Harbaugh Should Have Shouldered Blame Following Ravens’ Crushing Loss to Colts

November 22, 2009 | Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens’ 17-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium wasn’t Joe Flacco’s fault.

Sure, Joe threw a costly pick with the Ravens in field goal position at the end of the game, but it wasn’t his fault.

The Baltimore Ravens’ 17-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium wasn’t Ed Reed’s fault.

Sure, there was NO REASON to try to lateral the football on the final punt return of the game-but it wasn’t his fault.

The Baltimore Ravens’ 17-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium wasn’t Billy Cundiff’s fault.

Sure, if Cundiff had tacked on the 3 points he missed on a 30 yard field goal; the Ravens would have scored 18 to the Colts’ 17-but it wasn’t his fault.

The Baltimore Ravens’ 17-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium was the fault of everyone on the football team. From the one with the smallest role (Long Snapper Matt Katula); to the one with the greatest (Coach John Harbaugh).

But following the Ravens’ loss, John Harbaugh’s chat with the media would have better served his football team had it sounded like this…..

“Guys, this one is on me. I shouldn’t have called timeout there before the review. I shouldn’t have asked someone who isn’t a punt returner to return the game’s most important punt. I shouldn’t have allowed Joe Flacco to throw the ball over the middle to Ray Rice. All of this is my fault. And I’m going to spend this week trying to figure out how I can improve as a football coach.”

He shouldn’t have said that because the loss IS his fault-it isn’t. He should have said it because the team desperately needs the deflection following ANOTHER crushing loss. Whatever he’s tried to do with his guys so far this season just hasn’t worked.

This team feeds off emotional ploys. They willed themselves to the AFC Championship Game a season ago thanks in part to the spirit of their friend and “teammate” O.J. Brigance. John Harbaugh credited the win at Texas Stadium a season ago to informing the football team that Jerry Jones personally selected them to be served on a silver platter to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s rallied the team around Rex Ryan, he’s rallied the team around even their O-Line Coach John Matsko.

But whatever he’s trying to do emotionally with this team this season isn’t working. They just aren’t responding when they’re most needed to. Maybe the message isn’t “stale” as most argued Brian Billick’s had become-but the message needs a re-heating.

Emotionally, this team just isn’t there. It might be a lack of focus (they were pretty loose again Friday in preparation for today’s game), it might be the fact that Harbaugh spends a great deal of time during the week reminding players of what they can and cannot say (which MULTIPLE players have confirmed to me), it might be that the team has just accepted their fate following a few crushing losses (although no one I have talked to has given me that idea).

But the same response of “We all could have done better, me included” just isn’t cutting it. Saying “I don’t have any thoughts” on Ed Reed’s pitch isn’t accomplishing anything.

The easy retort to this is “How do you know John is handling these things behind closed doors?”

I don’t know. Even though I’ve been given the indication that he hasn’t tried much in the way of emotional ploys; I still don’t know. But it also doesn’t matter.

This team needs to have their issues brought to light, and they need to be willing to talk about it. It’s an emotional bunch-NOT an Andy Reid coached, tight-lipped bunch. These guys just don’t respond to the business-like mentality that their head coach is trying to preach. They respond to raw emotion. They respond to being allowed to go a little crazy.

John Harbaugh should have gone off the script a bit today. He should have tried to win his group back emotionally.

The easiest way to have done that would have been to put it on himself; and accept responsibility for a bad loss even if he didn’t deserve it.

Instead, he’ll have an entire week to figure out what he needs to do.

-G

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NOTES:

-Fabian Washington (knee sprain) is the only injury concern. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow.

-The Ravens scored 12 points in the first half; reaching double digits in the first 30 minutes for the first time since Week 3 against Cleveland.

-With 135 total yards of offense, Ray Rice surpassed the century mark for the 7th consecutive game.

-Hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Derrick Mason, Billy Cundiff, Dwan Edwards, Cam Cameron, Matt Birk and Haloti Ngata NOW in the Audio Vault at WNST.net. At one point, Ray Rice said Peyton Manning was “foolish” if he thought he had a good game today. Of course, Peyton won one more football game than the Ravens did today…..

4:04-MAYBE he was down; but I don’t think you overturn that. Game over. 17-15 Colts. Ravens 5-5.

4:02-I would have NEVER put Ed Reed back there to return that. NEVER. Ed is just too lackadaisical with the football.

4:00-Joe is only going to be able to throw the ball here about two times. A sack ends the game, an incompletion ALL but dooms them.

3:55-That timeout BEFORE the challenge about kills the Ravens. You challenge it OR you call a timeout. You can’t do both. The Colts can take this down to about a minute left now.

3:51-He’s been beat up a lot, but Domonique Foxworth made a nice tackle there. I think Reggie Wayne’s stretch made it.

3:50-Ray Lewis delivered a VICIOUS hit there, but the Colts still have it 3rd and 1. Picking this up would ALMOST doom the Ravens.

3:48-Fabian Washington hurt…..he’s helped off. Can’t walk. This looks bad.

3:46-Unthinkable. Absolutely unthinkable. The Colts knew the Ravens would go to Ray Rice there, and Joe threw the ball despite the fact that there were 3 men in white shirts in the area. Gary Brackett with the pick.

3:44-I don’t know why Derrick Mason goes out of bounds there……idea would be to run the clock. But 8 catches and 137 yards allows you to get away with a couple mistakes.

3:43-That Ray Rice is some kind of special……

They need yards here. 51 yarder for Cundiff otherwise….

3:40-You have to wonder how this city will handle it if that last field goal by Matt Stover ends up being the difference in this game. I really don’t even want to think about it.

3:34-Ray got an extra shot in on Reggie Wayne after that one fell incomplete there.

This is a gimme for Stover. 17-15 Colts. 7:02 left. Ravens need to 1-run clock, 2-score. No pressure.

3:31-That being said, Ngata lead with his elbow; that’s a penalty. Really no doubt about it.

Foxworth with a costly missed tackle. Ravens have to keep Indy out of endzone here.

3:30-Gotta give secondary a TON of credit today. Without Terrell Suggs-the Ravens have gotten almost NO pass rush.

And Paul Kruger gets to make a big play thanks to one of the worst play calls I’ve ever seen.

Ray Lewis is not happy with the personal foul call on Haloti Ngata.

3:25-Cundiff tied Matt Stover’s franchise record of 5 field goals in a single game with that kick. Stover did it 4 times while he was in Baltimore.

3:23-I would also probably run the ball with Le’Ron McClain or have Ray Rice try to leap in. But that’s just me.

Cundiff bounces back, and puts the Ravens ahead 15-14. That’s costly not hitting paydirt there, though.

3:21-If I was an offensive coordinator, I’d run the ball 4 times here. Whatever you do, you can’t lose yards.

3:18-LJ Smith with the first down catch? Holy crap. I’m pretty sure he just said “Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Forrester!”

3:12-Just the 2nd catch on the day for Todd Heap; but that’s 2 more than I thought he’d make today. Big grab.

TERRIBLE drop there from Derrick Mason. Just terrible. Almost enough for me to leave him off my Tuesday Top 7.

Okay maybe not. Nice job by Mase to shake that one off.

3:09-Big play to get off the field with a 3 and out and give the offense another chance here. Whatever happens, the Ravens CANNOT fall behind two possessions.

Tom Santi (neck) is questionable to return.

3:04-Put that one on Matt Katula-which is the same as I have said many times on Hauschka kicks this year. So much for Billy Cundiff replacing Sheila Dixon as mayor.

3:03-Great grab there by Mark Clayton, but the Ravens REALLY can’t afford to come up short here.

3:02-There have been a ton of times watching Ray Rice that I’ve asked myself “How is he still on his feet???”

3:01-John Parry took some extra time to look at that to see where the ball should have been spotted. Handled well.

