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Ravens at Bengals Postgame Quotes

JAN. 3, 2016



Head coach

Initial comments ...

        "It was a good job getting a win today, and obviously now the focus moves on. That's seems where our heads were today with things, but so be it. Now it's time move on. In the first half we didn't string anything together there until right before halftime and convert any third downs. Defensively we didn't do a very good job on third down in the first half, and you know, we ended up in a close football game. We knew they would come out and play hard and give us their best effort, which they did. They played well. We didn't play as we needed to in the first half. The interception there in the third quarter kind of flipped things around. We needed that to get us going."

You guys have been very careful with Vontaze Burfict as the season has gone along. Do you feel you have him now playing as well as he's been since he's been back?

        "Yeah, I think over the last two or three weeks when he plays. We still try to utilize everybody we've got in different situations, but he's done a good job."

Did you understand any of the playoff scenarios before this game?

        "I just know the most important thing for us was to win the football game and see what happens. That being said, that's the most important."

What are your thoughts on AJ McCarron's performance today?

        "I thought he got going there. Early in the football game, I thought he was a little amped up. He was quick on some throws but then he settled down, relaxed and did a nice job."

Jeremy Hill had his longest run of the season with the touchdown. What did you see in him today?

        "That was a huge play in the game, the fourth-and-one there with an opportunity to get the first down and a touchdown. Jeremy has played well each and every week. As we keep going we just need him to keep going and playing better, and keep being more decisive. And that's been good."

Can you speak to tying the franchise mark for most wins with 12 and the first time since 1988, and for the fewest points allowed?

        "Obviously, on defense the goal was to don't let the other team score and get the ball back to the offense as quick as possible. We've done a good job of that all season. We held them to field goals today until the last touchdown there. That's important. As we go forward into the postseason now, that's going to be equally as important that we keep doing a good job. We've got to play better on third down, and that's going to be important. Obviously, when you set out the season at 16 games and you can win 12 of them, you've got to feel pretty good about things. Twelve wins generally gets you an opportunity in the playoffs, and that's what this is all about."

Do you know how it shakes out right now with the other games with the playoffs?

        "I do not."

Do you want to know?


New England and the Jets lost and Pittsburgh won ...

        "We play Pittsburgh?"

If Denver wins, you play Pittsburgh ...

        "That's the thing about the NFL. Each and every week all 32 teams can beat all 32 teams. And that's the way it is. Sometimes I think people lose sight of that. Games can be closely contested. Everybody's fighting for opportunity and jobs all the time, and they rise to the occasion."

What are your initial thoughts on the prospect of playing a division opponent for the third time next week?

        "We've been there before. It's time to right the ship, you know, exorcism. That's the way it is, and if that's the way it plays out, so be it."

How do you feel Jake Fisher did filling in for Ryan Hewitt today?

        "That's one those hard things for me to evaluate much from the sideline. He's been game and risen to every opportunity. With more reps and more opportunity he'll get better at things. We've got both of those young guys out there playing quite a bit. When you look we've got Fisher, (Cedric) Ogbuehi and (Tyler) Kroft playing, and (C.J.) Uzomah playing some. That's really good to have all these young guys involved like that."

What do you like about your team going into the playoffs next week?

        "I like our preparation. I like our ability to come out and handle the situations, the ability to understand what's important, and how you put yourself in position to win."

Andy Dalton sees the doctor tomorrow, so you you'll know tomorrow about him, but at this point are you expecting to start AJ McCarron next week?

        "We'll see. I wish Andy would just be quiet and quit telling you all what he's doing. He puts a lot of pressure on himself that way."



How is your wrist during the game and how is it feeling now?

        "It's good. It's sore, but it's going to be that way. It's fine, though."

The offense took a little while last week and then this week to pick up. Is that just growing pains or was Baltimore just playing that way?

        "They are a good defense. They beat Pittsburgh. and Pittsburgh has a very explosive offense. They did a good job of making plays and forcing out of things. They deserve credit, too."

What does it mean to you through three starts, you haven't thrown an interception?

