Head Coach John Harbaugh:
*Opening statement: *"OK, good to see you guys – appreciate you coming out. Two things: We've got a bye week this week, so I wanted to give you the bye week schedule on that. We're meeting today. Players had meetings since 12:15 [p.m.]. They were in this morning doing treatment and lifting and those kinds of things. They got out of their meetings about 45 minutes to an hour ago. Then they had an NFL mandatory seminar from Steve Fitzhugh, from down in Washington, D.C., about responsibility. It was a great seminar. Coaches are working on reviewing the game, and then we are going to be working on improving over the next two or three days – self-scouting, studying ourselves. We will practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with meeting with our guys on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then the players will be free from Thursday through Sunday. Then we will be back the next Monday to begin on Jacksonville.
"The other thing is the scene at M&T Bank [Stadium] yesterday. I meant to say something after the game – but I forgot – [about] how great the crowd was. Really, what was incredibly interesting to me was the fact that we were in a tight, tough game, and we didn't do everything perfect, and even with our record being the way it was, there was really no negativity heard that I heard from our crowd, which it wouldn't have been surprising if there had been. Our fans care. That's one of the great things about being a coach in Baltimore is you have a passionate fan base that really cares, and it really matters to them. That's why you love coaching here. That's why I love coaching here. But, man, they were behind us from beginning to end. They really stuck with our players. I guess they recognize, maybe, the effort that guys are putting in. Then in the fourth quarter, the place was deafening. It was a great scene to be a part of, and I want the fans to know how much we really appreciate that as coaches and players."
Have you had further consultation with WR Steve Smith Sr. and his plans? (Joe Platania)"Yes, he's going to undergo surgery for the Achilles tear next week [with] Dr. [Robert] Anderson, I believe, in Charlotte, which is somewhat convenient for Steve and his family. Then you're really immobilized for a minimum of six weeks before you can do anything. He'll be on the rehab program from there on out and, we'll take it from there."
Will you put him on Injured Reserve any time soon, or does it matter when? (Dave Ginsburg)"I'm sure soon. Ozzie [Newsome] will take care of that paperwork, but that will be pretty immediate, I would think."
**John, you've lost OLB Terrell Suggs and now WR Steve Smith Sr. Is it just simply, "What can you do but 'next man up,'" in this type of situation? *(Dave Ginsburg) *"It is. You move on. That's what you have to do. We'll move on to the next players, and the players will be expected to step up and play at a high level – the highest possible level. That's our expectation. It never changes. We're never going to use excuses. We're never going to say that we don't have enough firepower or ammunition or anything like that. We're never going to say that, because we don't believe it. We always believe that we have players in the pipeline that can get the job done, and we've been coaching them. I have a lot of confidence in those guys, and it will be their job to get the job done."
**One more thing on that: How about the leadership? You've lost OLB Terrell Suggs and WR Steve Smith Sr., both guys that were very prominent in the locker room. Is it also "next man up" in that regard? *(Dave Ginsberg) *"It is. That's exactly right. Different guys lead all the time. Probably some guys will fill the void a little bit, and you'll hear more from them or see more from them. But I believe we have great leaders in our locker room."
**You said you were going to have a chance to speak with WR Steve Smith Sr. Did you get that chance today to talk with him and talk about the future and where things stand? Has he made any decisions, or are you just going to wait and see what the future holds? *(Jerry Coleman) *"That would be a great question for him. He didn't express any decisions to me, one way or the other. Probably it's too emotional of a time right now to make any decision like that. But he will make those decisions in due time, I'm sure."
Will you persuade him? (Jerry Coleman)"I'll respect him, and we'll see where it goes."
**John, if he wants to play, you guys definitely want WR Steve Smith Sr. back next year? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Yes, absolutely. He's a great player. That would be something [for him to decide]. It's really up to him."
**At the risk of making a comparison-type question, have you ever been associated with a team that has been this hurt by injuries? You now have a dozen guys on Injured Reserve. I guess WR Steve Smith Sr. would be the 12th, and TE Dennis Pitta makes 13 guys. That's quite a bit." *(Dave Ginsburg) *"I really don't know. I never count that. I wouldn't know what we've had in the past or when I was an assistant at other places or in college. I don't have the records on that. I really don't care. It's a fair question, I just don't know."
This is the first time in team history that the bye has fallen right after eight games, right at the halfway point. Is that optimum, or would you like it earlier or later? (Joe Platania?) "[It is] probably optimum. Right in the middle is probably a good time for it. I kind of like it right in the middle. It's a good time for us."
