Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Thanks for being here. I want to congratulate and thank Mishael Miller for his phenomenal efforts over the years as our national anthem singer. He's moving on as a pastor to a ministry in Alabama. I think the world of him. It's been an honor standing on the sideline when he sings the national anthem. As far as the football part of it, we started our week for New England here. To cut right to it, because I know you are going to ask about Joe [Flacco], he was fitted with a brace for his right knee. He went through practice today on a limited basis, and we listed him as limited today. We'll just take it the rest of the week on a day-by-day basis, but we do anticipate that he will play. We'll see where we'll go from there."
**How did he feel in that brace, while limited today? *(Glenn Younes) *"I didn't ask him how he felt."
**Last week you went up against a group of tall receivers. With New England you will face some smaller guys. What is the challenge of facing an offense with more of a short game and screen scheme? *(Matt Vensel) *"All those things you talk about, those are the challenges. They run the same offense that they've run. They put different players into the equation, and they have roles for those guys. The Patriots do as good a job as anybody in the league, and have over the years, of fitting players into their offense and then taking advantage of the things that they do well. Each one of those guys you're talking about, they fit a specific role. You're talking about [No.] 11 [Julian Edelman] and [No.] 80 [Danny Amendola]. They do the underneath stuff, the short passing game, the inside routes, and they do a great job of that."
How much does being the away team on a Monday night game affect your schedule for this upcoming week? (Jamison Hensley)"It changes it. It's a short week, so we're on a short-week schedule. We have a format for that that we go to. We have certain things that we do on short weeks, and that's what we're doing this week."
**How would you describe the matchups with the Patriots over the years you've been in Baltimore? *(Jerry Coleman) *"They've been great games. It's always a big challenge playing the Patriots. They are very, very well-coached – that goes without saying – across the board. Starting with [head] coach [Bill] Belichick and right through the staff, they do a great job. And then they have great players, probably starting with Tom Brady, the consummate NFL quarterback. But they have good players at every position. They always do. They know how to play the game the right way. They don't beat themselves. And that's the kind of game we anticipate against the Patriots."
**Haloti Ngata had a great game on Monday night. How much do you feel the rotation helps to keep him fresh throughout the game? *(Glenn Younes) *"I really haven't thought about how much the rotation has helped him, but I assume it has helped him probably to a pretty good extent. We've got a pretty nice, deep group in there at the D-line, and we've been able to use a nice rotation there. Haloti [Ngata] certainly is healthier than he has ever been in December. He's played in a pretty dominating fashion the last number of games, so it's been good to see."
**How much has it meant to have Haloti Ngata playing at such a high level? *(Garrett Downing) *"It means a lot to the defense. Haloti is one of our top guys. He's a guy that we count on to play in a dominating way, and he's done that."
**You have a lot of experience in your coaching career assessing the secondary. Have you been impressed with the way this group has come together this year? Do you see that as one of the greatest areas of improvement this season? *(Childs Walker) *"Our secondary has done a really good job. We've always had high expectations for them, and they've played pretty steadily throughout the course of the season. The only issues we've had have been some big plays that we'd all like to have back. But those have not been an overly occurrence for us. They've done a good job keeping people in front, tackling. We play a pretty complex system, and they do a nice job of being in the right spot. [Secondary coach] Teryl Austin does a great job coaching those guys technique-wise. It showed up in this last game. We played some really good receivers and a tremendous quarterback, and they played really solidly back there."
**New England will be without Rob Gronkowski this week, and the stats bear out the fact that the Patriots are a different team without him. When you prepare, will you discard everything the Patriots did with Gronkowski and just look at the team they've been the last two weeks without him? *(Mark Zinno) *"No, you've got to look at everything they do. When he was in there, the offense was the same offense. It's just in terms of where is he going to go with the ball. And when you've got [Rob] Gronkowski running up the seam, I'm sure that he gets a pretty good look. They're going to have a tight end or some other player running up the seam and running the same route who is going to have to be covered. And if he's open, they're going to throw him the ball. It just depends on who is running those routes and who is playing that role. That's what changes."
