John Harbaugh says problem with Patriots plays was officiating mechanics

AP

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was far from happy after the New England Patriots caught the Ravens with their eligible/ineligible receiver deception in Saturday’s 35-31 playoff defeat.

However, Harbaugh now says the ire reflected in his postgame comments wasn’t directed at the Patriots cleverly devised offensive scheme, but instead was with the mechanics of how the officials tried to relay what New England was attempting to do in regards to who was eligible and who wasn’t.

My thoughts are the same as they were during the game and after the game,” Harbaugh said Tuesday via the Boston Globe. “It was about the mechanics of the officiating. I never had an issue with the formation, never even brought that up. It wasn’t about the formation at all. I had a chance to talk to [referee] Bill Vinovich during the game, and he addressed it. He said that was right.”

“There’s a certain timing that goes with that, in terms of the referee getting back in position to referee the game. The ball was being snapped so quickly that he didn’t have a chance to do that. Plus, the other interesting thing is the signal for an eligible receiver and an ineligible receiver is the same, so it’s a little difficult to determine what the official is actually signaling in the heat of battle when it’s done that quickly. Bill was great about it, he said he would slow it down. I think he went over and told their sideline the same time, and we didn’t see it after that.”

Harbaugh apparently just wanted a clearer declaration from the officiating crew what the Patriots were doing from a personnel standpoint and the ability to matchup with substitutions. Harbaugh went on to say he believes the situation was well-handled and he had spoken with the league about the mechanics of the situation.

He also said he didn’t believe those plays affected the outcome of the game.

79 responses to “John Harbaugh says problem with Patriots plays was officiating mechanics

  1. God, is he still crying about this? The problem was not the “officiating mechanics”, because the first time the Patriots used the ineligible receiver play, the head official(Vinovich) announced over the PA system “Don’t cover #34″(Vereen). How much clearer could he be? And now Harbaugh is backtracking, saying he never had an issue with the formation and that he never brought it up?!?! That’s far from the truth, as his whole issue post game was with the formation and how it was “deceptive”. Isn’t the whole point of the offense is to try to be deceptive and fool the defense at every chance, as long as it is within the rules? Maybe Harbaugh would like someone to tell him every play the opponent is going to run before they run it. That would make him a lot less of a whiner.

  2. If this is a loophole that known cheaters like the Patriots are going to exploit, and if losing all respect from the rest of the league is not a large enough deterrent to prevent it from happening again… Then I’d be fine with making these sort of eligibility/ineligibility substitutions just over and done with and ending them. It’s a shame that poor sports like Belichick have to ruin things like these for everyone else.

  3. Still sobbing John??
    Glad to hear it!!
    Enjoy the show (at home) from the man who out coached you!! Lol!!!

  4. All this comes from a guy who was freaking substituting guys while deliberately throwing an illegal challenge Flag (Championship Game in 08). What a crybaby.

  5. Wah, Wah, Wah, always crying and whining after a loss.Oh, I’m sorry, the Ravens are the only team in football history to have a bad call by a ref.It’s too bad Harbaugh can’t learn how to lose as well as he gloats when they win.He was out coached, plain and simple.

  6. First Harbaugh said this was a dirty, deceptive play that the league should look at. He said that this four-man offensive lineman formation was something that had “never been done before”.

    Now reality has caught up with Harbaugh. It has been confirmed by both past and present league officials that this is a perfectly legal formation. Coach Saban even used this formation in the college ranks earlier this year!

    Now Harbugh has been forced by the facts to sing a different tune. It was about the “officiating”.

    No, John, it’s about YOU! It is now clear that you were out-coached, out-smarted and out-manuevered in a playoff game. You had no idea what you were looking at on the field. Your own inability to recognize the formation on the fly played a part in having a key touchdown scored against your team which may have been the difference in your team losing the game.

    It’s not about the formation. It’s not about the officiating. It’s about coaching. So stop whining and pointing the finger of blame.

  7. My god this guy is such a crybaby! All Steelers fans hate him! And now the world sees exactly why. He is a sore loser and also a bad winner! He’s the worst kind. At least tomlin only stepped on the field. That’s peanuts compared to what this guy does on a yearly basis! Give it a rest. You lost. The better team won. Get over yourself!

  8. “It’s a substitution or trick kind of thing, so they don’t give you the chance to make the proper substitutions and things like that. It’s not something that anyone’s ever done before. The league will look at that type of thing, and I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments and things like that.”

    He’s changed his tune.

