The Baltimore Ravens have been getting a little bit more creative on offense this year, and they might’ve pulled their best trick so far this season in the fourth quarter of their 26-14 win against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Baltimore lined up tight end Maxx Williams next to the center as the left guard on the play — with a caveat. Williams was inside the offensive line, but lined up just far enough off the line of scrimmage to make himself eligible as a receiver.
Here it is. The Ravens lined up the TE at LG off the ball. So clever! Love it. pic.twitter.com/QmWL74w7Qa— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 1, 2018
The Ravens slid their offensive line left, rolled Joe Flacco out to the right, and Williams was WIDE open in the middle of the field. Williams broke a couple tackles for a 22-yard gain. Baltimore ended up kicking a field goal on the drive that extended the lead to 23-14.
Retired referee Terry McAulay joined the broadcast and explained Williams probably shouldn’t have been an eligible receiver on the play. Players can’t be lined up past the waist of the center (which he barely was), but that’s a difficult play to notice in real time. It was a fun play to watch, even if Baltimore might’ve pulled a fast one on the refs and the Steelers:
Sneaky formation design by the Ravens, placing the TE/H off the LOS between the Center and Guard and sending him out on a pass. Tough for the defense to identify as an eligible receiver from that position. pic.twitter.com/ZCGQMPr6LW— SpreadOffense.com (@SpreadOffense) October 1, 2018
It’s funny that the Ravens ran this play considering John Harbaugh was furious when the Patriots ran something similar against Baltimore back in 2015. Harbaugh ended up using that same exact play against the Raiders later, even though it had him irate when New England used it.
This play on Sunday night with Williams has the same idea: throwing a route to a player lined up like an offensive lineman.
As the old proverb goes: If you aren’t barely playing within the legality of the rules, you aren’t trying.