STEELERS at RAVENS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2009 KICKOFF 8:20 P.M. M&T BANK STADIUM
Head Coach John Harbaugh
(opening statement) "I can tell you right now, about injuries – I don't know a thing. You know, I just haven't had a chance to look into it. But [Senior Vice President of Public/Community Relations] Kevin [Byrne] kind of got that covered. First of all, what a game. We've had a few of these this year. We've had a few where we've walked in here, been in this kind of football game, and they're not perfect, and they don't lay out exactly the way you might plan them, and we come up on the short end. We didn't come up on the short end tonight. Our guys came up on the long end of this one. I was proud of them in those other situations when we didn't win, and I'm proud of them in this situation when we did win. Maybe just a little bit more, I'm proud, to be honest with you. But that's a really good football team. We were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm really not interested in hearing questions about who didn't play for them and who didn't play for us. That quarterback over there, Dennis Dixon, is a player. We liked him coming out of the draft. He can throw. He made some tremendous throws, especially in the first half. They caught us a little bit…we had an all out blitz, and they just had a great call, and they executed it well. It was a perfect call, really, against that defense, and the young guy made a great play. So, I have a ton of respect for that football team, and we're very proud of this victory."
(on the play of DE Paul Kruger) "Well, it's like I just told the team, 'I've always loved that kid.' But we've said it all along – he's a player. There's a reason that we drafted him, and there's a reason he's been working as hard as he has. Things came together tonight. I think we had a conversation this week, didn't we Paul? I don't know, the Lord works in mysterious ways, and he earned it. That was a great football play, and it won us the football game. So, hip hip hooray for Paul Kruger."
(on the decision to go for it on fourth and five in the fourth quarter) "Well, I don't know if I changed my mind as much as operationally, you're in a mode on a [third and 22], and you're kind of in a punt mode. But now, all of a sudden, it becomes fourth and five and your mode changes pretty quick. Operationally your punt team is going out there, and I let that happen. I thought about it for a minute, had a quick word with Cam [Cameron] and decided to call the timeout. We talk about it just a little bit more and go for it. But once we called the time out, we were going for it. That's a great play by Joe [Flacco]. That's a great play by Ray Rice, and those guys are the guys that deserve credit. I guarantee you, it wasn't the decision to go for it that made that play, it was the way those players executed it. The offensive line in protection and obviously Joe and Ray hooking up."
(on the play of RB Ray Rice) "Ray Rice is a player. I thought Le'Ron [McClain] ran really well. I thought Willis [McGahee] ran well. Guys came up with plays all over the place. I mean Mark Clayton made a huge play. Derrick Mason made a huge play. Derrick was in there fighting to make another play. I know he wanted us to throw it to him there, at one point. But Ray Rice had a tremendous game."
(on the decision to kick the 56-yard field goal at the end of regulation play) "He hit it great. A 56-yarder is a tough kick. I think the main thing on a kick like that is you try to tell the kicker to kick it straight – that's when you have the best chance. If it goes far enough, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't. The kick was dead straight, it was just too far. To get out there and hustle like that, to get it off the way he did and to kick it the way he did, I thought was a real tribute to him. Obviously, we got knocked out of field goal range with the penalty, so that was the hardest thing."
(on what yard-line he wanted to be at to kick the field goal in overtime and how it related to the situation in Minnesota) "Yeah, well we tried to get extra yards in Minnesota. We just got it as close as we could with that run play. That's why we ran the ball instead of centering it. I think it was the same philosophy as Minnesota, just trying to get it as close as we could. To do that, you've got to have a lot of confidence in your offense and your offensive players: Joe [Flacco] and the offensive line not allowing a negative-yards play, and the running backs holding on to the football in that situation. So that's a bit of a risk. But, I think our players did a good job, and that sure helped our kicker."
(on the success of rushing against the Steelers' No. 1-ranked rushing defense) "I just thought our offensive line the whole game, if you look at it, the offensive line, there were some plays that those guys made. I know they had a couple of sacks and a couple of negative-yard runs, but all in all, I thought the line was fantastic. They just followed the ball and kept coming back, and obviously, that showed up in that last drive."
*QB Joe Flacco
(on finally winning a close game) "Yeah, it feels good. You know, anytime you're going against Pittsburgh, a Division rival, you know it's going to be a tight game, be a physical game, and we were ready for it the whole time. You got to play 60 minutes, and today you have to play a little bit more than that, and I think our guys did a great job of fighting all day."
