The Baltimore Ravens on Sunday had a choice to make with 4:15 remaining in the fourth quarter: At Buffalo’s 2-yard line, on fourth and goal, do they kick the chip shot field goal and take a 23-20 lead, or go for the touchdown and risk leaving the game tied if they failed?
Coach John Harbaugh elected for the latter option. But Lamar Jackson was pressured, and a desperation heave to wide receiver Devin Duvernay, after he was initially open in the right corner of the end zone, was intercepted by Bills strong safety Jordan Poyer.
The Ravens go for it on 4th and Goal… Poyer picks it!!
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2022
Now with the ball, 4:07 to play and in a tie game, the Bills had everything lined up for the win. Buffalo drove it down to the Ravens’ goal line, took the same chip shot field goal that Baltimore bypassed a few minutes earlier, and won the game 23-20.
“The Ravens gave that game away vs. Buffalo,” said analyst Samari Rolle of The 33rd Team and former Ravens cornerback. “When you have the ball down there, fourth-and-goal against Buffalo, knowing that they’ve got Josh Allen and an explosive offense, you take the points. You’ve got to take the points right now. I’ve played for John Harbaugh, he’s a phenomenal coach, great person, but it was a bad call today, and Josh Allen made them pay.”
After the game, Harbaugh said the call was made using analytics, although he appeared less than convinced it was the right call.
“I felt like it gave us the best chance to win the game, because seven [points], the worst that happens is if they go down the field and score, and I think we’ll get them stopped, but if they go down the field and score a touchdown, the worst thing that can happen to you is you’re in overtime,” Harbaugh said. “But you kick a field goal there, now it’s not a three-down game anymore, it’s a four-down game, and you’re putting them out there, you’re putting your defense at a disadvantage because they’ve got four downs to convert all the way down the field, and a chance to, again, score seven, and then you lose the game on a touchdown.
“The other thing, you think you’re going to get the ball at the 2-yard line, so I’m very confident in our defense’s ability to stop them down there with the ball on the 2-yard line, so we got them backed up if we don’t get it. Didn’t turn out that way, unfortunately, and we lost the game. So hindsight, you could take the points. But if you look at it analytically, I understand why we did it.”
Frustrations seemed to flare on the sideline following Harbaugh’s decision to skip the easy field goal. Cornerback Marcus Peters, one of the team’s top defenders and now in his fourth year with the franchise, was seen arguing with his coach along the sideline as the Bills prepared to hit the game-winning field goal.
Marcus Peters and HC John Harbaugh exchanged some words on the sideline before Buffalo’s game-winning FG. CBS showed a small part of it.pic.twitter.com/FgDLvvPSk3
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2022
Harbaugh briefly addressed the altercation following the game, saying he and Peters were “on the same page” and have “an honest relationship.”
Had Baltimore kicked the field goal and the same Buffalo drive occurred, the teams would have gone to overtime, or the Bills would have been the ones attempting a fourth down play to win or lose the game. Instead, the Bills took the win, and the Ravens lost in a comeback, at home, for the second time in three weeks. After blowing a 35-14 lead to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 on a 28-point fourth quarter by Miami, the Ravens lost to Buffalo despite leading 20-10 at halftime, and getting the ball first to begin the third quarter.
“If you’re John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens, I think you have to be concerned after what transpired today. I think you look at a team that has the inability right now to close out games late when it matters the most,” said The 33rd Team’s Rich Gannon, breaking down Sunday’s game and the Ravens’ overall late-game woes.
Those blown leads have given Baltimore its only losses of the season, which could be up to a 4-0 start. Instead, the team sits in a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns in the AFC North, one game ahead of the 1-3 Pittsburgh Steelers.