        "Well, it's big because we've had a chance to win every game. Like I said from the beginning, if the other quarterback turns the ball over and you don't, it puts your team in a situation to win the ballgame. That's the biggest thing for us, taking care of the football. Everything wasn't perfect today, but that's the way it's going to be sometimes. But we did take care of the football and I'm proud of the guys for that."

How does it feel having Tyler Eifert out there as another target?

        "It definitely helps. He is an unbelievable player for us and a great target. He really made some good plays today and definitely helped us out."

How hard is it to develop chemistry with a guy like him that you haven't played with?

        "I feel like I have chemistry with all of the guys. It's still throwing and catching. The only time I feel like it's hard is on certain routes, but we spend a lot of time during the week putting in the work. He has done an excellent job when he came back earlier this week really focusing in on what routes we needed to get extra work on and we did that."

He (Eifert) said it wasn't critical that he get game snaps with you, but it was helpful. Do you agree?

        "He knows where to be and I have a good feel for where he is going to be. I think it showed on the touchdown pass. I knew he was going to end up being there, and the defender was looking at me, so I let it go, and he did an excellent job of making the catch for the TD. There are certain guys that you know the feel they are going to have for the game and how they play the game, and he is just one of those guys."

Did Baltimore make a concerted effort to take away A.J. Green after what he did to them last time?

        "Yes. They focused on him and had some different things that they did, kind of like what they did against Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh."

Do you fully expect to be the starting quarterback if you guys are playing in the playoffs next week?

        "I just come in and go to work during the week and if I am, I am. I guess I will just find out sometime this week. I still prepare the same way and get ready."

Marvin Lewis said he thought you were a little amped up to start the game. Were your emotions tough to get under control?

        "I just for some reason couldn't get in a rhythm to start. We just had some miscommunication on certain routes, but when we picked up the tempo, it kicked right in and I felt great. It's just some games are going to be like that. We started off hot last week and came out in the second half and didn't. This week we didn't start out hot and we finished well. We just have to put a full game together for next week."

Unless San Diego upsets Denver, you will be playing Pittsburgh. How do you feel about that?

        "It's a great matchup and a great rivalry and we are excited. We are just excited about getting to play in the playoffs, especially a game at home and make the most of it. We are going to sit back and enjoy this for a little bit and then figure out who we play and then come in tomorrow and get ready or Tuesday."

How different are you than the last time you lined up against Pittsburgh?

        "I feel like I am finally getting some reps, know the offense a little bit more and am more used to it. I've been trying to take care of the football and being thrown in that game, I didn't. I feel like we are doing good, though."

You have to feel good that in three starts, you haven't thrown an interception ...

        "Yes, it definitely helps. Like I said, turnovers is a big key to success in this league, really at any level. I think if you don't turn the ball over in this league, you put your team in a situation to win the ballgame and that's what it comes down to. The biggest thing for us is taking care of the football, whether it's the running game or the passing game."

How fine of a line is it between being cautious and not wanting to turn the ball over and still keeping an edge and being aggressive?

        "I think you just have to pick and choose. It's just certain situation that you want to and others that you don't. It just goes with the flow of the game and the flow of your guys and whether you need an extra boost. It's just a feel you have to have for the game. I just try to calculate all of that and figure out when to take some risks and when not to."

Considering this franchise hasn't won a playoff game in awhile and if you are the guy, do you embrace that challenge to be the guy to lead this team to a playoff win?

        "I think no matter if it's me or A.D. (Andy Dalton), Keith (Wenning) or Mike (Kafka), we want to win. I think the whole team, the whole offense is going to step up for this challenge and really prepare hard this week. This is a great group of guys we have; guys want to win games. They want to work hard. It's been a fun year. We definitely come to work this week and get ready to go."

Can you talk about the skills that A.J. (Green) has on the sidelines with being able to toe tap so well ...

        "I mess with him. For him to do so well with the sidelines, he is a terrible dancer. You would think being able to toe tap and everything, he would be better. He is just an excellent player. My job is to put it where the DB isn't and he goes up and makes plays like that. I think we have a good feel for each other and it's working."

