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News » Column: Teams' fans celebrate playoff push

Column: Teams' fans celebrate playoff push

Column: Teams' fans celebrate playoff push
For first-year NFL coaches John Harbaugh and Jim Zorn, Week 12 was the one matchup both men had circled on the schedule with a red Sharpie.

When the Ravens hosted the Eagles and the Redskins traveled to Seattle in Week 12, you can bet both coaches were salivating with their insider knowledge and first opportunity to play their old teams.

Harbaugh was with Philadelphia as the team's defensive backs coach and special teams coach for nine years.

Zorn, the Seahawks' former quarterbacks coach for seven seasons, was trying to exact revenge on the team that had knocked Washington out of the playoffs in 2005 and 2007.

Harbaugh's win was more convincing, forcing such a bad game out of Donovan McNabb that Eagles coach Andy Reid benched his veteran quarterback for the second half in the Ravens' 36-7 win.

The Ravens poured it on, blocking a punt for a safety, returning an interception for a touchdown and holding Eagles quarterbacks to a season- and perhaps franchise-low 12.5 quarterback rating.

It seems Harbaugh knew every button to push for his former team. The Ravens, known for their stingy defense, held Philadelphia to its lowest scoring total in 23 games.

Things went well for Zorn and the Redskins, albeit in a much closer contest.

Washington's defense frustrated Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck into throwing a pair of interceptions. The three-time Pro Bowler threw for 103 yards, his lowest output since 2005.

Zorn didn't celebrate the win over his recent employer publicly, but told reporters how exciting the victory was.

"I can reflect back and say that I got a win over Mike Holmgren. That's something. That's not just split pea soup. That's a pretty good deal and I'm excited about that," he said after the game.

Back in Charm City, Harbaugh admitted the win over the team he helped guide to a 2004 Super Bowl appearance and NFC East championships five times in six years was a little more exciting than other wins.

"It was meaningful, looking across, seeing Andy Reid over there, seeing the Eagles, because I have great respect for them," he told the media in the postgame press conference.

It has been a surprisingly successful year for both franchises, with both first-year coaches guiding their respective teams to 7-4 records.

For the Ravens, it was a season to get rookie quarterback Joe Flacco used to the pace of NFL play. Not much was expected of Baltimore, which finished 5-11 last season.

Yet after a 2-0 start, Ravens fans were disappointed when their team dropped three straight. No longer was the season a throwaway. Now there were playoff aspirations.

Heading into the season, the Redskins would have liked a repeat of last year's 9-7 record and playoff appearance. When the Skins improved to 6-2, fans and experts were putting Washington in the hunt as the best team in the NFL.

Though neither team is the odds-on favorite to win its division, competing for a playoff spot 12 weeks into the season is something that Redskins and Ravens fans alike can celebrate.

Sam Latter is an Evening Sun sports writer and a Redskins fan. You can read his blog, Latter's Letters, at http://blogs.eveningsun.com/latter .

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 29, 2008

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