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‘Well, it’s there. That’s what we do’: John Harbaugh explains the Ravens’ fake-punt decision leading 35-3

With less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter of a blowout-in-progress Sunday, the Ravens lined up to punt from their 30-yard line.

The first time the Miami Dolphins had done just enough right to bring on punter Sam Koch, it had gone horribly wrong. Jakeem Grant muffed a booming 56-yard punt at the 10-yard line, and Ravens special teams standout Justin Bethel pounced on the fumble. Three plays later, the Ravens extended their lead to 35-3.

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When Koch returned to punt a few minutes later, it seemed Miami’s punt return problems couldn’t get worse. They did. Long snapper Morgan Cox didn’t take long to fire the ball to the upback, Anthony Levine Sr., and off he went, streaking 60 yards downfield. Only Grant’s last-ditch tackle at the 10 kept Levine from scoring. Another three plays, another Ravens touchdown.

“Well, it’s there,” coach John Harbaugh said after the eventual 59-10 win. “That’s what we do. You play football. There’s a lot of time left in the game. If they’re going to give us an opportunity to run a play, I just want to make sure it’s executed well. It’s no different than throwing a pass or anything else we might do.”

Special teams coach Chris Horton called for the play, which gave the Ravens the option to check out of the fake. Levine said he wasn’t even aware of the Ravens’ sizable lead — "My coach called a play. I just went out there and executed. I wasn’t even looking at the score, for real” — but was happy to give the Ravens the ball back. He was less happy about coming up short of the goal line.

“I thought I was [scoring], too, man," he said. "I’m not going to lie to you.”

First-year Dolphins coach Brian Flores said he wasn’t taken aback by the fake play.

“It’s our job to stop them," he said. "Those are my thoughts. It’s not their job to let off. So it’s our job to stop them. John is a good coach. They’ve got a good team. It’s our job to stop them. I’m not looking for handouts here.”

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