The struggling Baltimore Ravens that needed all the help they could get to salvage their season got just the opposite of that against the Cardinals. The big missed call happened when the decaying carcass of Chris Johnson was tacked by Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams, and with that everyone had the sense that a whistle was blown and the play was over. The problem is that Johnson landed in William’s lap, and Johnson got up and ran for an additional 62 yards before being tackled by Will Hill. No one, including the refs could figure out whether a whistle was blown or not, and on several replays it was clear that Johnson was down and his forward progress was stopped. Literally 2-3 seconds passed with him on the ground before he gets up and starts running again, and the more puzzling thing is that Raven’s Coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t even have 1/6th of a Lou Piniella moment. If there ever was a time to show some genuine emotion, that would’ve been it.
But that was one of many of the ref’s blunders this game, with the other golden one happening during the Raven’s opening drive. A successful quick play was quickly called back as illegal when Raven’s offensive lineman John Urschel was flagged for not reporting in as eligible. The problem is that he did report in as eligible, and the referee claimed later that he didn’t see it. This killed the momentum for their opening drive completely and the result was a field goal, an extra point that has become wholly unreliable in the NFL this year. Even with some other questionable calls that doesn’t save the Baltimore Ravens from being this season’s biggest disappointments. Once the beloved defensive team led by Ray Lewis, this defense and offense are now a shell of themselves.
Looking at the NFL today it’s hard to believe that the Ravens were once a playoff team less than a year ago. The Ray Rice incident took a chunk out of the franchise, but to hang their hat on that off the field debacle wouldn’t be an honorable excuse for one of the NFL’s best franchises. They have the good fortune of having a great quarterback in Joe Flacco, but one that is just a notch below elite and can’t carry a team. Stats show that it is too late to turn their season around, but here is to hoping that the referees don’t continue to decide winners and losers for the NFL.
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