In a time before the word "Deflategate" was ever written, the New England Patriots were just another football team pursuing a spot in the Super Bowl. But in their quest to win the title, the Patriots' sneaky strategies, which were completely unrelated to Deflategate, made one specific team, the Baltimore Ravens, incredibly upset.
One week before the beginning of the scandal that has filled our lives for months on end, the Patriots took on the Ravens in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots would end up winning the game 35-31. Except that's not the part that got Ravens head coach John Harbaugh all riled up. Instead, it was the Patriots' use of unorthodox formations.
In case Harbaugh is still irked, he might want to avoid watching Do Your Job: Bill Belichick and the 2014 Patriots, which debuts on NFL Network on Wednesday night.
According to NESN's Doug Kyed, who reviewed the NFL film, the Patriots did more than just use funky formations. They also trolled the Ravens by coming up with some pretty plain names for those formations.
The Patriots called them "Baltimore" and "Raven."
Kyred also wrote that the Patriots waited until the second half to call those plays so that the Ravens couldn't make any halftime adjustments.
On one instance, running back Shane Vereen appeared to line up in the slot as a wide receiver. Instead, Vereen had told the referee that he was an ineligible receiver on the play and he lined up in an ineligible position. As the NFL's vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, put it, Vereen was "basically the fifth offensive lineman on that side of the line."
When the ball was snapped, Vereen ran backwards. The ball was then thrown to the opposite side of the field to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who was lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage like he was the left tackle. Instead, Hoomanawanui ran up the field and caught the pass.
At one point, Harbaugh was so upset with the Patriots tactics that he was flagged for a penalty. Harbaugh claimed he got the penalty on purpose to grab the attention of the officials. Then, after the game, Harbaugh complained about not being given the chance to identify who the eligible players were on those plays.
In response, Tom Brady told the Ravens to "study the rule book."
However, the NFL banned those plays in the offseason, which means the Patriots won't be running Baltimore or Raven this upcoming season.