Opening comments:"Obviously, it's the final week of the regular season. I think our guys continue to fight through and really show a lot of spirit. It's an exciting opportunity to go up to Baltimore. When the schedule came out, you looked at that game and knew that the game was going to be important, hopefully for both of us. Now, it's just one of us (regarding postseason play). But it's very important still, for our team to finish this season on a high note, to finish on the road and get a victory. We know what they're playing for. We need a good week of preparation to go up there and play. It's going to be as most of the games have been, very physical. We're going to play all 60 minutes and that's the part that's ahead of us."
On why he and the Bengals have had success (10-5 under Lewis) against the Ravens:"I think as you go back and look through those games as I've done, you have to be able to effectively run the football. It's not that we ripped and roared up the field. We've only done that twice. But you have to keep them from doing it. You have to do a great job taking care of the football, and on the other side you have to get some takeaways and then make stops on third down. It's the same principles of football we talk about all the time. Then, you want to limit explosive plays and then make some. Those are the things week in and week out it takes to win in the NFL. I think this one will play out the same way."
On why the Bengals have been able to stop Ravens QB Joe Flacco:"I don't know. The key is to win the football game, and as to what we did before, I've sort of done that the last question. This is a new game, new week. New Ravens, new Bengals, new Flacco. And we're going to have at it come Sunday."
On disappointment regarding T Andrew Whitworth not being selected to the Pro Bowl:"Yeah, but Willie (Anderson) went through that for several years before he made it. Sometimes you have to knock on the door first before it opens. You have to keep knocking. He's such a great pro and he'll have many opportunities ahead, and hopefully it works out. Unfortunately, in line positions, it often reflects in your season (as a team). Keep playing at the level he's playing, and hopefully it works out."
On a number of Bengals players showing strong leadership during a difficult season:"I think we really have had a great corps of pros for the young players to see how that works. We can't draw it up the way we want and have it come out that way all the time, and we have to keep making steps to keep working that way, to be responsible for the outcome. We have guys continuing to do that."
On Chad Ochocinco's availability for this week:"I don't know. We'll see."
On if he thinks about the possibility of this being his last game with the Bengals:"My focus is really the Baltimore Ravens, and we'll cross that bridge when it comes to that time. I don't think much about it."
On Baltimore S Ed Reed:"He's a fine, fine player. Has great ability to track the ball. Great ability to be in the right spots defensively. On the tape, he's not far off the football often. He becomes the quarterback back there in the secondary. Really reliable and knows where he is all the time."
On if it's good to end the season against the Ravens:"Yes and no. Yes because we do know them, no because it's Baltimore and they're very good offensively, defensively, and obviously a playoff team. But one nice thing about it from our standpoint on offense is that we've had some success against them, and over the years have played well there and been able to find a way to win there. But there's a lot of good players over there on that defensive side of the ball, and a really good staff that game plans very well. It's going to be a difficult place for us to get a win. The crowd's going to be very into it and excited, so we have our hands full."
On the difference S Ed Reed makes to the Ravens defense:"Ed is a great player, obviously a tremendous player that's probably going to go to the Hall of Fame, but you've still got (Haloti) Ngata, you've still got Ray Lewis, you've still got Terrell Suggs. Jarret Johnson is probably the most underrated defensive player in the league. So there are still a lot of really good football players over there. He's kind of a wild card, where you really have to know where he is and have a good feel for him as the game goes on. So it is a little bit different with Ed in there, but it's still a really good defense without him. And they hung on and won a bunch of big games early on in this season when they didn't have him. So it's still a very good team without him."
On Reed intercepting him more than Troy Polamalu:"Yeah, I mean he's made a ton of plays. He's much more of a ball hawk than Troy. Troy is very good when the ball's around him, but Troy's used a lot differently. Troy is really used down in the box to stop the run and used a lot lower. Ed just roams the middle of the field. So they're really playing two different positions, two different styles of football. Ed is the guy that plays more of a defensive back role, where Troy is really down there playing the run."
