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After Further Review: Captain Comeback Comes up Short

February 4th, 2013 at 12:40 PM
By Chuck Chapman

Back in 1995, Jim Harbaugh was inches away from a Super Bowl berth as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts when his Hail Mary went in and out of the hands of Aaron Bailey. Having made the Super Bowl this year as the head coach of the San Francisco 49'ers, the man Colts fans know as "Captain Comeback" once again came up just short in a bid for a championship.

Harbaugh's Niners fought back from a 28-6 deficit early in the third quarter and were poised to score the go-ahead touchdown, having a first and goal at the five yard line of the Baltimore Ravens. Despite having plenty of time on the clock and a timeout still in his pocket, Harbaugh eschewed the running of either Colin Kaepernick or Frank Gore and tried four times to throw for the winning score. The last play included a controversial non-call of what Harbaugh thought was defensive holding, but Jerome Boger's crew didn't see it that way.

That sent Harbaugh on a post-game tirade against the officials, something unbecoming of Jim, who has quickly become one of the best coaches in the NFL in two short seasons. It also stole some of the spotlight from older brother John who won his first Super Bowl has Ravens head coach. Harbaugh would have been better advised to just keep his mouth shut and congratulate his brother's team on their victory. This was one instance where Harbaugh's hyper-competitiveness wasn't in his best interests.

Other observations:

  • Joe Flacco is going to get paid. The Ravens will either have to franchise him or give him Drew Brees/Peyton Manning-level dollars now that he's Super Bowl MVP. That means good things for the Colts, who have their eyes on both Ed Reed and Paul Kruger. At least one of them will be allowed to walk because the cap-strapped Ravens can't afford to pay everyone. 
  • Colin Kaepernick is a heck of a young quarterback, but he owes a lot to his tremendous tight end, Vernon Davis. Here's to the Colts finding more ways to get mismatches with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen matched up on linebackers. 
  • Speaking of that, hats off to former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell who guided the Ravens offense down the stretch. Caldwell did a great job getting Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice matched up on linebackers by splitting wide tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. That formation adjustment resulted in the Ravens' first touchdown.
  • How about the job the Ravens' defense did inside the red zone. They were outgained by over 100 yards and allowed the Niners seven trips inside the red zone. The key was only allowing three touchdowns in those seven trips. Two of them netted no points for San Francisco. This is the same defensive philosophy espoused by Chuck Pagano. The defense will take some chances and leave defensive backs exposed which can result in some big plays. But when the opponent gets in scoring range, the defense clamps down and surrenders minimal points. 
  • The Colts won't see the Ravens next season unless it's in the playoffs, but they do have a trip scheduled to the Bay Area to take on the 49'ers. This will be the first matchup of Andrew Luck against his old Stanford coach and the old Colts quarterback against his former team.


Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Football, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, NFL, San Francisco 49'ers

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