STEELERS vs. RAVENS AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009 KICKOFF IS AT 6:30 P.M. HEINZ FIELD
POST-GAME QUOTES Ravens Quotes
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On behalf of the Ravens we want to congratulate the Steelers on the victory. Obviously, a very deserving champion of the American Football Conference and they will be a worthy representative of the AFC in the Super Bowl. We congratulate them and I also want to say how proud I am of our football team. I thought our guys throughout the course of the season and throughout the course of this game demonstrated who they are as men, what they're all about. Couldn't be more proud of them. Couldn't be more proud to stand with them in victory and today in defeat.
Re: Joe Flacco's performance
I'm not going to sit here and say Joe played a certain way. Joe went out there and competed and battled and fought and tried to find a way to win the football game, so I certainly have no complaints about that.
Re: Suggs' shoulder
I don't know how he graded out or anything like that. I thought he competed and fought through it really well and that's what he's about. That's what our guys have been about throughout the course of the year. We had a lot of guys who played through stuff. Terrell Suggs is a courageous guy. Played well. Obviously had the big sack there in the fourth quarter and had a huge play there so we're proud of Terrell Suggs.
On structure of game
You try to find any way you can against a great defense to create points. We wanted to create as many points as we could. We obviously didn't create enough but we felt like we had to attack them. Throwing the ball downfield a little bit and over the top of the linebackers at times and that's what we tried to do.
On McGahee's injury
It was a heck of a hit for one thing. Willis made a nice play leading up to that. Ran a great route and had a nice catch. Your first thought is obviously concern for Willis and for any player. Once we got out there and hearing the doctors talk and seeing him move around you felt like it was going to be OK. Both sides obviously had concerns but we were happy it was not immediately serious at that point.
Are you already looking forward to next year
That's a great point, it really is. You do. I don't know how to explain it but that's what our thoughts go to right now. We talked about it in the locker room. Our thoughts go to the next thing right away. The next thing is free agency and the draft and continuing to build a football team. A championship football team. Obviously we can see where we have to build. What we have to do to get better. So much of it is just taking every opportunity to make the players we have better and get better as coaches and improve everything we can about what we're doing and try to take the next step.
Re: happiness w/nucleus of team
Of course. We have a good football team. We have a very good football team. We'll have a number of those guys back and we'll try to keep as many of them as we possibly can. That will be our goal. We'll see what we can get done.
Have you discussed expectations with Asst. HC Rex Ryan
Yes, I have. Rex Ryan is going to be a great head coach in the National Football League. If somebody is wise enough to make that decision here shortly, they will have a great head football coach. I just support him completely in that. He's a great friend. He's a great coach. I can't thank him enough for what he's done. Along with all the coaches. Cam (Cameron), Jerry (Rosburg), every single coach. Can you name them all here right now? But Rex stands on top of that statement and should have an opportunity to be a head coach here very soon, and he is very deserving of it.
Re: Message to guys in LR
I'm not sure I remember the whole thing right now. It was basically how proud I was and we are to stand with them and next to them in both victory and defeat. That was the essence of it. And the fact that this is our beginning. This is not an ending by any stretch for the players in that room. We're excited like Joe was talking about to go forward and take the next step. That's what we always do. We look forward so we can't wait to take the next step.
QB Joe Flacco
I played every game to this point. No matter what you've achieved, no matter how hard you play, you're going to be disappointed to lose this game. This was the last game before the Super Bowl, and that's what we've been trying to get to all year, but you have to give it up for the Steelers, they played tough all year. We've lost to them three times and I have to give them credit.
*Re: Troy Polamalu's interception and touchdown.
We had our play set on that side and I think that Troy was able to read my eyes. Both of our receivers were on that side of the field and Polamalu] does a great job of doing that. You have influence him as much as you can away from where you want to throw the ball. I think he was able to beat me there, he read me a little bit.
What was going through your mind when you saw Willis McGahee on the ground?
It's disappointing. There was still four minutes left in the game, and anything can happen in an NFL football game and there are crazier things that have happened before. You just have to get over to the sidelines and re-gather yourself and then get back out there to finish out the game. And that's what we did.
*Re: Rookie wall and being mentally exhauseted.
I'm not blaming it on a rookie wall, I don't believe in that stuff. I have said that all year. The Steelers are a good defense and for the most part, I think we stayed in there and did what we had to do the whole game. We waited to get our shots, and I thought we had them around the end of the game. I threw two interceptions at the end of the game. You don't want to do it. Bottom line is that we were still being aggressive and trying to put points on the board. It's a tough thing to go out like that. The Super Bowl is something that we wanted to happen, but the Steelers are playing the way they have all year. They're a good team to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Struggles down 13-0
They did a good job. Early on we were trying to take some shots and see if we can get them over the top, but they did a good job of sitting back and not really giving us anywhere to go with the ball. Just some throwaways and things like that. You have to credit those guys for doing that. They were aggressive. They can play aggressive football and at he same time they can stay back and not let you beat them over the top. We were planning on getting some of those shots today and it didn't really work out for us.
