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Ravens go for win instead of playing for overtime, open themselves up to losing No. 1 seed in AFC

John Harbaugh’s appetite for risk may cost him the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh reacts after a call during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After giving up a touchdown and two-point conversion to the Pittsburgh Steelers near the end of the game, the Baltimore Ravens drove down the field admirably to set up the game-tying extra point after Lamar Jackson found Sammy Watkins for a touchdown. Head coach John Harbaugh had other ideas, though, and decided it was time to go for the win with 12 seconds left.

Let’s ignore, for a second, the fact that Jackson had Mark Andrews open and should’ve converted this pass for the easy two-point conversion and win. The Ravens have Justin Tucker, essentially an automatic from almost any distance at this point in his career. Baltimore entered the game as the top seed in the AFC, though the margin for error was slim with the Titans, Patriots and Chiefs right behind them. Playing for overtime doesn’t guarantee a victory but it does give you some room for error.

Harbaugh is not averse to risk, which is refreshing when you consider how often NFL coaches fold in pressure situations. In this case, however, the risk far outweighed the reward. The Ravens aren’t a team fighting for their playoff lives. They’ve had some bad weeks offensively but still managed to put together a drive when it mattered. To not take the game to overtime there opens Harbaugh and the Ravens up to a potentially avoidable loss.

With the loss, the Patriots and Titans have both jumped the Ravens in the standings. The Chiefs could also be 8-4 at the end of Week 13. If Baltimore ends up missing out on the No. 1 seed and only bye in the conference, Harbaugh might have to look back on this decision with a lot of regret.