John Harbaugh Says Pulling Joe Flacco Earlier Would've Been 'Foolish'


Don't expect Head Coach John Harbaugh to pull quarterback Joe Flacco very early from games.

That's just not the way Harbaugh operates – or the rest of the league, for that matter.

Since the Ravens were leading 38-0 at halftime on Sunday, Harbaugh was asked on Monday whether he considered sitting quarterback Joe Flacco early in order to prevent a possible injury.

Flacco remained in the game until the Ravens' final offensive drive, which began with three minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Baltimore leading, 48-17.

He first asked the reporter when he would have pulled Flacco. At halftime? In the third quarter, the reporter responded.

"Absolutely not did we consider doing that," Harbaugh said. "That would be, in my opinion, foolish."

Harbaugh said the Ravens did consider going to backup Tyrod Taylor a little earlier in the fourth quarter. Baltimore's only other drive in the fourth quarter began with 12:19 left in the game and the Ravens leading by 28.

The Ravens opted to leave Flacco in, and they ran six straight running plays, capped off with a 49-yard field goal. Flacco was hardly in danger on the drive.

"That would have been a time to possibly do it, but we decided no," Harbaugh said. "We were going to keep Joe in there and keep our offensive line in there and protect Joe and play our players. That's what we'll probably do in the future."

The primary reason to leave the starters in is basically because you never know what can happen. The Ravens were leading by four touchdowns, which seems insurmountable. But Baltimore itself had scored four touchdowns in just one quarter earlier in the game.

"We're trying to win the game," Harbaugh said. "We're going to play our best players throughout. You give me some examples of other teams doing that on a consistent basis in this league, you might have a better argument. Until I hear a better argument, that's just not the way we play. We're going to play our guys."

Just last week, the Tennessee Titans led the Cleveland Browns by 25 points, 28-3, in the second quarter. The Browns stormed back to pull off the biggest road comeback in NFL history and win, 29-28.

The New England Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals last week, 43-17, and didn't pull starting quarterback Tom Brady until the final series, in which rookie Jimmy Garoppolo just kneeled three times.

Last week, the San Diego Chargers beat the New York Jets, 31-0. The Chargers didn't pull starting quarterback Philip Rivers until their final drive with less than four minutes left.

"In this league, you don't take anything for granted," Harbaugh said. "This is pro football. … We're certainly not taking anything for granted. We understand the conditions. If we try to sit on that lead and things start going bad, it can snowball in a hurry."

Harbaugh also sent in kicker Justin Tucker to attempt a 64-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. There was no downside considering the clock would expire and Tucker has shown he can connect on kicks beyond 60 yards.

Harbaugh was asked whether he wanted to just give Tucker a chance to see if he could hit it, or whether he wanted to add to his 38-point lead at the time.

"We're trying to get more points," he said. "We're trying to get as many points as we possibly can. The more points you have, the better chance you have to win the game."

Harbaugh has always shown his penchant for staying on the gas. In 2012, punter Sam Koch ran in a fake field goal late in a lopsided win. In 2011, Koch ran in a two-point conversion to give the Ravens a 29-7 lead over Pittsburgh in the third quarter.

Harbaugh did say players maybe played "a little safer" down the stretch with the big lead, and said the heat was a factor in diving further into the bench.

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