The officials made a pair of critical – and controversial – calls in the final minutes of Sunday's game against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium.
Fortunately for the Ravens, they ended up on the positive side of the whistle, which proved critical in their 9-6 victory. After the game, players and coaches from both teams sounded off about the calls, not surprisingly taking contrasting viewpoints.
The first call in question came on the Chiefs' final drive, where a Dwayne Bowe touchdown catch was taken off the board because wide receiver Dexter McCluster was flagged for offensive pass interference. The officials ruled that McCluster set a pick and intentionally impeded cornerback Jimmy Smith, which freed Bowe for the score. The rule is about intent, so whether the contact was intentional is key.
Had the touchdown stood, the Chiefs would have taken a 10-9 lead provided if they hit the extra point.
"It was a good call," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "You can't do that. You can't pick a defender. We thought they did it two or three times during the game and we thought the refs did a great job of seeing it and calling it."
McCluster felt differently.
"Obviously, I don't agree with it, but that's the game of football," McCluster said. "They called the flag so you have to deal with it."
On the Ravens' next drive, quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked by Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who popped the ball out after he wrapped up Flacco. The Chiefs picked up the football and ran into the end zone, but the officials had already ruled the play dead because Flacco was in Hali's grasp and his forward progression was stopped.
The play was non-reviewable because the officials had already blown the play dead.
"I heard the whistle, so I knew they couldn't review it and I knew I was down," Flacco said. "I haven't seen the play on TV or anything to see if they should have made an 'in the grasp' call, but as far as I'm concerned, I was kind of stood up and when I heard the whistle I still had the ball."
After the game, Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel didn't say whether he agreed with the calls, but he also didn't use the officiating as an excuse for the loss.
"I don't know if he was right on both calls, but he called it and there's nothing I can do about it," Crennel said. "So we have to live with the call."
This isn't the first time that the officials have made critical calls in the fourth quarter of a Ravens' game this season.
In their Week 2 loss to the Eagles – when the replacement officials were still referring – the Ravens had a fourth-quarter touchdown of their own wiped off the board when wide receiver Jacoby Jones was flagged for pass interference. Some of the Ravens were critical of the call at the time, but with the regular officials back and the calls going in the Ravens' favor, it was a much different tune on Sunday.
"There were some calls that went against us and there were some calls that weren't called that we thought should have been called, but that's always going to be the case," Harbaugh said. "Those were two good calls."