Late For Work 9/19: McCoy Says Ref Asked For Fantasy Help At Ravens Game

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McCoy Says Ref Asked For Fantasy Help At Ravens Game

The replacement officials have already been a major talking point in Baltimore following the Ravens' loss to the Eagles in Week 2 due to a series of questionable calls and poor administration.

Things got so bad that quarterback Joe Flacco said the officiating may be affecting the integrity of the game.

And if a replacement official really encouraged Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to have a good game against the Ravens so that the ref's fantasy team would benefit, more doubt will be cast on that integrity.

"[Replacement refs are] like fans. I'll be honest, they're like fans," McCoy said on 94WIP in Philadelphia. "One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team, [and said], 'McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy [team].'"

McCoy's reaction was similar to mine.

"Uhhh, what?" the running back said.

McCoy also implied that the new refs can be intimidated into making certain calls.

"During the game, they made like a bad call or something, the ref, and I see Ray Lewis pump his chest up, trying to scare him. Don't you know [the ref] started stuttering? I'm like, 'What's this?!'"

Even if the unnamed official said the fantasy comment in jest, which is plausible, the mere appearance of biased officiating raises eyebrows, especially in game that was as controversial as the Eagles-Ravens matchup.

"[If] refs are on the field talking to players about their fantasy football teams, that's really, really bad," wrote CBSSports.com's Will Brinson. "It's even worse when the guy charged with objectively deciding what should happen in a game specifically mentions the outcome of a possibly-involving-money game of chance like fantasy football to a player.

"Even if the official was trying to be funny, it's still a train wreck that couldn't come at a worse possible time."

McCoy's claim comes on the heels of side judge Brian Stropolo getting pulled from an assignment to officiate the Saints-Panthers game in Week 2. Stropolo had pictures of himself on Facebook in Saints fan gear and tailgating at a Saints preseason game after he was hired by the league.

According to an email sent to ProFootballTalk.com, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said officials are not permitted to play fantasy football. But writer Mike Florio believes the replacement refs have less incentive to follow such rules.

"[T]he short-time replacements with no year-to-year interest in keeping their jobs are far more likely to be influenced by non-football factors than the locked-out officials," he wrote.

Power Rankings: Week 3

Not surprisingly, the Ravens dropped in league power rankings across the board. The biggest drop came in ESPN's list, falling three spots but somehow remaining ahead of the Eagles by one spot.

In the rankings, Flacco is given most of the blame for the outcome, but the defense does get scolded for giving up nearly 500 yards and the play calling was criticized too.

ESPN.com: No. 6, moved down three spots
Baltimore needs to give Ray Rice the ball after giving him a big contract this summer.

Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: No. 5, moved down two spots
Maybe Joe Flacco shouldn't have shaved his unibrow.

Vinnie Iyer, Sportingnews.com: No. 4, moved down two spots
The Ravens will count on Ngata getting in Tom Brady's face this week. The Ravens' best defender should be angry after a bad result against the Eagles.

Brian Billick, Foxsports.com: No. 5, moved down two spots
The Ravens may blame the replacement referees for their Week 2 loss, but I'll blame it on the lack of offensive production in the second half. This looked like a completely different team than the Week 1 Ravens, and it starts with QB Joe Flacco.

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: No. 6, moved down one spot
That vaunted defense might not be what some think it will be. How else can you explain nearly 500 yards by the Eagles?

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: No. 5, moved down one spot
Baltimore only falls one spot due to several teams in the top 10 struggling in Week 2. The Ravens narrowly lost to the Eagles on the road, and had plenty to gripe about after the loss. (That offensive pass interference call on Jacoby Jones sure did loom large ...) Of bigger concern was Joe Flacco's inability to handle pressure, as well as his propensity to just throw the ball up for grabs. A 22-for-42 performance with statuesque mobility? Feels very Bledsoe-esque.

Pats Bring In TE Winslow, WR Branch For Help

With the New England Patriots losing tight end Aaron Hernandez for the next month or so, the team quickly went out to get new help for its matchup against the Ravens Sunday night.

Bill Belichick brought back receiver Deion Branch and is signing tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., according to The Boston Globe.

Branch became a numbers casualty on the final cutdown day during the preseason, but The Globe reports his name was never taken off his locker, which is next to quarterback Tom Brady. Branch and Brady have played together for six seasons so his transition should be seamless.

In 2010, the Patriots signed Branch just before playing the Ravens. He responded with nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Winslow Jr. notched a 75-catch season with the Buccaneers last season, but was shipped to the Seahawks after reportedly not getting along with Head Coach Greg Schiano. The Seahawks cut him during the offseason after reportedly asking him to take a pay cut.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com said Winslow's move to the Patriots is "his best, last chance for NFL relevancy."

Finally Some Answers On Jones' TD Dance

One of the most entertaining highlights from the Ravens-Eagles matchup came from receiver Jacoby Jones.

And I'm not talking about his gorgeous 21-yard touchdown catch. I'm talking about what came after the score – Jones' touchdown celebration that resembled a dance from the movie,* Grease*.

Video (below) of the dance became a small internet viral sensation.

Turns out, it was the Choppa City Juke. It's an Orlando-based dance that Jones picked up from a few friends, including running back Chris Johnson who popularized the dance in the NFL in 2009. It wasn't Jones' first time showing off the dance.

"I kind of did something like that when I played in Tampa. It was a little different twist to it," Jones told WNST yesterday. "That's how everybody knows I'm happy. I come in and I'm singing and dancing and I go about my day."

Jones said he planned on doing the dance if he scored a touchdown and joked that he practices all his touchdown dances the night before games.

But don't expect to see the Choppa City Juke again anytime soon. While he wouldn't reveal his next celebration dance, Jones said there is another in the works.

"I got something up my sleeve," he said.

Quick Hits

  • "OLB Albert McClellansaw 56 snaps against Philadelphia and easily had the best day of any defender," wrote Jason Butt. "But what stood out on film was McClellan's ability to set the edge in run support. McClellan played an integral role in forcing Eagles RB LeSean McCoy back inside each time Philadelphia tried to bounce him outside. The Ravens may have stumbled upon someone who could potentially become a future Jarret Johnson, who left Baltimore for San Diego this past offseason." [CBSSports.com]
  • @RavensInsider: Ravens rank 27th in total defense, allowing 404 yards per game, ninth in total defense, gaining 377.5 yards per game
  • @RavensInsider: Ninth in total offense, 377.5 yards per game produced by Ravens
  • @RavensInsider: Former Ravens cornerback Danny Gorrer was signed by the Seattle Seahawks after a successful tryout
  • @ProFootballTalk: Week Two debacles still haven't sparked talks between NFL, officials' union
  • Jamison Hensley gave  Flacco a D grade for his performance against the Eagles:  "Flacco's miserable second half was a big reason why the Ravens lost by one point in Philadelphia. He was 8-of-25 for 140 yards after halftime. Flacco's interception was the result of throwing into triple coverage. On their final drive, any hopes of a comeback were quashed by Flacco, who was 2-of-6 passing." [ESPN]
  • The NFL lost a great figure in NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who  died yesterday after a long battle with brain cancer. Ravens Vice President of Public Relations Kevin Byrne talks about his special friendship with Sabol on WBAL and this NFL Network video honors his great legacy. [WBAL/NFL.com]
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