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The Ravens stole the Patriots trick play John Harbaugh complained about last year

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The Ravens coach was upset when the Patriots ran this play against him -- but apparently he liked it enough to keep it.

This is the first touchdown the Ravens scored Sunday against the Raiders, a 26-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Crockett Gillmore.

As you can see, there's some trickeration: Gillmore is lined up in the spot where the left tackle is normally lined up, and in the slot, there's a big ol' offensive lineman, sprinting backwards.

Does that play look familiar? It should. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out on Twitter, it's the exact same play the Patriots ran against the Ravens last year in the playoffs -- a play Ravens coach John Harbaugh famously complained heavily about:

The play design is identical. And it had the same result: The Ravens didn't know they had to guard Michael Hoomanawanui, the "left tackle" who caught the pass in the playoffs, and the Raiders didn't know they had to guard Gillmore on Sunday.

However, the Ravens didn't do the actual thing that Harbaugh was upset about. The thing he complained about was the Patriots' personnel: The Pats sent four offensive linemen out on the field, along with six players who usually would be considered eligible receivers. However, you're only allowed five players as eligible receivers. So Shane Vereen -- the circled player in the GIF above -- had to declare himself as ineligible, then line up in an ineligible spot.

Vereen looked like an eligible receiver: He's a tiny little guy, wearing a running back's number and standing in the slot. But he's "covered" -- he's on the line of scrimmage, as is Rob Gronkowski below him -- and therefore ineligible. The Ravens' only clues that he was ineligible were that subtle difference and the refs' announcement. They had to quickly realize that and figure out they needed to guard Hoomanawanui.

Harbaugh was upset his team wasn't given time to interpret all that information, although the rulebook doesn't say that the refs need to allow that time. What the Patriots were doing was perfectly legal ... at the time.

This offseason, the NFL passed a rule making what the Pats did illegal, saying that otherwise eligible receivers declaring as ineligible had to line up inside the tackles. So Vereen chilling out there, pretending to be eligible when he wasn't, wouldn't fly anymore. The Ravens got very, very excited about the passing of that rule.

In the play they ran Sunday, the Ravens didn't send out funky personnel. They sent out five linemen and five eligible receivers. Nobody had to declare they were eligible or ineligible, so this didn't break the NFL's new rule. They just had to line up right and hope the Raiders didn't notice.

They put Gillmore where the left tackle is and an offensive lineman in the slot. But Gillmore doesn't have a player on the line of scrimmage between him and the sideline, so he's eligible. The offensive lineman does, so he's ineligible.

You almost have a better chance of surprising an opponent this way -- the refs don't need to pre-announce to the defense something is up. The Vereen trickery certainly caused a ton of confusion, but at least it made the defense aware that they needed to look out for something. Here, the defense had to figure out something was up all on their own. The Raiders kinda did -- they made no attempt to cover the ineligible lineman in the slot -- but didn't figure out they needed to guard Gillmore.

Coaches take plays from each other all the time. After all, Bill Belichick got the play design from his friend Nick Saban, who ran it last year in Alabama's overtime win over LSU. (The only difference is Alabama instructed its big ol' offensive lineman in the slot to jump up and down and create a distraction, which neither NFL team did.)

But it's pretty funny that Harbaugh took the play he got so upset about, a play that the NFL drafted a rule in direct response to. Perhaps he was trying to show he could pull off this play without the eligible receiver confusion. Perhaps he secretly realizes that Belichick's gambit was damn good coaching.

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SB Nation video archives: One of the best NFL trick plays you'll ever see (2014)