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Intentional holding at game's end helps Ravens hang on to victory over Bengals

Intentional holding at game's end helps Ravens hang on to victory over Bengals

BALTIMORE – The final play of Sunday’s Ravens-Bengals game was weird. But for the Ravens, it was all planned.

It was the perfect time to take an intentional safety. It was the perfect time for the Ravens to grab every Bengals player in sight, and not worry about being called for holding.

So that’s what the Ravens did. Clinging to a 19-12 lead on fourth down with 11 seconds to play, Ravens punter Sam Koch went into punt formation from the Ravens’ 23-yard line. But Koch never punted. He drifted backward, killing time. Meanwhile, the Ravens blatantly held the Bengals, keeping them away from Koch, and giving him more time to kill the clock.

Flags flew everywhere, before Koch ran out of bounds in the end zone as time expired. The Ravens gave up a safety, but got exactly what they wanted. Time expired. Game over. Ravens win, 19-14.

Watching a team commit multiple holding penalties to end a game is probably not a look the NFL wants. But until that loophole in the rule is changed, the Ravens will clearly take advantage. They employed the same holding strategy at the end of Super Bowl XLVII four seasons ago, when they were protecting a late lead against the 49ers and took an intentional safety.  

After Sunday’s game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was thrilled to see his players hold so effectively.

“That was the best safety ever taken, and what I meant was that it was the best executed safety ever taken because we kept him (Koch) clean the whole time,” Harbaugh said. “Siz (linebacker Terrell Suggs) says that nothing can top the Super Bowl safety.

“I thought our guys did a great job…Everybody did a great job of communicating. They were moving and shifting like they are well-coached to do. Our guys got on all of their guys and did a great job.”

Former NFL referee and current FOX analyst Mike Pereira sent out a tweet explaining why the Ravens were not required to run another play.

“In Baltimore, foul that occurs in the field of play by offense doesn’t extend period,” Pereira tweeted. “If foul was in end zone & created safety, it would.”

Koch said the Ravens were prepared for the situation, and did a better job than in the Super Bowl, where they still left a few seconds on the clock after the safety.

“We know what we did wrong in the Super Bowl and we kind of learned from it,” Koch said. “Even though it might only happen once or twice in four years, it’s something that we practice yearly.”  

And by holding the Bengals, the Ravens held on for the win.

MORE RAVENS: 5 observations from the Ravens' win over the Bengals

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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