On how Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has grown over the last three to four years.*
VW:He is a great quarterback. I don't care what anybody says about him. The one thing he does is that he stays poised no matter how bad things get or how good things are. He is a tough quarterback. He is a competitor and it shows. He is putting his team in good situations. He doesn't turn the ball over much. When they ask him to make plays he has made them. He seems to always have a good game against us. He is a very, very physically and mentally tough football player. No matter how bad it gets, he seems to block everything out and play football and it showed again last week against Denver. Throughout the course of the game it wasn't perfect but he made the throw and they made the catch for him. It said a lot about that football team. He is definitely one of the tougher quarterbacks in this league. He has a big heart and he plays to win.
On the added pressure of this game.
VW:Everything is on deck. You have to put everything you have into this game. If you lose you go home, plain and simple. That is reality. This is the AFC Championship and everyone has to understand that. I think we will. This team always plays us tough. This team has been in the playoffs on the road and won a lot of games. They won here in the playoffs. We have to be able to prepare well and execute very well at a high level. I don't think we can [leave] no stone unturned in this game because if we do it could cost us. So we have to understand that. It starts with a good week of practice. That is what it always starts with. This week we definitely need it, every meeting, every walk through, every minute we put into this game we have to make sure we try and cover everything that we can. I am not saying that we will, but if something comes up in the game that we didn't prepare for, we have to do a really good job on the sideline of making adjustments. But that is what you are going to get at this level. We fight. This is going to be a battle. Both teams deserve to be at this level. You have the two best teams in the AFC playing. It just goes to show you the consistency of these teams. Every year it always seems like we are in it and they are in it and it just comes down to a couple of plays during the season or a couple of games in the season for these two ball clubs. For us we just have to be ready to go for sixty minutes; Sometimes even more than that as we saw last week. They went against a football team in Denver and they went out there and played more than sixty minutes. They came out on top so that says a lot about how tough this football team is.
On what the addition of Aqib Talib has meant to the team.
VW:He brings a lot of positive defensively, being able to isolate him in some situations. Being able to do different things defensively because we have a guy like that. He is a special player. Ever since we got him he has been making plays for us. He made this defense better and we are happy to have him. He definitely made a big difference in what we do defensively. Anytime you can basically say, 'Hey you got this guy and we are going to cover everybody else.' That is a good sign. He loves the game. That is one thing. I always try to find guys that have the passion. Have the love for the game because I can play with anybody like that. When he got here, from day one, we saw his passion and love for the game and it didn't do anything to help us.
On Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
VW:When you talk about football, especially defense, the first person you think about is that guy. What he brings to the team. What he brings to the game. The love and the passion that he has for the game. It just goes to show you when he came back it is a new ball club in Baltimore. They feed off of him. That is their leader. That city feeds off of him. We have to do a good job of making sure that they don't feed too much off of him this game because it will already be tough. To come here on the emotional high that they are, winning two big games in the playoffs, it is going to be tough for us. You can never question that man's level of execution. What he does is unbelievable. You can see documentaries on him and everything and how he is working to try to have an edge on anybody he plays. He just takes it to another level. Any guy that is out there that wants to know what it takes to be a professional or be a linebacker or be a defensive player or for the most part be a successful football player, you just take notes from him.
On Ray Lewis' impact on him.
VW:We bleed orange and green. I love to see my guys around the league. It just shows you that we had something special. We have mutual respect but at the end of the day, I want to win and he wants to win. We are always competitive but Hurricane or no Hurricane, I am a New England Patriot and I want to win, plain and simple. I am pretty sure he is Baltimore and he wants to win. For how long it takes we are going to battle our tails off for that minute or however long it is and after the game we wish each other luck and hopefully with that guy going out, just let him know what he meant to this game because he meant a lot to this game.
On what the difference is between this Patriots defense and one from last year's AFC Championship game.
VW:I try not to compare them. It is different teammates and we are doing things different, so I try and not compare the two teams or any other team that we had around here. I kind of try and stay away from that because this is a different team. There are a lot of guys that weren't here so you really can't say what we are doing or what we are not doing or how we compare with teams in the past. So I won't compare.
On what he has seen Tom Brady get better at from his first couple of playoff games to now.
VW:Tom does a really good job of running this ship. We can go into every game and it is different just because we run the ball or throw the ball. The plays are different. Just the way he attacks the week. The motivation that he gives us as a team. That is what we see. It is not about the plays or not about what he does, it is just seeing how hard he works. A lot of times you get a chance to see him on the field and then you don't see behind closed doors. What he is doing in the film room, how he is taking the younger guys or how he is taking a group of guys from offense and seeing if they want to do things a certain way or working on footwork. All types of stuff. Sometimes I look at him in practice and I say, man you have been doing this for so long and you are still worried about your footwork. But it is just little things and he is always going that extra mile to make sure he is in the best shape and in the best situation and putting his teammates in the best situation that can give us a chance to win. He has done that a lot. As a teammate I can't do anything but sit back and learn. It is easy to learn around here because you have so many guys that have done the right thing. It is unbelievable what he brings to us and the amount of motivation that he gives us as a team from a guy like that.
On the Patriot Way and upholding the success that this organization has had.
VW:I learned a long time ago with Ted Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinnest, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, I learned from some of the best that played around here. The first thing that comes to your mind is that you can't be selfish playing here. It is not about you. It is about the team and if you buy into that you will be very successful, and that is the one thing that I think this organization has had for a long time. Guys that come in here that aren't selfish and they put the team first because it is a team sport. It definitely is a team sport. You need everybody working on the same page. If you have one or two that are not you can be in big trouble. That is the Patriot Way. We put team first and we win as a team and we lose as a team. I have won a lot of games in my career being here and I wouldn't change it for nothing.
On if the Ravens rallying around Ray Lewis gives them any extra advantage.
VW:At the end of the day the game is won between the lines. That is where the game is won. That is where it is played at. It doesn't matter how much emotion you have. It doesn't matter what is being said or what is not being said. You have to be able to execute well. Those guys are very emotional. Ray is a very emotional guy and I am pretty sure that they are going to be ready to play, but it starts in between the lines. The first play to the last play. It depends on how well you can execute. We can't do anything about their emotion. The only thing we can do is execute and hopefully that is enough for us to win, but it is going to be tough. Like I said, you have the best two teams in the AFC playing in the AFC Championship. I think both teams deserve to be here, but the sad thing is somebody has to lose and I don't want to be on the losing end and I am pretty sure those guys feel the same way. So as a player you have to do everything you can to help your team. Hopefully it is enough at the end of the day.