League will review whether Ravens got proper notice of ineligible player

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It’s common for players with numbers that make them ineligible to report as eligible and then go down the field and become targets for passes. It’s less common for players with eligible numbers to report to officials as ineligible and then refrain from going down the field of play.

On Saturday night, the Patriots took advantage of the “B” side of the rule that made former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel a periodic tight end. Per a league source, the NFL will now explore whether the officiating crew gave the Ravens proper notice that an eligible Patriots player would be ineligible for a given play.

Running back Shane Vereen, wearing the eligible number 34, lined up split wide from the nearest offensive lineman, but because Vereen was “covered up” by another eligible receiver (i.e., an eligible receiver lined up on the line of scrimmage between Vereen and the sideline), it remained a legal formation. Vereen was, in essence, an offensive tackle with a very wide split from next lineman.

On the other side of the line, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was on the line of scrimmage tight to the next offensive lineman. But Hoomanawanui remained an eligible receiver with an eligible number.

Vereen was required to report as an ineligible receiver, and he did. Hoomanawanui was not required to do anything.

The confusion apparently came from the configuration of the offensive line and the presence of a slot receiver (lined up behind the line of scrimmage) between Vereen and the next offensive lineman. Although Vereen technically was the right tackle in a five-man offensive line, the center shifted one spot to the right, putting a pair of guards between the center and Vereen. Which created the impression that Vereen was eligible. To the left of the center, there was a guard (who was actually the left tackle) and Hoomanawanui, who appeared to be the left tackle but was actually an eligible tight end.

The Ravens would have (or should have) known that an eligible receiver had reported as ineligible, but the alignment of players suggested that Hoomanawanui and not Vereen was the ineligible receiver.

The Patriots furthered the ruse by having Vereen behave like a potential receiver. At the snap, he back off the line and raised his hands for a screen pass. On the other side of the line, Hoomanawanui took off for a pass from what appeared to be the left tackle position.

Is it deceptive, as Ravens coach John Harbaugh alleged? Sure it is. But so is a play-action pass, a draw play, a flea flicker, a statue of liberty, a lateral pass to a receiver who throws the ball to another receiver, the zone blitz, the fake blitz, the delayed blitz, every pre-snap look aimed at making the opponent think the play is something other than what it will be, a fake punt, a fake field goals, a surprise onside kick from conventional kick formation, and a punt returner pretending the ball is coming to him when it’s actually going to a guy left alone on the other side of the field.

The Vereen-ineligible play is legal, as long as the otherwise eligible player reports as ineligible. Which Vereen did. The question then becomes whether the referee properly informed the Ravens about Vereen’s ineligibility. Which the league will explore.

Even if the referee did what he was supposed to do, the formation and the execution suggested that the referee may have gotten the number wrong, saying 34 when he meant to say 47. Which further underscores the brilliance of the play.

Maybe Rodney Harrison was right. Maybe Bill Belichick really is the greatest coach of all time. After all, Belichick managed to confuse and confound a guy who is destined to end up pretty high on the list of best coaches ever.

183 responses to “League will review whether Ravens got proper notice of ineligible player

  1. I am sure this investigation will have a direct impact on the final score…..oops, my bad

  2. Are you kidding me? NBC showed numerous reviews of Vereen telling the ref and then the ref notifying the Ravens D. Everything was done right and LEGAL on that play. What is with the Ravens every time they lose? Cut it out. Are we gonna review play actions, hard counts, fake punts, etc? What happened to, “the Pats don’t know what they’re in for,” Harbaugh? Looks like you guys were on the wrong end of that. Blowing 2 14 point leads and another 3 point lead late isn’t deception, it’s you guys losing.

  3. Harbaugh has petitioned the NFL to ban: Flea flickers, reverses, fumblerooskies, play actions, onside kicks, and blitzes, because they are too deceiving !

  4. Meanwhile, the Ravens would have likely won the game had Flacco not thrown that mind-boggling interception on the final drive.

  5. I don’t like the Pats at all… But I give Bill credit for this. They did not cheat… If anything, the Refs may not have done their job and notifying the Ravens and giving them enough time, but that’s not the Pats fault.

    As much as I don’t like them, that play (and the eddleman td pass) were probably the difference in the game. That was great coaching and taking advantage of everything at your disposal. It’s what many teams wish their teams coaches have thought of….

    Sour grapes from the Baltimore… That being said, it was a great game.

  6. Always good to realize that the Pats can’t seem to win the most impactful games in the playoffs without employing controversial tactics.

    I look forward to the Pats losing another Super Bowl.

  7. Even if the Ravens didn’t receive proper notice, the best they’ll get is a meaningless rubber stamp apology on a form letter — that will do them absolutely no real good on any level whatsoever.

    The Detroit Lions

  8. I don’t understand why some of you get offended when another human beings calls out Belichick for cheating. It’s not like they’re calling you out, and it’s also not like they are lying.

