I suppose this is why referees and officials get police escorts when exiting football stadiums. In what will forever be debated and replayed second only in Baltimore football history to the Jim Tunney call in Green Bay two generations ago, tonight’s shocker from referee Walt Coleman in regard to the game-winning touchdown by Santonio Holmes will live in infamy as the worst call of this generation.
I was standing directly in line with the goal line on the final play. The ball didn’t come close to breaking the plane of the goal line. The replays pretty much confirmed that. Many Ravens players gave their analysis of the play and were careful to not wind up on commissioner Roger Goodell’s fine docket, but it was a tough, tough scene in the Ravens locker room after this one.
Everyone said the right things – and almost all of them admitted that they shouldn’t have allowed it to be close enough that a bad officiating decision would cost them a chance at the division title, a potential bye and any hope of a home playoff game in January.
But this was one brutal loss.
Honestly, the Ravens really didn’t play a great, sound football game. The defense was stellar all night and opportunistic even when they did give up some yardage, but the offense was sluggish most of the day. But this was as close of a football game as you’re going to find. It felt all afternoon as though it would come down to one play or one call.
We just had no idea it would be a call so glaringly suspect that ultimately decided the game and in some respects the entire season.
Pool reporter Jamison Hensley spoke to Coleman after the game and he confirmed that he “saw the ball break the plane of goal line.” Perhaps he’s the only one in the universe who saw it that way. Many in the Ravens organization were questioning what the rule states. Is it “two feet in” or does the ball need to break the plane of the goal line?
But I have a feeling that Mike Perreira and his crew won’t be overturning the decision tomorrow. The Steelers, at 11-3, are the division champs. The Ravens are 9-5 and will be thinking about that play for a long time.
The Ravens were quick to point out after the game that if they win in Dallas and beat Jacksonville at home they will be in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. They still control their own destiny but face the challenge of a short work week and a roadtrip to close the stadium in Irving on Saturday night.
We’ll have more analysis as the week goes along but there will be much said about the offense’s lack of productivity overall and proclivity to run on first down almost exclusively tonight.
And the defense did enough to make 9 points hold up all night until the 92-yard drive at the end.
It’s a tough night to be a Ravens fan.