Early on in the third quarter of Thursday night's Broncos-Ravens game -- a 49-27 blowout win for Denver that featured a record seven touchdowns for Peyton Manning -- there was a controversial non-move from John Harbaugh, when he decided not to challenge what was an obvious drop by Wes Welker. Harbaugh defended the move after the game saying the Ravens "never saw" replay of the drop.
On third-and-nine from his own 20, Manning dropped back and hit Welker on a comeback route for 11 yards. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Welker dropped the ball before securing it. Fortunately for the Broncos, Harbaugh didn't challenge the play. And he apparently wasn't aware of his mistake until after the game.
"That's something that we've got to see," Harbaugh said following the loss. "It would have been nice if NBC would show that. Then we would have had a chance to look at it. We never saw that."
It ended up being a critical play in the game. Baltimore was up 17-14 and Denver would've been punting from their own 20. Instead Manning marched the offense down the field and, just three plays later, hit Andre Caldwell for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Really, a huge swing.
Now part of Harbaugh's problem was Manning running no huddle. Manning obviously recognized what had happened and got his troops to the line as fast as possible, running another play. (By my count, Welker's "catch" came at 14:00 and Manning go the subsequent snap at 13:44.)
From the video available to us now, there's also clearly a quality video replay that shows the ball hitting the ground.
That's not to say that I don't believe Harbaugh -- BaltimoreRavens.com notes that "since the Ravens were playing at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, they did not show a quick replay in the seating bowl for strategic reasons."
Obviously the Ravens website is a little biased here, but it's quite possible that a confluence of events -- the no-huddle, a slow replay in an away game, coaches not calling to the sideline fast enough, etc. -- conspired to completely flip the momentum in this game.
It's certainly a challenge Harbaugh would like to have over, even if he didn't know about it at the time.