    We all need a reality check sometimes

  9. If it was so confusing, why not go into a zone defense and cover any players that go down the field? The linebackers should have watched the line and dropped back into coverage. The wild cat formations are completely deceptive, why it relies on the sight, intelligence, and speed of the linebackers to stop it

  10. Hate for the Pats is comical! Shouldn’t trolls have issues with the refs and not the Pats? It was the refs who failed to notify the Ravens who were and were not eligible. Looks like another round of bad refing


    I am colts fan and herea what i have to say:
    What happened yesterday happened. There’s nothing we can do. Why does the league always attempt to fix a problem when it doesnt help. Look what happened in the wild card game with Detroit. People were up in arms about the explanation which was warrented.
    Patiorts win ( It hurts to say but gotta move on) and move on to AFCCG.

  12. “Even if the referee did what he was supposed to do, the formation and the execution suggested that the referee may have gotten the number wrong, saying 34 when he meant to say 47.”

    What are you talking about? 34 was ineligible, the ref announced the correct person. If it was supposed to be 47 then he wouldn’t have been able to run downfield and make the catch.

  13. mattwalshvideo says: Jan 11, 2015 12:06 PM

    The patriots are search of their 4th asterisk.

    Good luck cheating losers.


    Crawl back into your rabbit hole

  14. It was simple smart and effective. Don’t have a dog in this fight. You were just out coached Harbough. You blew it. Sorry Ravens, I was pulling for you.

  15. Harbaugh is pissed. Pissed that he was playing checkers while Belichick was playing chess.
    The jury is in – Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time.

    “The Vereen-ineligible play is legal, as long as the otherwise eligible player reports as ineligible. Which Vereen did. “

  16. The play was brilliant.

    It’s not Belichick’s fault other coaches can’t keep up. Harbaugh should have called a timeout, which smarter coaches would have done.

  17. Wah wah wah wah wah wah. The ravens keep crying….. Face it.. You lost… Move along…… Wah wah wah wah wah .. John Harbaugh, biggest crybaby in sports

  18. May I offer a tissue to any of you hurt souls? As I tell my 12 year old daughter… Just let it out… Big virtual hug losing stinks… Hey 315 you should be in a good mood, the coach you’ve hated for years is your new bestie… LOL

  19. Quite honestly, we had two 14 pt. leads and the defense couldn’t hold it. The defense has been offensive this year,period. The Ravens and Ozzie depended on two cornerbacks (Webb & Smith) who have shown that they can’t stay healthy and that’s where the offensive defense began.

  20. I’m sorry for the sore losers and conspiracy theorists but this is just plain brilliant strategy.

  21. The Pats hate must be strong if people are listening to Looney Tunes Harbaugh. Right on the live broadcast you can see the ref giving the Baltimore D the heads up.
    Baltimore, as usual, is bringing postgame sob stories and excuses. Shame on whoever buys their nonsense.

  22. For the record the Pats did nothing wrong, or nothing unusual. What they ran amounted to an unbalanced kine, which has been done for a long time. The position of the RT was unusual, but that’s all. It’s simple math. The OL must have 7 men on it. The outside guy on each side is eligible. The reason guys report as eligible or ineligible is the number they are wearing. Numbers 60 to 79 are predesignated for OL. That’s why a bruising RT wearing 68 must report as eligible if he’s going to line up as an end vs a RT. Football 101.

  23. crawdaddy1212 says:
    Jan 11, 2015 12:09 PM
    Meanwhile, the Ravens would have likely won the game had Flacco not thrown that mind-boggling interception on the final drive.
    Meanwhile, the Patriots would have likely won the game had…

    Oh, wait.

  24. It was clearly announced by the ref at the game once they said “47 is ineligible” then “34 is ineligible” turned toward the ravens bench and swept his hands across his chest- if we all saw and heard it at the game then Harbaugh must have been somewhere else. It was crystal clear.

  25. It has been done before, just not used a ton; Chip Kelly and the Eagles ran an off-balance offensive line against Washington in Week 1 of 2013. Do your homework Ravens.

  26. Thank you Mr. Floro, your statement sums up the reality in this situation. Lyons got screwed and lost, that was really bad. The Ravens lost because they aren’t that good. Next up?

  27. Harbaugh’s counter chess move should have been to call a timeout and set has defense but he chose to run on to the field to complain instead.

  28. A spokesman for the NFL told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the New England Patriots’ substitutions Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens were legal from a formation and reporting standpoint.

    As also noticed by bushwoodcc: “On one of the plays the Ref even went beyond just announcing that one of the players was lined up as an ineligle receiver by going as far as teliing the Ravens they didn’t have to cover him. I kid you not…it was when Vereen was the ineligible…the Ref yelled out and pointed “#34 is ineligible, Do not cover #34.”

  29. Everything is only an issue if the Patriots do it. It was legal, the ref even said 34 is ineligible. If the Ravens did it, we wouldn’t hear a peep from any of you.

  30. Just more fandom. The reality is right there on the field and in the record books. The rest is just smoke-filled coffee house crappola between homer fans of rival teams.

  31. If Harbaugh has any self respect he’ll just let it go. They got you. And they did it legally. Coach up your team so this doesn’t ever happen again. Amazed at times that the guys who get paid millions of dollars a year to coach this game don’t know that rule book inside and out. Of course this applies to Belichick as well as way back when nobody had any idea what the ref was talking about when Brady fumbled and the tuck rule reared it’s obscure head.

  32. “A spokesman for the NFL told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the New England Patriots’ substitutions Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens were legal from a formation and reporting standpoint”

    End of story.

