John Harbaugh not sorry; Urban Meyer can’t apologize enough
DENVER (AP) — Victory formation is for losers. The Baltimore Ravens wanted the rushing record.
So, John Harbaugh isn’t one bit sorry for not having Lamar Jackson take a knee to close out their rout at Denver.
Harbaugh explained enthusiastically and unapologetically after Baltimore’s 23-7 victory Sunday that it was important to his players, coaches and even the team’s fans to match the mark of 43 consecutive 100-yard rushing games set by the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974-77.
Harbaugh reacted with dismay Monday when he learned that Broncos coach Vic Fangio saw his decision as classless and dangerous and compared it to bull excrement.
“Thirty-seven years in pro ball, I’ve never seen anything like that,” Fangio said, “but it was to be expected and we expected it.”
“I thought we were on good terms,” retorted Harbaugh, who had Fangio on his first staff 14 years ago. “We had a nice chat before the game. Known each other for a long time.
“But I promise you I’m not going to give that insult one second’s thought. What’s meaningful to us might not be meaningful to them. Their concerns are definitely not our concerns.”
Urban Meyer? Now, he couldn’t apologize enough for his latest misstep in what’s become the bumpiest jump to the NFL ever attempted by a college coaching great.
The Jacksonville Jaguars coach apologized to his family, team owner Shad Khan and his players for actions over the weekend that he called “just stupid.”
After Jacksonville blew a big lead in a 24-21 loss at Cincinnati on Thursday night, Meyer didn’t fly back with his team on its charter plane, an unheard of breach of coaching protocol, especially for a team that’s 0-4 and has lost 19 consecutive games.
The three-time collegiate national championship-winning coach said he remained in his home state of Ohio to see his grandkids and that they all went to dinner Friday night at his restaurant/bar in Columbus.
A video that surfaced Saturday night wasn’t one of family fun, however. It showed a young woman rubbing up against Meyer as he sat on a bar stool. He explained she was trying to entice him on the dance floor. Another video appears to show Meyer touching the woman’s buttocks.
Meyer called a team meeting Monday and vowed to “own it,” the college-like motto he uses daily and has plastered all around the Jaguars facility.
“I just apologized to the team and staff for being a distraction,” Meyer told reporters afterward. “Just stupid and so I explained everything that happened and owned it. Just stupid. Should not have put myself in that kind of position.”
Since trading his microphone for a headset in January to rejuvenate a floundering franchise and its fanbase, Meyer has instead spearheaded a steady stream of embarrassments.
Those include the botched hiring of strength coach Chris Doyle despite accusations of racist behavior. The Jaguars had to let him go a day later because of a pending lawsuit.
He also invited 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow to training camp as a tight end in a move that reeked of a publicity stunt and ended badly when Tebow looked lost in the preseason opener against Cleveland.
The Jaguars were fined $200,000 and Meyer docked $100,000 on July 1 for violating league rules regarding contact during offseason drills. The NFL Players Association launched an investigation this summer after Meyer said vaccination status factored into the team’s roster decisions.
Maybe most egregious of all was having top draft pick and generational talent Trevor Lawrence split valuable first-team repetitions in training camp with a quarterback no longer on the roster.
Add it all up and Meyer’s transition to the pros is already messier than those of Chip Kelly, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Steve Spurrier, Butch Davis, Greg Schiano and Lou Holtz combined.
“A coach should not be a distraction,” Meyer acknowledged.
Fangio’s umbrage of Harbaugh’s call is sure to become part of the narrative when the Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts next Monday night with the chance to break the rushing record.
The Broncos (3-1) had limited the Ravens to 97 yards on the ground Sunday, including just 23 by Jackson, his lowest total in almost a year, when Baltimore cornerback Anthony Averett intercepted a Drew Lock pass in the end zone with 3 seconds left.
Instead of lining up in victory formation, Jackson took the shotgun snap and swept left for 5 yards.
“We didn’t expect to get the ball back, but I’d already decided, we decided, that if we got the ball back, we were going to try to get the yards, and we got it back with 3 seconds left,” Harbaugh said.
And he returned Fangio’s dig that “we expected that from them” with one of his own, criticizing the Broncos for trying to score a meaningless TD in the closing seconds.
“I don’t know that there’s a 16-point touchdown that’s going to be possible right there, so that didn’t have anything to do with winning the game,” he said.
Fangio was so mad that he threw his headphones off in disgust after that final play. What that shows is he was just as focused on the Ravens’ run at the record as Harbaugh was, and maybe he felt that snapping the streak would serve as a consolation prize for Denver’s defense.
Amid this tit-for-tat between Harbaugh and Fangio, let’s remember one thing: The Ravens are lucky Jackson wasn’t blasted on that final run by a Denver defender angry that Baltimore rookie Odafe Oweh’s unflagged hit to the chin knocked Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater from the game with a concussion.
If someone had taken a hard shot at his quarterback for rubbing it in their faces, that attempt to keep the rushing streak alive might have left Harbaugh joining Meyer in apologizing to his players, fans and team owner for a regretful decision.
AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long and AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.
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