DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF: INDIANAPOLIS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Jim Caldwell
On how concerned he is with the Ravens' running game and all three running backs: "I'll tell you what: They put on such a devastating performance, in regard to just [a] dominating performance [against the Patriots]. They give you lots of problems. Obviously, their offensive line is blocking extremely well. They're a physical bunch, and they did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. And then you couple that with the fact that you have a great back – a great set of backs – that do a great job of not only being patient waiting for things to open for them, but once they find a crack, they have the long speed where they can take it to the house. So yeah, they certainly do concern us."
On if it was tough to get a read on QB Joe Flacco because he only threw 10 passes vs. the Patriots: "Not really. We've seen him, obviously, throughout the year. In our game, he got on a bit of a role and did a nice job of getting the ball outside. We know he has talent. He can make all the throws, so he's a concern as well."
On how rookie T Michael Oher played against them earlier this season and the transition an offensive tackle deals with going from college to the NFL that's different from other positions: "Well, I can probably tell you, against us, Michael Oher played extremely well. Obviously, he pass-protected well and he run-blocked extremely well against our guys. He seems to get better each and every week, and [I have] just a simple comment in regards to the difference between – not as if I'm an authority of any sort – but the difference between college and the pros is like a lot of positions. It's a speed factor that they have to contend with – guys that are very, very fast on the edge that you have an opportunity or enough athletic ability to maneuver yourself in front of them to secure the pocket, but then also enough strength to handle them at the line of scrimmage in terms of the run game."
On the difference he sees in the Ravens' defense from the first time the teams played earlier this season: "Well, they played great against us. Obviously, I know you certainly recall that. They gave us everything we could handle, so they still play a suffocating defense. I've just seen a team that was doing, really, the same things against us. They're very tough to run on. They're very tough to throw passes on. They picked us off a couple of times and caused some fumbles."
On if they got QB Peyton Manning out of rhythm that game: "They played, I think, very good football, very solid football, and just did a great job all in all. Obviously, they're what we have to contend with. They're a great defensive unit."
On how long has his team been preparing for the Ravens: "Well, last week you didn't know exactly who you're going to play, so we had to prepare for all three [teams]. And then it started to narrow itself down during the course of the weekend, and then as the weekend went along, we started to narrow our focus a bit more. But, we've had a little extra time to do some homework."
On if there is any concern with not playing a significant game in 29 days: "No sir."
On what makes Ravens S Ed Reed such a good player: "I can tell you what makes him a great safety, because that's what he is. He's just a tremendous player, and I think really, obviously, he has all of the athletic skills that you could need to be very good at that position – meaning that he has speed, he can recognize, and he can break on the ball. He's got real good ball skills. He's got the girth and size to be a very intimidating tackler as well. But his instincts, I think, are the things that set him apart from the rest. The fact that he can read things as they develop quite early and has the speed to cover a lot of ground to really make you pay for any mistake that you might make [is impressive]."
On what sets QB Peyton Manning a special quarterback: "I think he works at it, meaning that he dedicates himself to getting ready for not only each and every season, but each and every ball game and each and every meeting. He's a guy that's relentless in terms of his preparation. I think that makes him very, very unique."
On why the Colts have had to fight back to win after being behind in so many games: "I'd like to put it this way: We've been very resourceful. We've won a number of different ways. We've won coming from behind. We've won with a lead. Our defense has stopped people on the last drive. Our offense has scored points to win games in the last 13 seconds. We've taken field goals to get it done. All around, we've just found different ways to win, and I think that's encouraging because that's what you need. You need a team that can adjust and keep fighting. One thing we know how to do, that we've learned over a time, is we've learned how to finish. I think that's important, but here's the other thing, too, that you have to understand: The great majority of the games, I think as you all know, in this league certainly come down to one-score games for the most part. For us to have an opportunity to win some of those close games in a variety of different ways, I think, has really helped us in terms of getting us battle-tested."
