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NFL Draft

Does John Harbaugh Deserve To Be Criticized For Controversial Run Call?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 4, 2021
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The Baltimore Ravens played a complete football game in Week 4, handing the previously undefeated Denver Broncos their first loss of the season in a game they truly dominated and won by a score of 23-7. Lamar Jackson continued to show progress as a pocket passer by completing 22-of-37 passes for an impressive 316 yards and a touchdown. Further proving Jackson’s continued advancement as a passer, Jackson only scrambled seven times for 28 rushing yards, the lowest rushing output since a Week 5 over the Bengals last season. 

It unfortunately wasn't all roses for Baltimore on Sunday. Head coach John Harbaugh has come under a fair amount of scrutiny for a bone-headed late-game decision that disrespected one of the oldest "handshake agreements" in the game. 

After Broncos quarterback Drew Lock, who was filling in for the injured Teddy Bridgewater, threw an interception with merely seconds remaining in Baltimore's 16-point win, the Ravens didn't execute the single "kneel" required to end the game, instead opting to call a running play which saw Jackson gain five yards before giving himself up. 

The reason for Harbaugh's unprecedented decision was to ensure his Ravens kept their 100-yard rushing streak alive at 43 games, which ties a record set by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mid-1970s. The Ravens were stalled at 97 rushing yards before Jackson's meaningless five-yard scramble as time expired.

Broncos players and coaches were notably upset regarding Harbaugh's puzzling decision.  Harbaugh took full responsibility for the unnecessary play-call following the win.

"It was one hundred percent my call," Harbaugh told the team’s official website on Sunday afternoon. "As a head coach, you have to be mindful of your team, your players, and your coaches and what [that record] means to them." 

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio had his own thoughts, which he shared in brutally honest fashion on Monday morning.

“I thought it was bulls**t, but I expected it from them,” Fangio said. "I've been coaching professional football for 37 years and I've never seen anything like that before."

Fangio makes a fair argument. Looking past the utter disrespect, Harbaugh allowed his ultra-competitive streak to put both sets of players at risk in an age where the emphasis on player safety is greater and larger than ever before. Harbaugh made a poor and perplexing decision to disrespect the traditions of the game, all to extend a meaningless record that few people care about.

Harbaugh's competitive streak often makes him a larger-than-life figure on Baltimore's sideline, but he made an extremely poor judgment call on Sunday.

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