There aren’t many aspects of yesterday’s 37-7 win that Ravens fans can find complaint with.
John Harbaugh’s decision to leave quarterback Joe Flacco in the game late in the fourth quarter with the Ravens up by 30 points is one exception.
Sports talk radio shows and internet message boards have been abuzz today, with fans wondering why Harbaugh would keep Flacco in and risk injury to the franchise QB when the Ravens had clearly salted the game away.
Harbaugh told reporters after the game that he felt it was important to give Flacco that extra time to work with the Ravens’ young offensive players, and nearly 24 hours later, the head coach repeated that stance.
“After thinking about it, I think we did the right thing,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know what you gain by a quarterback going in in a situation and handing off three times, taking a knee twice and facing one third-and-11. To me, there is more to be gained by the guys that did go in - the two offensive linemen, the running back, the wide receiver - being with the quarterback, in the event of injury, they’re most likely to be playing with in that situation.
“Hear the snap count ... you know, Jah Reid jumped on one of our plays there. He jumped offsides, he flinched, and we took a five-yard penalty. Well, I don’t know how many flinches Jah Reid’s got, but if he’s playing, maybe that’s one out of the way that he won’t have when it really counts, perhaps. Tandon Doss was on a route there and Joe Flacco was throwing it to him. So, that’s one bit of game experience that those guys wouldn’t have with Joe for when it really counts. So, that’s really the point.”
Harbaugh then addressed the injury risk factor, but said he doesn’t feel that sending Flacco out for another drive or two late in the game is much of a risk.
“I’d like to see the history on quarterbacks getting hurt at the end of games like that,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think there is much, but it’s always a concern. But all of our players are a concern. Not throwing the pass on third down, we could have ran the ball and ran the punt team out there, too. We weren’t trying to run the score up at all, we were trying to get a first down so our defense and our punt team didn’t have to take the field. Then, we took a knee.
“We could run our punt team out there, too, and put our punter at risk, and they had just ran into our kicker two plays before. So, anybody’s at risk in a situation like that, or anytime you’re taking snaps.”