(on how it feels to beat the Steelers) "It feels good. Last year's game, if that is what you mean, they're not on your mind when you come out here and play. It's this season, it's new. It was just important for us to get a win this time in the season for us, and I think that's what we did. We did a great job of coming out, getting off to a fast start, establishing that we're here to go, and we kept it going the whole game."
(on RB Ray Rice's fourth down conversion) "Yeah, we just put Ray [Rice] in motion, and he beat the guy across the face. I just had to make sure I just trusted that the underneath guys took the rest of the coverage away and put the ball right in Ray's [Rice] chest. He did a great job of not only getting open but getting the extra yards after the catch."
(on the ankle injury) "I kind of re-rolled it in the beginning of the second half. I just put some tape on it. It felt good the rest of the time. You got to give Pittsburgh credit. They tried to come after us, and we stood in there tough, and our offensive line played a great game today. You got to give a lot of credit to those guys for sticking in there. The way we were able to run the ball at the end of the game was huge."
(on RB Ray Rice's ability) "Ray's [Rice] is a quick guy, shifty, and he has good hands, so anytime you can give him the ball and space, it's going to be a benefit for your offense. That's what we did today."
(on the importance of this win for the playoff run) "Yeah, it's what we needed right now for the playoff run. We needed a win, and a win against these guys is even bigger. We got five games left, and we need every one of those just as much as this one, so we got to go out there and realize that and just continue to play hard."
*OLB/DE Paul Kruger
(on how hard it has been to sit on the sideline this season) "It's been hard all season. I'm a competitive guy. I want to be on the field, but I respect the coach's decision. So, to come away with a win like that and to be a part of that victory is huge for me. I was just excited to be out there and be a part of the team."
(On if he read the quarterbacks eyes on his interception) "It was a designed blitz. They were coming from the other side, I was the dropper. It's hard to pick-up the quarterback. It's easiest from a down position. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. My teammates did a great job getting there. It was a great call, obviously. So it was a number of things."
(On if he showed good hands) "Hey, every once and a while you get lucky."
(On the discussions he had with Coach Harbaugh this week) "Yeah, we've had a few discussions just about what I needed to do to get on the field, practice habits, basic stuff. It just so happens that we had that conversation this week."
(On what [Coach Harbaugh] told him) "Just keep fighting. Keep going in practice. Work hard and when I'm in there in a game, make the best of every opportunity I can."
(On how many snaps he thought he played tonight) "I really don't know. Around 10-20, I'm not sure."
(On if he was getting frustrated not playing) "Yeah, I've been frustrated not being out there. Every player that is not on the field is going to feel that. It doesn't mean that it is a bad decision or anything like that. If you're a player you want to be out there. But we have a lot of good guys on this team, and I'm just glad I could be out there tonight."
(On if he feels a sense of excitement around the team) "Yeah, I've got a pretty good sense. I got mauled by all the players. I'm just happy for everybody. The coaching staff has done a tremendous job getting us ready. Obviously we have legendary players on this team and good things are going to happen when you have this combination."
(On what he thought when he made the interception) "I saw the quarterback coming, so I wanted to get him going one way and comeback the other. Unfortunately, one of their big old lineman made his way over to me."
(On if he thinks this is going to be the start of more plays to come) "I hope so. I want to be out there. I wanted to work hard and do well in games to give Baltimore city and do the best we can. So I hope it's a starting point."
*LB Ray Lewis
(on the rivalry with Pittsburgh) "It doesn't get any more classic than the three we had last year. This rivalry just picks up and picks up, no matter who's in the game. You try to make a big deal that Ben [Roethlisberger] is not playing, and then you bring in a young kid like [Dennis] Dixon who can move around and use his legs, but the rivalry still remains. Last year, we came up on the short end of these. For us to come up on the better end of it, today, is huge for us."
(on finally winning a close game this year) "We came in with a mentality. It's a six-game season, we're going to play them one at a time. What better team to start out with than the Pittsburgh Steelers – they're the Super Bowl champs. We knew it was going to come down to the wire – play for 60 minutes. Last year, we lost games in the last 10 seconds. This time, we came out and made some good plays. We kept our composure as a team, and we did great, no matter what the circumstances were."
(On LB Paul Kruger's interception) "It just doesn't get any better than that. You have a young man who is just patiently waiting his turn. Can you replace a Terrell Suggs? No, unless you're replacing him with Paul Kruger. For him to come in the game at that crucial situation, and to make a play that big, it just shows what it means about next man up around here. That's really what you appreciate. I've been praising Kruger for a long time. It was just his time. And when it's you're time, sometimes you find yourself in the right place at the right time. He did a heck of a job at doing that tonight."
