The Ravens briefly contemplated an unprecedented scenario Sunday after winning the coin toss at the start of overtime in their 23-20 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
No NFL team has deferred and opted to kick to their opponent in overtime since the NFL adopted a change in overtime regulations modifying the previous sudden-death format.
Under the current overtime rules, each team gets a chance for a possession unless the team that receives the first kickoff scores a touchdown on its opening drive.
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The reason why the Ravens thought about kicking off instead of receiving the kickoff in overtime were the heavy winds affecting conditions on the field.
“We had that conversation," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We thought real hard about taking the wind there. It’s not so much deferring. You would take the wind is how you would do that. Then, we just couldn’t decide which way the wind was blowing.
"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."
In the third quarter on fourth-and-8 at the Bears' 32-yard line, the Ravens opted to go for it rather than have kicker Justin Tucker kick a field goal. Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked on fourth down, ending the drive.
Why? The wind and field conditions prompted that decision.
“There was no chance of going for a field goal there,” Harbaugh said. “It was the footing and the wind. The wind was howling. There was just no chance. I’m not sure we could have got the snap back there at that point in time.”