STEELERS VS. RAVENSJANUARY 15, 2011HEINZ FIELDRAVENS CONFERENCE CALLS
HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGHWhat did you think about the Steelers change between game one and game two?
I don't think they changed that much as far as what they do. They pretty much run the same offence. Ben Roethlisberger has a different style than Charlie Batch. I thought when we played Charlie he did a good job of moving around the pocket and making throws. Ben has the big arm, he's very strong and I think I that the rest of it revolves around how he plays. Everything else was pretty much the same.
Have you seen maturation with Ben on the field as well as off?
Yes, maybe. I'm not sure about the maturation part, I would assume. I think he is definitely progressing as a quarterback, and he is already one of the elite quarterbacks. He has always been a very accurate passer. He has a very strong arm and I think he has the kinds of receivers that understand how to protect the football, how to keep defenders away from the ball. He puts the ball on the proper side and makes smart decisions. That's something that I think is a real plus for them as a team.
Re: Your comment on Ben's nose:
Did you see the context of it?
No. I went back and read it, you were praising Ben, but I want you to put it into perspective for us.
Did you hear me say it?
Go back and listen to it, you'll see it was in humor. It was in response to a humorous question and I was laughing. It was tongue in cheek, it was fun. I took the opportunity to praise him for how tough he is. I go back a long way with him. I've known him since he was a sophomore in college. I have tremendous respect for him. He knows we try to be physical, Pittsburgh plays physical and that's the way we want to play. But it was tongue in cheek.
Terrell Suggs said it's going to be Armageddon this week. Is it always that case when these teams play?
The biblical description of Armageddon is the end of the world. I'm hopeful that it doesn't take place on Saturday. I think we're all looking forward to the sun coming up on Sunday morning and I'm pretty sure it will. I think he's just saying that it's obviously going to be a tight football game and you are right. It seems like it always is. There's always so much at stake and I think that the ramifications of this last game were huge for us. Having to come to Pittsburgh for this game, it's just going to be huge for us.
What are the qualities that Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu share?
First off, one thing you notice is that they both have great hands. They both can make spectacular plays on the football that for a defensive back is huge. A lot of times defensive backs are defensive backs because they don't have great hands. They have great body control and obviously the instincts, awareness and understanding of the game. They always seem to show up in the right place. You'll see Troy down the box more than you'll see Ed high and deep more. That's probably the only difference. They both are phenominal players.
Why do you think these two teams have dominated this division for more than a decade?
You have to look at what's been in play all those years, and great organizations. The Rooney's are obviously first class in every way. Every time I've had a chance to interact with them I've been nothing but absolutely impressed completely. Then you look at Art Modell and Steve Bisciotti, two men I see at work every day are in the same mold. It has to start with the ownership in the organization. * *
What about Ozzie Newsome?
Ozzie Newsome has been in place here since the franchise came from Cleveland. He's our rock. He does a great job obviously with the personnel stuff but also relationship wise, support, friendship and mentorship. For everyone here we build a lot around Ozzie's philosophy.
What might you say to those people who think the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl?
I would just laugh. That's why they play the game, and I'm pretty sure the Steelers feel the same way. The Patriots have to win this week then we'll see what happens.
Re: Topic on helmet-to-helmet hits and fines:
As I think back to the last game, I think it was a well officiated game. I don't remember any helmet-to-helmet situations off the top of my head. There might have been one or two that have been missed but on the top of my head I really don't remember that. It seems like it's been a little better through the course of the season, but it seems like it's been cleaned up I guess.
Re: Having Todd Heap and what does that means for your offense?
Obviously, we lost him for the first play of that game and then we didn't have him for the next few games. It was rough for us. Todd is a premier tight end, one of our best playmakers so it should be very helpful for us.
With this type of rivalry, are there surprises any team can spring on another?
Oh yeah! You put creative minds like these guys together, Dick LeBeau, Bruce Arians and Mike Tomlin and I'm sure there will be some things that will be surprising.
Re: Flacco's development:
That's really important for us. You guys talk about Ben and what he's meant to the Steelers. W'ree hoping to get Joe to that kind of a perch where he can take over games just by his talent and personality. He's played really well all year, minus that play where Troy got us with that play.
What does he have to do to break into that rank of elite quarterbacks?
The truth is that probably you'd have to win a championship. That's probably the key. Joe talks about that sometimes and he's playing to that level but you have to win it all I think.
Take us through the last time he was here on the four plays, 40 yards.
You have to get open and Joe has to find them. He has a great arm and he got protections. Protection is a great thing, especially with the Steelers, you have so much pressure. If you can get protection, it gives you the chance to find the guys open so that probably was the biggest thing in the drive.
Re: Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed being NFL defensive player of the year candidates:
Oh gosh yea, I would think both of them are, absolutely.
Re: Your thoughts on your brother coaching and moving up in the NFL:
We got them at our place, where does Pittsburgh play them next year?
Re: Thoughts on him moving up:
I'm really proud of him and I'm really excited. I think he's going to be really good. He's in the process of putting together a staff right now. I think that the coaching staff is really important. I think he has a chance out there. He has a good young team and just needs to fill in the pieces. He's really competitive, rough and fun to play for. They'll be a hard nose aggressive team. They'll build a great defense, run the ball, and be creative. I think the players will have a lot of fun playing for him.
What makes this rivalry so special?
