INDIANAPOLIS – This Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium is the seventh time the Colts have visited the Ravens to play a game in the tough venue.
Like every NFL city, Baltimore has passionate fans who back their team. Sunday will find a capacity crowd in the purple seats exhorting its team to hopeful victory. It is the same environment the Colts have in Lucas Oil Stadium.
While the game may mean more to a number of different observers, the Colts' 28 seasons in Indianapolis likely have taken something from the rivalry. Head Coaches Jim Caldwell and John Harbaugh are preparing their teams for competition, and they join the players who are only looking at a specific three hours on Sunday, not on something that happened years ago.
Caldwell has accompanied Colts teams back to Baltimore on more than one occasion. He was in his first year as head coach when the Colts last visited in 2009. He has seen hostile crowds before, and he expects one Sunday. It goes with the turf.
"I think the more that time passes you see a little less and less of it, but it's still certainly there," said Caldwell of lingering feelings for some observers. "Nevertheless, hostile crowds are hostile for different reasons, and we know this one will certainly be hostile as well."
Tight end Jacob Tamme is one of many players who will compete Sunday who was not alive when the team relocated to Indianapolis. He is intent only on the challenge the current Ravens team provides.
"I don't pay a whole lot of attention to that, I guess," said Tamme. "Certainly, I know there's a lot of history there. It's going to be a big challenge."
Ravens running back Ray Rice is like Tamme, too. He was not born when the club moved to Indianapolis. He has heard the stories, but indicates the present is prominent for him.
"No, but I've got some history lessons though," said Rice on if he were born in 1984. "You've got to respect the past, and bring in the new, and that's what we've done.
"Let's face it, I've won a lot of games in my career, but one team that I've never beaten is the Indianapolis Colts. I'm not saying that's an added motive for the game, but they've hurt us, and they've beaten us when it mattered. So when you think about them, regardless of their record, those guys are professionals over there and they are going to come ready to play. No one wants to go through a season without winning a game, and we know it's not a game we can (overlook). Look at what they did last week against the New England Patriots, they were right in it. Their record doesn't tell their story. They're young, talented and they have guys ready to step up and make plays. Any time that you've got to face adversity at the quarterback position without Peyton (Manning) there and all of that other stuff that he brought to the team, and then they've had injuries. So you've got to look at what they're going through, and try not to look at what their record is and know that they're going to be ready to play."
Harbaugh was point-blank when asked if his team were looking past Indianapolis because of the challenges it has faced this season.
"I don't believe that for one second that would happen," said Harbaugh. "I think it's real easy to write about, and it cracks me up because the media will be the first ones to downplay it and take a mocking position about things. Then when a team rises up and wins, they're the first ones to start cutting people in half with machine gun fire for taking a team lightly. All the while ignoring the fact that (the media played up the team's record), just what Coach (Bill) Belichick was talking about. We don't have to sit up there and say how much we respect the Colts. When was the last time we beat the Colts? When was the last time that we played really well against them? So we know what kind of team they are, we know every one of their players, we know how good they are, we understand how well coached they are and we understand what they're going to bring into this stadium. It's an NFL football game against what we consider to be an excellent opponent. Their record doesn't mean anything to us."
Caldwell is attuned to the talent level of the Ravens. In particular, the defense is quite noticeable, and it is one Caldwell knows will present issues for 60 minutes and from about as many angles.
"They're as tough a defensive unit as you'll face not only because of the fact that they're extremely talented, but also because of the fact that they're complex," he said. "They give you a number of different looks, a number of different things to consider and deal with, and they will blitz you at any point, anytime, anywhere. They create some problems. On the other side of the ball you look at them, and they are a run-oriented team, but they can also throw the ball. (Joe) Flacco can throw the ball well but when you look at their game (last week), I think they had 55 rushing attempts, or something like that. Ray Rice had a banner day. You're going to have to contend with them from the standpoint that they're a physical team that can hurt you in a number of different ways. Their return game is a good return game as well. They have skilled defensive backs. They give you a lot of problems."