John, when you look at the schedule, are you encouraged now that you have five of the next eight [games] at home? Certainly, it's a dare to make a move, if possible. (Dave Ginsburg)"Yes, [we are] probably always encouraged. I always feel like we're capable of succeeding no matter where we're going or where we're playing. Playing at home is a lot better than playing on the road, and playing road games close are a lot better than playing them all the way across the country. So, the fact that we've got those situations behind us is great. [We would] like to have a few more wins from those trips and all that, but we're excited to be back home. We have a few here at home, stacking on top of this last one. So, we're fired up about that."
As far as OLB Terrell Suggs, have you been in contact with him about where he is as far as rehab? And have you been in contact with him, because we haven't seen him around? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, I've texted him a little bit – probably two or three times. He's not the kind of guy that you have a lot of communication with. If you know Terrell, that's just how he operates. That's kind of between him and [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] right now, as far as where the rehab is at and what he's doing. I trust him, and I trust he's doing everything he has to do to get himself back."
A lot of people talk about OLB Terrell Suggs being a team leader and being here. Do you have a preference of whether he would help being here or not? (Jamison Hensley)"I really don't. Right now, my time is based thinking about what we need to do with the guys that are here, and when his Achilles is to the point where he can move around and be a part of it, I have every confidence that he'd be here. I just haven't spent time looking at that. I could, but really, to be honest with you, it hasn't been a priority right now." *(Reporter: "Do you expect him – from the little communication you've had – that he will return next year?") *"I assume he will. I never thought that he wouldn't. I talked to him right after it happened, and he told me that this is just another challenge for him to overcome – something along those lines. So, I felt very good about it at that time."
Yesterday, I don't know that there were many, if any, snaps where you guys were in your base defense. It seemed like you were keeping an extra defensive back on [the field]. Can you speak to what the front seven had to do – I guess, front six in that situation – to compensate for that on a full-game basis? (Jon Meoli)"That's because they were in three-wides most of the time. We matched them with the extra defensive back most of the game, and when you do that, obviously, it's more of a pass defense. If you kept your base defense out there, he [Philip Rivers] would be throwing it even more than he did. But our front did a good job of playing the run based on the fact that we were playing nickel defense. I also feel like our nickel, Lardarius Webb, did a heck of a job of getting in there defending the run. We did a good job against the run. Of course, I always feel like it could be better, but I thought our guys did a good job against the run."
John, do you feel like you guys need to add a receiver from somewhere, albeit practice squad, street free agent, or you do have some guys like WR Jeremy Butler who hasn't been active? You've had him practicing. (Jeff Zrebiec)"We brought Jeremy Butler up. Jeremy is going to get … Obviously, his role is going to expand, and it's time for him to be ready. I wouldn't rule out that we would bring another receiver in from somewhere. Obviously, we're looking real hard right now to figure out what we're going to do."
The injuries to C Jeremy Zuttah and T Eugene Monroe – would you expect that over a two-week span that they will be OK to return? (Dave Ginsburg)"I don't know about Jeremy [Zuttah]. I haven't heard anything today on that yet. I haven't had a chance to meet with [head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith]. I talked to Eugene [Monroe], and he felt pretty confident – he felt *very *confident – that he would be back. So, I'll go with that."
How did T Rick Wagner play in your opinion? (Dave Ginsburg)"I thought [Rick] Wagner played well. There were some things he could have done better, but all in all, the whole offensive line played well, for the most part. There were issues at times, like there always are, but you'd have to give them a plus grade overall."
Coach, what'd you see from G/C John Urschel? He had some trouble with snaps. How much does he work on that during practice and what did you see went wrong with that? (Jerry Coleman)"He works on it a lot, because he's always the – between he and Ryan Jensen – they're the 'look' team snappers. They're snapping every practice on a regular basis, and they do it with Joe [Flacco] in individual periods. But he did not do a great job with the snaps, obviously. It was tough for Joe to handle the gun snaps, and we had one missed snap on the under-center snap, too. That's something we really have to go to work on, even if Jeremy comes back for this next game. He'll be back, but even if he comes back for the next game, those guys have to be prepared to do a better job snapping the ball. Now, blocking-wise, he did a good job."
