RAVENS QUOTES - December 10
BALTIMORE RAVENS TRANSCRIPTS: STEELERS WEDNESDAY
*Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: *"OK, good to see everybody here. We're here ready to go to work."
*On if the defense is fired up by being ranked near the top in many categories where Pittsburgh is ranked No. 1: *"No. That's not the point. The ones, twos, rankings – they mean nothing. It's playing on Sunday. It's really the same message we've had, two really good defenses, obviously. That's probably the point."
*On whether he is stressing that the Steelers are where the Ravens want to be at first place in the division, particularly nearing the end of the season and the big picture: *"Right, this is the most important game of the season because it's the next one. Obviously, we're chasing them in the division because they're up a game on us. There are two games after this one that are going to be really important if we make them important by the way we play."
*On if because of the bad blood with the Steelers he tells his guys not to retaliate:"We don't have to say that. Our guys understand, just like their guys understand, that there's way more at stake than pettiness like that. It's going to be a very physical football game, and that's what we're getting ready to play."
On how to game-plan for a guy like Steelers LB James Harrison: *"Well, you've got to account for him. They've got a lot of great players on defense, and you've got to know where they're all at. Obviously, the edges of their pass rush have been very productive for them. It's a big part of their defense, and you've got to account for that."
*On what specifically makes Harrison as tough or tougher than most of the pass rushers in the league: *"He's got a knack. He's got a combination of explosiveness, leverage, speed. He's fundamentally a very good player. But the way he's built, he just leverages pass blockers really well, and I think he applies technique and power in a way that just makes him tough to block."
*On what allowed the Steelers to reach QB Joe Flacco five times in the first meeting: *"Didn't we talk about that last time after the game? I think we talked about the last game after the last game. The last game was like 14 weeks ago, so it doesn't matter. We're different."
*On RB Jalen Parmele and the need to add another running back: *"Well, we added Jalen Parmele. Lamar Divens had a situation with his shoulder, injury-wise, so that gave us a roster opportunity. We felt like he was the best player out there on practice squads that we could bring in. We've been studying him all year. He plays special teams. He's a quality running back, we think, a young and upcoming player. There's a chance he could help us here the last three weeks with our injury situation at running back, so we're pleased to have him."
*On how RB Ray Rice is feeling and if he is still groggy from pain medication: *"Groggy? I don't know about that. I know he's got a contusion, and it's a bad one. He's got a big bruise on his upper shin. It's a painful deal."
*On the importance of making every possession count against the Steelers: *"Well, it's a great point about possessions, and every possession counts even if you don't score. First of all, you can't turn the ball over. Secondly, you've got to try to generate field position with every possession. So if we can knock it down there [and get] a few first downs and punt it back into their end, that's a plus. I think they'll be thinking exactly the same way, so three-and-outs are going to be huge for the defenses. And then scoring points. Whenever you get a chance to score points, you've got to take advantage of that because both teams have a chance to do things offensively at the end, and they've both proven that."
*On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger absorbing hits: *"Ben Roethlisberger is a really good quarterback, and he's proven that. Like we said, he went to a great college, so he's obviously a very smart guy, and we're looking forward to playing him on Sunday."
*On what it means to be playing this year in a game for the division: *"I haven't even thought about it. It's an opportunity that our guys have earned. I guess that's what we think about it. It's a chance to play a meaningful game. We have a chance to earn a championship, and our guys have played well enough to do that. That's what we're looking forward to doing on Sunday."
*On whether he sees similarities between the Ravens and Steelers: *"I just haven't thought about it that way. Like we talked about on Monday, we're looking at them as an opponent, a very good opponent, that we're playing on Sunday. We just haven't thought about it in those terms."
*C Jason Brown
On the Ravens not making excuses because they are mentally tough: *"It really doesn't matter because you're able to fight through those things when you have a different mindset. Of course, that glass is always going to be half-full and never half-empty when you have that mindset. Right now, we're positive."