On if he has to be more careful against Reed:"When Ed's back there and Troy's on the field, you've got to know where those two guys are. And both of those guys have similar guys around them, where Terrell Suggs is a guy you've got to know where he is too, and so is 92 (James) Harrison in Pittsburgh. So they're very good players and there are very good players around them that help them get to the ball and make plays."
On if the San Diego game was the best of his career:"Best game numbers-wise, but numbers don't always tell the tale, especially of a quarterback's play. But really no different than any other game. It was a big game for us, a game where we had a chance to knock a team out of the playoffs, a team that beat us the previous year. So it was a big game, and there was no different plan during the week to prepare or any different mindset on game day. It was just a Sunday game that we needed to win."
On if he feels vindicated, given the national criticism he's had this season:"No, and I don't think one game can change anything or really says anything. It was one game."
On if Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson's enthusiasm is contagious:"Absolutely. Jerome, he's really like a rookie as far as playing experience goes. It's always fun to play with young guys, that all of a sudden it's their first game and you get to see how they react. They bring a different vibe, a different energy than different players. So it's definitely contagious, I think, for everybody on the team, especially us offensive guys that get to see Jerome every day and work with him every day."
On if younger receivers freelance on routes less than veterans:"Jerome and Andre were very disciplined all game. They were exactly where they needed to be, other than one play. But it was great to see those guys come in, get their opportunity and do everything just the way it's coached up, just the way you practiced it all week. I'm going to stay on them this week to do the same. But definitely, two guys that just don't want to a make a mistake. They're getting their shot, they're going to do everything they can not to make a mistake and try to play error-free, and that's what they did for the most part."
On if he has any advice for them going into Baltimore:"I think the main thing that you get when you play Baltimore is just the atmosphere. It's a great place, their fans are amazing, it's a beautiful stadium, they do a really cool starting introduction thing when Ray Lewis comes out doing a little dance, and different guys have different things. So it can be overwhelming, especially your first time there, especially early on in the year. We've played there a handful of times with some rookies when it was their third, fourth, fifth game of the year and they really haven't experienced the NFL yet. Fortunately, it's the last game of the year and (Jordan) Shipley and Jermaine (Gresham) have been around for a little bit. But I think the main thing you've got to do is just block out the atmosphere. It's extremely loud. The weather's always a little iffy, and it's Ray Lewis and the whole thing he brings to the game. So you've got to block that stuff out, and at the end of the day it's just football."
On if playing in Baltimore is like a college atmosphere with the stands close to the field:"Yeah, it can be claustrophobic. The stands are right on top of you. Great fans game-in, game-out. They like to try to get underneath your skin. They talk a lot of trash. They know when to be loud at different times in the game and it can be difficult to play. But if you can go in and block all those things out, then you can be successful."
On why he has had success against the Ravens:"I think we match up well with them. We've had success blocking the different things they do up front because they change things up a lot and put guys in different positions, and if you don't play them very often, aren't familiar with some of the things they can do, it can catch you off-guard. So I think a little bit of familiarity but really just match up. We had Chris Henry and T.J (Houshmandzadeh). and Chad (Ochocinco), we matched up well with their DBs. Now it's a little bit different with the guys we have and the guys they have. So hopefully we can create some of those mismatches and be successful offensively."
On if he's talked to Marvin Lewis about Lewis' future:"No."
On if he's thought about what life would be like without Lewis:"No. I really haven't, I've been saying all season long, I really haven't thought about what's going to happen with anything. I try to stay extremely focused on the upcoming opponent and not look past them. Definitely going to stay focused on Baltimore, not look past at what could be at the end of the year."
On T Andrew Whitworth not being selected to the Pro Bowl:"Very disappointed. I told him he played better than any AFC tackle and NFC tackle. For him not to be the starter or even be on the roster, it's a shame."
On Whitworth receiving the team MVP award from the Cincinnati chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America:"Well-deserved. He's a great leader. He does things the right way on and off the field. And on the field, he's been a monster. He's blocked everybody, every top sack guy in the league this year and last year with no help, which a lot of those guys, even guys that are going to the Pro Bowl have gotten help. He's done it one-on-one without running backs helping him out or without a tight end on his side that's helping him out. So it's just nice to have a game plan where you don't worry about a certain individual because you know Whit's on that side. And for him not to go to the Pro Bowl, I feel terrible for Whit."
