John Harbaugh Addresses Late-Game Urgency


Head Coach John Harbaugh was questioned about the Ravens' late-game urgency following Sunday's 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The moments in question are back-to-back plays on the Ravens' final drive, which began with one minute, two seconds remaining at Baltimore's 20-yard line. The Ravens needed needing a touchdown to win and had no timeouts remaining (more on that later).

"We were trying to get to the line as fast as we could and get the plays called as quickly as we could," Harbaugh said.

"Could it have been done faster? Sure. We want to do it as fast as we possibly can. It's not like we're not trying to do that. We've just got to execute it better."

The Ravens clearly rubbed CBS analyst Rich Gannon the wrong way on the broadcast.

After an 18-yard completion over the middle to receiver Jeremy Ross, it took the Ravens 17 seconds to get the next snap off. Ross was tackled with 56 seconds on the clock and the snap got off with 39 seconds left. 

Part of the problem was that the Ravens changed formations in between plays. Ross moved from the right side of the line to the left, along with tight end Crockett Gillmore. Ross was late moving over and needed direction from quarterback Joe Flacco and Gillmore.

Had the Ravens tried to spike the ball, they would have saved more time. Instead, they went straight into another play that was a heave down the middle for receiver Marlon Brown, which left 31 seconds on the clock after falling incomplete.

Gannon said he thought it was a mistake not spiking the football to stop the clock. "Look how much time they're wasting in this situation," he said.

With the clock stopped, Flacco hit Steve Smith Sr. deep over the middle for a 22-yard gain. This time, Gannon took exception with the pace that left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele were getting to the line of scrimmage to get in formation for a spike.

However, the replay of the broadcast shows that Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda – a man whose work or hustle would be questioned by hardly anybody – got caught behind the play. Yanda was hustling down the field and got to the line of scrimmage at the same time as Monroe.

The Ravens got the snap off with 13 seconds left, as soon as Yanda was on the line and several members all set at the same time.

"Go back and show these guys jogging to the football," Gannon said. "It's amazing. … You've got to understand the situation in the game."

Harbaugh simply said "no" when asked about their hustle to the ball.

"They're getting up there as fast as they can and we're calling plays," Harbaugh said.

Besides those two situations, reporters had questions about the use of timeouts earlier in the second half.

The Ravens burned one timeout before their second offensive snap of the second half. They were facing a first-and-10 from their own 37-yard line and were trailing, 16-6.

It's obviously never good to use a timeout early in a half like that because they could be big later in the game, but Harbaugh felt it was necessary in that specific situation. He called that "football management issues."

"We had a bad play," Harbaugh said. "When you have a play out that's going to be a disaster for certain reasons that are football-related reasons, you have to use a timeout. Every team in the league has to do that. We had to do that on that play."

Harbaugh was asked whether he considered taking a 5-yard delay of game penalty instead of using the timeout.

"No, we wanted to get a good play off there," Harbaugh said. "A timeout is not always the most important thing, especially when you're behind. Sometimes we want to keep drives alive."

The Ravens used their second timeout on an unsuccessful challenge. Harbaugh tried to challenge Anquan Boldin's 51-yard catch, in which it looked like the ball may have hit the ground as he fell to the turf. The play was upheld.

It's more difficult to win challenges on the road because visiting teams are at the mercy of the TV broadcast since the home team won't show the play in question on their in-stadium video boards (they don't want to help the other team determine whether to challenge or not). If the TV broadcast doesn't show a conclusive angle, and quickly, it makes the decision harder.

"I took a shot there because it was a big play," Harbaugh said. "We couldn't get it on the screen, we really didn't have it on TV. I took a shot there because it was a big play in the game and if we could have won it, we thought we had a chance to win it, we were hoping we could get it."

Harbaugh was also concerned about the 49ers tacking on more points, which they did three plays later with a 21-yard touchdown pass that extended the 49ers' lead to 25-13.

The Ravens' third timeout was used to stop the clock as the 49ers were trying to run the game out on their final drive.

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