The thing that sticks out to me is the physicality of the game, the intensity and focus. Every play, you feel like the game's on the line, then that plays gone and it's on to the next one. Also, the two cities are similar. I think the fans have amazing passion on both sides. We love playing there. When that "Renegade" song comes on and they crank up the music, I start getting a little dance going. The crowd goes crazy and that energizes our guys. I just think it's a fun rivalry and another thing is that both teams are so good and have been for 10 years, that's what makes it a great rivalry.
When your dad was a coach at Pitt, how old were you?
I was a Graduate Assistant on that staff in 1987. I was 24 years old. We had a great staff, John Fox the defensive coordinator, Bill Myers on there. It was just a great bunch of guys. We won a lot of games too. We beat Notre Dame and Penn State. Good history.
That was with Ironhead correct?
Yup, Ironhead Hayward that was our guy. The entire defense got drafted and played in the NFL and the offensive line.
Jerry Olsavsky was on the team too?
Yes, Jerry was on that team, great team.
LINEBACKER TERRELL SUGGS
Re: Playing the Steelers again on the road:
Man, tell me about it. But we live in a football world with people on it, football Gods. They are the titans of our time.
Are you going to break Ben's nose again?
No. We don't want anybody getting hurt. We just want everybody to have an injury-free game. I am not going to say I wish him success or anything or to have a good game or nothing like that. But we don't want to see anyone get hurt.
Re: Flozell Adams:
I am not sure he's played; I think he started every game, but at 35 years old he's a premiere left tackle. Big Flo is a good left tackle even when he was playing at Dallas.
Re: Not messing with Flozell:
That is pretty much his reputation. I guess that's what it is.
Re: Calling the next game "Armageddon:"
Yeah, [I said that] but it's about what is on the line. They call it Armageddon as the fight between good and evil. I am a big Star Wars fan and the emperor said, "Evil is only a point of view." I guess it is from whose point of view it's coming from.
Who is good and who is evil?
I don't know. I guess from your point of view that I am definitely evil. This is a great game. I love this game and I am sure they do too.
Why are the stakes so much higher this time?
I don't know. The teams are similar and equal this year, but we split in the regular season. We both finished 12-4. That's why I think the stakes are so much higher, the best two teams in the NFL. You can argue Atlanta and New England, but everything that takes to win in this game, to win in January that's why this game is so big. Anyone could argue the winner this game will most likely go on to win the Super Bowl. You can put that out there because that's what these two teams are.
Re: The team that wins being a sacrificial lamb to New England next weekend:
[Laughs] That would be the opportunity to play in New England. That would be a dream come true.
Re: Defense being strong but offense sometimes fails your team in the playoffs:
Maybe they should think that until we show them otherwise. You can only go by the stats and if that's what the stats say then the experts will pretty much go from that. But I know what we are capable of doing.
Has Joe Flacco become a leader?
Yes he has; yes he has. He shows passion. He's even got into a few tussling matches with me. The game defines how mature you are.
Re: The two teams' success over the years:
It definitely starts with personnel, the two general managers do a great job of identifying the talent and getting the kind of team they want. You look at this defense and the defensive coordinator. I never even met the guy [Coach LeBeau], but I spoke to him. I must say that I am amazed. I am impressed. That Dick LeBeau is something. You can also tell just by how the guys that they rally around him. He got to the Hall of Fame last year. Our general manager, Ozzie Newsome, the way the two teams are built is why we have dominated this whole decade.
Re: Troy Polamalu's sack:
It is what it is. It killed us when it happened, but you move on. I think we won four-of-five games since then. If you don't learn from your mistakes it happens again. I think we got to address it so that doesn't happen again.
Do you feel you let that game get away last time you played?
It's about the wins and losses. One can argue that Pittsburgh let one get away there early in Week 4. But it's wins and losses. We won the first one; they won the second one. This is the third one. I think this is how it should have turned out.
Who is going to win the third game?
I hope us. I am in my praying closet every day. I am sure they are preparing to win as well. That's what it is. And I think both teams are willing to die than to let the other team win.
Re: Ed Reed's current situation and his play:
He's a man of character. None of us have lost a relative that can understand what he's going through. But all we got to do is try to be there for him, and keep his spirits. And as far as he has been playing, he is hands down my defensive MVP. What did he play in, 10 games? And he led the NFL in interceptions? That's unheard of. That's bananas. He's a great guy. He's a great teammate.
Do you give the Jets a shot this weekend?
Of course I do, Rex Ryan. Even though I would love for us to win and I would love for us to have the opportunity to go to Foxboro and beat the NFL's poster boy [Tom Brady], but I would definitely enjoy a showdown with my mentor Rex Ryan in the AFC Championship.
Is there any current Steelers' receiver that concerns you as much as Santonio Holmes did?
You all know that. That's why you asked. That boy [Mike Wallace], I think he's faster than Santonio. That dude hit a gear, I don't know what game it was, and he hit a gear that I didn't even know existed in a human being on the little pop pass that Ben threw to him. He just took off running. It was against Carolina. I was like wow, that's just amazing. And they keep bringing in these great receivers. He's definitely it. This stage of the game, it's January playoffs. This is me personally, I think our two biggest foes would be Ben and Hines Ward for the simple fact that they've been here. They know how to get it done in January.
Re: Maurkice Pouncey:
I think he's a good kid. I am not going to compliment him because we are playing them this week, but he is showing some tremendous potential. He's a good draft pick.
Re: Rashard Mendenhall:
He is one of the premiere backs in the league. Some backs it's just another day at the office, just like Jamaal Charles. We knew he was fast, but once we knew what they were trying to do we knew we would be all right. But Mendenhall is one of those special backs. He's a premiere back. He's raised some eyebrows over the level of concern here.