It's obviously not the same level, but you were in a lot of big games at Alabama. If you are the starter next week, does that help you?

        "I don't know. Like I've said from the beginning when I was able to take this thing over, college is college and the NFL is the NFL. I think having experience playing in big games in bigger stadiums and it's a lot louder and the stakes at Alabama are pretty wild, I think it helps. But it's two different leagues and I just preparing for the moment I am living in right now."

You talked last week about getting hot and getting on a roll. Do you think this team is playing well enough right now to make some noise?

        "We are winning ballgames. We could have easily been 3-0, on a roll right now, if not for the one slip up. I think we are a focused great and guys are ready. We are really up for this challenge and it's going to be a challenge. Pittsburgh is a great team if we play them and it's going to be a fun week."


Wide receiver

You may end up playing the Pittsburgh Steelers next week in the playoffs. What are your thoughts on that matchup?

        "It doesn't matter who it is. We'll be ready, whoever it is."

You had two really spectacular catches back-to-back — on the play before you scored your touchdown, and then on the touchdown itself. It seemed like you had ballet shoes on during those plays ...

        "I was just trying to make a play — to give us a little spark."

You felt like you needed something at that point?

        "Yeah. It felt like we were stalling (out on drives) on offense, so (I was trying to do) whatever it took to make a play."

What happened when Adam Jones wandered out there to the huddle to talk to you guys? What did he say?

        " 'You've got to get something going.' Simple as that. I know how he is — he's emotional. We needed that."

Is it sort of strange that you don't know yet if you'll have a bye week or may be playing Pittsburgh in six days?

        "It's football. It's sports. That's what you've got to do. Sometimes you have to wait and see what other teams do. We won this game; that's all we care about. You can't worry about what's going to happen next."

Head coach Marvin Lewis this week talked a lot about great players making great plays during this time of year. What do you think it was to have marquee players on this team start making plays in the second half of the year?

        "We've been doing that all year. A lot of people have made marquee plays. It's not just one (guy). We've just got to stay healthy, have a good week of practice, and be ready next week."



What does it mean to have this 12th win now and tie the franchise record for the most wins in a regular season?

        "It means (a lot) for the city of Cincinnati, the program, and for coach (Lewis) because he's been here for such a long time. To go out the way we did ... Obviously some of the coaches are frustrated with the amount of yards we gave up, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and you've got to be happy with that."

It seems Marvin has talked more about points being given up than yards, but you guys set a franchise record in a low in that regard. What does it say about this team that you were able to set that mark this year?

        "I know that on paper it means something good, obviously. But I know (Bengal defensive coordinator) Paul (Guenther) and you guys don't hear him on the sidelines cursing and hollering (as) he's obviously not satisfied with our performance out there on the field. But you can't hide it, you know? We're just not playing the type of defense we should be playing at the end of the season. We've just got to fix some mistakes and get better, because I know we can be a better defense than what we're showing."

This defense has shown it can be a playoff caliber defense ...

        "Oh yeah — this is easily the best defense I've been around since I've been here. I might not say all that to you guys, but we're making strides to become the best (defense) that we can be."


Tight end

What are your thoughts on potentially facing Pittsburgh next week in the playoffs, especially given all the history between the two teams?

        "They're a really good football team on both sides of the ball. It would be a good test for us. The atmosphere (here at Paul Brown Stadium) will be rocking. It will be a big playoff atmosphere. It will be a lot of fun."

What are your thoughts on getting back on the field today and how did you feel out there after missing a few weeks due to the concussion protocol?

        "Yeah, I thought I did well. It felt really good to be back out there. I was going through the season and getting into a groove, and then I missed a couple of weeks. I really just wanted to get back out there to help the guys win. It was just good to help get a win for us."

You have a large role in the passing offense. Moving into the playoffs, what will be the keys for you to help this team come out with a win next week and beyond?

        "I think we pretty much (need to) stick to our game plan and listen to our coaches — they'll have a good game plan put together for whoever we're going to play — and get a good week of practice in, and go out and play hard every snap. You can't worry about all the extra stuff. You just go out and play hard, and good things will happen."


