Harbaugh 12-8

RAVENS Head coach JOHN HARBAUGH: 12-8 transcript
Opening statement

"Thanks for coming. We've had a chance to study, and the guys have been in and watched tape and been through the game. Obviously, it was a great win against a very good football team – a team that's got aspirations for the playoffs and had a lot to play for, and our guys responded well. [There were] a lot of little things in the game, when you watch it, too many to mention, I guess, to go through guy by guy. But, a lot of the unglamorous work was done by our team – run defense, pass protection, run blocking, wide receivers blocking the run, defensive backs tackling, and all the stuff that guys normally don't get noticed for, they did. And that's what you need to do to win football games. Coverage in special teams was excellent. [There was] a lot of good blocking in the return game. So, just a lot of little things that make us proud of a tough victory in December."

Do you attribute RB Willis McGahee's play in last night's game to lack of execution or rustiness or something else? *
"Your premise is that he didn't play well? I don't see it that way. Willis hammered it up in there. He had the one pitch thing, the wind took the thing and moved it about two feet, so he did the best he could with it. He's going to be fine. He ran hard and pass protected and was OK."

How is McGahee today after his slight concussion and stinger in the game last night? *
"He's OK. He had a little stinger – he had a little tingling and stuff – but he's going to be fine."

How is RB Ray Rice today? *
"Ray has got a contusion in his lower leg. We don't think it's anything more than that, and we'll see how he does."

Is he day-to-day? *
"He looks OK. Day-to-day. Like all of us. That's a great point. We're all day-to-day. That's pretty good."

Is it hard for the team not to get a little more amped up for the game against Pittsburgh since it is a divisional game and because of the game's playoff implications? *
"You say more amped up? You're saying that we weren't as amped up as we could be for every other game? It's kind of derisive towards the other games."

But isn't it comparable to, say, Ohio State versus Michigan rivalry to your family? *
"More or less, it's irrelevant. It really is. It's the next one up. It's really important. Derrick Mason did a great job of explaining it last night, and I really agree with him. Do [the games] become more important as they go? Absolutely, because the more games you win and the deeper you get into the season, they do become more important. The fact that it's a division rival, it's the two top teams in the division. It's pretty appropriate that the two best teams in the division will be playing for the division championship, really not just this week but for the next three weeks. So in that sense, OK. It's exciting to be a part of it and our players have earned it. And our fans are excited to be a part of it and they've earned it. They did a great job [last night]. Our fans did a great job last night. You guys all know they did. That place was loud. It was rocking, and we expect it to be even louder and more rocking this next game."

Has FB Le'Ron McClain proven to you that he can be the team's starting running back every week? *
"Le'Ron is our guy every week. Ray [Rice] is our guy every week, and Willis [McGahee] is our guy every week. That's how we've done it; that's how we've done it every week. You guys want us to name a starter and say, 'He's our No. 1 back.' We just don't do it that way – not right now. We've got three guys right now. They are our guys and we believe in them. And the great thing is those guys believe in each other. Those guys have confidence in each other and they pull for each other, too. "

What explanation did you get from officials regarding Redskins QB Jason Campbell's fumble being negated because officials ruled that his forward progress had been stopped?

"When they rule it dead, when they determine that they've blown the whistle because forward progress has been stopped, then there's no challenge about possession. So basically, he's down by forward progress. He's down by the whistle at that point, so you can't challenge that."

Is that a rule you would like to see addressed at the end of the season? *
"Well, no, because once they make that determination, it's a judgment call. So they've made it, they've blown the whistle. It's over at that point."

Do you just try to rack up the wins and see where you are at the end of the season, or is being the division champs something that would give you more incentive because it offers better playoff positioning?

"Yeah, all of the above, I think, is true. Plus, the fact that we want to be division champs. We want to be champions. That's something every team in the division definitely plays for, so we're not backing down from the fact that that's our goal. The Steelers stand between us and the division championship, and they're next up on the schedule. So all those reasons are good reasons."

