Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the team’s official website today that he doesn’t believe the Patriots intentionally manipulated the Gillette Stadium scoreboard late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
“We knew what the down and distance were on our last series,” said Harbaugh. “The scoreboard was not a factor for us. Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense.”
Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the game in the Patriots’ 23-20 win. The kicker blamed no one but himself right after the game, but he later told Deadspin that his pre-kick routine was rushed because of a discrepancy between the down-and-distance information on the field and that same information on the stadium’s in-house scoreboard. There was visible commotion on the Baltimore sideline, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game that the didn’t call a timeout to try and ice Cundiff because he thought the Ravens look hurried.
The confusion started when Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin caught a pass on the right sideline and fumbled the ball forward and out of bounds at the 14-yard-line. The ball cannot advance on a fumble, but some Ravens apparently thought they had gotten a first down on the play. That confusion led to the hurried atmosphere on Baltimore’s sideline.
The NFL will not investigate the scoreboard issue, a league source told the Baltimore Sun.