Ravens may get more penalties
BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Ravens are known for their hard-hitting defense. In the coming days, however, they very well could be taking some significant hits in the form of NFL fines for criticizing officials.
After Monday night's 27-24 loss to the Patriots, several Ravens players ripped Walt Anderson's officiating crew.
League policy states that "criticism of game officials must be made only to the league office in a written report. The officiating department will respond candidly to club questions about officiating. Public criticism of the integrity of the officiating serves no meaningful purpose. It raises credibility issues where none should exist and can have destructive and corrosive effects."
An NFL spokesman said yesterday the league is reviewing all comments made by the Ravens, including claims from cornerback Samari Rolle that one official called him "boy" as Baltimore players contested penalties late in the fourth quarter.
Rolle identified head linesman Phil McKinnely by his jersey number, 110, after the game.
"The refs called me a boy. Number 110 called me a boy," Rolle said. "I will be calling my agent in the morning and sending my complaint. I have a wife and three kids, don't call me a boy on the field during a game because I said, 'You've never played football before.' "
Both Rolle and McKinnely, who played in the NFL as an offensive tackle from 1976-82, are black. McKinnely is known as one of the league's more soft-spoken officials.
Tensions rose with 44 seconds remaining, when the Patriots scored the go-ahead touchdown.
After the score, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he argued with an official. Scott, a six-year veteran, then was penalized a second time for unsportsmanlike conduct for picking up a penalty flag and firing it into the stands.
After the extra-point kick that gave the Patriots a 27-24 lead, Scott and Rolle were seen exchanging words with McKinnely as they retreated to the bench. Scott was restrained by teammate Terrell Suggs.
"The referee told me to have some class," Scott said. "OK, have some integrity. Then, you have a referee calling someone a boy. That sounds like a personal vendetta to me."
The Ravens felt they were targeted by the officials. Baltimore was called for 13 penalties for 100 yards, while New England was flagged four times for 30 yards, yet receiver Derrick Mason believed that was only part of the story.
"You should have heard some of the verbal bashing we were taking from the refs," he said. "It was despicable."
Mason, now in his 11th season, was among a number of Ravens who openly criticized the officiating. Some of the most pointed comments came from cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Rolle.
McAlister noted, "It's hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time. They put a crown on top and they want them to win.
"Obviously, the refs, they're horrible. That's the bottom line."
Rolle added, "It's a travesty when you go out there and play that hard and the refs decide the outcome."
Yet exactly what the Ravens were contesting from Monday night's game remains a bit of a mystery.
Suggs, one of the team's top defenders, questioned the accuracy of a timeout that was charged to the Ravens a split-second before quarterback Tom Brady was stopped short on a fourth-down sneak that would have sealed the win for Baltimore. Suggs wondered if it was a "phantom" timeout, but television replays showed defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was calling the timeout.
The winning touchdown, an 8-yard pass to Jabar Gaffney in the left corner of the end zone, was ruled a catch after a replay review.
The Ravens also had costly defensive holding and illegal contact penalties on the Patriots' final drive that appeared to be accurate calls when seen on replay.
Still, the Ravens held nothing back.
"We had some bogus calls," running back Willis McGahee said.
Added McAlister: "They made a lot of bad calls, and it is what it is. They'll send in their report to say, 'We made a mistake on this one,' but it's too late. They need to get it right out there on the field - or don't call it at all."
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org