Does it give you more flexibility with Gronkowski out to take some more chances because you might be able to cover the tight ends one-on-one as opposed to having to worry about Gronkowski, who might need some extra coverage? (Mark Zinno)"It might not be a tight end. It might be a running back running up the seam. It could be one of their wide receivers. That's what they do a great job of. They don't just plug in one for one. They're going to put their guys in position. [If it is] a seam route, there's going to be a good seam route-runner running that seam, and it is going to be a guy we've got to attend to. It could be Danny Amendola – he does a great job with that. So, they're going to draw coverage on those routes."
**How has Jameel McClain helped the team out being on special teams coverage lately? *(Glenn Younes) *"Jameel [McClain] has been on the punt team the last four weeks or so, and I think it has really helped us. He solidifies us not just coverage-wise, but [with] protection. He's been on that punt team for a long time. And between him and Josh Bynes, when those two guys play the guard positions, it's two experienced guys who know what they are doing, and they've played really well there."
**When Terrell Suggs goes four or five games without a sack, it becomes a topic of discussion. Do you think that teams are paying a lot of attention to Suggs and that has limited his chances for sacks? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Every team is going to look at Terrell Suggs, and they're going to do everything they can to make sure that he doesn't destroy their passing game, because he is capable of doing that. I'm sure the Patriots will look at him the same way. That, combined with some of the weather games that we've played in that stretch, have probably been the two things that have combined for that. But he's gotten pressure on the quarterback, he's forced the ball to come out quickly, and those are all things that count, too."
**You've had a lot of success slowing down Tom Brady over the years. With the different personnel, are you able to apply the same scheme and ideology facing Brady, or does it change now? *(Mark Zinno) *"It changes somewhat in terms of who does what for them. We've got to be aware of what each guy does and what they do well. But the offense still runs through Tom Brady, and he drives it. He gets the guys in position. He's the guy who makes it all work for them. So, it doesn't really change in that sense. We are still playing Tom Brady."
**How about on the defensive side of the ball? Do you have to change how the Ravens go about their business defensively? *(Mark Zinno) *"We'll change. Every time we've played them, we've changed. We've never done the same thing in back-to-back games, so there will be changes."
**The last few years there has been a lot riding on the games against the Patriots. Do you think the high stakes have added to the intensity of the rivalry? *(Matt Vensel) *"To me, rivalries – to use that term – are defined by how important the games are and what is at stake and how good the games are. So, just what you said is right. They have always been big games, and fortunately, we have both been in the hunt all those years, so there has been a lot riding on it – this year as much as ever. So, it's a big game for us for that reason. But, without looking back too much, it's all been great, but it's all history now. It really doesn't have that much of a bearing – even game-plan-wise – on this game. This game stands alone, and this is really the only one we are thinking about."
*You are coming up with points in the red zone, but players have expressed frustration because they are not getting as many touchdowns as they'd like. Is there something that keeps popping up as a trend that stands out why you are not able to score touchdowns as much as you might like? *(Jamison Hensley) *"There are things that we've come up with that we've noticed that we have addressed and will continue to work on. That's as much as I would like to share with you at this time." *(laughter)
**Is the difficulty in the running game this season what has been hurting the Ravens in the red zone? *(Jamison Hensley) *"We've actually run the ball pretty well in the red zone. We just haven't scored. We haven't popped a run into the end zone, which would be great, but you don't always do that. But we've actually run the ball for a pretty decent red-zone average. It's going to be different than out on the field."
When Joe Flacco got hit on Monday evening, did it make you wince? Are these the types of things Flacco has overcome over his career, or has he just been lucky to have not sustained any serious injuries? (David Ginsburg)"Yes to both of those. I did wince. I winced when I saw it on the board up there, and I tried to talk to the referee about it and explain to him what had happened. I wasn't sure if he saw it. He said he did. He didn't tell me if he winced or not. I'd like to think that he did. Then, I winced when I saw it on tape again this morning. It was a pretty tough hit."
**Did you get any explanation from the officials why they didn't call a penalty on that hit? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I got an explanation on the field. I got a different one from the league office this morning. They're going to send it up for discipline, and we'll just have to see what the league does with it."
**Do you remember Joe ever taking a hit as bad as the one on Monday night? *(David Ginsburg) *"I remember a few shots that he has taken to the lower body and to the knee. I don't think I remember him taking one that bad."
QB Joe Flacco
On the knee brace: "It's OK. It's uncomfortable a little bit, but if it protects it, it's all good with me."
