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Marty Mornhinweg: 'That's Not The Worst Call I've Ever Made'


In 2002, as head coach of the Detroit Lions, Marty Mornhinweg decided to take the wind instead of the ball at the start of an overtime game against the Chicago Bears. His reason was that neither team had scored going into the wind all day.

The Bears and backup quarterback Jim Miller promptly marched down the field and won on a 40-yard field goal. Mornhinweg's Lions never had an opportunity in the sudden-death overtime loss.

That decision, 14 years ago, landed Mornhinweg on some undesirable Internet lists.

So while Head Coach John Harbaugh called the decision to throw near the end of Sunday's 27-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles the "all-time worst call ever," Mornhinweg jokingly disagreed when speaking about it for the first time with reporters Thursday.

"That's not the worst call I've ever made. I've made some really bad [calls]," he said with a chuckle.

"And sometimes you get away with them. The players tend to cover that thing up."

Unfortunately, the players didn't cover it up this time. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw an interception, which sparked a furious Eagles comeback that came up just a two-point conversion short of derailing the Ravens' 2016 season.

The play has dominated airwaves on Baltimore sports talk radio, and days later, Mornhinweg took responsibility while having a bit of fun with the topic.

Mornhinweg, who was called too conservative several weeks ago after the Ravens didn't keep their foot on the gas pedal in a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, said he was just trying to deal the knockout blow to the Eagles.

"It sounds kind of crazy, but I was thinking about our defense a little bit on that play," Mornhinweg said. "I'm going, 'OK, we can get it probably down to about four minutes and go up 13. Or we can nail them, go up by three scores and then let's see what our defense does.'"

Mornhinweg said that staying aggressive and trying to score more points typically pays off "10-fold" throughout the course of a game or season. He and Flacco are of the same mindset that a team has to take chances and be aggressive to build confidence, and thus be able to make big plays like that when needed later in the season or in the playoffs.

"Every now and then, it backfires," Mornhinweg said. "We need to stay aggressive. In that exact situation, there was a host of other things that I certainly could have called to minimize the risk."

Mornhinweg looked more at how the Ravens responded to the interception. After the Eagles kicked a field goal, Baltimore got the ball back and was looking milk the clock. The Ravens ran three times for 0 yards, which didn't please Mornhinweg.

Head Coach John Harbaugh took responsibility for the bad play call because he said he should have vetoed it on the sideline, which has led to discussion about how often Harbaugh exercises that right. On Thursday, Mornhinweg said it's "not often."

"We talk daily," he added. "I always want to keep the head coach appraised and try not to surprise him on what we're going to be doing in the ballgame."

So did Harbaugh and Mornhinweg have to clear the air after the mistake?

"We've talked about it before and then we certainly talked about it after," Mornhinweg said with a slight grin.

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