Every Monday, win or lose, John Harbaugh steps infront of the mic to take questions about the game from all of Baltimore's media members. Here are some of the highlights of what went down in today's press conference:
With only one fullback on the roster, what personnel adjustments will you need to make if McClain is unable to play?
"It's just what we did during the game, basically. Those guys have worked the fullback position. The 'F' position is a lot of positions. It's fullback, it's a wing, it's a balanced two-by-two formation, it's 'trips,' it's a movement position. Le'Ron does all those things. Obviously, you do the things with the position that the guy does best. Two of our other running backs can play fullback, so we've got some other options. When you've got a week to prepare for that possibility, we'll have more things up this week."
My Take: Two of the other running backs can play fullback - really? Does that include little Ray Rice who would have to block defensive lineman double his size for Willis McGahee? I can't imagine that actually being the case. Someone has to be brought in if Le'Ron McClain can't go. The Ravens need to match the physical play of the Steelers and it's going to be hard to do without McClain. Lets hope he gets healthy fast.
What impressed you about the last drive when the offense got two first downs to finish the game?
"That was really important. I think we all would like to have seen [that] a little more through the third quarter and even through the fourth quarter. But, for the guys to step up when they had to, not to put our defense back on the field, which was something that I think our offense really wanted to do... Sometimes this year, we hadn't done that. They went out and did that in that game. That was probably the most gratifying part of the whole game to see the offense go out there and finish it off like that."
My Take: It always seems like the Ravens find a way to make the game interesting and this Sunday, that again was the case. At least this time the offense picked up the defense. They would've put Tampa away earlier had the refs not made that call on Anquan Boldin (which I still have yet to see him block him in the back). Overall, we put together a solid gameplan and took down a really good football team. Good thing the Ravens only have the 8-3 Steelers here next week; no big deal. Lets put them away, that'd be nice.
Does the game against Pittsburgh feel like a playoff game?
"You guys may roll your eyes at it, but I think every week feels like a playoff week right now in the National Football League. It just seems like if you stub your toe, you're not out obviously, so that's different, and you can always recover. But, it just seems like the stakes go up every single week - this week more than ever. There is a lot at stake. Whoever wins this game does take control of the division. The other team will have to catch up with them in some form or fashion. It gives you an opportunity to use some things in the playoffs. We understand all that, and we know how big of a game this is. Plus, it's Pittsburgh, and it's at our place, and we'll have our fans fired up for the game. We're hoping they get there early and they're very loud."
My Take: Oh the fans fans will be there early and they'll be loud. It's the Ravens turn to give the fans what they want: a win against the Steelers that doesn't come with any questions. A win against Big Ben. A win against a pretty much full strength Steelers team. It has to happen eventually and this would be the perfect time. It isn't win-or-go-home atmosphere like a playoff game represents, but this win would be huge. The rest of the season will be that much harder if we lose Sunday.
You know the gravity of this game and this rivalry. Is there a way that you can describe your appreciation for it in the time that you've been here in terms of the intensity with the players, the focus of the players, and maybe even some of the fan interest?
"Yeah, I know the fans I come across, they talk about this game all the time. It seems like it's the most important game to the Ravens fans. They're our arch rival, and I don't know what more you need to say than that. It's a very intense game. It's a very physical game. It's a little bit different than the other games we play. We love playing them. We look forward to it. We can't wait to line up."
My Take: This is the game of the year for the Ravens and it just happens to be against the Steelers. Wouldn't have it any other way. If we want to call ourselves the best we have to beat the best and that's the only way to earn. I don't think the Ravens have ever been this balanced and they have what it takes to beat the Steelers and the rest of the league. The momentum that will come with a win is so valuable to the stretch run to the playoffs. As for the rivalry, it doesn't get better than this.