Ray Horton defends Hail Mary differently

November, 14, 2013
11/14/13
2:37
PM ET
Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton did not have his typical quirky statistic ready for the media during his weekly gaggle.

It appears his daughter was married over the weekend so he said he got away from football.

But he was well aware that the Bengals sent Sunday’s game into overtime with a Hail Mary reception made possible by a Ravens blunder. Safety James Ihedigbo went to knock the ball down and instead popped it up -- and right into the waiting hands of A.J. Green for a touchdown.

Horton has heard ESPN's Chris Berman and Tom Jackson yelling “knock it down.”

But he doesn’t buy it.

“I don’t teach that,” he said. “I teach catch the ball.”

Horton said he would point out the Green Bay-Seattle (the replacement ref game) and Tennessee-Detroit games from last season, and the Cincinnati-Baltimore game this season as examples of teams that wound up giving up a touchdown by trying to knock the ball down.

“The proverbial thing is knock the ball down,” Horton said. “Well, half the time you don’t. I’ve seen [guys] knock the ball down into the ground and the guy catches it at his feet for a touchdown. So I don’t teach it.”

Horton is a numbers guy, and he said there is nothing statistically to prove knocking the ball down works better or worse than trying to catch it.

“Catch the ball,” Horton said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what they’re trying to do.

“Catch it.”

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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