The Ravens played a defensive snap on Sunday with only nine men on the field.
Crazy but true.
My database stretches back to the beginning of 1999, during which time the Ravens have played with 10 a handful of times (and gotten away with 12 once!), but this is the first time they ever played a snap with 9 on defense.
The play happened with the Raiders 1st and 10 from their own 41 (Q2, 6:38). To summarize facts from the broadcast video:
–Jernigan (3 pt), Suggs (2 pt), and McClellan (2 pt) lined up on the line of scrimmage.
–Orr and Mosley were both in at ILB.
–The starting 4-man secondary of Smith, Webb, Weddle, and Wright were all on and visible.
–The Raiders were running no huddle, which makes substitution more difficult.
–Dumervil and Young, who were on for the previous play, left the field, but were not replaced (the personnel was otherwise identical).
–Neither Harbaugh nor a player on the field was able to call timeout, although it appears Orr was signaling for 1 as the play was snapped.
–The play was a routine handoff to Murray, who ran for just 4 yards. The Ravens heroes on the play were Jernigan, who held space at the point of attack, and Zach Orr, who beat his block from the TE to make the tackle. The Raiders had 2 linemen (LT Alexander and C Hudson) each move to level 2 but fail to make a block. The Ravens were fortunate with the result to say the least.
–In particular, Albert McClellan’s role as the impromptu standing NT was quick thinking.
–The players on the field all turned to the sideline after the play as if to say “WTF”. I’d be shocked if that was not a direct quote of at least 1 of the 9.
–You can see Jimmy Smith clearly laughing about the alignment as he walks towards the bench.
Our seats are on the opposite sidelines and I thought I recalled seeing 2 players (perhaps Pierce and another lineman) start onto the field, then turn back and return to the sideline. We happened to notice it because Maureen records the DBs for each play at the stadium (it’s easier to do there than get it from the broadcast video).
It was a weird play, but a great job of recovery from the players on the field to line up as best able.
I’m not sure how a mistake like this occurs, but I’m guessing it started with a failed communication of some sort. It should have ended with a timeout called by either Mosley (with the green dot) or Harbaugh (I believe only the head coach is allowed to call timeout when the clock is running).