Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh spent the bulk of his post-game press conference Sunday discussing his decision to go for it on a pair of fourth downs in the 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Ravens converted one of the attempts and came up short on another, but the spot on the failed conversion was highly suspect and Harbaugh stressed that a first down should've been awarded.
"I thought we got them both," Harbaugh said. "In my mind, clearly, we got them both."
The first attempt came in the second quarter with the Ravens facing a fourth-and-2 from the Titans' 35-yard line. Baltimore handed the ball off to running back Javorius Allen, and he clearly picked up the first down. The officials initially ruled that Allen came up short, but Harbaugh challenged the call and it was overturned to move the chains.
The other attempt came on the opening play of the fourth quarter, with the Ravens at Tennessee's 17-yard line and only needing a couple of inches. They again gave the ball to Allen, who was hit in the backfield by unblocked linebacker Wesley Woodyard, but he fought for extra yards and appeared to push himself past the line of scrimmage before hitting the ground.
The Ravens also challenged the spot on that play, but the officials didn't see enough video evidence to overturn it and award the Ravens the first down.
"The linebacker ran through. We should have blocked him, but I felt like Buck did a great job, and that happens a lot of times with a good back," Harbaugh said. "His second effort there – his knee never hit the ground, his hip never hit the ground – he got it."
The Ravens were trailing by 10 points at the time, and the offense had struggled to move the ball throughout the day. They could have attempted the 34-yard field goal with Justin Tucker, but Harbaugh liked his team's chances of moving the chains and being in good position to get the touchdown.
"Could you have kicked a field goal there, in hindsight, because we didn't get the spot? Yeah, that would have been better, I guess, looking back on it," he said. "But I was proud of the guy for getting the first down."
The Ravens invest time and research into analyzing what to do in fourth-down situations. The coaching staff has an analytics department that looks at a variety of scenarios, including when to be aggressive on fourth-down plays.
"You look at the analytics a lot of times, and the analytics will tell you to go for it on your own 20 on fourth-and-inches. We don't do that too often, but when you look at the number and those types of things, those are kind of, analytically speaking, no brainers," he said.
"We don't just go by that. But we try to factor that stuff in, so it's pretty in depth how that stuff is looked at. It's not off the cuff. And then as a head coach, you have to go with your gut and do what you think is right."
Check out all the best photos from Tennessee as the Ravens battle the Titans.