Harbaugh calls Patriots’ four-lineman shell game unprecedented

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During Saturday’s thrilling, up-and-down, back-and-forth win over the Ravens, the Patriots created plenty of confusion on a key second-half drive by using four offensive lineman and playing hide-and-seek with one of the eligible receivers who would be ineligible in any given play.

The strategy worked — and it sufficiently upset coach John Harbaugh to result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After the game, Harbaugh elaborated on the source of sideline consternation not seen from him since the night that the lights went out in New Orleans.

“[I]t’s a substitution type of a trick type of a thing,” Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “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. The league will look at that type of thing and I’m sure that they’ll make some adjustments and things like that.”

Harbaugh said he simply hoped to have a chance to try to make a substitution based on who the eligible receivers would be.

“[W]e wanted an opportunity to be able to ID who the eligible players were, 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 the chance to figure out who was lined up where, and that was the deception part of it,” Harbaugh said. “And that was where it was clearly deception. So the officials told me after that they’d give us the opportunity to do that, which they probably should have done during that series but they didn’t really understand what was happening.”

Harbaugh explained that he deliberately provoked the flag.

“That’s why I had to go and take the penalty, to get their attention so that they would understand what was going on because they didn’t understand what was going on,” Harbaugh said. “And they said that that was the right thing, that they’d give us the chance to ID the eligible receivers so we could actually get them covered. That’s why guys were open, because we didn’t ID where the eligible receivers were at. So, that’s the nature of that particular thing they were doing, that’s what made it so difficult.”

It was an unprecedented tactic, in Harbaugh’s opinion. Asked whether he considers it to be cheap or dirty, Harbaugh stopped short.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said.

It’s clear he believes the Patriots exploited a loophole that sufficiently confused the officials to allow the Patriots to sufficiently confuse the Ravens. While the loophole could be closed by the Competition Committee and then the owners, New England’s ability to identify and to capitalize on a little-known quirk in the rules perhaps should be regarded neither as dirty nor cheap but effective.

153 responses to “Harbaugh calls Patriots’ four-lineman shell game unprecedented

  1. Harbawl whines about everything. He should go ask where Suggs and Dumerville were. They thought they won the super bowl last week.

  2. My my, is this way their parents raised their two boys. Always crying about something that doesn’t go their way. They must be very proud parents

  3. Did Belichick go and break an unwritten rule again?

    You heard it here first – Belichick broke a 2006 rule in 2001-2004 just like he’s probably breaking a 2017 rule as we speak

  4. Harabaugh will get a HUGE fine monday by Goodell for making it a close game. And patriot fans seattle is barely beating the panthers so just more facts the nfl is predetermined of who is going to win.

  5. Patriots broke no rules and, as a result, the officials didn’t miss any calls on those plays.

    Would you rather the refs threw a flag and then picked it up?

    Didn’t work out so well for the Lions.

  6. I think the word Coach Harbaugh is lookin for is “genius” or perhaps “brilliant”

  7. “Belichick is playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers”

    Which explains all of those Super Bowls the “dynasty” has won in the last decade. It also explains the chess master using horrible clock management to give the Ravens a chance at a hail mary at the end.

  8. Owned. Can your linebackers not read? 34 is ineligible means don’t cover 34. Pretty simple Im surprised it even worked

  9. It’s not little know and it’s not a quirk. They use funky formations all the time on special teams and the defense isn’t allotted more time to figure things out. The rule is super simple: the second person from center is ineligible when also in compliance with numbering rules or if they have reported as intelligible. The problem I had with the situation is that refs are supposed to announce to the defense any declared eligibility changes and they weren’t doing so. It wasn’t cheating at all. It was a perfectly legal exploitation of one of the oldest rules in football. I doubt you’ll see it addressed at the competition committee level because the rule is very straightforward and there isn’t another way to administer the line of scrimmage without the rule as written.

