Suggs, Ravens’ defense take penalties personally

By Brendan Hall
Globe Correspondent / October 5, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Terrell Suggs’s demeanor said it all.

“Can I get mine out of the way first?’’ the Ravens’ Pro Bowl linebacker asked quarterback Joe Flacco, who was supposed to follow coach John Harbaugh to the podium for a postgame news conference.

Flacco obliged, to which Suggs smiled and said, “Good man!’’

Suggs was looking to get a few things off his chest. He was upset about several close calls that went New England’s way in the Patriots’ 27-21 win yesterday at Gillette Stadium. The Ravens were hit with two roughing-the-passer calls in the first half, one on lineman Haloti Ngata in the first quarter and the other on Suggs in the second quarter, when he fell into Tom Brady’s knee.

Ngata’s penalty came on third and 9 at the Baltimore 37 and kept the Patriots’ drive alive; the Patriots scored nine plays later on a 1-yard sneak by Brady. Suggs’s hit was on second and 11 from the Baltimore 43; two plays later, Sammy Morris scampered 12 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 17-7 lead.

“Nobody wants to hurt anybody in this league, I truly believe that, and they want the refs doing their job, protecting them,’’ Suggs said. “Some quarterbacks more than others, though. I’ve got to see the film. Both of the calls could have gone either way. Like I said, they don’t want the QBs to get hurt.’’

He then added with a chuckle, “Maybe next year it’ll be two-hand touch.’’

The Ravens were penalized nine times for 85 yards and the Patriots were whistled for five penalties for 41 yards. Some, such as wide receiver Derrick Mason, reserved judgment on the calls.

“I’m not going to get fined. It is what it is,’’ Mason said. “[NFL vice president of officiating] Mike Pereira, he’ll go back and watch the film and make his call on a lot of things. You just try to play the game, and you try not to get into the back and forth of things with the referees. They’re under tremendous stress anyway.’’

But defensive captain Ray Lewis refused to hold back. Looking dapper in a black double-breasted suit with a black fedora as he addressed the media in front of his locker, he spoke passionately about the officiating.

“Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,’’ Lewis said. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, [so] let him make the play. When you have two great teams that are going at it, let them go at it.

“Both of their touchdown drives [in the first half] had personal fouls on them that kept the drives alive. Did that win or lose the game? No, but it got them 14 points.’’

Did it affect Lewis’s focus?

“You don’t lose your focus, it just takes away from the game. [You’re coming] off the field,’’ Lewis said, alluding to the call on Ngata. “When you’re walking off the field, you can’t look back and then say, ‘personal foul’, and then you see the replay and it’s barely a touch. They should be hit, just like us - it’s not hard.’’

The calls were just one part of a frustrating day for the Ravens. Mason was brilliant on their first drive, catching six passes for 77 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, but he was virtually a nonfactor the rest of the way, making just one more catch for 11 yards late in the fourth quarter.

Wide receiver Mark Clayton was involved in two key blunders. Flacco took credit for the first one, a Leigh Bodden interception at the New England 9 with less than a minute to play in the first half, in which the cornerback managed to keep his feet inbounds.

“I just choked the ball and I threw it right to the guy,’’ Flacco said.

But the last one, a dropped pass on fourth down that would have given the Ravens a first and goal with 32 seconds left, was on Clayton.

“You want the ball in those critical situations,’’ Clayton said. “To not be able to come up with it, it’s tough. It cost us the game.’’

Suggs stepped off the podium soon after ripping the officiating, a bounce still in his step.

“Go get ’em, Joe,’’ he said to Flacco with a smile as he walked out of the room.

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