Ravens coach John Harbaugh did not waste much time before revisiting offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's play-calling in Sunday's 27-26 win against the Philadelphia Eagles at M&T Bank Stadium, bringing up the topic in the opening address of his weekly news conference on Monday at the team's training facility in Owings Mills.
After the offense drove to Philadelphia's 11-yard line in the fourth quarter with the Ravens ahead by 10 points, Mornhinweg called a passing play on first-and-10. Quarterback Joe Flacco's throw, intended for wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on a slant in the end zone, was intercepted by middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and ignited a comeback that was turned back only by a defensive stand on a 2-point conversion with four seconds left in regulation.
"It's not a good call," Harbaugh said. "Should have vetoed it. Didn't. Got a little greedy. It wasn't executed well, either, and I think Joe said that. I liked what Joe said. He said something along the lines of, 'I've got to take care of the football.' And he knows that. So that's all of us together, and we've got to work to do that. You don't want to put yourself in a situation to make it tougher than it is."
The Ravens had called a timeout prior to the interception, but Harbaugh said the timeout was used to avoid a delay-of-game penalty with the play clock winding down.
As much as he regretted the call, Harbaugh pledged that he and the team would continue to attempt to push the envelope in certain situations.
"I just feel like, looking back at it, we want to be aggressive," he said. "We've hired aggressive coordinators. I've always been very aggressive in terms of approaching the game and game planning and just going after victory and giving guys a chance to make plays and all those kinds of things, and that's something we're going to continue to do, and I want our guys to do that.
End zone: Kenneth Dixon's 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Sunday was his first as a Raven. The rookie running back had already broken the seal by scoring on an 8-yard pass from Flacco in the third quarter of a 30-23 loss at the New England Patriots on Dec. 12, but acknowledged the meaningfulness of his touchdown run against the Eagles. "It was great, especially when it was a game like that when it was neck-and-neck the whole game and we're fighting for the division championship," Dixon said. "There's no better way to score a touchdown than in a game like that."
… Philadelphia's defensive line lived up to its reputation. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox sacked Flacco in the third quarter and recovered a fumble in the first, and defensive end Brandon Graham and defensive tackle Beau Allen split a sack in the opening quarter. "They're a stout front," left guard Marshal Yanda said of the Eagles. "They've got some really good players up there. I thought we did a good job of just getting after them and sticking with it. But they're a good front. Fletcher is good."
… Despite going 22-for-42 with 170 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz earned the respect of several Ravens defensive players when he scrambled 4 yards for a rushing score to close the gap to 27-26 with four seconds left in regulation. "He's a good quarterback," defensive end Lawrence Guy said. "He's tall, he can move, he can throw the ball. I've got a lot of respect for him."
… Backup free safety Matt Elam was named the team's recipient of the Ed Block Courage award, which is conferred by members to a teammate who demonstrates perseverance while overcoming adversity. Elam sat out the entire 2015 campaign because of a torn biceps and then injured his knee in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts on Aug. 20 and required surgery that delayed his return to the active roster until Nov. 5. "There's a lot of guys that go through this that don't get a chance again," he said Monday. "It's a blessing."