John Harbaugh declines to comment on Ravens’ intentional offside penalty

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Ravens employed a little-used strategy in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, having safety Chuck Clark intentionally jump offside late in the game. But Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t need to get into the strategy of it all,” Harbaugh said. “But sometimes, it is, [and] sometimes, it isn’t.”

It clearly was intentional. With the Steelers facing second-and-2, Clark blatantly jumped offside because the Ravens wanted to give the Steelers a free first down without running any more time off the clock. The Ravens’ thinking was that the Steelers, needing only two yards, were probably going to gain a first down anyway within the next two plays, and that would have allowed the Steelers to run more time off the clock. By giving the Steelers a first down on a penalty, the Ravens kept the clock stopped.

The Steelers should have declined the offside penalty, but they apparently didn’t realize what the Ravens were doing. But at some point, teams are going to catch on, because the Ravens have done this before: Clark also purposely jumped offside in similar situations in 2019 against the Bills and in 2020 against the Patriots. Clark is the Ravens’ designated late-game offside-jumper, and opposing teams should recognize that the next time it happens, they should decline the penalty.

59 responses to “John Harbaugh declines to comment on Ravens’ intentional offside penalty

  1. Ok. If its within the rules then its just being smart, not cheating or anything like that. Play ball!

  2. Harbaugh doesnt mind these things if he does them to an opponent. When someone is sly against him he wants the rules changed. Going for 2 what a smart decision. Take points on the road.

  3. Yeah looks like the strategy worked, John. Sometimes it is paralysis by analysis. I don’t know how giving someone a first down ever works, but apparently Harbaugh thinks he is smarter than everyone else. I guess that’s why he didn’t comment on it. LMAO

  4. Nothing is a given running behind thar Steelers offensive line so I can so why they gladly accepted that penalty

  5. You can’t blame him for using the rules as a strategy. Like the Ravens or not, it’s fair. Personally I know if it was my team doing it, I’d be thrilled that my coach knew enough to use it to his advantage.

  6. Not a big deal, not the first or last coach to do it, but I dare say that Mr. Harbuagh would be clamoring for a rule change if Mr. Belichick had used this tactic against the Ravens…

  7. Yeah but if you decline the penalty and don’t end up getting a first down you look like an idiot.

  8. Would have been genius had they won. But since they didn’t? Boneheaded move. Such is life.

  9. The Steelers won. What’s the big deal? Sometimes you try desperate things in desperate times. They usually don’t result in a win. But smart move by Harbaugh.

  10. The Steelers have been terrible at short yardage situations for several years now. No way do I give up the free first down and take my chances with that inconsistent offensive line over the next three plays.

  11. …and then he left Tucker on the bench when they could have tied the game to go to OT. SMH

  12. Trip Tomlin out coached? What a surprise!
    If Belichick did this to Harbaugh we’d get a full dose of Hawbawl! I remember all the crying when he got outmanoeuvered with the ineligible receiver tactic. Predictably that loophole was closed ASAP.

  13. it’s one of those “spirit of the game” or “spirit of the rules” things he usually likes to talk about, except when he’s doing it

  14. Good to know I wasn’t the only one who thought Michael messed up on that. I was asking myself, why did he accept the penalty. So, instead of asking Harbaugh why he tried to allow his team to win, why isn’t someone asking Michael why he accepted the penalty and then allowed to Ravens to keep one final time out for their last drive. Bad coaching 101.

  15. Not against the rules. Just decline. I guess Ravens could continually jump offsides. Just keep declining. Would love to see it.

    After awhile, Ravens would have to be called for unsportsmanlike. Just decline that as well.

    Don’t allow the Ravens to save time to score. That is the bottom line.

  16. Nothing wrong with this strategy. We see it occasionally when teams will “let” the opponent score just to get the ball back with more time.

    But rest assured that if a certain other AFC coach did this there would be another rules change in the spring.

  17. This makes the assumption that the Steelers would have converted in short yardage situation. That’s no guarantee for any team, never mind one that has a less than impressive offensive line.
    I’m not even sure the math works out, because this also assumes Pittsburgh doesn’t attempt a third down pass if they’re stuffed or lose yardage on 2nd down.
    But hey, it worked out in the end…

  18. I knew what they were doing, and thought Tomlin would decline. It was pretty obvious watching real time. But I figured Tomlin wanted the 5 yards and better odds of getting 7 instead of just 3.

  19. Never understand why when teams do this the other team just doesn’t decline the penalty. The most frequently used variety of this is delay of game before a punt to let the punter back up to their more optimal range. RARELY does the other team decline the penalty.

