Super Bowl 47 was one for ages for many reasons. The “HarBowl” as it was dubbed, lived up to all of the expectations. The game was competitive, and showed off two of the best, if not the best, coaches in the NFL... and oh yeah, they happen to be brothers. As I was watching the game, it became clear that these two coaches get their players to fully buy into their system and are able to motivate them to perform at or near the peak of their abilities. Both coaches made mid-season gutsy calls that propelled their team to the Super Bowl, decisions that I, admittedly, would not have made.
As coaches, we are all far from perfect, but it is my opinion that one of the coaches in last night’s Super Bowl made a glaring mistake that nearly cost his team the game. Shortly after Jacoby Jones returned the opening kick off of the second half for a touchdown to make the score 28-6, the power went out in half of the Super Dome and caused a lengthy delay in the game.
Obviously this is not an idea situation for either team. The Ravens had just taken a huge lead and the momentum of the game seemed to be in their favor. To me, this is the ultimate “live in the moment, control what you can control” situation in a game. You cannot control the fact that there was a delay, you cannot control how long the delay will be. The only thing you can control in that situation in your reaction to the delay. What has happened up to that point in the game is irrelevant, the fact that you are in the most important game of your life and are waiting around for what must seem like forever is irrelevant. As a coach, you have to make sure your players stay focused only on the task at hand, the next play, and not the delay.
As the delay was coming to an end, the cameras showed John Harbaugh becoming very animated with some of the “suits” from the NFL. He later admitted that he overreacted to the situation and should have handled it differently. While his reaction was likely not the sole cause of the 49ers comeback, it certainly may have opened the door a little bit for them to burst through. His reaction gave his team an excuse to fail. It gave them something to blame if they did happen to lose the game. While it is unlikely that many of the Ravens players even heard what John Harbaugh was saying, the player’s focus was taken off the “one snap at a time” mentality that likely got both teams to that point. They had something else to focus on, something to point a finger at if they failed. They were no longer living in the moment.
Perhaps I am being overly critical of a coach who reached the pinnacle of his profession last night however, I do believe that in the most critical of times, coaches must be leaders and set examples. In that specific instance, John Harbaugh made a critical error that decreased his team’s chances of winning. Even the coaches who are at the top of their profession can keep on learning and improving. This should be motivation to all of us down the food chain. Even the best coaches in the world make mistakes, all we can do is learn from them and improve every practice, and every game.