on defense. So, no matter what, we're on the banks of Lake Erie there, and the wind's going to be howling, and it's probably going to be snowing, and it's going to be cold. And we're going to play a very physical, hardnosed, aggressive football team, and that's what we've got to get ready to do."

What has TE Davon Drew shown you in his time on the practice squad that led to your decision to move him to the active roster?"He's gotten better every single [week]. He's come a long way. If you go all the way back, he was a guy that was a college quarterback for a couple of years, and they moved him to tight end at East Carolina. I think he was behind the curve as far as the nuances of the position. [TEs coach] Wade Harman has done a great job with him. He's also had a chance to work with [senior offensive assistant] Al [Saunders], to a large extent, especially in the passing game. He's just gotten better and better. He's got a lot of skills. We think he can be a physical blocker at some point in time. We also think he's got some pass receiving skills. He can open up and run for a big man. He's a big guy; he's 265-270 pounds. And we got our hand forced a little bit because at this time of year [because] people are coming after our practice squad players. A couple of guys have decided to stay anyway. We made, basically, a roster decision that we think is best for our team long term. We're trying to hold on to two players, and we just have our fingers crossed that we're able to do that. So, we're going to try to pull that off if we can."

Do you believe TE Todd Heap will be able to return for the remaining regular season games or the postseason?

"I am certain he'll play. I assume it will be before the end of the regular season. Actually, I was just talking to [vice president of medical services/head certified athletic trainer] Bill [Tessendorf] just now, and he's fairly optimistic he's going to play this week. Again, a hamstring [injury] is so hard to determine. Todd needs two or three good days of practice, probably, realistically. So, if that tips our hand a little bit, so be it. But, we're going to try to get him ready for this game because we think we're going to need him. Of course, we could have used him last time, but you only want a healthy Todd Heap. We also want a guy who is going to be ready for the long haul, too. We don't want to have a re-injury and knock him out for more weeks. So, that's kind of the line we're walking right now."

How do you feel about New Orleans head coach Sean Payton's comment about the Ravens standing up well to the "chippiness" of the defending Super Bowl champion team:"I'd say that's a compliment to our guys. I hadn't heard that. We kind of felt that it was going to be that way. That's one of their strengths. They come in, and they try to push teams around, and they try to do all the things that they do. And they talk and all that. It's part of what makes them so good. They're pretty darn good at it. But, we've been in those situations before, and I don't think our guys are guys to be intimidated by anybody. It has really not been the Ravens' style to be intimidated. I just thought we responded with composure and poise. That was probably the biggest thing – the personal foul penalties went the other way; that's important. Hopefully, that's something we can continue to build on. We've been pretty good at that all year, [and] hopefully, we can continue to build on that, because that's pretty important."

How much will it hurt if WR/KOR David Reed cannot play this week due to a concussion?"If David Reed can't go, it's going to hurt, because he's become a real special teams anchor for us. He's a return guy; he's been big in coverage, both in punts and kickoffs. And also, we were trying to work him into the game plan – as you saw yesterday – a lot more at wide receiver. He was playing a lot at wide receiver before he got dinged on the kickoff return. It's a concussion, so we'll just have to see. They kept him out of the game. I don't know if we're optimistic or not. You just don't know on concussions. He could be fine tomorrow, or he could be out for a couple of days."

Was WR Donte' Stallworth inactive because of a numbers thing, and what did you think about the performance of LB Dannell Ellerbe after being activated for the first time in a month?"It just ends up being a tough numbers thing. You know, Donte' is a guy that I know can contribute for us in a big way, and heck, with the David Reed [concussion] situation, there's every possibility that he'll be up in this game. And that's not a problem for us. Donte' can be a big factor for us. But, you've got to balance your roster out, and we just needed to have Dannell up, and he's been down for four weeks, and that's been tough for us, too. So, he added a lot to our dime package and adds a lot to our special teams."

Do you think you might be blitzing more often going forward after having some success, or will it be more of a game-by-game decision?"We'll let our opponents try to figure it out. But I think the thing that's important to remember [is] we've had games where we've blitzed a lot [and] we've had games where we haven't. I think it is game-to-game, but I also think that we have to keep in mind – and this is for us – that that is our personality. And we are going to be a pressure team. We don't want to back off that, and whatever percentage that ends up being, it's going to be closer to 50-percent than it's going to be zero percent, by far. So, that's just got to be something that we keep in mind, and I think our players feel strongly about that, I feel strongly about that, [and] our coaches feel that way, too. So, sometimes in some games you get pushed in different directions, but we're a pressure defense, and we're always going to be a pressure defense. That's who we are."

