As satisfying as the Baltimore Ravens' 33-14 wild-card victory over the New England Patriots was for John Harbaugh and his staff, he did concede Monday that they would have liked to have done a better job handling the decision whether to challenge a fumble recovery by the Patriots on a muffed punt in the second quarter.
"In all honesty, we want to do a better job with that if we can," Harbaugh said. "But it's difficult, because [coaches] don't see anything more than you're seeing on TV. The crew that is doing the game [Jim Nantz and Phil Simms], they have a chance to see it during the commercial break and analyze it. The coaches in the box do not have that opportunity. So, it's tough."
The problem, Harbaugh said, was that the Ravens' staff didn't know the recovery was in dispute until the Patriots were at the line of scrimmage. It happened on the sideline opposite from the Ravens' bench, and the replay wasn't shown on the main video board inside Gillette Stadium, according to Harbaugh. The coaches were at the mercy of the CBS broadcasters
By the time CBS returned from a commercial break and started showing replays indicating that the Patriots' Kyle Arrington didn't have control of the ball as he was sliding out of bounds, the coaches, according to Harbaugh, couldn't communicate it quickly enough to the sidelines.
"There was no indication from anyone that we should challenge that until it was too late," Harbaugh said. "In a situation like that, with a turnover deep in your own end, when it's going to have that kind of impact on the game, if it's in doubt, we're throwing the flag. We didn't have enough [of a look at it]. You've got to go by what you see up top and what you see on the field."
Asked to clarify what coaches in the booth are seeing, Harbaugh said it's exactly what the fans are seeing at home.
"On a road game, they see exactly what you see on TV in that time," Harbaugh said. "That's all they see. You can go back and look at your TV if you TiVo'd it and see when we saw it, and say, 'Well you know what? Maybe we should have seen that.' I don't know. I haven't looked at that. But we're going to try to do a better job in the future to make sure if you could have seen it on time, you don't miss it."
Harbaugh said teams having access to the live feed, and not being subject to the television broadcast, might be something discussed in the offseason with the league.
"There are some conversations that the live feed the network has for its production crew should go into the coaches' box," Harbaugh said. "That's something that could be looked at. To me, that's the only thing you could really do."
Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who has avoided injuries for the first time in several years, wasn't so fortunate against the Patriots, as he hurt his back in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off.
Heap said afterward that he expects to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night, and Harbaugh backed that up Monday during his news conference.
"He's got some lower back-type spasms," Harbaugh said. "That stuff can be tough, but usually you can work through that pretty well. So, he should be fine."
Harbaugh backs Suggs
To a lot of Ravens fans, Sunday's game against the Patriots felt like the first time in a long time that Terrell Suggs played well enough to justify the huge contract the Ravens gave him in the off-season. The first time the Patriots had the ball, on the very first play, Suggs beat New England tackle Matt Light and stripped Tom Brady. He also recovered the fumble, leading to the Ravens' second touchdown.
Harbaugh said Suggs has been playing well all year.
"See, the thing about Terrell is, all the things he does are not always going to be the most flashy stuff," Harbaugh said. "He had the flashy play yesterday, right? I mean that play, that rush he put on, edge-to-edge rush, sack, fumble, recovery, that's a play. You can't make a better play than that. That's as good a play as you can make, and that's the one everybody talks about. But watch the rest of it. Watch his run defense. Watch how he plays screens, wide receiver screens where he's getting in the throwing lane. Watch how he's chasing stuff down from behind. That stuff - I think he's a complete football player."