The Baltimore Ravens really took it to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, a process that included knocking out their quarterback in the middle of the game, at which point it was a seven-point game. Yet what has drawn the most attention was Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s decision to run a play with three seconds left in order to get the three rushing yards necessary to tally 100 as a team for the game.
That 100-yard rushing game marked the 43rd consecutive for the team, dating back to mid-October of 2018, in quarterback Lamar Jackson’s first start. But it was widely seen as a disrespectful act in a game in which they were leading 23-7, including Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, who had some words about that, when asked, yesterday.
“I thought it was kind of bullshit”, he told reporters. “But I expected it from them. 37 years in pro ball, I’ve never seen anything like that. But it was to be expected; we expected it”. He was then asked why he expected the Ravens to do that.
Broncos HC Vic Fangio thought the Ravens’ run at the end of the game was “kind of bull****” and notes he’s never seen anything like that in his 37 years of coaching in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/TltszwLKmW
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 4, 2021
“Because I just know how they operate”, he continued. “It’s just their mode of operation there. Player safety’s secondary”. He was also asked if it was a point of emphasis for his team to try to hold the Ravens to under 100 yards on the day, given that it was discussed during the week in the media. He said they did not, but he was sure the players were aware of it.
Though at a much different time in the game, it did remind me of another play in Harbaugh’s repertoire, back in 2011 when he ran a Sam Koch keeper, already up 27-7 over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half of the season opener, to notch a two-point conversion. This was before I was covering the team, but I seem to recall that generation some talk as well.
Harbaugh was asked to respond to Fangio’s comments, and he opted to enter full-on petty mode, especially as the press conference wore on. “I thought we were on good terms. We had a nice chat before the game”, he started out saying of the Broncos’ head coach. “I’m not going to give that insult one second thought. What’s meaningful to us might not be meaningful to them”.
He also shot back that Denver was “throwing the ball in the end zone with 10 seconds left. I don’t know that there’s a 16-point touchdown that’s going to be possible right there – that didn’t have anything to do with winning the game”.
Granted, the Broncos were losing 23-7 at the time, with 10 seconds left and no timeouts. A win was insanely unlikely. But they were on the Ravens’ five-yard line. You throw a touchdown, somehow get an onside kick, and at least there’s the slimmest of chances.
Interestingly, in response to a question about whether or not he approaches the officials about questionable hits on his quarterback, he said, “I feel a responsibility to do everything I can to protect our players when it’s necessary”. That obviously flies in the face of running a very obviously unnecessary play.
He also said that the Ravens threw the ball so much the Broncos “were very determined to stop the run. Obviously, that was a very important goal for those guys – to keep us under 100 yards [rushing], apparently – so, we threw it”.
But, of course, the Ravens are the foremost rushing offense in the entire league, the team that runs the most frequently and passes the most frequently. So of course their gameplan would be to stop the run. Anybody who plays the Ravens without that being their priority is a moron.
They face-stacked boxes because they haven’t shown frequently enough that they have the passing game to make defenses pay for stacking the box. This was just the second 300-yard passing game of Jackson’s career, in 41 starts. I wonder what’s the longest any franchise quarterback in the past 30 years has taken to throw two 300-yard games…