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“Chaos” rules day in Philly with scab officiating, Ravens tightrope loss

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“Chaos” rules day in Philly with scab officiating, Ravens tightrope loss

Posted on 16 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Today I did something I’ve never done as a journalist in 28 years of covering sports. Today, I walked into the Baltimore Ravens locker room and the story really wasn’t as much the razor-thin outcome as the ways and means that the purple guys suffered a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

At every end of the Ravens locker room – from veterans who I’ve never heard utter a bad word about the officials to the coaches who will be mortified when they go back and watch this film – the officiating was the central story of the bitter loss.

A late, reversed call on a phantom pass from Michael Vick that was receovered by the Ravens in the red zone?

A “no yellow flag” pass interference call on Jacoby Jones that took six points off the board for the Ravens? Joe Flacco said the official “threw a beanie.”

Multiple instances where the officials didn’t know what down it was or where to spot the ball?

And, most egregiously, the obvious punching match between DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams that any neophyte NFL fan knows calls for an immediate ejection must make anyone in the league office cringe because that’s a no-brainer and set the tone to allow four more melees to break out at different points in the game.

Several veteran Ravens players chatted with me off the record – as you know the NFL fines anyone who states the obvious about this sham going on with the zebras – and said the biggest issues are the calls being made down the field when the ball goes in the air.

No one knows where the line is for a pass interference call. No one can assess what will be called holding and what won’t. Then there’s the inherent chippiness and ability to bully and further confuse and befuddle these already confused men in black and white.

And as Joe Flacco pointed out, “I think you’re not too smart if you’re not trying to get away with that. See if you can get a call?”

Harbaugh and the Ravens have a chance each week to send notes to New York to the league offices to review plays. Clearly, with this sham today in Philadelphia, he might not even bother filing out a report.

“The challenge for us right now is figuring out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact? What constitutes P.I.?” Harbaugh said in the post game.

No one in the purple locker room came out and said: “We lost the game because of the officials.” Let’s make that clear. Many just said, “It’s a shame.” Flacco says the integrity of the game is being compromised. Ray Lewis had to be pulled away by the Ravens’ PR staff before he said something that would get him fined.

But he did have a litany of interesting things to say and didn’t mince words:

Strange days for the league. Strange days for the officials. And “chaotic,” as it was called by John Harbaugh, seems to reign right now not just for the Ravens but for all teams trying to get a grip on the officiating.

Where is Roger Goodell to answer these questions?

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Ravens fall in Philly: Put this one on bad coaching and horrible pass coverage

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Ravens fall in Philly: Put this one on bad coaching and horrible pass coverage

Posted on 16 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

Let the second-guessing begin.

I don’t know any other way to say it, so I won’t mince words or try to come up with some creative way of putting it.

If you have two time-outs remaining and it’s 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1, one of those plays must be a run play to get the first down and extend the game.

You have a red-hot field goal kicker, booting it with the wind.  Honestly, all you might have needed there was to get to the Eagles 42 yard line and Justin Tucker would have been a fair bet to kick a 59-yarder to win the game.

Instead, Cam Cameron sent in two passing plays to end the game.

And Joe Flacco didn’t change them at the line of scrimmage.

Two plays later, with two time-outs still on the clock, the Ravens turned the ball over on downs and the Eagles won, 24-23.

Now, in fairness, Philadelphia deserved to win.

Michael Vick, Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson torched the Ravens linebackers and secondary all afternoon.  I don’t think the great Chicago fire of 1871 was as damaging.  If not for three red-zone turnovers, Philadelphia would have won the game with ease.  The Eagles, as the saying goes, hung around long enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  Credit to them.

The Ravens, meanwhile, essentially put Ray Rice on hiatus for most of the second half, that is until their penultimate drive when Rice accounted for 60 yards as the Ravens used Tucker’s third field goal of the day to go up 24-23.  I’m not quite sure how it happens that one of the best all-purpose backs in the entire league goes 20 minutes or so and touches the ball three times, but that’s what happened on Sunday.  When Rice got the ball in the first half, he was deadly.  When he finally touched it late in the 4th quarter, he was again a wrecking ball.  When he didn’t factor in the game-plan, the Ravens offense stalled.  You figure it out.

Flacco’s performance was as puzzling as the late game play calling. He was sharp in the first half, going 14-for-17 for just 92 yards and a TD throw to Jacoby Jones.  He looked a lot like the Flacco who carved apart the Bengals last Monday night.  In the second half, he looked more like – gasp! – Kyle Boller.  Following an ill-advised throw that was picked off by DeMeco Ryans on the first series of the second half, Flacco went into what we formerly referred to “affectionately” as the Boller-shell.  He was off on his throws, looked unsure of himself and was apparently rattled by the Eagles pass rush and the pick he threw to Ryans.  It didn’t help, of course, that Michael Oher was so ineffective on the left side that Harbaugh and Cameron had to go with Bryant McKinnie for a couple of series’ just to try and keep their quarterback from getting pounded.

(This is also the spot where I could rake the officials over the coals, but in all honesty, they were horrible on both sides of the ball all day, so writing about their influence on the game is moot.  They stink, as we’ve all seen, and the league should be embarrassed beyond belief for having them out there.  They’re just in over their head, period.  Enough said on that topic.  And as far as I could tell, none of the refs called two passing plays on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 to end the game.)

In a league where every game counts – mostly at the end of the season when you’re scraping for every piece of daylight in the standings you can get – this one might very well come back to haunt the Ravens later on down the road.  With Tucker’s dynamic leg, Baltimore was literally only about 15 yards from a very reasonable field goal attempt when they approached their own 46 yard line with 57 seconds left to play.

I was in the press box at Lincoln Financial Field saying, “Run the ball here…get the first-down…and call a time-out.”

They threw it.  Incomplete to Dennis Pitta.

With two time-outs remaining, another pass play was sent in on 4th and 1 and that, too, fell incomplete.

I’m a dummy from Glen Burnie, admittedly, but you just can’t lose a game like that when you only need one yard to keep a drive going and you have two time-outs to burn.

This one shouldn’t sit well with John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco.  I know Joe likes to air it out and I realize he’s trying to “announce his presence with authority” (Bull Durham reference, thank you very much), but the number one goal on the agenda in the final two plays was easy — get a first down.  That gives you four more plays, at least.

Not getting a first down there is just unacceptable.  Period.

And that’s how you lose football games that you coulda, shoulda, woulda won.

 

 

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