  20. Can you imagine the whining from Harbaugh had another team done that to the Ravens? He’d be marching into the Competition Committee like a 5 year-old tattling on another kid for splashing him with water.

  21. Harbaugh was right and it is within the rules. The problem is not with Harbaugh and his strategy, the problem is the QB that missed the wide open receiver that was just 10 yards in front of him, that’s 30 feet by the way, and for the win. Need I say more?

  22. brwmstr says:
    December 7, 2021 at 7:54 am
    Harbaugh playing checkers while Tomlin was playing with crayons….

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Meanwhile, in Boston, Bill Belichick is playing football. And it shows.

  23. I am not a fan of Harbaugh or Tomlin. I am not surprise Tomlin had no idea what Harbaugh was doing to him. Harbaugh is more creative, analytical, strategic than Tomlin.

  24. Getting the first down over the next two plays isn’t guaranteed — they could get stuffed twice, get backed-up with a penalty, who knows. Take the first down.

  25. If this happened to Whinebaugh, he’d be changing the rules immediately like when he was jealous when Shea McClellin jumped the line to block a kick and now it’s illegal.

    “It’s deception!”

    Wnat a loser that guy is.

  26. You guys are funny. If Belichick did that, you would be gushing all over him. I did the same thing in flag football. Decline the penalty? Then you have an extra five yards to get.

  27. Well, the next play after the first down, the Steeler’s ran the ball and were stuffed for a two yard loss.

    If that had occurred on the 2nd down play, the Ravens would have used a timeout and the Steelers would have faced third and 4 with about 1:52 seconds left.

    At that point they would likely throw the ball to either try for the 1st or get a TD. Had the Steelers failed on third down, they would kick the go ahead field goal and the Ravens would have about 1:40 to 1:45 to have to get into field goal range for Justin Tucker to win the game and they would have either 1 or 2 timeouts left to do it.

    Who was playing chess and who was playing checkers? Harbaugh didn’t trust his defense to stop the Steeler’s on 2nd down and it may have cost his team the game. By taking the penalty, Tomlin gave his defense a better chance to seal the win by forcing the Ravens to score a TD. Unfortunately someone (and perhaps it was Tomlin as well) had the brilliant idea to try to pin the Ravens on the kickoff and the kicker failed giving the Ravens 15 extra yards of field position that, had they not had, would have made their final TD a much more difficult prospect.

  28. Harbaugh is such an arrogant and annoying coach. When Belichick did the same, legal thing with the ineligible receiver, he cried like a baby and ran to his teacher to tattle-tale and change the rules. I am glad Harbaugh’s arrogance got in the way of losing to the Steelers with a stupid call to go for it at the end of the game. That, plus having a QB who can’t hit a wide open receiver on a 3 yard pass. But that’s besides this point.

  29. FYI – the easiest way to prevent this situation from occurring is to not stop the clock in that situation. Assess the penalty, then start the clock. Teams shouldn’t get an advantage for committing a penalty.

    A similar situation occurs on certain pre-snap penalties where a play is run because the snap has to occur to call the penalty, but technically the ball is dead from there but the play continues. I believe this occurred twice in this game, once where Minkah Fitzpatrick appeared to have an INT on the Ravens final drive and once when Jackson was going to be sacked for a very large loss. Both times the positive play by the defense was negated by a pre-snap call on the offense.

  30. “Harbaugh playing checkers while Tomlin was playing with crayons”

    Is that why Tomlin won the game, while Harbaugh stupidly tried to end it on an unnecessary two-point conversion?

  31. Ah, so another football team games the game to their advantage. Green Bay commits intentional taunting by the QB trying to draw another team offsides to get free plays. No one in the history of the NFL has been a bigger offender of this overt taunting than Ewwin Wawgers. Now we find the head Blackbird seeking to commit professional malfeasance.

    It is time to change the rules to prevent both situations – either stop the play and assess the yards or let the play continue and make the QB’s pay for their trickery.

  32. “Harbaugh is such an arrogant and annoying coach. When Belichick did the same, legal thing with the ineligible receiver, he cried like a baby and ran to his teacher to tattle-tale and change the rules.”

    ================

    And then Harbaugh told the Colts the Patriots were messing with the footballs (when it was really an NFL employee) and they should do something about it. Thus, a witch hunt was born.

  33. None of this matters if the Ravens can’t get their QB to make a quick first read.

    I’m a Steelers fan, but the Steelers defense is not good. Every time they brought 6 there was at least one Ravens receiver running free, and he couldn’t pull the trigger.

  34. youpassbutter says:
    December 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    None of this matters if the Ravens can’t get their QB to make a quick first read.

