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John Harbaugh explains what Tyler Huntley did wrong on failed goal-line play

John Harbaugh looking on

Dec 8, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh jogs on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens were on the wrong end of a massive play in Sunday night’s AFC Wild Card Playoff game with the Cincinnati Bengals, and it was all due to some poor execution.

The Ravens had a 3rd-and-goal at the Cincinnati 1 in a 17-17 game during the fourth quarter. Baltimore snapped the ball to Tyler Huntley, who tried to leap over the line and stretch the ball into the end zone. Instead, the Bengals knocked the ball out of his hands, and Sam Hubbard picked it up and returned it 98 yards for a game-changing touchdown.

That play was the last score of the game as Cincinnati won 24-17.

Many people wondered what the Ravens were doing having Huntley try to reach for the end zone like that on third down, and why they did that so far from the goal line. The reason is because Huntley screwed up.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told the media after the game that Huntley was supposed to go low rather than try to jump over the top on the play.

“You decide whether you’re going to hand it off in the backfield or whether you want to quarterback sneak it,” Harbaugh said of the play call. “We felt we had a good call; it’s a push-sneak play. It wasn’t executed just the quite way. Tyler went over the top; that’s a burrow play, he’s got to go low on that. That’s the way the play is designed.

“We felt like that was the best call, we just didn’t execute right.”

Harbaugh also reasoned that they were going with the push-sneak play because they would have had two chances to push the ball in from the one. Had they done the push-sneak as intended, they could have gotten closer to the end zone, which would have positioned them for the jump over the top on 4th down. Maybe the third down play might have worked had it been executed properly.

What a tough break for Baltimore.

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