  33. While they’re at it, the league might also want to look at the Ravens’ shady practice of tossing the ball up short and instructing the receiver to run into the DB — is it a coincidence they draw more cheap PI flags than any other team?

    Oh and cry on, Coach Harbaugh!

  34. According to people who were at the game, they not only announced #34 was ineligible over the PA system…to the entire stadium. But they also specifically stated not to cover #34. That’s rather odd, don’t you think?

  35. If they weren’t taking time to announce it like they do eligible receivers then no. Seems like every week the NFL is botching something. Great game though.

  36. “I’m sorry for the sore losers and conspiracy theorists but this is just plain brilliant strategy.”


    I doubt any really exist. They don’t believe their own words. They just like to vex and vent.

  37. I don’t have a horse in the race here but as brilliant as the play was, it was still shady. Legal yes…did the officials give proper time for substitutions and notification to the defense..no.
    You can bet that next year this play will be legal but their will be more of a delay for the opposing defense to make adjustments. Brady went right up to the line and there was not proper time allotted to the defense to make their substitutions. Legal play..shady execution…
    BB the best coach ever at exposing loopholes and pushing the limits of the rules.

  38. Oh god baseball players cheat because they steal bases… Good god. You should only score on base hits…

    Snap out of it, every team uses trick plays.

  39. The refs did MORE to help the Ravens than they needed to on that play.

    They are required to say “#34 has reported as ineligible”

    They said

    “#34 has reported as ineligible, do not cover #34”

  40. It’s perfectly legal, just creative. Harbaugh has sour grapes about not knowing how to cover it.

  41. Ha. It was a legal play and formation. The ref not only announced the ineligible receiver but on one of the 3 plays told the Ravens not to cover him. If you think that’s cheating, that’s a you problem.

    Despite Harbaugh complaining no one’s ever seen it before, Chip Kelly’s done it in Philly. Alabama’s done it. Is it cheating when colleges initially line up almost all their plays wide left before extra points (or going for two if they get right look)?

  42. For the next game Belichick plans to do the old Harlem Globetrotter trick where he pretends to have Brady throw a bucket of water at the other team but it turns out to be confetti.

  43. I am not a Ravens fan or Patriots fan. How miserable are you if everytime a team loses to the Patriots your fall back is “They must have cheated”? People usually only hate what they fear. As a Houston fan I don’t hate the Jaguars because there’s nothing to worry about there. The fact some of you take so much time to take shots at the Pats shows how much they’re in your heads. The play was legal. The Patriots won. Get a life. Enough already.

  44. I didn’t matter to me at all who won this game.

    But I have to admit, I was put off by the whole situation.

    It’s too “cute” for me, it crosses the line from “excellent strategy” into something I just don’t personally care for. Sure, it’s legal, and sure you can make arguments that it totally belongs.

    But to me, this isn’t what I watch the sport for.

  45. The Ravens are a bunch of babies! Can’t admit that the better team won fair and square. So glad the Ratbirds are going back to Baltimore where they belong. Ravens are one of the league’s dirtiest teams who get away with all kinds of crap plays but then when they get beat (especially by the Patriots) they throw 3-year-old hissy fits.

  46. Now hold on just a dadgum second…I thought my Cowboys had the inside track to cheating, favoritism and otherwise helpful refs!!!

    I demand an investigation!!! Thankfully Christie has the orange sweater on or we’d stand zero chance.

    I’m betting the Ravens fans cry much less than Kitty fans…just a hunch.

  47. anybody see Goodell there yesterday, wearing a hat with a “B” on in it, in Cowboy colors, book it now Boston(NE) vs Boys in the Super Bowl, the fix is in

  48. Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Dontae Hightower, Vince Wilfork, and even Revis better show up next week. Collectively and singularly, all of them picked a very bad day not to show up.

  49. What I can surmise from this is that John Harbaugh won’t be inviting master of deception, Jeff Fisher, to his birthday party.

  50. You really have to admire John Harbaugh. The man has never legitimately lost an NFL game. Oh sure, he has come out on the wrong side of the final score plenty of times, but that’s only because of the refs, cheating, front office interference, etc… Just ask him.

  51. Hey, if it was the refs fault, can’t blame the pats. They appeared to have done nothing wrong. It would seem if anything the refs messed up. And let’s be honest, who’s surprised that refs wouldn’t make a mistake here. In my opinion as long as the pats lined up legally and reported to the refs accordingly, they did what they were supposed to do.

  52. They got away with it. One of the most brilliant trick plays of the season – maybe the past decade. The icing on the cake was the penalty against Harbaugh for mouthing off to the ref about being unfair. Bill Belichick just plays the game at a higher level.

  53. Everything the Patriots did was legal. The only issue is whether the refs properly disclosed it and allowed for substitutions.

    I saw the referee on one occasion point to Vereen and say he was ineligible. But how can the entire Baltimore defense hear that? Was the microphone used? The ref let them snap the ball right after.

    Regardless, it is not cheating. It’s a matter of whether the refs let NE snap the ball too early.

