The end of the first half in Baltimore’s 19-14 defeat was remarkable. The Ravens gained a first-and-goal at the 4, with 1:01 left. They had a timeout left. And yet, they didn’t even run four downs from inside the 5 and didn’t get any points.
The Ravens snapped the first-down play with about 36 seconds left, which is a lot of time to burn. They got to the 1-yard line and then called timeout. That was the Ravens' first mistake. Though, running the clock from 1:01 to 36 seconds left before snapping it on first down was egregious too.
That left the Ravens no timeouts left. Instead of hurrying up a play and saving the timeout, that left the Ravens without the option to run the ball. Or so you’d think.
On second down, with no timeouts left, the Ravens ran up the middle. They were stopped and the Steelers were in no hurry to get up. It was an inexplicable play call. Ravens coach John Harbaugh ran down the sideline to scream at officials that the Steelers were slow to get off the pile and delaying the spotting of the ball.
NBC’s officiating expert Terry McAulay said on the broadcast he thought a penalty should have been called because the Steelers weren’t trying to get off the pile.
“In my opinion, the referee should have stopped the game and penalized Pittsburgh for delay of game,” McAulay said.
Nothing was called. The clock ticked.
The Ravens didn’t get a third-down snap off until 3 seconds remained on the clock. To recap, Ravens back Justice Hill was tackled with 1:01 left, and with the use of a timeout, the Ravens ran two plays in 58 seconds. That’s hard to do.
It would have all been forgiven if Luke Willson had held onto the ball on the final play of the half. Robert Griffin III hit Willson in the end zone. The pass was a little behind him, but it got to him. So did the Steelers defenders, and they broke it up. The half ended. The Ravens got no points out of their trip inside the 5-yard line and couldn’t get all four plays off. Pittsburgh went into the locker room with a 12-7 lead.
The Ravens had many players on the reserve/COVID-19 list coming into the game. They needed a lot to go right to beat the Steelers. Blowing a scoring opportunity because they couldn’t manage the clock didn’t help.
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