On how long it takes to build trust with young receivers:"I don't think there's a specific timeline or a certain amount of reps, a certain amount of days at work. It's just something that happens at some point really through experience, being in a tough situation whether it's a big play on third down against a tough defense in an away stadium and then being in the right spot at the right time. It's just one of those things that slowly happens through experience and just doing things right over and over again."
On if Jerome Simpson has to start from scratch again this week:"I don't think necessarily that he does. Last week going into the game, you're never really sure that you can do it until you do it, and he did it. So I think he's approaching this game with confidence that he can go up against the No. 1 defense or – I think Baltimore's No. 4 – and be successful. He needs to go about his work the right way during the week and his film study and preparation, but as far as going into the game, I think he's going to go into the game with a little bit more confidence, maybe a little bit more swagger, just because he's been there, done that."
RAVENS COACH JOHN HARBAUGH (with Cincinnati media)
On if making his third straight postseason in his three years was easy:"Well, thanks. Easy? That's probably not the case, but I'm proud of our guys, and it is a good accomplishment. I guess to have a chance to ultimately do what you want to do, you have to make the playoffs. We're a little disappointed that we weren't able to get some things done in some games that would have given us the division already. The Bengals game, obviously, early on was one of those. The Steelers game a couple of weeks ago was another one. We had a tough loss against Atlanta right at the end and we had a tough loss against New England with two minutes left in overtime. Those are the kinds of things you have, but you also find a way to win games like that, so I guess it evens out."
On why the Ravens have had sustained success:"That's such a complicated question. I don't think there is any one answer. I think we're built really well as an organization. It starts with our owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass and Ozzie (General Manager Ozzie Newsome). They have a good handle on what they want to do, and we've been able to build a team that's consistent with what their vision is for the organization. That's the main thing. But we've gotten lucky, too. Last year we were 9-7 and won a couple of tiebreakers. That probably goes hand-in-hand."
On his relationship with Ozzie Newsome:"I've known him for a long time peripherally, and obviously the last three years we've gotten really close. The first thing is, he's really talented and he's really humble. He's got a nice combination of that, and he's very confident. He does a great job. He's really a straight shooter and lets everybody know where they stand. With the players, I think he holds them accountable and he helps me to hold the players accountable. So I think we're very consistent, he and I, in terms of discipline, expectations and standards. I think we work well together that way.
"The other thing is, he is willing to work with his coach. We probably don't make any decision personnel-wise or in how we structure the football team that the other guy doesn't really agree with. If there is a player that I'm not really excited about or don't want, he's very tuned into that. If there is a discipline decision or something that we're doing with our program that he feels strongly about, I'm tuned into that. We've each got our area, but at the same time we don't really do anything that the other person isn't comfortable with and we try to do something the other person feels strongly about. That works pretty well."
On why the Bengals have beaten the Ravens three straight and frustrated Joe Flacco:"I would agree with that, but I'm not sure why exactly other than to say they're good. I think their defense is very, very good and I think they frustrate a lot of people. They give you problems. Just taking a look at this defense the last two days, it's pretty hard for me to understand. When you look at them on tape, they look like a playoff-caliber team, they look like a playoff-caliber defense. They're fast, they're physical, they have a great system. Mike Zimmer does a really, really good job of mixing up his blitzes and his pressure stuff.
"I think they have a tremendous group of linebackers that play downhill, play fast. It's very physical front and two of the best corners in football. Maybe the best corner combination in football. They are just really good. Maybe they just match up really well against us. They cover us, they jam us and they don't let us get down field a lot of times and run our routes and they control our run game. We're going to have to find a way to overcome some of those things and see if we can do something. We've done very little to nothing the last three or four times we've played them."
On RB Ray Rice's impact:"He's our back. He's kind of our Cedric Benson. I think we have pretty good depth with Willis McGahee and LeRon (McClain), but he's a game-breaking type of guy. When we get him out in space and he can break some tackles and make some plays, it helps us create some big plays."