  54. The ref calls that made a big impact on the game were the two calls on Revis, both questionable in my view but that’s just part of the game (the latter was a hold but it was in direct response to Smith pushing off). One call gave the Ravens the ball at the Pat’s five yard line and the other gave the ball back to the Ravens while reversing a fumble recovery by the Pats inside the Raven’s five yard line. Harbaugh was treated very well by the refs in that game.

  55. What is the original purpose of designating certain players as ineligible? What would the harm be in making everyone eligible? No more illegal formations or watching the receivers step up to or back from the line. Just make sure there are no more than 11 players on the field and press on.

  56. Look up the Auburn “Fight Song” play from NCAA Football 12.

    That’s the play they ran.

    Also, I love this article. No where does it actually mention the fact that the refs clearly told the Ravens to “not cover 34”.

    Nor does it mention Peter King’s (who works pretty closely with you, I’m pretty sure) tweet “@Doctego: Don’t they need to declare and don’t the refs need to announce it to the defense? … Vinovich made call in-stadium each time.”

    Way to help the clicks and the consipracy theorists get their 2 cents in, Florio, lol. Nicely done, for sure.

  57. We should just do away with “eligible” and “ineligible” numbers and just have every player report which they are on every play and then let the offense snap the ball immediately. That way it will be easier for Beli-cheat and the league favorite Patriots to win, since they can’t seem to do it without some form of cheating or ref-aided tuck rule or something similar.

  58. Ravens and their fans, leading the league in whining every since Harbaugh took over the team.

    They whine all week before every game trying to get the refs to view the strengths of the other teams as cheating and violations of the rules.

    They whine all during the game from play 1.

    They whine after the game for weeks if they lose.

    They still whine for a couple weeks even about games they win.

    At least they’re good at something.

    And to the straight up Ravens fans great game and thanks for being gracious.

  59. One team of criminals cheats another team of criminals? They should have Hernandez and Ray Lewis face off with shanks in the cafeteria to settle it.

  60. Gee it would have been niçe of the Ravens to have let the league know what was on the Rice tape right? Funny how it’s ok to deceive someone, but it’s not ok to be deceived……oh I forgot it’s the Ravens the biggest liars and babies in professional sports ……have you no shame?

  61. As a Ravens fan I’m fine with it, all is fair in love and football. But I find it telling that the Patriots had to resort to trickery and deception to beat a deeply flawed Ravens team with an FCS secondary by a mere 4 points. I almost find it flattering. No way NE beats SEA. And yes, sour grapes, but the point holds.

    Side Note: Really Florio? I have to sign up for a WordPress account to comment? Cmon man.

  62. I hate the Pats as much as anyone but you got to hand it to them, that play was brilliant. I hope the NFL doesn’t change the rules to prevent it either. That was the best piece of gamesmanship I’ve seen in a long time and I hope other teams try that in the future.

  63. Ummmm! You Raven fans are making this win so, so much better! I cant stand Mr. Bleach aka wife beater aka Terrell Suggs. To have my Pats win AND Raven fans CRYING over a LEGAL play the day after!? I think I will pass on driving to work Monday, and just skip all the way!!!

  64. I know you won’t post my opinion because you never do. But that head Ref Bill Venovich should be taken out of the playoff games. I can’t believe he will be the ref of the superbowl this year. This guy definitely has an agenda and there should be an investigation on him and his contriversial penalties. I bet if people look close you will see a trend.

  65. “One team of criminals cheats another team of criminals? They should have Hernandez and Ray Lewis face off with shanks in the cafeteria to settle it.”

    Team of criminals ? Yes the Pats had Hernandez and unlike any other team in the league who has player who commits a serious crime the Pats instantly cut him.

    And under Belichick the Pats have pretty much had the least players arrested of any team in the league so you’re crying about the Pats being criminals is ridiculous. Especially coming from a Lions fan with a teams full of scumbags.

  66. Congrats Patriots and Patriot fans you’ve reached Dallas Cowboy status in that everybody hates you and no matter what you do everybody will feel inclined to criticize and say you suck. Cowboy nation feels your pain.

  67. If Vereen is an ineligible receiver why is he allowed to wave his hands around as if he’s asking for the ball to be thrown to him?

    This is trickery, in an effort to tie up defensive coverage by assigning a player(s) to account for an ineligible receiver.

    The NFL should address this issue, and at minimum any ineligible receiver who waves his hands as if he’s wanting to be thrown to should be flagged!

    Nothing brilliant about what NE did…it was borderline cheating…no surprise there…he’s not known as Belicheat for nothing.

  68. Sounds like a lot of baby whining. Instead of studying the rule book the Pats should have come up with a better game plan… Sayyyy just chuck the ball 40 yds downfield and hope for a PI flag 5-10 times a game. Stop crying clowns.

  69. Harbaugh may want to be careful of the league will release the details of the agreement the Ravens seem to have with the refs. Sounds to me like they were going out of their way to help them, along with some phantom PI calls in their favor and letting them go when they are against them. Theres a reason they are #1 in the league at getting those calls, and its not a coincidence.

  70. Perhaps, instead of saying “Do not cover #34, Harbaugh would have liked for them to say, Please for the love of god cover #87”

  71. “If Vereen is an ineligible receiver why is he allowed to wave his hands around as if he’s asking for the ball to be thrown to him?

