Summer 2024

Coach John Harbaugh leads Ravens to brink of Super Bowl, quotes Bible after win

The Baltimore Ravens apparently didn’t get the memo.

In an NFL playoffs divisional-round weekend otherwise loaded with drama, head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens provided very little of it Saturday on their way to a stress-free 34-10 home victory. A 15-yard touchdown run by star quarterback Lamar Jackson in the third quarter broke a 10-10 tie, and in the fourth quarter, Baltimore flexed its muscles with another 17 points to cruise to the win.

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All eyes were on Harbaugh as he celebrated the win by dancing in the locker room, yet he began his postgame press conference not by pointing to himself, or even to his team, but to God and His Word.

“This is something that was said to me before the game, and it just was meaningful to me, so I’m gonna share it with you because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a verse (from 1 Chronicles 29:11, ERV): ‘Greatness, power, glory, victory, and honor belong to you, because everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you. The kingdom belongs to you, Lord. You are the head, the Ruler over everything.’

“There’s an amazing spirit on this team, and I just want to give honor and glory where it’s due.”

Baltimore’s dominant win against an upstart Houston Texans team came after a dominant regular season in which the Ravens posted the league’s best record (13-4), finished first in the AFC by two games, and recorded a +203 point differential. They also allowed the fewest points during the regular season with 280, good for only 16.5 per game.

“The defense was as good as it could be,” Harbaugh said later in Saturday’s press conference. “That’s a good offense over there (in Houston)… I thought our guys chased [Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud], and I thought our plaster downfield — our coverage — was just outstanding. We covered as long as we needed to so many times.”

It’s really no surprise Baltimore’s defenses are often some of the best in the NFL, considering Harbaugh was a defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles before the Ravens hired him in January 2008. He wasn’t the team’s first choice at the time, but in the 16 years since, it couldn’t have worked out much better.

Harbaugh has led his team to 14 non-losing seasons in those 16 years, reaching the playoffs 11 times and winning Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013. And as he’s established himself as one of the best coaches in the NFL, he’s also made known his faith in God.

On Dec. 10, he talked about the Advent season in his opening statement at a press conference following an overtime victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

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

Harbaugh is a regular at team Bible studies and practices daily spiritual disciplines that include Bible reading and prayer. Last 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.”

He continued later: “Really, [walking with Christ] comes down to trust, I do believe. 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 has found peace in God’s steadfastness throughout his time in the NFL. In January 2012, he was featured in Sports Spectrum Magazine and discussed his submission to God’s purposes.

“Any goal I can think of is grass to be burned up,” he said. “It doesn’t have value because my imagination is limited. I want to be on God’s plan. So I let Him figure out what path it’s going to be, and that opens up the whole spectrum of possibilities that I can’t even dream of or imagine.”

Now, as the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs come to town to play for a trip to the Super Bowl, Harbaugh can prepare his Ravens as best as he can, knowing that all things are ultimately in God’s hands.

“[Our players are] determined and they’re motivated, and it’s gonna be a great team coming in here next week,” Harbaugh said in Saturday’s press conference. “We’re gonna have to play our best football and I promise you, that’s all these guys are gonna be thinking about.”

The matchup is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. It’ll be the first AFC championship game played in Baltimore since January 1971, when the Baltimore Colts (today’s Indianapolis Colts) hosted. If the Ravens were to close the deal and win a Super Bowl, John Harbaugh would become the second Harbaugh to win a championship this year; brother Jim won the College Football Playoff national championship with Michigan on Jan. 9.

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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