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John Harbaugh told his staff Ray Lewis couldn’t cover Davis, Crabtree

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

During the Super Bowl, Ravens coach John Harbaugh told his assistant coaches that they needed to make sure their defensive calls didn’t leave linebacker Ray Lewis covering 49ers tight end Vernon Davis or receiver Michael Crabtree over the middle.

The 49ers had a lot of success sending Davis and Crabtree over the middle, where Lewis simply didn’t have the speed to keep up with them in coverage. As shown on NFL Turning Point on NBC Sports Network, that led to Harbaugh getting on his headset and telling the Ravens’ defensive coaching staff that they needed to call coverages that didn’t require Lewis to go one-on-one with either of them.

“We can’t let Ray be matched up on 85 or 15 all day when we’re playing quarters,” Harbaugh told his coaches.

Davis, who caught six passes for 104 yards, was having a lot of fun rubbing it in Lewis’s face. At one point he walked up to Lewis and yelled, “It’s gonna be a long day for you!”

On the sideline, Davis told a 49ers coach that if they could keep getting him isolated on Lewis over the middle, there was no way Lewis was going to stop him.

“He can’t match up,” Davis said. “I don’t care what route I got.”

Davis was right about that: Lewis couldn’t match up with him. Fortunately for the Ravens, the rest of the team played well enough to overcome a major liability at middle linebacker.

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81 Responses to “John Harbaugh told his staff Ray Lewis couldn’t cover Davis, Crabtree”
  1. rpiotr01 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:21 AM

    No question. Ray Lewis was basically a much noisier AJ Hawk out there.

  2. whatnojets says: Feb 7, 2013 11:21 AM

    Ray Lewis found his missing white suit and already ascended to heaven!!

  3. v2the4 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:22 AM

    all the more reason why Jim Harbaugh should have been throwing to #85 Vernon Davis all dayum day..he was smoking not only Ray Lewis, but leaving #31 Bernard Pollard in his wake too….

    that 1st and goal from the 7 with 2:39 left will eat the niners up all offseason….if anything, they should have sent Davis wide in a solo set and threw him the ball against Pollard while they max protected against the blitz….

  4. itsfootballbaby says: Feb 7, 2013 11:23 AM

    Really? You needed John Harbaugh to tell you that?

  5. pkrjones says: Feb 7, 2013 11:23 AM

    Really? It took unitl mid-game for the Raven’s coaches to figure-out that Lewis couldn’t cover Davis or Crabtree? Most of us “fans” knew that 2 years ago…

  6. maverick0 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:24 AM

    Lewis should have retired a couple of years ago and been a cheerleader on the sidelines. Last couple of years, he was nothing more than a “Keith Brooking” stat padder…all (most) tackles were 5-6 yards beyond line of scrimmage and could not cover anyone in coverage.

  7. causeisaid says: Feb 7, 2013 11:24 AM

    Ray Lewis retires a 2x Super Bowl champ and retired as an every down linebacker in the NFL at 38. Of course he has lost a step.

  8. reed20fence says: Feb 7, 2013 11:25 AM

    I wonder what Vernon Davis thinks now?

  9. cometkazie says: Feb 7, 2013 11:25 AM

    That’s why it’s a team sport.

  10. haterade999 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:25 AM

    Yeah, this sounds about right.

    Just another TEAM call on route to winning the Super Bowl.

    The Ravens. As a Team. World Champs.

  11. illmatic8582 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:26 AM

    Vernon Davis is one of the best tight ends in football. There are several dozen players who can’t guard him. What’s the next news story? NFL football will still be played on Sundays?….

  12. robkeezy says: Feb 7, 2013 11:26 AM

    It’s a bit sad that the Ravens accomplished the greatest feat in American football, and all the media can write about is how Ray Lewis is a liability. The man came back from an injury that would have put other folks on IR, and all the negative media people want to talk about is how he’s old and slow, and a liability. He did everything within his power to earn his second Super Bowl ring, and you can’t take that away from him. It seems that every time someone great tries to retire, the media wants to do nothing but write bad things about them, when we should be celebrating them. Watch when Peyton tries to retire, I’m calling it now… All everyone will write about is how is arm strength just wasn’t there at the end of his career, and he shouldn’t have been playing.