*On if he feels the Steelers and Ravens both have a mentally-tough and aggressive mindset: *"You could say that. I don't know the inner constructs of their team and what they're all about this year. But, for us as the Ravens, I feel as though we've climbed through adversity. How many guys do they have on IR? How many guys do they have that are banged up? It's a lot that we're fighting through right now. In order to do those things, we've had to come together. We've had to be tight as a team."
*On what the tone is for the Ravens with this Pittsburgh game: *"The thing is, this game pretty much speaks for itself. You look at the numbers, look at everything that's going on in our division, this game speaks for itself."
*On what makes this rivalry so intense: *"Some years, there has been less at stake. Last year, we weren't doing very well, and then two years ago, we did very well across the board in our division. This year, it's coming down to these final weeks, so of course there is a lot of passion going on."
*On if it's perfect to have this game at home against the Steelers: *"All we wanted is an opportunity to go out there and prove that we are who we say we are. We're the Ravens."
*QB Joe Flacco
On what he remembers most from the last Pittsburgh game: *"They've got a lot of guys that swarm around the ball and really get after it. We're going to come ready to play. We thought we played a pretty good game last game and let it get away from us. Both teams in this game feel like they have a good team, and it's up to us going out there this week and proving who has the better team."
*On what he feels he needs to do to avoid being sacked: *"Just get the ball out of our hands. We're on a better page with our receivers and our running backs, and the way we run the ball is going to keep guys from pressuring us too often. We've grown as an offense and we do so many things better now. We're a much different team, and we're ready to go show that."
*On whether he's gained a sense of the Ravens/Steelers rivalry: *"It was pretty [clear]. We went there on a Monday night in Pittsburgh, and it was pretty crazy. It was a lot of fun to play [that game] and it was probably a lot of fun for the fans. So if that's how the games always go, then I definitely got a sense of it and this is just another important one. It's the most important game for us right now because it's the next on our schedule at this point. But we've just go to continue to do what we've been doing, keep trying to get wins. We've got three games left to prove that we're a playoff team and it's all up to us."
*On if it's hard not to focus on the fact that Sunday's game has so much importance in the division standings: *"It's pretty easy for me. The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming to town and what more do you need than that? They're a good football team and they are division rivals. We're going to be ready to go out and play just like we've been every game this season. It's not going to be hard to get all the playoff stuff and that stuff out of your mind. We realize how important the games are, and we realize what we're playing for. And believe me, we're ready to go."
*On if he feels he's a better quarterback now than he was the first time the Ravens played the Steelers this season: *"I think I'm definitely a better quarterback, But as I've stressed, more importantly, we're a better offense at this point. I'm not just a young quarterback; we're a young offense as a group. We've got a couple of veterans on the team – Willie [Anderson] and Derrick [Mason], and we've got Willis [McGahee] back there [and] we've got Lorenzo [Neal]. But for the most part, we're a pretty young offense. The amount we've grown since Week 3 or Week 4 is huge. Plus, even the veterans this year, it's a new offense for everybody. So even those guys are learning the new system, and they've come a long way also."
*On if thinks that every possession in this game is more important than it might be in other games: *"We realize how important each possession is and we realize we don't want to turn the ball over, but we're going to out there and we're going to play our offense and react to how Pittsburgh is attacking us. We're going to go out there and we're going to be aggressive. We're going to be aggressive and we're not going to turn the ball over. I don't know if we're necessarily thinking about that as everything is happening, but it's definitely in the back of our mind, and we know how important it is to keep the ball."
*On his impression of Steelers LB James Harrison: *"The guy has had a pretty good year. I think he leads the league in sacks and he's been pretty disruptive. But we feel like we have the guys to match up with him. I'm sure he'll make his plays during the game, but we're going to go out there and we're going to attack these guys, and we're going to make sure that we're the guys attacking them and they're not coming after us."
*On what he thinks about S Troy Polamalu: *"We'll know where he is. He runs around and he studies his film, so he feels like he knows what you're going to be doing each play. Believe me, we'll be ready for him."
