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John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin exchange tense postgame handshake (Video)

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in an extremely hard-fought game on Sunday, and anyone can understand why Ravens head coach John Harbaugh may have been frustrated after it ended. However, Harbaugh approached the postgame handshake with a good attitude and attempted to congratulate Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who for whatever reason wasn’t having it.

The exchange between the two coaches after the game was awkward, to say the least.  I don’t know if I would add it to our list of handshakes that have gone wrong over the years, but you could definitely sense some tension. That’s not uncommon with a heated rivalry like the one the Steelers and Ravens share, but why was Tomlin being so cold after his team — led by veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch — won on the road against one of the best teams in the AFC?

Harbaugh was congratulating Tomlin, who is obviously a passionate guy. He clearly didn’t appreciate the way Tomlin tried to just shake his hand and jog away, and I can’t say I blame him. Fortunately for NFL fans, this simply adds another interesting element to one of hardest-hitting rivalries in football.

John Harbaugh reportedly diffused Ravens player revolt back in October

The Baltimore Ravens may have one of the best records in football, but that doesn’t mean their season has been free of problems — both on the field and behind the scenes. In fact, just last month head coach John Harbaugh found himself having to work through a player revolt that started when several Ravens veterans did not want to practice in pads.

According to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, Harbaugh broke the bad news to the Ravens about a full-pad practice on Halloween morning — 10 days after they suffered a 43-13 loss against the Houston Texans.

“It was practically a mutiny,” one Ravens player said. “It came very close to getting out of control. But the way Coach Harbaugh handled it was amazing. He let people have their say, and he listened, and he explained himself, and pretty soon it was like a big group-therapy session. In the end, a lot of positive things were said. We didn’t practice in pads, but we came out of there stronger as a group.”

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John Harbaugh on Joe Flacco: ‘Pay him whatever he wants’

If the Ravens front office was looking for leverage in contract negotiations with Joe Flacco, they found none this week. Baltimore is expected to give Flacco more freedom this season and let him run the no-huddle offense, and he turned that freedom into 21-for-29 passing, 299 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 44-13 win over Cincinnati Monday night. He also got the ultimate endorsement from his head coach after the game.

“Pay him whatever he wants,” John Harbaugh said while bursting into laughter, according to the Baltimore Sun. “Pay the man.

“We’ve always stood up here, and we’ve always, all our coaches, the organization, we know what we’ve got in this guy. Of course he is (elite). He is a winner. He is one of the toughest quarterbacks I have ever been around. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever been around.”

Flacco and his agent certainly appreciate the kind words. We already knew he had confidence based on statements like this one that he is made in the past. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has openly stated that he wants to see Flacco back up his comments and perform like an elite quarterback, and if Monday was any indication he just might do that this season. With Matt Schaub having just received a four-year, $62 million extension from the Texans, Flacco is in a great position. If he continues to play like he did against the Bengals, the Baltimore front office should be happy to open its check book.

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

John Harbaugh says the Patriots’ Super Bowls are ‘stained,’ have asterisks

On Tuesday morning, Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke about the cheating culture of the NFL during a radio appearance. With the Saints having recently been roasted for running a bounty program, the topic is still fresh on everyone’s minds. Naturally, you can’t talk about cheating in football without Spygate coming up. Despite the fact that Harbaugh and Bill Belichick are relatively close, the Ravens coach decided to remind listeners that the Patriots’ Super Bowl rings have baggage attached to them.

“You know, the funny thing about that is in the end everything is brought before the light of day,” Harbaugh said during an interview with 98 Rock in Baltimore. “Even the thing in New England — no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they’ve got asterisks now. They’ve been stained. So to me it’s never worth it. Yeah, you’ve got to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage and figure out ways to make the most of everything. …

“That’s what success is in this world. You’ve got to find ways to do things better than somebody else. But if you’re cheating, in the end you’re going to get discredited. It’s just not worth it.”

