STEELERS vs. RAVENS AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009 KICKOFF IS AT 6:30 P.M. HEINZ FIELD
ED REED NATIONAL CONFERENCE CALL
*Ravens S Ed Reed
*On what he's seen of the Steelers' protection and run-blocking that may or may not be better this meeting: *"Things really haven't changed on either side, as far as what we do, as far as what they do. I think that it's going to be another tough game on both sides, and hopefully, we come out a winner."
*On how much of the game is a point of pride from a defensive standpoint: *"There's really not too much pride talk, none of that stuff around here. We want to go out and have a great game. It's different circumstances right now versus the first two [games]. Of course, we would have liked to win those. But like I said, it's different circumstances right now. It's postseason; we're trying to get somewhere, and they're the guys that we've got to play."
*On if assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan would make a good head coach: *"After the season is done, we'll see that. I think Coach is a hell of a coach, what he brings to the table. He's definitely tradition-oriented and can step in anywhere right now and lead a franchise. But that's not on me. That's up to GMs to make that decision. But as a defensive coordinator, we already know what Rex Ryan brings to the table."
*On why Steelers RB Willie Parker does not typically have good games against the Ravens: *"The front seven. The front seven are doing a great job. It's not just with Willie Parker, it's just with running backs in general. They take pride in stopping the run. We take pride in stopping the run, but it's a totally different game now. Willie Parker is looking a lot healthier. He's running the ball a lot tougher, a lot harder. So, we've definitely got to step our game up."
*On how the Ravens rebounded from the game against the Giants (on 11/16) when New York ran so well: *"The way you've seen us rebound to get to this point."
*On if it's hard for other teams to get a read on the Ravens' defense: *"It [isn't] hard to get a beat on what we do. We try to execute and put guys in position to where they can make plays. If you study the tape you will see it. You have different guys doing things, but it [isn't] too hard to get a beat. That could be coming from my perspective, too, which it is."
*On what makes the rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers different from other NFL rivalries: *"I don't think these two teams really like each other, but I think it's just the love for the game that both of us have. I think Pittsburgh has an awesome tradition around there, obviously, with the Steel Curtain and everything going back to those days. And we have a tradition around here that began before I got here. I think it's just two teams that really enjoy playing football, that really like getting after it."
*On if he's worried guys are too physically beat up from the Titans game to play well this weekend: *"This team has been down since training camp. We've been having guys hurt since training camp. We've been going through a lot as a team since training camp and throughout this whole season. Guys getting banged up last week against Tennessee is nothing new to us. Playing hurt is nothing new to us, and playing through things – just persevering through life itself – is something that we've really joined into this year because of something we're going through in-house. [Reed is referring to Ravens director of player development O.J. Brigance battling A.L.S., aka 'Lou Gehrig's Disease.'] Just fighting alone is something that is instilled in all of us."
*On when he saw Ravens QB Joe Flacco turn into the quarterback that the public sees now: *"Just when I first saw Joe Flacco in mini-camps, when I saw him throw the ball, knowing that Joe can throw. He can throw the ball. When I first saw him in training camp, man, he threw his first ball, I already knew what we had in him. And it was just a matter of time, like I always said, just a matter of time of him developing into the guy he wanted to develop into. And, he still has a long way to go."
*On how Ravens head coach John Harbaugh convinced the team he was the right man to lead: *"I don't think it was so much his convincing. Coach has a job to do; we have a job to do. This is a corporate business. You have to learn to work together. When Coach came into training camp he explained that. We understood that as men. We have a bunch of veterans on this team that understand that, to get that to the young guys. So, it was a push-pull thing in the beginning to understand what Coach wanted, him understanding what we do, and going from there."
*On if there was skepticism because Harbaugh had never been a coordinator: *"No, not really. Like I said, there's a reason why [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] chose Coach Harbaugh to get this job. I mean, he's been in coaching for 20-something years. There's a reason why he was a candidate."
*On what one distinct difference in this year's defense compared to past years' would be: *"Nothing has changed with this defense. If you go back and look at the past couple of years, nothing really has changed. Guys go down, guys are in, guys step up. It's the same mold. Nothing has changed with this defense."
*On how impressed he's been with his performance over the last month: *"It's been OK. It's still going. We're trying to keep it going. In a couple of weeks, you ask me that same question, I might have a different answer."
*On how confident he is in his ability to return interceptions: *"I guess it's just a little offensive mentality that's in me. It's something we practice, and of course, blocking. Guys throwing a couple of key blocks for me is thrown into the picture of that. You get a couple of key blocks, the confidence is definitely there to score with it, and we're definitely trying to score with it."
*On an offensive player for the Ravens that impressed him: *"Shoot man, Le'Ron McClain. You already know about that guy. My sideline, [G Marshal] Yanda, who got hurt. And I mean, we've got some young receivers who haven't been playing either, who are on practice squad. If they continue to grow, they definitely could be some show-stoppers."
*On his take on FB Le'Ron McClain: *"It's just a tribute to the team, how guys step in and step up when their number is called."
*On how RB Willis McGahee has also done well this year: *"Of course, man. That just goes to show his heart, full of team chemistry. He's going to do whatever it takes. It's no different than Edgerrin James down in Arizona. Willis took advantage of the time he had off because he was hurt. He was playing with a lot of injuries early on in the season, and that was being pointed out in a negative way, but he took advantage of that, and now he's doing the things that he needed to do on the field."
*On if the Ravens have to remind themselves to not let Steelers WR Hines Ward get under their skin: *"We just play football. Play football within the whistle and everything else will take care of itself. We can't get caught up in that part of the game. We know it's there, and we'll handle it as men as the game goes."
*On if it is more fun to go into Pittsburgh as the bad guys rather than host the game as the good guys: *"Man, I think we're bad guys regardless. But it doesn't matter. We've been at this point for a long time now. We've been saying it doesn't matter who we play or where we play them. At this point, it really doesn't matter where we're playing at. Good guy, bad guy, they call it what it is, but at the end of the day they will see."
*On how big of a factor momentum is: *"Momentum is always huge. Momentum is always huge. That's why you play the game accordingly, and hopefully it stays on our side."
*On if there is a player on the Steelers' defense he enjoys playing against: *"As a fan, I love watching good football. I can't get away from watching good football regardless of what team it is. There's no particular player on defense that I particularly watch. If there was one guy, it'd probably be Troy [Polamalu] because we play the same position. It's just natural to watch your position. Those guys over there, I know a couple of them personally, and I know those guys play a hell of a football [game]. So, as a fan, you sit back and watch. And when you're on the sideline, yeah you sit back and watch because when you're not going over checks, you want to know what's going on with your offense. But you also see what they're doing on defense."
*On a player he enjoys playing against on the Steelers' offense: *"I love playing against [those] guys as a whole because they're competitors."
*On what his favorite return for a touchdown is: *"My favorite one was against the Jets that got called back. They called a clipping, a holding. They called a holding, which was not a holding, so… That was the one."
*On if he remembers all his returns for touchdowns: *"Not really. [I remember] a couple of them, a couple punt blocks, a couple of returns. I remember a couple of them."