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Tuesday Practice Transcript - 12/20


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody. Obviously, we're in the first stages of preparing for the Browns. All the attention obviously goes to that. It's a fierce division opponent who we have a lot of respect for, and we know what kind of game it is going to be. It's going to be 1 o'clock on Christmas Eve, and we'll look forward to showing up."

Are you going to get your brother something extra special for Christmas this year? (Dan Kolko) "How come I knew one of those questions was going to be coming right away? Man, it was a fun game to watch. It was the night the lights went out in Candlestick, right? It was pretty cool. But, they did a great job. Their defense, Vic Fangio, did a great job as far as all that stuff. And it was a good game."

Did you call your brother or text him afterwards? (Ryan Mink) "I texted him after. He was kind of busy. Then we talked this morning. We had a good conversation this morning. It's a big win for those guys. It was a chance on Monday night to get out there with the whole world watching and show what kind of team they are. And they played the kind of football, like we talked about when we played them, that has really won games for them – field position football, not turning the ball over and creating turnovers. And they made some plays on both sides, running and passing."

You said all you can do is worry about the two games left in the season. But, does it mean anything to be back atop the division and be able to win the division is you win out? (Dan Kolko) "Yeah, it wouldn't have meant anything in terms of what we would have needed to do. We still would need to win both games. That would have not changed. But the fact that if we win both games now, we will win the division, that means a lot. That's really meaningful, and it's a tough league, and you have to win every week. It shows it's what it is right now. But, it can change. It can change based on what we do or what they do in the upcoming weeks. And of course, we have to control what we have to control. And the beauty of that is, we can control a lot. We can control how we play, and we can control the outcome of these games."

Do you think the Steelers' loss last night might have an impact mentally on the players knowing that it's possible to win the division? (John Eisenberg) "Yes. It has to. It has an impact on all of us, [knowing] that, 'OK, now that part of it [is done].' That had to be part of the equation, because we put ourselves in that hole. We didn't get the job done on Sunday night, so that made that part of the equation, and now that part of the equation is behind. It does; it's positive."

How is the process of making corrections of mistakes from Sunday going as the team gets back to work today? (Aaron Wilson) "Well, it's going like it always does. We're working hard. That never changes, win or lose. There are certainly a lot of things that came us – more so, maybe, than some other games. So, we've been working hard on that, really, from the plane flight back. We started working on those things on the plane ride back."

If Seneca Wallace starts at quarterback for the Browns, what types of challenges does he present? (Dan Kolko) "We've always had a lot of respect for Seneca Wallace as a quarterback and consider him a starter. We've felt like they had two starting quarterbacks there. So, if he ends up playing … He's a playmaker, he's dangerous out of the pocket, throwing and running. [He is] very accurate, very strong arm, reads them out exceptionally well. He's a guy we've seen before. He had a really good game against us here two years ago, last year. So, he'll be a big challenge for us."

Is it more of a challenge having to prepare to potentially face two quarterbacks because the status of Colt McCoy is up in the air? (Garrett Downing) "It is, it is. But, they run the same offense with both guys – just the different player brings something different to the table. We'll prepare the same way for both of those guys with an understanding of the unique talents each of them has at the position."

With the success you had in the running game earlier in the season against the Browns, how much do you have to switch things up for this game? (Ryan Mink) "How much? To some extent. How much is to be determined. But, they've done a very good job on defense the last few weeks, and every game is different. Every game evolves. So, we'll have to be very cognizant of that."

QB Joe Flacco

On his reaction to the game last night: "I didn't watch it, honestly. I got some rest yesterday. Checked on my phone on the score every now and then and got some sleep."

On being back into the second seed position with a chance to win the division after Pittsburgh's loss: "Obviously, with us losing on Sunday, we had to wait and see what happened last night. I wasn't really banking on it, but definitely, we're fortunate to be in the position we are and just excited about the opportunity."

On his impression of the Brown's defense: "Hey, these guys have a lot of pride, and they're going to come out and play hard. We were able to get after them a little bit, obviously, on the ground last time, and they've come back and played some pretty good games. Like I said, they have a lot of pride, and they're going to come out and play really well against us."