*On what he thinks about the media: *"A bunch of pains in the asses, really *(laughing). No really, truthfully? You guys probably don't even have to interview me. You can just write down whatever you want: 'Joe said this…' But it's fun. It's always fun and it's especially fun this year because we're winning. If we were losing, I guess I could have an answer for you [that was something like], 'I hate you guys right now.' But it's been a lot of fun this year just dealing with everything. It's been new to me, but we're winning. We're a 9-4 football team, and I think for the most part it's been pretty good. So I've had a lot of fun with it."
*LB Ray Lewis
On if QB Joe Flacco is still a rookie: *"No. Anytime you come into this business, expectations being what they are and him playing the way he's playing, I don't even think he looks at himself as a rookie. I think he's along for the ride as a teammate, and is just going with the flow."
*On how happy he's been with the way the offense has performed: *"Personally, I don't think it's even about me worrying about being happy about them. I think collectively, as a whole team, I think we're doing… We're taking every game for what it's worth – 60 minutes of football. If you look on the film, every week we come in, we're always getting better in every area. Not necessarily offense, defense, special teams. Every week we're trying to find different ways to get better. As a team, collectively, I think we're doing some great things."
*On if there's a sense of pride that the Steelers haven't won in M&T Bank Stadium since 2002: *"Wow, you just helped me out with that one. That's one I'm new about. I kind of knew about it, but haven't researched it like that. At the same time, not just them, we just like playing at home. I think everybody does. When you get a game of this magnitude, for whatever it's worth, playing at home is always big. In this business you're always taught, 'You win your games at home. Bottom line.' Now we have them coming back in. For us, it's just another… Of course, there's a lot on the line, but for us, it's just another game, 60 minutes. We're going to try to play the way we've been playing all year and see what happens when the clock hits zeros."
*On the scenario of playing the Steelers at home with a division title on the line: *"Realistically, you really can't ask for a better scenario, period, no matter who it was. And that's the approach, me being the leader and trying to keep these guys focused, it does not matter who we're playing. The bottom line is, let's go play our game for 60 minutes and when the clock hits triple zeros, let's see where we are. So bottom line, whatever goes on this weekend, if we go out and give our best, that's all we can ask for, really."
*On if the intensity of the rivalry comes from the familiarity between the teams, playing each other twice a year: *"Absolutely. That by itself. Anytime you have a division opponent, that's always going to be a big game. Outside of everything, you look at Pittsburgh – we are the top two teams in the division. You take it for what's it worth. And that's really it, from there. No jawing, no more emotion into it. From there, really just go out and do what you can do and don't worry about everything else."
*On if he sits down with new players to talk to them about what is expected from this defense: *"I don't think it's… Sometimes it turns into a one-on-one when guys come here. But most of the time, it usually starts in training camp when Rex [Ryan] and them leave the meeting. Usually, myself just gets up and gives the quick standard on how we play football. Either you fit in or you fit out."
*On what the standard is: *"It's easy, it's easy: Play for the man beside you, bottom line. When the ball is snapped, find it. Don't ever get caught loafing. Don't get caught in any of that, because you won't have to answer to the coaches, you've got to answer to us, because it's personal anytime you step on that field."
*On if he looks at the statistical defensive rankings: *"No, because if you do, and this has been for years for me, even the year that we won the Super Bowl, we got into that battle with Tennessee – we're No. 1, they're No. 1, all that. It means nothing at the end of the day. The bottom line is you've got two good defenses coming in, and the game is going to be played and one side is going to win, one side is going to lose. If you get caught up in all those numbers, it's going to sooner or later get you in trouble."
*On if he believes that defense wins championships: *"Absolutely, absolutely. You can go back to the last Super Bowl. Last year, the New York Giants, yeah their offense did some good things, but the way their defense played is probably one of the greatest reasons they won that game. No matter what team you actually go to, a couple of teams have done it offensively, but defense, that's your backbone. That's your backbone to going… That's your model to really go and win a championship."
