Late For Work 10/28: NFL Admits Refs Made Mistake, Explains How


NFL Admits Refs Made Mistake, Explains How

NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino admitted that second-year referee Ronald Torbert missed seeing guard John Urschel properly signal that he was reporting as an eligible receiver during Monday night's game.

The reason Torbert missed it? He was distracted.

"What the referee was actually doing at that moment, he was correcting a number from a foul on the previous play, and he just didn't recognize [No.] 64 signaling him," Blandino said during his weekly "Official Review" segment on NFL Total Access. "We didn't recognize that he reported, and that's why the penalty was called."

The penalty flag wiped off Urschel's 6-yard catch in the first quarter of the Ravens' 26-18 loss, and the offense incurred a 5-yard penalty.  His completion should have created a second-and-4 on the Cardinals' 7-yard line, but instead the offense was backed up and ultimately settled for a field goal on its opening drive.

Per NFL rules, an offensive player wearing the number of an ineligible receiver (Nos. 50–79 and 90–99) is permitted to line up in the position of an eligible receiver (Nos. 1–49 and 80–89) as long as he immediately reports the change in his eligibility status to the referee.

Blandino confirmed that Urschel did everything according to protocol in terms of reporting as an eligible receiver.

"Mechanically, we're looking for players, especially ineligible players who are going to report as eligible, they are going to come into the game like you saw Urschel do and they are going to basically wave their hands over their chest to signal to the referee that 'I'm reporting as eligible,'" Blandino said.

"It's important that the referee recognizes that, it's important that the player gets a visual signal. You'll see [Urschel], he is signaling to the referee."

Some folks around town aren't satisfied with the explanation. It doesn't appear as though Torbert is physically doing anything that would distract him from seeing Urschel.

"[Torbert] using mental telepathy to 'correct a number from a foul on the previous play,'" tweeted Russell Street Report's Brian Bower. "Looks directly at Urschel."

Here's an alternate theory from our "Funny Pages" author, Ben Rosen:

ESPN's Ed Werder pointed out that officials have been punished in the past for missed calls, but Tolbert and his crew will not be punished because the mistake was determined "not to be critical to the outcome of the game."

"So now the Ravens have an explanation," wrote's Clifton Brown. "But they still got the penalty. And they still have their sixth loss. Feel better?"

Baltimore fans also had questions about the refs not calling running back Chris Johnson down when it appeared his forward progress was stopped. After Brandon Williams thought Johnson was tackled, he let him go, and Johnson ripped off a 62-yard run.

"The NFL considers the late whistle … to be a judgment call," reported Werder.

And what about the headsets going out on the final drive?

All Seven Ravens Games Decided By One Score. Is That A Record?

I've received questions about how the Ravens' first seven games decided by one score compares to NFL history. Is it some type of record?

Well, ESPN Stats and Info dug into the books and discovered it's rare, but not unheard of.

Baltimore is the third team in the last 15 seasons to have each of its first seven games decided by eight points or less. The Ravens are the only team to lose six of those contests.

What consolation does that bring to Ravens fans, Luke Jones?

Will Davis Has Successful Knee Surgery

Ravens cornerback Will Davis announced on Twitter that he had successful surgery on the torn ACL he suffered in the Ravens' Week 5 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens traded a seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Davis on Sept. 21, and he had already found his niche in the secondary in just a few weeks. Head Coach John Harbaugh seemed optimistic about what Davis could bring to the table when he returns next year. Davis is under contract through the 2016 season.

"He was playing at a really high level," Harbaugh said.

Five Players Up, Five Players Down … PFF Grades

The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli put together his list of five players whose stock is on the rise and five on the decline after Monday's loss in Arizona. In addition, I've added the PFF grades from the game.


Tight end Crockett Gillmore:"That quarterback Joe Flacco always seems to find him in the hurry-up and tries to force him the ball in the red-zone in these situations is good for both his standing in the offense and his relationship with the quarterback. It seems like that should extend to the rest of the game, though."

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk:"Juszczyk was considered a threat to catch 50 passes entering last season, and he's not terribly far off the pace to do that this year with hardly any of the fanfare."

Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley: "It hasn't been the best sophomore campaign for the Pro Bowl linebacker, but he made plenty of impact Monday."

Defensive end Chris Canty:"Last week, I asked Chris Canty if he was afraid of being supplanted for good by Lawrence Guy, who stepped up big-time while Canty was on his way back from a calf strain. All Canty did in his return was make six tackles, including one in the backfield."

The core special teamers:"There are a few players in this group who are singled out in the other direction, but a week after punter Sam Koch deservedly took his place in this space, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg's entire core group gets the nod here. Guys like Anthony Levine and Albert McClellan made plays just like they always do, and Asa Jackson took advantage of his opportunity there for a huge punt block. This unit is constantly close to making a play, and with inconsistency plaguing the team in the other two phases of the game, the Ravens' seven one-possession games might not have all been so close if not for the special teams."


Cornerback Jimmy Smith:"After a few regrettable deep balls early in the season, Smith has played like a guy just trying to stay top-side and not get beaten for the big play. … His declaration that he wouldn't talk about his foot essentially means it's not healthy, and it's difficult to fault him for that, but this is just the reality so far for him this year."

Running back Justin Forsett:"Forsett has been a victim of circumstance this year, as the Ravens stumble into situations in which they have to throw to catch up basically every game, but he just couldn't get it going Monday."

Safety Brynden Trawick:"This is about as unfair as it gets, considering Trawick was essentially fifth on the depth chart and faced one of the league's most prolific offenses in his first NFL start. But tackling is something you do on special teams too, and Trawick's lapse in that aspect Monday on Chris Johnson's early touchdown was crucial."

Wide receiver Jeremy Ross:"Ross' fumbling issues that contributed to his availability at the end of the preseason cropped up at a bad time for the Ravens."

Wide receiver Kamar Aiken:"The up-and-down season for the Ravens' No. 2 receiver continued. The good news for Aiken is that games like Monday's are less frequent than they were last season as he was growing into his role in the offense. But this was the third game out of seven where Aiken was limited to essentially nothing."

Quick Hits

Don't retire, Steve. #MNF — ESPN Monday Night (@ESPNMondayNight) October 27, 2015

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