Sometimes you just need enough things to go through your way to make it through. On this day, the Pittsburgh Steelers got that, and the Baltimore Ravens did not. One could make a case that the Ravens looked like the better team for most of the day, at least outside of the turnover margin, but the Steelers came away with the victory, and now a two-game lead in the AFC North.
Facing 4th and 2 from their own 45 with 26 seconds left and no timeouts, Lamar Jackson was able to hit Willie Snead for a 32-yard gain. They had to race down the field to try to spike it, ultimately doing so with eight seconds left.
Heyward had already gone down with an injury near the line of scrimmage. The broadcast speculated that time would be added back to the clock going back to the point that the play ended and the injury had been identified, but no time—which could have been up to seven seconds or more—was ever added. They had eight seconds to run what proved to be two plays.
“I asked about the time, I got no answer on that. I think they said the time was fine”, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after the game. CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said during the broadcast that “I think there’s definitely more than the eight [seconds] that we’re looking at right now”.
While they may have had a case there that they should have had more time (the play itself ended with 18 seconds remaining), Harbaugh and Snead also complained about a hit to the head on the final play of the game in the end zone. “As far as the last play, the shoulder to the helmet”, there was no explanation. “They didn’t say a word about it. They just ran off the field.”
Snead said that he felt it could have “gone either way” regarding a call. “When I got hit, it just happened so quick. As soon as the ball touched my hands, I got hit. So, it’s like, you never know. I didn’t know how he hit me, seriously, but I got hit in the head. So, I’ll just leave it at that”. Steratore, on Twitter, emphatically disagreed.
“Minkah Fitzpatrick is making a play on the ball so the contact to the receiver is not a foul”, he wrote. “Any incidental contact by an opponent’s hands, arms, or body when both players are competing for the ball isn’t a penalty”.
Regarding the end of #PITvsBAL, Minkah Fitzpatrick is making a play on the ball so the contact to the receiver is not a foul. Any incidental contact by an opponent’s hands, arms, or body when both players are competing for the ball isn’t a penalty. pic.twitter.com/2UBsXTCIWb
— Gene Steratore (@GeneSteratore) November 1, 2020
Fitzpatrick nearly recorded an interception on the play, and perhaps would have if Justin Layne hadn’t crashed into both players in the air to try to ensure an incompletion. What is clear is that Fitzpatrick was making a play on the ball when he made contact with Snead in a way that is entirely permissible.
Harbaugh probably has a case that they should have had a few more seconds, and as a result possibly could have run one more play, but the Ravens were certainly off the mark as it concerns how the final snap of the game was played.