Hey, Jamison

December 05, 2008|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Jamison.Hensley@baltsun.com

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Give your name and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.

HEY, JAMISON: : Why didn't John Harbaugh try to score when we got the ball on the 20-yard line with one minute left [against the Bengals]? Strength of victory is the fifth tiebreaker, and the Ravens might need that against Pittsburgh.

Mike Singer, Ellicott City

HEY, MIKE: : You bring up an interesting argument because there is a chance - assuming the Ravens beat the Steelers on Dec. 14 - that the two teams could split the head-to-head meetings and have the same record for the other tiebreakers (within division, against common opponents and within AFC).

But strength of victory, which is the fifth tiebreaker, is not based on average margin of victory. It's figured by calculating the combined winning percentage of the opponents a team has beaten. At this point, the Steelers have a better strength of victory (.388 to .338).

My biggest question in the fourth quarter wasn't that the Ravens decided to take a knee in the final minute. I found it interesting that the Ravens still had Joe Flacco playing in a game they led 27-3 entering the fourth. By pulling Flacco, the Ravens avoid an injury to their franchise quarterback and give some playing time to backup Troy Smith.

HEY, JAMISON: : Frequently it seems that when the Ravens initiate their version of the Wildcat or Suggs offense, they have trouble aligning personnel and have to use a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty. What is causing the confusion?

Ed Berger, Berlin, Md.

HEY, ED: : It has become a substitution issue.

When the Ravens rotate players in and out of plays, it's usually a wide receiver coming in for another wide receiver or a tight end coming in for a fullback. It's a different substitution pattern when a second quarterback is coming onto the field.

On Sunday, wide receiver Mark Clayton was running back from the 5-yard line and didn't know the substitution pattern. The play clock only allows 40 seconds for the offense to get the right personnel onto the field, call a play and line up. If there is any confusion, it usually results in a delay of game or a timeout.

Harbaugh addressed the issue, saying: "We want to get that ironed out, but it's something that we work on. We can do better with that."

HEY, JAMISON: : Ian Eagle mentioned on the CBS broadcast of the Ravens' game Sunday that Frank Walker had been deactivated for the week because he refused to play on special teams. Has this been addressed by Coach Harbaugh?

Greg Hirsch, Harrisonburg, Va.

HEY, GREG: : Walker couldn't shed any light on why he was inactive for the first time this season.

"You've got to ask coach," he said. "But I'm sure they had good reason, though. I'll say that."

So the rest of this section should be called "Hey Harbaugh." Since Walker's deactivation hadn't been addressed, I asked Harbaugh for the reason behind it.

"We just try to get our 45 best guys out there," he said. "We felt like [backup cornerback Evan] Oglesby was going to give us a great chance to be successful."

Harbaugh said it wasn't true that Walker refused to play special teams.

"To say that Frank wouldn't want to play special teams is totally inaccurate. He's excited to have a chance to maybe play this Sunday. We'll see how it shakes out."

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