    You did get me to click on the link and read the article to make you money though; so I guess you accomplished what you wanted anyway.

  13. kinggw says: Feb 7, 2013 11:26 AM

    Is this supposed to be news?

    Lewis hasnt been able to cover anybody effectively for a while. That’s usually what happens with 37 year old linebackers. Saw it all season from London Fletcher as well.

  14. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 7, 2013 11:27 AM

    Harbs, what are you doin man? Ray’s been there with you for years, he’s leaving, and you haven’t been stabbed yet. Consider yourself lucky and keep quiet.

  15. bengalskuta82 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:27 AM

    Duh! We all knew that..Ray is 37 but somehow because of his “name” everybody in the media expects him to play like the yr 2000 Lewis..making a big of nothing..reality is he not the same so don’t think ya’ll will be selling papers with this “oMG,can u believe what JHarbaugh said about Ray Lewis”title..hahahaa..its nothing

  16. Beezo-Doo-doo-Zippity-Bop-bop-bop says: Feb 7, 2013 11:27 AM

    John is quite a bit brighter than Jim, no doubt about it.

  17. gn74 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:27 AM

    Fortunately, Ray didn’t cost the Ravens the game. He did look bad out there. Tackling players from behind after a safety moves up, slowing the receiver down. No way in hell Ray is benched, so they had to minimize the impact of him as a liability.

  18. stigman2012 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:28 AM

    And he was right.

  19. 1phd says: Feb 7, 2013 11:29 AM

    Who is Ray Lewis?

  20. schmitty2 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:30 AM

    Harbaugh saw it, 70k people in the stands saw it, 1 billion people world wide saw it

  21. jamaltimore says: Feb 7, 2013 11:30 AM

    Pollard was just as much of liability in the game. When the game was on the line Ray’s defense held while crabtree,cpunk and davis couldn’t get it done. Maybe slow old ray is the reason niners blew the game by trying 3 passes on the goal line! SCOREBOARD!

  22. Akula says: Feb 7, 2013 11:31 AM

    I’m still waiting for the Harbaugh fine for cursing out an NFL VP on national tv.

  23. bigbaldpapahawk says: Feb 7, 2013 11:31 AM

    Not to take anything from Lewis’ career, but this has been the case for a few seasons now.

    The man was a great player though.

  24. bmorefalcon says: Feb 7, 2013 11:32 AM

    Ray to Vernon:

    “I’d like to see you beat me on that route with a prison shank lodged between your ribs!”

  25. beavertonsteve says: Feb 7, 2013 11:32 AM

    Ray Lewis may have had a long day, but Vernon Davis is going to have a long off-season.

  26. biglaj007 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:36 AM

    Wow, why is this even a news? Who won the game? I bet if Lewis was back in his prime. Davis would have been a non-factor.

  27. justintuckrule says: Feb 7, 2013 11:36 AM

    I wish this version’s Ray Lewis played in the SB against my team a decade ago.

  28. ghostofgilchrist says: Feb 7, 2013 11:37 AM

    Davis is the fastest guy on the Niners….name any linebacker that can keep up with him.

  29. imeanwhatisay says: Feb 7, 2013 11:37 AM

    wow every one know that.what lb can match up with bolden or Smith

  30. icardfan says: Feb 7, 2013 11:39 AM

    And….what middle backer can run with a WR or elite speed TE like Davis? That’s always a mismatch. Even Willis comes out in nickel packages for the niners.

  31. linedrivehit says: Feb 7, 2013 11:43 AM

    They dont win or even go to the Super Bowl without Lewis. What was their record this year when he was injured? It wasnt just about his skill, or loss thereof. He was the emotioal leader of that team. Team. TEAM.

  32. freepretzels says: Feb 7, 2013 11:43 AM

    I’m not sure what MLB can straight up cover Vernon Davis. Maybe Derrick Johnson?

