HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"I appreciate you guys coming out. [Sunday was a] tough game – tremendous football game. If we had played a little bit better, we'd have won. We had a chance to make the last play at the end, but it didn't work out that way. But I think we all feel like if we had played better all the way through, we would have found a way to win the game earlier. Good football team; the Bengals deserve credit for winning the game."
**Have you sent the WR Steve Smith Sr. play into the league? Have you heard any feedback from that? *(Joe Platania) *"We have sent it in. We have not heard anything back."
**You've probably seen it today. Any further impressions of it? *(Joe Platania) *"I've studied it. I understand what happened. Like I said, I can't comment on it. That's league policy, league rules."
**John, that's a tough loss for you guys, but is it now just turn the page and let's get after the Steelers? There's nothing you can do, really, about what happened yesterday, but you can do whatever you can do over the next eight weeks. *(Dave Ginsburg) *"Yes, that's exactly what it is, and it's well said. I think that would sum it up very well. That's exactly right."
**With leaving the refs and the officials out of the equation – after watching the film, what did you see? What did you see that transpired there between WR Steve Smith Sr. and the Bengals' defender? *(Jerry Coleman) *"I'm not getting into that. I appreciate you asking. My opinion of it is obvious. I think it is pretty clear cut. It happened. It was what it was. It was a great play. It shows great heart and talent and effort. It says a lot about Joe [Flacco] and Steve [Smith Sr.] and the offensive line that they can make a play like that. I think it's one of the greatest plays I've ever seen. That's how I feel about it. So, what else can I say? I'm proud of the guys to be able to make a play like that at the end of the game. It says a lot about who we are going forward. It goes to David [Ginsburg's] point: That's who we are. You win games, you lose games sometimes. We want to win them all. We want to make every play. We want to shut everybody out. We want to score as many points as we can. We try to be as good as we can possibly be. We didn't win yesterday. We have to find ways to get better [and] make it not come down to that play – be so good, a play like that isn't even needed. But, when you have to make a play like that, it's good to know you can. And I'm pretty confident that we are going to make more plays along those lines as the year goes on."
**John, at the halfway point [you are] 5-3. Looking back – I know we just talked about looking forward – but [are you] OK with how the first half played out, and do you find yourself in position to make something happen in the second half? *(David Ginsburg) *"We definitely played ourselves in position to compete for the AFC North championship and that we find ourselves in the position, obviously, to compete for a playoff berth, which is the ultimate goal in terms of the bottom line. We want to get in the tournament first, and we want to win the division next, and then you want to win the conference, and then you want to win it all. That's what we're shooting for. So, at 5-3 we're in position to do that. The main thing is we continue to improve. We're playing a great football team, obviously, by the way they played last week. It's our rival. It's there [in Pittsburgh]. All the things that go into that game are going to be – just like this last game – all those things are at stake."
**John, any update on CB Jimmy Smith at all? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Yes, Jimmy [Smith is] going to be out for a few weeks. It's not a Lisfranc deal, which was speculated. It's a sprain, a midfoot sprain, and he'll be out for a few weeks, but he'll be back soon."
John, do you have to bring in a corner from the outside now having [a] limited number on the roster? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We don't have to."
Is that something you're considering doing [bringing in a cornerback]? (Jeff Zrebiec) "If we could find the right guy, we would do that. But they're scarce. [If] you have a name for me, I'm willing to hear it." (Reporter: "Not a very impressive list, as you mentioned.") (laughter)
**WR Michael Campanaro, when he got hurt, was that on a return play or diving for that catch? *(Jerry Coleman) *"Return play."
**John, the Steelers are much more improved than when you faced them earlier in the year, and they scored a lot of points last night. It's always a rivalry going into that forum. Your thoughts on how much they've improved since Week 1? *(Bill West) *"We have to play the Steelers. I don't know if I need to get into a commentary about their level of improvement. I haven't watched them that closely. Coach [Mike] Tomlin probably can give you a really good description. They're probably calling on Wednesday, I guess, right? So, it's a good question for him. Not that I'm trying to avoid it, because they've gotten better, but you expect them to get better. They have good players. They're well-coached, tough as nails. They compete like crazy. They have a lot of pride over there. We understand all that, and we have respect for them. We play them all the time, and we know what they're about. We're very comfortable in that rivalry. We're very comfortable in that stadium. We understand what it takes to win there. We've won there. We've lost there. We've been in great games there. So, we'll be there. We'll be there right on time. We're not really thinking about them as much as we are thinking about how we play. We need to play to win the game."
**What kind of progress are you seeing from S Matt Elam overall? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I've seen progress from Matt Elam."
How do you think S Matt Elam played on Sunday? (Aaron Wilson) "I don't usually get into that. I think he fought and competed – made a great play on the … What do you want, a grade or something like that?" (Reporter: "No, just your observation.") "He competed. He fought, and he did his best. [He] made a great play on the strip to get the turnover, which gave us a chance to win the game. Going to that point, it speaks a lot of our guys what we accomplish down the stretch. If you want to look for something, look for that. Do they all need to get better? Absolutely. Every one of our players needs to play better. Every one of our coaches needs to coach better, starting with me. We have to find a way to win the game. So, if you're looking for me to disparage a player in a press conference, I'm not going down that road." (Reporter: "I wasn't asking you to disparage him.") "OK."
