You Won't See A Worse Blown Call By Refs All Year
There have been plenty of controversial calls made by NFL referees this season.
I can't remember the last time they were under so much scrutiny with weekly questionable calls.
But even with so much competition for poor rulings, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says nothing could be worse than the offensive pass interference flag thrown on undrafted rookie wide receiver Daniel Brown, which wiped off a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter of Sunday's 15-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
"That's as bad as call as you'll see all year long," wrote Zrebiec.
Based on the replay above, Brown clearly made little-to-no contact with cornerback Bobby McCain, who seemed to simply slip and fall down on his own.
"I think he got it backwards," Head Coach John Harbaugh said of first-year official Jabir Walker. "I haven't seen the play, but I've been told by everybody that he pushed off and fell down and Dan Brown didn't push him off at all, so he must have just got it backward. He's a rookie [official] and he messed it up."
The call stings a little worse for Brown on a personal level. He's been fighting to stay on the Ravens roster all season long, being cut and re-signed to the practice squad multiple times. He finally made it to the active roster with injuries taking a toll on the receiver unit. It was just Brown's second NFL game and it would have been his first career catch and touchdown.
And that wasn't the only questionable call by the referees.
The Ravens went for it on fourth-and-inches from the 2-yard line in the second quarter. Harbaugh's decision came as no surprise as he was 6-for-7 on his previous fourth-and-1 attempts this season. Schaub ran a quarterback sneak that seemed to be enough for the first down, but the spot by the official marked him short.
The stop cost the Ravens a 15-play drive that ate up nearly nine minutes on the clock.
"The surge clearly went past the six inches or less that we had to get," Harbaugh said. "He didn't give it to us on the spot. You can't challenge that, because in New York if they can't see the ball, they're not going to overturn. Whenever you get surge, the quarterback's got the ball right up by his chest and he's in there behind that offensive line, that's a first. It always is, always has been."
Schaub also said, "I think I [got the first down]. I know I did."
How do you feel about the spot, Steve Smith Sr.?
That's was a bad spot freakin Refs.... Doing it again — Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) December 6, 2015
With so many blown calls this season, it begs the question: what changes will the NFL implement this offseason, if any?
"The case could be made that the officials cost the Ravens two touchdowns in a two-point game," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck. "There's no doubt that a phantom pass interference call cost them one, while presenting more evidence of the poor officiating in the NFL and the league's unwillingness to do anything to address the problem. It also argued in favor of making touchdown-negating penalties reviewable, since that one would have been overturned in a heartbeat."
NFL Will Look Into Concussion Protocol With Matt Schaub
As it normally does, the NFL will look into the handling of quarterback Matt Schaub's concussion protocol with three minutes left in the second quarter of Sunday's loss.
Schaub wasn't immediately removed from the game when his head hit the turf and he grabbed his helmet with both hands. Referee John Parry helped Schaub off the ground, and he remained in the game for the final three plays on the drive.
"We will look into it as per our normal procedure," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ProFootballTalk.com.
After Schaub hit the turf, the drive continued but ended with an interception. The following series ended in a pick-six.
"[The interceptions say] nothing about whether he has a brain injury; Schaub has become a consistent author of pick-sixes," wrote PFT.com's Mike Florio.
Harbaugh said after the game that Schaub underwent the concussion protocol and passed.
"Our trainer went out right away and talked to him," the head coach said. "And then we brought him back in and he said he was fine, and he was good, and he was clear. Then, we put him through the concussion protocol anyway and he was just screaming that he was fine and that he had no issue. But our doctors grabbed him, put him through the protocol and he passed."
Schaub was asked by reporters why he clutched his helmet after the hit, and if he was dinged up on the play.
"Not really," he said. "I just had to make some adjustments. Yes, I got hit and thrown to the ground, so I had to adjust a couple things, but I was fine."
The NFL has recently come under scrutiny for how hits to the head are handled. Two weeks ago, the league investigated how concussion protocol was handled with Rams quarterback Case Keenum when his head hit hard against the turf at M&T Bank Stadium. He stayed in the game, but was diagnosed with a concussion afterward.
