It was a roller-coaster season for Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. His team faded down the stretch of the regular season after a terrific start, which left the Ravens with a bleak playoff outlook. It turns out the ride was just beginning, culminating in a thrilling Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Baltimore started the season by winning nine of its first 11 games, including victories over the New England Patriots and rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens were firmly in the AFC contender category at that point.
Then things started to spiral out of control. Harbaugh's team failed to maintain that momentum, losing four of its final five games. While none of the losses came against weak competition, it seemed like a sign the Ravens weren't going to cut it in the playoffs.
As if getting his team out of that tailspin in time for the wild-card round wasn't enough, Harbaugh then found out legendary linebacker Ray Lewis was planning to call it quits once the season ended.
Once the playoffs began, however, everything changed. The defense, which was clearly revitalized by Lewis' return from injury, stepped up to shut down the dangerous Indianapolis Colts offense and the Ravens were off to the races.
They stunned the Denver Broncos when Jacoby Jones reeled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco in the game's final minute, forcing overtime. Baltimore went on to win in double overtime on a Justin Tucker field goal.
The Ravens followed that up by pulling off their second straight upset. This time they beat the heavily favored defending AFC champion New England Patriots in convincing fashion, 28-13. The win set up a Super Bowl matchup with Harbaugh's brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers.
How would you grade Harbaugh this season?
In the title game, the Ravens were able to keep the hot streak alive. The elder Harbaugh's team were able to secure its third consecutive upset to earn the Lombardi Trophy. It's one of the most stunning Super Bowl runs in history.
Harbaugh deserves a lot of credit. The team could have folded like a house of cards in the playoff opener against the Colts, but he made sure they wiped away the late-season disappointment and were ready to roll. And boy, were they ever.
One thing's for sure: Harbaugh should be considered one of the league's best coaches after the job he did in Baltimore this season.