To everyone outside of the Cincinnati area, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh probably looks like a genius right now.
The scenario: Harbaugh’s Ravens clutch a 19-12 lead against the Cincinnati Bengals with 11 seconds left. The Ravens have to punt, except they don’t—Harbaugh reached into the depths of his coaching creativity and realized he could have his guys commit illegal penalties…legally.
This looks like a game of NFL Blitz, where everyone starts smashing buttons and getting tackled. Baltimore didn’t try to block, just held or outright tackled Bengals players for 11 seconds. Harbaugh realized the loophole while the Bengals didn’t even think it was in play.
The result was the referees throwing plenty of laundry on the field, but grouping up and confirming they couldn’t legally put time back on the clock to give the Bengals a chance to respond—just the two points for the safety and another mark in the loss column.
So it goes for a team without A.J. Green that was only able to rush for 64 yards against a divisional rival and let itself fall into a 10- hole after the first quarter. The Bengals are now 3-7-1 with this play a good summation of the season as a whole.