Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 25-15 win over the Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Sun reporter/blogger Matt Vensel analyzes the Ravens' win over Cleveland.
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4( US Presswire / November 4, 2012 )
The Ravens can't afford to give away penalty yards like this, especially in close games.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was recently asked about the challenge of teaching your players to play aggressively while walking the line of what is legal and what is not in the eyes of the officials. But he made it clear that aggressive play wouldn't be an excuse for committing penalties and acknowledged that it would be a point of emphasis for his coaching staff. Two weeks later, the Ravens, one of the NFL's most penalized teams, were again ducking yellow flags throughout the 25-15 win over the Cleveland Browns. I had a feeling that would be the case after cornerback Cary Williams and free safety Ed Reed started complaining to the officials after offensive pass interference wasn't called on the first play of the game.
The Ravens, who entered Sunday's game with the third-most number of penalties (57) and fifth-most penalty yards (495), were flagged nine times for 82 yards. And they tested the officiating crew's full knowledge of the rulebook. Wide receiver Torrey Smith was flagged for lining up in illegal formation. Running back Bernard Pierce earned a personal foul for kicking a player. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was called for roughing the passer. Offensive tackle Michael Oher got his weekly holding penalty. The Browns were aided by penalties on three of their five field-goal drives, including when cornerback Jimmy Smith was called for pass interference on third down during their go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.
Even Harbaugh was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for chewing out an official, the second time this season that he has been called for crossing the line while interacting with an official. So if Harbaugh tries to get on his players for losing their cool, they can fire back, "I learned it by watching you!" like that unintentionally comical anti-drug commercial from the '90s. But really, there is nothing amusing about the unnecessary penalties, which are a telling sign of a team with lapses of focus and composure. These penalties haven't cost the Ravens in the win column yet, but it's probably only a matter of time.