  9. This is what I assumed was his issue all along. Everything the Patriota did was well within the rules. What was not was the officials handling of eligible/ineligible receivers. The rules clearly state the officials have to inform the defense of such intentions by the offense and the refs failed there initially. It took Harbaugh getting an unsportsmanlike conduct flag to get them to start doing it, the damage was already done by then. It is what it is, I still don’t understand the point of mixing up the crews that have worked together all year. It just seems like it can cause more potential issues like this in the most important games of the year.

  10. Just to clarify for the trolls: Harbaugh was asked about it, he’s not “still complaining” or “won’t shut up about it” and he has already “gotten over it.” He had his closing press interview for the year and was obviously asked about it. So before you go shredding him, he was just answering a question. And it’s interesting to see that the signal for ineligible and eligible is the same. Surely that’ll change next year.

    I don’t know why I try to use logic to reason with you trolls. Won’t make a difference, you’ll still shout “Joe sucks” and “6 rings” and whatever the hell Rusty shouts while ignoring his team inability to win in the post season…

  11. A smart defense, DC and HC should know who’s eligible and who’s not by how their lined up at the line of scrimmage. Forget the players numbers, even if all 11 players on offense are wearing plain white T-shirts, they should still be able to decipher who’s eligible and ineligible by how they’re lined up.

  12. If Harbaugh believes it didn’t impact the outcome of the game, why was it the third thing he mentioned in his postgame comments after congratulating the Patriots and Ravens.

    Its obvious this is his story to cover his sour grapes. What about his comments claiming nobody has ever seen this before and that the league will take action?

    Why not just say, I wasn’t ready for it and should have called a timeout?

  13. “We wanted an opportunity to be able to identify who the eligible players were,” Harbaugh explained, “because what they were doing was they would announce the eligible player and Tom (Brady) would take it to the line right away and snap the ball before (we) even figured out who was lined up where. And that was the deception part of it. It was clearly deception.”

    *****************************************************************

    The quote above is what Harbaugh originally said post-game.

    He was complaining about deception above, which puts it on the Patriots and not the officiating. Sounds like he’s back peddling because he doesn’t want to come off like a sore loser after the fact.

  14. Good God, shut up already!

    You’re trying to spin this after days of being ridiculed, but you’re STILL blaming the Patriots for snapping the ball too quickly!

    They ran this same play THREE times man, not once giving less than 7 secobds to react, and your team screwed the pooch EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    You got out-coached. Admit it and stop whining already!!!!!!

  15. Tom Crybaby says “study the rulebook”

    The reality is the Patriots had their dumb formation and were in a hurry-up offense. This prevented the officials from declaring (officially) who the eligible and ineligible receivers on the field were.

    Harbaugh had no issue with the formation (as you can see above) he had an issue with getting the information of who was and who wasn’t eligible.

    Add another asterisk to a Patriots win, they’ve had a lot of those over the last decade haven’t they?

  16. That’s consistent with what he said after the game. The officials weren’t announcing eligibles along with ineligibles, and not allowing (in his mind) sufficient time for substitutions for adjustments. That mistake resulted in 41 yards for the Pats over 3 plays at a point where they were down by 14.

    Regardless, after the refs told Belichick they’d stand over the ball to allow for announcements and subs in those situations the Pats stopped using it.

    The Ravens lost because of a few crucial drops and two excellent picks by McCourty and Harmon.

    That’s all.

  17. He’s lying of course…right after the game he claimed the play was “…clearly deception…” and that “…no one’s ever seen that before…”. Now he says all he was doing was addressing the way the play was officiated. It must be tough to be in that position where you know you were outsmarted, so you want to claim cheating, but since you know you have zero ground to stand on you just change the argument.

    I like Harbaugh as a coach, but he often has difficulty telling the truth, especially when it comes to situations where the truth may make him look bad.

  18. So there you have it. Hardbaugh has said the same during the game, after the game, and now several days after the game thing which he broke down in detail and is something the competition committee will surely look into this off season. Now with that being said, he never called anyone a cheater and the Patriots and Billichick in fact did not cheat. They found a loophole and attacked it quickly. Does it upset me that those three plays resulted in a touchdown? You bet ya but that folks is not cheating based off the current rules and how they are applied. I am a proud Baltimorean who loves my Ravens but we got okie doked by the evil scientist and there is nothing we can do but try to get back to that game next year.

  19. I still don’t get Harbaugh’s issue.

    The referees announced who was ineligible.

    The referees didn’t have to announce who was eligible since Hooman was wearing an eligible number.

    Seven to ten seconds passed and then the ball was snapped.

