Kansas City, Mo. — As Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III dropped back to pass on what proved to be the final play of Sunday’s game, the odds were not good.
The Ravens were down a field goal in overtime. Starting quarterback Lamar Jackson was out with an ankle injury. Under two minutes remained. The team faced a fourth-and-22 from its 41-yard line. According to ESPN, the Kansas City Chiefs’ win probability was over 79 percent.
But after the pass fell incomplete and the 27-24 overtime loss was sealed, the Ravens were unhappy the game hadn’t lasted at least a play longer. Coach John Harbaugh, wide receiver Willie Snead IV and Griffin said the officials missed a pass-interference penalty on Chiefs cornerback and Baltimore native Kendall Fuller.
The penalty would’ve produced an automatic Ravens first down and kept alive their hopes for a game-tying field goal or game-winning touchdown.
“Yeah, I saw it,” Harbaugh said. “I think you guys should write what you see. You want us to get up here and criticize the officiating. You saw the officiating all day. You know what it was. You should write what you see. You don’t get fined for it, right?” (Coaches are subject to NFL fines for criticism of the officiating.)
Griffin said he didn’t have a chance to warm up before entering the game facing a third-and-22. His first throw was an incompletion, and after Jackson did not return to the huddle, the team’s third-string quarterback dropped back one final time.
He targeted Snead, running an out-breaking route close to the line to gain. “I was like, ‘I got a chance here,’ ” Snead recalled thinking. Had he made a sixth catch Sunday, the reception might have come up just short of the 37-yard line he needed to reach.
But he said he felt premature contact from Fuller, and Griffin saw the same.
“I mean, of course I did,” said Snead, who had a team-high 61 yards. “I thought that. At the end of the day, it’s out of my control. I got to catch the ball, but I felt like I would’ve been short anyways, but at the end of the day, there was contact. But it is what it is. You just got to learn from it and move on.”
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He added: “There were calls we could’ve got all over the game, but at the end of the day, it came down to that play. I didn’t get the call. At the end of the day, I didn’t get the catch.”
Griffin, who said he hadn’t been able to watch a replay of the coverage, blamed himself for not throwing a better pass. But he pointed to the Ravens’ indignant sideline reaction as a reflection of his own perception of the noncall.
“I felt like Willie ran a great route and the DB got there a little early, and they didn't call it,” Griffin said. “It makes me feel a little bad. I feel like I let the team down in that situation. I was ready to go and I tried to do the best I could at that time. Just wish I could've done more."
» Of the six meetings between the NFL's top-ranked scoring offense and top-ranked scoring defense since 2006, the team with the top attack has won all but one.
The 49ers' 41-34 win over the Patriots in 2012, the season in which the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII over San Francisco after beating New England in the AFC championship game, is the lone exception.
» With the Ravens’ loss, Jackson joined Craig Krenzel (2004), Mark Sanchez (2009) and Carson Wentz (2016) as rookie quarterbacks since 2001 who lost their fourth game after wins in their first three starts. Only Ben Roethlisberger (2004) managed to win more than three straight; he won 13.
» Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that other than Mahomes' lone interception, "I thought this was his best game" of the season." Why? "People would hang their head on an interception like that or just being hit. He doesn't do that. He tries to fix the problem, which is unique."