Q&A: Joey Porter

Joey Porter and Ray Lewis love the spectacle that has become a Steelers-Ravens game. But with Lewis out, Porter is taking a more low-key approach, although his opinions are never dull.


With Ray Lewis out, the luster's gone from this game, isn't it?
We're not going to back down from nobody and I'm sure they feel the same way. When that happens you're going to get in a good old-fashioned fight. That's what we look forward to.

Have you ever studied their defense?

But you know who they have don't you?
I know all the players they have and I know they tried to run the 3-4. They couldn't run it as successfully as we did but they have good players over there. They have a great team. That's why when you come to this game, the records and the stats and all that don't really matter because the rivalry will make it a good game regardless.

What does it do to them to lose Ray Lewis?
It has to hurt because he's their vocal leader, and they have Ed Reed out, too. He was the Defensive Player of the Year last year, so those are two big parts of their defense. It'd be like playing a game without Farrior and Polamalu. We hope we'd have the guys to step in and make the plays, but when you have guys like that do so much for the defense, they can't say they're not going to miss them because I know they are. That's part of football. You can't have every guy on your team when you need them. It's part of the game. People get hurt; people get injured.

Will it be less fun for you without Ray?
A little bit because I like to keep the comparison going. If he goes out there and makes plays, it makes me want to raise my level. I want to make just as many plays as he makes, so it keeps the chip on my shoulder to have somebody competing with. It's hard to compete with someone on defense, but he brings it out in me every time. But the game's going to go on. I'm still going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder and be ready to play.

Might he do more yapping from the sideline since he has nothing else to do?
No, I doubt it. It's hard to do a lot of talking when you don't play because nobody really pays attention to a guy who's not playing. You have to play to say something. You can talk all you want to when you're not playing. It really doesn't mean much.

Who has the better defense?
We have the better defense. They're beating us right now on paper, as far as rankings, but we have a long season to go. We still have enough time to climb the chart. I think we're still in the top 10 right now but we have a lot of football left to make up that equation.

What do you recall about Anthony Wright? And how's he playing now?
He's an athletic quarterback with a strong arm. I liked Anthony Wright when he was here with us. I thought he was a good quarterback. He's bounced around and found a position to where he's been a No. 2 in Baltimore for awhile. He's been waiting for this opportunity but hasn't been able to take great advantage of it because the offense has been struggling. But he's a much better quarterback than what he's shown. They just haven't got everything clicking like they want to period on offense, so that's why you haven't seen the best Anthony Wright has to offer, but I still think he's a quality quarterback.

They never seem to be clicking. How would the defensive players here react to such a consistently poor offense?
You never want to get in a situation where you're pointing fingers saying ‘Oh, they're not doing this.' You can't get into that because that's going to separate the team farther than you know.

Isn't there a frustration level?
There's always a frustration. There's always a frustration when the offense puts up 28 points and you get beat 35-28. You would think if you get 28 points the defense has to stop somebody. I've been in, this year, when we've had games in the bag and we let up game-winning touchdown drives, so it's back and forth. You never want to get into that pointing-fingers situation. I know it's probably tougher on them because they've consistently had a good defense but it's part of their formula. They've won Super Bowls with that formula so you can't get mad at it now when you're losing.

Do you have the feeling that if they lose Monday they could come apart because of this problem?
It's possible. Anything's possible. It's going to fall back to the coaches. It's going to be up to him to keep that team together. I'm not worrying about what's going to happen to them after the game, I just want to make sure they come here Monday night and don't get a victory. We need to have this victory. It's a conference game and we have to re-establish the home-field advantage when you come into Pittsburgh, and I think this would be a big game to start re-establishing [the fact] that when you come into Pittsburgh, it's going to be a hard place to win.

Is that the most important thing?
I really feel we need our crowd into the game from the beginning. The last game they waited all the way till the game got close and started getting into the game. We need them in the game from the beginning. We have the crowd there; we need it as loud as possible. I don't know what else we can do with crowd participation, but we feed off that. That truly is a 12th man. I've been in some hostile environments playing a game and once you get the crowd going it's hard to shut them up. I definitely know, when we have the crowd as loud as I've heard it before, it's tough for any offense to communicate out there.

That hasn't been there?
It has been. I've heard it louder before. I don't know if we took the air out of them by losing some tough games at home – that can take the air out of a lot of people – but, no, we definitely still have the best fans. I know our fans; our fans know us. They can get louder. I've heard them louder before, and it's going to be Monday night. It should be a playoff atmosphere is what I'm saying.

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