The Baltimore Ravens’ season is over after a 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night.
Like the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, they are ending their season after clock mismanagement cost them.
The Ravens faced a rush in the final minutes of the game as they tried to rally from a seven-point deficit. Still, they gave valuable time on the clock and ended the game with a timeout that they can’t carry with them into next season.
Why didn’t the Ravens call a timeout?
Facing a first-and-10, the Ravens drove to the Bengals’ 17-yard line on a pass from Tyler Huntley to J.K. Dobbins. Officials blew the play dead with 1:09 left after Bengals defenders tackled Dobbins just short of the first-down marker. The clock continued to tick. The Ravens had two timeouts, but chose not to use one.
The Ravens offense then rallied and lined up for a passing game. They ended up taking the ball away with 33 seconds left, allowing 36 seconds to burn off the clock. From there, they went on four more plays, including a run that drew an offensive penalty. A Hail Mary on fourth-and-20 from Cincinnati’s 27 fell incomplete and the game was over.
They didn’t go away with two timeouts left in the shell. They burned one with the clock already running out after an incomplete pass on third-and-20 to set up the final play. That one timeout went unused while the Ravens wasted most of the final minute of regulation.
After the game, Harbaugh explained the decision to reporters. He said the Ravens wanted to score without leaving the Bengals running on the clock and blamed the holding penalty for thwarting his plan.
“We wanted to save timeouts for the red zone,” Harbaugh said, according to Touchdown Wire. “We were killed by saving the penalty. It threw us back…
“We wanted to score without giving the ball back. We think we’re going to be in the red zone, we think it’s going to be a certain amount of plays and we’re going to work until the end of the game. Instead of scoring with 30, 35 seconds left in the game, you give them a chance to score a field goal at the end.”
It’s an unpredictable case that requires a lot of things to go just right in a tight playoff situation and the backup quarterback running the offense. Rather than calling one of the two remaining periods when the clock is working against you. It’s a classic case of overthinking a situation.
Not surprisingly, the plan failed. It’s hard to tell if that affected the outcome of the game after it ended with a failed fourth down. It certainly added unnecessary pressure to a situation the Ravens could have controlled. Add that to Baltimore’s list of offseason struggles, which includes figuring out what’s going on with Lamar Jackson.