2:57-McGahee was down there. It was a fun, wacky play; but he was DOWN there.

2:54-Game-changing play there by 52. Colts would have made this a 2 possession game if that had been 6.

I have NO IDEA if Derrick Mason actually caught that ball or not, but I will TAKE IT.

Credit Jerraud Powers for solid coverage on that play.

2:51-WOW what a momentum changer. WIW. Caldwell almost has to review that there…..but I’m almost 100% certain that was a fumble.

I guess maybe he isn’t reviewing?

2:49-Tavares Gooden and Domonique Foxworth were in trouble there on that pass to Reggie Wayne.

For everything made about Paul Kruger this week-anyone noticed him?

2:41-Colts DE Keyunta Dawson is questionable to return.

Billy Cundiff’s 4 Field Goals in the 1st half matched a team record for a half set by Matt Stover 11/17/04 against Cleveland.

2:26-I guess with Matt Stover here in Baltimore-the Ravens were REALLY confused. They’ve gone back to the old no-TD offense they used to have with Matt. 14-12 Colts.

2:23-Mistake to call a timeout there. THAT’S where you spike the ball. I don’t usually agree with spikes, but that’s where you do it.

2:22-Big conversion there to make sure Indy didn’t get it back, not they have to try to do something. 36 ticks and 1 timeout left from their own 47…..

2:18-And despite all of the good things the Ravens have done in the 1st half, the Colts plunge back ahead. 14-9 Colts with 1:23 to play.

2:13-Boy he is so good and finding someone along the edge. That’s a great example of why Peyton Manning is a future Hall of Famer.

Harbaugh will challenge-haven’t seen anything definitive on the replay yet. Will keep watching.

Oh, Harbaugh not challenging? You can do that after you throw the red flag? Weird……

2:12-Lardarius Webb had NOTHING to offer there against Tom Santi. Who knew Tom Santi was such a weapon???

2:10-The Ravens have confirmed that the Colts are the only team that does not get the team NAME on the scoreboard here at M&T Bank Stadium.

2:08-71,320 here at “The Bank” today. The NFL STILL thinks Jacksonville was a better choice.

2:06-Billy Cundiff is currently more popular than Stacy Keibler, Willy Don Schaefer, and Nestor Aparicio combined. 9-7 Ravens.

2:04-Ray Lewis battling an ankle issue. He didn’t leave the game, but he’s in pain on sideline. Not getting any attention from medical staff.

Meanwhile, Ray Rice continues to play like the Team MVP.

2:03-Nice point made by “TheGipper” on Twitter. On the scoreboard in the stadium, the Colts are listed as “Indy” instead of “Colts.” The Ravens are listed as “Ravens.” Nice touch by the staff here.

1:58-The Ravens have had decent coverage thus far today. It hasn’t been perfect, but they’ve certainly rallied from their struggles on the first drive.

And just like that, Ed Reed is sitting back in center field to pick off Manning and get the ball back out to about midfield.

HUGE game for this defense after the initial drive. Just HUGE.

1:55-Peyton Manning forced to burn a 2nd timeout; credit the crowd here at “The Bank.”

1:52-The stop on Donald Brown gives the defense another chance to get off the field after 3 plays. Doesn’t happen; as Austin Collie comes back to make a nice catch.

1:50-Michael Oher’s hold hurt the Ravens in trying to do something on that drive. Thankfully De’Von Hall helped them out on the punt return.

Speaking of Oher-despite the fact that I’m told many showings of “The Blind Side” were sold out in the Baltimore area, I’m pretty sure New Moon will win the weekend box office battle……

1:42-Everyone in the crowd here at M&T Bank Stadium owes Jeff Saturday a big thank you for that hold. I would have taken the Colts to convert that EVERY time.

Nice decision there by Chris Carr to call for a fair catch. NO reason to risk it when you’re getting the ball at the 10.

