Summer 2024

John Harbaugh has Ravens primed for playoff run as he shares Good News of Christ

After a thrilling 37-31 overtime victory at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens are 10-3 and on top of the AFC once again.

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Sunday’s matchup featured seven lead changes in regulation. The back-and-forth affair was decided for good with 7:42 remaining in overtime on a 76-yard punt return from Baltimore’s Tylan Wallace.

Already assured of their 12th winning season under head coach John Harbaugh — a 16-year veteran and Super Bowl XLVII winner — the Ravens have aspirations for a deep playoff run, but nothing will come easy. Baltimore’s last four regular-season games are against teams currently with winning records (including the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, a team that could also be 10-3 after its game Monday night).

Harbaugh provided some perspective on the upcoming matchups in his postgame press conference after Sunday’s overtime win.

“Five hundred years from now, none of us are going to be around,” he said. “Five hundred years [ago], none of us were here, so we’re given this time with these people in this place for a purpose. There’s December, and the time is December. December football has a meaning to it. It’s preparation for great events to come. You have to put yourself in position with December football for what’s to come.

“It’s also the Advent season. Advent comes from the Latin [word] ‘adventus,’ which means anticipation and preparation for an amazing event, which is the coming of our Savior and celebrating the Christ — the Good News that changes the world and changes it for all eternity.”

Amidst all the excitement of the walk-off punt return touchdown, Harbaugh sprinted down the sideline to join the celebration. But he said he felt a divine prompting to (momentarily) leave the celebration and shake Rams head coach Sean McVay’s hand in a demonstration of good sportsmanship.

“I jumped around, and I lost my headset,” he said. “I think God probably reminded me — the Holy Spirit, maybe something. It was a small, still voice in my head.”

Harbaugh is the NFL’s third longest-tenured coach behind New England’s Bill Belichick and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. During his long run with the Ravens, he hasn’t been shy to speak about his faith in Christ or to live it out by frequenting team Bible studies and practicing daily spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and prayer.

This past July, Harbaugh joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast to discuss his definition of success and his growth in Christ over the years.

“To me, success is alignment with God,” he said. “Perfect success would be perfect alignment with God and God’s will. … He knows what our true desires are, what our purpose is, so trying to find that purpose through connection with God — being connected and filled with the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit — that is success.”

Harbaugh and his younger brother, University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, grew up Catholic and heard about God at a young age. Yet it wasn’t until his freshman year in college at Miami (OH) University that John gave his life to Christ. It was the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, he said, that ultimately drove him toward Christ.

“Historically, if the resurrection didn’t take place, then Christianity — there’s no point to it. … [Neither the apostles nor their associates], nobody at any point in time, recanted what had happened. Nobody,” he said. “Even to martyring themselves and being executed in the most gruesome ways, they all held firm saying that this Man was crucified and rose from the dead and they saw it. That is strong evidence to me.”

“Really, [walking with Christ] comes down to trust, I do believe,” Harbaugh continued on the podcast. “I trust providence. I trust God’s will, His plan. As much as anything, try to put it in His hands because when you look back, you can see where He’s brought you.”

Harbaugh will seek to continue to walk in faith during Baltimore’s final month of the regular season. First up in the team’s crucial four-game stretch is a road game at Jacksonville (8-5) on Sunday night. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. ET.

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