The Baltimore Ravens could have taken the lead in the final five minutes of Sunday's loss to the Buffalo Bills if they kicked a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but head coach John Harbaugh elected to go for it.
Lamar Jackson threw an interception in the end zone—negating the field-position advantage—and the Bills capitalized with a game-winning field goal on the final possession to clinch a 23-20 victory.
"I felt like it gave us the best chance to win the game because seven [points], the worst that happens is if they go down the field and score—and I think we'll get them stopped—but if they go down the field and score a touchdown, the worst thing that can happen is you're in overtime," Harbaugh told reporters.
It didn't appear as if everyone agreed with his decision, as cornerback Marcus Peters shouted at the head coach on the sidelines as Buffalo lined up to kick the field goal.
"Emotions run high," Harbaugh said. "We're on the same page, he and I. We have a great relationship; we have an honest relationship. I love him. I hope he still loves me; we'll see. I'm a Marcus Peters guy."
The decision to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal wouldn't have even mattered if Baltimore maintained its level of play in the early going.
The Ravens seized immediate control with two J.K. Dobbins touchdowns in the first quarter and eventually built a 20-3 advantage in the first half. Yet the Bills' touchdown in the final 10 seconds of the first half proved ominous.
Buffalo scored 10 points in the third quarter during a stretch that included a Josh Allen touchdown run, and its field goal as time expired was the only scoring play of the fourth. Baltimore didn't manage a single point in the second half after operating with ease prior to intermission.
Jackson has looked like an MVP candidate for much of this season, but he was just 20-of-29 passing for 144 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions as a passer. He struggled to find a rhythm following the Bills' second-half adjustments, and his final interception in the end zone was the most costly.
Next up for the Ravens is a critical AFC North home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, so they won't have much time to dwell on Sunday's close loss.