John Harbaugh Explains Two-Point Conversion Decision in Pittsburgh

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh walks the sideline against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Pittsburgh.

There were few decisions in sports gutsier than the one Head Coach John Harbaugh made in Pittsburgh Sunday night.

Trailing by one point after a touchdown with 12 seconds left, Harbaugh decided to go for the two-point conversion – one play for the win or loss.

Lamar Jackson's pass was a bit wide, however, and tight end Mark Andrews couldn't haul it in with one hand, essentially sealing a tough 20-19 loss for the Ravens at Heinz Field.

Of course, there will be plenty of debate about Harbaugh's call, and the head coach explained his decision afterwards.

"We were pretty much out of corners at that point in time," Harbaugh said. "It was an opportunity to try to win the game right there."

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey seemed to suffer a major injury on the Steelers' touchdown to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens' other cornerbacks, Anthony Averett, Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith, were all dealing with injuries throughout the week.

The play should have worked. The Ravens got what they wanted from the Steelers defense.

Andrews came across the formation and was wide open in the right flat. Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt was left unblocked and was Jackson's read. Jackson took a step up and tried to flick the pass around Watt, but the pressure forced him a little wide of the target.

"It's that close. It's a game of inches," Harbaugh said.

"Perfect play-call," he said. "[I thought] we were going to make it happen. We just came up short. … We just didn't execute. We weren't on the same page right there. ... He's way taller than me, way wider. I just had to make something happen. That's it."

Asked specifically if he liked the play-call and the decision, Jackson said yes.

"I was cool with it. It was there," Jackson said. "I want to win, for sure."

Andrews was in agreement after the game, putting the play's failure on his shoulders.

"[It] was a good play call. I came wide open," Andrews said. "Lamar threw a great ball; I just didn't make the play. … It's what we should do. We're in a hostile environment."

The Steelers offense was marching in the fourth quarter and ripped off 17 points as Ben Roethlisberger heated up with his wide receivers. Meanwhile, Baltimore's offense struggled for much of the day and especially after Patrick Mekari's hand injury.

On top of the game circumstances, it's in Harbaugh's nature to be aggressive. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said he expected the Ravens to go for two.

"They aggressively play analytics. So, from that standpoint, they're predictable," Tomlin said.

Multiple Ravens players said they supported Harbaugh's aggressive call, which has more often than not paid off for Baltimore this season and over the years. As Tomlin said, it's who the Ravens have become and they weren't about to back down from it after falling just short this time.

"We believe in our players. We believe in our team. We believe in 8 [Jackson]," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "So, the whole way, we had trust and belief in them. We'd do it a thousand more times."

"[That's] just Coach [Harbaugh] trusting us – trusting us to go out and do our job. We converted it a lot this season, so it's just another play for us," running back Devonta Freeman added.

"He's aggressive. He wanted to win the game. He wanted to put us in the right position," linebacker Josh Bynes said. "If we converted that two-point conversion, it'd be a whole different conversation we'd be having right now. I appreciate Coach for everything and then some."

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