On the diagnosis: "I'm not going to go into specifics. You can look at the injury report and talk to John [Harbaugh] a little bit about that."
On how comfortable he was in the brace today: "The brace isn't a big deal. It just is what it is, and hopefully it will prevent anything really crazy from happening if I happen to get hit on it again."
On if he ever wore a preventative knee brace in college: "No."
On if he wore a brace in college at one point: "Yes, I wore it my junior year. I sprained my MCL and wore a brace."
On if that brace was on his left leg: "Same leg, yes."
On if getting hit was scary for him: "It was a little scary because I felt something, obviously, when I got hit down there. Then, Ray [Rice] came over and wanted me to get up, but he didn't really help me. I wasn't really ready to get up yet because I didn't want to get up and test it out and have myself collapse to the ground and look like an idiot. (laughter) *So yeah, it was a little scary. It's always scary when you get your knee [hit], and I've never really had a severe knee injury or anything, so you don't know what is what. So, when you feel something, you definitely get a little bit scared."* **
On what it was like on the sidelines afterwards: "It was good. Once I got up, and I put a little pressure on it and was able to run off the field and all that. You've got to feel pretty good about that. You're able to go back out there and do everything. My mind was at ease as soon as I got up, so that wasn't that big of an issue."
On if the brace will be a necessity for Sunday: "I don't know if it will be a necessity or not, but I'm going to wear it. There is no reason not to."
On if his knee has stiffened up at all: "It has been pretty stiff. It's feeling better, though, today. It looks like it's getting better and better, and hopefully, some of the swelling will go down and stuff like that. So, yes, it's getting better. That's a good sign, I think."* *
On if he is proud of his durability: "Yes, there is no doubt. That is one of the first things you think about when you get hit there and you go down. You're like, 'Shoot, I better not be able to not be able to play.' I'm definitely very proud of that. At some point, it may happen that I can't go out there and start a football game, but we're going to try to hold that off for a while."* *
On if rest can cure his injury or if it will need to be looked at after the season: "No, just rest."
On if he was shocked that a flag wasn't thrown: "Yes, I'm pissed we didn't get 15 yards. It could have helped us." (laughter)
On if he admires QB Tom Brady's penchant for clutch situations: "I don't know if you look at that too much. You really just look at winning football games and the ability to win in many fashions – being a type of quarterback that is just able to go out there and play a tough game, and if it calls for a last-minute win, then that's what it calls for. Tom [Brady] is obviously … They have won a lot up there, won a lot of division titles, so they have won a lot of football games. You just look at that kind of thing. And obviously, he has won a lot in a lot of different ways, and that is just one of them. So yes, you admire just the ability to kind of put your team in a good chance to win."
On if he views the Patriots as a division-like team: "Let's put it this way: They are definitely almost like a division opponent. Since I've been here, we've played them [often]. Even early in my career, we've played them most of the years and in the playoffs. And we've both been good teams and vying for playoff spots and trying to win playoff games against each other. They have got the better of us, and we have got the better of them a few times. It's a game that has been consistent and been pretty good over the last few years, and we definitely have a bit of a familiarity with them."* *
On the Patriots' secondary: "I think the biggest thing is, just overall as a defense, they've probably let up a decent amount of yards, but they keep teams out of the end zone. They don't do a lot of things to allow teams to just have quick drives. They don't commit penalties to allow you to just run them over and get cheap ones. They do a lot of things very fundamentally. I think sometimes they give up some yards, no matter what way it is – rushing or passing the ball in their secondary – but they play fundamental, and they have good guys back there so that when they need to and they are called on, they make plays."
On why the team has struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone: "Just little things – one thing here and one thing there. When you don't take advantage of the one play that you get down there to score a touchdown, or if you are giving yourself one play to do it, if you have one little slip up, then you are putting yourselves in a tough situation to really convert and put the ball in the end zone. And that is kind of what happened to us the other night. We didn't take advantage of some of the good opportunities we had and left ourselves in bad situations and then didn't convert."
On if he would have liked to have taken more shots at the end zone at the end of the first half in Detroit: "I think when we look back at it, we were probably a little bit … They still had all of their timeouts, I think. We had a third-down situation, and if we don't get it, we probably don't want to give them the ball back there. But I think we've got to look back and say we've got to have confidence in our defense. If we do have to give them the ball back there because we don't convert, then we're going to have confidence that they are going to get off the field and go into halftime. So yes, you always like a little bit more time if you can get it. The way we played it was good, and we've just got to be a little bit better and be sharper and just hit it."
