Broncos’ Vic Fangio Enraged Over Meaningless Play in Loss to Ravens

Vic Fangio Broncos

Getty Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio.

The Denver Broncos were handled rather easily in their Week 4 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on October 3, and may be without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for some time. But following postgame comments by head coach Vic Fangio, it was one simple play — which had nothing to do with the final outcome — that enraged Fangio above all else.

Sure, dealing with the totality of the Broncos’ first defeat of the 2021 season, a 23-7 beatdown by the Baltimore Ravens, was painful enough, but judging by Fangio’s in-game reaction, and post-game words, nothing hurt more than the game’s final play.

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As the game was in its final seconds, the Ravens (3-1) decided that chasing a record was more important than simply taking the win and getting out of the Mile High City.

Grumpy Old Man

Quarterback Drew Lock, who came into the game to start the third quarter after starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered a concussion right before the half, was intercepted in the Ravens’ end zone on Denver’s final offensive play with three seconds left. Baltimore got the ball at the 20-yard line, and needing just three yards to tie the 1974 to 1977 Pittsburgh Steelers for the NFL record of 43 consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards by a team, Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson scampered five yards to the left side and slid down, giving Baltimore 102 rushing yards on the afternoon.

Fangio, an admitted throwback of coach, who has little patience for such gimmicky affairs, laid into Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh for the decision of record chasing at Denver’s expense, instead of simply taking a knee as time expired.

The sideline tantrum thrown by Fangio showed just how enraged he was at Harbaugh’s decision.

The Broncos’ lead man didn’t hold any punches, afterwards, as he questioned Harbaugh’s football ethics in a roundabout way, outwardly questioned if Baltimore was running a dirty outfit and whether the Ravens’ head coach even cared about player safety.

Fangio, speaking to the media after the game, said, “it was to be expected … I know how they operate,” after calling Harbaugh’s decision, “kind of bull(bleep).” The grumpy Fangio then said he knows “that’s their [Baltimore’s] mode of operation — player safety is secondary.”

Shots fired!

Not Losing Any Sleep

Fangio’s criticism of the Ravens’ style may have hit a nerve with their head coach, but if anyone knows Harbaugh, he comes from a long line of acerbic coaches, who have zero problems dishing out barbs when prompted.
Harbaugh quipped that he wasn’t aware of any “16-point touchdowns,” in response to Fangio allowing Lock to throw from Baltimore’s five-yard line, with 10 seconds remaining.
The game was already essentially over, so Harbaugh openly questioned Fangio’s logic, while noting that he thought the two coaches, “were on good terms,” prior to the contest.

More Issues Than 1 Play

Regardless of which side people take, Fangio has to know there were bigger issues than just one cheap and innocuous play.

The Broncos were manhandled in several areas, as they allowed Jackson, who’s not known for his passing talents, to carve up their vaunted secondary. Jackson went 22-of-37 for 316 yards and a touchdown pass. The dual-threat quarterback rarely hurt the Broncos with his feet (just 28 rushing yards), but rather with pin-point accuracy and big-play completions down field.

Baltimore racked up 406 total yards, compared to Denver’s paltry 254 yards. And the Ravens converted 7-of-17 third-down attempts, while the Broncos could only muster 3-of-14 successful conversions — resulting in a season-high 10 punts. Denver entered the game allowing per-game averages of 59.3 rushing yards and 162.3 passing yards. They were also best in the league in points allowed (8.7 yielded), so blustering about one play should be the furthest thing from Fangio’s mind.

No Hangover

Fangio did his best to refocus the team’s energy, during media access on October 4, reasoning that the Broncos are “on to the next game” — an October 10 matchup at Pittsburgh, to face the Steelers.

“We can’t have a hangover from this game,” said Fangio. “We [need to] get our focus back, starting [October 4].”

At least two team leaders, safety Kareem Jackson and tight end Noah Fant, were ready to push aside the Ravens loss, particularly the final play.

Jackson said, “we’ve got to execute, even that last play,” while Fant said that he “wasn’t really offended by it.”

Although, Fant’s demeanor was closer to what Fangio espoused, and wasn’t as cavalier as Jackson’s public statement.

“Obviously the statistical things are important to [the Ravens],” Fant said. “If it was me, I’m getting a win and getting out of there. But to each his own. They did it, whatever. It doesn’t really matter, we still lost and that’s all that matters to me and to us.”

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8

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