The Baltimore Ravens took advantage of one of a seemingly endless number of inequities in the NFL rule book to seal a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Holding a 19-12 lead but facing a fourth-and-3 from their own 28-yard line with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Ravens, despite having two unexpended timeouts, took a delay of game penalty that pushed them back to the 23. Apparently, it was all part of the plan to milk the clock.
When the ball was finally snapped to punter Sam Koch, he backpedalled into the end zone while every player on the Baltimore line blatantly held their respective opponent. As Ravens players hugged, grabbed jerseys, did whatever they had to do to keep Cincinnati at bay, Koch loitered in the end zone before stepping out of bounds and taking the safety.
The field was littered with flags thrown for the holding penalties, but the final whistle blew and the game ended with the score: Baltimore 19, Cincinnati 14.
While an NFL game cannot end on defensive penalty, the Ravens - even though they were in punt formation - technically were playing offense.
Coach John Harbaugh deserves credit. The rule may not seem fair, but Harbaugh saw the chance to take advantage of it.