In the Baltimore Ravens 34-28 overtime victory over the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football, there was a key play late in the game that had many fans and even the announcers questioning the logic behind it at such a key moment of the game. It was the second time in the past two games that basically the same type of play was called at a point that it absolutely contributed not only to the Ravens 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but almost cost the team the game this past Monday to the Texans.
Both times the Ravens found themselves in second or third-and-short situations and both times the play called was a pass rather than a run. In the Pittsburgh game, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu blitzed through untouched causing a fumble by Ravens QB Joe Flacco that led to the game-winning touchdown by Pittsburgh. In the Houston game, the pass fell incomplete, stopping the clock and giving many more valuable seconds to the Texans to drive down the field for the game-tying TD and subsequent two-point conversion.
Once again, it seemed fairly obvious that the Ravens should have ran the ball instead, regardless of whether or not they got the first down. In the Pittsburgh game, had the Ravens ran the ball and not gotten the first down, the could have punted and forced the Steelers to drive the length of the field with no timeouts and score a touchdown when they had not been able to do that the entire game. Instead, the ill-fated pass attempt, the fumble and you know the rest of the painful details.
In the Texans game, Houston was out of timeouts and the play in question started with 2:58 left in the game and the Ravens literally clinging to an eight point lead. Had the Ravens ran the ball instead of passed, the clock would have clicked down close to the two-minute warning. The Texans would have been in a much more hurry-up mode, possibly forcing Matt Schaub to take chances downfield that could have resulted in a game-sealing interception. None of that happened and we all know now that the Texans scored not only a TD, but converted the two-pointer to tie the game, only to lose it in overtime. Oh, by the way, the Texans game-tying TD came with 29 seconds left on the game clock, time that certainly wouldn't have been there had the Ravens ran the ball on their previous possession.
Who knows what would have happened as the Texans offense was clicking and the Ravens defense was gasping for breath? What we do know is there would be a lot less time for the Texans to work with, increasing their level of desperation, and do not underestimate what that additional 40 seconds of rest would have done for the obviously exhausted Ravens defense.
The concern is that the more the team's leadership says things will change, the more they stay the same. At 9-4, one should not complain and yes, as head Coach John Harbaugh has said, "We are who we are," and if that takes us to the playoffs, so be it. Right....anyone...?