  10. Beli – Cheat at his finest yet again……although I guess it is not cheating if he is not breaking a rule. He is a joke with this bull crap. They are going to the SB but I hope the NFC beats them yet again!

  11. He’s right. A coward way to play. The defense is supposed to have the chance to make substitutions when the offense does. The refs are supposed to call out the eligible receivers and they couldn’t because te pats were playing hurry up so the refs couldn’t even catch on. I ain’t gonna lie, smart tactic by New England but still cowardly and exploiting the rules. Wouldn’t really expect anything less.

  12. “New England’s ability to identify and to capitalize on a little-known quirk in the rules perhaps should be regarded neither as dirty nor cheap but effective.”

    “Genius” is the word you seek.

  13. Can’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said.
    Harbaugh cries and whines more than any other head
    coach in the league. Wish he’d go join his brother back
    in the college ranks.




  15. Confusing the Refs? It doesn’t take much to do that. The Patriot way I suppose, I do know certain uniform #s are designated to certain position groups.

  16. Harbaugh ” It’s not something that anybody’s ever done before.” In 100 years? That’s why Belichick is the greatest coach of all time

  17. I don’t want to hear anything with that stop mid route to get a defender to run into you for PI. They needed long ball PI to keep this one close

  18. Harbaugh says he deliberately took a 15 yard penalty for running on the field????? If that’s true — which I don’t believe for a second — then he’s a bigger idiot than I thought he was.

    I loved Tom Brady’s answer at his press conference after the game when he was asked about the play. He said the Ravens need to look at the rule book.

    If Harbaugh had thought of it, he’d be yucking it up. But instead he’s doing what Harbaughs always do — whine.

    The thought occurred to me that the Harbaughs could replace the Hager Twins if Hee Haw ever comes back on tv. Except they’d be whining instead of singing.

    People can say what they want about Belichick, but it’s stuff like this that keeps him one step ahead of every other coach in the NFL.

  19. I’m a Giants fan and have no ax to grind here, and “Spygate” is a fact and not a myth. But why is it that every time of the MANY times Belichick outsmarts the opposition he’s cheating? The simple fact is he’s good. Period.

  20. John H. Would you like some Cheese with that Whine? You are only upset because you weren’t smart enough to think of it first. It was a fully legal play setup, you were just caught with your pants down. And for the Record I am not a Patriots fan, I just admire smart football, even if it is a bit tricksy!

  21. ravensdominate says:
    Jan 10, 2015 10:43 PM
    It’s just the type of crap the patriots pull. Like harbaugh said, no ones ever seen that before. Until the patriots gotta make a rule out of it

    And here come the crybabies again.

    Because your coach doesn’t know the rules its “crap”

    The only “crap” I saw was overrated and way way way over paid JUMP BALL JOE throwing up punts and getting picked in the second half.

  22. It’s legal. There’s no argument. Whabaugh should have used a timeout to figure it out. For those who think although it legal, it’s cheap or dirty, think about this. Getting players who literally belong in prison like Ray Lewis or should have been at least charged more than once with domestic abuse charges like Terrell Suggs out of trouble just because they are football players was also legal. There is no comparison between the scumbaggery of the Ravens and a brilliant coach using the rules to his team’s advantage. Coaches like Belichick and Red Auerbach are so far advanced in their mastery of the rules, that the leagues have had to change the rules constantly because to help those coaches or organizations that are not intelligent enough to compete on the same level.

  23. It is coaching…learn the rules…master them…find ways to win. Cry baby. Will whine to comp. committee just like Dungy, Jeff Fisher…Polian…etc. more rule changes because Pats outclassed your Punk Tream….

  24. Tom and Bill are in the AFC Championship for the Ninth time since 2001. Miami was last in the game in 1992, losing by 19 to the Bills. Don’t mean to gloat but a Miami troll is talking trash.