*On the Ravens needing this game to take the Steelers' top spot in the defensive rankings: *"And that's what it is. [It's] the same thing I'm telling my guys. The bottom line is, don't worry about what's on the line. Just go play another football game. And if you just go play another football game, you're going to be excited about the outcome of the game. But if you get caught up in the, 'Oh man if we lose this,' or 'If we win…' no, it's too much, too much. The bottom line is for us, all we're trying to do is just go get a 60-minute ball game. We know who we're playing. This team is a very gifted team; we know that. This team has been gifted for years. They do things. They have Ben Roethlisberger over there, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Willie Parker. They have a lot of great guys on their team. Defensively, they're No. 1 on defense, all that good stuff. They're playing great football. So this team is… They're who they are, so you don't have to get drawn up into anything else. All you have to do is just show up on Sunday."
*On what he can take from the last game: *"You can grab a couple of things from it. But as a team, you can't grab that much from it. We're a totally different scenario; we have totally different guys. We had, I think, Chris [McAlister] at the time, we had [Dawan] Landry at the time. All that changes now. You had a younger Joe Flacco. Now, you have a totally different team, a much more mature team. It's the same… It speaks for them as well. They definitely have a more mature team this late in the season. I think it's a totally different game that you're playing."
*On Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin: *"When you look at the things that Tomlin has done… It's always good to run into a veteran club like that, because a lot of the pressure isn't really on you, it's on the veteran players to keep it going. But to me, from the things I know about him, he's a stand-up man, a man of character. He's really fiery. He likes the game of football. He's interacting with his players a lot. You see them making big plays, tough blocks. He's the first one to congratulate them. I think he's doing a great job being the leader over there for that team."
*On why the Steelers and Ravens have been able to sustain their defenses over the past decade: *"A lot of things could factor in to it. I don't know, outside of saying both organizations, I think, do a great job in the guys they bring in. You look at the Troy Polamalu's, the [James] Harrison's, all those guys they keep bringing in, the Casey Hampton's, time and time again. [It's] the same way over here. Ed Reed's, you look at the [Dawan] Landry's, you look at the… All these guys, the Terrell Suggs, all these guys. And I think they're doing a great job with saying that if there's one thing we're going to have, that's a good defense. These are two franchises that invested in those sides of the ball. And if you really look at it over the years, it keeps revolving and guys come in, guys come in, and it keeps changing hands."
*On Steelers WR Hines Ward's smirk and if it annoys him: *"Absolutely not. If his smirk annoys people, I know people are really pissed off when I smile. It's the ultimate way to play the game. Unless someone pisses you off, and you want to meet them in the parking lot, then that smile might change. But you don't need to get caught up in all of that."
*On if he thinks the smirk is just in fun: *"I think so, I think so. And it's another way, definitely, for a veteran, it just keeps you relaxed. It keeps you not into a lot of excuses everybody else wants you to get in to. If you smile, nobody can ever tell you what you're thinking."
*On if he has ever been a part of a team that had bounties: *"Absolutely not. We don't put any freakin' bounties on one another. Just play the game. The game is game. The game will take care of itself. That's why you put on helmets and shoulder pads. You play the football game. You're either going to hit or be hit. That's the bottom line about this game. It's not about bounties, because you respect too many of the players. In the offseason, you're friends with these guys. Foundation events and things like that, these guys come to your events, they help your cause. When you hear about people speaking about bounties, I think that's like… You hear so many people trying to build it up as this and that. I think that's ignorant talking. Nobody plays the game like that, I don't think. If they do, then it's personal for other reasons."
*On what it means to him that *Sports Illustrated *listed him as the one player offensive guys don't want to run into: *"I think, honestly, like I tell people, even when your legacy is done, the question you always want asked, 'How will you be remembered?' I always want to be remembered as that guy that every play you've got to deal with me. That's the respect you look for. You don't look for it outside. You look for it from your peers and people that you play against. So when you do get that type of respect, it just goes to show that all the hard work that you do put in, it pays off. Because other guys recognize that, and they recognize that every time you step on the field you're going to give 110 percent. So if it's any credit, when my day is done, to look back and say, 'This is a guy that gave it his all every play,' that's what you really play the game for."
