Steelers-Ravens Conference Calls

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STEELERS at RAVENS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2009 KICKOFF 8:20 P.M. M&T BANK STADIUM

CONFERENCE CALLS

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH

You've had some tough losses, a lot of close games, how challenging are those games when you are so close and you have to get the players ready to bounce back? Is it a bigger challenge more than a normal defeat?
I think it is actually, especially when it is against some of the elite teams in the league and we felt like we were a couple of plays away from having a big victory and what a difference just one or two of those would make in the record. Our guys do a good job. They are very tough, very resilient. They come back every week and just keep competing and hopefully we can improve through all of that.

What did you see last year from the first game to the last two? Did the Steelers try to do anything differently against Joe Flacco and where did they give you problems that you could see?
Without getting into too many specifics, I think they did adjust their game plan, like you always do, you evolve, as they got to know Joe a little better and did some of the things that we were doing or trying do with our personnel and obviously they did the better job and were able to improve with each one of those games.

Are you hoping Terrell Suggs will be able to play and what is his status?
We are. We are hoping he can play and he's got the kind of knee that you guys have had some experience with as well. We are hoping he can do it and he is preparing like crazy, both with the mental stuff and with the physical stuff to try and do it.

What kind of challenges does it present when a team allows four kick returns for touchdowns in five games?
It's the same team that I think led the league last year in kickoff coverage, so it's the same scheme, same coaches and a lot of the same players. I know they made a couple changes here and those guys are good special teams guys that they brought in. The challenge from one week to the next is always different. It's never the same and they have a terrific special teams and we expect to see that on Sunday.

Can you just talk about how your defense has played this season?
I think our defense is playing well at this point in the season. The last four games they have given up a little over 10 points a game, so that's pretty darn good and we've done it against good offenses that are highly thought of, for the most part. We feel like we are improving as we go, we have a lot of good players and a really good scheme. We just have to try to find a way to play a 60-minute ball game defensively against one of the best offenses in the league right now.

Can you talk about how your right tackle Michael Oher has played?
I think Michael has done a great job. I think anybody that watches him play would have to agree with that. He did a heck of a job this past week, he is a very mature rookie, he is extremely professional for such a young man and he is also very talented. He has just done a great job. Obviously he has his hands full this week and that is a whole new challenge with the outside backers and the problems they present both pass rush scheme wise and in the run game. So hopefully he can continue to grow, keep his poise and handle himself well.

Is he a guy that can eventually play left tackle or do you think right tackle is his best position?
He played left tackle already this year when Jared Gaither was hurt, so there is no question that he can play left tackle and that is probably why we drafted him. We thought we had a guy that could swing both sides.

Have you seen his movie the "Blind Side?"
No and I haven't read the book either, but I hear they are both great and it is a great story.

QUARTERBACK JOE FLACCO

Talk about the challenge coming up Sunday night.
Well it's going to be a big game, it's a big division game, it's a rivalry game. We had three pretty physical games against them last year and we didn't come up with any of them so I think it's a big part of our growth this off-season and we've got to come in and be ready to go.

Did you learn anything from facing them three times last year?
Definitely. You've got three times to get used to the physical nature of the game and see how they do things in their secondary. I think we're going to come in confident with our game plan and be ready to go Sunday night.

How is this defense different from what you've seen last season?
I think they're getting the pressure. The thing about these guys is when you turn the ball over, when you give them the ball, they score touchdowns and they've been doing that for a while, and obviously they've had Troy [Polamalu] out for a few games and the guys they've had back there are doing a pretty good job now. You don't have to be quite aware because Troy [Polamalu] does so many different things, he's going to read your eye so much. I don't know if the other guys are exactly like that but they do a great job in what they do and you have to be ready for everything they're going to throw at you.

Did they throw anything different at you last year from the first game? How disappointing was the AFC Championship loss?
I think anytime you lose a football game, especially when you lose the championship game and you have the Super Bowl at stake, but, having said that, I think we learned a lot from those losses and hopefully we can take what we learned and apply it to this game.

Would you call this a revenge game?
I don't know if it's a revenge game. I don't know if us players look at it like that too much. We just know that it's an important game for us at this time of the season and we have to go out there and win.

You have a successful running back, but most of us know that you don't run against the Steelers with success.
We'll see, that's up to us to go out there and find out what's happened before. It's not about what people think what's going to happen, it's about we've got to go out there and do what we've set out to accomplish and we'll see what happens Sunday night.

Do this years' close losses begin to wear on you?
We've had a lot of close games and we haven't been coming out on the good side of it, but at the same time, we still have six games left in the regular season to decide our fate and these types of games are going to help us down the stretch. We're a tough team and we've been through some stuff and I think this is going to help us down the stretch when we need it.

What does Dick LeBeau's defense do to make it so hard to figure out?
They stop the run well and they try to confuse the quarterback a little bit and make him not be settled with where he's going to go with the ball. I think as a quarterback you've got to go back and play confident with what you see and just let loose and we'll see what happens Sunday night. We're going to go in there and play confident, we're going to come in to our stadium and play confidently, just let the ball loose and let our natural abilities take over.

Have you gone to the movies lately? Particularly to see, "The Blind Side?"
Are you saying have I seen the movie?

Yes.
No I haven't. I haven't talked to anybody who's seen it, so, I haven't heard anything about it.

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