  25. He’s not saying it was illegal. But, the refs need to allow the D to properly substitute. Changing eligible receivers = substitution. Pats did nothing wrong, ref’s didn’t react properly & that’s Harbaugh’s correct statement. It was creative, and the refs messed up. Those aren’t mutually exclusive points.

  26. The Patriots won within the rules. FACT! The Ravens got away with a lot of defensive holding. FACT! Harbaugh was out-coached. FACT! Now go back to that poor excuse of a city and bawl your eyes out. Ray Rice should punch some you panty-waists.

  27. Funny how the Patriots don’t seem to win anything with out some cloud questioning their extra curricular activities.

    That is some legacy Coach and Brady are leaving, behind.

  28. I recall during many regular season games where the official announces over the loud speaker that someone has reported eligible. Should they not have to do the same thing if someone is playing out of position wearing a number in the 80’s that is ineligible?

    Smart, because not pulling that stuff resulted in two super bowl loses against the Giants. Should have saved it for the Super Bowl. Karma is a …

  29. Dudes.. Harbaugh is right about the Pat’s cheating way to hide their players.. He isn’t the only one, Rex Ryan complain this issues many times with the Refs.. but it seems the Refs look other ways when its toward against Pats…

    So far, more names are adding up against the Patcheater Dynasty so far.

    Rex Ryan
    Don Shula
    Goddell Commissioner ***
    (He won’t publicly admits, but already fined and took Patcheater 1st pick draft, Million fines to Kraft and BillCheat )

  30. Harbaugh take the advice that Brady gave you and learn the rule book. There is nothing illegal about what the Patriots did. It’s not the Patriots fault that you don’t understand something.

    I am sick of coaches and players spreading lies about teams because they have winning records and or beat them. Get over it, stop whining, and work on improving your team. Last I checked, crying and complaining doesn’t win football games.

    Take your overrated quarterback back to the hole that you came from and enjoy your off-season. Best quarterback in the NFL…really?? Guess what, you will take Flacco any Sunday or Saturday, I guess you were proved wrong today. I will take Belichick/Brady everyday!

  31. This is no different than JJ Watt reporting as eligible as a player wearing #99. Just doing the opposite which is also legal, and it was brilliant!

  32. To everyone crying that it was classless and not fair…quit your whining. They both had 11 men on the field. Line up and play ball.

  33. Hmm…so coach, your “best QB in the NFL” Jump Ball Joe passes up a WIDE OPEN Marlon Brown on the final drive and throws a terrible INT to end your season, and you’re STILL bent on accusing the Patriots of cheating?

    Let’s see a show of hands of how many of you think there is holding on every single offensive play. Pretty sure all of them are up.

    And how many times did the Ravens get flagged for offensive holding, or a chop block? ZERO.

    Finally, the Pats scored 5 TD’s. You scored 4…and a FG. And that’s the difference in the game.

    Seriously. Before this I was more then ready to tip my cap to the Ravens (as a Steelers fan) and say they had a whale of a year, overcoming a ton of adversity.

    But all this shows is John Harbaugh is a sore loser and I’m VERY glad the Ravens are heading into the offseason with a ton of question marks.

  34. Amendola was an eligible receiver, and Flaco Floundered with two…..count em two interceptions……suck it up Raven fans your feathered will grow back….next year….

  35. After seeing the analysis of the play, it was absolutely genius. The play in question adhered to the rules PERFECTLY. John Harbaugh is bitching because he couldn’t get his D prepared to handle it. Once again Belicheck proved he’s the best coach in the NFL.

  36. Amendola was eligible Coach. You discredit your team by spewing that crap they played well just blew two 14 point leads ….as for Don Shula he shows his true character at 85 still moaning about the past, him and Lebeau will cry in their sherbet at the retirement home this spring. Don and Dan won not one count nothing so Mr Shula has no game his claim to fame is a undefeated season and he broke his dentures when the Pats came close to spoiling his only claim to fame

  37. Nothing wrong with it — bill outsmarting the league. Again.

    And harbaugh doesn’t come across as whining — he seems to be acknowledging the genius if bellicheck and tipping his hat.

