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Hearing from the Ravens

Posted Oct 16, 2013

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh and LB Terrell Suggs talk about Sunday's game against the Steelers.

Coach John Harbaugh

Can you speak about what you remember about some of Joe Flacco’s comeback wins at Heinz Field and how much those kind of propelled him to the next level of quarterbacking that we saw all the way through the postseason?
Wow, that’s a pretty deep one. I’d have to probably give that one some thought. I don’t really have that. I haven’t really thought about that in that sense, but it’s a tough place to play. I can tell you that. We’ve had some success there and we’ve had some failure there, as well, as you all know. It’s just a great stadium and, obviously, they’ve always had a great team so that even enhances it. It’s a tough place to play but a great place to play.

Maybe I’ll narrow the scope of the question. He seems like he was responsible for three wins here with late comeback victories. Can you speak to how you saw the evolution of his presence in the pocket and some of those two-minute situations over the years?
You’re right. That was probably a big part of – like any quarterback and he’s had other games, it hasn’t just been Pittsburgh, but those have been important. At the same time, I’d like to think that those are team wins also. The quarterback is the biggest driver of some of that stuff, obviously in two-minute, so you probably make a good point there.

How have you been able to fill the leadership void created by the loss of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?
I think we’ve got two ways. We’ve got some guys who have really stepped up into that role. I think you just talked to Terrell Suggs and he’s been a big part of that. Not just Terrell, others who are at the top of the veteran chain, but also we have a belief system here that everybody leads in their own way. To be a great leader, you’ve also got to be a great follower. I think we had that kind of leadership before. It wasn’t like we had one or two leaders on this team. That was the same format that we’ve had for quite a while.

When you lose so many veteran players, and the Steelers are in the same boat, in a short period of time or two years, what does it do for you to get the young guys to believe in what you’re doing?
I don’t think it’s very hard to get them to believe in what you’re doing if you believe in what you’re doing and your leaders, and like you say, your veterans believe in what you’re doing. And when you build on some success that helps as well. So, it’s not a challenging thing. The bigger challenge is to build the prowess of your football team so that you can continue forward and win some games in a very tough league.

Running has been down in the league. Do you think it is because of philosophy, personnel? What is your theory on that?
It’s probably down because of our average. We’re probably the ones dragging down the average number now, you’d have to assume. We’ve been struggling with that.

Do you think the rules just make it easy for teams to throw the ball now?
The rules? I think there’s an argument for that. I don’t know if I want to get into all that right now, but there’s probably an argument for that. It’s obvious that over the course of the years that the league has wanted to open the game more and more and make it more exciting. That’s probably been a big part of it, sure.

Why haven’t you been able to run the ball?
We haven’t blocked very well. That’s the main reason.


Linebacker Terrell Suggs

It’s boring. Excite us a little bit, will you? It doesn’t feel like Steelers-Ravens and Hines Ward isn’t here to stir it up, so you can stir it up.
Nah, there’s nothing really to stir up. Like you said, it’s Steelers-Ravens. This game speaks for itself.

Along those lines, is this the kind of game that gets both teams going? There’s going to be a winner and a loser, but is this something that gets the juices going for both teams here after the quarter pole?
I don’t think the records really matter for the simple fact that in the past we both have played each other, and either one team was rolling and one team wasn’t, and it didn’t matter. It’s Ravens-Steelers. This game, the whole NFL will be watching because there is not a rivalry in football like this game.

Do you still feel that the whole league is watching and that this is the marquee rivalry? Is it, for you, bigger than say even the Bengals in your own division right now?
No, I wouldn’t say that, but I would say it is the biggest rivalry in football. I have a feeling the whole NFL, if they’re not playing, even if they are playing in the Sunday night game, they will catch a glimpse of this game just because of the history of these two teams, the rivalry and style of play that these two teams play. This game is good for not only sports and the NFL, but it’s a good sporting event.

How come you have played well here? You’ve won three of the last four here at Heinz Field.
I don’t know. Luck, I guess. They’ve also had some success on our home field as well. It’s just one of those games. It can go either way. I particularly don’t know why. I just love playing at Heinz Field.

What is not happening for your team this year?
Everything is not happening for our team this year [Laughs]. No, I don’t know. Sometimes it just seems like we’re missing some pieces here and there. Then at other times, it seems like we can be one of the best teams in the NFL. We’ve just got to continue to work and get better from week-to-week.

Do you believe in the Super Bowl hangover and are you guys experiencing it?
No, but we’ll leave that for you all to decide. We really don’t get into that here. Our season is pretty much week-to-week and we’re just taking it as is. We’re 3-3. It’s not good but it’s also not terrible. We got some things we need to work on.

Are you going to miss Max Starks?
No. I have a feeling I’m still going to have my hands tied with their tackles this year, the ones they’ve got. Like you always keep saying, it is Ravens-Steelers, and the cast is not the same on both teams. There’s no Ray Lewis, no Ed Reed, no Hines Ward and no James Harrison. It’s going to be a little different. But at the end of the day it’s a football game. It’s a rivalry football game and both teams are going to go out there and play.

How tough is that for you guys when you lose so many key players like the Steelers have over the last couple of years and maybe to get the new guys and the young guys to buy-in to what you’re doing?
Both organizations do a good job of bringing their type of guys in. They do a good job of bringing their type of guys in. They do a good job of bringing Steelers players in and we do a good job bringing the Ravens-type players in. I think both teams know that this is a rivalry game and it’s going to be played like so.

Have you had to take a different role when there is no Ray Lewis and Ed Reed? From a leadership standpoint or anything like that, do you feel compelled to do that?
I don’t think so. I’m just going to be Terrell. No, we don’t have the guy that gives the emotional speeches before the games, but I’ve said it before, we have tons of leaders on this team and we’re going to continue to build and work.

Do the rookies or the first-year players in your locker room understand what Steelers-Ravens is all about? Do you talk to any of them to emphasize that this is different?
If they don’t, they’re going to learn pretty fast. [Laughs] I think they’ve got a good grasp on it, though.

How will they learn? What will happen that will enlighten them?
Like I said, they’re going to learn pretty fast. As soon as that ball is kicked off, if there’s one guy who is sleeping on just exactly what this game means to both teams and both cities, then they’re going to learn really fast.

How do you feel that you and Elvis Dumervil are working out as a tandem and how do you feel opposing teams have been trying to scheme against you guys?
If you look across the NFL, there’s a lot of good defenses with two key edge players and I think it’s nothing new. I think NFL teams realize they see this every week and you’ve got to address it as so. I think we’re great working together, especially in the pass rush, but also in the run game.

What is your theory of why teams in the NFL aren’t as successful running the ball as much as they were maybe five years ago?
I don’t know. It’s definitely a different game now. Everyone is going more up-tempo, but I don’t know. I could throw a theory about Roger Goodell out there, but I think that’d be too easy, so I’ll just stay away from it.

Do the rules just make it easier to throw the ball nowadays?
Like I said, I don’t really know. It’s my job as a defender to stop the people. I just line up and play ball.

You’ve played against all the best quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers. Where do you put Ben Roethlisberger within that group?
This guy won two Super Bowl championships, he played in three. The guy is a winner. I think I like that he has his own style. He’s not like those other guys that you named. He’s Big Ben. You can’t do anything but respect a guy like that and his physical play.

It seems like the respect there is mutual. Do you get that vibe from Ben, too?
Definitely. We’ve had some conversations that haven’t been on TV and have been in the field of play. There’s a tremendous amount of mutual respect there, but I think we both know that we are each other’s opponent, but even opponents can show respect.

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