Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is going to get criticized by some. Harbaugh’s decision to accept the holding penalty and ultimately extend the Oakland Raiders’ drive late in the game will go under scrutiny. Some fans are already calling for his seat to heat up.
Let's pump the brakes. If one is to think about how the game was progressing at that point, it becomes easy to come to the realization that the Ravens defense getting a stop on third-and-16 was the most likely scenario. The Raiders had not been aggressive on the multiple third-and-longs they already had had. A longer field goal not only increases the chance of a miss, even by a kicker like Sebastian Janikowski but it most notably increases the chances of blocking it, as seen in already two games this season.
The Raiders were aggressive. And still did not convert. The Ravens had them stuffed on fourth and inches but Terrell Suggs, a veteran of 14 seasons made a rookie mistake. The Ravens had another third and long in the redzone. Albert McCllelan, who miraculously manages to find the field in passing situations, did not get enough depth in his zone drop. All this to say that the Ravens had three opportunities to come up with a stop on the possession. Had Suggs stayed onside, Harbaugh would have looked like a genius and the Ravens would have been a field goal away from taking the lead.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees will come under the microscope for the final drive. Cornerback Shareece Wright had quarters responsibility and as proven before, Shareece Wright is a depth cornerback. He was roasted. The strategy of playing conservative and giving yards before the 30 yard line is not a terrible one given the Raiders were spreading the field and were in two minute mode. Safety Eric Weddle was inches close of an interception. On the next play, Kendrick Lewis was late over the top. Skills and execution - not coaching - failed the Ravens defense.