*On if Ward would be liked or respected more as a teammate than as an opponent: *"I like him and respect him right now. Like I said, we've done things together off the field, foundation-wise. We've done stuff last year together in Arizona. He's just a hell of a competitor. You can't take that away from that guy. He plays the game one way. You're not going to like everybody. Everybody won't like everybody in this business, but the way that man plays football, you have to commend him of that. Outside of that, if you look at anything else, then I think it becomes more personal."
*On how the defense has evolved from Marvin Lewis to Mike Nolan to Rex Ryan: *"Wow. One common denominator – keeping Rex around was huge, because he's been around through all of those different guys. I've been around here the same time. So, the core of what we have has always been here. From there, all you have to do is surround everybody around it. That's what we've been able to do over the last however many years. What? Eight to 10 years now, since we've had a changing of guards."
*On if he's seen much difference schematically: *"No. It's the same."
*On if he would say if he had: *"I might. I might. I'm not sure if I would tell you that. Honestly, those guys had the same kind of mentality. It was one way to play defense. They like pressure. They like pressure. Even when we won in 2000, yeah, we sat in Cover 2 a lot, just to tell people to try to beat us. But a lot of times we pressured people. A lot of times, Jack [Del Rio] is the same way. Rex is definitely the same way. They just like, really, just giving flexibility to their athletes and letting us control the defense."
*On if young head coaches like Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh have to do anything special to earn the veterans' respect: *"I don't know if they have to really do anything special. I just think there's something about a young coach when they come in. Their energy is different, definitely on game day. If there's one thing, you would think that John – his pads are in the locker room on game days – that he's going to put his pads on. But you just love his interaction with players on game day. He's talking to the offense, defense, special teams, almost through every play, just our mindset on how we want to do this. And you see Tomlin doing the same thing. He's very interactive with his players. And I think for the young coaches that's a great thing, because their energy is always there."
*WR Derrick Mason
On being looser than the head coach: *"Hey, man, there's no time to be tight. The only way you can play this game is loose. You've got to have fun going out there to play. We know our opponent that we have this week; we know what's at stake. So as a team we have to continue to stay focused the way we have been focused for the last 20 weeks, it seems like. But we've been focused, so we're going to stay that way."
*On how personal and heated the rivalry with the Steelers gets: *"It's not personal. They didn't do anything to me; I didn't do anything to them. It's not personal. It's a football game. Each and every time we encounter one another something is at stake, for the majority of the time. I think that's why it's so heated, because you have two teams that pride themselves on playing hard, fast, physical football. When you have them come together, it's going to make for a very good game."
*On how he would compare the Steelers' Troy Polamalu and the Ravens' Ed Reed: *"I'm not going to compare the two. I'm not. They're both good players. So you can't compare the two."
*On if he feels the Ravens' offensive line has evolved from the last game against the Steelers where they can protect QB Joe Flacco better in this weeks' game: *"I think we've gotten a lot better than we were when we played them the first time. If we hadn't, then something would be wrong. And of course, they've gotten a lot better since we played them the first time. We're going to figure out some things and do our best as a team to protect Joe so we're able to run the offense. But as you all know, they make it hard to do that because each and every week they find something new to throw at you. So we've just got to be mindful of what they're doing and make the necessary adjustments during the game to keep our quarterback on his two feet."
*On if there is anything the Ravens can take from the first game they played against the Steelers so early in the season: *"That's they're Pittsburgh. That's basically about it, that you know you're going to play a very good team. They've gotten a lot better and, of course, we've gotten a lot better. For the most part, that's the only thing you could take from it. For us, we are just going to continue to prepare this week hard, as we usually do, and let the game decide which way it's going to go."
*On whether the Steelers change defense much from game to game or season to season: *"Why? Why do they have to? They're always ranked in the top five in total defense. Since I've been in this league, they've been ranked in the top five or 10 in total defense, so why change? Of course, you've got different players here and there, but I think the philosophy of that team never changes. They have guys that can play that scheme of defense. So why change something if it's not broke?"
