This is the most absurd play of the 2016 NFL season. The Baltimore Ravens were up by seven on the Cincinnati Bengals with 11 seconds left in their game on Sunday. It was 4th-and-8, and all that Baltimore needed to do was boot the ball and hope the Bengals couldn’t go essentially the length of the field in only four or five seconds.
At least that’s what conventional wisdom says the team should have done. However, John Harbaugh had another idea: since a game can end on an offensive penalty, why not just commit a whole bunch of penalties so that the play takes 11 seconds? Instead of risking the punt getting blocked, a huge return, or a big touchdown by the Bengals, he decided to do that.
The ball got snapped to Sam Koch, who just stood there for a while as the clock ticked down. The reason no one got to him was that basically everyone on the Ravens’ punt team just mauled everyone in a Bengals uniform. It was the most egregious penalty that we’ve ever seen, but unlike most penalties, this helped Baltimore way more than it hurt them.
It’s a little surprising we don’t see more of this, as there are ways to take advantage of the NFL’s rulebook to help your team out in late game situations. Regardless, Sunday was one heck of a day for the Ravens’ special teamers.