Monday Press Conference Highlights

"They're not at that dominant stage that we were at last year -- and that's the expectation," said the Ravens' head coach about his defense. "Again, everything we do for you all and the fans is based on 'You're the Super Bowl Champs, you're the best defense to ever play the game,' -- and that's a hard nut to crack every week."

Opening remarks:
"Yesterday was just a huge win, probably as big of a win as we've had, save the playoffs and obviously the Super Bowl."

"We are more aware than anyone that last year was a lifetime ago. And winning this year, as everyone is finding, is as difficult as ever -- even more so -- and the fact that we won a Super Bowl last year really has no bearing on it whatsoever, other than this team has certain collective experiences now. Winning yesterday is part of that collective experience of going to and winning a Super Bowl. That character, that maturity comes through, and that's what we're going to count on the rest of the way -- because it's going to be a battle, just look around the league."

Regarding the injury status of players:
"On the injury front we're fairly healthy. James Trapp has a pretty good groin. We'll see how James Trapp is and Terry Allen come Thursday. Elvis threw very well on Sunday in a warmup. We anticipate him being much more close to starting come Thursday, but I'll have to reserve until I see him in action."

In response to a question about the team appearing to be relying so heavily on their defense again:
"I disagree. You're wrong. You haven't seen the same half season that I have. Yesterday was a game about balance, yesterday was a game about special teams -- coming up large. That doesn't take anything away from our defense. But this is a much more balanced team having to rely on one another. The defense has been out on the field less than last year."

In regards to how he feels about the team at this point:
"I feel much better at 5-3 today, more equipped to take on the second half of the season, more optimistic about what we can do than what I did at 5-3 last year."

On winning the game, but being beaten statistically:
"We lost the statistical battle -- clearly. But that's not what that game was going to be about, and rarely is it. We won the statistical battle last year, if I'm not mistaken, and lost the game...But when you play the Pittsburgh Steelers -- deep in tradition, well coached, fiery, passionate, winning, feeling good about themselves -- you knew it was going to be that way going into Pittsburgh. And that's what makes the win so significant."

On why Randall Cunningham is starting even though he supposedly named Chris Redman the #2 quarterback after Trent Dilfer was released earlier this year:
"I have alot of confidence in Chris' abilities. What I said was that we had to have Chris at #2 and develop him and practice him that way. And he has done that. Also, Randall is here for a reason. If Chris were truly going to be a two, and we were comfortable in saying, yes if we need you to go in and win for two games, we're ready to do that, we wouldn't have brought Randall Cunningham in. We made it very, very clear. Randall is here for a reason -- if something happens to Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham is going in the game. But we're going to practice Chris Redman and get him the reps as a #2 to develop that for next year and the year after that."

In response to the suggestion that some might criticize him for benching Cunningham after two wins as the starter:
"Elvis Grbac is the starting quarterback. Plain and simple, I said that all along. We're lucky to have Randall Cunningham here. When Elvis is healthy and ready to play, Elvis will be the starting quarterback. Elvis knows that, Randall knows that, this team knows that."

In response to criticism of the pass defense:
"People are testing us in alot of different ways. You're not going to see necessarily what you've prepared for. I think Shannon said it, the first half of the season we've seen the plan that alot of people worked the whole offseason to generate. At some point, you have seen it all. And hopefully whatever mistakes you make, you can correct and not make again. There's a number of things we can do better. The bottom line is the defense -- for the most part -- is playing very, very well. They're not dominant. They're not at that dominant stage that we were at last year -- and that's the expectation. Again, everything we do for you all and the fans is based on you're the Super Bowl Champs, you're the best defense to ever play the game, and that's a hard nut to crack every week. And I can't let the players succumb to that pressure. We're a good defense. We aren't the best defense yet -- we're certainly capable of that -- and hopefully we are closing in on that, and now's a good time to do that."

On the effectiveness of the offense:
"The offense has been able to deliver when it's needed to, particularly in the last two games. Numbers haven't been hugely impressive, we've been there -- where the numbers were really, really good, and sometimes that made a difference, sometimes it didn't. But I'm comfortable with where we are offensively. I'm relieved -- if indeed it is going to happen -- to have Elvis back because I believe he brings a dimension to us that has been successful for us."

On the running game not being as solid on Sunday:
"The linemen were having a tough time hearing. We weren't getting off on the ball as well -- not to make that an excuse, and we're certainly going to have to deal with it this week given the crowd in Tennessee."

