Ravens HC John Harbaugh (12.14.20)

Head Coach John Harbaugh 

 

(opening statement) “OK, good to see everybody. I really appreciate you still being here with us. First of all, to our guys, they did a great job with the interviews. So, they pretty much told the story; I don’t know what I could really add to it. But I will say to the Browns; that’s a really, really good football team with a lot of heart. They played a very good football game. We played a very good football game. It’s a game that’s going to go down in history. So, [I’m] just proud to be a part of it, and I’m really proud of our players. All I can say is at the end, I was doing a little bit of praying. I will say what was said earlier, what ‘Tuck’ [Justin Tucker] said; all praise and glory to God. Our guys had faith and trust and belief, and sometimes, that’s what it takes. What questions do you have?”

 

(on when he was aware that QB Lamar Jackson started cramping and if he had any inkling about his return) “No, I really didn’t. We were proceeding with Trace [McSorley], and there was no indication that Lamar [Jackson] was coming back at that point. I didn’t know he was on the sideline at that point. He’d been out there, but I give our trainers all the credit. They did a great job of getting him back out there. They’re not going to come and tell me he’s back on the field; They’re going to tell me when he’s ready to go. So, he must’ve been getting close at that point. It was just the circumstances. With all the things that went on with this game, the timing like you’re talking about of that right there, if you wrote a movie about this, people wouldn’t believe it. They would say it could never happen. ‘Reality is stranger than fiction,’ or whatever that saying is. That’s kind of what it is here – it’s crazy.” 

 

(on if they were able to overcome the challenges the field condition presented) “I think we overcame it. We went to the seven-stud cleat, they call them – the longer cleats. A lot of guys were changing into them even on the sideline. It’s just a different type of feel. It’s a different type of grass. It’s fescue. It’s not … What we have [at M&T Bank Stadium] is a Northern Bermuda. So, that’s just the way the field is here [in Cleveland] at the end of the year. It was in good shape; it’s just a looser field. It was a little moist and everything. We did slip quite a bit.” 

 

(on what this night showed him about this team’s heart) “It probably showed me what I already knew and believed – I love these guys. I love these guys. And it’s not because they’re football players or because they play for us. Even being with them every day, it’s for who they are. They have the hearts of lions. They really do. I have a lot of respect for football players, especially in the National Football League. It’s a tough sport to play, and this league is very competitive. That team [Cleveland] over there is a really good football team. They had great heart, too. So, for our guys to be able to do that and to make those plays at the end when it counted the most, it just says so much about their character and who they are, their trust and their belief … [Their] belief in what they believe in higher, and believing in each other and believing in themselves; all those things that people say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ I think we all know. It’s kind of what we’re all about as people. I think it’s great for young people to see, something like that, and hopefully be inspired by. Because I can tell you one thing; I’m inspired by it. I’m inspired by what I just saw.” 

 

(on if it hit him on the field that this game is something people will talk about for years, or if it’s something he realized after the game is over) “It really only comes after the fact. During it, you just try to help where you can. We had so many guys going down on defense; just trying to get 11 guys on the field was a challenge. I give our defensive coaches all the credit. The guys played … Guys are going out there and playing out of position, especially in the back end trying to find a way. Marcus Peters, he went out there; the trainers didn’t even tell him it was OK to run out there. He ran … All of a sudden, I see him running out there, and I say, ‘Is Marcus cleared?’ Our trainer [head certified athletic trainer] Ron [Medlin] says, ‘Marcus is out there?’ I was like, ‘Yes, he just ran out.’ And then he blitzed and almost got a sack. (laughter) It was just one of those wild games that … It’s going to be hard to explain and define.” 

 

(on what the process was like when QB Lamar Jackson came in on the fourth-and-6 after QB Trace McSorley got hurt) “It happened so fast. As soon as Trace [McSorley] was going down … While he was down, then it became apparent that Lamar [Jackson] was going to be able to play. So, at that point in time, [quarterbacks] Coach [James] Urban and [offensive coordinator] Coach [Greg] Roman talked to Lamar and made their plans for the two-minute period. They did a great job. I have to tell you; I have to give our offensive coaches just a tremendous amount of credit. Coach [Greg] Roman and all the guys, the guys executed … The plays that were made, the Willie Snead [IV] catch to keep the drive alive, the Mark Andrews catches to extend drives and keep us going, the Marquise Brown scramble play for the touchdown … And then the offensive line – that’s a heck of a [Browns’ defensive] front. For our guys to keep hanging in there, keep fighting and give Lamar a chance to extend those plays … I think everybody deserves a lot of credit. I guess I forgot your question.” 

 

(on if he has an update on QB Trace McSorley’s injury) “I don’t yet. I just haven’t had a chance to go find out. I don’t know yet. I’m sorry.” 

 

(on what was the big difference for the Browns from Week 1 to Week 13) “They didn’t turn the ball over this game, and they’ve been playing that way. I don’t think Baker [Mayfield] had an interception for, like five games until Tyus [Bowser] made his incredible play on the ball. It took a great play to make it. I think the main thing is he’s playing really well. Their offensive line is really good. It’s a veteran offensive line. Anytime you have a veteran offensive line that stays healthy, and they’ve stayed incredibly healthy … So, I think they just had the chance to keep growing as a football team. They’re well-coached, and they have a lot of guys who have a lot of experience. So, that’s just how it works in football. You keep improving and growing, and that’s what they’ve done.” 

 

(on if there was a specific yard line they were willing to send K Justin Tucker out for a field goal try) “I think at that point in the game, we would’ve sent him out for anything that was within a chance. The story that he didn’t tell you was when the chaos was going earlier, he wanted to go out there on the fourth-and-6, was it? Fourth-and-5? He wanted to go out there for the 64-yarder. He thought that gave us the best chance to win. (laughter) So, you appreciate the confidence; that’s just how he is. That was a really tough kick, because the field was really soft. Obviously, they were rushing everything they had, so the guys that protected Sam [Koch] and Morgan [Cox] did a great job. But to make that kick, with the crosswind on that field in December in the open end, in the ‘Dawg Pound’ end, [for] most kickers, that’s unmakeable. The only kicker that I know of that you’d feel confident in making that would be Justin Tucker.”