John Harbaugh On How To Improve Late-Game Speed


Head Coach John Harbaugh, without prompting, opened his press conference Wednesday by going back to one of the hot-button issues from Sunday's game against the 49ers.

Harbaugh took multiple questions earlier in the week about clock management and the use of timeouts in the second half, and he went through each of those topics individually to explain his decision making and where the Ravens could improve.

He specifically pointed out that the Ravens could have been quicker running a play on their final drive after a first-down completion to wide receiver Jeremy Ross.

The first-down catch to Ross put the Ravens at their own 38-yard line with 55 second left and the Ravens trailing 25-20. Rather than spiking the ball to stop the clock, the Ravens ran another play and quarterback Joe Flacco didn't snap the ball until 24 seconds had ticked off the clock.

"We should have been clocking [spiking] it, so I agree with anybody that says [that] – a lot of people do, and I totally agree – that should have been a clock [spike]," Harbaugh said. "It would have been quicker."

Harbaugh explained that the Ravens went through their normal play-calling routine in that situation, but they should have sped up it up given the amount of time left in the game and where they were on the field.

"We have one-play designated calls that need to be called, which wasn't called in that case. That's why it took so long to get the play operated, because it was normal play call," he said. "That's on me. I'll take responsibility for that."

In looking back through the tape, Harbaugh said the Ravens should not have tried to run another play without stopping the clock. With less than a minute remaining and the Ravens still 62 yards away from the end zone, stopping the clock would have been more important than preserving a first down that gets wasted by spiking the ball.

"The reality of that situation, and I understand that, is the fact that if it takes you four downs to get a first down from the 50, you're probably not going to score a touchdown," he said. "And you need a touchdown."

Harbaugh also addressed the criticism from CBS commentator and former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon about the hustle from Baltimore's offensive line on the drive. During the broadcast, Gannon called out left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele for "jogging to the football" between plays.

Monroe and Osemele were actually ahead of right guard Marshal Yanda in terms of getting to the line of scrimmage on the play Gannon criticized, and Harbaugh explained why Yanda took an extra couple of seconds getting to the line.

"Marshal was tangled up back there, 25 yards behind the play. And I was yelling at Marshal, 'Let's go, let's go!' But he was on the ground tangled up with a guy, and he came running up there," Harbaugh said. "The other linemen set right with him. We definitely want that to be faster, and it wasn't as fast as it needs to be, but things happen in football, those guys get tangled up on the ground."

Improving on the two-minute offense was a point of emphasis when the Ravens got back on the practice field this week. They spent time on those situations both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Every game this year has come down to the final possession, and Harbaugh wants to see the offense improve in the two-minute drill so they can excel at finishing games.

"I think the end of the story is that we try to do that as fast as we can," he said. "It's something we need to become great at, and we can. We have a great offensive line, a veteran offensive line. And we have a veteran quarterback, and that's something we can become great at."

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