On why K Matt Stover will be used in the postseason instead of K Adam Vinatieri: "It's a health issue. Adam's not quite 100 percent, so he's continuing to work out and is getting better, but he wasn't quite where he'd like to be."
On if Stover will kick the rest of the postseason or if it's a game-to-game situation: "No sir. We had announced – I know you guys didn't know – but we announced a couple of weeks ago, going into the Buffalo game, that he was going to kick not only for the Buffalo game, but throughout the playoffs. And the only way that would change would be if we had some sort of an injury."
On the challenges of practicing for a team as physical as the Ravens: "We try to do what we've always done, week in and week out. In terms of our preparation, we haven't changed. Our practices haven't changed around here in a number of years. We know they're a really physical team, but the thing you can't do, you can't go out and practice, particularly in the latter part of the year, and bang it around a whole lot. We did some last week. That was the great thing about it, we had an opportunity because of the fact that we did not have a game we got a lot of physical work done last week. We were in preparation knowing that one of the three teams we would play are a team that's going to run the ball and run it well. Cincinnati was a running team. The Jets, obviously, are a team that can run the ball at you. No one runs it any better than Baltimore, so we got a lot of work done last week in terms of preparation for this game."
On if the Colts went full pads and full-contact at any time: "We had full pads on."
On if he feels extra pressure to win the Super Bowl because of the way he rested his players down the stretch and being a No. 1 seed playing at home: "No sir. We don't feel any more pressure than anyone else would at this time of year. It's one of those situations where you win or go home, and I think that brings its own pressure to the table. But, it's not anything that's any different than any other ball game that we play in terms of the course of the year. There's always pressure, but we approach it the same way, and that's kind of our approach at this point."
On if he would agree if people said it was a failure if the Colts didn't win the Super Bowl: "Here's the thing: In this league, there's only one happy team at the end of the year. (laughing) So, cut and dried, there's no question about it. That's what we're here for, to win it all."
On how comfortable he is being the one to call the shots in the playoffs: "I think probably a good way to look at it… Obviously, I've done it awhile. I did it for eight years in college. I'm 54 years old, so I'm not a spring chicken. (laughing) I'm fairly comfortable with who I am, but nevertheless, every game is a challenge. You learn something every week. That's the thing that makes this game exciting. I look forward to each and every week. Every game has its own personality, its own unique rhythm to it, so we have to adjust to that on our own on the run for the most part. I'm comfortable, but also I'm challenged by it as well."
On what he thinks of the job that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has done: "Tremendous, just an outstanding job. He's a great coach and certainly a guy that I admire. I love the way he handles things. He does an excellent job."
On what Ravens LB Ray Lewis does that allows him to play so well despite getting older: "Obviously, I think he has an unbelievable skill level – power, the speed, recognition factor, very, very smart. He does a tremendous job in terms of leadership. I'm not certain you could find many better leaders than Ray Lewis. He's proven that time and time again. He has a great way to kind of amp up his team and get them to play at a whole other level. I think a lot of that has to do with that he just has an inner drive that's uncommon and he has a skill level that's unmatched."
On what he remembers about his interview process with the Ravens before Harbaugh was hired: "Obviously, it's a very impressive organization from top to bottom. They do a tremendous job, I think, when you look at how their organization is run, how Steve [Bisciotti] operates, how Ozzie [Newsome] conducts business, and then it's a trickle-down effect. That's why, I think, there you've had so much success over the years. I think it starts at the top, and they do a great job in every single phase from running the operation to selecting players in the Draft. They're tremendous."
On how much he consults with Tony Dungy: "I do. We're friends, Also, you have to understand, so it's not… We talk weekly one way or another, either via text or through phone conversations, and conversations vary. Sometimes it's just about family issues. Sometimes they're about football issues, and every once in a while I call and say, 'Hey, listen…' I use him as a sounding board. I think I would be naïve and short-sighted not to use a guy that has had as much success in this league as anyone. And not only that, he's very bright and also he knows the situation intimately. So, for me not to use him I think would be something bordering on hubris."