COLTS FRIDAY NOTEBOOK (QUOTE-UNQUOTE): Jim Caldwell(on return of TE-Dallas Clark) "Dallas (Clark) loves to play. He's one of those guys that just loves everything there is about football, period. (He) loves getting his ankles taped, he's one of those guys. He and (Pat) Angerer have some similarities in that regard. It's great to have him out there. He does a great job in terms of leadership and he adds some enthusiasm." Caldwell(on teams effort through struggles) "In order to win you have to have effort. Obviously, that's a very, very important ingredient. At least it's moving us in the right direction. The guys have been fighting. They will not give up and (they) just keep playing extremely hard. I'm proud of that fact. They are competitors, and they'll fight you right down to the final whistle." Caldwell(on battling Ravens defense) "You're going to have a bad stretch or two against these guys. That's just the way it is. They're just too good. They have formidable pass rushers, and very, very good defensive linemen. (Haloti) Ngata does a tremendous job of plugging things up. He's going to make some plays. Their linebacking corps is very good, and they have perimeter (defenders) that are ball-hawks. They can run to the ball, they can catch it and they can cover. In all phases they have big playmakers. You have to be able to deal with the ups and downs, because there are going to be some." Caldwell(on 2011 scruting) "Scrutiny is kind of a part of the business. I'm not certain that ours is anymore unique than anyone else's. In this day and age, I think we're all under a bit of scrutiny. It comes with the territory I think. It's something that you can't dwell on. Obviously, if you spend a whole lot of time doing that, then you can't get your job done. It's like I always say, 'I worry about, not my job, but doing my job right.' That's the thing that we concern ourselves with." Caldwell(on RB-Delone Carter's fumbles) "I think you keep working. He's a young guy, and sometimes it just takes a little bit more to get him to do some of the little things right. He's certainly a capable back, you can see that, because he's productive. We've just got to see if we can keep drilling him and working with him to see if we can get that solved, because he has not had a history of it. He was a very good, consistent ball carrier when he was in college, and I'm anticipating that type of care for the ball is going to come back as well. We'll work with him." Caldwell(on Baltimore defense) "They are great performers. That's the thing that you see time and time again. These guys are active, and they're very capable in all areas. They're capable pass rushers. (Terrell) Suggs is probably having a banner year getting after the passer, and they have a number of other guys that certainly do a great job of collapsing the pocket. They do a great job in terms of defending the run, whether Ray Lewis is in there or not, whomever is there. When he's there, obviously, he's a great player. They still have guys that are able to fill in, and they're still performing well. On the perimeter you don't find very many guys better than Ed Reed. He can cover a lot of ground. He's tenacious, and he's a ball-hawk. Lardarius Webb is doing it on the outside as well. (Cary) Williams is doing well, and their first-round draft pick (Jimmy Smith), who just got a pick last week, is playing well also. (Bernard) Pollard, who we've seen when he was with Houston, is a very physical guy, a big guy, long and a very, very fine tackler. They give you all kinds of problems, and they don't just do it one way. They do a great job of stopping the run, but they can also affect your (passing game), and you'll find some teams that are maybe good run-stoppers but can't defend the pass or vice versa. These guys can do both, and do both extremely well." Caldwell(on coaching penalty avoidance when facing tough defense) "That's every week, it really is. When you think about it, in this league, it's not for the faint of heart. It's a highly competitive and tough. Guys that play the game, when they walk in-between those lines, it's serious business. It's something you have to really talk about every week, because of the fact that you certainly display some poise and those kinds of things, but you better rev it up, too. It's going to be a physical game." Caldwell(on RB-Ray Rice) "They're similar guys. Both guys are fast guys, both are compact, both can catch and run it, both of them are very, very competitive and tough players. There are a lot of similarities between the two." Caldwell(on team not quitting this season) "I think it's experience. I think there are guys that have been a part of this organization for a long time and certainly do a good job just in terms of setting an example. I think this is the kind of character that we look for, particularly when times are a bit tough. You need guys to be able to step up, keep fighting and not give in. I think they displayed that in a number of different positions across the field (Sunday). (It was) a very, very tough situation, but still we were able to come back and put together some good fourth-quarter drives and a couple of good stops defensively as well to narrow the score." Caldwell(on QB-Dan Orlovsky) "Dan did a nice job. He did spread the ball around. He threw the ball accurately. It's just like anything else, I think oftentimes when you look at a situation after going back through the film, you forget how many really fine catches were made as well. Dan did a nice job of picking out the right guy to go to. Reggie (Wayne) came back and made a couple of real tough catches for him. (Austin) Collie with the one-hand catch (was key). It always goes both ways. I think he did a good job of spreading it around. I think those guys did a good job of catching the ball as well. To spread it around