On January 10, the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens battled to determine who would advance to the AFC Championship, in what was arguably one of the best NFL playoff games ever.
Yet the following week, the media focused on post-game statements made by coach John Harbaugh. Concerning plays the Pats used to mount two separate 14-point comebacks, Harbaugh said:
“It’s a substitution type of a trick type of a thing,” Harbaugh said. “So they don’t give you the opportunity, they don’t give you the chance to make the proper substitutions and things like that. It’s not something that anybody’s ever done before.
“We wanted an opportunity to be able to ID who the eligible players were,” Harbaugh said, “because what they were doing was, they would announce the eligible player and then time was taken and they would go over and snap the ball before we even had a chance to figure out who was lined up where. That was the deception part of it. That was where it was clearly deception.”
While we could nitpick Harbaugh’s delivery, word choice, redundancy and clarity, it’s his lack of accountability that we’re focusing on.
The Pats’ plays were legal. His team was confused. He was fooled, so much so that he ran onto the field and drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty “to get [the refs'] attention so they would understand what was going on because they didn’t understand what was going on,” he says.
Harbaugh later retracted a bit, claiming that his problem was with the officiating mechanics and not the Patriots. Still shifting blame.
In short, according to Harbaugh, the Pats won because of deception, and he had to draw the penalty because of clueless refs.
Had he admitted that he was outcoached, he would’ve modeled true. Instead, he made excuses and pointed fingers, making himself the target of criticism.