Harbaugh defends fourth-down bid for TD
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.
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.