New York Post

Harbaugh irked by change in New Year’s Eve game time


OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Playing their best football at just the right time, the Ravens need only to beat Cincinnati at home on Sunday to reach the playoffs for the first time in three years.

And yet kickoff time is suddenly a major factor in the game.

The NFL moved the BengalsRav­ens game and several others from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. to lessen the possibilit­y of matchups becoming meaningles­s as the day wears on, a fact John Harbaugh did not appreciate, even if he understand­s the reasoning.

“I don’t think the NFL did us any favors by moving it back, but they don’t care about us,” the coach said, referring to the notion that ticket-holders who had New Year’s Eve plans now must choose between football and dinner reservatio­ns.

“That’s kind of tough for the fans. I’m sure they have New Year Eve’s plans,” Harbaugh said. “I hope our fans are OK with it. I hope they’re into it, I hope people get there. The people that have plans, I hope they give their tickets to somebody else so they get there. I want the place to be packed and loud.”

Despite their recent surge in winning five of six, the Ravens have been performing before thousands of empty seats at each home game.

“It’s going to take a 100 percent effort [and] everything we have to win this football game,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN. “That’s what we plan on getting ready to do. We’d sure like to have our fans out there helping us.”

In a letter to season-ticket holders, team president Dick Cass said the decision by some players to take a knee during the national anthem before a Sept. 24 game in London was a factor in the decreased attendance.

“We have had significan­t numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens,” Cass wrote.

“But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a num- ber of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”

Those who show up this Sunday afternoon will be watching a game the Ravens must win to clinch a No. 5 seed in the playoffs and a first-round matchup in Kansas City.

“I think that we are really coming into our own,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We’re playing the style and game that we envisioned at the beginning of the season. We are a team with momentum, and we just have to get one more.”

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