Opening Comments:ML: After watching the tape today, offensively the thing that impressed me was our ability to stick to our guns and keep playing, keep the drives alive, keep converting the third downs. I thought, for the most part, we were pretty clean on protections. We know that's going to be premium again as we go forward this week. Defensively, I thought the guys up front really did a nice job at the line of scrimmage, and other than the second quarter, when we were thinking a little bit more pass, otherwise we handled the run pretty well. The perimeter guys played a very good ballgame. They got their hands on a lot of balls and were in good shape most of the time.
"Special teams-wise, I think we keep growing. Again, this week is going to be important as we move forward to keep getting better. Our punter and placekicker are doing a good job. Our punter (Kevin Huber) is really doing a fine job. Shayne (Graham), again, had the one field goal, and we're feeling pretty good about his kickoffs. We've just got to keep getting better. Coverage-wise, we're still not exactly where we need to be all the time. I wish we were doing better in that. We need to have some guys continue to improve in that phase. After looking at the tape, those are the positives and the critiquing of it.
"Injury-wise, we'll see how Keith Rivers and Evan Mathis are as they go later in the week. Both, today, don't seem to be as severe, maybe, as first thought. But it would have to be a matter as time goes on this week, and how they come in on Wednesday. Chris (Henry) will have his surgery, and what we'll do is put Chris on IR and bring back Scott Kooistra."
Q: So with Chris Henry most likely gone, does this mean Jerome Simpson may get an opportunity? Or maybe give Quan Cosby some time at receiver?ML: "We could also move Maurice (Purify) up (from the practice squad). We'll look at the best options, because with that, it's a matter of who can I get the most snaps out of on Sunday. That's the important part."
Q: So Maurice Purify is going to come up to the 53-player roster?ML: "Possibly."
Q: Is that because of his special teams ability, as well?ML: "Well, again, well make the best decision for the football team."
Q: He played very well on special teams during the preseason:ML: "He did a good job on special teams in the preseason. But I'm not going to sit here and elaborate on why I make the decision. We'll make the decision at some point. We'll give Jerome a good opportunity to see whether or not he can be the guy we can count on."
Q: You have two young, high draft picks at cornerback with Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph. Do you like what you have seen out of them?ML: "In my opinion, in the NFL, you have to be able to hold up against quarterbacks and the receivers, time-in and time-out, to have an opportunity to be successful. In Baltimore I learned that lesson, unfortunately. It's a tough lesson to learn. But with John (Johnathan Joseph) and Leon (Hall), that's what we were expecting. It's still a work in progress, every week is a new week, but they did a good job yesterday, and now we have new challenge coming in this week. That's what playing that position is all about. You have to get ready to go week-in and week-out, play-to-play, and you have to have a very short memory."
Q: How much did Cedric's durability surprise you yesterday?ML: "I don't know ... it was normal ballgame. I don't know that his durability plays a part in anything. You know?
Q: Did you expect to get more than 30 carries out of him?ML: "Well, we expect to run the ball 30-40 times every week."
Q: He is on pace for more than 400 carries this season. Does that concern you at all?ML: "No, because I don't really worry about the number of carries. We'll continue to get opportunities for Bernard Scott. Bernard was coming off an injury (yesterday), so we didn't get him in involved in the game because in game-planning last week, we didn't know how much we'd have him. So as we go forward, we'll continue to use Bernard as we did in the past and get him some snaps. Now that Brian (Leonard) seems to be back and healthy, we can get Brian some snaps. So I don't see that Cedric's going to be the sole ball carrier as much anymore, but if he is, he is. The key thing is to win the football games."
Q: Is Andre Smith just not where you want him to be at this point?ML: "Andre's doing a great job. Really fine job. But Andre doesn't play guard, last I checked."
Q: With Cedric (Benson) having two big games against the Ravens, it seems like everybody from the offensive line, to the tight ends, to the fullback did a good job blocking for him. Would you agree?ML: "Well, we have some moments. We have some moments we're not as good as we need to be. That was a hard day yesterday. We expect another hard day this Sunday, and we know that. So we've got to get strapped on, ready to go. Got to go plug in, get recharged, and get ready to juice up and go. That's the way it's going to be. But you're right, they do some good things, and our guys, our pad level and some things at times are very good. We're on the right marks, we're on the right guys, and things come together pretty well. Our receivers, I think, are getting it. We're doing a better job of blocking on the perimeter, which is tying guys up, and we're getting Cedric into that second level, and now he's getting a chance to run through some arms. So we've just got to keep going, keep doing it."
