While the Ravens’ 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday evening’s AFC wild-card playoff recreation will endlessly be remembered for Sam Hubbard’s playoff-record 98-yard fumble return for a landing, the top of the sport supplied its personal share of drama.
Much of it surrounds Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s much-maligned choice to save lots of his timeouts as the ultimate minutes ticked away.
On the primary play after the two-minute warning, Huntley took a shotgun snap and ran round the fitting aspect of the road to transform a fourth-and-1 on the Bengals’ 37-yard line. The Ravens elected to huddle after the play and never use one in every of their two remaining timeouts, letting 35 seconds tick away earlier than an incomplete go stopped the clock. A 5-yard unlawful contact penalty by Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt on the following play gave the Ravens a contemporary set of downs at Cincinnati’s 28 with 1:17 to go.
After an 11-yard catch by working again J.Okay. Dobbins moved Baltimore to the Bengals’ 17, the Ravens as soon as once more huddled, letting 43 seconds expire earlier than Huntley threw an incomplete go over the center. Running again Justice Hill took a delayed handoff for 4 yards on the following snap, however a holding penalty on proper guard Kevin Zeitler moved the Ravens again 10 yards. On second-and-20 from the Cincinnati 27, Huntley threw one other incomplete go deep down the left sideline meant for tight finish Mark Andrews.
With the clock stopped with 15 seconds left, the Bengals known as their first timeout. After one other incomplete go by Huntley on third-and-20 left one final likelihood to tie the sport, the Ravens known as their second timeout. Cincinnati responded with its second timeout as soon as it received a have a look at the Ravens’ personnel.
With eight seconds left, Huntley scrambled again close to midfield earlier than throwing the ball into the top zone, the place it was tipped and practically caught by huge receiver James Proche II earlier than falling to the turf. The recreation ended with the Ravens nonetheless holding on to at least one extra timeout.
From the two-minute warning to the top of the sport, the Ravens ran 9 performs, simply two of which got here contained in the pink zone (the opponents’ 20-yard line). Many of the passes had little likelihood of being accomplished, together with a near-interception on a go over the center to Andrews with 34 seconds left. The curious clock administration — and play-calling — elicited a lot criticism from followers and analysts watching the sport.
After the sport, Harbaugh stated “the key there was to save the timeouts for the red zone,” however the plan was derailed by the holding penalty.
“The idea was, we want to keep those timeouts to throw the ball,” he stated. “So we attempt to pop a run there [with Hill], we’re gonna name a timeout after that. Then we nonetheless have the run-pass choice. We needed to attain [without] giving the ball again.
“We think we’re gonna be in the red zone. We think it’s gonna be a certain number of plays and work right down to the end of the game, rather than you score with 30, 35 seconds left and you give them a chance to go kick a field goal at the end. I think we played it right. It didn’t work out in the end.”
Harbaugh has been some of the analytically-inclined coaches within the league in current seasons, typically going for it on fourth down and even electing to go for the win on a late 2-point conversion. That plan backfired in one-point losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers final season as Baltimore misplaced six straight to the top the season and fall in need of the playoffs for simply the fifth time in Harbaugh’s tenure.
In regards to Sunday’s recreation, Harbaugh stated he felt assured in how he managed the ultimate minutes.
“After that, we had incomplete passes so you’re not gonna get a chance to call [timeout]. You complete the passes, you get the ball back in the red zone, you call a timeout. From an elementary level, you could say, ‘Ah, you should have called the timeouts.’ But we had the timeouts worked out right.”