What are your thoughts on how the run defense performed this week, one week after Texans RB Arian Foster had a pretty good game running the ball?"Arian Foster, that's an interesting thing to bring up. That really wasn't the key to that game. I thought we contained him OK. It was the passing that got us in that game. We'll get another challenge this week, so let's see how we do this week against Peyton Hillis. That was a big topic after the Cleveland game [in Week 3], obviously, so let's just leave it at that. Let's see how we handle it this week, and then we can look at it and evaluate it."

It seemed like there was better execution late in the game against New Orleans. Did you see any reasons for that on film after having some struggles closing out games earlier this season?"No, there's really not. I just think we came up and made some plays and made some stops. And you know, the toughest thing in the fourth quarter last game [at Houston] was the fourth-down conversions. If you don't have a big lead, normally they get a fourth-and-4 and they punt it. And they went for it, and I think they hit a slant with Andre [Johnson] and with our guy… Josh [Wilson] was just draped all over him. So, it was a series of plays like that, that I think kept us on the field for a number of plays and kind of made the fourth quarter tough for us. But, we were in the two-minute drive at the end of the half [and] we blitzed every time, and they came up and made a couple plays on us. So, I think you've just got to go out there and battle and just know you're going against good players, you're going against top-flight receivers, and hopefully, your guys find a way to make a play. [Against New Orleans], Haloti [Ngata] gets the ball batted up… We get them to a fourth-and-8, Haloti bats the ball, Cory [Redding] makes a catch, [and] you're off the field. So, every game stands on its own two feet, and the people you're going against are pretty darn good, but yeah, we want to be a dominant defense. And to be a dominant defense, we've got to get off the field in the fourth quarter consistently. And I'm a little disappointed that we haven't done that, but we'll keep fighting to get that done."

What did you see on film on the play where QB Joe Flacco is sacked and then appears to be kneed in the head by a defender when he is already down on the ground?"I would say I saw just what you saw. The guy appears to knee him right in the head after the play when he was on the ground. I mean, it's clear-cut, yeah, absolutely."

Did you send that play into the league for review?"Yeah, we send all those plays in. And I think the league does a good job of responding to that stuff after we send it in, so I'm sure they will on this one."

After the game, WR Derrick Mason said that Flacco doesn't get some of the penalty calls against him that a guy like QB Peyton Manning or QB Tom Brady does. Do you feel like that may be the case?"Well, I don't know to make comparisons. I know he's not getting the calls. I mean, it's a fact over the last three years; that's just documented. So, I think the officials do the best job they can, and we support them in trying to do the best job they can."

Is there a cleaner version of what the visibly frustrated Flacco said to the officials after the non-call there?(laughter) *"No, I'd probably rather not get in to that. But it's important for quarterbacks to stick up for themselves, and Joe did that." *(laughter)

RB Ray Rice mentioned that LB Ray Lewis spoke to the team Saturday night. How does that happen? Does he tell you before or does he just take it and run with it and you just let him go? "First of all, anybody can talk at anytime. That's one thing about us. If anybody wants to get up and say anything… We've had… Ed [Reed] has done that before. A number of guys have spoken at different times, in different settings, whether it's on the field... That's kind of how we are. If you've got something to say, say it, and we'll all judge the value of your words based on what you say. And guys know that."

Reporter interjects: "It was supposedly pretty good, though."

"It was really good. Guys are always really good. These guys are grown men. And Ray [Lewis], sometimes he'll say, 'I'm going to need some time,' and other times, he just… I always say at the end of the team meeting on Saturday night after I get done going through the game plan and talking a little bit, you know, 'Does anybody got anything?' And Saturday night, Ray said, 'Yeah, I've got something.' So he stood up and he spoke from the heart, like he always does. He was spot-on, and I think it really resonated with all of us."

