Ravens running back Ray Rice met with the media on Thursday to talk about the Lions, playing in a dome stadium for the first time this season and if his team feels the need to make a statement on the road.
Here's what he head to say, courteous of the Ravens' public relations department:
On if he is looking forward to playing in a dome so that he will have better footing: "I had my footing last week. The dome, obviously, we practice in these situations when it's cold. It's just another opportunity for us to go out there, No. 1, and chase what we want to chase. We definitely have our hands full. It is a good football team we're facing. They have a lot of talent - a lot of talent. It's going to be a challenge.
Obviously, it's Monday Night Football, and a lot of great plays have been made on Monday Night Football. It's just great to have an opportunity right now, this late in the year, two teams fighting for the playoffs. We've got to put that out there. We're not divisional opponents and all that stuff, but this game matters for both teams. Essentially, it's probably the biggest game of the year for both of us."
On if the team is looking to make a statement on the road: "It's a statement to get a win in general, but to win on the road in such hostile territory is always huge. Early on in my career, we won a fair share of those games. We had our bumps in the road, but needless to say, we were a great road team a couple years back. We look forward to getting all that camaraderie back, because winning on the road is special.
We love to win the ones at home, and we're great at home, but essentially, a lot of teams are good at home. We're looking forward to it being very noisy in there, because the noise in the dome trickles all in. It doesn't go anywhere; it stays right in the dome. It's going to be loud in there."
On the Lions' reputation as being physical or perhaps dirty: "Their reputation, they definitely live up to it. I don't know if you want to call it physical or dirty. Whatever the refs see, that's what they see. But needless to say, I'm not going to spark any fire. No. 1 is those two guys there in the middle, Ndamukong Suh and [Nick] Fairley. They are great football players. We know we have our hands full with those guys. That's the one thing that, as a running back, you have to point out. I always respect guys and give it to them.
I've faced a lot of great nose guards this year, and those guys - they can make a difference in the game. We have to get those guys blocked. So, tremendous respect to those guys for what they've built. Ndamukong Suh, we all know what he's been through over his career, but, needless to say, the guy plays hard. The one thing I guarantee that coaching staff is saying over there is, ‘Let's not take this aggressive nature away from our guy.' So, he is going to play hard on Monday, and that's what we're looking forward to getting.
We're looking forward to getting the best Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on Monday night. If they're aggressive, they're going to be aggressive. You can't take that away from a guy. But now, you'll see now they're playing smart aggressive. They are not being penalized as much for the unsportsmanlike conducts. I watched on Thanksgiving when they played Green Bay; Ndamukong Suh gets a sack in the end zone and helps the guy up. That shows that he is becoming a very mature guy.
The old him probably would have stepped over him and done some things, taunting him a little bit. (laughter) For him to make a big play like that and not let his emotions get the best of him and actually brace the guy going down and help him up shows that he is becoming mature."
On if he feels that TE Dennis Pitta's return can take the offense to another level: "It's huge. I had a hip [injury] this year, so when Dennis [Pitta] came back, it was more like, ‘Oh man, I can't wait to see him get that first catch and first everything.' But I'm glad he was able to come back and feel what it was like, because me and him, he is kind of like my counterpart.
He was out, and I was playing. I was playing through a hip, so I was kind of coaching him like, ‘Hey man, when you come back, you're going to feel this, you might feel that, you might feel this, but here is this.' He has definitely answered the call, and it is good to see him back recovered and being the old Dennis Pitta.
Trust me, when he dove for that pass ... Every time he caught it, I was just happy for him, because the guy goes down in training camp. You just don't want to see that happen to anybody. I don't care who you are, what you are, you never want to see a guy get hurt. But to have your own teammate, a guy whose career is going up - it's only going to get better from here - you want him out there with you. I'm just glad now that we have him for this stretch."
On how having Pitta back helps create more room in the running game: "He's a mismatch problem. You put a linebacker on him ... I'm just saying, it's a favorable matchup. I guess the game of football is all about matchups. You put a [defensive back] on him and he's a big-body guy. You put a linebacker on him and he has the skill set of a wide receiver. So, that's a matchup problem. He's what [Rob Gronkowski] was for New England, he's what Jimmy Graham is for New Orleans. We have that guy - Dennis Pitta is that guy."
On if Pitta helps eliminate some of the looks they've gotten defensively in the running game: "It helps eliminate everything. It eliminates a lot. When you've got the single-high, the way to beat it is beat the coverage, and he's definitely a coverage-beater.
So, guys like Torrey [Smith], myself, they'll tell you that helps out. Because when you get a rhythm going, it's sort of like, ‘Pick who you're going to defend,' or eventually you've got to sit back in zone and brace for a deep pass. And then you're saying you've got to stop the run with a six-man box, and that's when you get open running lanes. So, it's fair to say we've got our work cut out for us. We've been building something all along, and I think this time we need to put it all together."
On if it's good to be healthy this late in the year: "You know what? It's great to be healthy this time of year. It's great to be all coming back. I don't want to go back in the past on anything, but this time of year is when a Terrell Suggs was getting healthy last year.
We got a Ray Lewis back from a triceps [injury]. It's just reverse now; now we got our offensive guys. We got a Jacoby Jones back healthy, you've got myself, then you get a Dennis Pitta back. So, it's just reverse. You don't want to go looking too much [into] it, but it is a great time of year for everybody to be healthy. And you've got to thank the coaches for taking care of us.
One thing that we communicate [is] the work that we need to get done. We work very hard, but we're working smart now."