The World Weighs In On Smith Pass Interference Call
Legitimate offensive pass interference?
The world is debating, and there is no shortage of opinion.
Quarterback Joe Flacco heaved a miracle game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith Sr. with 47 seconds left in the game, only to have it nullified by an offensive pass interference call.
One person who absolutely, 100-percent, agrees it was a pass interference committed against Bengals safety George Iloka is … George Iloka.
"It was a damn good call because I thought right away he pushed me," said Iloka, per FoxSports.com. "I'm bigger than him. He can't push me off. He can't out-jump me for it. We both looked back. He had both hands on my chest, knocked me off and the ref called it. It was a great call."
But let's get some thoughts from some unbiased voices.
Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating for the NFL, agrees it was the right call. Pereira says in the video below that Iloka did NOT flop, and Smith pushed off with his left arm and pulled with the right arm to take the defender to the ground.
But then there are some in the "ticky-tack" camp.
That camp includes former Ravens wide receiver and WBAL color analyst Qadry Ismail, who was fuming on Twitter. There were a string of tweets from Ismail, who said the contact is just part of football and it was a "horrible" call.
The "ticky-tack" argument is that receivers and defenders jostle all the time, and don't always get called for it – especially with the game on the line and divisional implications at stake.
"Smith's quick shove could be called almost every play, and it's not," wrote Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab. "So was it fair to change the outcome of a game by calling it then?"
While USA Today blogger Chris Chase says the Ravens can't necessarily have any beef because Smith invited a flag with his extended arm, he also says there's justifiable reason for no flag to be thrown at all.
"Disagree with Pereira at your own peril, but it's not unreasonable to think the officials could have easily, and properly, kept the flags in their pockets, namely because Iloka didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt in this case," wrote Chase. "He got bailed out after playing poor coverage and losing his footing."
There are plenty of people who are arguing both sides, as can be seen below, but the fact remains this Monday morning the Ravens lost the game and are now in second place in the AFC North.
Good Call Camp
Mark Viviano (WJZ): "Upon review: penalty on Smith is a heart-breaker for Ravens but the push-off is hard NOT to flag. If DB does same to WR, it's flagged."
Mike Preston (The Baltimore Sun): "It was definitely pass interference on Ravens receiver Steve Smith. It's not supposed to be flag football, but refs have been consistent."
Brad Jackson (CSN, former Ravens linebacker): "stop it! Point of emphasis this year! All teams getting it! SSS#89 had no complaints! Arm extended = PI period"
Bad Call Camp
Gerry Sandusky (WBAL): "Watched the Smith Sr TD pass/interference 10 times now. Still think terrible call. Iloka flopped. Official overstepped his role. Poor call."
Steve Davis (105.7 The Fan): "That is a lame pass int. He didn't flop. He just lost his balance and fell. Come on refs!"
Garrett Downing (BaltimoreRavens.com): "Flop."
Attention Should Be On Another Game-Changing Play
As much as the world will argue the controversial call, the Ravens didn't use it as an excuse.
Instead, they said they could have changed the outcome of the game with the other 124 plays in the 60-minute contest.
The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec agrees, pointing to a 53-yard reception by Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu that set up the game winner when the Ravens had the lead in the fourth quarter.
"Dominique Franks and Terrence Brooks absolutely can't get beat deep on that 53-yard reception by Mohamed Sanu. But it happened," he wrote.
"All the attention in the days ahead is going to be on the offensive pass interference … but it shouldn't be. … Joe Flacco needs to play much better. The receivers need to do a better job against press coverage. The defense has to make stops at the end of the game. That should be the focus, not the offensive pass interference call."
Brooks, a third-round rookie, took responsibility for the play.
Ravens In Trouble Without Jimmy?
Everyone wants to know how top cornerback Jimmy Smith is doing after he sprained his left foot on the opening drive yesterday.
"If Jimmy Smith is out for any substantial amount of time, this team is in trouble," wrote The Sun's Jon Meoli.
The concern with Smith missing a long period of time comes from the fact the Ravens have just three healthy corners: Lardarius Webb, Chykie Brown (inactive yesterday) and Franks (recently signed). Not to mention, Smith was rated the 10th best corner in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Teammate Praised Pierce After Healthy Scratch
Running back Bernard Pierce was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career.
The decision to sit Pierce and activate six receivers was a good call, as the Ravens needed all of their receivers because of injuries to Torrey Smith and Michael Campanaro. Nonetheless, Pierce was projected to be the starter after Ray Rice was cut, and it was surprising to outsiders not to see him suit up.
Pierce didn't talk after the game, but teammate Justin Forsett had good things to say about how Pierce handled the situation.
"I talked to Bernard, he was helping us on the sidelines," Forsett told The Sun's Aaron Wilson. "He was encouraging us, so that was positive. I'm sure it was disappointing to him, but he was a great teammate helping us along."
Ravens Down, But Not Out Of AFC North
The Ravens were the only AFC North team to lose yesterday, making the division standings ridiculously tight.
No. 1: Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1)
No 2: Baltimore Ravens (5-3)
No. 3: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
No. 4: Cleveland Browns (4-3)
While the Ravens have more wins than Cincy, the Bengals get the top spot because of a higher win percentage. The Steelers have the same record as the Ravens, but get the third spot because they lost the Week 2 head-to-head matchup. And the Browns are just one game behind.
The Ravens are down, but they aren't out. The division is wide open.
"It was a tough loss, but far from a fatal one," wrote The Sun's Peter Schmuck. "The Ravens need to take care of business in Pittsburgh and they'll be in decent shape going into the second half of the season."
Baltimore may be catching the Steelers at the wrong time for the second round of this bruising rivalry, as they suddenly found a high-flying offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set team records with a whopping 522 passing yards and six touchdowns in a 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
But at least he gave Ravens fans one highlight they wouldn't mind watching: a blocked punt.
- Wilson noted that before suffering a hamstring injury, rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro was starting to establish himself as a threat over the middle with three catches for 40 yards. Including this beauty … [The Baltimore Sun]