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Byrne Identity: Odd Night At M&T Bank Stadium


It was one of those "Are you kidding me?" games last night.

After three quarters, the Ravens had allowed just 104 yards on 33 plays, holding the ball on offense for 30 of the game's first 45 minutes – and were behind, 34-17.

Carolina, playing its starters for a full three quarters, had a punt return for a touchdown, two interceptions for scores and a fumble recovery for another six points. Holy schnikes! The Ravens gave up just three returns for touchdowns during the entire 2012 regular season.

Felt a little better on my way home when I heard the Lions beat the Patriots, 40-9, with New England turning the ball over four times – all by their starters, including an interception by Tom Brady. Maybe there's something to this full moon stuff.

A Few More Super Bowl Memories

Think it has been pretty clear that the Ravens have purposely tried to separate last February's Super Bowl victory over the 49ers and this year's edition of the team.

It's over. Move on. We're a new team.

We are not last season's Ravens, and whatever we earn this year will be because of the current roster.

Coach John Harbaugh, I think, has done a terrific job of embracing the memory of the Super Bowl XLVII championship team, while keeping this 2013 group focused on the task at hand. We all know the mantra: W.I.N. – What's Important Now!

But, despite this effort to put the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, reporters won't let Harbs and the players stop looking back. John had to go back to February two times this week in separate interviews with FOX-TV and ESPN.

What he revealed was new.

Jen Engel of FOX found a different tactic to get Harbs to look back when she asked the head coach about the 2011 conference championships.

"When you and Jim (Harbaugh) lost those oh-so-close AFC and NFC Championship games in 2011, did you guys ever get together and talk about 'What could have been?'"

"We did. That offseason." John replied. "It was one of those 'Do you believe what could have happened?' Brothers facing each other in the Super Bowl. That would have been really something for us and our families.

"The next time I thought of it seriously was during the pre-game warm-ups in New England (in the 2012 AFC Championship). They had the 49ers/Falcons NFC game up on the boards. I saw when San Francisco made the late stop, and they were going to win the game, my first reaction was, 'How great is that for Jim and our family?' My next thought was, 'We have to get there. We have to win this game.

"Later on," Harbaugh continued, "after we won, I was talking to my dad. He said that when we took the big lead early in the fourth quarter, Jim called him. He told my dad, 'This could really happen.' And it did."

Harbaugh's Moment

During Tuesday's production meeting with the ESPN crew that broadcast last night's game, Mike Tirico asked John: "When was that moment it hit you that 'I'm the Super Bowl-winning coach?'"

(I've witnessed a number of reporters ask that question to John in the last four months. John had expressed that he doesn't believe he has had that moment.)

"Honestly, I don't think that happened," Harbs told the room.

Tirico, pleasantly, "Really, nothing that said: 'Hey, this is pretty great. I did it.' How about right after the game?"

Harbaugh hesitated. "The game, as we all know, wasn't decided until the last play. I've seen the films of coaches being picked up by their players like (Mike) Ditka and (Bill) Parcells, and Jimmy Johnson spreading his arms and looking to the heavens. But, my first thought was 'I have to get to my brother. I have to find Jim. It had to be so difficult for him. I know he had to be feeling it. So that was my first thought.

"But, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe the best moment I had was right after I saw Jim. I found Ingrid (John's wife) and Alison (their daughter), and we had a group hug. That was special. It was shared. It was like we looked at each other and said, 'We did it.' That's probably the best moment since the game."

NFL Official

An hour and a half before each game, two game officials meet with each of the two head coaches. Line judge Tom Symonette was one of the pair to visit Coach Harbaugh last night. Symonette congratulated Harbs on the Super Bowl victory and said:  "We worked your first training camp in Baltimore, and do you remember what I told you?" John politely replied: "Not quite sure."

The official then said: "I said that I liked the way you ran your practices, and I told you that you would win a championship." Harbs smiled and thanked him, adding: "Any predictions for this year?" We all laughed.

Talk with you next week.


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