Harbaugh concedes Huntley got execution wrong leading to Hubbard's 98-yard game-winning TD

Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh refused to criticise Tyler Huntley but says he failed to execute the play design leading to Sam Hubbard's game-winning fumble return TD on Sunday.

The Ravens were eliminated from the postseason 24-17 by the Cincinnati Bengals, with Hubbard's touchdown marking a 14-point swing with Baltimore pressing for a go-ahead score at the time.

The Bengals' defense held on, before Huntley tried a QB sneak on a third-and-goal, leaping into the air with both hands on the ball, but it was knocked out by Logan Wilson allowing defensive end Hubbard to recover it and race away for a 98-yard touchdown, which was the longest fumble return TD in NFL playoff history.

"We felt we had a good call," Harbaugh told reporters. "It's a push sneak play.

"It wasn’t executed. Tyler went over the top. It's a burrow play, he needs to go low on that. That's the way the play is designed. We felt like that was the best call, we just didn’t execute it right."

Huntley, starting in the absence of injured former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, kept the Ravens in the contest with a strong performance that was praised by Harbaugh. The Ravens lost four of six games this season that Jackson did not start.

The Ravens QB threw 17-of-29 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, along with 54 rushing yards having had injury concerns coming into the game. Huntley's career-best 35-yard run had got the Ravens within the goal line before Hubbard's TD.

"Tyler Huntley coming in and playing the way he played coming off the shoulder and wrist injuries and fighting his way back on to the field," Harbaugh said. "Just giving it everything he had, that kind of performance.

"We didn’t win the game, we're disappointed in that, but I've got nothing but admiration for our guys."

Cincinnati's win means Zac Taylor is 4-1 in playoff games as Bengals head coach. The Bengals scored 14 points off two Ravens' turnovers, with QB Joe Burrow held to 209 yards on 23-of-32 passing.

"That's why you just never give up on a drive," Taylor said. "Even when it's down there, inside the two, that's what our defense, the whole redzone really over the last couple of years has been awesome from our defense. Today was no different.

"For Logan to knock that ball out, Sam to finish that off 98 yards, it really changed the momentum of the game. You're looking at a 14-point swing there, going down seven, going up seven.

"It was a challenge on offense. It's one of the better defenses we faced all year. We knew that going in and our defense really carried us in the fourth quarter. We needed that."