Harbaugh stands by onside kick attempt

Ravens coach would attempt onside kick again if given opportunity

October 25, 2011|By Edward Lee

Ravens coach John Harbaugh continued to stand by his decision to attempt an onside kick late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After quarterback Joe Flacco had connected with wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a 5-yard touchdown strike to make the score 9-7 with 2:02 remaining in the contest, Harbaugh called for an onside kick. But Billy Cundiff’s kick did not go past 10 yards, giving the Jaguars the ball at the Ravens’ 37-yard line. Four plays and four yards later, kicker Josh Scobee drilled his fourth field goal, a 51-yarder.

On Tuesday, Harbaugh said he would not have changed his mind if given another chance.

“Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m even more sure that it was the right thing,” he said. “And I think you can go both ways on it, but we had a chance to do a probability study – that’s another thing that [head coach’s assistant] Matt Weiss does – on the probabilities for kicking an onside kick, and that’s given a 21 percent onside kick recovery rate. And that’s assuming that’s [having Cundiff kick off would result in] a touchback, so that they get the two-minute warning, which – if I’m them – I’m bringing the ball out unless it’s kicked out of the end zone. I think it’s fair to say that you can do it either way. I felt strongly about the onside kick, and the main reason was, I thought we were going to get it. So you can take that 21 percent and make it 50 percent-plus in my mind because I liked our scheme on that play. And if you look at the play, we had them outnumbered at the point of attack. If that ball goes 10 yards – which is not asking too much – then we’re going to recover that ball. Now we’ve got the ball with two minutes plus two timeouts plus a two-minute warning to go from the 45 or 50 into close field-goal range and give us the best chance to make a kick and win the game. I thought about it, I felt strongly about it then, and I feel even more strongly about it now, that it gave us the best chance to win. But I also acknowledge that you can definitely make the case the other way. If everything works out perfectly the other way, you have a chance to win the other way, too.”

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