Things were heating up on the Ravens sideline after a 17-point lead crumbled in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
As time wore on before the Bills’ game-winning field goal from Tyler Bass, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and cornerback Marcus Peters got involved on the touchline. A CBS camera caught Harbaugh saying something to Peters that Peters clearly didn’t appreciate. Peters then slammed his helmet onto the turf and had to be restrained as he attempted to approach the Ravens head coach.
After the game, Harbaugh addressed the incident, telling reporters that he and his All-Pro cornerback were “on the same page.”
“Emotions are running high,” Harbaugh said. “We’re on the same page. We have a great relationship. We have an honest relationship. and i love him I hope he still loves me. We will see.”
Harbaugh did not elaborate on what prompted the exchange or what exactly was said. Peters did not speak to reporters after the game.
What triggered Peters’ outburst?
The loss involved some strategic Ravens decisions down the stretch that didn’t work, most notably a late gamble for a touchdown when a field goal would have given Baltimore the lead.
In a 20-20 tie, Baltimore faced a fourth goal from the Buffalo 2-yard line, leaving 4:16 in regulation. A chip-shot field goal from the game’s best kicker, Justin Tucker, would have given the Ravens a 23-20 lead. Harbaugh went for a touchdown instead. Lamar Jackson then threw an interception to Bill’s safety Jordan Poyer in the end zone.
Barring a long return or a pick-six, the outcome of the game was a worst-case scenario for Baltimore. A miss with no turnover would have kept the Bills within their own 2-yard line, a result that was certainly factored into Harbaugh’s decision to roll the dice. Instead, Buffalo launched his subsequent drive from the 20 as the turnover resulted in a touchback. The Bills then marched 77 yards and cleared the clock before Bass converted a 21-yard field goal after time was up.
The story goes on
Why Did Harbaugh Pass Field Goal?
Harbaugh explained the decision to reporters.
“I felt like it gave us the best chance of winning the game because seven [points]the worst that can happen is if they get on the field and score – and I think we’re going to stop them – but if they get on the field and score a touchdown, the worst that can happen is you go into overtime.
“You shoot a field goal there, now it’s not a three-down game, it’s a four-down game. You put them out there, you put your defense at a disadvantage because they have four downs, convert the whole field and have a chance to score seven again and then you lose the game on a touchdown.
It was an analysis-based decision that didn’t work for the Ravens on Sunday. Was that why Peters was upset? A later decision by the Ravens defense may also have played a role.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh watches from the sidelines the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, October 2, 2022 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Ravens tackled Singletary instead of letting him score
Had the Bills been actively looking for a touchdown when they hit the red zone on their final drive, the Ravens could have allowed them to score with time on the clock for a response. An 8-yard run by Devin Singletary to the 3-yard-line was Buffalo’s best opportunity and would have left about 1:50 on the clock for Baltimore’s offense. But Bill’s defense attorneys grabbed him.
It’s not clear if Singletary would have gone for goal or had instructions to surrender just short of the goal-line to pursue a clock-burning strategy. But that’s the strategy the Bills used after his run. They ran several plays inside the 3-yard line to burn the clock after Baltimore used their last timeout.
It’s also not clear if either or both decisions triggered Peters — or if his anger was entirely unrelated. But the Ravens have lost two games in three weeks to AFC top-flight competition in games where they held a double-digit lead. They lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 after leading 28-7 at halftime.
It’s easy to see why tensions are high.