Inexplicable decision bites Ravens in endgame

December 07, 2010 | Thyrl Nelson

In Honor of the Ravens’ 10-point effort vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday, here are my 10 post game points


1. The Ravens decision at the end of Sunday’s game, to forego a field goal opportunity with the wind in their faces will be something that folks will probably be debating for the rest of this season, but why the Ravens were faced with that decision is still baffling to me at this point. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the game, the wind was in Billy Cundiff’s face because John Harbaugh and the Ravens put it there.


By deferring after winning the coin toss, the Steelers got the opportunity to take the ball in the second half. That left the Ravens to decide which end zone they’d be defending in the 3rd, and by default 4th quarters. If Harbaugh and Cundiff decided during the second half warm ups that 44-yards was the edge of his range going that way, then why wouldn’t the Ravens elect not to go that way in the 4th quarter? If nothing else, you’d think they’d like to put Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham facing into that wind incase he was called on for 4th quarter heroics.


Given the Ravens post game stance that the wind was that much of a factor, and especially given their inability this season to finish games for a variety of reasons, it seems like too simple a detail not to sew up. Which brings me to my second point…


2. Through 12 games this season, the Ravens have had a 4th quarter lead in each. That’s good. In all four of their losses (obviously) however, and 2 of their wins as well, they’ve given back those 4th quarter leads. That’s not so good. On one hand they seem like a team that can play with anyone, which should serve them well at playoff time. On the other, they’ve given away, or nearly given away 4th quarter leads in half of their games, which likely won’t serve them so well, especially against playoff caliber teams.


3. Did anyone else feel just a little bit of déjà vu on Sunday night? From the Ravens ball spot review, to the squandered opportunities on offense, to the late game heroics, it sure felt like a 13-9 game that was played here in 2008. This one felt more and more like the San-Tony-Yay-Yo game as it wore on, and the ending was eerily reminiscent albeit not in the hands of the officials. Here’s hoping a rubber match is on the horizon.


4. Speaking of a rubber match, if Sunday’s game decided anything, it was that a rematch would likely take place at Heinz Field. Despite the Ravens and Jets very different brands of heartbreak this week, the rest of the AFC wildcard likelys helped their efforts. Both teams still seem to be all but a lock for the post-season, but both look very likely now to begin their respective campaigns on the road.


5. In the other inexplicable decision of the night, the Ravens kept both Le’Ron McClain and newly acquired fullback Jason McKie inactive for Sunday’s game. The decision to sign McKie seemed to be in reaction to the likelihood that McClain wouldn’t be ready for this week and possibly beyond, but with McClain’s return seemingly eminent at this point, and McKie’s deactivation being at least partly due to his inability to find a place on special teams; it sure looks like a wasted move. Surely this team doesn’t have room for 2 fullbacks on the roster; especially if they’re not playing on special teams.


Losing Todd Heap early as they did on Sunday certainly changed the Ravens game plan substantially, especially given the absence of a fullback. Ed Dickson did a nice job, but clearly missed a big opportunity early, and had some blocking issues as well.


6. I’ve watched Chris Chester’s false start at least 20 times now, and still can’t decide if it was accidental or thought out. On the play, Chester explodes across the line, tries hard to blast James Harrison and winds up laying out flat. Since it occurred on the PAT, the penalty was assessed on the kick, hardly a big deal. Is it possible Chester knew the penalty was minimal and decided to take a free shot at Harrison, to give him something to think about maybe. Harrison might have even lost his cool completely there, and changed the whole game. If it was intentional, it was a savvy, savvy move.

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