Harbaugh: Ravens' Chances of Winning vs. Packers 'Higher' on 2-Pt Attempt Than in OT

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 20, 2021

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 05: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 05, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh waded into the NFL's analytics debate when addressing his decision to go for two toward the end of Sunday's 31-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Harbaugh told reporters the Ravens' odds of winning "were a little bit higher than in overtime maybe if you calculate it out."

Baltimore Ravens @Ravens

"Trying to win the game right there." <br><br>Coach Harbaugh on the decision to go for two: <a href="https://t.co/EXKK5sNtmO">pic.twitter.com/EXKK5sNtmO</a>

Tyler Huntley put Baltimore in a position to force overtime when he found the end zone on an eight-yard run with 42 seconds on the clock.


TYLER HUNTLEY. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RavensFlock?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RavensFlock</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsBAL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsBAL</a> on FOX<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/v9iAI6gaUS">pic.twitter.com/v9iAI6gaUS</a>

Undeterred after a similar gamble didn't work in Week 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh went for the lead and saw Huntley's pass for Mark Andrews fall incomplete.

Green Bay Packers @packers

Defense comes up BIG! 💪<br><br>The two-point try is NO GOOD!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsBAL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsBAL</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a> <br><br>📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/1yqbLzZ3XG">pic.twitter.com/1yqbLzZ3XG</a>

The call is bound to generate plenty of discourse about whether analytics "nerds" are ruining the game of football. The irony is that Harbaugh probably wasn't even utilizing analytics in the way they've been used in the NFL.

Mike Renner @PFF_Mike

“Analytics” will be blamed but truth be told Harbaugh didn’t even follow them <a href="https://t.co/UfGmtu9ZS6">https://t.co/UfGmtu9ZS6</a>

Mina Kimes @minakimes

Well, I can't speak for Baltimore, but ESPN's model had it as slight lean kick (per <a href="https://twitter.com/SethWalder?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SethWalder</a>). I imagine this was Harbaugh preferring his team's ability to pick up a couple yards vs. stopping Rodgers with a beat-up secondary. <a href="https://t.co/dCbLJefieD">https://t.co/dCbLJefieD</a>

Yaya Dubin @JADubin5

All of the predictive models today: "Harbaugh should probably kick but going for it isn't terrible."<br><br>All of the TV shows this week, probably: "All of these analytics said Harbaugh should go for it and that's why they suck!"

An undermanned Ravens secondary allowed Aaron Rodgers to go 23-of-31 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, Green Bay's four second-half possessions before Huntley's scoring run resulted in a touchdown, touchdown, field goal and punt.

Would Baltimore have shut down Green Bay's offense in overtime? It's impossible to say, but Harbaugh's apparent concern wasn't without merit.

And that's before you factor in how the team was down to its backup quarterback. Huntley played well in place of Lamar Jackson (28-of-40, 215 yards, two touchdowns; 13 carries, 73 yards, two touchdowns), but pinning your hopes on the second-stringer in OT isn't ideal.

One could argue Huntley earned the right to go toe-to-toe against Rodgers, and it wasn't as if Sunday's contest was one-sided. The Ravens outgained the Packers 354-346 and were close in yards per play (5.9 for Green Bay and 5.3 for Baltimore).

But attempting to steal the win in regulation was an understandable calculation for Harbaugh, even if it didn't work out.