The Ravens’ comeback came shortly Wednesday night against the Steelers, but things may have been different if a controversial moment at the end of the first half went Baltimore’s way.
The Ravens were upset that the referees after another game near the goal line did not call a delay in the game at Pittsburgh for being slow to get up from the ground. Baltimore threw incompletely on the third down as time ran out in the half, preventing the Ravens from kicking or attempting another shot in the end zone at the fourth down. Baltimore lost its first Wednesday NFL game since 2012 with a 19-14 score in Pittsburgh.
You can see the full sequence below. The Ravens deliver to Gus Edwards in a game that begins with 26 seconds on the clock. Due to a slow-rising number of Steelers highlighted by Vince Williams (No. 98), Baltimore snaps its next game clockwise and approximately three seconds on the clock. As Luke Willson loses Robert Griffin III’s pass, the clock has run dry.
Almost 20 seconds elapsed between the end of 2. down and RGIII tries to throw to Willson thanks to the Steelers not coming out of the pile, which again expired the clock … no delay in the game #BALvsPIT
– Bad Sports Refs (@BadSportsRefs) December 2, 2020
When the second half got underway, the broadcast team asked their rules analyst, former NFL official Terry McAuley, what he thought. McAuley said officials should have marked Pittsburgh for delay of the game. It was clear even when it happened that Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh was not happy with the situation as he can be seen on the broadcast gesturing on the sideline after a flag. Harbaugh then expressed his dissatisfaction with the media.
“We knew we had enough time to run the two pieces we wanted to run; the race, we hoped it would score, ”Harbaugh said, according to the Baltimore Sun.. “If it did not, we had a fast playpass that could be operated quickly. It would be a quick throw, so we would have time for timeout if it was incomplete. I just feel like if you put that on the ground like that, you’re either injured or there’s a delay in the game. So that it is [a] pretty clear cut off type of a deal and that’s how we felt. “
Robert Griffin III, who started for Baltimore at quarterback with Lamar Jackson on the COVID-19 / reserve list, repeated Harbaugh’s comments as he spoke after the game. They both made it clear that the reason the Ravens ran on second-and-finish was because they already had the next game called, a pass that could be carried out quickly if the race did not fail. While Baltimore eventually got the game off, this script probably expected the pass to happen sooner, so if it fell incompletely, the worst that would happen would be a Justin Tucker chip shot.
If a delay had been called in the game, the clock would have stopped and the referees would have set Baltimore half the distance to the goal (a small distance, in this case). Instead, the Ravens went into the half trailing 12-7 and lost by the same five-point margin. Maybe it would have all been different if Wilson had not dropped the touchdown, but neither is it told what would have happened if Baltimore were to run another (seemingly deserved) game.
“The problem was that the clock was running as they were just lying on top of our guys and not letting them get up. So we got the game off, ” Griffin told the media. “We had a plan to run the second game and it was open. So we just did not quit. We just did not finish the execution of it; I put it on. I could have thrown a better ball and made it easier. The end of the day is subsequently 20/20. At that moment, we had two pieces called. We knew what we were going to do and we got them both running. We just did not perform them. “