On his baseball-style slide: "It's pretty sweet, right? (laughter) *I don't know. I have no idea. I don't remember sliding a ton in baseball and all that stuff. It's just what I do; it's my pop-up slide." *(Reporter: "Are you proud of your slide?") "Yeah, I like it." (laughter)
On if he appreciates how QB Tom Brady has dealt with personnel turnover: "It has definitely probably been similar, and you've got to credit those guys. When they haven't been full-strength, they have found ways to win football games. I think we've had a lot of those same situations, and we're just now starting to capitalize on them and win them. Earlier in the year, we probably weren't able to win quite as much, and these guys have. They have won a good amount of football games, and the ones they've lost have been really close, too. So, you've got to credit Tom [Brady] and his ability to just adapt and bring everybody's level up a little bit."
On false starts in the red zone: "We've just got to have better communication. It's really just a mental thing and being focused and knowing what the snap count is. It's pretty simple."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if he thinks the Detroit defender who hit QB Joe Flacco low would have been penalized if he hit QB Tom Brady that way: "I don't know. Different referees do different things. You never really know."* *
On if he is looking forward to seeing QB Tom Brady on Sunday: "Let's not kid ourselves; he's a fierce competitor. Then again, we don't shy away from anybody. We play against the best every week. Both teams are going to be playing championship football. It's a championship for both of us – you can expect that. Both teams will have at it come Sunday."* *
On the rivalry between himself and QB Tom Brady: "I don't really think it is much of one. It's not like I'm a rival quarterback or a middle linebacker, so to say. I don't think it's much of a rivalry."* *
On if he thinks about not having a sack recently: "Definitely. I think about it a lot, but in those six games we're 5-1. It's definitely in the back of my mind, but I can't let that be my No. 1 focus. As long as we're winning, I'll accept that. It's bittersweet. We're 5-1. Right now we're in the playoffs if we win out. If we handle our business, we'll be in the playoffs. The postseason is more important than statistics. Even though I do want them, I'm still out there working, chasing and getting after them. That's all I can do – continue to work."* *
On what he attributes his sack drought to: "I don't know. It's not like I'm not getting there. Sometimes they just get the ball out. All I can do is continue to play. As long as we're winning."
On if he is banged up or dealing with any injuries right now:"No, I don't feel banged up; I'm going to be alright. As you already know, as long as there's air in my lungs, I'm going to be out there playing. But, like I said, it's not all bad. We're still 5-1 during this stretch, and I'm still only a half sack behind the [team] leader [Elvis Dumervil with 9.5]. I'm not really worried about it. If we get in the postseason, then we can look back and look at all that, but first and foremost, [winning is] objective No. 1. Win this week, win out, win the division, get in the postseason."
On if the time of this game and not getting the Sunday Night Football game matters to the team:"No, I don't think so. I don't think so. Whenever you tell us to play, we'll be there. We'll be there to play. It may have worked out better for us, being able to just go out there and just play at [4:25 p.m.]. We don't have to wait all day."
On what his emotions are like whenever he goes out to play the Patriots:"I don't know. Don't get lit up – win the game. But, a lot goes through your mind – just not a lot of it is TV-rated." (laughter)
On if he sees anything different from New England's offense with the absence of players like TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Wes Welker:"If you're talking about the personnel, of course, it's obvious they've got different personnel. But you all said it: It's still the same guy under center, and pretty much they go as he goes, so to say. As long as he's taking the snaps, you've still got your hands full."
On if you put the rivalry aside this week with so much at stake in the game:"I don't really know how much of a rivalry it really is. But first and foremost, [the focus] is to win the game, and you can handle whatever happens throughout the course of that game. So, just win the game first."
On what type of player T Eugene Monroe is for the Ravens:"He's very finesse. He's a finesse player – definitely a switch up from what we've had in here normally. Usually, we've had the big left tackle guy with J.O. [Jonathan Ogden], and then we had B-Mac [Bryant McKinnie] come in. He's definitely different; he's a finesse guy, and like you said, he has been doing pretty good, especially handling the edges for us."