Harbaugh defends 2 key decisions

Harbaugh defends 2 key decisions
October 13, 2013, 9:15 pm
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Harbaugh on going for it on 4th and 1

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Ravens coach John Harbaugh made two decisions Sunday against Green Bay that will be dissected for some time, mainly because each backfired, and each was essentially worth three points in a game the Ravens lost by two, 19-17.

But after the game, Harbaugh strongly defended both decisions, saying both showed confidence in his players and embodied an attacking style that he said translates to success in the NFL.

With 5:22 left in the second quarter, the Ravens faced fourth-and-1 at the Packers' 1-yard line. They began the series with first-and-goal at the 4, and three rushing plays netted 3 yards. On fourth-and-goal, Harbaugh opted to go for the touchdown rather than have kicker Justin Tucker take the seemingly automatic, chip-shot field goal. Bernard Pierce was stuffed short of the goal line.

Then with 12 seconds left the half and the Ravens offense out of synch, they faced second-and-10 at their 34-yard line. Rather than run out the clock and head to halftime down 3-0, quarterback Joe Flacco faded back to throw. He was sacked, fumbled, and the Packers recovered and returned the ball 20 yards, setting up a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 6-0 Green Bay lead.

On electing to run on fourth-and-1, Harbaugh said, "I like our chances there. If you don't make it, you've got them backed up on their 1 and feel really good about making them punt out of their own end zone ... I think it was a good decision there."

The Ravens offensive linemen loved the decision.

"I wanted to go for it," guard Marshal Yanda said. "I was excited that we were getting a chance to do it. It's just tough that we didn't get it done up front. We didn't block it well enough to get in."

As for the strip-sack before halftime, Harbaugh explained that the Ravens were probably one good completion or pass interference penalty away from being in Tucker’s range for a long field goal.

"I felt like we had a good chance with our kicker," he said. "We had a better chance to complete a pass or get a (defensive) pass interference than we did to have that (sack) happen. You've got to have confidence in your guys. You give your guys a chance to make plays in situations like that., They made a nice play, and it cost us three points."

In a game the Ravens lost by two, that proved to be huge. But Harbaugh wasn't backing down from either decision.

"Those are good decisions that most of the time are going to pay off for you,” he said. “They didn’t pay off, it’s disappointing, but we should keep chasing that. .. We’re going to be an attacking, aggressive type of group. It’s been good to us up until this point.”