Repeat after me, Ravens: “Leave the referees alone…”

October 05, 2009 | Drew Forrester

It’s back to work for the Ravens today and let’s hope John Harbaugh is the first guy to stand up in the meeting, sign a form, and say, “Hi, my name is John.  I hereby pledge to leave the referees alone this week when we play the Bengals.”

Everyone in unison can then say, “Hi John…” – and the meeting will begin.

Let’s hope the Ravens put Sunday’s loss in New England behind them and get ready for an AFC North showdown with Cincinnati.

Don’t look now, but the Bengals have the same record as the Ravens at 3-1.

And while I highly doubt that Carson Palmer & Co. are capable of coming into M&T Bank Stadium and winning, I also highly doubt it will be a cakewalk for the Ravens.

The Bengals have a much improved defense — particularly in their secondary — and their offense is geared to the pass, which could give the Ravens once-vaunted-now-vulnerable-defense trouble on Sunday afternoon.

Harbaugh’s first measure of business today should be to admonish the players for their post-game spewing about the officiating in Sunday’s game at New England.  Of course, it’s kind of hard to come down too hard on them when the coach himself became Captain Unglued in the 2nd quarter and picked up his own 15-yarder for razzing the zebras.

And afterwards, rather than state the truth — “It was a helluva game and we gave them all they could handle and they came out on top…this time.” — the players had their own mini-meltdown and concluded it was the officiating that made the difference in Foxboro.

All it did was – to borrow a term from my life these days – “cost the players diaper money”.  $25,000 can buy a lot of Huggies #5, I assure you.  Moaning about the referees doesn’t change the fact that the Ravens had their chances to win on Sunday and couldn’t.  Mark Clayton’s drop was not referee-enhanced and when Tom Brady guided the Pats down the field in the 3rd quarter to the eventual game-winning score, I don’t remember a referee beating Domonique Foxworth for the TD catch in the end zone.

And while a couple of the calls could definitely be considered ticky-tack, I’m one of the rare guys (I guess) who thinks protecting the quarterback is the right thing to do.  They’re the most vulnerable athlete on the field — and, often, the team’s most prized investment — and I contend the rules in place to protect them are better OVER called than UNDER called.  And I’m saying that with hope that Joe Flacco gets protected by them all season.  With Flacco, the Ravens can win the Super Bowl.  Without Flacco, they couldn’t win a best-of-5 series with the Texans.

Harbaugh barking at the refs during the game gives his players a license to do the same thing and it’s just not productive.  In fact, it’s counter productive.

I expect Harbaugh to lead by example.  

So, like the players, I’ll put Sunday’s loss behind me and move on to the Bengals.  This will be my last b*tch session about the players forgetting the golden rule of sports:  a referee has never once, not ever, said, “you know, I hear those guys in the other locker room complaining about the job I did today — I think we should think about going back out there for another quarter and give them the chance to catch up.”  

I’ll put Sunday’s loss in the rearview mirror and move on.

Let’s hope the Ravens do the same thing.