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Ravens denied touchdown in strange sequence at end of first half vs. Steelers

"I just feel like if you're laying on the ground like that, you're either injured or it's delay of game so that's pretty clear," said Harbaugh after the game.

A bizarre sequence at the end of the first half cost the Ravens a touchdown in Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On third-and-9 with 1:08 to play before halftime, Ravens running back Justice Hill ran for a 19-yard gain before being tackled short of the goal line. The Ravens tried to punch the ball into the end zone on the next play, but Hill was stopped short at the 1-yard line, leading the Ravens to use their last timeout with 37 seconds remaining.

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On second-and-goal, the Ravens handed the ball to running back Gus Edwards, who was tackled short of the end zone. With the clock running out, Steelers players stayed on top of the football to force more time to run off the clock. Once the ball was set for play, the Ravens had just four seconds left. Quarterback Robert Griffin III lofted a pass to tight end Luke Willson, who had the ball knocked out of his hands, and the half ended with the Steelers leading 12-7.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh told NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya at halftime that there should have been a delay-of-game penalty on Steelers linebacker Vince Williams for lying on the football. Approximately 18 seconds elapsed from the end of Edwards’ run to the final play of the half, but the officials did not stop the clock or penalize the Steelers.

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“It’s a delay-of-game foul for any player who lays on top of the pile,” NBC rules expert and former NFL official Terry McAulay said during the broadcast at the start of the second half. “The referees should have stopped the game and called a penalty on the Steelers for a delay of game.”

According to the NFL rule book, a delay-of-game penalty can be called when “a player unnecessarily remains on a dead ball or on a runner who has been downed.” The penalty would result in a gain of 5 yards (or half the distance to the goal line) from the succeeding spot if it occurs between downs, and the ball would remain dead.

“We knew we had enough time to run the two plays we wanted to run; the run, we hoped it would score,” Harbaugh said after the game. “If it didn’t, we had a quick play pass that would be operated quick. That would be a quick throw, so we’d have time for timeout if that was incomplete. I just feel like if you’re laying on the ground like that, you’re either injured, or it’s delay of game. So, that’s [a] pretty clear cut-type of a deal, and that’s how we felt about it.”

Griffin said he saw Steelers players “not trying to get up,” but blamed himself for not executing a better play as time expired.

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“The problem was the clock was running down as they were just laying on top of our guys, not letting them get up. So, we got the play off,” he said. “We had a plan to run that second play [the pass to Willson], and it was wide open. So, we just didn’t finish. We just didn’t finish the execution of it; I put that on me. I could’ve thrown a better ball and made it easier. At the end of the day, hindsight is 20/20. In that moment, we had two plays called. We knew what we were going to do, and we got them both run. We just didn’t execute them.”

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