Challenge leaves Ravens minus needed TO

Challenge leaves Ravens minus needed TO
December 2, 2012, 11:30 pm
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When the Ravens took their first timeout of the second half during their initial possession, at 9:02 of the third quarter, they didn’t know they would have dearly loved to still have had that timeout available as time was running out in the fourth quarter.

However, less than a minute later, John Harbaugh took the risk of a coach’s challenge on a play ruled an incomplete pass by the Steelers’ Charlie Batch, hoping for an overturn into a fumble that the Ravens recovered. But the call was upheld, and the Ravens lost their second timeout.

So the Ravens had only one timeout left as the Steelers drove for what turned out to be the game-winning field goal as time expired. Baltimore lost that timeout when the team was charged with one when Chykie Brown was injured during the drive with 1:46 remaining.

Thus, the Ravens didn’t get the chance to stop the clock and give themselves a final possession for at least a last-ditch shot at getting into position for a tying field-goal try by Justin Tucker.

 In retrospect, the coach’s challenge seems like a bad risk. In a tight game, with one timeout already spent, Harbaugh shouldn’t have thrown the red flag. Sure, a ruling in favor of the Ravens would have given them the ball deep in Steelers territory, but the play just didn’t look like that close a call. Batch, while in the grasp of Ravens defensive lineman Ma’ake Kemoeatu, lost the ball, but his arm was clearly moving forward, even if the last part of his “pass” was just a flick of his wrist.

Had Harbaugh not challenged, the Ravens might have carried two timeouts into that last drive. Even with the injury-induced timeout, they could have stopped the clock once. Maybe their last chance would have come with less than 20 seconds on the clock, but that was a chance they didn’t get.