*On why he feels he can't compare Ed Reed to Troy Polamalu: *"Because you can't. Ed Reed is Ed Reed; Troy is Troy. There's no way, no how to compare the two. One has long hair, one has short hair. That's about the only comparison. I can't compare the two, man, they're both good. So I'm not going to sit here and try to diminish one player over another or try to make one player seem better than the other. I'm not going to do that."
*On what a win over Pittsburgh this week means for the team given its playoff implications: *"I think it's obvious. I think everyone in the state of Maryland understands and everyone in the state of Pennsylvania understands what this game means to both teams. So, it's self-explanatory. If we win, then we have the same record. If we don't, then they're, I think, two games above us and then we've got to work even harder. It's self-explanatory and this is the way we want it. After we played them the first time, we knew – if we did what we had to do throughout the season – that we would have the opportunity to be in this position again to try to get a game up in the division. So, we're right where we want to be."
*On if the familiarity between the Steelers and the Ravens as division opponents helps the team in their preparation: *"That happens in every division you're in. When you have a division opponent you play twice a year, you're familiar with that opponent. You see them one week against a team that [they are] not familiar with and they have a lot of trouble with that team. Then, once you get with a common opponent, then you're able to figure out some of the things that that team is doing, or you know that team a lot better than the other team did. It's the same with Pittsburgh. They know us a lot better than they knew Dallas last week, and we know Pittsburgh a lot better than we did Washington last week. Being familiar with a team helps, but what it boils down to is strapping that helmet up and getting in between those lines and playing football."
*On what he and his teammates learned about QB Joe Flacco in the last game against Pittsburgh: *"What did I learn about Joe? Nothing I didn't already know. He had proven that he could play and that he was not going to let anything affect him in the first game of the season. So there's nothing that I found out about Joe that I didn't already know. The guy is a player and he thrives, I think, in situations he was in the first time in Pittsburgh. Like I said, we've just got to keep our quarterback protected and allow him to do what he does."
*On how close his shoulder is to being 100 percent: *"I'll let you know in February – February, March, somewhere around there. But it's football; you've got to play with a little pain. I do what I can. [I] put on my cape, figure out what Ed Reed does to become Superman and then go out there and play and have a little fun."
*On what he thinks about the Dolphins' Joey Porter's comments that NFL players need to carry a gun for protection: *"I'm going to be honest with you. We have a right to bear arms and we shouldn't be any different from you guys. If you choose to have a firearm in your home, then have one. To carry it around, that's kind of putting yourself at risk and other people at risk. I'm with Joey in a sense. I'm not going to back down and sugar coat it. I'm with Joey in a sense: I should have the right to bear arms. If I choose to have a firearm in my house, I'm going to have one. I'm going to protect my household. If you come in, then you have to deal with the repercussions, just like one of your guys' households. But, to bring one outside the home, that's not smart. I wouldn't do it, but I'm going to be honest with you. I've got a right to bear arms, so deal with it."
*On whether he feels that NFL players are targets: *"Yeah, in a sense. Not just NFL players, I think athletes in general. I think the way the economy is now a lot of people… You guys are [targets, too] because they see you a lot, so you guys are as well. Everyone is struggling and everyone is trying to find a way to make a dollar, and it seems like it's getting worse. So it's not just us. Before we thought it was just us. No, it's not us anymore. It's anybody that they think will have a little money and they're going to try to find any means necessary to get the upper hand. So whether it be us or you all, you've got to watch your back. Use that amendment right and bear arms in your household; that's all I can say."
*S Ed Reed
On meaningful games in December being what you play for: *"Oh, definitely. This is what we talked about during the year. We kind of figured at this point in the year that this would be a game that would be tough at the end."
*On why the defense has been able to absorb the injuries they have had and play at a high level: *"We just have a bunch of guys that are willing to get ready and prepare for whatever we have to face the following week. The coaches do a great job of getting us prepared and knowing the scheme, and guys take it upon themselves to know their jobs and what they have to do."
*On if the Ravens and Steelers have similar mentalities: *"Somewhat, our mentalities are the same. For the most part, it's just two physical teams. We know each other. We've been playing in this conference for a while going against each other, so it's always a burn-burner, always a rivalry-type scene for these games."
