Clinging to a 19-12 lead over the Bengals with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, with the ball at their own 20-yard line, the Ravens faced the prospect of punting, and giving Cincy a faint chance at a return, or possibly a hail mary heave into the endzone as time expired.
Instead of kicking the ball away, and leaving the game in the hands of his special teams or defense, Ravens coach John Harbaugh cooked up an outside-the-box gem, straight out of The Longest Yard, that sealed the game for Baltimore.
As soon as the ball was snapped to Ravens punter Sam Koch at about the 10, the Baltimore special teamers all blatantly held the Cincinnati defenders and threw them to the ground, refusing to let go of their jerseys.
The holding flags began to fly as Koch jogged around the back of the end zone, and eventually stepped out to take the safety as the clock hit :00.
The safety made the score 19-14, but because only defensive penalties can extend the game once the clock has expired, the game was over, despite Baltimore’s mass hold-in.
In terms of end-of-game clock management, this play gets 4 Belichicks.
— Scott Schmelzle (@Schmelzle_Chem) November 28, 2016
It wasn’t the first time Harbaugh engaged in an orthodox punt to bleed the clock at the end of a game. He pulled a similar stunt against the Niners in Super Bowl 47. He wasn’t able to run out the clock against San Francisco, but ran off enough time to clinch the Super Bowl victory.
Here’s a clip from the previously referenced Longest Yard. The good one with Burt Reynolds, not the crappy one with Adam Sandler.