Schaub, on the other hand, passed the concussion protocol.
"Doctors looked at me and came over to do their necessary test," Schaub said. "However, everything checked out fine."
The question going forward will be when Schaub underwent that test.
Hensley: Ravens Can't Bring Back Schaub As Backup QB Next Season
To be fair, it would be tough for any quarterback to take over a banged-up offense without its top wide receiver, running back, tight end, left tackle and center.
That said, Schaub has made enough mistakes that makes ESPN's Jamison Hensley feel like Schaub is not the long-term answer as Joe Flacco's backup.
"[I]t's clear that the right move is for the Baltimore Ravens not to bring him back as their backup in 2016," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens need a capable backup considering Joe Flacco is coming off season-ending knee surgery, and Schaub has proven to be such a liability that it borders on mind-blowing proportions."
With Sunday's pick-six, Schaub has now thrown one in six of his last nine NFL starts. He already owns the NFL record with a pick-six in four consecutive games. If he throws another next week against the Seattle Seahawks, he will tie his own historic mark.
Schaub admitted after the game that his two interceptions – both leading to Miami touchdowns – were the "difference" in a game decided by two points.
A reporter suggested to Schaub that he might have some bad luck, but Hensley disagrees, calling the latest pick-six a bad decision. Whether it's luck, bad decisions or just extraordinary plays by the defense, the horrid streak continues, and Hensley says the Ravens can't sustain the miscues any longer.
The team was fortunate to overcome his pick-six last week against the Cleveland Browns, but it took a block-six with no time left on the clock to do it.
"No one can expect Schaub to carry Baltimore with this supporting cast," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens just can't afford him to lose games."
Hensley said that even when the Dolphins didn't manage to get their hands on his passes, Schaub was still off target. He didn't lead his receivers and misfired on several others.
"There's no questioning Schaub's toughness," Hensley wrote. "He took a beating on Sunday, grabbing his head, legs and shoulder in pain at different points during the game. There's no debating that Schaub got a bad break when his 52-yard touchdown to Daniel Brown was negated by a phantom offensive pass interference penalty.
"But the biggest problem is the constant self-implosion of Schaub, who has thrown nearly as many touchdowns to the other team (two) as his own receivers this year with Baltimore. How can the Ravens consider him in their plans next season when he can't shake the critically bad habits from his past?"
Can Ravens Win Any More Games?
The Ravens went on a good run, winning three of four games prior to heading down to Miami. It should have been four of four had the officials gotten the call right on the final play against Jacksonville.
But that winning streak came against teams with losing records, including the Chargers, Jaguars, Rams and Browns. Miami was the last team left on the Ravens' schedule with a record below .500.
"With four games remaining against good teams, this may have been their last best chance to get a victory," wrote Zrebiec.
The Ravens' final four games come against the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals own a 10-2 record, and the three others all boast winning 7-5 marks.
Baltimore extended its streak of one-score games to 12, an NFL record, but can the Ravens keep that up against teams fighting for playoff positioning?
"The Ravens again fought the entire game, but like they have so many other times this season, came up short," wrote The Sun's Ron Fritz. "I don't see them keeping the next three games – Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers – that close."
Buck Allen Churns Out 45 Percent Of Offense
That's right. You read that stat correctly.
Rookie fourth-round running back Javorius "Buck" Allen was responsible for nearly half of the Ravens' offensive production. Holy moly.
He combined for 170 yards, including 107 through the air and 63 on the ground. Add it all up, and it constituted 45 percent of Baltimore's 375 total offensive yards.
"He is a player who fits into the Ravens' future plans, and who should only get better," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown.
Tucker No Longer Automatic On Long Kicks
With kicker Justin Tucker missing a 55-yard fourth quarter field goal, that potentially could have won the game for Baltimore, he is now 2-of-8 (25 percent) from 50-plus yards this season.
"It's difficult to put too much of the blame on Tucker for missing a 55-yarder in the fourth quarter, but this shows he's no longer automatic on the long kicks," wrote Hensley.
We'll have more on Tucker coming in a story later today.