The Ravens had multiple opportunities to put away a game they should’ve won against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. But poor clock management and questionable noncalls got in the way of Baltimore starting the season 3-0 for the first time since 2016.
Take the error that resulted in a critical miscommunication when the Ravens set up to return a free kick after forcing Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew into a safety, leading 19-16.
In the final moments of regulation, the Ravens initially believed the free kick would happen with the clock set at 1:58 and that a fair catch would give them the safest route to running out the clock, given the possibility of an onside kick. Yet the time was updated after officials reviewed the play and ruled that Minshew had stepped out at 2:05 before he was sacked.
With that change, it meant the Ravens should’ve returned the kick instead of signaling for a fair catch so they could return the ball under the two-minute warning. That wasn’t communicated to rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers, who signaled for a fair catch, giving the Colts an extra opportunity to stop the clock with the two-minute warning.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh took responsibility for the miscommunication when talking with reporters Monday, a day after the 22-19 overtime loss to the Colts.
“I’ll take responsibility for that,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to be better at that. That should not have been a fair catch. We knew it and we didn’t get the word to Zay like we needed to.”
On the ensuing drive, the Ravens had less chance of running out the game clock. They had to run a play before the two-minute warning stoppage, and eventually gave the Colts the ball back with enough time to go down the field and tie the game.
“We did not do the job we needed to do to communicate to our guys after the change was made once they were on the field,” Harbaugh said. “We might’ve thought we did, [but] that’s the way it goes in communications. We’ve just got to do a better job communicating.”
Questionable noncalls on Flowers will be sent for review
The Ravens had two tough noncalls stain the ending of Sunday’s loss to the Colts.
The first was a fourth-down play in overtime that became a controversial noncall and eventually resulted in a game-winning field goal from Colts kicker Matt Gay.
After the Colts failed to convert a fourth-and-1 situation on the Ravens’ 46, Baltimore got the ball back with good field position. Two incomplete passes from Lamar Jackson and a 7-yard gain set up a key fourth-and-3 at Indianapolis’ 47.
On fourth down, Jackson saw Flowers across the middle, but the pass was incomplete. Flowers and the Ravens immediately looked for a flag as they (and most people watching) believed Colts linebacker E.J. Speed got his hands around Flowers’ waist to disrupt the play.
During the fourth quarter, officials missed a face mask on Flowers late in the game that would’ve given the Ravens new downs and a better chance to run out the clock. Instead, the Colts eventually got the ball back and tied the game with another Gay field goal.
Harbaugh said those plays will be sent to league officials for review this week, along with other plays they’re seeking clarification on.
“We’ll be sending those in for sure,” Harbaugh said. “Absolutely. We’d like to get some clarification on those. … Those are definitely two that we’ll be asking about.”
Tylan Wallace placed on Injured Reserve, Josh Johnson re-signed
The Ravens placed wide receiver Tylan Wallace (hamstring) on injured reserve Monday, meaning he’ll miss at least the next four games. Wallace was hurt on a special teams play in the loss against the Colts. He’s played just one offensive snap this season, but remains an important special teams member for the Ravens.
In a corresponding move, the Ravens used Wallace’s open roster spot to re-sign veteran backup quarterback Josh Johnson. Harbaugh said Monday that Johnson, who was waived last week, was cut as part of the roster moves they needed to make because they didn’t have enough healthy guys for Sunday. Johnson was praised by Harbaugh for his unselfishness and understanding.