STEELERS vs. RAVENS AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009 KICKOFF IS AT 6:30 P.M. HEINZ FIELD
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP PRESS CONFERENCE Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh Friday, Jan. 16
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Thanks for coming. We had a good week of practice. We had a good day today. The guys are working hard, and we're looking forward to playing on Sunday."
On what he said after practice today that was different than Wednesday or Thursday this week, and did his father address the team:"No, dad didn't have anything to say. We didn't really say anything different, except happy birthday to Joe Flacco. It was his birthday, so he got a little ice bath from the guys. That was kind of fun. So, that was different from Wednesday and Thursday."
On what he did tell the team after practice today:"The same things we say every Friday, basically, in terms of preparing – making sure you know the game plan inside and out and to take care of ourselves physically."
On if LB Terrell Suggs and/or CB Samari Rolle will play this weekend:"We're hopeful, just like we always are. They're working hard to get back. All our guys are. We've got a lot of guys with different nicks and bruises and things like that. We've done a great job in the training room, and we're looking forward to seeing who can play on Sunday."
On if he tries to keep the team's emotions in check until game time on Sunday:"These guys are grown men. They don't need to be reined in, so to speak, or their emotions held in check. Our guys are very thoughtful and tactful about the preparation, and they're getting themselves ready to play a game. They're not getting ready for the moment at 6:30, either. It's going to be a three-hour, three hour-and-15-minute, three-hour-and-30-minute fight on Sunday night, and our guys are getting ready for that."
On if his dad will be on the sidelines again as his good luck charm on Sunday:"He'll be there. We don't believe in good luck, but he'll be there for sure. My brother will be there, too. So, we're looking forward to it."
On whether Suggs has improved this week and if his injury is one where he could be well enough to play in one week:"He improved throughout the week, and we'll just have to see. We can't make predictions. We don't know. He's worked hard, he's done a good job, and we'll just have to see what happens."
On whose call it is if Suggs will play or not, or does the player make the final decision:"It's him, and the doctors and the coaches. Everybody works together. What you try to decide is what's best for your team – with any injury. You take all the guys who are injured and you try to decide what's going to give us the best chance to be successful. So, that part of it is always something that's got to be factored in – whether you activate a guy, don't activate a guy. Every coach and every team goes through that."
On how Suggs is feeling mentally about his injury, as he seemed discouraged yesterday when addressing the media:"You mean like mentally knowing the game plan, or mentally [down]. He seems OK. We don't take too much time analyzing that stuff. He's a mature guy, and he seems like he's OK."
On if he has had a time when he's reflected on the season and thought about a rookie head coach moment he had:"Not that I can think of off the top of my head. The staff would probably say there were a few, maybe. It's been a great experience. Probably the moment was the first preseason game, right before the New England game, [when I saw] coach [Bill] Belichick was standing on the other side over there. [I] had never been through a game as a head coach. We'd been through a bunch of games as an assistant in the NFL or as an assistant in college in various roles, but it's a new role and a new set of responsibilities, and I didn't really know what to expect. Then, having come out of that game, it made sense. And that was probably the one moment, I would say."
On if it feels to him as if the past year has gone fast since he was first named the Ravens' head coach:"It does now. It probably didn't in the middle of September, in the middle of October, in the middle of November. But we were always preparing. Our team was preparing to be a real good football team in December and to try to become a great football team in January. And now we're sitting here with an opportunity to prove that. So, it feels like we're right where we need to be."
On how he thinks he has changed over the course of his rookie season as a head coach:"I wish I knew. That's something you don't spend too much time thinking about. Maybe when it's all said and done and you look back [you will] say, 'OK, this is where we've grown, this is where we need to get better.' All of us will do that. You try to improve from one year to the next. But, I just haven't really given that too much thought."
On if he thinks about where he was a year ago and how far this year has taken him:"Not really. Let's see, what's the date? It's getting pretty close to the anniversary. I'm not sure exactly what day that's going to be. I can't remember what the date was when we got hired. Maybe you guys can remember. It's right about now, I think. No, I don't give it too much thought. We've got a game on Sunday. Who's got time to think about that stuff?"
On how well he feels the team has been acclimated to the cold weather this week in practice:"It was cold last Sunday and it got colder as the game went on. It was cold at the Jacksonville game here. We've had some of those moments. Our guys will be fine. We practiced in it pretty much all year. I don't think it will be too much of a factor for either team. Once you get moving around, you get warmed up pretty quick."
On whether the weather conditions at game time might force him to modify his offensive game plan on Sunday:"No, no. We're going to do what we do. We've got a quarterback that's capable of handling whatever, and an offensive line and running backs that can handle the elements. When those guys get moving and their body temperatures get up, it's not a factor in the game. As we said, it's going to be two hard-hitting football teams playing a very important football game, and I'm sure everybody's going to have a lot of fun doing it."
On DT Trevor Pryce's comments that the team is hanging on by a rope after playing 18 weeks straight and what toll does he think not having a break has taken on the team:"He's probably having fun with you. Our guys are fine. Our guys are excited to play. If everybody wants to think that out there, let them think it. That's just fine with us. We'll be ready to play on Sunday."
On what he will be doing next Sunday when there is no game, whether or not the Ravens win this week:"I haven't thought about it. We're taking one thing at a time. It's one week at a time, right?"
On the impact of having O.J. Brigance and Tony Siragusa as honorary captains at the game on Sunday:"Well, to me it's perfectly appropriate. First of all, O.J. is a special teams warrior, and we think that's pretty important around here. And, he's been a foundation for our football team throughout. Anybody that's followed us understands the impact O.J. has had on our football team – not just this year, but in past years. I've just had a chance to know him throughout this year. I've come to admire and respect him completely. He is the guy. He deserves to be our captain in this game. He should be and he will be out there right alongside our football team. And our football team will be proud to be standing with O.J. before this game."
On if he has any stories to share about possible rookie moments for QB Joe Flacco:"It's so hard for me to do that. I guess it's not really my personality to think that way. He has come so far, but he was pretty good coming in. And he was our quarterback Day One, and he remains our quarterback now – whatever day this is. He's a guy we believe in. We don't put tags on guys. We don't see guys as being rookies or whatever. They're ours. They're Ravens. And, we're proud of guys who play like Ravens, and we think Joe plays like a Raven. That's why he's here. Our guys believe in him, and we'll be proud to stand next to him on Sunday night also."