Referee Controversy Affected Both Ravens, Pats


The Ravens didn't want to talk about them too much, especially after a win.

But the replacement referees were again a major part of their game.

The Ravens were flagged for 14 penalties for 135 yards Sunday night against New England. The Patriots were penalized 10 times for 83 yards.

That's a staggering total of 24 penalties for 218 yards on Sunday Night Football.

The Patriots and Ravens combined for 13 penalty first downs, which set an NFL record. The old record was 12 last done by the Ravens and Lions on October 9, 2005.

It seemed neither side was particularly pleased throughout the game.

"I really don't want to go there and damage the win, but you can't do that to the game. You have to let the game take care of itself," linebacker Ray Lewis said.

"Something needs to change. Nothing against the league, I just hope we can all get together and make something happen."

The Ravens complained about being held last week by Philadelphia's defensive backs.

This week, there were six defensive holding penalties, two defensive pass interference calls, two illegal contact flags and one offensive pass interference (on the Patriots) between the two teams. It seemed to be under close review by the officials.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was flagged for one of the illegal contact penalties late in the fourth quarter. He picked off quarterback Tom Brady on a third-and-9 pass on New England's final drive, which looked to set the Ravens up immediately in game-winning, field goal range.

But a flag was quickly thrown, claiming Webb made contact beyond the allowed five yards. Webb said he jammed the receiver but let go when he saw the ball coming. Webb and the Ravens sideline went berserk when the call was made.

"I would call the referees out but I don't," Webb said. "In the moment I was kind of upset, but now I've let it go, moved on. … Tonight I'll be thinking, 'Man, I had a pick!' But it's over."

Head Coach John Harbaugh was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play after Webb's penalty. He said he was trying to call a timeout so the referee could see it, but accidentally bumped the official.

"I didn't mean to bump him," Harbaugh said. "I wanted to call a timeout, so I apologize for bumping, but the intent was to call a timeout."

Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Bernard Pollard and safety Ed Reed were also flagged for personal foul and unnecessary roughness 15-yard penalties. On each drive, the Patriots finished with points.

The Patriots had their own issues with the officiating.

A 25-yard defensive pass interference call against cornerback Devin McCourty put the Ravens on the 7-yard line on Baltimore's final drive, and set up a very manageable 27-yard field goal for Justin Tucker.

New England also questioned whether Tucker's field goal was even good.

Nose tackle Vince Wilfork ripped off his helmet and yelled at the official when he put both hands up. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick tried to grab a referee's arm after the game but the official pulled away and kept running.

"You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?" Belichick said when asked about the referees. "Talk to the officials about the way they called the game. Talk to the league about the way they called it."

Belichick was then asked about the field goal. He said he couldn't answer whether the final field goal was reviewed, and said reporters should talk to the officials about it.

"From my angle, it looked very close. I was frustrated at that, but there were a lot of things I was frustrated about," Wilfork said.

"It's not the first time we've played in a game with a lot of controversial calls," Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch said. "It was happening on both sides of the ball. I'm sure they were upset about some of those calls too."

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