The New England Patriots’ unorthodox tactics have caused an NFL owner to take the side of his team’s bitter AFC North rival.
The Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 35-31 in the 2014 AFC Divisional Round, but it wasn’t without controversy, as Ravens coach John Harbaugh took issue with New England coach Bill Belichick’s usage of four-offensive-lineman sets in a no-huddle situation.
Now, Pittsburgh Steelers president and co-owner Art Rooney II is coming to Harbaugh’s defense.
“I didn’t think it was handled the right way when they ran the play,” Rooney told Steelers.com recently. “We have these rules where a player has to report (to the referee). The referee is supposed to make sure the defense is notified on who reports.
“I thought Baltimore had a legitimate gripe about how that was handled.”
Harbaugh clarified a few days after the game that his problem wasn’t with the Patriots but with the officials, whom he believed didn’t notify the Ravens of the Patriots’ ineligible receivers in a timely manner.
The NFL competition committee recently proposed to make Belichick’s ineligible-receiver tactics illegal by not allowing skill-position players to line up outside the tackle box as ineligible players. Rooney, for one, would support this course of action.
“Maybe this isn’t the way to address it,” he added. “The other way would be just to take more time to make sure that the defense understands what is going on. It’s probably just as easy to eliminate it.”
Thumbnail photo via Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports Images