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John Harbaugh: Patriots Scoreboard Error Was Not a Factor for Us

All the talk about the scoreboard error at Gillette Stadium that led to Ravens’ kicker Billy Cundiff’s rushed field goal attempt moved John Harbaugh to issue a statement Wednesday. The Baltimore coach put any questions about the scoreboard mistake to rest.

“We knew what the down and distance were on our last series,” said Harbaugh. “The scoreboard was not a factor for us. Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense.”

The suggestion that the mistake was deliberate was endorsed by the Ravens kicking consultant during a radio interview, prompting the statement.

I’m glad that Harbaugh said what he said for two reasons. One, pointing fingers at a scoreboard error is a really lame excuse for missing a routine kick. Two, it would reflect really poorly on Harbaugh if he said his coaching staff wasn’t on top of things in the final seconds of the AFC Championship Game. They were. It’s Billy Cundiff’s fault, not some stupid scoreboard operator’s, that the kick was missed.

John Harbaugh: Steelers Called Joe Flacco A Little Girl with Stadium Soundtrack

Just before Joe Flacco orchestrated a game-winning drive against the Steelers on Sunday night, a song blared over the Heinz Field PA system.  In the mind of Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, it wasn’t just any song.  This particular song was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “What’s Your Name,” which happens to include the lyrics, “Hey, little girl.”  Those lyrics were displayed on the stadium scoreboard and Harbaugh did not think it was a coincidence, which royally pissed him off.

According to Kevin Van Valkenburg of the Baltimore Sun, Harbaugh was quick to offer up an explanation after the game as to why he was so fired up when Torrey Smith scored the game-winning touchdown  Apparently he saw the song and lyrics as a shot at Flacco.

Harbaugh said he thought the lyrics — namely, “Hey, little girl” — were intended to be a shot at his quarterback’s manhood, and that made his blood boil. That’s part of the reason he was so fired up when Flacco engineered the game-winning drive, so much so that he cut his chin jumping up and down and celebrating with players.

Are those Harbaugh brothers intense or what?  One guy got so fired up before a post-game handshake earlier in the year that a brawl almost broke out.  The other — who happens to have once said he was glad his team broke Ben Roethlisberger’s nose — takes a stadium soundtrack as a personal insult.  Even if it was indeed a shot at Flacco, the quarterback insisted he had no idea and didn’t even hear the song.  One thing I do know is that as long the Harbaugh brothers keep racking up huge victories you won’t hear me criticizing their coaching style.

Chest bump to Shutdown Corner for passing along the story.

John Harbaugh ‘Glad’ Ravens Broke Ben Roethlisberger’s Nose

For those of who who think NFL players and coaches take fines for illegal hits seriously, John Harbaugh provided a perfect example for the contrary on Monday.  You might remember the pictures of Ben Roethlisberger’s nasty broken nose we featured about a month ago.  Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ended up paying a $15,000 fine for the shot to Big Ben’s head that rearranged his face, but that doesn’t mean John Harbaugh is asking his players to be more cautious this time around.

“He’s a tough guy,” Harbaugh said according to Pro Football Talk. “He had the broken nose. I was glad we broke his nose and then I was very impressed that he played through it. Obviously, you can throw very effectively with a broken nose – he proved that.”

Harbaugh then went on to say his team is going to “try to get after him like we always do.”  He knows the hit was illegal, and he’s going about it the way a coach should.  Everyone knows teams are willing to pay the fine for a player if it means setting the tone in a game, as long as it’s nothing too dirty or over-the-top.  I’m sure Roethlisberger understands that and is in no way offended.

As a side note, what a special treat we’re getting with the Ravens playing the Steelers and the Jets playing the Patriots in the divisional round this weekend.  The teams in both match-ups hate each other and are meeting for the third time this season after splitting their regular season series.  We should be in for one of the hardest-hitting weekends of playoff football you can ask for.