Trying to Stay Sane

December 04, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Okay, I am as inclined as anyone to buy into conspiracy theories, but at the end of the day I am a realist too. Why would the league be inclined to advance the interests of the Patriots in light of the “Spygate” scandal? If anything, you’d think the league would want the Patriots out of the headlines altogether this season. However, given the “slap on the wrist” penalty that the Pats received, and the quick fashion in which the league destroyed the tapes, maybe there was more on those tapes than just stolen defensive signals. There were reports that the Pats had secretly miked some players, who knows what may have been caught on tape. Or maybe Belichick had his spies working off the field too; maybe Kraft is a real gangster. Far fetched? No doubt, but at least it helps me deal with last night’s loss in some small way.
Actually though, the same thought occurred to me on opening day, after the bad call seemingly cost us the game against Cincinnati. If the league were interested in determining the outcome of games, than why would they want to make sure that the Bengals won? The same Bengals who lead the league in bad press, it just doesn’t make sense.
You could give in to the Tim Donaghy angle, although the 20 point spread was blown early, the late TD was the difference between the over and under on every line that I saw. With that said, I’ll have to watch the game again, but it didn’t look like a game where the refs were trying to promote scoring.
Last thing on the conspiracy angles, while it does seem to be in the best interest of the league to have a team challenge the Dolphins perfect season. It would seem to me that it is not in the best interest of the league to actually have a team achieve perfection. Wouldn’t that take away from future runs at the mark? Then again, with the leagues retirees giving the commissioner so much bad press, maybe he wants to write the ’72 Dolphins out of the record book, and out of prominence altogether.
Now to what actually happened on the field, and my last point on the refs as well. You have to remember that at the end of the day, the referee is just a man, at work trying to do his job. The whole world changed for me, when I realized that this is true with most people that I deal with, outside of family and friends. People at work have good days and bad days; and what’s more is that they are human. Like it or not, as humans we are all prone to allow emotion and personal feelings to affect our judgment. It’s not right, but it’s true. We do not treat everyone at work the same, even though we should. We also don’t inherently treat people badly, unless they have made some type of negative impression on us. Maybe it’s time that the Ravens looked in the mirror.
I am not saying this to excuse or condone any calls that were made last night or in any other game. But if the Ravens are consistently getting the short end of the stick in terms of officiating, than maybe they are doing something to bring on that behavior. One thing is for sure, if you look at last night’s game, week one against the Bengals, week five last season against the Broncos and week five in 2005 against Detroit, and there is not one common official among the four crews. Four games in which Ravens fans felt that they got the short end of the stick and four separate, nine man officiating crews all seemingly out to get the Ravens.
Is it possible that the Ravens on field antics in some way impact the calls that they get or don’t get? Could their off the field reputations feed into this as well? Could referees be reading the papers and reacting to the Ravens questioning the officiating after seemingly every loss? Could Billick’s treatment of officials on the sidelines be costing us calls? Not to mention, that we have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. Who knows what takes place between the league office and the officiating crews as a result of complaints made by the team.
One thing is clear, we have to do something to change our reputation. One novel approach would be to shut up and play football. In fact, the Ravens may be at a point now, where they could seemingly gain favor with the league. Not just by behaving, but by making it known that they are making an real effort to control their on field behavior because they feel that it is casting them in a negative light. Similar to Chad Johnson’s proclamation that he was finished dancing because the team was playing so badly, the Ravens could proclaim themselves more humble. However, when it came to Chad Johnson we found out that he had stopped dancing only because he stopped scoring. If the Ravens proclaimed themselves more humble, they’d have to follow through with their actions. Otherwise wholesale changes may be necessary in order to change their perception around the league, or maybe some new pink uniforms.
Other Game Notes:
  • These losses will hopefully hurt a lot less on draft day.
  • All things considered, we faced the best team in the league, and took their best shot, and nearly came away with the win. There are no such things as moral victories, but this has to be encouraging for the future, we are not as bad as our record indicates for sure.
  • On the Ravens last two possessions with the lead, they consistently snapped the ball with 7 seconds on the play clock. This may not have made a big difference in the game but is still a concern.
  • It may be more satisfying to see the Pats go undefeated and lose in the playoffs than it would to see them lose in the regular season and then win it all.
  • Boller’s interception came from the 30-yard line, with the wind last night a 47-yarder was anything but guaranteed there. Stover is 8/11 from 40-49 this season, and hasn’t attempted a 50-yarder all year. The Ravens also passed up a 44-yarder getting a first down on 4th and 6 going the same direction early in the game.
  • Chris McAllister is, and always has been the key to the Ravens dominant defense. It’s no coincidence that the team’s reign of defensive dominance coincides exactly with his tenure here, and when he plays badly the team is bad.
  • After last night’s game I am more confident than ever that the Chargers will win the Superbowl. It fits the trend first of all, the previous 2 winners were the team who had the best record the season before, and went into the playoffs basically unheralded the following season.
  • To beat the Pats it seems on offense you have to run the ball, control the clock and attack the middle of the field with your passing game. On defense you have to get line pressure up the middle, mix up the edge rush, contain the slot receiver and stop the run. This seems to be a game plan made for the Chargers, plus remember that the Chargers have a score to settle too, they didn’t take too kindly to the Pats doing the lights out dance on their field in last year’s playoffs. Don’t read too much into what happened to San Diego in week 2. They had a new coaching staff, and allowed the game to get away from them early. This may also incline the Pats to take them somewhat lightly at playoff time.