On the Steelers' loss last night helping to ease the disappointment of Sunday's loss in San Diego:"Honestly, probably, yeah. I know coach [John] Harbaugh was real happy when he came in this morning. Hey, things happen in the NFL that sometimes are out of your control. Obviously, we could have controlled what happened Sunday night, but we didn't do a good enough job. Like I said, we're fortunate to be where we are, and we've got to be excited about that opportunity. As players, we try to move on to the next week as quickly as possible anyway. We did put ourselves in a bad position to be where we really want to be on Sunday, but at the same time, we still have to go win these division games and play good football. So, we're going to come in here and prepare the same either way. But, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting to see those guys lose last night."

On keeping WR Anquan Boldin involved with TE Ed Dickson, WR Torrey Smith and RB Ray Rice playing so well: "You don't really do anything. You run the plays that are called. Hey, Anquan is going to get open. It's just a matter of running those plays and executing them. I think if we execute our game plan and we get first downs and we maximize the amount of plays that we have in a game, then everybody in our offense is going to get a good chance to get the ball. So, as long as we're playing well, the ball is going to be spread around. Ray is going to get his touches. Anquan's going to get his. Torrey, Ed, Dennis [Pitta], Lee [Evans] – whoever is in there. That's the biggest thing with us. If we fall behind and we're not executing necessarily great on offense and the amount of plays we run during the course of a game isn't that high, that's when you're going to see everybody's numbers drop down a little bit."

On whether he feels he got the ball out fast enough against San Diego: "I felt like I did. The bottom line is they were dropping pretty deep. We were running some things that were trying to move the ball down the field, and we had to score and had to score quickly. They did a good job of dropping back, and I had to drop a lot off. The sacks, they did a good job of getting a push and collapsing the pocket a little bit. But, that happens when you're in the position we were in. [It was] 17-7 at halftime. Then, they went down and scored on their first possession [in the second half]. It made it tough on us, and we really had to claw back from there and move the ball a little bit. I made a mistake, throwing the first interception, and trying to make a play on the field and be aggressive, and things happen."

On Harbaugh's reaction to Pittsburgh's loss last night: "He was coming in [and saying], 'Did you see that game? Who won, who won?' [We said], 'OK, OK, we all know who won the game. We know you're way more excited now than you were two days ago.' Then he asked me, 'Did you watch the game?' And I [told him], 'No, I didn't watch it.' He got flustered from there. He didn't know where to go with it once I told him I didn't watch the game. So, he was a little confused. But you could definitely tell he was excited, and we should be. We should be excited. We're obviously in a better position because of what happened last night. We've just got to keep our wits about us, go out there and continue to play the way we've been playing all season."

On appreciating the accomplishment of making the playoffs every year and his desire to go deeper in the playoff run: "I do [appreciate it]. I don't know if everybody else does – just because it's a tough thing to do in the NFL. But we're a good organization and we're a good football team, and we are getting everybody used to the fact that we're going to be in the playoffs every year. And hopefully, we can keep it going. To be honest with you, it's not good enough for us. It's not good enough for anybody around here, just getting to the playoffs. We've seen that. We've won a playoff game the last three years, and it hasn't been good enough. And it's not good enough for us. We need to go in there and we need to start playing our best football right now. And, that's what we're excited about. We're excited about going out there and continuing to improve and really getting to the point where we're playing our best football so that we can go into these playoffs and have a lot of success rather than just success."

On feeling that making the playoffs every year hasn't been appreciated by some fans: "No, I'm saying that you brought up the fact that [the team] is getting everybody around here used to the fact that you're going [to make the playoffs]. Yeah, everybody is used to it. If we don't' get in the playoffs, I can't imagine the reaction we'd get from people around here. It would not be good. It wouldn't be good after Week 17. It would just be bad all year, because obviously, we didn't make the playoffs. So I think the reaction by now would probably be a little bit lessened. But all year, if we were losing, I couldn't imagine it around here. It would be a little different. And thank God I've not experienced that yet. And you hope you never do. That's why we go to work every day and we work hard when we come in here and we go play the best we can on Sunday. Yeah, we lose a couple. And we do our best to correct those things and get back on [track] after we do lose those games. And we usually do a good job at that. But, we lose a couple – just like everybody. But when it comes down to it, we do a good job of getting ourselves in the playoffs and beating good teams, year-in and year-out. I think that consistency that we have is what keeps us coming back every year."