On teams going after cornerback Duane Starks:
"Duane may be trying to do a little too much, trying to force too many plays, to make plays to say 'No, you can't come over here.' He started out that way last year and got into a nice comfort zone saying, 'Look I'm going to let it come to me, I'm going to stay within the structure, and keep my technique sound.' Usually if you can get back to those fundamentals you're going to be okay, and Duane recognizes that. Like last year, the second half of the year, that happened for Duane and all of a sudden he kind of took off, because people were coming after him. And pretty soon they paid a price for that, and hopefully that will happen again."

On him and Bill Cowher spending a few extra moments greeting each other after the game:
"Bill's a good man. I can't say that Bill and I are particularly close, but Bill has always been very gracious. After the game there was an appreciation for 'Whew, that was a helluva game, wasn't it?' I'm sure he wasn't quite as thrilled about it as I was, but I do think he recognized that this is why we do what we do."

On how he would describe his relationship with Jeff Fisher:
(Grinning) "Probably not as close."

On next Monday night's game and how the Titans-Ravens rivalry has become more personal from the coaching staff all the way down through the players:
"It's personal in the sense that it's a very competitive game, it's a division rival. I had no delusions of us heading into Tennessee and them being 0-7 or 0-8 -- you knew they were going to fight back, they're too good of a football team, they're too well coached, and they're a good organization. So it's going to come down to a football game. All the rest is just rhetoric."

On the offensive line rotation:
"We're still trying to find the best rotation. Again, part of this is we've got to keep them fresh, both Bennie and Sammy Williams because of what they've been through. We're just trying to get through that the best way that we can. They did some things well, they did some things not so well. But we're at that point in the season where this team is tired, so we need that extra day. I'm counting on them to come back a little more refreshed."

On offensive lineman Erik Williams:
"Erik's been out there. If we think that Erik can fit the bill for us compared to those other guys, we'll push Erik up. That's what he's here for."

On whether or not he expects Grbac to be rusty:
"The arm should be pretty fresh, again, it's not like it was an arm problem. Other than (it being) a very painful injury, the rest of his body should have had a chance -- unlike you don't normally get as a quarterback -- to get rested up. So I imagine he should be very fresh, the arm should be very alive. Yeah, you do worry about the reps and the rotation, but I think he will get that back very quick this week."

On Monday night's game against the Titans:
"There's going to be a ton of rhetoric, back and forth, and it'll be fun. But watch -- like the last game -- as bitter as that might have been and all the things that were said -- watch what the players do. They make a beeline for one another. And many of the faith-based players will get together and have that prayer at the end. I saw Ray Lewis yesterday walk up to Jerome Bettis and about head-butted him without a helmet on -- and both looking at each other just laughing. That doesn't mean that Jerome wasn't hurting over the game, but it was two warriors who were saying 'Boy, we went at it, let's do this again.' And that's what these players will do as well."

When asked if he had been in Bill Cowher's position, would he have challenged the clock running out before the field goal was kicked at the end of the 3rd quarter:
"If I'm Bill Cowher, I'm throwing that red flag, my shirt, my socks, anything else to get their attention."

And on whether he noticed that the clock had run out before the snap:
"Yeah...but I wasn't going to say anything." (laughs)

When asked if he would be feeling the same way about his team if Kris Brown had made a couple of those missed field goals and the Ravens had lost:
"Probably not, but that's how this game works. It's no different than if a play is well-designed, called at the right time, and doesn't succeed. Do you junk it? Versus the play that was ill-conceived, poorly practiced, called at the wrong time, but somebody makes a helluva play. Do you come back and run it saying 'Oh, he'll do that again?' I mean, you've got to be a little more analytical about it. We're at the midway point off a hard, tough first half of the season. Yeah, we're going to take the emotional part of the win, because it does mean alot. This is what the league's down to anymore. Everybody's talented, everybody's well-coached, everybody's deserving. So it comes down to experience, character, persevering, trusting, all those cliche things that makes the league so great right now."

On what he saw in Qadry Ismail that other teams overlooked:
"Qadry is one I had early in his career, and you could see the potential. You knew that he needed to develop a certain focus that only a veteran can, a work ethic. He always worked hard, but he wasn't always focused in the way he worked hard. He would spin his wheels a little bit sometimes. His demeanor in the game, understanding the urgency in the game -- the consistency of Qadry is what I am most gratified about for him. Even I couldn't have imagined that he was going to turn into that steady guy for us in the way that he has."

On where he thinks the team stands on incurring penalties:
"I don't know that that's a big issue with us right now. We jump offsides more than I would like. But there is a part of our game, and our guys are into that. So how many offsides is worth how many sacks, or rushes on the quarterback, or the extra hit. So I don't know that the penalties are a huge factor for us right now, particularly those you can control."

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