    Don’t get what everyone here is complaining about.

  38. This guy always has some excuse. If it’s not the scoreboard operator, its some rule that he doesn’t know.

  39. It’s legal. Belichick is a legend and one of the best strategists to coach the game.

    But I think this kind of stuff is beneath him, to be completely honest.

  40. Dion Sanders and Ladanian Thomlinson on NFL Live were great on this subject: it’s legal, Harbough should have called a timeout and figured out a way to defend it, the Patriots always do something unexpected but Harbogh tried to save his timeouts instead of admitting he needed time to devise a strategy to counteract Belichick’s move.

  41. The fact that the Pats quickly snapped the ball after telling the official who was ineligible shows that they were trying to gain an unfair advantage. It’s like Tom Brandy complaining vehemently to the officials every time he is touched. Usual Patriot BS. Who knows what they are doing that the opponent and league isn’t aware of.

  42. I like how the top rated comments are the ones that are quite obviously Patriots fans OR Ravens haters.

    Anyways, seeing as how I’m neither…I don’t really know if it’s “cheating”, “dirty”, or whatever else but it’s definitely messed up that the defense wasn’t able to make the proper substitutions. I saw somebody say Harbaugh should have used a timeout, but it’s not necessarily fair that he would have to waste a valuable timeout just to make the proper substitutions (or tell the refs about it).

    Anyways, I didn’t watch the game, so I have no idea if it affected the game one way or another. Just my thoughts.

  43. It has nothing to do with being “smart,” it’s deceptive, it’s trickery. There is a reason no other coach in the NFL has done it–and I’m quite sure the NFL has a lot of smart OCs and coaches: It’s shady. Period.

  44. There isn’t anything even vaguely illegal about that, Harbaugh comes off as a jerkoff crybaby once again. Also, taping defensive signals is still 100% legal dummies. Time to order a case of tissues and your 2015 Mel Kiper Draft Guides. #Blessed

  45. May not be against a written rule, but it seems it’s against the spirit of the rule. I mean, can’t you just play & try to win a football game straight up? I mean, I get you haven’t won a SB in eons & you have all these stains on your coaching record & you were probably desperate because the game wasn’t going your way. But man, this doesn’t help your cause. Trying to fool the opponents is one thing, trying to fool officials so the game isn’t officiated properly is a whole other level of grimy. Whatever, I kinda hate both teams. Harbaugh whining about doesn’t help his reputation either. Gotta expect that crap against a desperate Belichek.

    Remember Pats fans, the Ward hit on Gronk & the Pollard hit on Brady were both legal too. Can’t have it both ways.

  46. I hate hate HATE HATE!!!… how smart the Pats are.

    This play was one example. Another: the Edelman pass was genius as well and Balt was caught off-guard a little bit, because surely they knew he was a college QB. A WR screen with no blockers, thrown 5 yards behind the LOS? To a former college QB? Safeties better stay home. Oops.

    Nice game by both teams. Can anyone explain how Forsett has bounced around on four teams? He was very impressive. Clearly Indy had no use for him when he was there…. sigh/facepalm.

  47. I’m sorry but Harbaugh has been horrible at managing the clock and timeouts for years now. Flacco’s stats look decent, but he’s still making the same mistakes.

    Yeah, the refs predictably gave a few more calls to the home team. But Ravens could have had that game many times.

    And if Ravens were better coached then they would have had at least 2 more regular season wins which would have gotten them home field in playoffs.

    Salary is gonna cost them some talent on the defense eventually.

    And the pass rush just wasn’t getting there tonight. Pees has got to be more creative and throw in some blitzes from time to time.

    They had ONE guy you could t leave wide open on Gronk, and that was the guy they were leaving wide open.

    Harbaugh can say the patriots used some never seen before tactic… But the ravens, like usual… Beat themselves.

