Photo Courtesy: USA Today

John Harbaugh Believes Challenge Rule “Should be Changed”

October 23, 2018 - 5:59 am
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By Joe Schiller

Sunday’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints was aggressive from the start.

On the field – a clash of two of the NFL’s top teams. On the sidelines – a clash of two aggressive head coaches that seemed to feed off each other’s calls.

On their first drive, the Saints attempted three 4th-down conversions. The Ravens countered as John Harbaugh challenged two – the spot on Taysom Hill’s fake punt run and Alvin Kamara’s fumble.

Harbaugh won the first but lost the second. And Per NFL rules, that left the Ravens without a challenge for the final three-and-a-half quarters.

During Monday’s press conference, Harbaugh expressed his displeasure with the current rule and didn’t hold back his comments.

“The rule should be changed. You shouldn’t have to win both challenges to get another challenge back,” he said. “That’s been talked about, and that’s been just dismissed by the powers that be, who knows why. Maybe they can explain it to you in some way that would make sense. But the other thing is, we never challenge it unless we think we’re going to win it clearly. When we looked at the replay, both points of the ball were moving ...  So, we still feel strongly that we were right in challenging that, and that would have given us another challenge back.”

Per Pro Football Reference, Harbaugh has won 44-of-95 (46%) challenges in his tenure as a head coach.

The second challenge on Kamara’s fumble could have very well gone in Harbaugh’s favor but the officials felt otherwise. The Ravens eventually forced a turnover on downs later in the drive.

This isn’t the first time Harbaugh has been vocal about NFL rules. Following the Ravens’ 35-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round, he criticized a four lineman blocking scheme that allowed a tight end to break free.

The play confused Harbaugh and the Ravens' defense on which player was ruled as ineligible.

Sunday’s loss extends far beyond any challenges but given the rule that a team must win both to receive a third – I’m not sure what there’s to argue. If anything, there's something to say about the officials' decision but the rule should stay as is.