(on preparing for QB Dennis Dixon) "You can call it tough, but what you really need to call it is you don't know what to expect. We hadn't seen him much. We tried to rep a couple of reps off of the preseason, but the one thing you can't account for is how well he runs. And he proved it in the game. I told him I watched him in college, and I watched the things that he did. I don't think you try to go all crazy, you just try to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. We knew they were going to try and run the ball and minimize the game so he didn't have to try and do too much. Overall, I think he played a pretty good game."
(on his foot injury) "I'm good, I'm good, every week is a new week. You go through the therapies. I'm kind of old school. Once you step in day one, you're never 100% again. You just ride it out and keep getting treatment. And God takes care of the rest."
(on beating the Steelers) "I think it's huge, not just for the young guys, but for the whole organization. This is the same team that beat us three times last year in close games like this. For us to come in and get a win this time you have to take your hat off to this team. Every conversation on the sideline was about 'let's finish.' And I think we did a great job finishing tonight."
(on the decision to go for it on fourth and five) "Let's ride. We've done it before. We're punting the ball trying to get a stop. No, let's go. We have one of the most electric young weapons on offense in the game in Ray Rice. I've just never seen anybody that can do things like that with the football. When you've got that type of weapon, use it. Cam Cameron drew up a great play to get him isolated on a linebacker. He makes a big play. We go into overtime and win the game"
RB Willis McGahee
(on how he and the team are feeling after an emotional win) "I'm feeling pretty good, the team is doing good too. Everything is great right now, you know, we got the win. So we're just rolling on a quick celebration trip for right now."
(on how the team can feed off of this game going into Monday night against Green Bay) "Well, we know what we need to do. We need to go out there and play smart. We can't make dumb penalties, and you know, just play how we played tonight and make sure we finish."
(on whether they game planned all week to have a more even split in carries between him and Ray Rice) "It was just working out that way throughout the course of the game tonight. But Ray did a great job tonight, and he's the man."
(on whether it felt good to be back in the end zone) "It feels great, man. It's been a long time. That's the funny thing about it. It's been a long, long time."
*WR Mark Clayton
(on how it feels to win a close game after everything that has happened in recent weeks) "Our goal right now is just to win the game. No matter what it looks like, or what goes on in between, the first quarter, the fourth quarter, when the clock says zero, that we're on top. And you know what to expect when we play Pittsburgh."
(on his thoughts when coach Harbaugh decided to go for it on fourth down) "No doubt about it. It just speaks to the trust they have in our offense. And for us to step up and make that play was huge. Plain and simple, we do whatever we can to win the game, and making that play was big for us."
(on whether it felt like everyone was contributing on offense) "Yeah. That's what our offense is about. Coming into the year, we knew we had a good group at the skill positions across the board that could step up and make plays, especially in the clutch. And we needed it tonight, and we got it done."
*RB Ray Rice
(on the coaching staff allowing the offense to go for it on fourth down) "You know what, that was a way to get my confidence back. I like to take ownership for what I do on this team, and on the sack fumble, that was my fault. That was my fault, and they scored on that drive, so I was down a little bit on the sideline. And for Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh to call my number again, it was a play designed for me to win. That play was me on James Farrior; it was either you've got me, or you don't. For them to call my number in that situation, it shows the confidence they have in me as a player. And I couldn't be more proud of myself, and proud of Joe [Flacco] and our offensive line for just being there for me during that time."
(on what it means to come out on the winning end of a close game) "We consider this a six-game season, and this is just a step on the way. But obviously, you know we haven't had the ball roll in our court lately. And this is a confidence booster, not only against a great team with a great legacy, but a divisional opponent. So, it sets us up for a five game season right now, and we've got to take it one game at a time."
(on whether it is a little bittersweet to get his first win against the Steelers in his career) "Oh yeah, it's bittersweet. I had to watch a lot last year during this rivalry; intense hitting, intense playing. And this is how you want to start. Obviously, we've been in tough, tough games. Every one of our games could have been down to the wire like this, and the ball hasn't been rolling in our court. So, obviously you get a win like this, not only against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it's a confidence booster. Our defense is playing great, and obviously you can see that I lost my voice at the game today. So, there are a lot of emotions involved with the Steelers [and] Ravens rivalry. I'd be a fool to say there isn't a lot of emotion. You've got to play this game with emotion."
*DT Haloti Ngata *
(on how he is feeling after an emotional win like this) "It feels great. Especially losing three straight to them last year, it really feels great to be on the other side and knowing that all of our hard work paid off this week. It feels great."
(on the importance of next week's game at Green Bay where both teams stand right now) "It's great, you know, we need to use this momentum going into next week, and hopefully, we'll come away with a win out there."
