Coaches almost always choose to receive the kickoff if they win the coin toss in overtime, but on a windy, rainy day in Chicago, Ravens coach John Harbaugh strongly considered choosing to get the wind at the Ravens’ backs instead.
The Ravens lost in overtime to the Bears after electing to receive the kickoff, punting on their opening possession and then allowing the Bears to march into field goal range to kick the game-winner. Harbaugh sounds like he’s still wondering whether he made the right choice at the start of overtime.
“We thought real hard about taking the wind,” Harbaugh said of the overtime coin toss, via the Baltimore Sun. “It’s not so much deferring. You would take the wind is how you would do that.”
What made Harbaugh decide not to take the wind is that the winds were swirling so much in Chicago that he actually wasn’t sure which direction would be more advantageous.
“Then, we just couldn’t decide which way the wind was blowing,” Harbaugh said. “Honestly, it was swirling back and forth both ways, and once we had disagreement on which way the wind was blowing, then it was pretty straightforward for me to say we’re taking the ball if we win the toss.”
The most infamous instance of a coach taking the wind in overtime happened two hours south of the Windy City in Champaign, Illinois, where the Bears played their home games in 2002. That year, former Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg took the wind at the start of an overtime, only to see the Bears kick a game-winning field goal into that wind. Since the NFL shifted overtime formats to guarantee both teams a possession, no coach has ever chosen anything other than to receive the overtime kickoff.