Joe Flacco didn’t know the rule, but wanted Ravens on sidelines to tackle Ted Ginn if he broke return
Joe Flacco was so desperate to win the Super Bowl on Sunday that he was encouraging his teammates on the sidelines to tackle 49ers return man Ted Ginn Jr. if it looked like he was going to score on the game’s final play.
The Ravens were up 34-31 and punted on a free kick with four seconds left for what would ultimately be the last play of the game.
On NFL Films’ “Sound FX,” Flacco can be heard telling his teammates on the sidelines to tackle Ginn in case the returner broke one.
Here’s how his conversations went, as transcribed by Shutdown Corner:
“Are we gonna win this?” Flacco asked Ravens head coach John Harbaugh from the sideline.
“Yeah — the game’s over if we cover this kick,” Harbaugh responded.
“We don’t make it easy, do we?” Flacco posited.
“No, we don’t,” Harbaugh said.
“If he starts to break it, go tackle him,” Flacco then said to tight end Dennis Pitta.
“I don’t know … I mean … what else can they … they might be able to give them a touchdown on that? I don’t know,” Flacco told Pitta.
Flacco, flush with enthusiasm over his new tackling tactic, then went around and tried to get other teammates on his side.
“Hey! If he breaks this … if he busts it for some reason? Tackle him! Go tackle him,” Flacco said to guard Marshal Yanda and center Matt Birk. “I don’t know what the rule is on that, but…”
“Why don’t you?” Yanda asked.
“I’m going to!”
Flacco admitted he didn’t know the rule regarding players on the sidelines getting involved in the game. According to the NFL rule book, the referees have the power to award a player a touchdown in a situation like that. Here’s the rule in question, which is listed in the section on Unsportsmanlike Conduct (PDF link to rule):
Palpably Unfair Act. A player or substitute shall not interfere with play by any act which is palpably unfair. Penalty: For a palpably unfair act: Offender may be disqualified. The Referee, after consulting his crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The Referee may award a score.”
It’s hard to know if Flacco was joking or not, but he seemed pretty serious to me. If anything, his behavior shows us how desperately he wanted to win that game. Can you imagine being four seconds away from winning a huge game and blowing it on an improbable play? We should just ask Denver what that’s like.