STEELERS VS RAVENS MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2008 AT HEINZ FIELD - KICKOFF 8:30 P.M**
RAVENS CONFERENCE CALLS
HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
At 2-0, are you happy with how things are going?
We are off to a good start; I think that our guys expected to get off to a good start early in the year and they have done that. We are happy about that.
What is the best thing for you so far?
The fact that we are 2-0 so far is the best thing. We have found ways to win games and do the things that winning teams do the first two weeks; that is really the key.
Did it help having the first two games at home?
I haven't thought about it that way. That was just the way that it worked out because we couldn't play because of the hurricane. That is out of our control; we just play when they told us to play and where they told us to play.
Can you talk about the run game?
It is what is best to win a football game. You see what you are up against, you see what the defense presents you and you do whatever you can do to win the football game.
You had to use three guys running the ball?
We have run the ball pretty well so I guess it is working out pretty well.
Do you anticipate the fullback being used as a running back?
We anticipated it in training camp, and that is why we brought Lorenzo Neal in.
Can you talk a little bit about Joe Flacco?
He has played well for where he is in his career.
Does Flacco resemble Ben Roethlisberger at all?
It is interesting that you say that because I would say that there are some similarities there, and it is a good observation. (Flacco) is big, he has a strong arm, and he is smart. Ben went to Miami of Ohio, my alma mater, and I don't consider that to be a small school, but people sometimes think that Delaware is a small school so I guess that you could make that comparison. In this division, we think that the guys who have had success are the big, strong-armed guys. All four teams kind of have that big guy who can throw it so we felt that if we were going to keep up, he is the kind of guy that we would need.
When can you give him more of the offense?
He has a lot of it right now; he has the offense in his hands right now and the offense changes each week based on what you need to do to win the next game.
Do you have pride in your defensive tradition?
I think that we have had a tradition of playing defense here for a long time and Rex Ryan has been at the heart of that thing with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Trevor Pryce and all of the guys that Steelers fans are familiar with. We take a lot of pride in that defensive tradition. Through two games they have played well but there are still 14 more games to go and we have a big challenge in front of us.
What is Ray's secret to still playing?
Nobody works harder than Ray Lewis. If you saw his offseason regimen, I think that you would see that he is one of, if not the hardest, working guy in the league.
What has been the key to doing well without Kelly Gregg?
(Justin) Bannan has played pretty well. He has come in and played well in Kelly's absence.
Have there been any surprises in being a head coach?
It has been a challenge and it has been a great honor to work with the bunch of men we have here. We have men of integrity; strong and courageous guys. I think that when you work with a bunch of guys like that I think that is the biggest thing that you recognize. It is just an honor to work with guys like this and be in the NFL and be associated with the Ravens.
LINEBACKER RAY LEWIS
Is your 2-0 start what you expected?
Yeah, every team starts out high and the thing is we are just playing right now. Every game takes 60 minutes and you just deal with it. However this fell into our laps, we are just dealing with it right now. We are sitting at 2-0 right now and now we get to deal with the division and other division games. I am just trying to keep everybody even keeled and just understand that it is a 60-minute game. That is the approach that we are taking to every game.
Was it good to start out with two games at home with a rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco) and a first-year head coach (John Harbaugh)?
I think that any time you start out at home the bottom line is that home is home. If every team had an opinion most teams would want to play home. God bless all of the people down there in Houston; you don't want ever want to see a tragedy like that. At the same time, it kind of fell right into our laps coming home and getting into a rhythm. I really think that it benefited us a lot.
Can you talk about the difference between Harbaugh and Brian Billick?
The only difference is that there is a new coach. Billick ran his program the way that he runs his program and John runs his the way that he runs his. I don't think that you can get into what is different and what is not. It is just like I told John, one of the greatest analogies ever was, "Coach when you came in, and Brian Billick's offense was a certain way, you didn't leave it the way Brian had it, you changed it to the way you wanted your offense." It is the same thing with the team; all you do is buy into it and come to work every day. John is a great guy so if you come to work every day, you are not going to have any problems with John.
Was it rejuvenating to change coaches?
I have been around here for 13 years and I have had changes for the past eight years. I have had five or six defensive coordinators so change is whatever it is. I think that what is rejuvenating is that everything is just different as far as your mindset, how we prepare and things like that. That is it outside of that; it is still football for us. That is the approach that we took; that is why keeping Rex (Ryan) here was so important for us because there is not that much change for us. Yes, the head coach changed, but having Rex around kept a lot of things still in balance.
What was your reaction to the Steelers-Eagles game?
I think that Philadelphia had a nice scheme; they really got after Ben. They ran a lot of "dogs" and things like that to really get to him. I just think that they had a really great game plan for him.
Did that remind you of when you got Pittsburgh like that a few times?
I don't know if it reminded me of that. I didn't think of it like that outside of just saying that they had a heck of a game plan. When you start looking at them, you are looking at what were they doing that can really get to him. They were just doing some great, great things to get to him on Sunday.
*What does a game against Pittsburgh mean to you?
Honestly, I have been in this thing so long that it is just another game. You know what you are getting with them; they are going to come to play football. You have to strap up your chinstrap and get ready to play football. Pittsburgh is one of the most legendary teams and they have that mystique about them. Like I have been telling my guys, all we have is a 60-minute game. We don't care who it is, just put them on our schedule. It is kind of like keeping things even keeled; here we go, another Sunday versus a division opponent in our division; you have to understand how important division games are.
It sounds like you are fired up already:
First off, we just came off of the practice field and I am on my way home so I am definitely. My energy is really coming from practicing and being excited to get back onto the field. Once you get rolling during the season, you want to keep rolling. You like the Monday Night's but you don't like the Monday Night's because it is a long, long wait. You really have to pace yourself so that you don't burn out too quickly. I think that it should be the classic rivalry that it has always been.
What is the difference in the Steelers' offense with Willie Parker out?
I haven't seen that much of (Rashard) Mendenhall but I just think that Willie is one of those warriors who is going to come and play the game right. He is that fast-paced back. He has been doing a great job the past couple of years. When you lose a guy like that I don't think that you try to replace him. I think that they did a great job drafting Mendenhall. At the same time, I don't know the difference between him and Parker just yet. I think that losing what you lose with Willie is a lot of speed from the running back position.
Are you aware of Mendenhall putting the ball on the ground and will you try to get it out?
If it was a secret then I would say that I could not tell anybody, but it is not a secret. He has fumbled the ball a couple of times so if that would be our focus I think that we would be approaching the game wrong if that was not our focus.