Harbaugh (John, that is) had his finest moment in New England on Sunday night

January 21, 2013 | Drew Forrester

It would have been easy for the Ravens to pack it in with the plethora of key injuries the team suffered in the regular season, but “packing it in” is just not something a Harbaugh family member does…ever.  Instead of hanging their head, the Ravens puffed out their chest and said, “That’s OK, guys like Corey Graham will step in…so will Bernard Pierce…and Albert McClellan…and Chykie Brown…”

And it crushed John to deliver “the news” to Cam Cameron on December 10th, but Harbaugh knew, in his heart, a change had to be made. Ownership pressure and some internal strife helped reality set in and the coach made the toughest decision of his five year tenure in Baltimore.  But he made the right choice, obviously.

We in the media occasionally poke fun at Harbaugh for his bland, “I’m not really thinking about anything except the next football game” answers he gives to us, but we also know the REAL truth.  The truth is this:  The ONLY thing that matters to John Harbaugh and the Ravens is winning football games.  What the fans think, whether they’re happy or sad, approving or disapproving…what the media says or thinks…what the rest of the league thinks…none of that matters to Harbaugh.  Any question sent in his direction that doesn’t have something to do with winning the next game is of little importance to him.

John’s mentality – “the only thing that matters is what lies ahead” – is precisely the same view his team carries with them.  You can occasionally squeeze a “quote worthy” remark from a player, but for the most part, they resemble their coach in that nearly every player follows Harbaugh’s routine of only worrying about what’s next.

If ever a team took on the personality of their leader, it’s this Ravens team, 2012-2013.

Lots of players turned in gigantic playoff performances to get this team to New Orleans and the Super Bowl.  The quarterback is obviously going to get most of the spotlight – and rightfully so – but this Ravens team is heading to the biggest sporting event in the world because the guy steering the ship gave them all the ammunition they needed to get the job done.

He’s not perfect, of course, and he’d be the first to tell you that, privately.  Like every single coach in the league, he throws a bad challenge flag here and there or fails to produce a result because of a questionable clock-management decision or in-game strategical decision.

There is NOT a perfect coach in the NFL, or in any sport, for that matter, but the guy in Baltimore is as good as anyone else in the league, including the guy he just bested in New England on Sunday night. (Is this where I should note that ever since he got caught cheating during the 2004 Super Bowl, Belichick hasn’t won another ring?  OK, I’ll save that one for some other time…)

This season, no matter what happens in New Orleans, belongs to John Harbaugh.

He didn’t let his men retreat last January when they lost to the Patriots.  They just looked ahead, on to the next challenge, and Sunday night in New England, it all came full circle for the coach and his players.

Maybe this, now, is the time that Baltimore can say to John Harbaugh:  “Thanks for coming, John.”


11 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    It’s only about winning the next game, thanks for some insight into John Harbaugh. Drew, sent you a email with birthday wishes and other questions; did you receive it and if so please respond. Great Win, Joe Flacco is working on elite status…GO RAVENS !!!

  2. Joe Of Bel Air Says:

    I hope now John get the recognition he truly deserves. He is one hell of a football coach and one hell of a man. Congrats Coach, your one of a kind.

  3. Unitastoberry Says:

    I wrote this team off as far as New Orleans last month.One more win Harbs and you get in the club. Remember who’s not in the club. Stay Focused!

  4. PghSteve Says:

    Mr. Harbaugh and Mr. Flacco are one step from joining that group known as champions. Ravens sure played like champions yesterday.

    Good luck in New Orleans. Bring another SB title to the AFC North.

  5. charlie Says:

    agree, agree, agree with you, drew. john really grew before our eyes. i’m so happy right now i can barely type! and by the way, it’s fine w/me that the niners are favored!

    keep it up, drew. you’ll be our eyes & ears in n’awlins!

  6. Glenn Says:

    Yesterday was a triumph of the impassioned over the clinicians. Here’s to passion.

  7. Phil Says:

    Good read. Hope you can answer a minor question I don’t hear discussed…do Ravens players like hearing the “O” in the national antthem at away games (heard it very loud in NE) ever discuss it? I would think they do since it lets them know Baltimore fans there.
    Adam Jones was there…sure it meant something to him.

  8. charlie Says:

    hi, phil — i heard flacco remark that they can always tell when baltimore fans are in the house because of that, so i guess so!

  9. kingraven75 Says:

    I remember when Coach Billick was fired, you and some others at WNST were very critical of the Ravens. Critical for letting Coach Billick go and for the process that the team went through to find his replacement. At one point I remember you called it a “train wreck”. Now so many successful years later it seems to have been proven the Ravens did the correct thing. Did you ever imagine it would be this successful?

  10. Dave hittinger Says:

    Beautiful piece Drew! I agree with everything you said, this guy is a great coach. Go Ravens!

  11. The Armchair QB Says:

    Great “post”, Drew! I’ve been critical of Harbaugh at times, but the results speak for themselves and, they speak “volumes”! So, the guy deserves all the credit in the world! He obviously knows how to prepare his team for the “postseason”! The great Vince Lombardi was credited with saying, “Winning is everything”, when what he actually said was, “Wanting to win is everything”! Harbaugh seems to have instilled that desire in this team and they WILL NOT be denied this year!

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