Sense of pride for getting to AFC Championship Game?
I'm proud of my guys. Everybody is proud of each other, I'm sure. At this moment right now, I don't know how much we're thinking about that. We're just disappointed and we're not going to the Super Bowl. But I can tell you that everyone in that locker room is proud of each other. That's just how we feel about it and how we feel about each other. We'll move on, but we're a little disappointed at this point.
*Did you think this resembled the Tennessee game?
Yeah, it was a hard-fought game. That's what all these games are. They come down to the last few minutes no matter how the game seems. We had a nice punt return by Jim to put us in position for the first score and we put a little bit of a drive together for the second score off of some good field position. You have to credit our guys the way they kept fighting out there. We had a chance to win the game in the end and that's all you can ask for. We put a drive together and kicked a field goal or scored a touchdown on the board we could have won the game. Like I said, you're in the AFC Championship Game, that's all you can ask for. We just didn't get it done today
Would you want to take a few more shots vertically?
Early on in the game, we took our shots. We tried to take our shots. They did a good job of getting back there and taking it away from us and not really leaving us a check-down either. We went out there and left it all on the line. We attacked them too and they did a good job of playing it.
*What did you learn this year?
I don't know. There's been so many things. I'm a rookie quarterback and I had the opportunity to play 19 games this year. I'm pretty fortunate for that and it's tough. The NFL is tough. You have to go out there and battle each week. Our guys are great at doing that. Going out to battle each week. Just leaving it all out there. We played a bunch of tough games and you have to give our guys credit for doing that. I've learned a lot from the veterans in our locker room about heart and what kind of character it takes to get out there and step foot on the football field every day.
LB Terrell Suggs
The shoulder? It felt like s. I'll bet it hurts a little more because we lost. If I'd been out there on that stage right now, it probably wouldn't hurt so much but …
*Re: McGahee's injury
It's football. Every game is physical. We're praying he's alright. We're hoping he's alright. He was talking and moving when they carried him off so that's always a good sign, but he is our brother. We're praying for him. Hopefully he can still take the ride home with us.
*Re: 3 close games w/Steelers
He's [Roethlisberger] a good quarterback. It's his ability to make plays is why he is who he is so you take your hat off to him. They're the AFC Champions and he's a good quarterback, so he did a good job.
How limited did you feel/Re: Shoulder?
I don't know. I'll follow through tomorrow. But I didn't feel limited at all. I just wanted to play. I wanted to be there for my team. Be there for my teammates and my brothers so …
Re: shutting down Willie Parker
I think it did matter. If they don't make a play in the second half, we win the game. Their defense made a play and the scored on it or we win. They couldn't run the ball so we made them one dimensional. Beside the one big long one to Santonio (Holmes), I think we did a pretty good job against them. We tip our hat to them. They played consistent all year. Now they get the reward for it.
*Has it set in that the season is over?
Not yet. It will probably the middle of the week next week. But it ain't set in yet. Ain't nobody throwing no goodbyes. I think we're all a little shocked and disappointed from the outcome of the game. We came here to win it but we didn't.
How much do you want to stay and continue with this team?
I think we started something really good here. Coach came in and we get to the AFC Championship. I think that's a good start. Hopefully they want to keep me around for a couple more years.
Re: Injuries in secondary *
It's next man up. We have to take a lot of pressure off. We didn't want [Roethlisberger] escaping too much 'cause that's where he tends to make most of his plays. We tried not to go too crazy with the rushes early but once he's still making some plays, which is why you gotta turn it loose. This is for everything. Once we started doing that we started getting to him a little more. But they made enough plays to win.
*OT Adam Terry
*On team's accomplishments this season
"It's tough. We went out there and it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but like Coach Harbaugh said, it's just a starting point."
On Coach Harbaugh's post-game remarks
"(He said) 'it's just a starting point.' We learn from it. Go forward and just get ready for the off-season."
On the Steelers' defense
"They played well. They're a good team, good front seven, like we've been saying this whole time. It's just a tough one."
On the affect of the loss on the veterans
"It's tough. Everything kind of changed at the end, and we'll go forward."
LB Bart Scott
On coming close to a Super Bowl appearance
Close only counts in horseshoes.
Was this game more physically intense than others?
No. They're always physical, they're always the same, no matter what's at stake.
RB Ray Rice
On effect of the loss on the team
There are lots of different personalities, but when we get in the locker room together, we were one team. We'll do like we do after every game – get better from it. This is going to be the beginning of our offseason, remembering this game and watching for things that we can do better.