On a disappointing loss staying with the team a little longer than normal: "I don't know [if it does]. I can't sleep on a plane. I got back in my bed at 7 o'clock yesterday in the morning. So, it was pretty easy to jump in bed and forget about things for a little while. Obviously, you think about it a little bit. But people ask me at the beginning, 'Is it tougher to deal with these than with the other ones?' It's probably easier. They blew us out. Let's be honest. They got after us pretty good. I don't think we stopped them all night, and we weren't able to have success in the second half on offense. In the first half, we just didn't have a lot of possessions, [but] I thought we actually did a pretty good job. In the second half, we weren't able to execute the way we wanted to just because of the position we were in. They blew us out. Sometimes [those losses] are easier to deal with just because they got after us and we didn't come with it today. So, we'll react to that and move on."

RB Ray Rice

On the feeling going into this game after having success against Cleveland last game: "You know what? That game was played in a weather situation. I think I checked the forecast this week, and it's supposed to be sunny, a little cold, but that's all right. We had to run the ball in that game. The level of execution was high – the offensive line, Vonta Leach, everybody getting a hat on a hat. But if you notice, that's probably a running back's best wishes – not to say to have a bad surface – but you know that you're going to get the ball X amount of times, because you know that you can't throw the ball in that kind of weather situation. It's just not smart to do. You have to weigh out how many passes you do [throw]. Coming into this game, we know Cleveland is a prideful bunch. They're not going to just let you walk over them. If you saw what they did against Pittsburgh the week after, they totally stoned Pittsburgh, had the game won. In a couple of situations at the flip of a coin, they beat Pittsburgh in that game. I have a lot of respect for that organization, a lot of respect for the players over there. They've been a great team at playing the spoiler, but at the same time, we got a little help last night. It puts us back in a position where we control our own destiny again. I heard you talking with 'Sizzle' [Terrell Suggs]. It would be great to go undefeated at home this year. It would be a great accomplishment."

On if he thinks the Browns will put extra focus on stopping the run: "Absolutely. Anybody would after having a game like that. We respect them, they respect us. It's all going to be about execution, but we know that they are going to put a nice edge on their defense, have a safety down, whatever they got to do to get the job done. Nobody is going to line up and let you just run over them. It's going to be a fight. From here on out, every game is going to be a fight. It's something that, quite frankly, we want to fight for. We all know what we're fighting for. There's no need to keep talking about it. If we win out, we're in a great situation. We drop one, and we got to take the show on the road, which everybody knows, that route is very hard. I've played in every single playoff game there is to play in except for one, and that's in a short career, in four years. I know how hard it is to win on the road."

On if he feels like the team has a second lease on life after San Francisco beat Pittsburgh to put the Ravens back in first place in the AFC North: "You know what? I stayed up and watched the whole game. I'll be honest with you. I stayed up, and I mean, you have no choice but to root for the 49ers. I actually said to myself that I wasn't going to go to sleep until the game was over. But after [Ben Roethlisberger] threw his third interception, I went to sleep. I knew that we had a blessing; we were back in a position. You can say whatever happens, but it changed the mood of the team today. Coming in here, guys are happy. I'm not saying we're never a happy bunch – we know how to take a loss on the chin. But you know what, you can look at the San Diego game and not say that it didn't matter. We want to get better from that film, but we don't have to look at it as critical as we would have had to [or] put as much time into San Diego anymore. We know, you know what, [that] we've got to get onto Cleveland. But at the same time, we still control it. We don't got to take our show on the road if we take care of business."

