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Ravens Call Out Replacement Referees

Posted Sep 16, 2012

Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco say the integrity of the league is at stake with the refs.

Several Ravens players expressed their displeasure with the replacement referees following Sunday's 24-23 loss in Philadelphia as controversial calls (and non-calls) played a major factor in the outcome of the game.

Linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco were especially vocal about their displeasure. Head Coach John Harbaugh talked about it too.

"They're going to hear this, week in and week out," Lewis said. "There are some serious calls the refs missed. That's just the way it is all around the league.

"For our league to be what it is, we have to correct that. These games are critical and guys are giving it everything they've got across the league. There are calls that if the regular refs were here, we know the right calls would be made."

A few calls in particular stuck out.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones was flagged for offensive pass interference on the Ravens' second-to-last drive after he caught a touchdown pass that would have given Baltimore a 10-point lead.

Jones was pretty tame, saying that in the referees' eyes it was pass interference, but in his it wasn't. Flacco was more opinionated about the call.

"He didn't even throw a flag. He threw a blue beanbag and then put his hands in the air like 'pass interference.' I mean, come on," Flacco said.

"The NFL and everyone always talks about the integrity of the game and things like that, and I think this is right along those lines. Not to say that these guys are doing a bad job, but the fact that we don't have the normal guys out there is a little crazy."

Then there was a fumble that was overturned just before the Eagles' game-winning touchdown.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was hit by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and the ball went forward. It was originally ruled a fumble, which the Ravens recovered, but after looking at the replay the officials said it was an incomplete forward pass.

"The ball was already coming out, the ball was shaky. He tried to push the ball, but you can't push the ball if the ball is fumbled," Lewis said, adding that you could watch the play 1,000 times and see the same result.

"How can you overturn that? Once again, I believe if the regular refs are here that call doesn't get overturned."

Then holding penalties throughout the game played a part in the Ravens' second-half offensive struggles. The Ravens receivers were constantly looking for flags in the second half with defenders draped all over them.

When they did get them, the penalties were determined to be illegal contact instead of pass interference, even if they occurred far down the field. Harbaugh called the game "chaotic." And yes, that applied to the officiating too, he said.

"They played a lot of man coverage and they were keeping our guys on the line of scrimmage and beyond pretty well," Harbaugh said.

"The challenge for us right now is figuring out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact? What constitutes pass interference? Really, I'm not sure on that."

The referees are on players' minds during games.

Lewis said there are conversations on the sideline about how the "real refs" would make the right call. Jones and tight end Dennis Pitta said players are adapting their game as more holding is being allowed in the game.

There were a couple other oddities as well. The referees mistakenly granted two two-minute warnings. They went to break too early at first.

They also mistakenly took an extra timeout away from Baltimore after a failed second-half challenge, saying the Ravens had one timeout left when they actually had two. They corrected the mistake just before the Ravens' final drive.

"We're not directly attacking them. But we are saying we need the guys that do their regular job. The time is now," Lewis said.

"If they want the league to have the same reputation that they've always had, then address the problem. Get the referees in here, let the games play themselves out. We already have controversy enough with the regular refs."

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