The Ravens know the final result is all that truly matters at this time of the year.
But they also know they made Sunday's 27-26 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles much closer than it needed to be. The game never should have come down to forcing an incompletion on a two-point try with four seconds left in regulation.
Baltimore had a 10-point lead and the football at Philadelphia's 11-yard line with just six minutes, 21 seconds left to play in the fourth quarter. Instead of pounding the ball on the ground to run time off the clock, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called a pass on first down.
Quarterback Joe Flacco got picked off throwing over the middle of the field, and the turnover let the Eagles climb back into a game that once seemed well in hand.
"All-time worst call ever. I'll take responsibility for it," Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the win at M&T Bank Stadium. "I should have vetoed it right away."
The interception came one play after a 54-yard reception by wide receiver Mike Wallace. The Eagles returned the interception to their 40-yard line and then hit a field goal to make the score 27-20. The Ravens then went three-and-out on their next possession and took just 28 seconds off the clock in the process, giving Philadelphia the ball back with 1:39 left in to play.
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz then marched his team down the field for a touchdown, and the Eagles elected to go for the win with a 2-point conversion. A tipped pass by linebacker C.J. Mosley forced the incompletion to ultimately give the Ravens the win.
The Ravens (8-6) were certainly relieved to get the victory and maintain control of their playoff destiny, but a common sentiment from players and coaches after the game was they made life far too difficult for themselves.
"I like an aggressive mindset, but that was way too aggressive," Harbaugh said. "It's the worse play call we've had, and it's my fault. It should have never happened. We should have never been in that situation as a result of that."
Flacco fielded several questions about the play in his post-game press conference. He took responsibility in needing to be more cautious with the football, and also confirmed he ran the play that came in from the sidelines. He did not check out of a run call to pass it.
"I got it and was thinking, 'Shoot, Marty's giving me one here. We're going to get another touchdown pass,'" Flacco said. "But you've got to just take care of the football and it's a non-issue."
Flacco said he wasn't surprised by the play call and explained that he just didn't see linebacker Jordan Hicks before making the throw. Flacco finished the game completing 16-of-30 passes for 206 yards with a pair of touchdowns and the interception.
Flacco and the Ravens know they can't afford to make those kinds of mistakes in next week's matchup with the division's first-place Pittsburgh Steelers. They will now head into Pittsburgh on Christmas Day with a chance to re-gain first place in the AFC North, and take a big step toward returning to the postseason.
"We're up for the challenge," Flacco said.