  33. joewilliesshnoz says: Feb 7, 2013 11:45 AM

    I didn’t know that murderers could cover tight ends or wide receivers.

  34. habsfanatic says: Feb 7, 2013 11:48 AM

    These matchup problems are present for both teams and what makes these games so interesting. When Boldin outmuscles a CB for a ball, should we start bashing that guy for being weak or not tall enough? Of course Ray could not cover those fast receivers 1-on-1 but that’s why coaches scheme the way they do, to play to their players’ strengths and minimize weaknesses. I’m sure Ray was not the only player they did that for.

    I thought both teams did great jobs at trying to gain advantage on each other and it was a really exciting Super Bowl!

  35. blackandbluedivision says: Feb 7, 2013 11:48 AM

    So why didn’t they throw at him when they were 5 yards away from the endzone at the end of the game?

  36. footballislife51 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:49 AM

    Super Bowl Champs….haters!!!

  37. jbaxt says: Feb 7, 2013 11:50 AM

    Ray Lewis was exposed about 6 years ago when Brian Waters humiliated him time and time again on Monday night football.

  38. sourdoughsam says: Feb 7, 2013 11:52 AM

    “pkrjones says:
    Feb 7, 2013 11:23 AM
    Really? It took unitl mid-game for the Raven’s coaches to figure-out that Lewis couldn’t cover Davis or Crabtree? Most of us “fans” knew that 2 years ago…”

    They weren’t in quarters much early on. Quarters puts the MLB in a bigger bind, so I’m guessing Harbaugh was suggesting that they roll Cover 6 so that Lewis had some help.

  39. gonavybeatarmy says: Feb 7, 2013 11:54 AM

    Any novice football fan who has watched the Ravens over the last few years would know that Ray Lewis can not cover a WR or TE.

    John Harbaugh is as overrated as Mike Tomlin. There’s not a lot of genius there. He was an obscure special teams coach for several years going no where until Jason Garrett declined Bisciotti’s hard sell to coach the Ravens.

    Both are the caretakers of well run organizations. Both organizations won Super Bowls just a few years before anyone knew the names John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin. But that’s just the way these organizations like it. The organizations’ theory is just don’t screw up what we’ve assembled and be a good PR guy.

  40. indians131184 says: Feb 7, 2013 11:57 AM

    He was getting murdered out there

  41. 52goat20goat says: Feb 7, 2013 11:58 AM

    To be fair, there are only a handful of lbs in the league that can run with those guys and they are still in their prime. I just don’t understand this new trend of attacking a guy who will go down as the best ever especially after he just won his second ring

  42. daknight93 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:01 PM

    no one should be surprised, Ray Lewis is almost 40yrs.old and naturally lost 2 steps..he can’t cover a fast 25yr.old and 28yr.old pure and obvious mismatch

  43. bobbyhoying says: Feb 7, 2013 12:03 PM

    I somehow think the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles might have played with a little more passion had Ray been one of their linebackers. How long would guys last who skipped tackles so they didn’t risk an injury?

  44. supashug says: Feb 7, 2013 12:03 PM

    so that makes the feat even more astonoshing

    Ravens World Champs

  45. billb49 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:04 PM

    Lewis had a horrible game. He couldn’t tackle Frank Gore either. Gore spun him around with fakes more than once. If the Ravens had lost the game, that would have been the story. The Niners had a hundred yards more offense, a hundred yard rusher and two hundred yard receivers.

    The team that wins deserves to win, but let’s face it – the Ravens were pretty lucky to get out of there with a win.

  46. calexan5 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:08 PM

    If Ray Lewis had a long day imagine how long Vernon Davis’s offseason will be

  47. geniusesq says: Feb 7, 2013 12:08 PM

    Isn’t that the point? Very good Tight Ends like Davis are mismatches for linebackers. Davis, Gronkowski, Gonzalez etc rack up big numbers against MLBs not named Ray Lewis every Sunday.