    I’m a Steelers fan, but the Steelers defense is not good. Every time they brought 6 there was at least one Ravens receiver running free, and he couldn’t pull the trigger.
    ________________________________________________________________

    I guess you didn’t notice all those quick triggers on that last drive? The Steelers need to worry about their QB, the Ravens are fine.

  35. Harbaugh looked like a guy who realizes his QB has peaked and has very little upside remaining. Blitz him and clog his running lanes and Lamar is clueless

  36. Wait… now we have one that thinks the hard count is “taunting?” We may have reached a whole new level here. I can’t wait to see where this one goes.

  37. I’m pretty sure its a rules glitch. They couldn’t decline because it was unabated to the QB

  38. Rumors are running wild that the Ravens are considering paying Lamar $45mm a year. Remember when he was MVP in 2019? That seems so long ago. Defenses have fully adjusted and he’s now the running back we all thought he was. Inaccurate, can’t read defenses, has no idea what a hot route is or what to do under pressure, and a turnover machine. But that’s ok, Ravens fans, keep telling us he’s the MVP and the reason why you’re winning all these games. Last 6 games he’s thrown for a whopping 220 yards per game with 10 interceptions and only 8 TDs. 24 sacks. 40 QBR. You now have the #14th QB with the second most picks in the league. Pay him!

  39. Not a fan of either Harbaugh whiner, but I do admit this guy is really good with not only knowing the rulebook but also seeing the opportunity to take advantage of it I remember all 10 guys holding on a punt attempt against the bengals while the punter just stood there and time ticked away. It was infuriating and genius.

  40. I know a lot of the focus is on Lamar’s struggles as a QB. But what about this offense Harbaugh has put into place over the past 4 years? He told everyone it was revolutionary. We’re seeing pretty quickly it is not, and in fact, it’s a pretty bad offense and getting worse. But the worst part about it is that it relies upon a running back playing QB. What great coach in the modern era would ever think you can win consistently in the NFL with a running QB? We’ve seen this movie so many times. And it’s coming to the same conclusion all the other gimmick running QB offenses came to.

  41. Refusal of Penalties. Unless expressly prohibited, the penalty for any foul may be declined by the offended team, and play proceeds as though no foul had been committed. The yardage distance for any penalty may be declined, even though the penalty is accepted. (NFL rulebook p76)

  42. I would’ve taken the penalty too. Even if they ram the clock down to 30 seconds and they kicked a fg , the ensuing kick off went out of bounds. And guess what, I don’t want that guy trying a kick any near midfield. He’s the best in the business

  43. nite2al says:
    December 7, 2021 at 1:46 pm
    youpassbutter says:
    December 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    None of this matters if the Ravens can’t get their QB to make a quick first read.

    I’m a Steelers fan, but the Steelers defense is not good. Every time they brought 6 there was at least one Ravens receiver running free, and he couldn’t pull the trigger.
    ________________________________________________________________

    I guess you didn’t notice all those quick triggers on that last drive? The Steelers need to worry about their QB, the Ravens are fine.

    1 7 Rate This

    —————————————————————

    You objectively have a problem at QB.

  44. Just watched the game on rewind. Was in L.A. and can’t believe they didn’t have the “national game” at 4:25. Instead we got SEA-SAN FRAN?

    People focus on the BALT two-point try but if the Steelers hadn’t made theirs, the Ravens would have already won on the late TD. And the 2-pointpoint plays looked like the same play…flare outs to the TE. Steelers made theirs, Baltimore…thanks to T.J. Watt….just missed theirs.

  45. Well, the other way to look at the end of game issue is that if Lamar didn’t throw that awful pick in the red zone, and they just kick a FG, the Ravens win.

  46. Snap the ball for a free play. Or stop crying about the rules.

    But when Bill takes advantage of the rules, the rules get changed.

  47. IronCurtainComing says:
    December 7, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Well, the other way to look at the end of game issue is that if Lamar didn’t throw that awful pick in the red zone, and they just kick a FG, the Ravens win.
    ___________________________________________________

    Or if the officials didn’t gift the Ravens a net of 150 yards through bad calls/no-calls, the Steelers win easily.

    That said, Harbaugh’s strategy was correct. End of story.

    If the Steelers run the ball and come up short on 2nd down, the Ravens burn a TD to stop the clock. Run it again and get it on 3rd down, burn another timeout. The Steelers THEN have 1st & Goal and the Ravens only have one time out.

    Giving the Steelers the first down virtually guarantees (barring a defensive foul awarding a new set of downs) the Ravens get the ball back with nearly two minutes remaining.

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