On incorporating Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh into the offense:"I don't think it's been a problem. They're great guys and they work hard, but they want the ball. They want to compete and they want to win. They get frustrated. There are times when they want certain routes run or they want the ball coming their way. That's not something we discourage. As long as they're respectful of their teammates and respectful of each other and understand that this is a team-first concept, which I think those guys in Cincinnati do as well. I want to hear what you have to say and what you have to think, but there are other times where that's not the case or it can't be that way. But I think they do a good job of blocking, they do a good job of running routes when they're not the primary receiver. They do all of those team things all of the time. We'd like to get them more catches. I would like to see Anquan, T.J. and Mase (Derrick Mason) all have more catches, and I think that's something week-to-week you try to get done."
On Houshmandzadeh being very vocal:"You know what? It really doesn't bother me and I don't think it bothers Joe (Flacco). We had a game a few weeks ago where Mason and Joe grabbed each other on the sideline and had a shoving match, during the Carolina game. That stuff, to me, is just a part of football. As long as the people involved have good hearts and they really do respect one another, to me, say what you want. Say what you think, 'B.S. That's not the way it is." Or I'll ask him, 'What did you do when he threw it to the other guy? Did you block? If you didn't block, I don't want to hear it. If you're down there blocking and busting your tail, then you've got a legitimate something to say.' And I think our guys, they're just a bunch of good guys and we have good leadership in the locker room. That all helps."
On how much he talks to his brother, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh:"He had a great year, and they're getting ready for the Orange Bowl Monday night, but we'll talk probably once or twice a week. Sometimes we'll miss a week here or there, but we talk a lot."
On Jim's future:"Yeah, I kind of had a feeling that question was coming up, that it was going to be a follow-up. You know what? We've talked quite a lot about it, and I can honestly say that he does not know what he is going to do. That is what he told me and I think I can tell it's true. He and (wife) Sarah just had a baby, they just had their second and that was a big deal. Obviously, they just traveled to the Orange Bowl two days ago and they're going to try to win that. He loves those players there, and he's trying to find a way to win that game. He really does like Stanford. He likes the people there, and he's got a lot of close friends there now and he loves his players. My bet would be that, but I don't think he's thinking about it. And there's been no jobs offered, either. I think it will play out in the next week or two and we'll see what happens. He'll do the thing that he thinks is the most exciting and the thing that is best for his family, but it is way up in the air right now."
On Jim's name coming up for college and pro jobs:"Well, he's a great coach. He's a great coach as ball coaches go, but he's also a guy who played in the NFL for 15 years. He's one of the few quarterbacks that I know of, who had the kind of career he had, that went back and was quality control coach, was a small college coach, who worked his way up to a job like Stanford, took that program and turned it around. He's for real. I've known him his whole life. I know how competitive he is and how smart he is and how tough he is. I think people are right to be interested in him."
On how much he and his brother help each other:"A lot. We talk about things all of the time. We'll get a motivational idea from each other or we talk about practice schedules. I'm not a quarterback guy, so something Joe (Flacco) is doing, I'll run it by Jim and he'll give me his two cents on it or something on defense or special teams that he'll want to know about. Yeah, we talk all the time about that stuff."
On Miami University (his alma mater) returning to a bowl game this year:"Oh, thrilled. Yeah, congratulations. Congratulations. I want to say Redskins but I'll say RedHawks, too. You know us old guys, we like the old nickname. I'm so proud of them. MAC champs. I think Michael (Haywood) did a great job there. I'm interested to see what they'll do. Has there been any word on what they're going to do with the coach?"
Don Treadwell has been rumored as the guy, but sounds like no final decision made yet:"OK. I played with Don, so he'd be a great choice. I'm sure they've got a lot of good options. I know (Athletic Director) Brad Bates pretty well and I'm sure he'll do a great job. It's good to see Miami back."
RAVENS QB JOE FLACCO (with Cincinnati media)
On clinching his third straight playoff berth in his third season:"Well we feel like we've got a pretty good team here, and for the most part in those three seasons, we've played pretty consistent football. We've been a Wild Card each season and we want to win our division, and that's why this game will be so important. It feels good, but we've got to continue to improve so we can win a couple games."