  48. pinion8ted says: Feb 7, 2013 12:11 PM

    robkeezy says:
    It seems that every time someone great tries to retire, the media wants to do nothing but write bad things about them, when we should be celebrating them.
    ———————————————————

    yeah, ummm…… forgive me, but I’m not “celebrating” anyone convicted for involvement in a double murder, Skippy.

  49. godofwine330 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:12 PM

    Ray was a liability on defense covering TE’s all year. Instincts only carry you so far. Lacking speed gets defensive players out of the league quicker than anything else.

  50. ravenator says: Feb 7, 2013 12:15 PM

    A leader, on and off the field. Enjoy your retirement Ray Lewis, you earned it.

  51. raiderrob21 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:17 PM

    Anyone on the staff that couldnt figure that out for themselves should be fired.

  52. boogerhut says: Feb 7, 2013 12:18 PM

    In Rays (praise be upon him) defense, after you participate in knifing a couple of people to death (in any capacity), you adrenal system becomes jaded to the point where something as tame as football just won’t trigger that rush that you need.

  53. it's all bs says: Feb 7, 2013 12:18 PM

    Ray Lewis = Spray Lewis

  54. geniusesq says: Feb 7, 2013 12:20 PM

    Vernon Davis ran a 4.38 forty. What MLB can keep up with him?

  55. blogatron2000 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:20 PM

    So what you’re saying is that the 49ers offensive game plan was to exploit a known weakness in the Ravens defense? Wow! That’s Brilliant!!!

  56. ghoul11 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:22 PM

    awww c’mon John, have some faith! You should have let him take a stab at it!

  57. djjackson81 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:23 PM

    Clearly Lewis has lost a step or two at this point in his Career and the niners still could not take advantage enough to win. Long day for Lewis or not Ravens won. Trash talk your loss Davis

  58. ghoul11 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:23 PM

    awww, c’mon John, have some faith! You should have let him take a stab at it!

  59. melikefootball says: Feb 7, 2013 12:30 PM

    Ray would have had to use a knife to keep up with Craptree.

  60. dctitanfan says: Feb 7, 2013 12:40 PM

    This means Ravens will be better next year.

  61. ravens4fr says: Feb 7, 2013 12:41 PM

    “The team that wins deserves to win, but let’s face it – the Ravens were pretty lucky to get out of there with a win.”

    The 49ers were freakin lucky that the power was pulled; otherwise, they would’ve been blown out!

  62. vikesfansteve says: Feb 7, 2013 12:46 PM

    What do you expect from Davis. His brother is the dude who hit people in the head with a hammer and killed a tourist for 10 bucks.

  63. baymac408 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:52 PM

    This’s mans ring is tainted!! Tired of hearing bout him really.. SNITCH

  64. lovefootball4life says: Feb 7, 2013 12:55 PM

    So does this mean the Ravens beat the great Niners offense with only 10 men and a liability instead of a full squad of 11? That wouldn’t sound good if I was a Niners fan.

  65. armyravensstrong says: Feb 7, 2013 12:55 PM

    That’s no suprise to us Ravens! That should have been known going into the game by everyone from coaches to fans if you know football. What 37/38 yr old do you know who gonna keep up with a 26-28 yr old? Great that John got on the commo and directed an adjustment. Great coaching! All the haters can hate all they want we’re smart enough to know how to adjust and win the game. Jim wanting to throw the ball at the end of the game in the red zone and it cost them. Had they ran it may have been different outcome. Otherwise, we’re the champions! That’s it! 49ers, enjoy the off-season!!!

  66. justintuckrule says: Feb 7, 2013 12:56 PM

    Its actually why traditional MLBs are going the way of the dodo bird. Teams are playing more nickel and simply bringing their bigger safety in the box on run downs.

  67. jpb12 says: Feb 7, 2013 12:56 PM

    By any means necessary

  68. pftard says: Feb 7, 2013 12:59 PM

    It’s a common mistake for an Offensive Player to assume that a single positional advantage equals beating a Defense.