  48. Harbaugh chastised Tory Smith for his 2 unsportsmanlike penalties later on, it is ridiculous that Harbaugh would have given up yards on his own unsportsmanlike penalty. If his head had stopped spinning, a timeout would have worked better.

  49. Legal plays! What the hell is wrong with that. The problem (AGAIN) is these refs who have a full time job aren’t trained well enough to know all of the NFL rules. It’s been a problem forever.

  50. Harbaugh is whining about a play that was played by the rules yet doesn’t care less about his players playing dirty and taking cheap shots. This guys needs to go.

  51. Yeah, I don’t see the problem. They were announcing who was reporting ineligible, Harbaugh is just saying he wasn’t given enough time to identify where they were lining up, which is not a luxury afforded to coaches on any other play. It was just an issue of Baltimore’s inexperienced secondary

  52. No shocker that it’s Belichek and the Pats exploiting a rule in the playoffs. Was it illegal? No. Will it be? Yep. Belichek isn’t a “genius” for exploiting a rule. There’s a reason no one’s done this in 100 years…because it’s bush league. Stay classy NE!

  53. All the comments about whining or cheating and not focused on the real problem…NFL refs are the worst in all professional sports. It is their job to know the rules and enforce the rules. Last week they couldn’t enforce them properly and this week they didn’t even know them.

  54. It has never been done before so all the Ravens fans call it cheating. Glad you idiots were not around when the forward pass was invented!

  55. Pats don’t need to worry about being called cheaters, they nerd to worry about their D. The Ravens went down the field at will except for the timely interception.

  56. The only person that should be able to throw the ball should be the QB!! Belichick really will do anything to win. This one wasn’t won by Brady, that’s for sure. Unorthodox coaching wins this one.

  57. t8ertot says:
    Jan 10, 2015 10:35 PM

    Harbaughs whine just as much as Brady.


    Whoa, whoa no need to exaggerate! But seriously, I think we should put Dez on this list too.

  58. I can’t stand The patriots but I have no problem with this. Complainers are the type of fans who thinks football should be played one particular way but over the course of history it is obvious football was never played one particular way. Oh, the irony of traditionalists… they always think they do things ‘the right way’.

  59. for a team that has DEPENDED on the long ball pass interference call for 5 straight years, should admire something like this. ENJOY THE PROBOWL

  60. It was obvious that the Patriots could not win that game playing straight. They had to resort to trick plays and questionable tactics (legal, for now, but very questionable at best) to remain in the game. You have to hand it to Bill for doing whatever was necessary to win, but he definitely is cringing this morning knowing he is being judged by his peers. Lost a little more respect for the Patriots last night, I think a lot of people did including the other coaches in the league.

  61. So the pats knew the rules better than everyone else on the field? I’m not surprised, that much.

    Oh, and playing the ravens is tougher than anything Shula ever had to do…

  62. Hard to believe a coach would go to lengths like that to come up with trickery instead of actually practicing during practice. He ain’t called Bellacheat for nothing and his legacy is now cemented.

  63. This is amazing… just a smoke screen so no one investigates the refs giving the Ravens every call…. one of the worst officiated games ive ever seen.

  64. I hate both these teams, but Bill is a great coach and John is the biggest whiner I have ever seen. Outcoached, outplayed. Season over. Take it like an man, John. Pathetic.

  65. Outsmarting someone is not cheating. Everything was plain as day. The broadcasters picked up on it fast enough. The ref pointed to Vereen, while looking at the Ravens. What more do you want? The actual play call? Wahbaugh.

  66. The Ravens pretty much man handled the Patriots so they had no choice but to go with their tricks in order to win the game. Its just the creepy Patriot way of doing.

  67. FYI John, running onto to the field does not always get you a penalty!

    Yours truly,
    Dez Bryant

  68. Glad to see the dirtiest team lose after being confused by a legal play. Remember you are the team that likes to run up the score coaching intimadating after the whistle chippiness to draw a flag the long ball PI baiting and I could go on but you get the picture. The pathetic part is the Ravens never lose with class and trash their opponents when they win….a very immature team and fan base.