(on the defense's mindset when they found out QB Dennis Dixon would start today) "You know, we knew that he was a runner, and we just needed to adjust some things in order to try to get to him. He did a great job today, you know a really great job. I think it was especially because he's an [Oregon] Duck."
(on LB Paul Kruger coming up with a big interception in overtime) "It was great, man. I mean, it's just so awesome that he was able to come up with that play. And we knew he could do that. He did it all throughout college, and it was just great for this team that he could make that play."
*WR Derrick Mason
(on the win) "It feels good, but we can't sit on this win, because we've got a lot more football to go. The good thing about this team is we don't get too high and we don't get too low. We just keep on moving. This is a great win, but we understand that we have another tough opponent on Monday night. We have to get right back into it and prepare to play another good game on Monday night."
(on being a balanced offense) "We [and the running game] work hand in hand. When we're running the ball effectively then we're ready to take some shots on the outside. Tonight we made the best of them. [Mark] Clayton came up with a huge catch. He came up big. They wanted to play him one on one and Joe [Flacco] and Mark took advantage of the opportunity. With the way that Le'Ron [McClain], Willis [McGahee] and Ray [Rice] were running the ball, that gave us opportunities outside to make plays."
(on the heated discussion on the sideline after the Ravens' game-tying field goal) "We were in a situation where they were playing man-to-man. We were at the goal line, and I just wanted an opportunity to win the game. Todd [Heap] feels the same way on the other side. [Mark] Clayton felt the same way and Kelley [Washington] did too. As a competitor, you just want to influence the game some how. That's all it was about. After we got back to the sideline and then got back out there, it was over and done with."
*LB Jarret Johnson
(on the defensive effort) "We made some mistakes early in the running game, but I think we played a little bit better. We didn't make any big defensive scheme adjustments. I think we just started understanding the technique issues we were having. We made some mistakes, got them corrected, and played much better."
(on Paul Kruger's interception) "It's an unbelievable play for a rookie. He's kind of been up and down this year as far as active and inactive. It's amazing for him to play as well as he did today and then to finish it off with a big play. I know he's on cloud nine. It doesn't get any better than that for a rookie.
SS Dawan Landry
(on how the Ravens' defense adjusted to QB Dennis Dixon starting): "He came out, he ran their offense just like they would run it, so nothing really changed, he's the same kind of mobile guy. We just came out and just executed as if Ben would have been in the game."
(on how the defense made a number of key stops ): "We just played our game. Everybody took their job seriously each and every play and we got stops when we needed to get stops, the offense came up big and we got out with the win."
(on Paul Kruger's interception in OT): "That was huge. He came up big. I'm just real happy for him right now."
*CB Domonique Foxworth
(on the defense): "The last several weeks, the defense, I think, has been playing really well. I think we had a kind of an up-and-down rocky start. But it's the Ravens defense that everybody knows and loves. The last several weeks, we shut out the Browns, we played pretty good against Cincinnati after that first quarter, and we played, I thought, really well against Peyton [Manning] last week, and then this week, we kind of pulled it out in the end. So I think it's very encouraging to see us playing the way the Ravens' defense is supposed to."
(on the defense's improved play):"We have some new faces, I mean at the top with [Greg Mattison]. I'm new here, getting used to the system. It's a lot of adjustment. That's the league, it's going to happen, it's going to be a lot of turnover and there's going to be a lot of injuries. It'll be nice when we get Sizzle back, that will help us out, but it's very encouraging to see what we've been doing the last few weeks."
(on how the Steelers' offense did): "They ran the ball pretty well, which is surprising. But what it came down to is they're always going to have to win the game in the air. That's what the league has come down to. It's not high school ball, where you can…hand it to a good back and he's going to make it happen, especially with these guys around here. They made some plays with that, and then it came down to asking that guy to win the game, and he's not going to do that against this defense."
*K Billy Cundiff
(on his good start with the Ravens): "I came here to do two things, that was to make field goals and bring some stability. I've done that for two weeks, so now I've got to continue to do that because we've got a long road ahead, obviously. We've got games we've got to win in order to make the playoffs."
(on getting the game-winning kick on national TV): "It's a lot of fun. You know if Al Michaels is doing your game, you know it means a lot. I've always had a lot of fun when he's been [here]. When he was on Monday Night Football, I had some big games and now Sunday Night Football. It's something you look forward to. I know when I was away from football, it was always one of those things you watch on TV, and you want to be there."
(on appreciating getting a game-winning kick): "You definitely savor it. You have to count your blessings. Obviously, I have a good snapper and a good holder, and I've got a good situation."