Mayo: Ravens like a division rival

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Smiling Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo capped off the team’s AFC Championship news conferences on Wednesday, arriving at the podium after defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and asking the media if Wilfork appropriately warmed them up.

“Good afternoon,” Mayo then playfully said into the microphone. “Fire away.”

And with that, Mayo answered a variety of questions on Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens, including some bigger-picture questions on the Patriots’ culture.

“We have a ton of respect for the Ravens. We feel like they’re in our division, it feels like we play them every year, once or twice,”Mayo said. "We know it’s going to be a physical game. They like to go in there and play football the way it’s supposed to be played -- they want to run the ball, play-action shots, and do things like that. We love playing against these guys. We know it’s going to be a battle. It always seems like it comes down to the last couple of series in the game, which is exciting for you guys, but not so much for us.”

One aspect of the Ravens’ offense that stands out to Mayo is the size of their offensive line. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie (6-8, 354), left guard Kelechi Osemele (6-5, 335), center Matt Birk (6-4, 310), right guard Marshal Yanda (6-3, 315) and right tackle Michael Oher (6-4, 315) comprise one of the NFL’s biggest units.

“They have a huge offensive line. They do a good job of protecting Joe Flacco and any time he can sit back there and throw the ball deep, he has a great arm, those receivers always seem like they come down with the ball,” he said. “That’s one of the things we have to focus on.”

On a different topic, Mayo was asked about the media-born phrase “Patriots Way” and how he views it.

“I think it starts at the top with the Kraft family – not only being a good football player, but being a good person and falling in line,” he answered. “We always talk about, if you want to be a good football team, you’ll never be stuck in rush-hour traffic. You want to be the first one here and one of the last guys to leave. I think guys really buy into that. Guys that come from other teams, I think they follow the lead of the bulk of this team.”