  69. Pretty pathetic that the Pats have to do this kind of
    “coaching” to win games. Great game to watch by the way…

  70. Some of the key defensive players for the Ravens don’t even know the name of the opposing quarterback, heck they were even bragging about it before the game. How do you expect them to pick up which players to defend? Wahbaugh needs to do a better job of coaching.

  71. This was a great game by 2 great teams and 2 great qbs. As far as the “trick formation”I believe that harbaugh probably shouldn’t have made such a spectacle about it, but I understand where he’s coming from. He wanted to see an old fashioned blue collar game played straight forward bc he knew his team would win that way. But belichek knew he was going to have to reach into his bag of tricks. Really john should have expected it. That penalty was pretty stupid though. But just to clarify things, he wasn’t disputing that the players weren’t checking themselves in as ineligible; his beef was with the officials not giving them ample time to line up or substitute. Brady was hiking the ball before the officials even informed the defense. Simple as that. Smart on their part, but pretty cheap if you ask me. It’s pretty much saying “my man can’t line up and beat your man so we have to resort to trickery”. Within the rules, yes, but cheap nonetheless.Lastly, I don’t wanna hear any of that jump ball joe crap from you pats fans; if you act like you weren’t on the edge if your seat and worried the entire game ( literally until the clock read 00:00) you are full of it. Flacco played extremely well and if that one ball was caught by Owen Daniels in the endzone when he put it right on the money the outcome may have been diffrent. Flacco had to try to do too much bc of the ravens piss poor secondary that kept allowing the pats back in the game. Single -handedly giving your team two diffrent 14 point leads is usually enough, so I hardly put the loss on him. Enough of the what ifs- heck of a game and good performance from the pats- couldn’t have expected anything less.

  72. Obviously, the Ravens’ defense isn’t coached well enough to recognize who the eligible receivers are.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm . . . . .

    Wouldn’t that be pretty basic?

  73. So John may take Flacco everyday and twice on Sunday, but I’d sure take Bill B. any day before I took John Harbaugh ever. At least Tomlin took it like a man when they got beat last week. John is classless and he shows it time and time again. Have some respect for the game, coach.

  74. John Whinebaugh. Its no wonder Mike Tomlin cant stand the guy. At least Tomlin doesn’t make excuses. What a sore loser. As for the Pats they wont survive either. Seattle or Gb to win it all.

  75. hris Mortensen confirmed this morning on Post Season NFL Countdown that the NFL has stated that everything regarding these plays was completely legal!

    Vareen (#34) reported as ineligible and Homan (#47) does not have to report as eligible because he is a tight end playing at the LT position. Players with the number 50-79 are automatically considers ineligible players. That is why Vareen had to report as inelgibile. Since Homan is not in that window he doesn’t have to report as eligible because he has a TE number.

    Harbaugh and the Ravens simply got out smarted and embarrassed that they didn’t know that section of the rule book. Instead of admitting that he assumed he was right and made even more of a fool of himself.

    End of Story!

  76. It’s not cheating when you play within the rules. The Ravens were simply out-coached. Cheating accusations are so very predictable. Admit it, some of you can’t stand the fact that it was the PATS who pulled this LEGAL formation out of the rule book and succeeded with it. You. Can’t. Stand. It. Neither can the whiny Ravens.

  77. Using deception within the rules is a cowardly way to play? Maybe the league should look into play-action passes, end arounds, fake punts or the dreaded double pass. I think all teams should just have to declare exactly what they’re gonna do, so Coach Harbaugh can get a good handle on it without running onto the field. Please. Then Harbaugh whines that it’s sneaky underhanded behavior. Just like he did when the Pats were being innovative with the hurry up and snapping the ball before defenses could get lined up. Those Harbaugh bros sure can coach but, I don’t care, you can have them. Belichick is always one step ahead. Harbaugh has all offseason to try and catch up.