On if he's ever concerned with Manning seeming to coach on the sidelines: "No. I think you probably see the same thing with Ray Lewis, so it's not uncommon for you guys as well, as you look at it. Both those guys are great leaders. Both of them understand the concept of the offense and defense in which they play within. They've had an unbelievable amount of experience, and they share it liberally. With all our veterans… I think you see Reggie Wayne doing the same thing to some of our young receivers. You'll see Jeff Saturday talking to some of the offensive linemen. We encourage that. We don't try to stifle it, I think, because this team doesn't just belong to one person. It belongs to the entire organization, and the players play a huge role in that."
QB Peyton Manning
On what it was like to be around John Harbaugh at the Pro Bowl last season: "Well, I can't speak for the whole team, I guess, but I had the impression that the whole team really enjoyed the week being around Coach Harbaugh and his staff. They made it a fun week for the players. You know, obviously, we were organized, it was an enjoyable week, and it was very clear to see why he's a successful head coach in such a short period of time in the NFL. You know, [he's] very organized, and he sure made it for a fun week."
On Coach Harbaugh having a lot of questions for him and whether he tried to get some insider information: "Well, I certainly hope that I held my ground, I guess. I certainly tried to. There's no question over there 30 years, there's plenty of football being talked about amongst players and amongst coaches. But, like I said earlier, he really made it for a fun week and certainly [for] myself. And I felt like all of the players over there were really impressed with Coach Harbaugh and his staff."
On how K Matt Stover fits in with the locker room and on the field: "Well, certainly Matt has done a heck of a job for us on the field. In the locker room, he's fit in very well. You know, I mean obviously, you can see why he's such a veteran. He's been around for a long time and knows how to act professionally, and I feel like our team has welcomed him into the locker room, and we're certainly excited about having him on our team."
On his thoughts about his own season and the success of the Colts: "Well, I just feel like this season every week truly has been different. Every game has kind of taken on its own identity. You never quite know what kind of game it's going to turn out to be. But, we've had a lot of close games as our scores indicate, had a lot of come-from-behind wins. It hasn't been perfect all the time, but guys have made some critical plays at critical times when we needed them, you know, on offense or defense or on special teams, which obviously has been important. It's been well documented how many young guys we have playing. I think the expression is true – these guys are no longer rookies anymore. They've played a ton of football, and it's been just valuable experience for those guys."
On how he addresses the "rust factor" on how his team and starters have not played in a while: "Well, obviously every player has different ways of getting themselves ready to play, but as a team, I felt like we had good work last week. I thought we had intense practices and focus on the field, and I think it's important this week to have that same attitude. I think the key to playing well on Saturday is what we do this week in practice. You know, you can talk about it all you want, but you have to go out there and do it during practice to be on the details. It's a very difficult team to prepare for. They're very talented, and certainly, mentally, it's a challenge, and I think the key is excellent preparation and on-the-field work."
On what he saw from the Ravens' defense, in particular the secondary, in the Wild Card game last week at New England: "Well, certainly the New England game was impressive in all phases for the Ravens. Just from the very get-go, you know, I was certainly watching the game on TV, and you saw [Ray] Rice's big run. You felt like that really just sent a jolt through their team, and their defense fed off of that – [Terrell] Suggs creating the turnover and their offense capitalizing on the good field position that their defense set up for them. So, the Ravens have always been capable of creating a lot of turnovers in different ways, and that was certainly evident in that game against New England, and I thought the secondary played very well."
On whether the Ravens' defense is a little more formidable now than the first time the teams met in Week 11: "Well, I thought they were pretty formidable the first time we played them. Every time I've played them, I think they've been a tough opponent. They have excellent players, certainly a lot of guys that have been there for a number of years. Certainly, they have some new faces, but even their new faces, those guys are experienced because of where they are at this point in the season. They've played a lot of games, and they've been in a lot of different situations. And kind of like our team does, they're going to lean on their veteran leaders like [Ed] Reed, and Suggs and [Ray] Lewis. Certainly Suggs didn't play in the first game [against us]; he is a key player, I think, and certainly having him back is definitely a plus for them."
