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Hearing from the Ravens

Posted Nov 25, 2013

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco talk about Thursday's game against the Steelers.

Coach John Harbaugh

Re: The Steelers defense and what you’ve seen from them the past couple weeks:
They look really good, as usual. They are well coached. They are flying around. Troy Polamalu is a big factor. They are a great defense.

The Steelers defense didn’t have many turnovers leading up to your first game. They seem to be coming in bunches now. How do you feel turnovers work?
I think they come in bunches. That’s how it works.

Re: Surviving an up and down season and the challenges:
I think every season in the NFL is a challenge. It’s difficult. You look around the league, and you get a chance when you get home after a game, you watch other games and realize that every game is a fight. Most every game goes down to the wire. It’s usually decided by a couple of plays here or there after two teams really just battle their hearts out throughout the course of a whole game. That’s what makes the NFL great. I think that’s why people love football and love the NFL. We’ve lost a number of close games this year. Other years we have won more of those. That’s kind of how it’s been for us this year.

Does playing on Thanksgiving add to the rivalry? Is that possible?
Yeah, well it certainly is another chapter. I think it’s really great. It’s just a great rivalry. It’s a great tradition. We have been holding fast to the fact that we believe this is a great rivalry. We’ve said it here the last six years. Our thinking on this end of it really hasn’t changed.

How is your team different from what we saw in the first meeting?
I really don’t have those answers for you to be honest with you. I am just trying to get ready for this game right now.

Dick LeBeau talked about going back to page one a few weeks ago. Is that necessary to do that when the going gets tough regardless of whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams?
I think it’s always important to execute the fundamentals. If you don’t execute the fundamentals in football, that’s always going to be tough. I’m not sure what Coach LeBeau is referring to for his defense, so I certainly don’t have a comment or observation on that.

How close was your performance against the Jets to where you want it to be?
We just want to win. We are at the point of the season right now where we want to do what is necessary to win. That’s what it boils down to at this point in time. We won the game, so we moved closer to that. There are plenty of things we need to improve on, fundamentally, schematically and all those things to have a chance to win the next game. That’s for sure.

Re: Daryl Smith:
I’ve seen an excellent linebacker. I think he’s one of the best linebackers in football. I’ve always really thought that. We played Jacksonville a few years ago, and he really jumped out at us as an opponent. He’s been better than advertised coming in here. He has played really well for us. He’s a great guy and a good family man. He’s a student of the game. He’s just done a really great job for us, and we are really happy to have him on our team.

Quarterback Joe Flacco

Re: The Steelers defense and Troy Polamalu:
You’re seeing what you always see from those guys. They’re physical. Obviously, Troy can run around in the back end and make some plays. He can get up around the line of scrimmage where he likes to be and get involved in the run game. The biggest thing with those guys is they’re physical, they get after the quarterback and they stop the run. They do a lot of things well.

I’m not sure how far long you are on your film study. If you have been looking at the Steelers, do you see anything different than when you played here from their defense?
I haven’t paid it too much attention yet, just getting in and getting started. These guys are a good defense, and I’ve played against them for a long time. They’re going to do the things that they’re good at and that their coordinator likes to do. They have a couple new pieces in there, and I think they’re probably feeling that out a little bit. Now the season is kind of growing on them and their team is getting a little bit better, and it’s getting down to the point where it is really going to mean something. They’re playing well and responding to it.

How are you guys handling what is really an uncharacteristic season for Baltimore?
We’ve been in this situation many times where we need to win football games down the stretch and put ourselves in position to play some more meaningful football games. Our record hasn’t been what it is at this point in years past, but we’ve still been in the same situation. We’re just keeping our heads down and trying to get better each week, and win the next football game.

With this log jam of all these teams fighting for the final Wild Card spot, teams such as yours and the Steelers have been down this road before. Do you think there is any advantage with that?
I don’t know. I think the biggest advantage is with the team that has the best team. Right now, we feel like we have a very good team. We just have to go out there on Sunday and on Thursday this week and prove it. We’re not going to talk about it. We just have to go to practice and go about our business. You’d like to think that teams that have been in this situation before at least can have the wherewithal to stay calm and play within themselves and not let the moment be too big. It really just comes down to what kind of team you have, and I think the best one will end up prevailing in the end.

Was your performance against the Jets your best game this season collectively?
I wouldn’t necessarily say so. You’ll have to go back and look. Our defense did a great job of keeping them out of the end zone and keeping them from really doing anything. They got a couple turnovers. On offense we did some good things. When we got into the red zone, we didn’t really put the ball in the end zone like we would want to. We’ve just got to continue to improve. It’s nice when you can win a football game like that and feel pretty good about it, but at the same time understanding that you have to get better and better. We’re going to need to be better this week than we were yesterday in order to beat these guys.

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