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John Harbaugh Talks About Lack of Runs in AFC Championship Loss

RB Justice Hill
RB Justice Hill

The biggest question coming out of the Ravens' 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship was why they didn't run the ball more.

Just six carries by the running backs and a pair of quarterback-designed runs by Lamar Jackson was not what anybody expected coming into the game, especially considering the Ravens led the league in rushing and were going against a team that had been vulnerable on the ground.

Head Coach John Harbaugh shares the belief that it wasn't enough runs, and offered a more detailed explanation of why it played out that way in Friday's season-review press conference.

"That's not the number you want to have," Harbaugh said. "When it's all said and done and you look back on it, that's not really going to win us an AFC Championship game, for sure. It's more than just calling plays."

Harbaugh explained that a "big" part of the Ravens' gameplan were run-pass options, "cans", and "check with me" plays, which give Lamar Jackson the power both pre- and post-snap to read what the defense is presenting and get into either a passing or running play.

"A lot of what we were doing was directed at the line of scrimmage by what the defense gave us. And the defense was lined up to take away the run, "Harbaugh said. "The next thing would be to bring it in tight and run the ball out of heavy formations and wide receivers blocking the edge and protecting the edge that way. We could have done it that way, but we were down. We wanted to keep the formations open and give ourselves the best chance to try to move the ball and score points."

Harbaugh was asked specifically if the Chiefs' back-to-back touchdown drives to begin the game changed the Ravens' strategy.

"Really, you could say it did," Harbuagh said. "We still wanted to stay with our gameplan. We still wanted to run the ball. Believe it or not, it was a big part of our gameplan to run the ball.

"[We] had the ball for nine minutes in the first half. So those two long drives [by the Chiefs] took us out of the opportunity to call any kind of plays. Then, we didn't convert. We had mistakes. [The Chiefs] stopped us. They made plays. We were off the field right away after that first drive. I think all those things played into it."

Harbaugh said he had a "great conversation" with Jackson Thursday in which they hashed out the game and were already both thinking about it the same way.

"Lamar is just a really good football mind. I'll say that we both are [in] lockstep," Harbaugh said. "I was happy with that because the challenges that you're facing schematically and personnel-wise against the different defenses that are coming up against us are the things that he's thinking about."

If looking for a drive-by-drive look at the Ravens offense and why there weren't more runs, read this week’s Mailbag.

"I think when you look at the way the game played out, you can understand it from a football perspective," Harbaugh said. "Once you get through all that, you come back – you want to run the ball against the Chiefs. There's no doubt about it, and we did want to run the ball against the Chiefs. We weren't able to get to it."

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