Glenn Clark: Why record-breaking race contradicts Ravens’ analytical mindset


“Grandpa, what do you remember when they tied the record?” “

“Oh, I remember it so well. I had just turned off the game and was sitting down for a late dinner. I think it was scampi with shrimp. About an hour later, my old neighbor Fred stopped by to see if Amazon had accidentally dropped off a package for him with us. He said, ‘What about that game earlier?’ Your grandma’s langoustines were pretty good, so I wanted to squeeze it. “Yeah Fred, solid win, see you later.” But then Fred said, “What did you think about them choosing the record?” to whom I said: ‘What record? When?’ He said: “At the end of the game! They didn’t get down to one knee to get over 100 rushing yards! ‘ And I said, ‘Who the hell had 100 rushing yards? The running backs were terrible and Lamar Jackson barely ran! ‘ So Fred said, ‘No! The team! The team ran for 100 yards! ‘ And I said, ‘Ah? And it’s kind of a recording, please say? ‘ Then Fred said, “Well, they tied the Steelers for the longest streak of 100 or more rushing yards in a game!” And I said, ‘They’ve done it now. Isn’t that nice? Well Fred, have a good week now. And wouldn’t you know my child, the langoustines were cold when I got home. I never really forgave Fred for wasting my time with all this nonsense.

And… scene.

I don’t want this to get too hyperbolic. The decision of the Ravens (John Harbaugh) to avoid the victorious formation at the end of their victory against the Broncos in favor of Lamar Jackson who sweeps in order to reach the mark of 100 yards rushing for a 43rd consecutive game n ‘ is not so bad a deal. But the “controversy” surrounding the decision is definitely more interesting than the record itself. Which, of course, is why there is no controversy.

As you can probably see, I didn’t think much about the decision. Let’s put a few things aside. First of all, I’m not very upset about it. It won’t change my opinion of John Harbaugh (who is of course an objectively exceptional coach). Second, I think part of the rejection of this column will come from those who don’t actually read it but instead redirect their misguided machismo and say something like, “Why should I care what the Broncos players think? They are just crazy that they couldn’t stop it!

Which I’m saying, quite clearly, that I don’t care what Broncos players think. They’re just crazy that they couldn’t have stopped it.

My opinion on the decision has absolutely nothing to do with the Broncos players being “livid” about it. If an athlete is so fragile that he is shaken by his opponent who is organizing a game of football in a football match, football may not be the sport for him.

My problem is that such a decision goes against the analytical decisions the Ravens have made in recent years.

No one was apparently injured on the game in question, but the risk of such an injury was greater than if the Ravens had simply gone to their knees. How can I find out? Because the Ravens have taken a knee EVERY time they’ve had the ball in the dying seconds of a game they’ve been leading by multiple possessions since at least the start of last season. (It’s definitely a much longer streak than that, I just chose to stop tracking after a certain point). Ravens (like all football teams) know that without committed players, the risk of injury drops dramatically.

There is, of course, some risk on ANY game. There is no greater risk on a running game called instead of taking a knee than a running game called earlier in the game (although that there weren’t many of those called for Jackson all day, if we’re fair). But there is DEFINITELY a greater risk of injury. And the risk of injury from an average play call is of course worth it, as the compromise is the payoff of helping the team win. We know the last second call didn’t help the Ravens win the game, so the payoff must have been significant if not, right?


John Harbaugh described the Steelers’ 43-game, 100-yard record tie-in streak with running streaks as something Ravens players and coaches will have “for the rest of their lives.” And I guess it’s true. I will have forgotten it myself at Thanksgiving, but maybe they will remember it a little longer.

Or maybe not.

“I’m glad we got the voice over,” Jackson said after the game. “I’m not going to lie, I don’t really care about the record. I don’t think about that. I only think about winning the game.

I try to be as nice as possible about it. Its pretty hard. What kind of “record” is that? Since when was 100 rushing yards AS A TEAM some kind of one-game accomplishment? Are we sure the Steelers of the 1970s knew they even had such a record? Were they ready to pop bottles if Jackson had been caught in the backfield?

Does the MLB team that holds the record for most consecutive games with eight or more hits have any idea they hold the record? Considering that 20 minutes of Google search couldn’t get me the answer, I’m guessing it probably isn’t.

There are circumstances where I would totally understand for a team to do something apart from kneeling at the end of a game. If a player threatened to break an important record – like the most rushing yards in a game, or if a popular player has a big incentive bonus that can be achieved – I would be more sympathetic to such a move.

But this?

It’s not even really an anomaly. It’s hardly a strange coincidence. Analyzes indicate that the risk was greater than the reward because the reward was… nothing at all.

It’s not so bad. But could you even imagine trying to justify such a decision if a player was injured on the game?

“Sure, Lamar Jackson finished for the year, but we also tied a record that neither of us knew existed until about three days ago.”


Photo credit: Kenya Allen / PressBox


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