Q: What does it say about the outlook and maturity of this team that even though they swept the Ravens, there was a businesslike attitude in the locker room right after the game?ML: "We swept Baltimore in other seasons passed, we just didn't do it a year ago. And I think that's what some of the guys who have been around here are kind of aware of. Everybody seemed to make it a bigger game than it was. It was another game in our division, no more and no less. For whatever reason, people thought we were playing the '67 Packers, and we weren't. They're a good football team, a good, physical team that can throw the ball. They have great, in my opinion, wide receivers, and the quarterback's playing very well. They've got a great back in (Ray) Rice, and another guy in (Willis) McGahee, a great fullback, and they play obviously great defense. So it was a good win. It was a hard-fought, tough win. But when you go out here on Sundays in the NFL, that's what it's all about. You've got to go play. As I told you, the team that took care of the ball was going to more than likely win the football game, and that's the way it's been in our games versus the Ravens."
Q: Were you surprised at the team's composure down the stretch yesterday?ML: "No, it didn't surprise me. You want to play with a lead, the last couple of weeks we've been able to do that. We've got to keep practicing finishing games with a lead, I'd like to keep working on that as much as we could going forward (smiles). Again, offensively, we did some things there to keep. We made some first downs in that situation, which is good. We got a big stop on defense and got the ball back. When you do those things, it's good. I know we haven't had that feeling a lot because we were in so many close football games early in the year, so it's good to get that one under your belt and have some history that way."
Q: Carson said you guys are winning with typical AFC North ball through the running game and defense. Do you like that style?ML: "If you go into the game and you have confidence in your ability to run the football and on the other side of the ball play good defense, now it comes down to the hands of our quarterback and perimeter players, and I feel pretty good about our chances that way."
Q: Until the last play, Baltimore had 200 yards of offense. You've been around some good defenses, is this one where you want it to be?ML: "That was yesterday's effort, and it's going to take another big effort this weekend in Pittsburgh. At the end of the year you can ask me the question of how I feel. Again, it's week-to-week. We did a good job yesterday. We did a good job yesterday in the running game. We got some pressures, and some pressure in the four-man rush, and we did a good job in coverage. Now we've got to come back and do it again."
Q: The Chris Henry injury is obviously tough considering how hard he has worked, and how he was having a good year. What do you say to him after something like that?ML: "We're fortunate that this is a position where Chris is our fourth guy, and we're able to move forward and get the next guy up, and go. He felt bad. He was excited to play yesterday. I don't know that I've ever seen him that excited to play, and it's unfortunate he got hurt. You could tell he felt good after the time off and getting his legs back and under him. He felt good about it, with being sick before the (Oct. 25) Bears game, and then the week off. He probably had two weeks in a row, and it gave him a chance to get his legs rejuvenated. So it's unfortunate, but that's the way it is."
Q: Nate Livings and Brandon Johnson stepped up when you needed them: ML: "We're fortunate to have some depth. You're talking about two guys that have played and had been, at some point, starters. Now they're backups and can step in for guys who got injured. Both guys fared well when they got in those situations."
Q: You've said you think all stats are meaningless, except wins and losses, but what about winning after your bye week for the first time since 2003?ML: "Somebody said that, and when you look back at those games, we played pretty well in all of them, but didn't win them. We didn't come out of the bye flat. We had an opportunity to win the games in Kansas City and Tampa and didn't win them. In Cleveland I was the defensive signal caller and had some real good calls and real good plays, and gave up 34 points just like everyone else. We were pretty well prepared and didn't win. It gives people something to write about and do, and that's fine. But really these guys can't remember what we did the last bye week before Philadelphia last year. I didn't really recall until we looked back on it. We had a similar schedule like we did last year. I do know this is the first time (in franchise history) we have won games coming in and out of the bye."
Q: So it all just comes down to execution?ML: "That's what it comes down to week-in and week-out on Sundays. If we don't supposedly body slam the quarterback in Tampa, or we play the coverage down there right in the red zone, we win that game. If we score some points against that team and the QB they were playing with that day. As for the players, I wish these guys held a little more memory of what happened in the past, but they don't."
Q: You are 4-0 in the division for the first time in team history:ML: "One of our goals is to win the division, and in order to win the division you need to beat the division teams. You can't win the division and skirt around beating these three teams. We know how physical these guys are. We take pride in this division. It didn't surprise me that Baltimore beat Denver. It wouldn't surprise me if Pittsburgh beats Denver. I expect them to be 6-2 when we go to Pittsburgh on Sunday. We expect the teams in this division to play well when they go outside the division. You have to man up when you come over here, and that's the way it's going to be."