*On how flattering it is to be mentioned among the greatest safeties of all time: *"I'm just doing my job, just playing the game, doing the things that I've been doing since I was a kid – just having fun with this and enjoying this blessing. I've been given this gift, and I'm just trying to utilize it."
*On whether the way players and fans view rivalries is like night and day: *"It's a rivalry week every week in the NFL because everybody's good. Every team has 53 starters, so it's really a rivalry week every week because all of them count. I really learned that this year. Every game matters."
*On if, aside from this Sunday, he enjoys watching the way Steelers S Troy Polamalu approaches the game: *"Oh yeah, definitely. Troy made the Pro Bowl a couple years ago. We talked, and he's a great safety. He's a guy that I look at on film just like Brian Dawkins and those guys who are good safeties that, when you're watching tape of those different teams, they're on it. So you have to pay attention. If you can't learn from watching somebody else, then I don't know what to say."
*On what he talks about at the Pro Bowl with guys like Polamalu: *"Everything, just life."
*On if they talk about football at all: *"We talk about football, too, but it's more relaxed and enjoying yourself, just seeing what other guys go through."
*On whether he's pretty much familiar with what Steelers WR Hines Ward can do: *"Yeah, their receiving corps is a great receiving corps, and you've just got to be prepared for whatever they bring."
*On if they go onto the field as a defense expecting to score points: *"We always expect to score, but our main thing is doing our job in keeping the offense out of the end zone. That's No. 1. If we get a fumble or an interception, then our mentality changes, and we're thinking of getting to the end zone."
*On how much John Harbaugh brings, not knowing what it would be like at the beginning of the season, and what he thinks of being on the brink of the playoffs: *"I'm not a media guy. I'm really not in the papers and don't do too many interviews. Coach Harbaugh and the staff do a great job. They're a bunch of great coaches, and they do a great job of getting us prepared. They're mental on Sundays. You don't have to worry about going back and forth arguing about little, small things. You can focus on your job. That's the biggest thing, that he allows you to focus on your job, and you don't have to worry about anything else."
*On whether he is embracing returning punts and would like to continue to do that: *"I'm embracing being in the NFL at this time. With my injuries and just going through this season, [I'm] just [taking] one play at a time and just enjoying myself and having fun."
*On if he's asking to go out there for punt returns, trying to get himself on the field: *"No, I mean, it's situational stuff. Coach comes to me just about every week and asks me how I'm feeling. If I can go, I'll go. If not, we've got more than enough guys that can get back there and return a kick or go on out there to block a punt."
*On what the circumstance is like last game where he is back to return one punt but not the rest: *"Just to rush the kick. If we could put pressure on the punter, get a guy a good return or something like that, we could get an extra two or three yards because it's a field position game. So whatever you can do for the team. It's not just me doing this. It's a bunch of other guys on this team that are lending a hand on special teams, like Bart Scott, those guys that are starters."
*On why the defense hasn't fallen apart despite injuries: *"I think it's the mentality, a little bit of everything. No player across this league will come in this league and not be considered a starter. I don't think any guy in this league is not a starter, because everybody has their part that they have to contribute. I know definitely on our team everybody is a starter because we need everybody, so everybody prepares that way. And if everybody prepares that way, when you have injuries like that, somebody could step up at any given time and play any position, pretty much."
*On how you keep a guy who tries to get under people's skin from getting under your skin: *"You've just got to play your game. Play within the whistle, play your game. There are a lot of things that happen between the whistle, a lot of things being said between the whistle. That's the only time you can play the game. After the whistle is blown, you can't say anything. You can't do anything because the referees have control. If you get caught up in that, then you're not playing football."
*On whether the Steelers talk a lot: *"Everybody has somebody that talks a lot, you know?"
