After Marcus Peters' sideline outburst, Ravens defend John Harbaugh's 4th-down decision

BALTIMORE – Marcus Peters became incensed to the point two Baltimore Ravens staffers needed to restrain him on the sideline. If not, Peters may have found himself face-to-face with head coach John Harbaugh in the closing seconds of their 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The potential altercation squashed, Peters was escorted away and toward the Ravens locker room. He fired his helmet into the ground. Moments later, Tyler Bass kicked through a game-winning, chip-shot field goal as time expired.

The reason for Peters' explosion? Likely, it was Harbaugh's decision to leave the offense on the field for a 4th-and-goal attempt (at the Buffalo 2) minutes earlier with the score 20-20, which ended up with quarterback Lamar Jackson throwing a costly interception and Buffalo driving down the field. But Peters left the stadium without speaking to the media. And Harbaugh downplayed the incident.

“Emotions run high. We’re on the same page,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got a great relationship. We’ve got an honest relationship. I love him. Hope he still loves me. We’ll see.”

NFL NEWSLETTER: Sign up now for exclusive content sent to your inbox

UNDEFEATED: Eagles improve to 4-0, overcoming bad start, weather in gutsy win against Jaguars

Ravens coach John Harbaugh reacts during the game against the Bills on Sunday.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh reacts during the game against the Bills on Sunday.

At one point Sunday, the Ravens asserted their will against the Bills in the battle of AFC heavyweights. Then the offense stalled, while Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills cut out the turnovers that allowed Baltimore to build its lead.

Allen's 11-yard run in the third quarter tied it, and the Ravens started their final drive of the game with 13:38 to go from their own 5-yard line. They advanced 93 yards and chewed 9 minutes and 23 seconds of game clock.

“I felt like it gave us the best chance to win the game,” Harbaugh said.

The worst that could happen, Harbaugh said, was that the Bills would go down the field and tie the game.

The worst-case scenario was somehow worse. Jackson had to scramble on fourth down, and as he rolled right, he saw receiver Devin Duvernay in the back right corner of the end zone. The ball was late, though, and wound up in Jordan Poyer's arms. Harbaugh said going for it would mean backing up the Bills' offense near their own goal-line even if unsuccessful. But the turnover brought the ball out to the 20-yard line and gave the Bills sufficient breathing room to go win the game.

"I was fine with it," Jackson said. "If we had executed and got the touchdown, nobody would be disappointed."

Peters' reaction was the outlier, though. Baltimore's players respected the aggressiveness that is preternatural for their coach.

“That’s our coaches having the utmost confidence in us, calling the play,” right tackle Morgan Moses said. “Whatever the case is, whatever the look is, it’s our job as players to execute. So I have no issue with it. But at the end of the day, it’s our job to get into the end zone.”

The bigger problem, Moses said, is Baltimore's inability to close out games through the first four weeks. A defensive collapse against the Miami Dolphins cost the Ravens their home opener, and now they have two second-half blunders attached to their 2-2 record.

"We can’t come out in the second half and move the ball (only) five yards (on the first drive)," Moses said. "You got to make moves. You got to make the defense feel you. We didn’t do that … whether it’s rain, sleet or snow."

On the defensive side, cornerback Marlon Humphrey wrote on Twitter: "I love the decision to go for it instead of take the points. We gotta close it out on defense…Tough loss."

Added tight end Mark Andrews, who had two catches for 15 yards on five targets: "I’m a dog. I like to attack. I like that (Harbaugh) likes to attack, too."

Thinking back on the last drive for the Ravens, Moses said there is no other answer than the one everybody already knows – including Peters.

"You got to finish," Moses said. "You go 95 yards, you got to finish in the end zone.

"And that’s on us as players."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: John Harbaugh, Marcus Peters get heated; Ravens defend late-game call