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Ravens' Clock Management on Final Drive Ripped in Bengals Loss Without Lamar Jackson

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2023

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JANUARY 15: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens reacts from the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Paycor Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens put up quite a fight without Lamar Jackson, but they ultimately fell just short in a playoff showdown against the reigning AFC champions.

The Cincinnati Bengals escaped the AFC Wild Card Game with a 24-17 victory on Sunday at Paycor Stadium and will face the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. Yet their chances at a second consecutive Super Bowl were hanging in the balance until the final play even though Jackson was sidelined with a knee injury.

Baltimore started its final drive down seven at the Cincinnati 46-yard line with more than three minutes remaining but took a seemingly casual approach to the possession and didn't use its timeouts until it was too late.

Tyler Huntley had to throw a de facto Hail Mary as a result, as the 10-play, 19-yard drive ended in unceremonious fashion and plenty of criticism for head coach John Harbaugh's clock management:

Chris Vannini @ChrisVannini

Don't use your timeouts to save game clock and then you have to use one to beat the play clock. Gross.

Brent Axe @BrentAxeMedia

I'd like to see a sideline interview now with Melissa Stark asking John Harbaugh about this clock management

David Aldridge @davidaldridgedc

It's just hard to believe how bad clock management is around this league, even on the good teams.

Adam Rittenberg @ESPNRittenberg

I will volunteer to manage clock for coaches. Will never understand how this gets repeatedly butchered at the highest levels of the sport.

Bill Rabinowitz 🗞 @brdispatch

Baltimore's clock management has been … curious.

Kevin Harrish @Kevinish

At least the Ravens have two timeouts though

Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli

Harbaughs and timeouts, man.

Benjamin Solak @BenjaminSolak

see it's all well and good to say "we're gonna keep our timeouts so we can use the entire field" until you get a holding penalty lol

Tim Layden @ByTimLayden

No need for that time the Ravens spent huddling, nope not at all...

Michael David Smith @MichaelDavSmith

Ravens are awfully casual about allowing lots of time to run off the clock

Rob Oller @rollerCD

John Harbaugh must think timeouts are overrated

David Gardner @byDavidGardner

I wonder what John Harbaugh's plans for those timeouts are this offseason

The clock management wasn't the only thing that stood out in Sunday's game, as the Ravens had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter with a goal-to-go situation. Yet that possession turned into a 98-yard Sam Hubbard fumble recovery to break the tie and put the Bengals ahead for good.

It undercut an otherwise solid showing for the visitors, who were fighting an uphill battle with Jackson once again sidelined. The last time he played was a Dec. 4 win over the Denver Broncos, and he tweeted Thursday that his knee "remains unstable" because of a Grade 2 PCL sprain that is close to a Grade 3 injury.

NFL @NFL

Sam Hubbard takes the fumble 98 yards for the TD ‼️<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BALvsCIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BALvsCIN</a> on NBC<br>📱: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/hNJJJGqxGF">https://t.co/hNJJJGqxGF</a> <a href="https://t.co/PoVImXrfpz">pic.twitter.com/PoVImXrfpz</a>

Huntley played well for stretches with touchdown passes to Demarcus Robinson and J.K. Dobbins, the latter of which used his full extension to reach the goal line in an incredible effort. The backup quarterback also used his legs to hurt Cincinnati's defense, and Dobbins accounted for more than 100 yards while putting the team on his back for stretches.

Ohio State Football @OhioStateFB

Live look at <a href="https://twitter.com/Jkdobbins22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Jkdobbins22</a> on his touchdown <a href="https://t.co/16N3ci7WXA">pic.twitter.com/16N3ci7WXA</a>

The formula of controlling the clock and using long, methodical drives to keep Joe Burrow on the sideline almost worked until the fumble, and ironically, poor clock management proved to be the Ravens' undoing.

They will surely think about their missed chances throughout the offseason.