The coaching fraternity can be a tight one, especially among those on the NFL level. But that didn’t prevent former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy from lobbing a volley at Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Dungy, now an analyst on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” questioned Harbaugh’s decision to pull many of his starters early in Sunday’s eventual 23-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Had the Ravens (10-6) won, they might have had a chance to vault from the No. 4 seed to the No. 3 spot and tangle with Cincinnati (10-6). Instead, they stayed at No. 4 and will meet No. 5 Indianapolis (11-5) next Sunday in the first round of the AFC playoffs.
“I’m a little surprised that John Harbaugh is saying that they were not playing for more,” Dungy said during Sunday night’s broadcast just prior to the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins tilt. “They had a chance to get to the No. 3 seed. He was very comfortable at No. 4 and that tells me that they want to play in Indianapolis. I would have played my guys to go ahead and get a chance to get to the No. 3 spot.”
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Fellow analyst Rodney Harrison disagreed with Dungy. “I believe it was the right move,” the former New England Patriots safety said. “What is the difference between Cincinnati and Indianapolis? It’s not like the difference between Cincinnati and the Patriots.”
Dungy’s last comment on the topic: “He wanted Indianapolis and he’s got them now.”
Dungy should be applauded for being honest and candid with his assessment of Harbaugh’s decision even if that may not sit well with his former peers. But Dungy’s angst seems a little misguided.
The Ravens’ only chance of moving to the No. 3 seed was beating the Bengals and then waiting for the Miami Dolphins to upset New England. In Foxborough. Where the gametime temperature was 28 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like 16 degrees. And where the Dolphins haven’t won in December of January since Jan. 1, 2006.
The Patriots walloped Miami, 28-0, and because of the Houston Texans’ 28-16 loss to the Colts, New England earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, while Houston dropped to No. 3. And by virtue of their 12-4 record, the Texans were two games ahead of the Ravens for the No. 3 seed.
The Ravens had no idea this scenario would unfold the way that it did, but opted to play the percentages. And by electing to preserve their starters for the postseason’s opening game against Indianapolis, the Ravens are putting themselves in a position to put their best foot forward next Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.