The Ravens’ playoff hopes stay strong after Saturday’s 23-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium, but the final score was closer than it could have been.

After quarterback Joe Flacco had found tight end Maxx Williams for a 4-yard touchdown with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter to take a 23-13 lead, the defense stopped Indianapolis running back Frank Gore for no gain on third-and-1 at his own 34-yard line. And offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark was flagged for holding.

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Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 23-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts

The Ravens survived a tense game against the Indianapolis Colts, but they can't afford to make so many mistakes going forward.

But rather than accept the penalty and push the Colts back 10 yards for third-and-11 from the 24, the Ravens declined the penalty. Given a fourth-and-1, quarterback Jacoby Brissett scrambled for 7 yards and a first down, and Indianapolis got a 30-yard field goal from kicker Adam Vinatieri to narrow the deficit to a single score.

After the game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh conceded he made a mistake to turn down the holding call.

“I should have definitely taken that penalty,” he said. “I was kicking myself for it right away. I knew in my heart [Colts head coach Chuck Pagano] was going to go for it. I should have taken the penalty.”

Asked to shed light on his thought process at that time, Harbaugh replied, “It was kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing, and my gut said to take it. You go back and forth a little bit, and you second-guess yourself, and I made a bad decision. It was just a bad call by me.”

In the end, declining the call did not hurt the Ravens, who improved to 9-6 and would be the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs if the season ended today. But Harbaugh knows that those kinds of decisions can spell the difference between a win or a loss down the road.

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