On if there is an expectation to make the playoffs and if there is pressure to go further: "The playoffs is something that I'm used to, Joe [Flacco] is used to, [head] coach [John] Harbaugh is used to. There are a few guys that we molded our team around that are used to playing in the playoffs. It is an expectation to make the playoffs, but I don't think making it is something that the Ravens can say, 'Oh yeah, we made the playoffs.' We're expected to make the playoffs. We've got to get over that hump now, and let's try to get to the Big Dance. I'm going to be honest, that's so far away right now. We know that Saturday is the first road to get to that Big Dance. We look at it for what it's at. The playoffs ain't starting yet, but every game from here on out is essentially a playoff game. We know what it's about. May the best team win. We know how it goes in the playoffs. You can get beat on your best day or your worst day. Everybody knows. You saw what happened to Green Bay this week. Everybody has to bring their best this time of year."

On the motivation to have an undefeated record at home: "It's going to be a great accomplishment if we get it done. The fans get to say look, 'The Ravens gave us a sight to see at home this year.' But I'm sure they would even appreciate it more if the playoffs were here as well. We're doing it for a lot of people – for ourselves, our pride, everything that goes along with being a Raven is on the line."

On what this time of year and his charitable efforts mean to him: "It's a special time of year. As a pro, it is our job to get out into the community. But as a pro – especially where I came from in life, me not having everything when I was that age and now I'm that able to give – when I give, everybody knows, I give from the heart. To see the smiles – whether you are an adult, child – the lives that you impact and the smiles that you get and the thank yous are priceless. It's something that I never want to change as a pro – highs, lows, up or down, win lose or draw. If you are a winner in the community, you're always going to be a winner."

On if he talked to head coach John Harbaugh this morning after the 49ers game: "I was bouncing around myself. Coach Harbaugh came in, obviously, he knows. We knew what he was thinking. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know that everybody was thinking the same thing. The 49ers did us a favor. It happens to be coach Harbaugh's brother, so thank you, 49ers. We appreciate that, but down the line, hey, you never know. With the way they're playing, it could be one of those situations again. They did us one, but now we've got to control our own. I guess that's what brothers do; they look out for each other."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On whether he watched the Steelers and 49ers play last night: "I didn't. I didn't watch it. I was just going to come here, whatever our fate was, it was. But you know, you get … I got texts. It's a gift, but we wish we didn't have to get it that way."

On whether his outlook has changed knowing that if the Ravens win out, they win the AFC North: "Yeah, but as you can clearly see, that's easier said than done. We've got to handle business. First things first: Go undefeated at home. We've got Cleveland coming in; I describe them as the Brawler. They're going to come and they're going to fight. We expect nothing else. First things first, it's Cleveland."

On whether they are still on vacation "in hell": "I think we're still there. Like I said, these last two games, you drop it, you go from one place to another. We still have the lease on the vacation home, but hopefully, we don't have to go there this year. We've just got to take care of business. We're playing two teams that know us very well, two division foes, so it's going to be interesting. We've got to go back to doing what we do best, and that's playing Raven football."

On what he took away from the San Diego game: "I don't take anything away from that. (laughter) It's just like, 'Hey, they had us down, and they had your number.' They were in the position they needed to win. We needed to win, but they needed it a little bit more than we did, and they went out there and they played great football. You can't take anything from them. Hopefully, the football gods will smile upon them, and we'll handle these two games, and maybe we'll get to see them again."

On if there's anything schematic that he took away from the game: "No just football execution, being where you're supposed to be. They did what they were supposed to do. They executed, and we didn't. But it is what it is. I'm done talking about San Diego, so if anyone else has anymore San Diego, you better put that [stuff] away right now." *(laughter) *

On what it would mean to him to go undefeated at home: "You know, it's never happened with me before. Even in our 13-3 year, I didn't go undefeated at home. Even last year, I didn't go undefeated at home. So it would be a great accomplishment. I get to feel something that I've never accomplished as a football player before. It'll be good. Our home fans got to see us win every game; they came to see us play. It also gets us one step closer to where we want to go. I think it'll be huge. It'll be monumental. So, we've definitely got to do it."

On how much self-evaluation they do after games: "A ton of it. You've got to evaluate yourself. This is the NFL, and teams are going to know where your weaknesses are, where your holes are and what you're not so good at. They're going to try to exploit those things. We've got to do a better job of not showing them or not having any. Definitely, we've got to look at ourselves. But we know who we are, what we can do, what we're capable of and how we're supposed to play on top of that. So, it's a lot of self-look, but you've just got to take it for what it is."

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