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John Harbaugh: If you’re going to need a two-point conversion, better to go for it early

Mike Florio and Mike Golic analyze the Ravens’ fight against the Browns in Week 14 and describe how Baltimore is “limping towards the finish line” this season.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was questioned after Sunday’s loss to the Ravens about why he decided to go for two after scoring a touchdown to make the score 24-15 in the fourth quarter. As Harbaugh explained it, that wasn’t a decision he made in the moment, but one he knows he’ll always make in that situation.

Harbaugh said that when you’re down by nine points after a touchdown, you know you’re going to need a two-point conversion at some point: Either you get it now to try to cut the deficit to seven points, or you kick the extra point now to cut the deficit to eight points and then have to go for two after your next touchdown. If Harbaugh’s preferred two-point conversion play doesn’t work, he would rather know in advance that he’s going to need to score on two more possessions so he can manage the clock appropriately.

“It was pretty much a standard, really, non-decision,” Harbaugh said. “You do it at that point in time because you’re gonna have to get a two-point conversion. So you understand if you get it or don’t get it early, where you’re at going from there, how many possessions you’re going to need and what you’re gonna have to do. If you wait until the last two-point conversion and you don’t get it, the game is over. You’ve lost. So you try it early. We’re in a seven point game? We know where we stand. We don’t get it, we’re in a nine-point game and we know that we need two possessions.”

The Ravens didn’t get the two-point conversion, but by finding out earlier in the fourth quarter that they wouldn’t get it, they managed the clock so that they would have time to score twice more in the game. The Ravens were able to get two more possessions (scoring another touchdown and then recovering the onside kick), but they weren’t able to get into field-goal range and lost 24-22. Still, Harbaugh put his team in the best position to win, even as they came up short.