Wide receiver

The offense seemed to get off to a slow start today. What caused that, and what finally changed things around for you guys later in the game?

        "I don't know. It just happened, you know? Baltimore has a really good defense and was playing well, and we just couldn't find our stride. It took us a little while, but once we did, we were able to put a few things together and get some points (on the board)."

What are your thoughts on a potential matchup vs. Pittsburgh next week?

        "We've got to be prepare and work harder than we ever have this year and just be ready. It's going to be a really good game, and everyone's going to look forward to playing."

You took a few snaps at quarterback this game, as you have in recent weeks. What are your thoughts when you get that play call?

        "I just go back there, have fun and do my job."


Defensive end

You may play Pittsburgh next week in the opening round of the playoffs. Is that something you were rooting for?

        "It doesn't matter who we play. We're in the dance, and we've got to win. It's a new season, it's a new year. Right now, we're 1-0 in the new year, and if we stay undefeated, it means we've done something astronomical around here. We'll take it one day at a time, one game at a time, one practice at a time, one film session at a time, and just get it done, man."

Third down normally tells a tale of the game. But they were dynamite on third down — you guys didn't convert a third down all day — and yet you still won the game pretty handily ...

        "Yeah. You can't really (tell just by looking at the statistics). That's one of those stats. That and turnovers (are what people use as telling plays), and we had a turnover today."

You guys forced two turnovers, actually ...

        "Right, but the one we scored on after (Vontaze Burfict's interception), that was the turning point. I think that turned the whole game around, and a turnover eliminates third down (conversions), so to speak."

Do you think the game turned on the interception itself?

        "On the pick itself. The crowd got into it, the offense had a look in its (collective) eye, and they went down and took care of business."



It took a while for you guys to break through, but it seemed like you guys started making plays in the second half. How important was it for the best players to stand up and play well?

        "It was huge. They came out ready to play, just like we knew they would. It's a division game. They're very familiar with us, and we're familiar with them. We knew they weren't going to just lay down and let us go up and down the field on them. We came out in the second half and executed like we're supposed to do. There were a lot of plays we wish we could have back, but we won the game, and that's all that matters."

What was it like to break that long run, after not having had one for a while?

        "I just keep pounding, and doing what I can to help my team. That's just how the season has been, with guys stepping up and making plays when they've been called on. That was my time to make a play and help my team."

What did you see on your long run?

        "They tried to blitz the MIKE linebacker, and Jake Fisher did a great job picking him up. I got to the second level, and I got a big block from the back side from Cedric Ogbuehi. He cut the safety off a little bit for me, and it was off to the races for me after that. It was just up to me to try and use my speed to get to the end zone."



Someone said that you guys set the franchise record for fewest points allowed on defense. What does that mean to you?

        "Yeah, I heard. It's pretty good. It's just the little things we work for. Coach Lewis had never won 12 games here (in Cincinnati). So that's a big accomplishment. The next step is to do what we've got to do to win next week and take it one game at a time."

You finished the regular season 12-4. How do you characterize what you accomplished so far?

        "I just think we were led by good leaders. The people upstairs are doing a good job of getting the right people in here. Paulie (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther) and V.J. (defensive backs coach Vance Joseph) and the defensive coaches have done tremendous all year. The offensive side has been pretty good. Coach Lewis has done a good job of keeping everybody on the same page."

On a possible matchup with Pittsburgh next week ...

        "I don't want to talk about it. We'll see what happens."

Are you looking forward to it?

        "Hell yeah. I'm looking forward to whoever we play."

Entering this time of year, is there anything you change at this point?

        "Don't change. It's a time you love and cherish and wait for your whole life, growing up as a kid. I can speak for myself. I enjoy it. Hopefully I can come up big for the team."



On dropped interception in the fourth quarter ...

        "I just dropped it. No excuse for that. I just dropped it, man. Stuff happens."

That might have been the interception to put you in the league lead in interceptions. What would that have meant to you?

        "I play to win the game, man. If I get a pick, I get a pick. If I don't, I don't. As long as we won, that's all I care about. Vontaze (Burfict) and Rey (Maualuga) caught theirs, so that's all that matters right now."