Can you talk about what you saw from QB Joe Flacco yesterday? After WR Steve Smith Sr. goes down, the offense just continues to march, plugging in different wide receivers. (Ryan Mink)"Joe [Flacco] really had one of his best games. He carried us in so many ways. Guys made plays, absolutely. Kamar Aiken came up with some big plays. Justin [Forsett] had some big runs in there. [Javorius] 'Buck' Allen had a catch and a run, had a big third-down conversation. Guys made plays, but Joe was the guy that made it happen. He made throws when he had to in the clutch at the end. He scrambled and made plays when people weren't open. There were plenty of times when the protection was really good, and nobody was open; Joe moved out of the pocket and found a guy. And our guys did a good job of getting open in scramble drills. To me, Joe carried the thing. He made it happen. That's what you hope Joe will do for you, and he did it."
You gave the game ball to the special teams afterwards. (Ryan Mink)"Yes." *(Reporter: "Can you talk a little bit about what they've done, not only in this game, but over the course of the season? Especially Sam [Koch] doesn't often get the credit.") *"First of all, however many returns they had, [San Diego] had -2 yards. We had a 62-yard net punt average. We punted off our goal line and put them back on the 30- [yard line] or something like that. Then we punted them down [to the 3-yard line]; we had a nice role. Sam hit one of his knuckle balls that didn't get fielded, and it rolled down to the 3-yard line; that set up a score. We had a good kickoff return. Coverage was good the whole time. We made five field goals and protected five field goals. So, they've played well all year. But, as they know, they can still get better. There are still so many things we can do with our special teams to make the difference in games."
WR Chris Givens had a few nice catches. How have you seen him develop chemistry with QB Joe Flacco since he has been here? (Garrett Downing)"You're right. Thanks for bringing up Chris Givens. I didn't bring him up before. [He made] huge plays for us. We had the huge nine-route, and we had the back-shoulder [route] that got us out of the hole and started us on that last drive. He's starting to feel it a little bit, and he and Joe [Flacco] are starting to develop something, an understanding for one another. That's what these next two practices will be about, too, trying to build on some things in every area, but in the passing game where they have a good feel for one another."
Every year there's a lot of talk around the trade deadline – I'm not saying here, but league-wide – and nothing ever really happens. From your standpoint, would you be surprised if you guys make a move, or do you think Ozzie has a couple irons in the fire where it could result in one? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I couldn't comment if we did. You're right, I think your analysis is perfect. There's always a lot of talk and a lot of nothing happens. I'm interested if somebody calls [about] how we could get better, but usually nothing comes of it."
John, I know you like your young tight ends anyway, but losing a player of WR Steve Smith's caliber, is it possible that those guys may in some way take up the slack, or the offense having to change some now that Steve will be gone? (Cliff Brown) "It's a good point. Even without losing Steve, we felt like the tight ends were going to take on a bigger and bigger role, and I think that's going to happen either way. I think those guys are making plays, and they need to make even more plays than they're making. To me, yesterday wasn't their best game. They played OK. They all did OK, but they need to be a bigger factor than they were yesterday."
John, you talked about the night before the game how you guys talked about courage and faith and your testimony. We all got a chance to see – some of us got a chance – to see Ray Lewis' speech pregame. How inspiring was that for the team? (Kevin Richardson)"Very inspiring. Ray does a great job. He has a gift, as we all know. He asked me on the field before the game … I said, 'Are you going to talk?' It was kind of a given. He's like, 'Yes!' (laughter) He was waiting for me to ask. [I said], 'Do I even have to ask?' (laughter) He said, 'What are you thinking?' I gave him a little bit of direction along the lines from the night before, and then he took it. He goes, 'OK, I got it!' and he took it to what you saw on the tape. He has an amazing knack for putting his finger right on it, and the guys heard it."
John, what positives do you take out of this first half? Obviously, the record is not what you want, but what have you seen from your team that encourages you moving into the second half, and what can you look back at and say, "I'm happy with that."? (Dave Ginsburg) "I'm happy with a lot of things. Obviously, the effort, the fact that they've stuck together the way they have, the fact they they've fought the way they have, the fact that they've worked hard to improve. We've never flinched, never blinked, never backed down, never came out here and didn't practice hard, never did anything that makes you feel like they're not doing everything they can to be as good as they can possibly be. That goes for the coaches and the players. They're not averse to being pushed. They don't bow up to discipline. They don't bow up and say, 'You can't tell me that,' or, 'It's not my fault.' We don't hear any of that from our guys. That gives me great hope for where we can go as a football team, and I'm excited about what the second half holds. What we've been through is an opportunity to be built and refine and grow into what we're going to be ultimately. Now it's up to us to go do it."
