Broncos Coach Vic Fangio Livid With Ravens Coach John Harbaugh for Prioritizing NFL Milestone Over Safety


With three seconds left on the clock and his team trailing the Raven 23-7 at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, Denver Broncos backup quarterback Drew Lock was picked off in the end zone, sealing the win for Baltimore.

All the Ravens had to do to end the game was have quarterback Lamar Jackson take a knee and run out the final seconds. Instead, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called for Jackson to run the ball and he gained five yards around the left side as the clock expired to give the Ravens 102 rushing yards on the day. Thanks to that play, Baltimore tied the Pittsburgh Steelers’ record, established from 1974 to ’77, for most consecutive regular-season games (43) with triple-digit yards on the ground.

Understandably, the Broncos were not pleased with the Ravens running an unnecessary play to tie the record and Jackson didn’t sound all that happy about it either. “I’m not going to lie. I ain’t really care about the record,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about winning the game.”

After the game, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, who was a linebackers coach for two years with the Ravens under Harbaugh, vented. “Yeah I thought it was kind of bullshit but I expected it from them,” he said. “Thirty-seven years in pro ball and I’ve never seen anything like that. But it was to be expected and we expected it. I just know how they operate. That’s just their mode of operation there. Player safety is secondary.”

If Fangio’s rage seems a bit misplaced, consider that the Elias Sports Bureau could not confirm the last time in the past 25 years that a team gained yards on a play that began in the final five seconds while leading by at least 10 points, per ESPN.

Informed of Fangio’s comments, Harbaugh said it was “100% my call” to go for a run to extend the team’s streak of 100-yard games and pointed out that Denver throwing into the end zone while trailing by 16 was also somewhat unnecessary.

“I promise you, I’m not going to give that insult a second thought. What’s meaningful to us might not be meaningful to them. Their concerns are definitely not our concerns,” Harbaugh said. “We decided that if we got the ball back, we were going to try to get the yards. We got it back with three seconds left. (They’re) throwing the ball in the end zone with 10 seconds left. I don’t know that there’s a 16-point touchdown that’s going to be possible right there – that didn’t have anything to do with winning the game. So, like I said, what’s meaningful to us might not be meaningful to them, and we’re not going to concern ourselves with that.”

Both Fangio and Harbaugh have points, but the latter’s decision to use his star quarterback to pick up five yards his team didn’t need seems more egregious than the former letting his backup QB try to throw a meaningless touchdown in order to pad his confidence moving forward. Either way, it’s too bad these 3-1 teams aren’t scheduled to play again anytime soon. (A playoff matchup is possible … fingers crossed.)

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