Har­baugh de­fends fourth-down bid for TD

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­wardLeeSun Bal­ti­more Sun reporter Jeff Zre­biec con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

There are sev­eral things the Ravens would like to have done dif­fer­ently in Sun­day’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Sta­dium in East Ruther­ford, N.J. At­tempt­ing a field goal on fourt­hand-goal from the 1-yard line in­stead of go­ing for a touch­down is not one of them.

Coach John Har­baugh de­fended his call to have the of­fense go for it on the first play of the fourth quar­ter with the Ravens trail­ing 17-13. Al­though run­ning back Ter­rance West (Tow­son Univer­sity, North­west­ern High) was stopped for a 1-yard loss, Har­baugh said he had no re­grets.

“All the num­bers will tell you you’ve got to go for that,” he said Mon­day. “If you want to talk about the an­a­lyt­ics and the num­bers and all that, I’m not sitting here say­ing that’s what we live and die by, but it’s the call you make. Be­cause you back them up, you pin them down, the chances of get­ting at least three com­ing back are re­ally good, and your chances of get­ting more than that are good as well. You ex­pect to score from the one-half-yard line in four tries.”

The num­bers seem to bear out Har­baugh’s ar­gu­ment. Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle writ­ten in 2014 by an an­a­lyst for a fan­tasy sports an­a­lyt­ics plat­form called num­berFire .com, teams on the 1-yard line since 2000 have run the ball al­most 74 per­cent of the time and have suc­ceeded on those runs 53.9 per­cent of the time.

Math­e­mat­i­cally, a 53.9 per­cent chance at 7 points (as­sum­ing a suc­cess­ful ex­tra point) is greater than a 100 per­cent chance at three points.

Ad­di­tion­ally, as Har­baugh men­tioned, the Ravens made up those three points on their next of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion, thanks in part to de­cent field po­si­tion that stemmed from the de­ci­sion to go for it. With their backs against the goal line, the Giants got one first down but still had to punt from their 20-yard line. The Ravens be­gan their next pos­ses­sion at their 27-yard line.

“You’re fourth down on the half-yard line; most of the time we’re go­ing to give our guys a chance to make that play,” Har­baugh said. “We’re not into throw- ing up the white flag there. Should we have, based on the fact we didn’t get the job done? That’s what ticks me off.

“We can’t score from the hal­f­yard line with our of­fense? Are you kid­ding me? That’s what ticks me off. Yeah, if I have to throw up the white flag be­cause our of­fense can’t score from a foot-and-a-half out, if that’s the coach you want, if that’s what we’ve got to do, we’ll do it. I’m go­ing to coach this team to score from the half-yard line. That’s the way we’re go­ing to do it.” Har­baugh: De­fense ‘should have done a bet­ter job’ on Beck­ham: If there is one re­gret Har­baugh has, it’s the way the de­fense al­lowed Giants wide re­ceiver Odell Beck­ham Jr. six catches for 211 yards and two touch­downs in the sec­ond half Sun­day.

“We should have done a bet­ter job with him,” Har­baugh said. “There were times when we said we were go­ing to know where he’s at at all times and we didn’t know where he was at at all times. That’s not OK.”

On Beck­ham’s game-win­ning touch­down for 66 yards with New York go­ing for it on fourth-and-1 from the 34-yard line, he got free when he ran rookie cor­ner­back Tavon Young into strong safety Eric Wed­dle and out­raced three more de­fend­ers to the end zone. Har­baugh said de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dean Pees had called for man cover­age with the lineback­ers press­ing up to end the drive and the game.

“Dean’s think­ing there is, ‘It’s fourth-and-1. Let’s win the game right now. We bat a ball down, he throws one high, he throws one low, some­one gets in the throw­ing lane, and we win the game, you’re off the field, it’s done,’ ” Har­baugh said. “It was an ag­gres­sive call. It wasn’t played very well. You could say it wasn’t a good call be­cause of the re­sult if you want, but that was the idea be­hind the call.” A Cam­pa­naro-Ravens re­union pos­si­ble: When the Ravens reached an in­jury set­tle­ment with wide re­ceiver Michael Cam­pa­naro last month, the hope was that the former River Hill stand­out would get healthy and per­haps re-sign with the team for the sec­ond half of the sea­son.

That still might hap­pen, but the player and the team must wait.

Un­der league rules, a player who reaches an in­jury set­tle­ment with a team can­not re-sign with that team for nine weeks. That means Cam­pa­naro, who played eight games with the Ravens over the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, isn’t el­i­gi­ble to re­turn un­til Nov. 7, the day af­ter the Ravens face the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers.

Cam­pa­naro con­tin­ues to re­ha­bil­i­tate a calf in­jury that he suf­fered in the team’s off­sea­son work­out pro­gram. He re­turned to par­tic­i­pate in train­ing camp, but he was never com­pletely healthy, and the team put him on in­jured re­serve as part of the fi­nal ros­ter cut­down.

Cam­pa­naro is free to sign with any team, and 15 or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Steel­ers, Den­ver Broncos and New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, have ex­pressed in­ter­est in work­ing him out.

The re­ceiver could fill a need for the Ravens, who have strug­gled in their re­turn game. Veteran Devin Hester Sr. fum­bled in back-to­back weeks, los­ing one, and he missed Sun­day’s game with a thigh in­jury. End zone: De­spite get­ting burned for long touch­down passes to Roger Lewis and Beck­ham in Sun­day’s loss, Young in­sisted he would use those plays as mo­ti­va­tion for the rest of the sea­son. “It’s the NFL,” he said. “You’re go­ing to give up plays. Beck­ham is a great re­ceiver. Just got to make plays and get bet­ter each and ev­ery week.” … The Ravens re­main in sec­ond place in the AFC North as Pitts­burgh, the Cincin­nati Ben­gals and Cleve­land Browns lost Sun­day. The di­vi­sion is an NFL-worst 9-15 thus far.

SETH WENIG/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Giants’ Mark Her­zlich (94) and Jonathan Casil­las stop Ravens run­ning back Ter­rance West for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the be­gin­ning of the fourth quar­ter of Sun­day’s game.

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