This defense set a franchise record for fewest points allowed. Does that mean anything to you?

        "It means a lot to the defense. For Paul (Guenther) and the rest of the coaches, congrats to them. And for Marvin (Lewis) getting his 12th win. It means a lot to this defense and this organization. We just have to continue it and continue to play as a team."

On reaching 12 wins ...

        "It was hard. It wasn't an easy season. We knew Baltimore was coming in here to wreck shop, and we definitely didn't want that. We wanted Marvin to get this 12th win, and we did that. So, on to the next one."

Do you feel this defense is peaking as a unit right now?

        "We have a lot to learn from this tape and continue to play as a defense. We'll talk about the peaking later, after we continue to win games."

Do you feel this group is ready to take the next step?

        "We know we have a special group here, and we know what's at stake. We've been here before. We know what the outside noise is talking about. We'll continue to ignore that and come in here Monday or Tuesday and get our work done."


Offensive tackle

You finished the regular season 12-4, with the best record Bengals record since 1988. Can you put that into perspective?

        "Man, I wish I could. It's been a fun ride. To be here in my 10th year now, with five straight playoff appearances and going six out of my 10 years, that's an awesome accomplishment. But there's work to be done. I still need that first playoff win. This is a better step. We wanted to improve as a football team, and we're 12-4. But we want more."

How important is it for big players to make key plays late in the game, like what happened today?

        "It'll be important the rest of the year. This time of year, it's about the teams that play the best. It's not about who they've got, or this or that — it's the teams that play the best together and have guys that make the special plays. A lot of times, you have guys that you never even knew were that big of a player on a team — they step up and make huge plays in the playoffs. That's the bottom line — when you get to this time of year, it's the guys that go who make things special. That's how you win."

How well do you think the team is playing right now? Do you feel this team is playing well enough to make a run in the playoffs?

        "We're building up. To start over with a new quarterback, everybody's learning each other again. From the huddle calls to where he's going to be — and all those kinds of things. That can be complicated at times, but it's gotten better and better. We're excited for the opportunity."


Defensive end

A lot of people say that the teams who are hot heading into the playoffs are the most successful. Do you feel this team and this defense is hot right now?

        "That was one of the critical things, and that's why you saw all the starters coming out there with an edge earlier. We had a little bit of a slow start, but we got it going and we finished strong. The teams that play hot late are the teams that make the biggest push. Right now, we're catching fire and we're looking forward to seeing who we're going to play."

On potential matchup with Pittsburgh ...

        "That's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. If it's those guys, we know what type of football game it's going to be. We know them, they know us. So, we're just going to go out there and make it a hard-nosed football game. We want to be the ones on the better side of it, and we're going to go about it and do what we need to do to make that happen."



JAN. 3, 2016



Head coach

Initial comments ...

        "Good to see everybody, and congratulations to the Bengals. Obviously a tremendous season and we wish them all the best in the playoffs going forward. They deserve it and have had a great year and they played a winning football game today and they played very well."

Maxx Williams played very well today. As a rookie, is it just about getting better each week?

        "Yeah, I think all of our guys have gotten better each week. Maxx and the whole group of wide receivers made some plays and missed a few plays. In this game what we needed to be able to do was make some plays. We were going to need to make some big plays in the passing game. We had tried to game-plan it up to create a few of those. We were close. We had the ball hit the ground and it got called back, those plays kind of come and go. Obviously, we needed touchdowns when we had the opportunity in the first half, and we got the field goals. I think that's the big thing. We knew we were going to have to play error-free football, and we didn't do that. The first drive of the second half was really going to be an important drive for us, and we talked about it at halftime. We haven't done very well on the first drive of the second half all year. We scored once all year. It might have been seven, eight or nine times that we had that opportunity and it's really important. To turn it over leading to their first score that really hurt us a lot, but again, the guys fought like crazy and competed. We just weren't good enough to win the game."

It seemed like Will Hill wasn't out there much ...

        "He hurt his back. He was getting x-rays at the beginning of the half. I have not heard what the back injury is, but he did not make it back into the game."