On the challenge of the Pittsburgh defense
They're a tough defense. They're similar to our defense. We play a team that's similar to our defense, of course scoring is going to be hard. Hats off to Joe Flacco. We've been through everything together as rookies. I've faced a lot of adversity – being hurt and having to come back for this game, and just trying to give a spark to this offense. But as far as the team goes, we've been through everything together. We fell a little short, but this is only the beginning – especially for me and Joe. We're rookies. A lot of guys don't even make it to the AFC Championship game in their careers. We've been here as rookies. Going into this offseason, we can say we've been there, we've tasted it. We know what it takes to come back in this locker room. We know what it takes to win games in the NFL now. It's not hard to say that we will be leaders next year on this team.
On injury to Willis McGahee
It was a freak hit. I've learned a lot from Willis this year. I just hope the best for him. He's been like a brother to me. The whole stadium – I'm sure everybody felt it. It was a hard hit, a head-on collision. It was good to see him moving, it was good to see him talking. I think he's going to be fine. My prayers are with him.
DT Trevor Price
On team's performance
I'm proud of this team, proud of these coaches. I'm grateful to have been a part of this, win lose or draw. I'm not going to hang my head down, or cry and mope about it, because who expected us to get this far? You can take some solace in that, that we are a good football team. We were just behind when the time ran out.
On turnover of players from year to year
That's the business of the NFL. If you know that, then you're mentally prepared for it. If you don't know that, then it becomes a problem. My first few years, I didn't understand that. I wanted the same guys to be there every year. Every year, you get five or 10 new ones. If you're prepared for that, it's not that big of a thing.
These are your brothers and your cousins, no matter who they are. When you spend as much time as a professional football team spends together, you get to know each other as more than just teammates. You become friends and family. Every NFL team will tell you that.
DT Trevor Pryce
Describe what it was like to play for 18 weeks in a row and the emotion of the season being over
"You can probably figure it out yourself. Anybody at home, you can figure out what this feels like. It's the NFL and you're going to lose some and you're going to win some. We won a lot more than we lost and that's an accomplishment in this business.
How good are the Steelers
"They are a damn good football team. You can call it whatever you want. Their defense is like watching us. They come at you from angles, the defensive linemen are doing this and the linebackers are doing that. We played hard and well, but hats off to them. They are a good bunch."
*WR Derrick Mason
Are the Steelers a worthy representative for the AFC in the Super Bowl?
"We knew this was going to be a hard fought game. They bring out the best in us and we bring out the best in them. They're right where they need to be, in the Super Bowl. They earned it. You tip your hats to them for what they've been able to do. Coach Tomlin and what he's been able to do with that team. You take your hats off to them and wish them all the best in the Super Bowl."
Derrick Mason *
*What would you tell Joe Flacco after his rookie year? *
"Don't be satisfied. Understand that these opportunities don't come around too many times. You have to take full advantage of them. When you don't make it, you have to work even harder next season to get back to the same point to get over that mountain the next time. Joe has to keep his head up because the guy is going to get better; he's only going to get better. As long as we stick together as a team, we're going to add some pieces here and there. As long as we stick together as a team, Joe's going to lead this team to many more AFC Championship games."
*What were the Steelers defense doing well?
"They played good defense. Today was there day. They won the turnover battle. They made more plays than we did."
S Ed Reed
How does it feel that the season is done? *
"It doesn't feel good, but we played a good game against a great team that came out on top. Hats off to them."
*Are the Steelers a worthy Super Bowl representative?
"Those two (games) before this one didn't matter. Coming up to this one, this is postseason and it's a different ball game. They played their game plan. They executed their game plan that they wanted to execute. We executed ours, but we came up short."
* Was Ben Roethlisberger getting out of the pocket a factor?
"Yes, the one scramble for a touchdown was the one difference maker. You have to contain a quarterback like Roethlisberger. He's a great quarterback. We knew it and expected it and they made plays when they had to."
*Is it extra emotional knowing this could be your last game coaching this defense? *
"It always is."
*What are your plans over the next few days? *
"I don't know. We'll see what happens."
*Can you put it into words what you'll talk about with your plays? *
"I don't want to think about it to be honest with you."
*What is your next meeting set with Jets Owner Woody Johnson? *
"I sure haven't. I'm not sure when that'll be. Hopefully I'll get that opportunity, but as of now, I'm not sure what the plan is now."
*Talk about Ben Roethlisberger scrambling. *
"That's what he does. I've got to give him credit. We know that's why he's so dangerous. He's a big guy and he's hard to get down. The kid makes those plays. I thought we had good coverages and we just misjudged the ball and Holmes is one of the fastest guys in the league and once he caught it, he made a great run afterwards."