DENVER — Interception in the end zone. Game is over. Had been over.
The Baltimore Ravens had wrapped up a 23-7 victory against the Denver Broncos on Sunday on an otherwise gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High.
There were 3 seconds left and all the Ravens had to do is have quarterback Lamar Jackson take a knee to wind the clock to 0:00 and begin the midfield handshakes.
> Above video: Staffing shortage at Empower Field.
But wait. What's this? Suddenly, the Broncos' sideline was going berserk with anger. The Ravens were going to run the ball on their final play. It seems they had 42 consecutive games of at least 100 team yards rushing. The mighty Pittsburgh Steelers with a running back tandem of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier had a streak of 43 games of at least 100 yards rushing from 1974-77.
And with 3 seconds left, the Ravens had only 97 yards. Harbaugh sent word to Jackson that he was to run the ball to pick up 3 yards and extend the streak.
> Watch the video of the play below:
“I don’t know what he was thinking,'' Jackson said. "I thought we would take a knee and he said, no, we’re going for it. The game was put away. ‘Double-A’ (CB Anthony Averett) caught that pick in the back of the endzone, congratulations to him, but I don’t know what coach was thinking.”
According to 9NEWS video, Broncos' defensive line coach Bill Kollar recognized what the Ravens were doing pre-snap and started screaming obscenities. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris also saw what it was up and he started uttering his displeasure at the perceived lack of sportsmanship.
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was upset enough he moved down to the line of scrimmage at the 20 yard line and tried to get his defensive backs, who were in a relaxed state anticipating the kneel down, to move up into the play.
When Jackson rushed for 5 yards to surpass 100 yards, Fangio threw down his headsets in disgust.
Harbaugh said it was his call.
Still, it clearly wasn't the most sportsmanlike decision. Fangio didn't mention the perceived slight as he shook hands with Harbaugh at midfield, although the greeting was short and cursuroy.
Broncos players were livid about the perceived "rub it in" type maneuver as they walked into their postgame locker room.
It's fair to point out that had the Broncos not called timeouts in the final 28, 20 and 13 seconds in an attempt for Drew Lock to throw a "garbage" touchdown to make the score closer, the final 3 seconds would not have been an issue. But as the timeouts were called, a touchdown with a 2-point conversion, onside kick recovery, and Hail Mary with a 2-point conversion was still possible. It may have been 1 percent possible. But still possible.
Anyway, the Ravens can break the Steelers' record and get their 44th game in a row with at least 100 yards rushing next week in their Monday night game against the Indianapolis Colts.
RELATED: At the center of Broncos' early success: Cushenberry embraces physical, cerebral requirements of position
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