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John Harbaugh sticking with fourth-down logic in Buffalo loss

Head coach John Harbaugh's Ravens have lost a litany of games late in recent weeks.Patrick Smith/Getty

John Harbaugh is standing firmly by his decision to go for it on a late fourth down Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

“It’s easy to make a safe decision that just puts it on the players,” the Baltimore coach said Monday. “You can do that. That’s easy. I’ve just never been one to take that route.”

The Ravens lost, 23-20, when the Bills kicked the winning field goal with no time remaining. That came shortly after Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson threw an interception on fourth down from the Buffalo 2-yard line. The decision to try for a touchdown in a tie game backfired on the Ravens.


Harbaugh explained taking a seven-point lead was obviously preferable to going up by three, and he felt the downside risk was mitigated by that if Baltimore failed on the play, the Bills would be pinned back near their own goal line.

What he didn’t plan on was that Jackson would be chased back by the pass rush and, in an attempt to avoid a turnover on downs, force a pass into coverage that was picked off in the end zone. That gave Buffalo the ball at the 20 and presumably allowed the Bills to be more aggressive on offense than if they took over at the 2.

A late gaffe from Lamar Jackson helped pave the way for a Buffalo come-from-behind win.Rob Carr/Getty

“I’m thinking either seven, or I’m thinking the ball’s at the 2-yard line,” Harbaugh said. “And I really stand by that decision.”

The bigger problem for the Ravens (2-2) is they’re on a pretty poor run when it comes to converting these aggressive calls.

Baltimore lost six games in a row to finish last season. The Ravens missed a 2-point conversion at the end of a game at Pittsburgh and lost, 20-19. They missed another 2-pointer at the end of a 31-30 loss to Green Bay. Last month, a key fourth-down stop helped Miami rally to a 42-38 win over Baltimore.


Also Monday, defensive back Jimmy Smith announced his retirement after 11 years with Baltimore. He was drafted by the Ravens in 2011 and never played anywhere else.

Bucs: Cameron Brate battled delayed concussion symptoms

Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said tight end Cameron Brate experienced delayed symptoms of a concussion after initially complaining about shoulder discomfort following a collision with a teammate during the first half of the Buccaneers’ 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bowles said Brate was checked out three times before being allowed to re-enter Sunday night’s game with the Bucs driving for a touchdown that trimmed an 18-point deficit to 28-17 just before halftime.

“He went on the sideline. He complained of shoulder discomfort, nothing about his head. He was checked out three times,” Bowles said.

“He said give him a minute. Nothing came up. He went back in until the end of the half,” the coach added. “At halftime, he started having symptoms. Obviously, they were delayed. He started complaining about that. They tested him, and he’s in the [concussion] protocol. We kept him out the rest of the game.”

Brate was shaken up with less than two minutes remaining in the half after catching a pass for a 9-yard gain and colliding with Bucs receiver Chris Godwin while being tackled. He remained on the ground for a few seconds, stood up, and began jogging to the sideline under his own power.

The tight end re-entered the game and was the intended receiver on three incompletions Brady threw while finishing a 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. Bowles said an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant did not ask the Bucs to test Brate for a concussion.


Giants facing quarterback conundrum with injuries

The New York Giants are off to their best start since 2011, and there’s no need to tell the team to stay focused. New coach Brian Daboll’s 3-1 team has injury concerns galore, starting at quarterback.

The Giants aren’t sure who will be taking snaps as they begin preparing for a game in London against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Starter Daniel Jones has a sprained left ankle and backup Tyrod Taylor is in the concussion protocol. It could result in veteran Davis Webb as the starting QB at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He’s never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game.

What does the future hold for Daniel Jones?Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Jones was hurt while being sacked in the third quarter of New York’s 20-12 win over the Chicago Bears. Taylor suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter on his second series. It forced running back Saquon Barkley to run a wildcat offense during the final seven-plus minutes with Jones on the field to relay the play calls from the coaches.

Daboll said Jones was better Monday, but his status will depend on how he does in practice this week.

Brian Robinson Jr. close to return from shooting, could play Sunday

Brian Robinson Jr. has been cleared to practice with the Washington Commanders just over five weeks since being shot in an attempted robbery, and there’s a chance he plays as soon as this weekend. Robinson is expected to begin his acclimation period to return from the non-football injury list. The team then has 21 days to activate the rookie running back, but that could happen in time for him to face Tennessee on Sunday. “We’ll see how that goes,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I’m optimistic about it. Just in listening to everything I’ve heard, it’s very promising” . . . Standout Denver running back Javonte Williams is out for the year after tearing his right ACL in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, and pass rusher Randy Gregory needs knee surgery and will miss multiple weeks. First-year coach Nathaniel Hackett said Gregory, who got hurt chasing Derek Carr with about six minutes left in the game, will have arthroscopic surgery soon and IR is a possibility. The good news is an MRI showed his ACL was intact . . . A day after outrushing Cleveland in a home victory, the Falcons placed leading rusher Cordarrelle Patterson on injured reserve following minor knee surgery. He will miss at least the next four games . . . Baker Mayfield will remain the Carolina starting quarterback for next Sunday’s game against San Francisco despite yet another poor performance that ended with him getting booed by the home crowd at Bank of America Stadium. Third-year coach Matt Rhule said Sam Darnold is not ready to return from a high ankle sprain and wouldn’t be available until next week at the earliest.