Ravens Harbaugh On Beating The Patriots

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spoke with media Sunday after the Ravens beat the New England Patriots 28-13 in the AFC Championship game to advance to Super Bowl XLVII.

John Harbaugh: I just want to thank everybody for being here. What a great moment. We’ve been inspired. You’ve heard so much of the inspirational stuff, on grace and faith. [Anquan Boldin] started off with the word love, which to me means so much more than what we think about sometimes. But that’s what holds a team together. It was a team victory. It was about the team. The team. The team. That’s what wins football games like this. But there’s other people involved that you draw inspiration from. Like O.J. Brigance … who is battling the battle of his life. He told us that the third try is the charm. Ok, that third time is a charm. He’s going through something for the third time. The Muñozes out in California – just tremendous people who are fighting tremendous fights, who have impacted the guys on our team, and make this about so much more than just a game. It’s people’s lives, you know. The New England Patriots are a great, great football team. They are a great organization. They are led by a tremendous coach, perhaps the best coach in history. He’s just done some great things. We admire them so much; we admire the quarterback, we admire the football team. When you come out and play the way we did and win this football game, it means a lot and we are very excited about it.

Q: Could you and your brother ever have dreamt this big growing up?

John Harbaugh: I don’t know if we had a dream this big. We had a few dreams, a few fights. We had a few arguments. Just like all brothers. We’ll try to stay out of that business; we’ll let the two teams duke it out as much as possible. But [I] couldn’t be more proud of Jim [Harbaugh]. Watching that team play, they do reflect his personality. They have a great staff. They’re physical players, man. They run the ball, they throw the ball, they have a quarterback that’s throwing the ball all over the place. They’ve got a rough-house defense. There’s a reason they are in the Super Bowl. Love the way they play. I’d like to think that our two teams are very similar. I’d like to think when you look at those two teams, you are looking at mirror images of two football teams. I’d like to think that. It’s going to be a great football game. He’s a great football coach.

Q: Do you think you can stand two weeks’ worth of Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh?

John Harbaugh: You know what? I agree with you. Let’s just cut that right out. Can we all agree? Just forget about that stuff. We did that last year ok? It was fine. It got old last year. Did it not? My dad is definitely on board with that. They don’t take any interviews anyway. He’s in the basement down in Mequon [Wisconsin] Mom and dad, love ya; love ya very much. Let’s move past that and let’s talk about the two teams.

Q: Talk about the physical play and talk about the Bernard Pollard play.

John Harbaugh: That was the turning point of the game. That was the turning point of the football game there on the 40-yard-line. It was just a tremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard making a great physical tackle – just as good a tackle as you’re ever going to see in football right there. That just probably turned the game around right there.

Q: What does this say about Joe Flacco’s development as a quarterback?

John Harbaugh: You guys will write great stories and can put it in way better words than I can. We’ve always believed in Joe. For Joe to come out and have this kind of game, on this kind of a stage, three weeks in a row…[Andrew] Luck’s a pretty good quarterback, [Peyton] Manning’s a pretty good quarterback, [Tom] Brady’s a great quarterback; all those guys are great players. But Joe’s a great quarterback. He’s proven that, and he’s not just proven that this year, he’s proven it for five years. But to do it this year, on this stage, and to have the success he’s had…But again, it’s a team victory, ok? It takes a team to win a game like this. We have a great football team.

Q: What do you think your father is thinking right now?

John Harbaugh: I hope he’s on his fourth or fifth beer right now, that’s what I’m hoping for. I hope he and mom have a big hug going. I don’t know what he’s thinking, you’ll have to give him a call and ask him. He’s proud.

Q: It seemed you turned the game more over to Joe Flacco offensively in the second half. Is that fair?

John Harbaugh: I’d say that’s what happened. We kind of made a decision on the second half to cut it loose a little bit more. We were running the ball with some effectiveness, but they were doing a good job on defense. They were stopping us. They were playing very physical up front. You mentioned a physical football game; it was really a physical football game. They’ve got a very stout front. Their front seven is as good as any in football and we had to get away from that. We had to get away from challenging them and give Joe a chance to make some plays.

