Yes, you read that right.
Prior to being hired as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, John Harbaugh spent eight seasons as the Philadelphia Eagles special teams coordinator. In a pivotal AFC playoff game versus the Denver Broncos, Harbaugh’s special teams unit is responsible for 14 of the Broncos first 28 points. It’s hard to beat Peyton Manning on a level playing field, give him a few special teams touchdowns and you’re definitely swimming upstream.
Ever since the NFL implemented the rule that kickoffs must be from the 35 yard line as opposed to the 30 yard line, their have been more touchbacks for the kicking team and fewer touchdowns for the receiving team. Apparently the Broncos didn’t get that memo as Trindon Holliday ran 104 yards for a kick return touchdown in the third quarter–this was devastating to Baltimore as it was the first play of the second half.
Holiday has had quite the holiday versus this swiss cheese Ravens special teams unit, as he returned a punt for a 90 yard touchdown in the first quarter of this game. The special teams edge is often overlooked, however in a matchup with a game-time temperature of 13 degrees, every score becomes crucial. Harbaugh knows better than to let teams get momentum via a return like Holiday’s–especially in a game with thousands of Bronco fans on the edge of their seats.
Harbaugh broke into the game as a special teams coordinator at the collegiate level for the Cincinnati Bearcats all the way back in 1989. In this case, Harbaugh is being beat at his own game.