    This is trickery, in an effort to tie up defensive coverage by assigning a player(s) to account for an ineligible receiver”

    Ok so when a QB hands off to a RB and continues to pretend he has the ball and goes through the motions as if he’s going to make a pass, something that happens at least a dozen times in every game, why is he allowed to do that ?

    Or any of about 50 other variations on the theme.

    What, its only because the Pats did it that you have an objection ? That’s called double standard by the way.

  72. I am guessing that the issue was not that The Ravens were properly notified about Vereen. It was they were NOT smart enough to realize that Hooman, lined up at LT. was eligible. To bad or when in doubt, call timeout. In any event all it resulted in was a first down on one of the plays, not exactly a game changer.

    FWIW, Alabama recently ran the same play against LSU

  73. I don’t have the game recorded to review, but did the Pats change personnel on the play or did they just change formation? The refs only have to allow substitutions if the Pats changed which players were on the field. How they line up is irrelevant.

  74. Having 12 men in the huddle is also deceptive and their is a rule against that. So why is some deception ok and some is not?

  75. markpugner43 says: Jan 11, 2015 12:43 PM

    As a Ravens fan I’m fine with it, all is fair in love and football. But I find it telling that the Patriots had to resort to trickery and deception to beat a deeply flawed Ravens team with an FCS secondary by a mere 4 points. I almost find it flattering. No way NE beats SEA. And yes, sour grapes, but the point holds.
    Stop fooling yourself….you’re not “fine with it” otherwise trickery and deception are words you would not have used. So, in your view, Belichick shouldn’t use a certain play because your team has injuries? Do you know how foolish you sound? Every team has injuries, esp. at playoff time, but you don’t see any NE fans tossing that around very much.

    You’re mad that Belichick called a brilliant play, and your coach wasn’t savvy enough to, at least, call a timeout to figure it out. “No way NE beats Sea” is going too far ahead, I see no NE fans going beyond next weekend’s matchup. Keep crying, sore loser.
    Again, congrats to the gracious Raven’s fans…your team gave my team a tough time, they always do.

  76. headline should be “league to investigate self finds no wrong doing” it comes down to the fact that its not the patriots job to report to the ravens who to cover , neither is it the job of the officials to report to the ravens who to cover (which they did) , patriots need only report who is an eligible receiver and the refs job to report it to the ravens , and if they aren’t its harbaugh’s job to make sure they do .

  77. The digital technology of a speech synthesizer in-line with a stadium PA system for real-time replacement of previously spoken words is over 10 years old. Simultaneous and instantaneous replacement of the input words “forty-seven” by the output words “thirty-four” in the same voice by de novo mimetic phoneme generation would be a very challenging project. But, because the ref already said the word “thirty-four” during the first announcement, the real-time audio splice is a project that a handful of MIT undergraduates could tackle in their space time.

  78. Haha, I can’t believe how big of a deal this has become. Especially considering that it didn’t even play that big of a role in the game. It’s not as if the Ravens lost the game on this one play.

    The object of game planning/play calling is to design plays, within the rules, that your opponent won’t expect. This is the whole point of offensive play calling in football. I am just not sure what all the fuss is about. Seems like a whole lot of fuss for the sake of fuss. Haha

  79. I truly am fine with it, I had no expectations of winning that game; no one who watched the Ravens the last month of the regular season did. I agree that it was great game calling by the Pats, congrats. I agree that Harbaugh dropped the ball in not recognizing it. But to imply it wasn’t trickery and deception is, in your words, foolish. That’s exactly what it was, it’s kind of the point of those plays. I’m not saying in a derogatory way, just find it interesting that’s the route they took. I’m proud of my Ravens but they were not that good. I’m surprised it was as close as it was.

  80. I cannot believe the controversy and attention given to a play that resulted in all of a 14 yard gain on 2nd-and-6 with 8:00 to go in the 3rd quarter of a game that would eventually finish 35-31.

  81. Ravens game plan: Run, Run, throw up a jumpball and hope for a flag. Repeat. If that doesn’t get the win. Complain.

    Great comment! Well said. That’s exactly who the ratbirds are and have been for years.

  82. I can’t believe how many of you are crying over a legal play. Get over it, there are tons of deceptive plays that are legal, the only reason you’re pissed is because it was the Pats. Sore ass losers…

  83. The arrogance and chest-thumping of most Pat fans will be joyful to witness once they run into the Seahawks’ buzzsaw in the Superbowl. THEN we will listen to their crying about the officials, etc., like they always do when they lose. Pat fans never get beyond Stage One of grief. They typically circulate a petition on the internet to have the SB results overturned when they lose the Big One.

  84. Not a pats fan at all but what they did was smart and legal.. Ravens always complain and make excuses every time they lose. Classless organization and fans. The NFL would be a better place without these crybabies.

  85. Hooterdog-the Pats are in the Super Bowl already? Sweet! Guess the colts and broncos just gave up after realizing they couldn’t match wits with the Pats!

  86. The Patriots got whooped all game. Brady cannot throw deep outside the hash; Brady’s arm is just as dead as Peyton’s is. the Pats needed two trick plays they’ve been hoarding for years just to escape. It will be a true pleasure to watch them get crushed like a grape in the coming weeks.

