One of the Ravens’ most pivotal plays Sunday was derailed when a shotgun snap from center Gino Gradkowski to quarterback Joe Flacco skidded through the mud at Soldier Field.
It was a costly error from Gradkowski in the sloppy field conditions because it disrupted the timing of the play on third down with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the Ravens went on to lose, 23-20, to the Chicago Bears in overtime.
Flacco quickly scooped up the football, but was unable to connect with an open Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone. Smith had beaten cornerback Tim Jennings, but Flacco’s hurried throw was too high and off-rhythm as the pass sailed out of bounds.
If not for the snap issue, the Ravens could have won the game in regulation instead of settling for a 21-yard Justin Tucker field goal on the ensuing play.
“I just know it can’t happen,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh when asked about the miscue and if a dry ball should have been provided by officials. “A critical situation like that, the ball needs to be where it’s supposed to be to give us a chance to make that play.”
Smith immediately broke free from Jennings, but Flacco had to retrieve the mud-covered football first.
“I saw him late as I got my head up and he was definitely sitting in there,” Flacco said. “He definitely found a hole in there and if I was probably able to get it to him a little quicker, we might have had a shot. By the time I got to him, everything was just converging on him and I felt like I had to put it up high and give him a chance or nobody else.”
“The wind was pretty crazy, but the bigger issue was that the ball, every time you got it, when Gino had to snap it out of a divot, it was either wet or had all kinds of mud on it. This was an issue with some of the timing stuff on getting a grip on it quick enough. It was pretty crazy.”
Because of the rain-soaked field, the conditions affected handling the football.
“The wind was pretty crazy, but the bigger issue was that the ball, every time you got it, when Gino had to snap it out of a divot, it was either wet or had all kinds of mud on it,” Flacco said. “This was an issue with some of the timing stuff on getting a grip on it quick enough. If we could sit back there with some time on those rhythm plays, it wasn’t too bad. But, you guys saw it out there. It was pretty crazy.”