October 11, 2009

Ravens Victimized by Referee's Objective Error Again

Every team's fans gripe about officiating, especially when they've lost a couple. The Ravens, though, have been the victims of two officiating mistakes that resulted not from a judgment call, but from a blatant misapplication of the rules.

In today's game against Cincinnati, Joe Flacco completed a short pass to receiver Mark Clayton on the right side of the field. Clayton was brought down at the 25, losing the ball as his knee struck the ground. The officials correctly ruled him down by contact, and the play was upheld on review. In the replay, Clayton clearly was tackled directly on the breast cancer awareness ribbon at the 25 yard line.

Referee Terry McAuly is the culprit this time.

When the ball was spotted after the review, the officials placed it at the 20, not the 25. The Ravens faced 3rd and 16, rather than 3rd and 11. Cincinnati promptly jumped offsides, which should have resulted in a Ravens 3rd and 6 at the 30. The Ravens, with a 3rd and 11 deep in their own end, failed to convert and had to punt with 2:44 remaining.

Would they have converted the 3rd and 6 and sustained a scoring drive? Who can say? The point is that there is absolutely no excuse for a seven-man on-field officiating crew to steal yards from a team. They didn't even place the ball at the previous line of scrimmage, they actually placed it one yard farther back. Had the Ravens lodged a protest, the league might have been placed in the embarrassing position of having to replay the game from that point forward.

Last year, the Ravens also suffered an objectively incorrect application of the rules. In the fourth quarter, Kerry Collins and the Titans were driving to try to take the lead. Check out the official gamebook explanation of the game-changing play:

(5:57) (Shotgun) 5-K.Collins pass incomplete deep right to 19-J.McCareins. PENALTY on BLT-55-T.Suggs, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at TEN 20 - No Play. Penalty on TEN-71-M.Roos, False Start, superseded.

No, that isn't what was called. The officials called Suggs for roughing the passer after he grazed Collins' helmet. The play never happened. There was a false start. By definition, there cannot be a roughing the passer call on a play that never happened, and thus no pass was thrown. We see flags picked up all the time for fouls that occurred after a dead ball foul, such as a false start or delay of game. Some personal fouls can be assessed even if they occur between plays, but not one where the condition precedent is that the quarterback throws a valid forward pass.

Not only did the officials blow the call and the interpretation, the NFL actually manipulated the gamebook to make the call look like unnecessary roughness, which would have been valid.

With the 15 yards (a 15-yard penalty supersedes a 5-yard penalty) and the automatic first down, the drive stayed alive and the Titans won.

How will the NFL change the gamebook this time? As it stands right now, this is the official entry from today's game:

(3:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass short right to 89-M.Clayton to BLT 20 for -1 yards (41-C.Ndukwe). Cincinnati challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2.)

Let's see what happens. I'll check it next Sunday.

1 Responses:

Anonymous said...

quit whining - - Bengals at top of AFC North - rightfully so ..

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