  87. As usual the patriots cheat and it’ll get covered up. Just like the videos that Goodell threw out of the Super Bowl with the rams

  88. Please, people, this was just a new-look offense to confuse one of the best coaches in the NFL, and it worked. The defense against it is rather straight forward. With only four linemen, you aren’t going to run. What the Patriots did basically announced to the world that they were going to pass. So just drop everyone into coverage.

    But the Raven’s coaching staff couldn’t figure out what was going on, and they looked like idiots. That’s why they suddenly said, “THE PATRIOTS CHEATED….”

    Yet, after a day, NOW…. NOW they say, “Ahem… it’s not that we felt New England was cheating. Ahem… no… What we really too issue with… ahem… was not being given enough time by officials to put in play an appropriate defense…..”

    In other words, Harbaugh was lost, confused, and out-coached by Belichick. He was upset, angry, and is now back-pedaling on his rage, trying to pass the blame on to someone ELSE.

    The offense was cute, but it was just a gimmick. It’s a pass-play giveaway. The league wont do anything about this. Harbaugh will get over it, too. He was simply out-coached.

  89. Elite quarterbacks don’t throw interceptions with a shot to go the championship game. Joe Flacco will never be elite.

  90. posmoo says:
    Jan 11, 2015 1:43 PM
    The Patriots got whooped all game. Brady cannot throw deep outside the hash; Brady’s arm is just as dead as Peyton’s is. the Pats needed two trick plays they’ve been hoarding for years just to escape. It will be a true pleasure to watch them get crushed like a grape in the coming weeks.

    And you’re pretty much an idiot!

    What’s “throw deep”?
    The TD to Laffel was “outside” and the ball traveled almost 30 yards in the air.

    The pass to Gronk was 40 yards in the air.

    Nothing is worse than some jobber trying to talk smack and as no clue what they are talking about.

  91. They did this four times

    And harbaugh wS able to recognize it

    So the question is

    The guy with the green dot on his helmut calling the defensive signals for Baltimore should have been told from the side line

    So who. Didn’t do that?

    Please stop the incessant crying

    You look stupid

  92. Belichick and Brady winning with class and sportsmanship are like the sun rising in the west. Don Shula pointed this out before the game and it is all the more apparent now. But I guess that is what the asterisks are for.

  93. The uniform numbers are designed to prevent confusion about who is eligible. The solution is pretty simple. Ineligible players must wear ineligible numbers. The Pats took advantage in the literal meaning of the rules to confuse the defense with an unusual formation that involved player numbers. Had they not mixed eligible and illegible positions the play would have been a normal formation. They should be fined for unsportsman like conduct … again.

  94. Ravens fans are bigger whiners than Jets fans, and thats saying something…

    but of course they support an organization that builds a statue to a murder accomplice and that tries to hide evidence when one of the Ravens knocked out his fiance….

    the Ravens organization is morally bankrupt , and their fans are whining babies.

  95. Favorite quote from article: “Even if the referee did what he was supposed to do”… wow. Another referee fail. Football fans, read that right, ref’s made a mess again? And in the playoffs?

    NFL refs = incompetent clown car of sadness, destroying my favorite sport.

    We all love our teams and no one wants a game to be decided by the refs. The playoffs this year are soaked in referee. I expect better.


  96. posmo…the fact remains the Pats won. The Ravens had at least 2 chances to finish off the Pats and they couldn’t. JH got outsmarted. Don’t blame the officials crybaby. Just man up and say you got beaten by a smart coach. Enough said. Now go cry into your Wheaties.

  97. Harbaugh is only drawing attention to himself as having been outcoached. The ineligible player was announced as is always the case. Just an unusual formation.

  98. I wouldn’t say it was a genius move or even brilliant. Clever. Kind of what lawyers do. They find loopholes. And that’s kind of how I view belichick. He’s like a lawyer, smarmy, slimey, Weasley. I know that the refs have to announce when lineman reports as eligible, and you usually hear it over the PA system. Not sure last night if I ever heard the refs announce over the PA that a player was reporting as ineligible. I’m not saying they didn’t announce it, just that I never heard it. I did see on a replay a ref point to the player, but never heard it. I would think the rule would be that players have to be announced over the PA so coaches can adjust. bills clever, he finds loopholes, but that does not make him a genius

  99. If you go back to that drive and listen carefully, you can hear the ref say, “#34 in ineligible” on the loudspeaker every time they ran that play.

  100. The league said it was legal. An if the ineligible player was covered shouldn’t the defensive captain have seen it and called a timeout? Belichek is smarter than your coach, point made!

  101. Another in the long line of Harbaugh whinings. You got the phantom flags (or non-calls) earlier in the game. That being said, your last time out was brilliant! Everyone thought “Game Over”. How about telling your punt returner to call a fair catch or just stop yelling F-Bombs in the ref’s ear? That flag was years overdue.
    No love lost for either Pats or Ravens here. Go Rex

  102. If Chip Kelly did this, it would be innovative. If Miami did it, they’d come up with a cute name for it. But the pats did it, so it’s cheating even though its well within the rulebook. Hey Ravens fans, what about the gift DPI call on Revis or the no call on gronk or the overturned catch on the pats first drive or the defensive holding call that reversed a fumble recovery on the 1 yard line or losing a two td lead twice. Harabaugh cant lose with grace and if he didnt like his defense, he had 3 time outs.