I know DE Brent Urban is eligible to come off IR [Injured Reserve] after the bye. Is there a plan to get him back involved in practice? (Jon Meoli) "There is. I think this week, next week, the week after – somewhere in there. Maybe you know exactly when it is. I haven't checked it recently, but he's soon to be up. I anticipate that as soon as he's able to practice, he will practice, because he's healthy. He looks pretty good in there right now. I'm not saying 100 percent healthy, but he's right there, and he's really excited to get going."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has talked a lot about having to send extra pressure in third-down situations. Is someone like DE Brent Urban [that] could rush from a down lineman [position] help from that perspective? (Jon Meoli) "Sure. I don't know if you'd say Brent Urban is going to be some kind of premier pass rusher. Maybe he'll develop into that, and we'll all be excited. But he's going to pressure the quarterback. He's going to get pushback. He's going to get knockback. He's going to create problems, just because of his leverage and his size, and he's going to be definitely hard to throw the ball around. I think if nothing else – at the very least – he's going to get batted balls, and that's going to be good for us. He's such a young player. We're going to have to find out what kind of a player he is once he gets out there and gets going again."
John, I'm not asking you to assess blame or anything, but can you explain the breakdown on the 70-yarder by WR Malcolm Floyd? What happened there? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I could, but I don't really want to get into the details of it. I feel like … I guess in a general way … You said not to assess blame, OK. In a general way, it's a quarters-type coverage there, which means when we zone our quarters, we don't man our quarters, which means when they run a crossing route like that, then it's to be passed off, and it wasn't passed off. Why that happens and what goes through guys' minds that gets them a little bit locked up or makes them hesitate, there are a lot of reasons for that. But bottom line is it should have been passed off. It should have been covered. It's something we practiced, and it was disappointing that it wasn't [executed]. And like I told the guys, that's just … We're going to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen any in a game. Our coverage is dramatically better than it was two weeks ago, three weeks ago, four weeks ago. It's dramatically better. But obviously, it's not where it needs to be yet, but we're going to get there. We're going to get there no matter how long it takes. But the clock is ticking on the season, so let's go ahead and do it immediately. That would be the time to get it done. We expect to be a no-big-play coverage team. Now, if they go up and they make a play over your coverage, that's going to happen, but there's nobody [that should be] running wide open. That's not acceptable."
**John, I know he's not on the active [roster], but S Matt Elam got suspended on Friday. What was your reaction? *(Jamison Hensley) *"We knew it was coming. To be honest with you, I had forgotten that was going to be coming up, because that has been a year-and-a-half, two years ago when that came up. Ozzie could give you details on that, but I want to say this on behalf of Matt: Matt self-reported that. That was a situation that happened with him in a situation he got involved in down there in Florida or whatever. I don't even know the details of it, but what I do know is that he brought that to the league's attention through the Ravens and went to the league and let them know that, and this was the result of doing that. But I give him credit for stepping up and talking about the situation, whatever it was, and taking responsibility for it."
**But you said it was something that didn't happen recently? *(Jamison Hensley) *"It's a year-and-a-half to two years ago. Matt – if he wants to – could tell you what it was."
Coach, we've established that you do value timeouts, but there was one lost yesterday in the third quarter with that challenge. Could you talk about the decision making, because it seemed like you did have a first down regardless? (Jerry Coleman) "I wanted the 15 yards on top of a catch. What I felt – and still feel – is that [Crockett Gillmore] caught it and that he caught it first – which the league has confirmed – and that he caught it, and when his knee hit the ground he still had possession of the ball, which I still believe is the case clearly on the video. Sometimes they don't think they see enough on the video to overturn a call that's made on the field, which is basically what they told me. They didn't feel like they could overturn it. But to me, he caught it; he was down. It should have been called a catch. If I had to do it over again knowing that it wasn't going to get overturned, I'd rather have the timeout. And then we have the big play afterwards. But I thought it was worth it. I might have got a little greedy on that one, just feeling like we were right and that we would get it. Because oftentimes, they don't overturn unless they see it clearly on the video."
So, you do value timeouts? (Jamison Hensley) "Jerry [Coleman] said we've established that!" (laughter) (Senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne: "Mike Carey on CBS said that it was a catch.") *"Mike Carey said it was a catch. I agree with Mike Carey wholeheartedly." (laughter)*