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Ravens considered running on third-down pass play late in loss against the Chargers

On a third-and-four late in the fourth quarter, the Ravens threw an incomplete pass that stopped the clock.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

All things considered, it probably didn't matter.

But in the moment, it was a bit puzzling for the Ravens to pass on third-and-four at the San Diego 13-yard line. With a run, the clock runs down to the two-minute warning. A field goal would knock five extra seconds and likely give the Chargers the ball back with about 1:55 to go in the game.

Instead, the Ravens elected to throw a pass and it was sniffed out by the Chargers' defense. Joe Flacco's throw was incomplete and the clock stopped. Justin Tucker kicked a field goal and the Chargers got the ball back with 2:22 left to play. I was critical of the play in real time. As I mentioned, even if you don't pick up the first down with a run, you run off some time against an offense the Ravens' defense was unable to stop all game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Don&#39;t know why you don&#39;t run the ball there to get the clock down to two minutes. That&#39;s just me though.</p>&mdash; Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) <a href="">November 30, 2014</a></blockquote>
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After the game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh admitted to reporters that the thought of running the ball in that situation was something the coaches considered.

"We were trying to get the first down, though," Harbaugh said.  "We wanted to be aggressive and try to get the first down and try to close the game out, if we could. That's what we tried to do there. You can look at it both ways. You can play it completely towards clock management. They were bringing everybody. We might've popped the run anyway. But we felt like we had a good [running play] call. It was a play-action call. We felt like we'd get somebody open, we didn't. So Joe [Flacco] had to throw it away there. It's the way it goes, play calling."

It didn't work. And Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers ended up carving up the Ravens secondary on the ensuing drive. But with the way Rivers did it, maybe it didn't matter. As I mentioned, a run likely gives the Chargers the ball with 1:55 to go. Granted that the Chargers got a two-minute warning timeout, if everything plays out the way it did, the Chargers still score with 27 seconds left to play.

Anyone can debate that coaching decision as I did right after the fact. At the end of the day, the defense needed to make a play and failed to do so.