    It is true the defense has to be given enough time for substitutions but that is only after new personnel have entered the field of play. They were given that amount of time but they didn’t know how to react to the personnel package put on the field.

    When announcing Vereen was ineligible they gave his number and I’m sure as one of the top running backs on the Patriots the Ravens players are aware as to who he is and if they didn’t listen to the in stadium announcements then shame on them.

    This just seems like a further effort to deflect the blame due to Harbaugh’s own failure to call a timeout to figure out the situation and post game his lack of understanding of NFL rules.

  20. This guy’s slicker than an oil salesman. He whines, then gets ridiculed for it, then changes his story to rewrite history. You were mad bro at the Patriots for what you couldn’t figure out pre-snap. You got a penalty which resulted in a 2 minute discussion with the refs while your coaches explained to your defense what was being done to them.

  21. Had he called a timeout after the FIRST one instead of melting into a puddle of panic, maybe they could of stopped the next two.

    But like he said, that’s not what cost them the game. The formation didn’t throw that beautiful pass two LeFell for the winning TD. Tommy Golden Arm did.

  22. Those “sneaky pats” even tried to be deceptive by faking a hand off to the running back, and when the defense thought the running had the ball, next thing you knew, Brady was completing a pass to Gronk. Its BS. There is no place for that kind of deception in the game. And on defense, those “sneaky pats” faked a blitz when they were really only rushing 3 guys. How do you expect a team to win a game with the other team is cheating like that… And what about sending Gostkowski out for the punt, definitely some trickery. This kind of deception will not stand. The Pats need to draw up all of their plays and put them on the jumbo tron for everyone to see before snapping the ball…

    *End sarcasm*

    Harbaugh all of a sudden realized he looked like a whiny beeotch and now all of a sudden he is cool with what the Pats did, he is just not cool with the officiating. Bull Sh_t! He mad eit quite clear after the game that his issue was that the Pats were trying “a substitution trick”. “It was deception”. Right John? Now it wasnt deception, it was poor officiating. Got it.

    I like Harbaugh, he is a great coach and the play on the field from his teams reflects that. But I am not buying what he is selling here

  23. Ah the sweet taste of Harbaugh and Ravens tears.

    The Ravens and their fans, leading the lead in whining since Harbaugh became their coach. At least they’re good at something.

  24. Congrats to the Pats on a great team win. Glad the series is competitive again. It’s good for football.
    Happy to see the Patriots finally figured out how to beat the Ravens and January Joe in the playoffs, even if it was a rebuilding Ravens team.
    This showing was so much better than when the Pats were shut out in the second half of the 2012 playoffs.
    How old is Brady anyway?

  25. He is backtracking because he realized that he looks like more of a big baby than usual…even for him.

  26. This is the extent that Billichick is willing to go to gain an advantage for winning… makes you wonder about the SpyGate??? If He is willing to look over the rule book with a fine tooth comb to fine a loop hole to gain an advantage, there is no telling what else the Patriots have done to win…Indeed…

  27. First it was the Pats fault for being “deceptive”, now its the refs fault for not giving his team enough time to adjust. John Harbaugh is having his “Ray Rice” moment. The more he talks about it the more idiotic he sounds. He just needs to stop.

    Interesting to see how Ravens fans ALSO just can’t get it. Some still claim the officials weren’t announcing the player ineligible, when its been confirmed by EVERYONE that they did. Some follow Harbaugh’s new line and want to blame the refs for not giving the Ravens more time. Well 7-10 seconds and actually telling the Ravens NOT to cover Vareen is more than enough time.

    What makes it all worse is that there were 2 simple options that might have mitigated the formation. 1. The Ravens could have changed to a zone coverage underneath. 2. They could have called time out. Both might have helped them better cover that formation,

    Finally what makes the whining by Harbaugh more frustrating was the fact that on almost EVERY situation, every refs’ call, non-call or challenge seem to go in favor of the Ravens.

  28. Congrats to the Pats on a great team win. Glad the series is competitive again. It’s good for football.
    Happy to see the Patriots finally figured out how to beat the Ravens and January Joe in the playoffs, even if it was a rebuilding Ravens team.
    This showing was so much better than when the Pats were shut out in the second half of the 2012 playoffs.
    How old is Brady anyway?

    Yeah the patriots are now 10-3 vs the Ravens since 2001. But yes 2-2 in the playoffs.

  29. Well it was a question he was posed in his Tuesday final press conference along with about a dozen other topics. So no he’s not whining.

