For the second straight week, an aggressive call by coach John Harbaugh that didn’t work proved to be a big factor in a Ravens loss.
Trailing the Giants 17-13 as the fourth quarter began, the Ravens went for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line rather than take what should have been an easy three points for Justin Tucker. Terrance West took a toss to the left and was dropped for a 1-yard loss.
The Ravens actually had three plays from the 1; Joe Flacco was stuffed for no gain on a sneak on second down, and West was stuffed for no gain on third down.
“We’re on the 1-yard line. We expect to be able to score there. Touchdown,” Harbaugh said.
Thwarted three times from the 1, the Ravens came away with no points, and ultimately lost 27-23 after Odell Beckham’s 66-yard touchdown catch with 1:24 remaining.
Harbaugh critics will argue that had the Ravens taken those three points from the 1, they would have trailed 27-26 in the final minute, and they ended the game in field-goal range. In other words, Justin Tucker could have had a chance to win it.
But Harbaugh has long advocated going for the touchdown on fourth down from the 1, reasoning that the benefit outweighs the risk; even if it doesn’t work, the opponent is backed up at their own 1-yard line, and a defensive stand should give the Ravens good field position.
Although the Giants did pick up a first down on their next drive, the Ravens ultimately got a stop, got the ball back and kicked a field goal that made it 17-16.
Last week, Harbaugh came out aggressively in support of aggressive play after the Ravens failed on a fake field-goal attempt against the Redskins. The Ravens lost that game, 16-10.
“I’ve stood up here for nine years and said we’re going to be aggressive,” Harbaugh said after the Redskins game. “People are going to have to defend fakes, they’re going to have to defend us going for it on fourth down – that’s just the way we’re going to continue to play, because that’s what we believe in. We believe in giving our players a chance to make plays, and we’re going to keep doing it. We’re not apologizing for that.”
But again this week, the Ravens did not make the plays when they needed to. On the fourth-down carry by West, the play broke down after a missed block by Kyle Juszczyk.
“We needed to execute better,” Juszczyk told CSN’s Brent Harris after the game. “We had four plays from the 1-yard line, and we didn’t get in, so that’s on us.”