The Ravens' aggressive approach on offense backfired Sunday, triggering plenty of second-guessing.
The Ravens managed to rush for only 3 yards on four runs during a first-and-goal situation as the Green Bay Packers defense stopped running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rice gained just 3 yards on three runs to his right before Pierce was stopped for a no-gain on a failed fourth-and-1 chance behind left guard Kelechi Osemele.
Given a day to reflect on the Ravens' 19-17 loss in which at least six points were lost as a consequence of debatable first-half decisions, Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the choices.
"I feel pretty good about our chances of scoring from the 1-yard line," Harbaugh said Monday. "When you look at the percentages, leaving a team on the 1-inch line is never a bad thing. I'd rather have seven [points] than three there.
"I'd rather have three than none. When you back a team up to the goal line, you've got a pretty good chance of forcing a punt and getting that three right back and maybe a seven. So, that's the thinking there."
The Packers went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but the Ravens did nothing with their next possession.
"They put trust in us with that fourth down," offensive tackle Eugene Monroe said about the coaching staff. "We've got to make that happen."
Trailing, 3-0, with 20 seconds remaining before halftime, the Ravens attempted to drive for a score from their 34-yard line. However, Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry badly beat Monroe for a sack and forced fumble by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco that led to a field goal with two seconds left.
"Hey, can you put a knee on the ground right there? Absolutely, you can," Harbaugh said. "And there will be times where that’ll be the right thing to do. I believed that we could make a play right there.
"They were pushing the coverage deep, we had three timeouts, and I felt like we could do it. Same thing for the fourth-and-1, I felt like we would score there. Generally speaking, we’re going to be aggressive."
One day after free safety Matt Elam seriously injured Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb with a low tackle, Harbaugh defended the rookie's actions.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized Elam for a hit that will reportedly sideline Cobb for six to eight weeks with a broken fibula.
"I think Matt made a tackle," Harbaugh said. "He was scrambling to try to catch up with that route as best as he could. To say that it could have been artistically palatable is pretty hard for me to understand."
The NFL has made it a major point of enforcement to heavily fine players for hits in the head and neck area.
From Harbaugh's standpoint, there wasn't anything different that Elam could have done as he delivered a shoulder hit to prevent a first down.
"That's a fast route and Aaron made a good, quick throw in there and Matt is doing the best he can to try to stop that play," Harbaugh said. "So, I have no idea what he's talking about."
The Ravens offense had a bad case of offsides Sunday.
The Ravens were flagged for four false starts against the Packers, including guards Marshal Yanda and Osemele committing the infraction on consecutive plays in the third quarter.
For the season, the Ravens have 10 false starts, nine holding penalties, six unnecessary roughness flags and five facemask calls. Osemele leads the team with five penalties with one declined.
"Everybody is hyped up and trying to make something happen," Harbaugh said. "Your offensive line, especially, can get a little anxious. It’s not something that should happen back-to-back. That’s really where it hurt us the most."
Yanda was flagged for illegal hands to the face, an increased point of emphasis for NFL officials.
"You shoot your hands and they accidentally catch his mask, and they're just throwing the flag," Yanda said. "It's tough for us. They're coming at you 100 miles per hour and you throw your hands, and I got my hand off late."
Monroe got solid reviews in his starting debut with the exception of his missed block on Flacco's fumble. “Overall, Eugene played well," Harbaugh said. "He played a good game, pass protection and run. That was an unfortunate play, obviously. He got beat there by a good pass rusher, but he played a good game.” ... When rookie center Ryan Jensen fully recovers from foot surgery, he won't be starting. "He’ll be a backup to start with, and we’ll see what he does," Harbaugh said. "Developmental backup, that will be his role.” ... The Ravens reported no major injuries to players, but team photographer Phil Hoffman tore his Achilles tendon during a collision with wide receiver Tandon Doss and will undergo surgery. ... With two blocked punts allowed this season, it's officially a problem with this one attributable to reserve safety Anthony Levine. "That's definitely a concern," Harbaugh said. "It should have never happened. It was a missed call. We just called the protection incorrectly." ... Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie was characterized as a healthy scratch by Harbaugh despite having his left knee drained Wednesday and not being listed on the injury report. "That’s not the first time, that’s been kind of a regular thing," Harbaugh said. "Bryant is tough. He’s a guy that’ll play through those kinds of things.”