Time To Acknowledge John Harbaugh Doing Fantastic Job
I honestly don't know how he's doing it.
How is Head Coach John Harbaugh getting his players to still believe despite having a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs?
One of the lasting images that will be ingrained in my mind from Monday night's magical victory came after the improbable kick-six. It was when safety Kendrick Lewis ran over to his head coach, hugged him, and yelled, "We never quit! We never quit! We're never going to quit!"
As the moment was being played out in front of a national audience, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden couldn't contain his own joyful laughter.
"You have to tip your hat to Harbaugh," Gruden said. "That's why he's a World Champion. He gets the most out of his players and they never quit."
Harbaugh most certainly wasn't thinking about it at the time, but the thrilling victory marked the 86th of his head coaching career, officially passing Brian Billick for the most wins in franchise history.
That makes Harbaugh the winningest coach in the Ravens' brief 20-year existence. It took Harbaugh eight seasons to get his 86-52 record, while Billick took nine seasons for his 85-67 mark.
But let's step back for a moment.
How can you praise a head coach for a losing record (4-7) in Week 12 with the playoffs nearly out of reach? Because sometimes there's a lot more to the story than the record you see on paper.
Given everything the Ravens have gone through this season, this team had all the makings of a meltdown.
They've lost key player after key player, including franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, starting running back Justin Forsett, future Hall of Fame receiver Steve Smith Sr., first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman, beloved target Dennis Pitta and defensive leader Terrell Suggs. They've endured heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss, and at least one can be blamed on the officials for a blown no-call (vs. Jacksonville).
Look, if you're a 4-7 team, it means you have plenty of shortcomings. Yet the Ravens have been in every single one of their games this season as all 11 have been decided by one score, extending an NFL record.
"It’s] a [testament to the effort Harbaugh demands from his players," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Just think, had the referees called the Jacksonville game correctly, the Ravens would be on a four-game winning streak and in the playoff hunt. But Harbaugh gets his players to forget about all of that and focus on "What's Important Now?"
And before you say that professional players don't need a head coach to motivate them, think again. Teams break down every year in this league. It's happened in Baltimore too. You just have to go back before Harbaugh's time to find it.
"Back in 2007, the season spiraled out of control for Baltimore, and it cost Brian Billick his job," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"Will this propel the Ravens (4-7) into the playoffs? Highly unlikely. Can this help them avoid their first losing season under Harbaugh? Probably not. But this victory, especially in this wild fashion, shows how this team has refused to give up on Harbaugh."
Win Doesn't Really Help Draft Or Playoff Chances
Obviously the Ravens don't care about these numbers, but here they are, per Football Outsiders …
Ravens' playoff odds:
Before Monday's win ------> 0.1 percent
After Monday's win --------> 0.2 percent
Ravens' No. 1 draft pick odds:
Before Monday's win ------> 10.7 percent
After Monday's win --------> 1.2 percent
The folks at NumberFire project the Ravens to wind up with the No. 6 overall pick.
"Maybe this will read as silly when, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town on Dec. 27 and the Ravens are .500 with a chance to make the playoffs," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli. "Then I'll be one of those cyber bullies Ravens coach John Harbaugh warned about last week.
"But until something crazy happens, the fight that the Ravens have shown (and should be proud of) isn’t significantly improving their playoff odds or draft pick this year."
Jernigan Knocks Out Another Quarterback; McCown Done For Season
The Browns announced Tuesday that starting quarterback Josh McCown is out for the season with a broken collarbone suffered during Monday Night Football.
It was defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan that delivered the punishing, but clean and legal, blow.
Sports Science Says Browns Would Have Missed Field Goal If Not Blocked
I'm not really sure how the folks at Sports Science can project this, but they say that even if defensive end Brent Urban didn't block the Browns' final field goal attempt, Travis Coons would have missed it anyway.
Apparently, there was a lot wrong with his kick.
"Based on our calculations, Coons didn't kick it hard enough to clear a goal post from 51 yards," said John Brenkus. "In fact, all else being equal, in order to make the kick, he would have had to launch the ball about 10 percent faster, and that's if it was on target, which, according to our analysis, was a pretty big if."
But it never got to that point because of Coons' low kick. The ideal kicking angle is 40 degrees, and Coons launched it with a 22-degree angle, allowing 6-foot-7 Urban to block it.
Check out the video explaining it all.