Inside John Harbaugh’s decision to challenge Marcus Peters’ interception


After one of the worst halves of football in the Lamar Jackson era, the Ravens’ offense steadied the ship on the first drive of the third quarter and drove swiftly into Colts territory. 

Then, running back Gus Edwards fumbled inside the five-yard line in a seemingly disastrous turn of events. The Ravens were down by three, and the fumble could’ve been a game-changing play for a team that struggled offensively all day. 

Instead, one came on the other end of the field. 

Colts quarterback Philip Rivers tossed up a jump ball to wideout Marcus Johnson, who appeared to make one of the best defensive plays of the day by batting the ball out of Marcus Peters’ hands. 

Ravens coach John Harbaugh, however, thought his All-Pro cornerback may have had two feet down, with control, before the ball was ripped away. The call on the field was an incomplete pass. 

And as it turned out, the gutsy challenge proved to be the game’s turning point as the referees determined Peters had the necessary control for a catch. The Ravens scored on the ensuing drive, and they were off and running to a 24-10 win over the Colts on the road.

“I think I made a play with the ball,” Peters said. “I was going backwards for multiple steps, I had control over it. So, I think it was an interception. I kind of went over and asked Philip Rivers if he thought it was a pick. He didn’t think so, but that was a hell of a job by Coach Harbaugh. Upstairs, they got that called down, and they went with it. So, I appreciate it, and the team does, too.”


Upon first look, it appeared Harbaugh had wasted a challenge flag and a timeout by asking for a review of the play. Depending on your point of view, it should have been a wasted challenge call, too. 

“When you saw it on the replay screen in the stadium, you could see he had it for the first two steps and even the third full step it looked like,” Harbaugh said. “It was definitely a football act. And he had full possession of it. There was no bobbling, no ball movement.”

Rivers said after the game he’s been around long enough to know that some close calls go for you, and go against you. 

This particular close call went the Ravens’ way. And it turned out to be the turning point in the game. 

“It has gotten so really jacked up of how the catch rule is,” Rivers said. “Nobody that has played any amount of football or that has been around the game watched that and thought that was a catch including the guy that dropped it. But you know you can slow it down to milliseconds and you can just make it a technicality about three feet touch the ground even though you know somebody that is sitting back watching who has probably never thrown a football in his life gets to call it.”