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John Harbaugh defends Ravens' failed fourth-down attempt vs. Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, top, defends against Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken on a fourth-down play in the first quarter.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, top, defends against Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken on a fourth-down play in the first quarter. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens had the play and the look they wanted on fourth down in the first quarter at the Cincinnati Bengals' 1-yard line Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Quarterback Joe Flacco executed a play-action fake to his left to rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro while wide receiver Kamar Aiken sprinted to his right into a pass pattern. Aiken broke free, but he was unable to make a somewhat difficult diving touchdown catch.

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Despite the failure of the play as the Ravens trailed, 7-0, coach John Harbaugh defended the decision to go for it instead of kicking a field goal during an eventual 27-24 loss.

"Absolutely not," Harbaugh said Monday when asked if he had second thoughts about the play in hindsight. "I'm not going to second-guess play-calling."

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The Bengals wound up punting on the ensuing possession, and the Ravens got the three points on their next offensive drive as kicker Justin Tucker connected on a 45-yard field goal.

"Part of that strategy is you have them backed up, so worst-case scenario if you have some confidence in your defense, you're going to get the ball back with a real good chance to recoup that field goal, and that's what we did," Harbaugh said. "It doesn't matter if you kick it from the 9-yard line or the 39-yard line, it's still three points.

"We didn't come out of that any worse for the wear. We didn't lose any points on that. We would've rather had the touchdown, absolutely. That's why I went for it. I wasn't really too good with settling for the three, didn't want to settle for the three."

awilson@baltsun.com

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