to as many receivers as he spread it around to shows that he's got a pretty good feel for the overall concept of the offense. He was going from one to two or three (receivers) just in terms of progressions. He did a nice job." Caldwell(on Baltimore defense) "They're as tough a defensive unit as you'll face not only because of the fact that they're extremely talented, but also because of the fact that they're complex. They give you a number of different looks, a number of different things to consider and deal with, and they will blitz you at any point, anytime, anywhere. They create some problems. On the other side of the ball you look at them, and they are a run-oriented team, but they can also throw the ball. (Joe) Flacco can throw the ball well but when you look at their game (last week), I think they had 55 rushing attempts, or something like that. Ray Rice had a banner day. You're going to have to contend with them from the standpoint that they're a physical team that can hurt you in a number of different ways. Their return game is a good return game as well. They have skilled defensive backs. They give you a lot of problems." Caldwell(on true fullbacks being hard to find) "It might partly be because those guys are hard to find, those that can take on the physical responsibility that position requires and do it consistently week in and week out. Oftentimes teams have found themselves using a fullback then due to injuries having to get out that offensive set because they don't have two (on roster). They're very rare, very tough to find. In our case this year it's been a situation where we wanted to run the ball a little bit more. Then, there were a couple of guys available who were big, strong and smart as well. They were able to adapt to what we do and they fit in nicely. (Ryan) Mahaffey, (Jerome) Felton and (Chris) Gronkowski have all been very, very valuable additions to our team at this stage." Caldwell(on this year's offense) "We've become a little more of a run-oriented team of late. We've been searching hard for those kinds of individuals. (In past seasons) we were a one-back team. That's what we were. We were not a two-back team and used two backs sparingly, only in short-yardage and goal-line. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to have a guy on your roster full-time when you were only going to use him four or five plays during the course of a game. That's what we always battled, 'Is it worth it. We're probably better off getting another tight end.' That's what we battled over the years. Now, it's changed a little bit. We do run the ball a little bit more. We've always had the package in place and we've always had the guy, but we had not used the two-back set as much as we have this year." Dwight Freeney(on RB-Ray Rice) "Ray does it all for that team. He's like Maurice (Jones-Drew) for Jacksonville. He has the ball in his hands a lot, and they should give it to him because he's talented. He catches screens out of the backfield, (he catches) check-downs and he runs the ball. They give him the ball 80 percent of the time. We understand that and we're going to have to find a way to contain him." Freeney(on if he wishes he could hit re-set button on season) "Absolutely. Obviously, you don't want to ever have a season like this. Us especially, we are not used to this at all. We are used to making the playoffs nine years straight and all that, winning records and all of that. This is definitely a different feeling." Freeney(on dealing with frustration/focus) "The good thing about our team is that in the past…The years that we have won is actually helping our mentality this year. We are trying to take each opponent as the most important thing. Let's not worry about what happened last week, or what's going to happen in the future. You kind of take each opponent and dissect them and focus all your energies on them. Let's not worry about if we won or lost last week, or who is the big opponent next week. We still have that mentality, so it has been helping this year." Freeney(on chemistry with DE-Robert Mathis) "Sometimes it is coordinated and sometimes it isn't. I think when you are playing with a guy for nine years, you just kind of know where that quarterback is going to like to step up at, and you kind of know what the other guy is going to do, and you can play off of him. I think over the years, your rush gets tailored based on where that guy likes to be. Sometimes it is coordinated and sometimes it isn't." Freeney(on mood of team) "The mood is not great, but it's not as bad as you may think. It's probably a product of the fact of the way we go about things. The losses, we don't worry about once you go into that next opponent, and that win you don't care about. You go in and you play that next opponent. You take each opponent separate as it is. That's its own challenge, separate from everything else, and you just put all your energy and focus (into that). Obviously, around this time (of the season), we are used to it meaning a lot more than it is, but it stills means a lot. You are playing for pride, and we have a lot of pride." Dan Orlovsky(on New England and Baltimore defenses) "They (New England and Baltimore) have been good defenses for a long a long time, so they're a fair comparison. Both defenses are probably playoff football teams. They're different in their own right. Baltimore is extremely good. They're in the top of every category for a reason. They probably have four Hall-of-Famers on the defense. They do a lot of good things to try to confuse you and get you to make bad plays. They're as good as you're going to see in this league. You can't say enough good about them." Orlovsky(on team's WRs) "I've been around some pretty good ones. I had a pretty special player in Detroit in Calvin (Johnson) and in Houston in Andre (Johnson). They