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Week 16 vs. New England: Friday Transcripts

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming. We had a good practice. We got a chance to get outside, which was nice. There was a little bit of fresh air out there. We got the field cleaned off, and it wasn't frozen with the warm weather – so that was positive for us. Our guys enjoyed it; I know I did. Now, we'll finish up tomorrow and be ready to play on Sunday."

How did Joe [Flacco] progress throughout the week?* (Aaron Wilson)* "He looked good. I don't know if there was a progression; it was just the same all week. [He] got through all the practices, took his reps and did well."

Is it a little unusual to be preparing for December football and seeing temperatures in the mid-70s for the game after what you guys have dealt with weather-wise the last four weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec) "What's the rain forecast right now?"* (Reporter: "Sixty percent chance.")* "Sixty percent thunderstorms? Thunderstorms, right? Does that mean lightening? So, there could be a delay? We won't be surprised if that happens." (laughter)

I was here a month-and-a-half ago, and one thing you talked about that week was that this team needed to learn how to finish and that you weren't winning close games. Now, you have been winning them. What changed? What clicked? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"We found a way to win the close games. (laughter) It's never one thing, right? It's always multiple things. We still have areas that we have to get better at, in terms of finishing. We found a way to win games. Two weeks ago, I'm just glad it was an odd number and not an even number of scores at the end where we came out on top. You couldn't write the script for the game last week, either. It seems like if you look around the league, it seems like that's what the National Football League is right now. It's very exciting, for everybody. We just need to continue to improve and pour all of our energy, pour all of our effort and all of our efficiency in to this game on Sunday and try to play better than they do they do and find a way to win the game. That's what we need to do this time."

Is it exciting? Or is it a struggle on your part? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Those games? Ask the fans. I don't know." (Reporter: "What about for you?") "Exciting? I don't know if exciting would be the term. That's not the one that comes to mind."

With Ray Rice, he's listed on the injury report with a thigh injury. Is that related to the hip injury at all or is this a separate number? (Jamison Hensley) "You know I'm not going to get into all of that. He's on the injury report – that's what it is. What the injury report says it is, it is."

John, was there a moment last year when you knew that Justin was an ice-water guy? Was there something that told you about his makeup? (Jim Corbett)"Probably in training camp. He came in training camp right out of the gates. He was competing for the job, never wavered throughout, and that's what you saw. He made kicks, and every one of those kicks was a pressure kick because he was trying to establish himself and earn a job. I don't think anything has changed."

John, we've seen Joe have a lot of success moving around in the pocket – occasionally taking off and picking up yards. Do you think that's an overlooked part of his game? He doesn't have the reputation of being a mobile guy, but do you think he's better in that regard? (Luke Jones) "I don't really know what people give him credit for and what they don't. I try not to take too much stock in that. He's always been a mobile quarterback. You go back to the very first game against the Bengals [in 2008 on Flacco's 38-yard TD run] … If you're saying people don't take stock of that, they probably haven't been paying attention. That's definitely a big part of his game, and it's made a difference for us in a lot of games this year so far."

**In the past, when these two teams have played, there were always a lot of words thrown back and forth. It feels like that has changed. Everybody has been really complimentary. There are a lot of verbal bouquets being thrown around. Why do you think that has changed? Is it a sign of respect that has been earned over time? Why do you think the dynamic of the rivalry has changed a little bit, where … *(Matt Vensel) *"I don't analyze it. Obviously, you guys are disappointed, so it must be an issue. You don't have as much material to work with, I guess, right? *(laughter) *I don't really have any thought on that, not really. To be honest with you, I haven't thought too much about it."

Could you talk about Chandler Jones a little bit? It seems like he has become one of the elite pass rushers in the league. What have you seen on film that makes him so effective? (Clifton Brown) *"To me, the biggest thing about Chandler [Jones] is that he is a tremendous athlete for his length. He is really long, and he has got body control. He can get his hips in and out on the pass rush, he can move his feet, he can leverage you, he gets underneath people, and he can leverage and turn a tackle. So, there is not too much he can't do. He is also probably, I would say, sneaky fast because he is so long, and you don't realize how fast he is getting to the edge and getting to the top of the rush. He was a guy that we really, really liked coming out [of college]. He was in that group with Courtney [Upshaw] and those guys that year. He is better than he was last year, and he is becoming one of the top pass rushers in the league." *

Do they move him around much? (Clifton Brown) *"They don't; they don't. They kind of have him where they have him, and he does what he does and does it really well." *

**They have some young guys like Joe Vellano, who has stepped in defensive tackle. As long as you have faced New England, you've gone against Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. How much different does their defense look without those two? *(Matt Zenitz) *"Well, it's funny – the look of it isn't that much different, surprisingly. They are doing a great job in the back end. They are really doing a great job across the board in terms of coverage. They mix their coverages. They play them all really well. [They are] very physical. They grab you, they knock you around, they try to do everything they can to disrupt routes. They play on the edge that way, which is good. And because of that, their front is getting some pressure and getting some sacks. So, it's a complement to them. But the two tackles inside – the young guys – they are playing really well. They don't look a lot different in there from what you are used to seeing, so that is a credit to the coaching staff and to those guys."

Statistically, it seems like they have struggled to stop the pass recently. Is there anything you've seen that you feel comfortable sharing? (Matt Zenitz) *"No, not really. I think that, like most productive defenses, they keep people out of the end zone. That's what they have done. They are 10th against points. They have given up yards, but yards are not really the true measuring stick. It's points, and they've done a good job with that. They don't make a lot of mistakes, and they play good, sound football." *

**John, what is your reaction to Ray Rice's comments about possibly retiring at the age of 30? *(Adam Vorce) *"How old is he now?" *(Reporter: "He is going to be 27 next month.") *Oh, OK. That is a long time – 30. *(laughter) *That is a long time from now. He won't be 30 before Sunday, will he? *(laughter) *Then we're good; we're all right."

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