The decision by Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh will be the talk of the night in Ravens news. Therefore, the Beatdown crew give their responses in favor or against the decision by Harbaugh.
Kyle P. Barber
The Ravens were on the two-yard line with one chance to win the football game. They’d allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter, and according to Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, they were down cornerback Marlon Humphrey and right tackle Patrick Mekari. I see no universe where kicking the PAT is the right decision.
Going into overtime means you’re hoping to win a 50-50 coin toss. If you lose, the Steelers get the ball and the home crowd. They’d averaged more than seven yards per play in the fourth quarter, and you’re down Humphrey. The Steelers offense had their way with the Ravens in the fourth and it’s unlikely to change. At minimum, Boswell hits a field goal. There are other kickers in the NFL who are accurate, including Steelers kicker Chris Boswell, who hit from 50+ earlier in the game to make him 7-for-7 on the season from 50+ yard range. He’s also the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history.
If you win the coin toss, you then are needing to drive 75 yards against the Steelers and the home crowd, and do so with a roaring pass rush that has already sacked Lamar Jackson seven(!) times. The offense had commit numerous pre-snap penalties, and the connection hasn’t been all that strong between the offense all game.
Rather than the two outcomes above, Harbaugh put it all on the line. Two yards for your best players to connect and make it a 21-20 game. It makes sense in theory and in practice. The issue was the lack of execution. The play call freed up tight end Mark Andrews, who had a clear path to the endzone. Jackson had him open, and while pass rusher T.J. Watt was pressuring him, Jackson’s known for escaping said pressure and making a play. It didn’t happen.
The decision makes complete and total sense. The play call was good. The extenuating circumstances surrounding them with injuries and more all point toward a two-yard play winning them the game. They did not execute and that’s just how it goes.
Frank J. Platko
Hindsight is 20-20. If the Ravens convert the two-point attempt, this isn’t a conversation. Instead, we’re crediting Harbaugh for being aggressive. Maybe the Ravens ultimately win if they instead kick the extra point and the game goes into overtime. Up to that point, though, their offense had done little-to-nothing all game and the defense was reeling after allowing three straight scoring drives in the fourth quarter. It was not a bad decision, but it was bad execution. Lamar Jackson’s pass to Mark Andrews should have been more on-target and Andrews would have gotten into the end zone.
Go for two on the road is the long established precedent. Cannot fault Harbaugh’s aggressiveness considering the cornerback situation. Obviously would have been ideal if Andrews converted but the Ravens close game prowess was bound to fade eventually. Keep chopping oak.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to late game aggression by John Harbaugh. He showed it in an immeasurably bigger game than this vs. the Chiefs in Week 2 and that got their season back onto the right track. You can pick apart the play call and execution until the cows come home, but I’m personally happy they have a head coach who has the faith (and, frankly, the cojones) to put the ball in the hands of his offense to win it.
My initial knee jerk reaction was, “why, why, why?!” because they had all the momentum and the best kicker in the league who doesn’t miss in the fourth quarter or overtime, but after finding out that he’d be without his top corner had he gone for the tie to force OT, he absolutely made the right call. Lamar was off target for most of the evening and had an opportunity to make up for most of it but failed to deliver an on target pass to wide open Mark Andrews. a few inches to in the right direction and we’d be praising him for his faith and guts not second guessing the aggressive analytical call.
John Harbaugh made the right decision to try and win the game with a two-point conversion instead of going into overtime without Marlon Humphrey and a defense that was struggling to get stops throughout the entire fourth quarter. If the pass is slightly better then the Ravens win, improve to 9-3 and stay the No. 1 seed in the AFC while everyone praises Harbaugh for yet another defining moment of trusting his players with a game on the line.