After sleepwalking through Saturday's second half, the offense lined up on fourth-and-2 at the Cleveland Browns' 37-yard line at the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter. And although everyone at M&T Bank Stadium and watching on television knew the Ravens were trying to coax an offside call, someone forgot to tell rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who jumped into the neutral zone and gave the offense the first down it needed to run out the clock and cement a 20-14 victory.
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M & T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell St, Baltimore, MD 21230-2602, USA
Not even Ravens coach John Harbaugh thought the play would work, according to Flacco.
"John was like, 'There's no way they jump.' And you never know," Flacco said. "So in that situation, we got fortunate. You [hope] it isn't going to come down to that. But, hey, it did come down to it, and that's what we needed today and that's what we got."
After the game, a natural question was whether the offense had a play in mind if Taylor hadn't jumped offsides or whether the Ravens were willing to absorb a delay-of-game penalty or call a timeout.
"I can't divulge that," Harbaugh said coyly. "That's a very good question, but I can't divulge that. I thought Joe was getting to a play there as the clock was running down. I thought he did a good job with the cadence. He did a tremendous job with the cadence in that situation. He did get them to jump. It's tougher than you think not to jump in that situation and try to get a run stopped. I'm proud of Joe on that one."
Flacco was a bit more revealing, without directly answering the question.
"Come on, you guys can figure it out," he said. "The play clock was at two seconds, and we hadn't snapped the ball yet."
Special teams falter again
The Ravens matched a franchise worst when they surrendered their third return for a touchdown this season, which ties a high set in 1998 and duplicated in 2002.
Free safety Haruki Nakamura and punter Sam Koch missed tackles of Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs, who took a punt 84 yards for the score — his third career punt return for a touchdown and his 11th career kickoff or punt return for a touchdown.
"We wanted to pin the ball over on the left sideline, and we didn't," Harbaugh said. "We kicked him a ball that we don't kick very often, and I think when you give a returner like that an opportunity like that in space, in those kinds of conditions, he made us pay for it. It was not good coverage, it was not a good punt and we have to do better than that. That's really what got them back in the game."
Graham enjoys debut
Shayne Graham's first game as a Raven went fairly well.
Starting in place of the injured Billy Cundiff (left calf), Graham made field goals from 48 and 43 yards and two extra points. Four of his five kickoffs did not reach the end zone, but Graham's 48-yard field goal was his longest since Nov. 29, 2009, when he connected on a 53-yard kick against the Browns.
"I hate to say it, but coming in here, I felt comfortable from Day One," said Graham, who was signed Wednesday. "Some of the coaches, we were talking that it was such a smooth transition that I felt like I've been here forever. So it's not really something that I've had to say that I've really had to adjust to so many things because I felt comfortable, like I was home. It was a nice feeling."
Evans held without catch
As expected, Lee Evans joined rookie Torrey Smith as the starting wide receivers against Cleveland, but that's about all the news the eight-year veteran made.