    Sure.., Vernon Davis had an advantage over the one Defender, but obviously that wasn’t enough to be the Defense as a whole. Maybe a little less running of the mouth and more focus on catching the ball.

  69. gbpbacker84 says: Feb 7, 2013 1:03 PM

    What are you all so insecure about in yourselves that you continually find the need to bash this man. He has always put 100 percent of his heart on the line, which is far more than all you negativity mongers can say about yourselves. Enjoy the rest of your life Ray, you’ve earned it. They can never take those 2 rings away from you.

  70. tdk24 says: Feb 7, 2013 1:24 PM

    “Davis, who caught six passes for 104 yards, was having a lot of fun rubbing it in Lewis’s face. At one point he walked up to Lewis and yelled, “It’s gonna be a long day for you!””

    To which Lewis replied “It’s going to be a long YEAR for you!”

  71. justwinsomeday says: Feb 7, 2013 1:32 PM

    Davis won’t even be in the league when he’s 38….so yea, he should have been a speed mismatch. Good thing the game isn’t decided like a timed track meet.

    And as Terp alumni (like Davis), I’ve always pulled for him. He’s getting closer – someday he’ll understand it’s a team game.

  72. Cereal says: Feb 7, 2013 1:45 PM

    Right, he’s so bad he set an NFL record for tackles in a post-season.

  73. jr4real says: Feb 7, 2013 1:48 PM

    Not a Ravens fan but give the coach some credit for having the brains to make this call. It obviously worked.

  74. iceburgskin202 says: Feb 7, 2013 1:57 PM

    Nobody has been able to check V Davis since he broke into the league… Or any of these TE/WR hybrids like Gronk , Graham , FDavis , Pitta. I see that the smart coach used his big WR/TE in the red zone the other coach didn’t even try…. Result is a Lombardi for Bmore and a lot of what ifs for San Fran

  75. stevepea says: Feb 7, 2013 2:23 PM

    “billb49 says:
    Feb 7, 2013 12:04 PM
    Lewis had a horrible game. He couldn’t tackle Frank Gore either. Gore spun him around with fakes more than once. If the Ravens had lost the game, that would have been the story. The Niners had a hundred yards more offense, a hundred yard rusher and two hundred yard receivers.

    The team that wins deserves to win, but let’s face it – the Ravens were pretty lucky to get out of there with a win”

    It’s more likely that the 40whiners were lucky that the power went out because they were about to be on the losing end of the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history.

  76. asyoulay69 says: Feb 7, 2013 3:04 PM

    That’s right, go 9ers.

  77. thefiesty1 says: Feb 7, 2013 3:48 PM

    Lewis was just a shell of his old self but he closed out with a ring. It definitely is time to walk away.

  78. yousuxxors says: Feb 7, 2013 5:06 PM

    the other team is always lucky when playing the 49ers. tge niners got lucky the lights went out and stopped a blowout we all haven’t seen since the 90s.

  79. ripster65 says: Feb 7, 2013 5:46 PM

    It kills me that people think that the lights going out somehow benefited SF. How on earth could that be? They came out of the blackout with a 3rd and 13 that they didn’t convert and immediately had to punt. I guess if you really believe that, you could also say that the blackout caused the Ravens to have a complete and total mental and physical breakdown as well, which is not necessarily the mark of a Championship team.

  80. masteryoda1973 says: Feb 7, 2013 6:07 PM

    If VDavis knew he could get open at anytime and all 140million people seen it, I’m sure the coaches did too.

    How on gods green earth we didn’t target him at least 1 time in the final 4 plays is a mystery I’ll never figure out.

    I think the players were prepared well and ready to make it happen on the final drive. 100% the fault of the coaches/play-calling for not bringing #6 home. Fock!

  81. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 7, 2013 8:35 PM

    ravenator says:
    Feb 7, 2013 12:15 PM
    A leader, on and off the field. Enjoy your retirement Ray Lewis, you earned it.

    25 10
    Report comment

    So all felons should retire this way fan boy?…only in Baltimore …ain’t America grand?…

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