If tonight was a regular season game, and the Ravens got the ball with five minutes and change left in the fourth quarter holding onto a four-point lead, they probably try and milk the clock a bit and slowly flip field position.
If tonight was a regular season game, and the Ravens got the ball with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter holding an 11-point lead, they'd take a knee and let the clock expire.
Tonight wasn't a regular season game, so head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron kept trying to put points on the board and let their young players show their stuff. As a result, the Ravens called two late timeouts and scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes and eight seconds, resulting in a rather lopsided 31-13 final score.
Apparently, this strategy angered Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who felt the Ravens were deliberately running up the score. That stance prompted Harbaugh to begin his postgame press conference like this:
"I want to apologize to the Chiefs if they feel like we were not doing the right thing at the end of the game," Harbaugh said. "That wasn't the midset, OK? The mindset was - this is the preseason. If this had been the regular season, we would've been on a knee. The idea in that situation is to give those young guys who work hard and who are trying to make a football team - this football team or another football team - to play the whole 60 minutes and give them a chance to show what they can do. Offensive line, running backs, everybody.
"I know that's debatable, I know there's a point of view both ways, I understand that. But I just feel like that was the right thing to do for our players, to give them a chance to play the game out and see what they can do. So, that was the thinking on that."
When Harbaugh and Haley approached each other at midfield after the game, Haley made it clear with his counterpart that he was less than thrilled with the Ravens' end-of-game strategy.
"I think he said something like, 'I don't know about that,'" Harbaugh said. "I understood, and I just said, 'Preseason, preseason for the young guys.' He said 'OK.' I've got a lot of respect for Todd Haley, and a lot of respect for the Chiefs and what they do. That's a really good football team, a really physical football team. I think they're doing a great job with their football team. It was purely about trying to get the young guys a chance, in a game situation, to show their abilities.
"It's all about the young guys. Those guys are the guys trying to make the last part of the roster, and I think you have an opportunity on both sides to see how guys play."
In his postgame session with reporters, Haley actually seemed to agree with Harbaugh, saying that coaches have a limited opportunity to evaluate everyone on their roster. Still, Haley sounded like a guy who wasn't completely convinced of his own words.
"Their coach has to do what he has to do to get his team ready," Haley said. "I'm trying to do what we need to do to get our team ready."
Honestly, I'm shocked that I'm even writing about this right now. The point of the preseason is not just to get the starters geared up for the regular season, but to give young players a chance to prove themselves in game situations.
Did Haley expect the Ravens not to throw to undrafted rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams, and just let a game go by without seeing what the kid could do? Were the Ravens supposed to just run the ball between the tackles for the final five minutes of the game and not let quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Hunter Cantwell air it out and have a shot to make a team, either here in Baltimore or elsewhere around the league?
That's what these games are about. If Haley truly got worked up because his third-string defense couldn't stop the Ravens' third-string offense, I think he needs to take a chill-pill, look at his calendar and realize that this is August and these games don't count for anything.