1:41-Jim Caldwell HAS to go for it here in no man’s land. Stover can’t make this kick, and you only gain 17 yards of field position if Pat McAfee’s punt goes to the endzone-which it very well might.

1:39-Ray is currently letting Dannell Ellerbe know he missed the assignment on the long completion to Santi. Kudos to Drew Forrester for pointing that out up here.

1:38-A Tom Santi sighting!

If Joseph Addai breaks off a few more runs like that, the Ravens will have difficulty stopping Peyton in short yardage situations.

Tom Santi is on fire…..Ray Lewis had not shot at getting that.

1:36-TJ Rushing returned that one for Indy instead of Chad Simpson. Colts probably thought they should have gotten more on first two kickoffs given line drive nature of Cundiff’s kicks. Freddy Keiaho’s penalty didn’t help them.

1:33-Tim Jennings made the play on Mason after Flacco hung another one up.

Cundiff comes in and knocks another one through. Hitting your first will do wonders for your confidence. 7-6 Colts. The bad news here is that despite the Ravens really having outplayed the Colts now for the better part of the first 11 minutes, they still trail.

1:32-Flacco has hung 2 now. He’s fortunate that Melvin Bullitt didn’t even TRY to intercept that.

1:30-Talk about a big play. Wow. Dawan Landry with the INT off Fabian Washington’s tip. Landry is starting to quiet a few of the “We should have never let Jim Leonhard go” fans.

1:28-Good coverage again there on a bit of a line drive kick. Ravens can’t afford to fall multiple possessions behind so early.

Some on Ravens’ sideline encouraging crowd to get louder.

1:25-By far and away the biggest ovation I’ve EVER seen for a first quarter field goal here……even though he JUST barely got it through the uprights. Boy that was close. 7-3 Colts.

1:24-No pressure on Cundiff here, huh?

1:22-Heck, McGahee even makes a catch. Cam Cameron doesn’t trust him as a pass-catcher, which is why they stick with Ray Rice when they’re playing from behind and need to throw.

Flacco let that one hang up a bit to Mason there, which allowed Jacob Lacey to make a play on it.

1:20-And Derrick Mason gets involved early as well. This is already better than anything we’ve seen offensively in the first half than what we’ve seen in the last couple weeks.

Willis McGahee gets to come into the game because the Ravens put together an extended drive. Good news.

Ravens forced to take a timeout there because Chris Chester couldn’t get his shoe on. Hard to lose a timeout that way.

1:18-Le’Ron McClain gets involved to pick up the first down. Ravens must move ball methodically like this today knowing Peyton Manning is sitting on opposing sideline.

1:16-Big pitch and catch there by Joe Flacco and Kelley Washington on 3rd down. You can’t give the Colts the ball back after a 3 and out right now….

1:15-I’m a bit surprised John Parry overturned that. It might have been the right call, I’m just surprised he saw that on the replay. Good decision by Harbaugh to challenge.

1:12-Dallas Clark (321) just broke John Mackey’s franchise record for career receptions. That’s a bit awkward.

Also, that fumble by Lardarius Webb is the EXACT reason why the Ravens are sticking with Chris Carr as a punt returner. Possession is much more important than yards gained on a return.

1:08-Domonique Foxworth was BADLY confused on that play, and Dallas Clark has put the Colts ahead 7-0 early.

You CAN’T just let Peyton Manning have the ball first to start a game. Not a good decision.

1:06-This is why I don’t think you can give Indy the ball to start the game. Pierre Garcon can ABUSE Fabian Washington all day if he so chooses. Ouch.

Nothing brewing for Joseph Addai early, that’s not really a surprise.

1:04-Antwan Barnes was actually the first player to get a crack at Suggs’ spot; but he was rotated out after the first play. Clearly the Ravens plan to rotate all day.

That WOULD HAVE been a huge play for the Ravens to get off the field 3 and out. Reggie Wayne is going to do that, though.

1:02-No hang time on the kickoff, but the Ravens STILL do a great job in coverage to not allow Chad Simpson (Morgan State) to get the ball back to the 20.

