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The Ravens looked foolish for not going for two points late in the fourth quarter.
Throughout his five years in Baltimore -- and during their current three-game losing streak -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh has often been criticized for his in-game decisions, things like clock management, botched challenges and his use of timeouts. I'm not saying that some of the criticism is unwarranted, but those miscues, as maddening as they can be, are secondary to everything else the Ravens have gotten from Harbaugh, who has now steered the team to five straight playoff appearances.
That being said, Harbaugh looked really foolish for sending Justin Tucker out for an extra point in the fourth quarter after a Ravens touchdown made the score, 34-16. A successful two-point conversion would have made it a 16-point -- and most importantly, a two-score -- game. But taking the extra point left them down 17 points, meaning they still needed three scoring plays to erase the deficit. Anyone who has spent 10 hours a day playing "Madden" -- not that I've done that before -- realizes that. The lapse in common sense was even more glaring when Harbaugh then sent out Tucker to attempt an onside kick. Asked after the 34-17 loss if he gave any thought to going for two there, he tersely responded, "No." If that is the truth, that he didn't really think about what the situation warranted, well, that's a little concerning.
Either way, a comeback was still highly improbable, so I'm not going to beat up Harbaugh too badly for it, especially because I know the vocal blog commenters and talk radio fanatics will do it for me. He has shown in the past five years that he is a savvy coach who is capable of juggling a locker room full of large egos, and that's what matters most. But little things like challenges and timeouts and when to go for two-point conversions matter, too, and that is one area where the 50-year-old coach still has room to grow.
December 16, 2012