*On if the team handles it better than before: *"I mean, it's hats off to our coaching staff. When Coach Harbaugh first came in here, it was about discipline. It was about touching on those things that we didn't have to do or the things that we did in the past. Not saying that things we did in the past were always bad, because it wasn't. But it was always about getting better in the past. Even more so being stressed now, it's about getting better every week. I can honestly say that we've been getting better every week. It's like a bunch of kids playing games, having fun. But you've got to get better every week, and that's where we're at. That's why we're at this point right now playing Pittsburgh for the division."
*On no one being able to draw him into anything: *"No, no. I don't get drawn into anything. I don't have time for that."
*On whether there has been a point since he has been here when he has not been having fun playing: *"Even in the toughest times, it's still fun. I'd play football all my life if I could. There's really not a time when football is not fun. You might have some times when you're getting tired and, not to say bored, but just kind of like, man, you need somebody to pick you up. It's one of those teammates or one of those jokes that remind you that this is one of the most memorable times that you have to take hold to. I'm glad you asked that because Booker T. Washington, the school I sponsor, a kid [from there] this Monday got shot who was 14 years old, so football is minor. My prayers go out to the Jackson family. Football is minor when you think about the whole scheme of things."
*On if he knew the young man: *"No. I'm sure I saw him before."
*On whether he knew the family: *"No."
*OLB Terrell Suggs
*On if he knows what the media is going to ask him: *"Don't even ask. I know how Roger [Goodell] is."
*On whether he thinks it will be an issue at all: *"It shouldn't. We handled that weeks ago, so we're good and we're moving forward. Championship game."
*On the possibility that Goodell will be watching this week: *"I have a good feeling Roger will be nearby watching."
*On whether he'll go to any Pittsburgh events like a Penguins game and get on the big screen to get the crowd going like when he went to the Washington Wizards game: *"No, I don't think I need any extra boost for this one. Probably since the 2006 playoff game [vs. the Colts], this is probably the biggest game I've played in. I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity and have some fun and enjoy it. What better place to do it than in our own backyard at M&T [Bank Stadium]? It's going to be exciting. I think the football gods have blessed us to have an opportunity like this, to have a game this late in December of this magnitude. Everybody just can't wait for it, so it's going to be good. I think both teams will be ready, and both teams are going to put on one heck of a show."
*On if he would ask Ravens fans who have to sell their tickets to only sell them to Ravens fans: *"Right, they did do that a couple years ago. They sold their tickets to Pittsburgh fans, the ultimate disrespect. I don't think they'd sell any of their tickets to us, so don't sell your tickets. This is probably one you might want to be in attendance to. You might want to see this one go down."
*On whether they talked after losing the Monday night game in Pittsburgh about taking care of business so this rematch would be a big game: *"We knew we were going to see them again. They're in our division. You've got to play a team on the road, and you've got to play a team at your house. So the same team is going to come down and play us at M&T. They're here now."
*On if they talked about what could be at stake at that point: *"I'm not sure any team would've thought this would be at stake by the time it came around, but it is. So like I said, the football gods have blessed us. It's definitely going to be a game to see."
*On whether he finds himself preparing a little more mentally for this one: *"No, it's business as usual. You prepare for this one just like you prepared for the last one. Don't be mistaken or let yourself be misconstrued – every game in the NFL, especially in November or December when you're trying to get into the playoffs, every game is just as important as the next. It just happened that this is the one that's up. So I'm not going to do anything more or extra that I haven't done in the past weeks. I'm going to watch film just like I always watch film, and I'm going to practice hard like I always practice hard. We'll let everything take care of itself on Sunday."
*On if he feels like he's perfecting his position: *"I don't know. I've only seen one man do it in my lifetime, and you all just spoke with him [Ray Lewis]. If this position could be perfected, I'd like to try. I like to say I've gotten a lot better from when I first walked in those doors, but I think I've still got some work to do. I'm only 26 years old, and that's the fun part. So I'm just going to keep trying to get better, and hopefully I could perfect my position."
*On what it says about the Steelers that they came back to beat the Cowboys with a 17-point fourth quarter: *"Good for them. Next question."
*On whether there is any dislike between these two teams: **"Why would you think that? This is a division game. You always want to win your division games. I don't think there's any more than there is against the Titans or the Colts [or] Patriots."