On the difference of winning the division as opposed to the Wild Card:"I think it definitely makes a difference. Getting that bye and getting a home game could really freshen you up at this point of the year. When you've played 16 games and you're going into the 18th week of the season, that bye can definitely help you out and freshen your team up and rejuvenate you. But at the same time, we don't mind going out there and playing a game the first week of the playoffs either, just because we feel if we win that game it gives us momentum and it can catapult us through the rest of the playoffs. Either way, we'll be glad and we'll be ready to go."
On the Ravens having proved they can win on the road in the playoffs:"Yeah, definitely. The last couple of years we've had to go on the road into some tough places and win, and we've been up to that challenge. So wherever or however it comes out this year we'll be ready for it. Whether it's a home game or whether we go on the road to Indy or Kansas City, we'll be ready for it."
On Delaware (his alma mater) being in the FCS National Championship:"Yeah, they'll be playing Jan. 7 somewhere down in Dallas. It should be exciting."
On how much the experience of playing in the FCS playoffs has helped him as a pro:"I don't know. For me, it was really a great experience just to be with my team and finish out my college career in that atmosphere. It was a really cool experience to be in a playoff system, where if you don't win, you're out of it. Maybe it gave me a little experience when it comes to this, but I don't know, I really can't say that. For me, it was just a really cool experience to be able to spend that time with my teammates and to win games to get to the national championship."
On the reason for his and the Ravens' recent struggles against the Bengals:"They're a good team. Last year they won the division and they beat us, Cleveland and Pittsburgh two out of two. They've been a good football team and we haven't played our best football. We have to make sure that we do everything full speed and come out highly motivated to win this game. It's going to be a fight. It always is with these guys, as division games always are, and I think that's the way they've been the last couple of times. We haven't played our best, but they've been really good games with Cincinnati. Last year at our place, they came down and threw a touchdown pass in the final minute of the game to beat us, so these games come down to that and we know that. We just have to make sure we play consistently enough to pull it out in the end or to hold on to it in the end."
On Bengals CBs Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph:"Those guys are good. Just the fact that they're able to get on receivers and play pretty tight coverage. They make the lanes pretty tight and it seems like they're constantly there contesting passes. When you have that throughout the course of a game, whether it's tipped balls or interceptions, whatever it may be, and you're there consistently, something is eventually going to happen good in your favor. That's what they've done. They've been able to play tight coverage, even when we've hit on some touchdowns. They've had good coverage but we just happen to hit a couple of plays. Those guys are good, solid corners that make it tough on you throughout the game and they never have a let-down."
On incorporating Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh into the offense:"The biggest thing is that you have to use them throughout the game, and they have to realize that a handful of catches here and there is going to add up to a lot. Every guy can't have 150 yards and 10 catches every game. There are going to be games when you have that, and there are going to be games where you have three catches for 45 yards, but one of those might be for the biggest play of the game. You have to be ready at all times and it really falls on those guys to understand that and realize that they might not be the main guy every game. But throughout the course of the season you're going to end up having pretty good seasons, and you're going to be a big impact on why we're successful. For me, it's just being patient and going through my progressions and reads the same as I would if we had three rookies out there. I have to treat every guy the same and let the play work and play itself out. I have to hit the guy that's open, and I think that's the way we've done it for the most part this year, and when we've done that well, we've had a lot of success."
On his relationship with Houshmandzadeh:"T.J. is a vocal guy, but he's actually been really good and we have a great relationship."
On Houshmandzadeh's propensity for key plays:"Yes, T.J. has been ready and like I said, you have to get it through to these guys that they have to stay ready at all times and be ready to make that big catch. He's had a handful of big touchdown catches for us this year."
On RB Ray Rice's impact:"Ray enables us to do a lot of things. He can run the ball, but he's a big threat in our passing game whether it's screens or check-downs or we run him to the post out of the backfield. When you have that ability to beat one-on- one coverage, it can open up your offense a lot."
On if he ever takes having Ray Lewis and Ed Reed for granted:"Maybe a little bit. We understand what those guys mean, though. Those guys are veterans that have been playing the way they've been playing right now for a long time. They're just leaders of this team. Ray Lewis, it's really tough to see this team without him, for the guys on the team. He's a huge part of why we're successful."