What can you tell us about the Steelers based on your first meeting? What did you learn about them?
"They're good. The Steelers are good. They're tough. They're resilient. They play hard. They're No. 1 in the division at this point. They've got a quarterback that went to a great college." (Laughter)

Can you talk about Cam Cameron's play-calling, particularly the fourth-and-one pass to TE Todd Heap?
"Those are great calls when they work, right? We'd have a different set of questions here if that thing didn't work, you know? But one thing about Cam Cameron, we've talked about this before, he builds his offense on fundamental soundness – attention to detail, protecting the football, being physical, all those things. But he's creative, and he's gutsy. We were talking to the defense back there right before the call was made, and it was fourth-and-one-plus, maybe. So we're right around plus-40 territory, and I went back to the defense just to let them know, 'Hey, we're going for this thing.' They kind of looked at me and [said], 'Punt them down in there!' And I said, 'We're going for this thing, and you get them stopped if it doesn't work.' Then it was, 'Wait until you see this call.' So then they all jumped off the bench, and they were watching. They couldn't believe it, either. And Todd [Heap] did a great job of executing it, as did Joe [Flacco]. So that's Cam Cameron at his best."

The way that play was designed, was Heap really the only option? If he wasn't open, what would Flacco have done?
"He'd have probably had to find a way to get the first down on his own, I guess. That's the main option on that. That's a drawn-up deal."

Who got the best of the collision between Flacco and Redskins LB London Fletcher? Do you say anything to Flacco about sliding and limiting his exposure to big hits like that?
"We'd rather he slide. We'd rather he not put himself in too many of those situations. I mean, what a competitor. He's trying to find a way to get the first down. That's tough sledding against a linebacker like London Fletcher."

Talk about Rex Ryan using defensive backs in the pass rush.
"Well, the biggest thing about that, and what Rex does such a great job of, in terms of scheme is, anybody on the field can be coming from anywhere at anytime through any gap. And that makes the offensive scheme have to account for all those possibilities. So, you can't just diagram it up and say, 'We're going to account for the four down linemen and the Mike in this protection, and the two backs have these two outside linebackers plus.' You don't know, who is the Mike? Who are the two outside linebackers? Who are the four down linemen? Rex makes it really difficult to define that for the pass protection scheme. Basically, they have to rule it up in just a more base manner and block area. That's part of Rex's brilliance, the way he schemes it up."

Coach Jim Zorn described it as a "circus look." What do you think about that?
"Circuses, I'm sure, are very well organized, and very detailed and very precise. That's what Rex's defense is – hard to decipher, no question about it. And that's the beauty of it."

Can the players look forward to the team's position with the three remaining games, or do you prefer them to take it week-to-week?
"If they… If a player wants to look at it and say, 'OK, this is where we stand; these might be the tiebreakers,' it's not something we're going to talk about as a team because it's not really pertinent to what we have to get done. We have to win, just like everybody else in the playoffs. If they want to get to where they want to get, they have to win. That's what you get to this point for. What have we done? We've earned the right to play one more meaningful game in December. That's all we've done. But that's a lot, and that's something to be proud of. And here we go. Let's go play this game. Let's get ready to play it."

What makes S Jim Leonhard a good candidate for blitzes?
"I would say Jim is a candidate just like all our other guys. Jim is a really good athlete. He can run, he can jump. I think he had a batted ball in the game. He's athletic. He gets there quickly. But I think all of our guys do that well."

Leonhard was brought in for special teams and was in a backup role, then he stepped in for Dawan Landry. How special of a player is he?
"He's been a starter for a lot of his career in Buffalo. I think we felt like he could be a starter if that situation came up. But all those guys who are backup players… The reality of it is all those guys, you [the media] want to label them a 'special teams player,' you want to label them a 'backup.' Labels don't matter, they don't mean anything, because they're all football players and they've all got to step in and fulfill a role. We had Daren Stone out there playing on our defense, blitzing and then dropping out into coverage. So whatever his label is, the label I think that we'd like to have for our guys is they're football players and that they play like Ravens. That's enough for us."

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