Harbaugh supports Sunday’s lopsided pass/run ratio

The Ravens’ decision to give running back Ray Rice just five carries in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks has received a lot of criticism.

In a broader sense, their decision to run the ball just 12 times on 66 offensive plays has also come under fire.

But head coach John Harbaugh stood by the Ravens’ play-calling during his Monday press conference, saying that he felt that the looks the Seattle defense presented and the game situation led the Ravens to decide to lean heavily on their passing game.

“I don’t know how you would do it any differently,” Harbaugh said. “I mean, we were in a situation where we lost two possessions (because of turnovers). We had basically four possessions in the first half, the last one was with 46 seconds left, and that’s a two-minute possession. Two of those possessions went really well, and two of them we had four or five plays on. So, when you don’t have very many plays, it’s hard to build up your running game. And when you’re down, you’ve got to throw it to get back in the game.

“So, I think every game is different. You’ve got to do in any particular game what you’ve got to do to try to move the ball. In the end, we definitely want to have more runs. That’s indicative of having the lead, having more plays, especially early in the game. But, the way the game went, we had to throw it. And based on some fronts they were giving us early, we felt like we had to throw it, too.”

While the Ravens’ players have gotten heat for their uninspired performance in Seattle, the coaching staff has also drawn the ire of the fan base and members of the media alike.

Ray_Rice-tall-running.jpgWhen you have a Pro Bowl running back who is one of the top playmakers in the league, many find it hard to fathom that back getting only five carries and just 13 touches overall. Rice is the Ravens’ top offensive playmaker, and many wonder why offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Harbaugh did not make more of an effort to get him the ball.

Harbaugh was asked whether the Ravens might have essentially abandoned the run too early, given the fact they were never down more than two possessions at any point on Sunday.

“Well, we felt like we had to throw the ball, to some extent, during the second half,” Harbaugh said. “We came out and we got a tipped pass, and if you look at that particular play - if you want to look at that play - that’s a called run. That’s a run where they’ve got a Will ‘backer up on the line of scrimmage weak and a strong safety up on the line of scrimmage strong. There’s not a lot of places to run. You can hand it off there and probably get no gain. You have a chance to pop it, but the odds are against you. So, we make an adjustment there, and we throw a slant pass and it gets tipped (and intercepted).

“We’ll throw it when we need to throw it against the defenses we need to throw it against (according to) the circumstances of the game, and we’re going to have to be able to do that. We’re always going to hang our hat on being a physical football team, and we want to be able to run the ball. We definitely want to be able to run the ball, and we want to be able to run it well. But the way that game went, it made it tough for us to do that.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to make comparisons between the Ravens’ surprising loss to the Jaguars and Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.

Against Jacksonville, Rice got just eight carries and the Ravens had just 12 carries overall. Flacco was called on to throw the ball on 72 percent of the Ravens’ plays that day, and the offense struggled to move the ball, registering seven points.

Against Seattle, Rice got five carries and the Ravens had 12 carries overall. Flacco threw the ball on 79 percent of the Ravens’ plays, and the offense put up just 17 points.

Harbaugh argued that such comparisons are irrelevant.

“I’m thinking every game stands on its own two feet, like I’ve said many times,” he said. “The comparisons that people want to draw between the three (losses), you can draw that all you want. That’s all hypothetical, theoretical stuff. When you know football, you understand that the schemes that you see and the situations that you face are different in every single game. So, in (Sunday’s) game, no, I didn’t see a lot more opportunities to run the ball.”

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