By the time Week 16 of the NFL season rolls around, there are a few common themes.
Players are physically hurting from the rigors of the season.
Playoff berths are coveted in tight races.
And tempers can flare given all of those circumstances.
Perhaps the wear and tear of the Baltimore Ravens season finally got to John Harbaugh.
His outlet appeared to be Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor at the end of the Week 16 Bengals rout of the Ravens.
Most of the time the postgame congratulatory gestures between the players and coaches on the field go unnoticed unless something unusual happens.
On Sunday, when Harbaugh met Taylor on the field, he appeared to be saying something more emphatic than congratulations.
Florio is right in this case. Post game handshake with Taylor says it all. Who cares about his answer to the media, that means nothing pic.twitter.com/s7K3JOpo25
— no (@noah_p42) December 27, 2021
Some believed that Harbaugh was annoyed that Taylor’s Bengals continued to pass the ball with the game firmly in hand, and the Bengals holding a 20-point lead.
This was the game that Joe Burrow cracked the 500-yard mark and threw four touchdowns.
— Kari B. Hertel You’re on mute😂 (@karibowieHertel) December 27, 2021
Maybe Harbaugh thought enough was enough.
What Harbaugh Said About The Encounter
John Harbaugh said he doesn't know where reports of him being angry with Zac Taylor's play calling late yesterday are coming from. "Zac and I had a good conversation like we always do. There's mutual respect there."
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 27, 2021
As expected, whatever it was ended up being downplayed by Harbaugh after the fact.
“Zac and I had a good conversation, just like we always do. We always have good conversations. There’s mutual respect there. Everything’s fine.”
What he said does not totally match up with his demeanor on the video.
Harbaugh Has Good Reason To Be Stressed
His Ravens were once in first place in the AFC North.
Even that seemed miraculous given a preseason that was loaded with devastating injuries.
Though the backfield was reengineered, the majority of the rushing duties fell onto Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson started the season on a tear, something that was MVP caliber, only to suffer an ankle injury against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14.
Ironically he did not get injured running the ball but was hit while making a pass.
This led to the Ravens utilizing a very capable backup in Tyler Huntley.
Huntley subsequently went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list so veteran Josh Johnson was the quarterback against the Bengals.
COVID-19 plus injuries have proved disastrous for the Ravens so it isn’t any wonder why Harbaugh might be feeling extra angst these days.
Meanwhile Joe Burrow Was Balling
Burrow’s performance against the Ravens puts him in rare company.
Only three other quarterbacks have thrown for more yards in a game.
Joe Burrow all-time game:
That’s the 3rd most passing yards in a game in NFL history.
Burrow is the 2nd QB ever to have a 80%, 500/4 game (Big Ben). pic.twitter.com/VnRmy3vF2x
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 26, 2021
Burrow obviously was in the groove against the Ravens and that could be what prompted Taylor to continue the passing attack with the game’s outcome already determined.
Regardless, it is still hard to believe the handshake on the field was much ado about nothing after watching the clip.