Are you OK with this team having a run-first identity? Are you OK with that label now that this is December football? "I've been battling the labels all year, right? *(laughter) *But I'm OK with being a rough, tough, physical football team. I think you have to be able to run the ball. I'm OK in a game throwing it 50 times and being physical in pass protection, and being physical with catch and run and all that. But I'm really OK with knocking people off the ball. I think that opens up everything. But I also think making big plays in the passing game opens up everything too. So, to me, that's kind of what being balanced is. If you can create dimensions – the width and the depth of the field – and attack people that way, that's, to me, how you can really be effective and make everything better. But, running the ball, it probably starts with that."

Yesterday, New Orleans is a passing team, it's cold, it's December, and you had such success with the running game. "What you're saying is right, too. I mean, you have to probably run the ball in cold-weather places in the playoffs, in snow and bad fields and all that, so I would agree with that."

T Michael Oher had another false start. What do you think is happening with him? "I think it's something that we've got to get resolved. He's so quick and so athletic [that] sometimes he beats it. Whether their guy jumped first or not – you can kind of frame-by-frame it – it's hard for those guys to see it. We send all that in, and they talk to their officials about it. We have to clean that up. We still have too many pre-snap infractions on offense, and it puts us behind the eight ball."

The Saints have a lot of weapons and spread the field, a type of style you might see in the playoffs. Playing so well against an offense that good, is that a good sign going into a playoff stretch drive? "Again, you look at it play-by-play. Yeah, it's a good sign. I think we're capable of doing that. They tried to attack us a little bit like Houston and a little bit like Atlanta, with the no huddle and the quick passing game and throwing it 50 times. I told our team I thought they were going to try to throw it 50 times. They threw it 46. I think we can expect to be attacked that way in any given game. We've got to prepare for that. A team can come out and run it 50 times, too, like teams have done. You look at Cleveland in the third game. I have no idea what we're going to get from Cleveland. I wouldn't be shocked if they came out and tried to spread it out in the same way. We'll just have to see, but we have to be prepared for that."

What did you think when you were watching that Jets game last night, and what are your thoughts on the standings and Pittsburgh with a couple games to go? "What's their chant? J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets? I had a couple of those last night, I guess, in rooting for my friend, Rex Ryan. *(laughter) *It was a great win by them. We root for all the teams that play our teams in the division. We're fans of everybody who plays the Steelers, the Browns or the Bengals. I'm sure they like to see the Ravens lose, too. Yeah, we're rooting against them."

Is playing two divisional opponents for the final two games of the season a disadvantage?"I don't know if it's a disadvantage, because [the Steelers] have to play them [late in the season as well]. I think they played the Bengals a week or two ago. The Browns and the Bengals know us, and we know them. There's no intimidation factor; there's no unknown factor. They know what they're going to get; we know what we're going to get. I think that gives them an opportunity to win the game, and that's how they're going to look at it. We're going to have our hands full. It's going to be two tough football games, and we need to win them both. I think you're exactly right."

Is there any concern that the Browns and Bengals will play tough games because their coaches' jobs are on the line?"You probably have a good point. It's probably extra motivation. I think those coaches are guys that we have tremendous respect for, and they do a great job – both those guys. I'm sure their players think very highly of them. They'll be playing hard for a lot of reasons, and maybe that's part of it."

What is your impression of Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy?"Maybe I'll wait until Wednesday on that one until we get a chance to study more. But, the numbers look really good. Obviously, he's been real successful throwing the ball."

Do you think RB Willis McGahee will be a big weapon down the stretch?"I think he definitely could be a big weapon down the stretch. He's done that before for us. He's always been [explosive] down the stretch; he's been a December and January guy, Willis has. He was hitting it up in there [against the Saints]. He's a powerful, big, strong guy – makes people miss. I [think] he's kind of rounding into his January form, hopefully."

LB Tavares Gooden was successful getting after Saints QB Drew Brees on Sunday. Did you see something specific in his play that could be useful in the future?"That's a great observation. He was part of a certain pass rush package that we had in. He really showed some spark. He was bringing it off the edge with some speed. He – and Dannell [Ellerbe] was in that a lot, too – looked good doing that. I think we'll probably see a lot more of that."

Does the win against New Orleans assuage the anguish felt from the loss against Pittsburgh in Week 13?"Yes. Yes, it does. It does. 'Assuage' is a great word, too. That's very impressive. I'm going to have to look that up after this, though." (laughter)


(Reporter says, 'It means it heals or softens it.')


*" *Journalism, that's what you guys do.

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