  30. reed20fence says:
    Jan 14, 2015 7:06 AM

    That’s consistent with what he said after the game. The officials weren’t announcing eligibles along with ineligibles, and not allowing (in his mind) sufficient time for substitutions for adjustments. That mistake resulted in 41 yards for the Pats over 3 plays at a point where they were down by 14.

    Regardless, after the refs told Belichick they’d stand over the ball to allow for announcements and subs in those situations the Pats stopped using it.

    The Ravens lost because of a few crucial drops and two excellent picks by McCourty and Harmon.

    That’s all.

    Add another asterisk to a Patriots win, they’ve had a lot of those over the last decade haven’t they?
    ________________________________

    If the receiver on the end of the line is wearing an eligible number then the ref does not have to call him out as eligible. If someone wearing a lineman’s # is on the end of the line only then that player must be called out as eligible. And all the proper announcement were made – the ref even went as far as saying “Do not cover 34”.

    Also, as all the involved players came onto the field and reported into the huddle prior to the first of those three plays there was no basis to give the defense extra time for substitutions.

    Extra time for substitutions is only granted for situations when the team holding the ball tries to quick change the players on the field, like going from a punt formation and then running the punt team off and bringing back the offense.

    The league has already said there were no issues with the player reporting or the mechanics of the three plays Harbaugh griped about. That would include the way the ineligible reporting was handled and the time allowed for substitutions.

    Good to see that you understand the rules as well as your team’s Head Coach does.

    At this point Harbaugh is just trying to cover his butt after looking dumb over his prior comments. The golden rule is when you see an alignment you aren’t ready for you call timeout, look at the picture on the tablet and have an adjustment ready if they go back to it. Instead Harbaugh gave up 3 first downs and took a penalty. A really bad decision.

    Regardless, it was still one of the most exciting playoff games we’ve seen in a long time (probably since that epic Niners/Saints battle a few years back). The Ravens played a helluva game. Just came down to mistakes. Brady made a huge one before the half, but Flacco’s second pick at the end was the mistake that sealed it – and I put that pick more on T. Smith than Flacco. Sometimes a receiver has to recognize the pick coming and break up the interception. If that pass goes incomplete instead of becoming a turnover we may have seen a different outcome.

  31. And we see why Patriots fans are such lousy winners. Belichick was brilliant to go with odd formations in an up-tempo style in that crucial game situation. It was a great way to create a logistically difficult situation for the opposing team and referees.

    But Harbaugh is also allowed to get upset at this situation being taken advantage of.

    But, no, Patriots fans are too insecure that their valid win could even be questioned. The ones whining here are Pats fans, per usual.

    Like when they won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. The question of dynasties drove them insane. If any analyst or public figure questioned whether the Patriots were an actual dynasty, the furor was insane.

    I live in Boston. But New Englanders are the biggest whiners and complainers anywhere. Boston Strong is actually just a facade. They are some of the most mentally weak and strained people anywhere.

    The response of said people to this comment will prove it…

  32. He wasn’t crying when his rb was beating his wife or when his dt was using PED to cheat yet he whines over legal play. Someone’s butt hurt

  33. These were all just answers to questions asked by media.

    I don’t think anyone was crying, he did not seem depressed. He talked about next season plans, made some jokes, gave injury updates, and the pro bowl.

    It was a great game, cant wait for next week.

  34. ahostiletakeover says:
    Jan 14, 2015 5:33 AM

    This is what I assumed was his issue all along. Everything the Patriota did was well within the rules. What was not was the officials handling of eligible/ineligible receivers. The rules clearly state the officials have to inform the defense of such intentions by the offense and the refs failed there initially. It took Harbaugh getting an unsportsmanlike conduct flag to get them to start doing it, the damage was already done by then. It is what it is, I still don’t understand the point of mixing up the crews that have worked together all year. It just seems like it can cause more potential issues like this in the most important games of the year.

    camcameronsucks says:
    Jan 14, 2015 6:59 AM

    Tom Crybaby says “study the rulebook”

    The reality is the Patriots had their dumb formation and were in a hurry-up offense. This prevented the officials from declaring (officially) who the eligible and ineligible receivers on the field were.

    Harbaugh had no issue with the formation (as you can see above) he had an issue with getting the information of who was and who wasn’t eligible.

    Add another asterisk to a Patriots win, they’ve had a lot of those over the last decade haven’t they?
    ——————————————————–
    You’re both WRONG

    The Patriots DID tell the officials, who then told the Ravens, ALL THREE TIMES.

    It’s been established that it was announced over the stadium PA system, which was picked up by the TV microphones.

