BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended his decision to score a touchdown in lieu of the go-ahead field goal late Sunday against the 23-20 Buffalo Bills, downplaying the emotional sideline outburst with cornerback Marcus Peters , which followed afterwards.
“I felt like it gave us the best chance of winning the game because seven [points]the worst that can happen is if they go downfield and score – and I think we’re going to stop them – but if they go downfield and score a touchdown, the worst that can happen is you in it is overtime,” Harbaugh said.
While every player who spoke afterwards supported Harbaugh’s decision, Peters showed his displeasure by yelling at him on the touchline as the Bills lined up for the winning field goal. After the two exchanges, Peters had to be dragged away by an assistant coach and threw away his helmet in frustration. Peters had left the dressing room when the reporters entered.
“Emotions are running high,” Harbaugh said. “We’re on the same page, he and I. We have a great relationship; we have an honest relationship. I love him, I hope he still loves me; we will see. I’m a Marcus Peters guy.”
After failing to hold a 20-3 lead, the Ravens faced a fourth down from the Bills 2-yard line, with the game tied at 20 and 4:15 to the left. Instead of attempting a 19-yard field goal, Baltimore put the ball into the hands of quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed an open receiver and threw an interception.
Buffalo then streaked 77 yards in 12 games to set the winning 21-yard field goal after time ran out.
“[If] They kick a field goal there, now it’s not a three-loss game, it’s a four-loss game,” Harbaugh said. “You put them out there, you put your defense at a disadvantage because they have four downs to convert the whole field and a chance to get seven points again and then you lose the game on a touchdown.
Harbaugh then added: “Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way and we lost the game. So with hindsight you could take the points but if you look at it analytically you can understand why we did it.”
According to ESPN’s winning probability model, the Ravens had a 73.5% probability of winning when attempting a touchdown and a 69.7% probability of winning when scoring a field goal.
“I was okay with that because if we ran that, we would have scored a touchdown and there would be no question,” Jackson said. “No one would be disappointed. Next time we can do it.”
On that fourth down, Jackson missed wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who was so wide open in the right corner of the end zone that he was waving his arms.
When asked what he saw in that game, Jackson said, “Big defender with his hands up. I tried to look around him to see where my boys were but I saw Duvernay late. If I had seen him straight away, that would have been a touchdown.”
This was Jackson’s first interception of his career, finishing fourth (of 25 pass attempts).
The Ravens defense also made an untimely mistake. Baltimore outside linebacker Odafe Oweh attacked running back Devin Singletary at the 3-yard line after players were told to let him score, leaving 1:43 in play. Buffalo ticked down the clock before kicking the winning field goal with three seconds remaining.
“I mean, we were in the group and the decision was either remove the ball or let him score,” Oweh said. “I’m trying to snatch the ball out. If you watch a movie, you will see it. He fell.
The Ravens became the second team in NFL history to suffer multiple losses after leading by 17 or more points in the first four games of a season, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The other team was the Vikings of 2011.
In Week 2, the Ravens lost to the Miami Dolphins 42-38 after leading by 21 points in the fourth quarter. Two weeks later, Baltimore fell to the Bills after holding a 17-point lead late in the second quarter.
The Ravens (2-2) are confident they will bounce back from two of the biggest meltdowns in the second half of franchise history.
“I am a dog. We have a couple of dogs,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “We’re ready to go. We’re going to get better. We’ve been here before.”