On what the Ravens did in the second half of that game to prevent the Colts from scoring a touchdown: "I can't really pinpoint anything specifically. I've always thought every possession against the Ravens, it feels like a grind. Every time you get a first down or certainly are fortunate to get a touchdown, you feel like you've done something really good. And I think that'll be important this week, trying to get first downs, trying to stay on the field and certainly trying to capitalize in the red zone."
On whether he can put his finger on why the Colts have beaten the Ravens seven consecutive times: "You know, once again, kind of like this season, I feel like while you can draw an experience from previous games. Every game presents its own identity, and certainly, when you're talking about playing against the Ravens, you're talking about a lot of different years, you're talking about different coordinators ago, a lot of players that aren't even there anymore. So, every game and every year certainly has its own identity, and it's going to be a tough game here in Indy on Saturday. We know that, but it'll be two really good teams playing against each other."
On whether he's ever thought about what it would be like to sit and watch film with LB Ray Lewis, given the preparation that each of them puts into a game: "You know, [no], just because I never thought it would be possible. But now that you ask that, I think that would certainly be a special opportunity. You know, I haven't gotten to do that really with… There are a certain amount of guys that I would like to do that with, Ray probably being No. 1. I've always said Zach Thomas [too], certainly some coaches, but it'd definitely be a unique opportunity and one that I would cherish. Maybe it will happen someday. I seriously doubt it would happen while both of us are still playing, but I have great respect for the way he prepares. You know, obviously, I'm not there in practice, but I can just tell by the way he plays how hard he prepares, and it certainly shows up for their team on Sundays."
On whether they have a friendly rivalry on the field with him calling the audibles and Lewis running around on the defense: "Well, when playing against the Ravens, there is so much to factor in. You know, obviously you've got to try to figure out how to get Suggs and their defensive line blocked, and you certainly need to know where [No.] 52 is. You've got to know where Reed is, you've got to know where [Dawan] Landry is. There's plenty to think about and plenty on my plate every play as it is. But, it's always a great challenge playing against No. 52."
On how important it will be to get on the scoreboard early vs. the Ravens: "Well, I think that's something all teams try to do. Certainly, what the Ravens did against the Patriots… It doesn't guarantee that you're going to win, but it sure makes for a good start. So, I think the key is that's what you want to try to do, but if it doesn't happen, there are still other ways to win. It's something that you try to do, but if it doesn't happen, just be ready to adjust."
On how resting the players at the end of the regular season will help them going forward: "It's kind of documented to show how our players responded to that, and I think we've had good work since that time. We certainly got a number of guys healthy that were injured during that time. We've had good preparation time, and that needs to continue this week. And if we continue that and keep focusing like we have, I think we'll be ready to go on Saturday."
On if resting players before the playoffs has ever been an issue with the Colts: "In my opinion, no."
On whether the season would be a disappointment if they don't win the Super Bowl: "Well, I think that's every team's – in the playoffs – goal. I certainly think… I don't think you're going to find many teams that are in the playoffs, certainly the ones that just got beat or the ones that are still in it, [that] they're going to be content just to make it to the first round or second round or third round. But it's a one-game-at-a-time philosophy, and that's what we've done all season. Coach [Jim] Caldwell has stressed that to our team, taking it one game at a time, and our team has bought into that philosophy. I feel like that's served us well, and that's certainly our focus this week. It's all about the Baltimore Ravens."
On whether he can share what was going through his mind as he watched the Ravens vs. Patriots game on Sunday: "Probably not. (laughter) Certainly, on the TV copy, you can't see certain things like you can see on the game copy. That's one thing about the bye week – you don't know who you're going to play, and I've gotten out of the prediction, trying to predict who's going to win. But, [I] certainly knew what the Ravens were capable of. They really went out there and just dominated from the get-go. It was an impressive performance to watch, but then the main thing is to watch the game copy and see the real film."