  78. The officials admitted after the harbaugh penalty that they would give the defense more time to make substitutions. If they did nothing wrong, why was he told that following the penalty? As I said – it’s not illegal what the pats did- it was the once again incompetent officials who were lost and not informing the defense who was ineligible until the ball was being simultaneously hiked. What don’t y’all understand about that? No-one is saying the pats did anything illegal- although somewhat cheap.

  79. It’s not the Patriots fault that the NFL officials are once again completely incompetent. This is an officiating problem, and again, the refs swing the game at a crucial point…….

  80. Tedmurph- in all of those circumstances you just listed- Atleast the defense would have time to make their substitutions before the play. It’s apples and oranges and your argument is completely irrelevant. I do think it was smart on behalf of the patriots to exploit this and to confuse the officials- however I think there should be a rule change in the near future. I also think harbaugh probably should’ve just kept his mouth shut. I completely understand his frustration., but it wasn’t a good look to complain about it directly following the game. I’m just happy we all got to see another nail biter that came down to the wire. What a game man

  81. The refs announced the ineligiible player over the loud speaker all three times they ran this play. They even pointed to him and made the brush down signal to the defensive captain. How many times do we see on an extra point, game winning field goal, or goal line play the refs indicate the ineligible players when the lines are already lined up and the ball is snapped a second later? Every Game? The call was made before the offensive players were lined up every time.

    I am all for killing the refs because they missed some calls in the game for both sides but this is not something they messed up. By the book they did everything they were supposed to in this case. There is nothing stating when they have to announce the ineligible player, just that they have to announce it.

  82. SO it this was deceptive lets eliminate the wild cat. There isn’t a QB on the field so it must be deceptive. If all Trick plays are deceptive in nature shouldn’t they all just get eliminated then?

  83. Brandy complaining vehemently to the officials every time he is touched

    He got kneed back down to the ground after the play was over, intentionally.

    When the Pats do that kind of roughhousing, it’s 15 yards every time.

  84. The referees admitted their mistake to harbaugh. Why do that if they did nothing wrong? Once again- plays like the wildcat do not purposefully attempt to confuse the officials and is not ran before the defense has ample time to make substitutions.the officials realized what they were doing and didn’t allow it to happen after harbaugh explained it. Otherwise they would have just kept doing it later in the game. It’s a Shame it took a 15 yard penalty just for harbaugh to explain himself but hey. Congratulations to the pats for finding them little loopholes in the nook and crannys if the rule book. I’ve heard this has happened a fewtimes in college but have never seen it myself. Just seems kinda weak to me- pretty much admitting they have to cause confusion because they can’t win toe to toe.

  85. Can we clear up this idea that the refs were confused and didn’t do their job? The Patriots were not running no huddle at this point. What they were doing is running to the line and snapping the ball quickly once they did. So the player reports to the ref, then enters the huddle. At that point the refs announced the ineligible man and stood over the ball to allow the defense to substitute. They can’t force the the offense to come to the line. So the Patriots confused the defense by waiting for the ref to give the ready to play signal, then running to the line and snapping the ball quickly.

    The refs didn’t nothing wrong with the current rules, and quite frankly I can’t even see where the rules could be adjusted. I’d be interested to see what proposal someone would make to take this out of the game if they wanted to.

  86. Sore loser, John. Man up and read the rule book during the off season. Aren’t you going to complain that one of the Pats wide receivers acted like a quarterback also?

