Opponent Opinions: LB Ray Lewis

Linebacker Ray Lewis has been the face of the Baltimore defense since joining the Ravens as a first-round pick in 1996 and he's coming off another great regular season. The former University of Miami star spoke to South Florida reporters Wednesday about this weekend's playoff battle between the Ravens and Dolphins.

Here's what Lewis had to say about the matchup, as well as other topics:

On if they can take the ball away from the Dolphins: "I think the bottom line is, you see the things that they're doing and they're just playing safe football and being careful with the ball and things like that. Our just is to just come do what we do and let the game just take care of itself from there and not try to push one way or another."

On how much better or different this Dolphins team is since the last time they played them in October: "From the film that I have watched, you see the things they are doing, they're getting back to establishing things they're establishing about, but just like they got better, we got better, so that's what the bottom line is. It's going to be kind of a different twist to it because both teams are playing with high emotions and things like that, but you see them really settling into their own right now."

On what he's seen from Joe Flacco maturing as a quarterback: "Yeah, it's kind of what I spoke about the first time that I saw Joe Flacco. The first thing I said was, ‘It's just amazing when you see a guy with every physical tool when they play a certain position and when you have the quarterback position, there's no throw he can't make. He's 6-6, 230 pounds and he runs way better than people think. Joe never gets rattled good, or bad. Joe just comes in and plays the game'. If there's anything that's kind of caught up with Joe, it's just we need to go through the process of playing the season, but he's just getting better with every game we play."

On if Joe Flacco is a leader in the locker room as well or if it's too soon to see that: "I think he's a leader in his own way. He's a leader like more so, definitely towards his offensive guys and really communicating with them so they understand him completely and things like that. As he's farther on in his career, he'll definitely get more involved and being the total leader, but right now I think he just does a great job of actually dealing with those guys the way he does."

On what he sees on film about Chad Pennington: "Like I said, I just see them playing totally as a team and Chad being the veteran guy over there, he's really just keeping those guys in-line and leading them the way he's been able to do throughout his career whether it's been up or down or not. Chad has been a leader in this game and he's played this game at a very high level and when he was with the Jets and things like that. If there's anything, it's just the leadership that he brings to that Dolphins team."

On the personality of the Ravens defense: "Physical. We play very physical and we have a lot of interchangeable pieces. That's the beauty of Rex Ryan kind of being the person that he is. It's a lot of flexibility in our defense. You just can't sit back there and just pick out this or that, you really have to really have to study to deal with it. If anything, I would say, it's just a very physical defense, complex at many times, but very just flexible just to have fun."

On if the Ravens defense plays angry: "Always, that's the only way you can play defense. Anybody that tells you they don't play defense angry, they don't play defense."

On if there is a coincidence that three Hurricanes (himself, Ed Reed and Willis McGahee) are keep components to the team's success: "No, not really. It's amazing. We grab each other's hands before every game and we all talk about it coming from the same place. Even with Tavares Gooden before he got hurt. It's more of a blessing when you know the type of mentality and the place that we all came from. We all know we expect from each other when we step on the football field and it's kind of contagious because we kind of spread it around to all of the guys as well."

On what Ed Reed means to the defense: "For our back end, he's a trooper back there. He's the one that keeps everything together. If you don't have that general back there on your back end, things can get out of hand. You look around the league, guys can have a great font seven, but if you don't have that one guy in the back that keeps everything together, Ed is that guy. Ed is the guy that keeps everything together, keeps the glue together back there. That's what makes him so important is that he keeps everybody on that backend playing at a high level so our front seven can just do what we do."

On what offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has brought to the Ravens: "Really, I just think he brought a lot of personality. Cam is a freakin' incredible guy first and foremost before you even get to the coaching part. Really, when you really start to be around him enough, it's just his personality of coming to work, always wanting to work, but doing it in a very, very great way. A lot of coaches can't get you to work like that, but Cam can because he's always challenging you day in and day out. As a defense, when we sit back there and we look at the actual things that they're doing, it's always just amazing; his tempo and his beat just about things. It's a great excitement to see what Cam is doing definitely with the offensive guys."

On how much it pains him to see what the Miami Hurricanes are going through right now: "Why do you have to bring up that old stuff, it's the New Year. When you look around, you always got that prideful thing because I'm always a Hurricane, but the thing is, you see the things that Randy's doing down there and the program is really kind of taking a nice turn and things like that. At the same time, you look on the roster and you see all of these freakin' freshman and sophomores that we have. I'm just more excited about the future knowing you do see a lot of those young guys, the receivers, freakin' freshman, running backs and things like that, even our quarterback. I definitely think the program will be back where it needs to be in a year or so."

