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Ravens React To Questionable Referee Calls


There were many factors that played into the Ravens' loss to the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, including quarterback Joe Flacco's game-sealing interception. 

But some other factors included three questionable calls by the referees.

"Everybody has that app Yelp, and you have reviews. Two stars," said wide receiver Steve Smith when asked about the officiating.

 Perhaps the most damaging questionable call gave Cardinals running back Chris Johnson a 62-yard gain, putting Arizona in field-goal range to take a 20-10 lead late in the third quarter.

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams tackled Johnson for a short gain, but Johnson landed in Williams' lap as he went to the turf. Neither Johnson's knee, nor hip, was ever down.

Still, Williams held onto the fleet-footed running back as they both sat on the ground. All the other players stopped, as the play appeared over with progress stopped. It's unclear whether a whistle was blown.

When Williams let go, Johnson sprung to his feet and blitzed through the surprised Ravens defenders. Safety Will Hill finally tracked him down at the 8-yard line.

"I feel like I stopped his momentum; I thought he was down," Williams said. "But obviously he wasn't. Next time I've got to hit him harder and make sure he doesn't get back up."

Here's a look:

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he didn't get an explanation for why the play wasn't stopped or brought back.

"The forward progress was stopped," Harbaugh said. "If you hit him in that situation, then you're going to get fined and stopped. For three seconds it was stopped. He had called himself down and was sitting there. We shouldn't hit him; it would have been a dangerous play."

The referees' first puzzling call came on the Ravens' opening drive.

Ravens reserve offensive lineman John Urschel caught a 6-yard pass on a trick play. However, it was negated by an illegal formation penalty because, the refs claimed, Urschel didn't report as eligible.

Replays clearly show Urschel ran onto the field and towards referee Ron Tolbert while waving his hands over his jersey, signaling that he was reporting as eligible.

It seemed Tolbert may not have been paying attention because Urschel continued to do the signal longer than usual and even Flacco pointed at Urschel to try to get the referee's gaze.

"I can't hear what they're saying out there, but it looked like he saw what we were saying and said something and then blew his whistle," Flacco said. "So I just assumed it was all good."

With the penalty, the Ravens went from what would have been a second-and-4 from the 7-yard line to a first-and-15 from the 18. Baltimore ended up settling for a 44-yard field goal.

Harbaugh said the referee told him he didn't see Urschel.

"John did everything he's supposed to do in this situation, just as he's coached," Harbaugh said. "Joe looked at it, he saw it, I saw it. Then there was an announcement; you couldn't hear what the announcement was because you never can."

Here's a look at the play:

By the way... What more does an OL have to do to report? Look at Urschel. — Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 27, 2015

Another borderline call led to a Cardinals touchdown.

After the Ravens took their only lead of the game, 10-7, in the second quarter, the defense got a big three-and-out, continuing the momentum.

Wide receiver/returner Jeremy Ross fielded the punt and headed up-field, but cornerback Justin Bethel got a grip on the ball and ripped it out as Ross went to the turf. It was a bang-bang play that the referees called a fumble on the field.

After an automatic review, the referees announced that the play stood. That means they did not "confirm" the play, but determined there was not enough evidence to overturn it. It was a tight call, but it could be argued that Ross' knee was down before the ball was loose.

The Cardinals took over possession at the 12-yard line and, after two more penalties against the Ravens, scored a go-ahead touchdown with about a minute left in the first half.

"I felt like my knee was down," Ross said. "I thought for sure the call was going to get overturned."

Here's a look:

Harbaugh talked last week about the Ravens needing to make their own breaks in a season when so many close plays have not gone their way, when luck has seemed against them.

On Monday night, his team also had to battle not only the Cardinals, but those in stripes, too.

"Games in this league are going to be close. They're going to come down to aplay just like that and turn on calls like that, many times," Harbaugh said.

"And you expect them to be consistent and fair. That's what you ask for. Our guys are just going to have to overcome it. It's not the first time this year, but it's OK. We've got to be good enough to overcome those things."

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