*Did moving S Matt Elam down to the slot affect what you're going to do at the safety rotation that had started the week before? *(Jon Meoli) *"[Matt Elam has] been playing down the slot quite a bit [in] previous weeks." *(Reporter: "But he was there more.") "That's because we were more in penny, which is more of a run-nickel defense."
Any update on WR Torrey Smith? Is Torrey feeling any aftereffects with that head collision? (Bill West) "No, I haven't heard [anything] about Torrey [Smith] with the head thing at all. So, I think he's OK. He just went through the protocol; did not have a concussion."
Is practice more animated this week going into the Steelers game, just with the rivalry and everything else? (Todd Karpovich) "Animated?"
[Are] the players a little more excited? (Todd Karpovich) "They're always excited, in all honesty. We'll be excited. We were excited last week, too. More animated than which one? Which practice? Which team? Which team? Give me a comparison. Give me a comparison question. More animated than when? Cincinnati? No. It was pretty animated for Cincinnati. Our guys go out and practice their butts off every single day, every single week. So, it won't be any different. They will practice like crazy."
John, would you be surprised if a trade goes down by tomorrow's deadline? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I have no trade information for you or anybody else. I do not know."
Every week in the league is kind of a blank slate. You kind of get the eraser out and you forge forward. Is it harder after a loss like that, where it ends the way it did? I know that had to have been a bitter taste in everybody's mouth. Does it make it harder to put it in the rearview mirror, so to speak? (Bruce Cunningham) "That's a fair question, but I don't take stock in that. It doesn't matter; it's not important – nobody cares. So, we have to move on and go play."
John, the schedule is what it is, but do you find it a little strange that after Week 9 you will have played all your division games except for one? It's pretty much done for your division except for that last game against Cleveland. (David Ginsburg) "I haven't really thought about it. The schedule is the way it is. You just have to try and win as many as we can, especially in the division."
Would you have preferred some a little later though, given that you want to improve as the weeks go on? (David Ginsburg) "[It] doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I prefer or don't prefer – they give you a schedule. It's just [a] waste of energy to even think about stuff like that, so I don't think about it."
Coach, you talked about so many plays that determine a game, and there are. When you go back and look at the opening drive there and [you were] not able to punch it in there on the 18th play of the drive … After looking at it, would you have possibly reconsidered and maybe kicked the football? (Jerry Coleman) "Absolutely not."
Or considered running the football? (Jerry Coleman) "I'm not going to second-guess play-calling. But what happened after that? Just take me through the next series. What happened?" (Coleman: "Cincinnati retained the ball.") "Right. Then what?" (Coleman: "I believe you ended up getting the ball back.") "At the 50. And what was the result of that drive?" (Coleman: "Points.") A field goal. So, that's part of the strategy there. That's my point. Part of that strategy is you have them backed up, so worst-case scenario if you have some confidence in your defense, you're going to get the ball back with a real good chance to recoup that field goal, and that's what we did. So, it doesn't matter if you kick it from the 9-yard line or the 39-yard line – it's still 3 points. We didn't come out of that any worse for the wear. We didn't lose any points on that. We would've rather had the 4 points for the touchdown, absolutely. That's why I went for it. I wasn't really too good with settling for the 3; didn't want to settle for the 3. We ended up settling for the 3."
[How did you think] TE Crockett Gillmore did in his first start? (Aaron Wilson) "You know, hey, he played good, OK? I know where you're going with the questions, because you ask about this, and then if I say another guy didn't play well, then I'm criticizing a player." (Wilson: "I just wanted material for…") "Yes, Crockett played well. Crockett did a good job. He made a lot of catches [and] made some really good blocks. He has a lot of potential as a player. He's big, he's physical, [and he] moves his feet well. I thought he did a great job of finding open spaces in zone coverage. [He] caught the ball [and] got upfield, got an extra yard or two to get the first down. He did a good job with the communication [and] didn't have any assignment errors, which is really big for a rookie. [He] played hard, physical, tenacious, [and he] took a lot of snaps. I think he had 44 snaps." John, there was at least one series where T James Hurst was out there [and] not T Eugene Monroe. Was that more of just easing Eugene in because he hadn't played in about four weeks [and] making sure that wasn't anything else beyond that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, yes, that's what it was. I don't know what else it would be beyond that." (Zrebiec: "Like an injury, or…") "No, because Eugene came back. No, it was … So, you're asking me an injury question? OK. It was part of the plan. Part of the rotation was to play both James and also to play John [Urschel], because those guys [Monroe and Kelechi Osemele] were both coming back from being out for three or four weeks. So, our plan was to rotate those guys in there starting with the third series. I'm not sure if it ended up being the third series off the top of my head, but that was the plan."