have a pretty good corps down there, too. These guys are as good as I've come across. They all have a unique skill set and kind of a thing that they do well. Any time you catch as many passes as Reggie (Wayne) has in his career, you're doing something right. They all three are really good receivers. It's a comfort level. You have a lot of trust in them. I guess I didn't see it until I was out there, but just the competitive level that they have while out on the field (is impressive). It kind of brings it out of you. You like playing with them because of how competitive they are, how much they want to go out and compete and win. That was kind of an eye-opening cool thing for me to see. (I) just appreciate being a part of it." Orlovsky(on his beard) "If I shave, I look like I'm eight (years old). I try to keep some kind of facial hair so I look like I'm 14 (years old)." Orlovsky(on how long it takes to learn offense and get timing with receivers) "It's hard. It's the NFL, so there are a lot of aspects that go into it. Each guy is different. Each guy is so good at what he does, such a pro that it makes, speaking for me, my job easier. I know they're going to do what they're supposed to do. They're going to be where they're supposed to be. It makes it a little easier for me. To pick up the offense has been challenging, yes. It's kind of my responsibility and my job, so it's kind of how I've kind of handled it. (I) continue to try to learn it, pick up little nuances. One of the things that helped me is sitting back and watching film over the years of Peyton run it. It has helped me. It's my job and responsibility to know the offense and be able to run it. It's a focus of mine." Orlovsky(on having fun playing) "Having the chance in my fourth year (2008) of getting some playing time in Detroit, I remember always walking in the locker room and being proud of the way we played. It was a lot of fun to go out and compete. Was the end result fun? No, because we lost. But to go out and compete with the guys in that room was fun. Then being a free agent (in 2009), kind of one of the reasons I chose where I chose (Houston) was because Matt (Schaub) had somewhat of a history of missing a couple of games here and there. He was a good friend of mine and I'm thankful for him that he didn't miss time, but sitting for those two years wasn't fun because you don't get any release. You don't get to compete. Coming here this year and getting cut (at the end of training camp) and going home for three weeks, you sit back and you watch games. I remember telling my wife (Tiffany) that was the first time in 20 years I was home when football season started. I promised myself if a chance did arise again, I was going to throw my best punch. I was going to enjoy it. I was going to have fun with it, no matter what happened. I know it's a unique opportunity. I know it's a good one. I'm just taking it day-by-day and doing my responsibility. I know that will give me the best chance to be successful. The better I play, the better the team has a chance of winning. Winning is a lot more fun than losing." Orlovsky(on how much he can improve from last week) "I think I can improve a lot. There are things I can do better. I learned quickly this league literally is week-to-week, more so day-to-day. It's a, 'What have you done for me lately' thing. Whether last week was good or bad, move on, go to the next week. That's how I will handle this week. I'm not worried about last week. We're here this week preparing for Baltimore. I know I have to be prepared for them and we as a team have to be prepared for them and go play well. That's the goal and mind-set." Orlovsky(on TE-Jacob Tamme) "Jacob (Tamme) is really helpful. I feel real comfortable with him. He thinks like a quarterback. You can throw it anywhere. I threw him a pass yesterday that I honestly thought was incomplete, and he caught it. He's a good player. He sees windows before they open up. He kind of sees defenders and colors move the way a quarterback (does), or at least I do. He's a good player. Any time you get him in man (coverage), usually it's a decent match-up with him on a linebacker or a safety. He's able to get open and make plays. He's great with the ball in his hands, so he's definitely a security blanket in a way." Orlovsky(on pre-snap reads and 'anticipation' throws) "I think that's part of it. I think part of it is having a good pre-snap read of what you feel like you're going to get, and then post-snap is reacting. In this league, if you wait for guys to be open, that will be an issue. Just throwing it to a spot where you think your guy is going to be, and that comes with timing, and where you don't think they (the opponent) will be (is key). That's part of moving guys to where you want them to get to. I'm a big believer in moving guys to get guys open, 'throwing' guys open. I feel that, more often than not in zone defense, there's a completion out there. You can usually throw it to a spot where only your guy can get it. Fortunately, we have guys that you can feel comfortable doing that with around here. It's a credit to those guys (the receivers). They're really good. You can trust them. They're going to be where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there. It's an easier job for myself playing quarterback to throw to those guys, because they are good." Robert Mathis(on the impact of injuries at New England) "The 'Next Man' went down. You can't do (anything) but keep fighting. This is football and this is what you signed up for. There are injuries, so the 'Next Man Up' and we've just got to keep clicking." Mathis(on RB-Ray Rice) "He ran for 200 yards, so he's the bell-cow for that team. You've got to hit him early and often. You just can't let him get loose. He's the head of the offense, and you've got to cut the head off."