  103. Disclaimer: been a Patriots fan for 30+ years

    With this said, they did not cheat. They exploited a rule and caught the Ravens off guard as well as the officials. I do not think Belichick is a genius at all. I think he works harder and smarter than most coaches. He looks for opportunities to exploit situations where others will not even think of looking. It is not cheating…it is playing within the rules as an opportunist. Criticize it is you wish but that was not cheating.

    Personally, I cannot stand the guy. He is arrogant, disrespectful and treats people like you know what. However he is a good football coach with a record of success. Finally, as far as Super Bowl XXVI and the cheating accusations go, we will never know. The NFL buried it and shame on them…I would have loved to know what really happened but we never will because they compromised another investigation and the league is the one to blame.

  104. Hairbaugh once more whines and whines after getting beat at his own game. He teaches some unusual tactics after the whistle and he gets away with being on the field more than any other coach would think about. He is a poor loser he now he wants to cry foul. The league should look into how many times he whines on the side lines and have a new rule for him.

  105. Jim Harbaugh was outsmarted and punked by Bell Belichick. He’s just angry he didn’t think of it first. So stop the whining and acting like a 2-year old pouting. The Harbaugh brothers get more pathetic by the day.

  106. fluiddarkness says:
    Jan 11, 2015 12:09 PM
    The term “shady” really follows this franchise around, doesn’t it? Never ends…


    Neither does the whining from people like you.

  107. “teeii says:
    Jan 11, 2015 2:39 PM

    What? Beli-cheat and the Patriots cheat again! Please, say it isn’t so!”


    It isn’t. There, that wasn’t hard.

  108. Mike Pereira has now addressed this issue with a quick video. He explains that what the Patriots did was completely legal, that there is specific language in the rule book for players reporting as “ineligible”, that the Ravens should be aware of this and that it was their responsibility to address it and defend it better.

    This should put an end to the conspiracy/cheating nonsense, and for most people it will. Of course the people who believe, like paranoid Rob Lowe, that the government puts listening devices in our cheese will still think the league was out to screw the Ravens and that Belichick cheated…again.

  109. THE REFS…Blew it again. The Patriots did NOTHING WRONG. The player reported to the REF, the REF SHOULD have stopped the clock and reported this to the Defensive captain CONSDIERING it came so late in the play and the play CLOCK. The REF SAYS the WRONG NUMBER….”47″ WOW….the REFS STINK!

  110. What? Beli-cheat and the Patriots cheat again! Please, say it isn’t so!
    Patriots fans, I digress. That clearly was not cheating. What Belicheck did was clearly within the confines of the rules and pretty darn brilliant. I am definitely not a pats fan, but I give credit where it is due, and the pats played a hell of a game. Harbaugh was out coached by Belicheck, plain and simple.

  111. So many commenters are just grasping at this point and no matter what will complain about the Patriots actions. As pointed out it was announced in the stadium he was ineligible. The Ravens were told to not cover him because he was ineligible. He did what was required by not going down field and he immediately dropped back from the line of scrimmage. There was no one to block so instead of standing there whistling sweet dixie he acted as a decoy. You know acting as a decoy the way play action is supposed to fool the defense to open up the receivers down field.

    Seems to me if the Ravens were told he was ineligible and to not cover him and they did anyway it is shame on the Ravens not shame on the Patriots for understanding the rules and introducing a new offensive wrinkle.


    You people act like Superbowls are easy to win or even get to. Like your teams do it regularly or something. You sound like fools. You can only dream about that sort of sustained relevance in this era. It’s unheard of.

    I CANT STAND PATRIOTS FANS. But the haters have become even more annoying.

  113. Problem is not with the Pats, it’s with the Refs. The refs were completely confused about what was going on, and it was Harbaugh who trying to explain it to them after the play (the reason he got the 15 yard unsportsmanlike). Dollars to donuts the NFL address this this year (not a new rule, just better explanation to the refs what to do when that happens).

  114. Sunuponthebay you’re wrong! The refs told the defense that 34 was ineligible immediately after he reported as such. Then when he lined up they told the Ravens D not to cover him as he’s ineligible, but they still covered him. If the Ravens were so confused they had 10 seconds to either figure it out or call a time out, which they failed to do on both accounts. Football is a strategic game and Belichick is one of the best at it.

  115. John Harbaugh is destined to end up on the list of greatest coaches of all time?

    In what alternate reality…?

  116. Why didn’t Sr. Harbaugh teach his boys to take losses like men and not whine? God, these guys are babies.

  117. Stick a fork in it, Ravens. The play was legal, you were out-coached and you lost.

    Hmm… Actually, this is the Ravens so “stick a knife in it” would be more appropriate.

  118. Trickery is used by inferior teams. The Patriots are well coached in that the coach knew that only tricks and gadgets could get him the win.