With the lack of timing between the quarterback and receivers, was that due to the Bengals press coverage?

        "Those are press coverage routes, the stop-nines. You run those against the press. I just think that's more of a factor of repetition between those guys. Those are routes that looked good in practice at times with Ryan Mallett and those guys, but we probably don't have enough reps under our belt to do those things and to be really tuned up the way we like to be."

How important were the reps Mallett was able to receive toward the end of this season?

        "It will help a ton. We have a look and he has a feel. We understand him as a quarterback more and we've game planned with him for two weeks. We see how he thinks and we've all seen how he plays, so it's an asset for us for sure."

It has to be gratifying for you to see your guys being all-in down to the wire ...

        "It's interesting talking to some of the guys. If we would have looked at this season before the season... Maybe that's why we're not able to see the future by our creator, because I don't think I would have wanted to go through it, and our guys wouldn't have wanted to go through it. But as we talked to the guys last night, you look at the road you had to travel and the valleys you had to push through, for our guys to handle all that, stick together and have each other's backs and continue to fight their way out, to fight every week believing that was the week we were going to turn it around and get it going, had some pretty crazy things happen to us — some by our own doing, some not — and continue to never flinch, never bat an eye or back down and stick together to the very end.

        "This has been one of the most rewarding seasons I've ever had. It's hard for people on the outside to understand that, but I think if you've ever been part of a team, you would understand that. If you've ever coached or played, you can understand how that could go. These guys will stand forever because of what they accomplished. Not in the win-loss column, but in the team column and the family column, in sticking together, character. I told them you're going to talk to your kids about it. It's easy to talk to them about the Super Bowl and the championship and playoff games you've played in, that's all fine. But there's a point in time when your kids are going to come to you and they've been going through a rough time and things aren't going to be going well for them and you're going to be able to relate back to your career and say 'Let me tell you about 2015 with the Ravens and what we did and what I did and how I handled it.' That's pretty powerful."

Does the end of this season give you some optimism that you can turn it around quickly next year?

        "Of course, it's not just being in every game close although it is something. We didn't go out there and get blown out. We turned the ball over multiple times against Seattle and Kansas City. The score got away from us a little bit. But the thing that our guys hopefully learned is what winning football looks like. If you don't turn it over, then its field position football. If you get first-downs, you get off the field on third down, that's something we did today. I think they were 0-for-9 on third down. When you're struggling in an area of football like we were with our pass defense in the first half of the season and then you turn it over and you become the best pass defense in the National Football League for the second half of the season, that's cause for optimism. We have the guys who can get the job done. We need pieces, there's no question. I think anybody can see what the pieces are that we need, and some of those pieces can be filled by some of the guys in that locker room. I just told them between now and April 15 how much better are you going to get as a football player and as an athlete. I want to have my eyes opened like 'Wow, look at the work this guy has been putting in,' and that will all be part of it."

Since the bye week, what seemed to click for the pass defense?

        "I think we have been playing with more discipline, and I think we have playing better assignments. We cleaned up our assignments and our system a little bit. We put it together a little bit better in ways guys could operate. You learn those types of things over the course of season and we're going to go to work and continue to do that over the next few months. We're going to come out swinging as a coaching staff in the next few weeks and we're going to be putting together some systems with offense, defense and special teams that will be better than the one we ended the season with. That's our responsibility to do that and we think we can do it."

On that long touchdown run by Jeremy Hill, what did you see?

        "Well, two things. First of all, we didn't get off blocks like we should right at the point of attack. You can't be blocked one-for-one at the point of attack, and we were. Give them credit. They blocked us there, and we lost our cut-back player. That cut-back player got caught up in a wash. The cut-back player should be there and that should be a five-yard gain. You've got to count on that because he's not going to be blocked, but he kind of blocked himself by getting caught up in a wash."



Initial comments ...

Can you talk about the Bengals defense? Did they present any particular problems?

        "Yeah, they've got a really good defense. They got pressure, they stopped the run. You've got to give them credit. They played really well. I turned the ball over. I didn't give myself a big chance with that. So I give them all the credit. It's a good football team."

