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7 Years Ago: Pats beat Ravens on 'Trick' Plays; Harbaugh loses his mind

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It was actually seven years ago yesterday rather than today, but still worthy of reminiscing.


Today in Patriots History
John Harbaugh Loses His Mind
Impetus for Deflategate Witch Hunt is Conceived



Saturday January 10, 2015 at 4:30
2014 AFC Divisional Round Playoff Game at Gillette
New England Patriots 35, Baltimore Ravens 31
Head Coaches: Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Joe Flacco
Odds: New England favored by 7

Pats improve to 13-4; next game home vs Colts, who beat Denver 24-13
Baltimore finishes 11-7

The Patriots twice came back from 14 point deficits to defeat the Ravens. This was the game that Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh cried foul over Patriot 'trick' formations. In the post-game Q&A Tom Brady poured gasoline on the fire by answering a question about trick plays with this snarky (but accurate) response:

"Maybe those guys got to study the rule book and figure it out. We obviously knew what we were doing, and we made some pretty important plays. It was a real good weapon for us. Maybe we'll have something in store next week. I don't know what's deceiving about that. [The Ravens] should figure it out."


In my opinion the trick plays - and especially Brady's comments - were the impetus for the botched frame job a week later, that became the witch hunt known as deflategate. While I have no proof, I believe Harbaugh called his old friend and former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano - at that time head coach of the Colts, the Pats next opponent. Let's not forget also that the Patriots had thoroughly embarrassed Pagano's Colts in the playoffs the previous season.


Baltimore limited the Pats to 14 yards rushing, but Tom Brady set franchise postseason records for completions (33) and yards passing (367). Despite the points allowed the Patriot defense did its part with two interceptions off Joe Flacco.

With the score 28-14 the Pats deployed an unusual formation, keeping only four offensive linemen on the field. TE Michael Hoomanawanui lined up in the traditional left tackle position. The Patriots put two players to the right side of the line of scrimmage, which meant the inside player (Shane Vereen) was ineligible to receive a pass - and Hoomanawanui, who was at the end of the line on the other side - was an eligible receiver.

Hooman caught passes for 16 and 14 yards, with the Baltimore defense in disarray. Harbaugh went ballistic - devoid of any composure to call a timeout and gather his defense on how to defend the unique formation. Instead he went out on the field, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, thus giving the Patriots first and goal. Rob Gronkowski caught a 5-yard TD, and the Pats had cut the Baltimore lead to 28-21.

The unfocused Ravens went three-and-out on the next series. After getting the ball back Brady connected on short passes to Julian Edelman for 9 yards, and Vereen for 10. On the third play of the drive Brady passed to Jules behind the line of scrimmage. The former college quarterback then hit Danny Amendola for a 51 yard touchdown, and the score was tied.

Harbaugh was absolutely fit to be tied, completely lacking any sense of self control. I thought he was going to have a stroke right then and there on the field.

Baltimore finally settled down somewhat and a Justin Tucker field goal put the Ravens back up by three with just over ten minutes to play. Brady completed eight out of nine passes on the following drive, as well as gaining a first down on a quarterback sneak. The winning points came on a 23 yard touchdown to Brandon LaFell with 5:21 left to play. On the ensuing drive Baltimore drove as far as the New England 36, then Flacco threw his fourth interception - this one snared by Duron Harmon with 1:46 to play to seal the victory.


NFL says Patriots' formations, reporting were legal | Baltimore Sun

"It's a substitution type of a trick type of thing," Harbaugh said Saturday night after the game. "So, they don't give you the opportunity. They don't give you a 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."



8:37 Highlights Video:
That was one of the more lopsided games from the officials. The non-call on the big 3rd down pass to Gronk was outrageous. But they won anyway :) thanks in no small part to Amendola's two crucial plays, one for a big first down and the other for a TD.

Unfortunately, it was after that game that Brady commented about the Ratbirds learning the rules and that may have led to Goody and the 32 going after Brady with trumped up charges.
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
That was one of the more lopsided games from the officials. The non-call on the big 3rd down pass to Gronk was outrageous. But they won anyway :) thanks in no small part to Amendola's two crucial plays, one for a big first down and the other for a TD.

Unfortunately, it was after that game that Brady commented about the Ratbirds learning the rules and that may have led to Goody and the 32 going after Brady with trumped up charges.

Yeah I've always wondered what might've been had Brady not mentioned the whole rule book thingy... similar to Welker during the week before Jets -Pats in the 2010 AFCD...
 

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