    But when it comes to the Patriots, haters believe the world is flat. Believe what you want to believe, not the truth.

  35. John is pedaling back pretty hard. He definitely implied in his presser that the Patriots were bending the rules. Coaches need to just give the other team credit when they lose and stop implying there was some mitigating reason.

    Ravens have been great competitors and almost always seem to bring their “A game” against the Patriots (even in the undefeated season it was the one game the Pats should have lost). Clearly, there is a lot of mutual respect between the organizations.

  36. Eutaws finest said it best. Also- he didn’t call a timeout bc they only had 2 left in a tight game approaching the 4th quarter. That timeout could have been a crucial factor in the final 2 minutes of a divisional playoff game. It’s reeeeal easy to say what you would have done in the situation as you sit on your couch behind a screen as opposed to being in the moment with the game literally in your hands. And lastly , do any of you guys read or do you purposefully repost the same thing that dozens of people have already repeated twice. How about posting something insightful/original?

  37. Yeah Eutaws finest said it best. Also- he didn’t call a timeout bc they only had 2 left in a tight game approaching the 4th quarter. That timeout could have been a crucial factor in the final 2 minutes of a divisional playoff game. It’s reeeeal easy to say what you would have done in the situation as you sit on your couch behind a screen as opposed to being in the moment with the game literally in your hands. And lastly , do any of you guys read or do you purposefully repost the same thing that dozens of people have already repeated twice. How about posting something original / insightful

  38. Watch inside the NFL. Listen to his crying during the Steelers game..”I’ll bench my home team if you don’t get this game under control.. We’re not gonna let them just push us around again” Then the chain marker official calls him a cry baby after he accuses them of cheating..Man does he go off..”You can’t talk to me like that!”..Priceless and revealing all in one. Sorry Ravens……He’s a whiner

  39. Get these facts through your heads Harbaugh and his defenders:
    1) It wasn’t hurry up. There were huddles before each 4OL play,
    2) By rule, you have a right to match subs -which happen before the huddle – not to match declarations of eligibility,
    3) Announcements occurred before every 4OL play,
    4) Snaps followed announcements by 7-10 seconds,
    5) Playing 4OL isn’t a loophole in the NFL – it’s just strange.

    Bottom line is that Harbs, his staff, and his D got fooled badly, and he’s trying to deflect, badly.

  40. Dear Ravens Coachette,

    You have been given timeouts in a game for a reason.

    If you were truly perplexed, then call a timeout and get with your guys – let them know what is happening, consult with the refs, and then tell your guys to run over the fake offensive lineman and go after Tomasina Brady with all due disrespect.

    As soon as you see the play being called, your defense is to shift and make that fake lineman into a speed bump where you send wave after wave of players.

    Maybe you give up a touchdown the first time the play is called. But they’ll never call the play ever again because their QB is heading for the hospital and the fake offensive lineman is still being peeled from the grass.

  41. How can you tell that a jet full of Baltimore Ravens and their fans has just arrived at the airport?

    You can still hear a loud whine coming from the jet long after the engines have been shut down.

  42. Thank God I don’t live in Baltimore. I would be embarrassed beyond words if my head coach was such a spineless, backtracking crybaby.

    I can understand the statements he made Sunday, since they were made in the heat of the moment. This latest ration of revisionist bullcrap is just pathetic.

    I hope the NFL schedules our opener against the Ravens. You know darn well Harbaugh will be whining and stewing about this all summer.

  43. OK. Here is what the rulebook actually says, paraphrased because I copied it days ago verbatum and I am not looking it up yet again:
    The opposing team must be notified and given time to adjust/allow substitutions when
    a) An eligible player is going to be lined up in a normally ineligible line position and is to be eligible.
    b) when a normally eligible player is to be declared ineligible and lined up in a normally ineligible position
    c) when a normally eligible person is lined in an eligible position but is to be considered ineligible

    a and c both happened on this play. #34 declared himself AT the line ineligible while lining up in the slot procedure to be considered the ‘right tackle’
    The tight end lined up in the left tackle position but was eligible.

    The referee has the responsibility to both report the eligible player and the ineligible player and allow a reasonable ampount of time for the defense to adjust. The mechanics issue, which is the real problem there was the eligible player was not being announced AND the ball was being snapped before even the Referee was able to get into his proper position to referee the play.
    The reason people assume it was at best on the shady side of the rules is the fact that when notified that the time between the player being reported as ineligible and the ball being snapped had to increase, the play was not called again, since in reality, if there was time to adjust to the play, the QB would be turned into pate with no tackles, just the guards and center to protect him.

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