How much did the Bengals' run defense impact your offensive play calling?

        "Any time you can't run the ball, you've got to throw it. It's a 50-50 chance when the ball's in the air when nobody's holding on to it. We've got to run the ball better. There were plenty of plays to be made out there; there were plenty of plays I could have made out there. So like I said, you've got to give them all the credit. It's a really good football team."

Did you not see Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict on the interception in the third quarter?

        "I should have thrown it away. It's part of the game — just throw it away next time."

Overall, how comfortable did you feel in the offense during the last two games?

        "As much work as I put in, I feel very comfortable. So I look forward to the spring OTAs and to help get this team better — and be a part of this team — because that's what it is."

How can you use these past two games to help you in the offseason?

        "Well, I've got a head start on learning the offense. I don't have to wait until OTAs — I got a good crash course. Any time you get thrown into the fire like that, you've got to learn quick if you want to be successful. I did everything I could to put myself in a position to help this football team win football games at the end of the year."

What have you seen out of TE Maxx Williams that makes him a good target in the passing game?

        "He won the (John) Mackey (Award), right? Didn't he? He's a pretty good player. I actually threw to him a couple years ago when I was working out in Minnesota. So I've thrown with him before. He's just a good football player. When you watch the film, he makes plays after the catch, (and) he blocks. He's a tough guy."



Can you give your thoughts on the season?

        "I'm not big on moral victories, but this team has endured so much. I'm proud of the tough-minded team that we have from the top to the bottom. We fought all year. We gave teams our best shot no matter what the circumstances were. We'll take that and be better for sure."

Can you talk about the job that Coach Harbaugh has done this season?

        "He's a players' coach. We love him and we love playing for him. He treats the guys right and he expects the best out of us, and that's why we come out here and compete week in and week out — for him, for ourselves, our family, the great city of Baltimore, so that's what we are about as Baltimore Ravens."

How far off do you think you guys are from being a playoff caliber team?

        "I'm not a GM or anything, but I think once we get some of our bullets back, I think it creates a frenzy. We have experienced veterans and we have some pieces. The young guys did a great job coming in filling roles and taking a lot of snaps. I think we have to attack this offseason and understand that we got a lot of young guys some reps. We'll get our guys back and everyone will have to push that much more, because we know we can be what we want to be and that's to be Super Bowl Champions. That's our goal."


Tight end

What can you take from this game?

        "It's not just this game, it's the whole season. Learning what it takes to win. I take a lot from this year, actually, like how we stuck together as team this whole year with the ups and downs. It really shows the character of our leaders in this organization — the coaches, scouts, GM, players — everyone. We stick together no matter what. As you guys saw, we are going to fight to the end no matter what."

This team seems different than a typical five-win team headed into the offseason. Do you feel that way?

        "Absolutely. I think we know exactly what type of team we can be and the type of team we are. We just didn't show it this year. I think we take that fire that we know that we are better than everyone thinks we are and we go into this offseason and work that much harder so we can go into next season and prove everyone wrong and do great things.



What is your role going to be next year?

        "Being on this football team."

There have been a lot of great players that have made the move from cornerback to safety. Do you think you can make that move?

        "Yes, I'm going to make that move."

To safety?

        "Yes. That's me."

Do you view yourself as a safety?

        "I just view myself as helping this defense. We are trying to become a more athletic secondary, and with me at safety I think that will help out a lot — roaming in the middle of the field and it allows me to have more control over the defense."

You have experience at safety in college, correct?

        "Yes. It's nothing new. It's regular. It was just about when they wanted me to make that move, not or three years from now. It happened now."



What are your plans after you leave here?

        "At this point, I just want to get on that plane and enjoy being with my teammates. No matter which way you spin it, this going won't be the exact same ever again. I've been thankful to have the opportunity to prove myself the last several years with the Ravens."

With all things being equal, would you like to come back to Baltimore next year?

        "I definitely would. I've had a great experience. My wife and I — our growing family has had a great experience in Baltimore. The fans have been great. The organization has been great. My teammates have become some of my closest friends. It's something that I'd like to build upon and continue."

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