Q: Since that December 16th game with Denver, what’s happened with your quarterback and team in general? That seemed like the low point of the season but you’ve come back from it

John Harbaugh: You keep kind of going there and I just haven’t seen it that way. I just haven’t. I think we’ve had steady improvement throughout the course of the season. In that game, we played well. We had turnovers. When you have turnover that go for big plays like that in critical situations against a team that’s playing so well…we gave up a couple big plays, and that turns the game. So, I really believe we’ve been building throughout the course of the season. We had a mid-season thing. One thing about our guys, we like our guys talking things out and confronting issues. We’ve been doing that throughout the course of the season and it’s pushed us so close as a football team. I think you’re seeing the results of that right now.

Q: Early in the season, the franchise was founded on defense. And then Dean Pees took a lot of heat early in the season, kind of a lot of injuries. Can you talk about Dean’s season?

John Harbaugh: Thank you. Dean Pees is a special man. I’ve known this guy as a football coach for 30-something years. I knew he was a good coach when he took a slow corner that couldn’t jump or do anything and made him kind of an ok player, maybe. But it’s not just Dean, I think Dean’s a great leader. We have a great staff. And Ed [Reed] alluded to it: coaches and players working together to make each other better. That’s kind of a motto that we had. And Dean did a great job transitioning really what is a young defense. When you look at our defense a bit, it’s become a young defense. We needed to adjust what we were doing a little bit schematically, and we did that. We got back to playing – we got to playing those guys in a very fundamentally sound way. And it showed up in the way we played defense in the second half of this season.

Q: Everyone talks about Joe getting over the hump, but do you feel like you now feel like you’re over the hump?

John Harbaugh: I’m so bad with feelings. I wish I could describe them better. There was a couple minutes left in the game and we had Tom Brady out there, and Bill Belichick and Josh [McDaniels] and those guys and then Wes Welker and with [Aaron] Hernandez, all these playmakers and really the game’s not over. You’re fighting right till the end against this football team. That’s just the way they are. And Cary Williams comes up with a great play. He plays as well – the coverage out there is as good as you can play: [as] fundamentally sound, disciplined, type of coverage you can possibly play. And he makes a play. Players making plays really is the difference in critical situations, right? And I think our players deserve all the credit.

Q: What’s special about this team that you can go on the road and win like this?

John Harbaugh: I mean, I would go to the words we talk about, you know: faith, and grace and toughness and heart and love and togetherness and work ethic. You know, it comes back to those things and a bunch of guys that can really play. You know, we have a great owner, we’ve got a great GM, we’ve got a great organization from top to bottom. Everybody in our organization pulls the oar in the same way. And maybe in the end that’s enough.

Q: Talk about the tipped pass and interception.

John Harbaugh: That was a huge play. The tipped pass, that was Pernell McPhee just getting pushing to the quarterback. The thing with Tom Brady that you can’t do is you can’t give him pass lanes inside. He’ll step up in there and he’ll just shred you. I thought in the second half we did a much better job with tightening up our pass rush a little bit, tightening down the throwing lanes and getting our hands up. We had two or three batted balls that were huge. Pernell’s was the biggest one. Dannell [Ellerbe] making a catch there was big. You’re right, that was a turning point in the game as well.

Q: What you feeling for Ray Lewis?

John Harbaugh: I’m just feeling an incredible amount of awe. Ray would be the first to tell you this, so I’m just going to share it: awe in the work that God can do in one man’s life. To me, Ray’s the epitome of that. Ray’s a guy that has turned everything over. He’s surrendered everything and he’s become the man that he is to this day. He’s a different man than he was when he was 22 or 15 or whatever. I think everybody sees that right now. I think it’s a great thing for kids to see. It’s a great thing for fathers to see. It’s a great thing for fathers to see. It’s a great thing for athletes to see. It’s a very special deal.

Q: Any message for the Baltimore fans?

John Harbaugh: Yeah, for the Baltimore fans: we have the greatest fans in the world. There were about five, six, seven, 8,000 – I don’t know how many were here. But they were all ringing in the stadium. I know there’s millions more celebrating in the streets of Baltimore and everywhere else right now. So, thanks for all you do. We have the greatest fans in the world. We love you. We heard the chant today, all the way up here in Foxborough.

Source: New England Patriots Media