  119. So Coach Harbaugh,

    In addition to losing…you would have preferered the Patriots tell you what type of play they were running? Isn’t that really what it comes down to? Perhaps next year you will be properly prepared to coach your team. You lost…two 14 point LEADS…..look in your mirror…

  120. Wah-wah-wahhhhhh. No fair,we weren’t ready. Wah-wah-wahhhhh. They confused me. Wah-wah-wahhhhh. There needs to be a rule to protect me from superior intelligence. Wah-wah-wahhhhh. I bet he cried himself to sleep over their no huddle and play action too. Sure, call them cheaters for doing things that you lack the football intelligence to understand. What are your options? The rules contradict you and you’re not smart enough to debate intelligently. If you were smart enough to know how to discuss the matter objectively, you’d have to admit that: 1) football is all about deception; 2) they didn’t break the rules, they complied with them; and 3) the “controversy” lies entirely in the mind of sore losers and haters, who wish that their loser-of-a-team had a fraction of the success as Belichek’s machine.

  121. Oh, and how embarrassing….”it is something that no one ever done.” I guess he and his staff missed the Bama/LSU game a more or so back.

  122. I am a diehard Pats fan, so I’m speaking to fellow Pats fans…if you don’t think the Patriots cheated during Spygate you are hopeless. Not only was the rule clear, but the league made it a point of emphasis that very week. The Patriots were well aware of the memo and decided to tape signals anyway. I’ll be the first to say it’s ridiculous to claim the Pats are a “product” of cheating. Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher and others have made it very clear that teams had been doing it for years. But if you can’t admit the Patriots were caught, and heavily penalized. for doing something illegal, you are clueless.

    And to the fans of all the other NFL teams: cheating continues to this day and EVERY team does it. Whether it be PED’s, stealing signals, using illegal substances (vaseline, silecone spray, stickum, etc.), all teams are guilty and if you believe otherwise you are extremely naive and sadly mistaken. The only difference is the Patriots were ratted out by a guy who actually benefited from the same type of “tactics” he decided to drop a dime to the league about…but being the victim of a rat doesn’t mean you didn’t commit the crime.

  123. I can’t add anything more than what has been said in support of this kind of old school play except this:

    Had Don Shula thought of this, it would be due to his creative brilliance right? It would be because nobody knows the rule book like old Don right? Kind of like “The Clock Play.”

    The Clock Play was a famous trick play immortalized in what came to be known as the Fake Spike Game, played on November 27, 1994 between the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets that featured one of the most famous comeback plays in league history. Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino ran a trick play, pretending to stop the game clock but instead threw a pass that scored the game-winning touchdown, ultimately giving Miami the 28–24 victory.

    Oh yeah, that Donny Boy. He ain’t no cheater….. said nobody that played against him, ever.

    The Dolphins went on to continue their cheating ways after Shula retired with the Wildcat formation, which was completely different than what other teams were used to seeing. When the Wildcat formation was unleashed, opposing defenses did not know how to cover it and had no time for substitutions, much like the Ravens complained about after their loss to the Patriots yesterday. Too bad Harbawl wasn’t around to lead the effort to ban the Wildcat formation too.

  124. So it’s the officials fault if they did not inform the Ravens of the ineligible status of Vereen. How is it cheating if the officials make a mistake as they have been known to do in quite a few playoff games. The Baltimore Ravens are sour losers.

  125. @matt14gg you are correct it (‘Spygate’) was illegal in 2007 when they were caught during the first half of the first game then went on to win 18 consecutive games without taping… where it wasn’t illegal was 2001, 2003, or 2004. So yes, they cheated for 30 minutes.

  126. The complaint was that the refs did not give the Ravens time to adjust to the personnel change. It’s the reason why NFL rules prohibit an offensive team from rushing to the line after making a substitution and not giving the defensive team time to make an adjusting substitution.

  127. You call a legal play deception.I think its not letting the nfl aware that you star player is on camera being a fool and no facing the problem look at you self first ravens

  128. The whining Harbaugh’s…..gotta love them…..

    In this case I almost feel embarrassed for the elder Harbaugh……he made a complete fool of himself…..

    The refs didn’t understand what was happening?????

    The best was watching Jimmy Johnson laugh and say that play is well understood at the high school level……

    Good stuff…..

  129. The above reply nailed it.

    Many here are probably too young to remember when the NFL restricted what the Bengals could do with the no-huddle offense in the Super Bowl, a change made only for that game after Sam Wyche had used it all season. This is really no different. What the Bengals did was group near the sideline with the Coach, then sprint onto the field and snap the ball.

    What I found strange about the notification by the Pat’s players was that it came after the huddle broke as the players were coming to the line of scrimmage. Then there was the quick snap. I would expect a rule change that the notification has to be made prior to the huddle and/or an official will stand over the ball as they do during a two-minute drill type situation.

  130. The refs let them substitute, what the refs aren’t required to do is line the defense up. The Ravens saw a version of the play 4 times, and couldn’t figure it out. That isn’t the fault of the Pats or the refs, that lays on the shoulders of the coaches and the wearer of the green dot.

  131. I have heard of players declaring themselves eligible in the stadiums, but not ineligible. Was there another player who is typically not eligible then eligible for that play? That’s where I’m confused.
    Either way, it was a great game even though not the outcome I wanted. Congrats to the Pats.

  132. I hope Seattle comes onto the field with half their offensive players wearing a different position’s number, because they have all officially switched positions, and then they all re-position themselves by reporting as eligible/ineligible before every play. Then we’ll see what Pat’s fans think of it.

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