  87. why is this any different than defensive players standing at the line of scrimmage pretending to blitz, then dropping back, ALL of the defenders standing so you aren’t sure who’s coming and who isn’t, running a zone blitz, etc? the point of ALL those is to CONFUSE and DECEIVE the offense right? maybe they turn protection the wrong way and leave a WIDE OPEN blitzer (free runner), maybe a back releases and shouldnt have, maybe the qb throws the ball to a d-lineman who dropped into pass coverage.
    If you would have stopped it, you’d be patting yourself on the back. Instead you turn an otherwise superb effort by your TEAM into a ME-fest and start whining about the play.
    the rules allow you time to make substitutions based on personnel. it’s your job to see who is entering/exiting the game for your opponent and make substitutions accordingly. you are NOT afforded extra time to make substitutions based on the strategy the opposing team uses with its’ available personnel on a given play. simply put, you got outcoached. the pats obviously put this in thinking your players would not be prepared for it, and theirs would. they also probably figured that you wouldnt adjust, and you didnt.
    just like last week when you outcoached and outperformed the steelers; this week was your turn, and now you’re going home just like 25 other teams so far.

  88. Hairbaugh got beat at his own game. He is a whiner and it backfired on him. The league should look at his teaching of excess play after the whistle and how he gets away with being on the field and finally got a flag. Sour grapes from a poor loser.

  89. Uh oh…more deception in the NFL. Romo pretended to hand off but threw, and to add insult to injury, Dez Bryant pretended to run a button hook but went deep. This is out of control. The NFL needs more rules to level the playing field for stupid people.

  90. “jeepguy81 says:
    Jan 11, 2015 11:16 AM
    hris Mortensen confirmed this morning on Post Season NFL Countdown that the NFL has stated that everything regarding these plays was completely legal!
    Harbaugh and the Ravens simply got out smarted and embarrassed that they didn’t know that section of the rule book. Instead of admitting that he assumed he was right and made even more of a fool of himself.

    End of Story!”

    Precisely Jeepguy, it is not up to the Patriots to tell the Ravens their game plan or what the rules are it is up to the Ravens coaching staff to prepare their team for any eventuality inside the rules. Patriots player reported, Officials notified the Ravens, who failed to grasp what was happening, and got burned for their own incompetence. That’s not “Cheating” that is smart Coaching, congratulations to the Patriots.

  91. So the pats exploited a loophole so the government n lawyers do it all the time n they get away with it its the difference between winning and losing

  92. N y he’s the best n its not illegal so how is it cheating he’s just confusing them its how the game is played now its all about strategy and confusion the ones that are good at it win and the ones that are not lose

  93. It is a legal but VERY RARELY used play. I will freely admit that i had never known of that play until Alabama ran a similar play in OT against LSU, 11/4/14. I am confused about one thing though apparently in NCAA football the referee doesn’t have to inform the defense of anything regarding that offensive formation but in the NFL the refs were supposed to inform the defense? FOX Sports wrote a good article about the Patriots – Ravens game yesterday. I guess defensive coordinators in the NCAA and NFL better all address that formation.

  94. Brilliance is not given to over explanation, you get it or you don’t!!! Some people can’t see the road for the trees. It ain’t rocket science, it’s football and very few coaches let alone players or former players families know ALL THE RULES by heart, just be glad you’re not Dez Bryant today!!!

  95. tsuscrumhalf says:
    Jan 10, 2015 11:21 PM
    He’s not saying it was illegal. But, the refs need to allow the D to properly substitute. Changing eligible receivers = substitution. Pats did nothing wrong, ref’s didn’t react properly & that’s Harbaugh’s correct statement. It was creative, and the refs messed up. Those aren’t mutually exclusive points.

    What you are missing here is that the Patriots did not substitute anybody. They just used the people already on the field a bit differently.
    Substitution means bringing another player in from the sidelines and that didn’t happen. If it had, the defense would have been allowed to substitute as well.
    The referees did exactly what they were supposed to have done by identifying which player was ineligible and in fact on at least one play went so far as to point at the ineligible player and tell the Raven defense not to cover him.

  96. Yes honky, i understand the substitution difference between the play Alabama ran vs LSU and the play the Patriots ran against the Ravens. But thank you for your reply. I wonder why that play isn’t ran more often in NCAA and NFL ball?

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