Late for Work 9/20: History Suggests Ravens Will Bounce Back From Painful Defeat

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Jeff Zrebiec: Going For It on Fourth-and-Short in Fourth Quarter ‘Was Absolutely the Right Decision’

There was plenty of criticism on sports talk radio and social media of the Ravens’ decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Miami’s 40-yard line leading by 14 with 9:16 left in the game.

In short, the sentiment went something like this: “Why keep going for it on fourth down when we have the greatest kicker in the history of the game in Tucker?”

Of course, if the Ravens get the first down there — and they used to convert on fourth-and-short all the time — no one would say a word. It’s always the right decision when it’s successful. However, The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec contended that it was the right decision even though the play (a Jackson run) was unsuccessful.

“Maybe you can question the play call and suggest the Ravens should have rolled Jackson out or perhaps thrown the ball. However, I think going for it was absolutely the right decision,” Zrebiec wrote. “Field position meant virtually nothing in that game. Neither defense was stopping the opposing offense, regardless of where the drives started. So even if [punter Jordan] Stout had pinned the Dolphins inside their own 10, would you really have felt good about the Ravens stopping them? If you say yes, you’re either kidding yourself or you didn’t watch the game.

“As for trying a field goal, we’re still talking about a 58-yard kick outdoors. Tucker has spoiled us in even making that an option worth considering. However, if I’m not mistaken, he’s made two field goals from 58 yards or longer in his career and both were indoors. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have made it, but I think you’re playing the percentages and the chances of picking up one yard are greater than Tucker making it from 58 yards. You have one of the league’s most dynamic players at quarterback and a Pro Bowl fullback [Patrick Ricard]. Jackson had gone 79 yards on the previous third-and-short. To me, that was a no-brainer decision to go for it on fourth down. You just need to execute.”

Of course, there will always be those who second guess the play call. The Ravens had first-and-goal at the Miami 2 on their second possession of the game and came away empty-handed after running the ball five times in a row (a 1-yard touchdown run by Jackson on third down was overturned upon review).

Moreover, the Ravens had trouble running the ball for the second game in a row, as running backs Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis and Justice Hill have combined for 74 yards on 29 carries (2.6 yards per carry). Per Zrebiec, 10 of those carries have either gained zero yards or lost yardage and another six have gained just one yard.

Head Coach John Harbaugh agreed that converting on fourth-and-short comes down to execution.

“We’ve got to be creative; we’ve got to find a way to block people, because we missed a couple blocks; we’ve got to find a way not to necessarily run into the teeth of the defense,” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes you can. Many times, we’ve run the ball right downhill into the teeth of a goal-line defense and scored and your back puts it in there. But we didn’t do that in this game.”


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Kevin Eck

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