On how much flap he takes in the locker room about the Hurricanes: "I can't sleep. I don't even rest good on Saturday nights when we lose."

On what veterans can garner from past playoff experience: "Everybody knows that the thing about the playoffs is just more than anything, it's more attention to detail. There is no next week, there's only this week. There's no other team, it's only this team. That's kind of the focus point. Nothing should be more important than this one opponent that you are dealing with. There's no other scenarios; the scenario is you win or go home. If anything, I would point out it's great attention to detail."

On if a rookie quarterback would have an idea how much the intensity increases in the post season: "It will be very hard to kind of rate that. You get a lot of these young guys now, they play at these huge programs, play at these big programs and they're just used to doing it. Most of the times you see it, it's one thing to get rattled, it's another thing to have every tool that never rattles you because it's just like me and him always telling him, ‘It's football right? If it's football, nothing changes. No matter where you play or who you play against, nothing changes'. The throws are still the same; the reads are still the same, things like that. You can get guys rattled if there's something they don't do well, I think it's a totally different scenario if you have a guy who's definitely cool, calm under pressure and just plays his game."

On if there was a point in the season where Coach John Harbaugh got the team to buy into him: "Yeah, that came like real early, though, like real early. He trusted a lot of the vets to just really control certain things and he gave us a lot of leverage on certain things like way in the year, almost in training camp. We never came off of that and the beauty of it is, you get a mature guy like a Joe Flacco, you get a mature guy like a Ray Rice or a LeRon McClain. You get all of these young guys and there's no push-pull, they just come right on into it. That's kind of how we took the approach for this year."

On if he's got a message for Joey Porter: "Why would I have a message for Joey Porter. I'm not playing Joey Porter."

On the key for a team to get on a roll in the playoffs: "I just think it's just total chemistry, offensively, defensively and special teams wise. Once a team gets their chemistry going, they become a very, very hard team to defend. You go into something, you got one side like you might here, ‘Oh, this offense is playing great, but the defense is not', that's kind of shaky. But, when you get all three aspects playing and the chemistry is what it is, it goes from just being a football game then. It goes to more being, ‘We know this thing so well, let's be very creative on how we come play this game. Let's just come play this game the way we play this game and let everything else just take care of itself'. I think most of the time, when you do have that balance, balance is what creates a great, great chemistry and that's usually what propels the great teams."

On how long he thought the Dolphins were a fluke and if there was a point when he thought the Dolphins really have improved so much: "Realistically, not to be in a negative way, I don't think about the Dolphins like that. Still to this day, I don't. The only thing I think about, the only thing we think about is our team, bottom line because we're on the same ride. Everybody is talking about the Dolphins, ‘They're on this ride'. We don't care about the Dolphins' ride; we're on our own ride. We've got a rookie coach; we've got a rookie quarterback, so it's a lot of things that we're trying to grow into ourselves. For us to put any energy towards anything else or say, ‘Oh, yeah, the Dolphins are really this good', the bottom line is, the thing for us all year has been, ‘Let's go see can the Ravens play for 60 minutes the way we play football', no matter who we play. It don't matter what somebody's going through, where they are, what their record is, anything, just go play 60 minute Ravens football and let's see at the end of the day, let's see where we are. That's kind of the approach we took all year."

On why the Ravens had success defending the Wildcat: "If you really slow down film and just look at things, we play one way. We play one way and that's 11 men to the football, bottomline. You got to have your back; I've got to have your back, bottom line. When you look at a lot of the film, a lot of people, whether it was confusing them or not, they just really created a lot of huge holes and things like that. When we played them, we didn't give them those huge holes and things like that. If anything, I say it's just really our personality, the way we play defense, but those guys are gifted when they get the ball in their hand. When you speak about a Ronnie Brown and you got Ricky Williams coming around on his sweep and things like that, if you don't study that, they can confuse you. We always say, ‘If we just play our defense and do the things we do, we'll just see who comes out in the end of it.' "

On what John Harbaugh entrusted to the veterans and if he could see this team where it is now a year ago: "I can tell you, most of the things we talked about, of course it was in-house, it was just personal stuff because it was between us and how we are going to conduct our team. That's just the way men operate definitely when you're dealing with a team and the things that you want to get done. The second thing is, we knew the core of people that we did have here. We knew the core of groups that we had here. Year in and year out, two years removed from a playoff game, being deep in the playoffs with a first round bye, all of that, the same core was kind of here, but when you're trying to come in with a different personality, whether its Harbaugh and then you bring in Cam Cameron and all of these different personalities, then things start to kind of tweak a little bit and that's the kind of what happened to our team. Now everything is caught up and that goes back to what I'm talking about, that chemistry and the camaraderie between offense, special teams and defense. Now everything catches up with each other because you bring a totally different personality in."


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