Crowd is NUTS to start the game.

1:00-Ravens win toss, they’ll defer. Peyton Manning gets the ball first. Yikes.

12:56-Both Trevor Pryce and Dwan Edwards were listed as defensive starters. Maybe Pryce is sliding out to play Suggs’ spot?

12:53-Cundiff just missed 2 45 yarders, then hit a 3rd off the post. 4th was wide left again, 5th finally went straight through. Fans behind goalposts in state of utter panic.

12:11-Ravens in purple tops and white pants, Colts in white tops and white pants.

12:09-Both Matt Stover and Billy Cundiff have made 50+ yard field goals during warm-ups. Of course, those are with no snapper and no holder; and we saw Steve Hauscka make 50+ yarders in warm-ups as well. Not sure if we can make anything of that.

11:46-Here are your inactives:

Ravens:
QB John Beck (3rd QB)
RB Jalen Parmele
RB Matt Lawrence
OT Oniel Cousins
OT Tony Moll
LB Terrell Suggs
DT Kelly Talavou
DT Brandon McKinney

Colts:
QB Jim Sorgi (3rd QB)
K Adam Vinatieri
WR Anthony Gonzalez
DB Kelvin Hayden
RB Mike Hart
DB Aaron Francisco
TE Gijon Robinson
OT Mike Pollak

Colts made roster moves……OT Daniel Federkeil placed on IR; S De’Von Hall signed and is ACTIVE.

CB Jacob Lacey will start for Indy in place of Kelvin Hayden.

Obviously, Todd Heap and Haloti Ngata are both ACTIVE.

11:32-To answer a question many of you have asked this week, there is no type of video tribute to Matt Stover scheduled for today’s game. I know the Titans did something like that for Steve McNair when he returned to Nashville-but according to a team official who I spoke to on Friday-the Ravens do not intend to recognize Matt at all today; not even by putting him up on the jumbotron to allow fans a chance to applaud him.

11:23-Let’s try to clarify what everyone is chatting about over on Twitter right now-the report Sal Paolantonio just gave to ESPN.

First of all, John Harbaugh is NOT out on the field with Haloti Ngata. Clarence Brooks was watching Ngata go up against Kelly Talavou. He looked fine to me, but I guess there’s a chance they were concerned about something in his motion. However, Haloti has been practicing for over a week, and was VERY confident he’d play.

Also-Terrell Suggs being out for a month is NOT news. We all knew that. I believe I reported it EVERY DAY this week. It was a 3-4 week injury at best. You do not sprain/tear a knee ligament and return in a week, no matter how much Coach Harbs and T-Sizzle try to convince everyone it is possible.

Matt Stover was out chatting with friends at midfield, including WR Mark Clayton. Both Stover and Clayton are very religious, they were very close here in Baltimore.

10:51-Greetings from M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore; where the 5-4 Baltimore Ravens face a pivotal contest with the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts today at 1pm. The game will air on CBS (WJZ 13 locally) with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on the call. The Ravens need the victory to stay in the mix in the AFC Wild Card picture; as they currently trail the Steelers (6-3) and the Broncos/Chargers (both 6-3) by a game. The good news for the Ravens is that with a win-they will tie the loser of today’s game between San Diego and Denver; and they hold a tiebreaker over both teams.

I couldn’t help but notice a bunch of horseshoes and blue and white jerseys around M&T Bank Stadium today. While I’m certain that many of them came from “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest”, I am concerned that there are still fans around Charm City that root for Indy because “they just can’t root against those helmets.” I hope none of you reading this fall into that category.

Todd Heap (chest/ribs) is the biggest question mark for today’s game. My gut tells me he doesn’t play-but he was out here running a bit. Haloti Ngata (ankle) is not a question mark at all-he’s gonna go today.

We’ll have scratches out shortly. Make sure you sign up for the WNST Text Service-sent a text with “WNST” in the body to 68255.

-G

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