NFL officials confer during the first half of the Ravens' Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sept. 27, 2012.
NFL officials confer during the first half of the Ravens' Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sept. 27, 2012. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

BALTIMORE - Referee Gene Steratore tipped his hat to the crowd, acknowledging the considerable cheers coming from fans that had started to fill M&T Bank Stadium in the hour leading up to kickoff of Thursday's game.

Not long after, Steratore shared hugs with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh as well as players Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

The genuine excitement stemming from the end of the referee lockout was apparent Thursday night, both from fans as well as from players and coaches.

The NFL and the referees agreed to an eight-year collective bargaining agreement late Wednesday night, marking the end to a lockout that extended through the first three weeks of the regular season - a three-week span marred by replacement referees and a litany of controversial calls.

Thursday's game marked the first of the official's return to work, something which had Steratore and his crew excited as well.

"It's good to be back," Steratore started prior to introducing the protocol for the coin toss.

And even aside from the pre-game cheers, it was obvious the replacement referees weren't missed.

"Finally girls field hockey teams can have their refs back," one sign read.

LEWIS HONORED: Former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was enshrined into the team's Ring of Honor during halftime of Thursday's game.

Lewis was Baltimore's first round pick (fifth overall) during the 2000 NFL draft.

A big, bruising runner with underrated breakaway speed, Lewis played for the Ravens from 2000-06 and left as the team's all-time leader in rushing yards (7,801) and touchdowns (45). His 30 100-yard rushing games are also a franchise-best.

Lewis finished his 10-year NFL career ranked 21st on the league's all-time rushing list (10,607 yards). He spent the last three seasons of his career (2007-09) with the Cleveland Browns.

But Lewis called Baltimore the place "where it all started for me"

"This is just a great honor," Lewis said last week of being inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor. "I'm glad to be back accepting this honor. It's a good feeling."

Lewis's 2,066 rushing yards in 2003 ranks as the second-highest single-season total in NFL history.

Just three years earlier, he rushed for 1,364 yards and six scores as a rookie in helping Baltimore win Super Bowl XXXV.

But he suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp of the following season. And instead of repeating as Super Bowl champions, as many predicted the Ravens to do prior to Lewis's injury, Baltimore was eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs.

"The reason we were able to win the Super Bowl in 2000 was because of Jamal Lewis," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But I think the reason we didn't in 2001 was that Jamal got hurt and we weren't able to replace him."

OGDEN NOMINATED: Former Baltimore offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden is among 13 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ogden, the Ravens' first ever draft pick (fourth overall in 1996), was a stalwart on Baltimore's offensive line during each of his 12 NFL seasons (1996-2007). He played left guard as a rookie and then served as the Ravens' left tackle for each of the next 11 seasons. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, selected during each of the final 11 years of his career.

Ogden is one of four former Baltimore players among the 13 first-year eligible players - quarterback Steve McNair (2006-07), running back Priest Holmes (1997-2000) and defensive tackle Sam Adams (2000-01) being the others.

Former Ravens owner Art Modell is also among the 127 candidates for the 2013 Hall of Fame class.

Modell passed away Sept. 6 at the age of 87.

The list of candidates will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in late November. 15 finalists from the modern era will be announced in early January and the class of 2013 will be selected Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl. Between four and seven nominees will be chosen for enshrinement.

TUCKER NO LONGER PERFECT: Justin Tucker's perfect season is over. After converting on a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter, his eighth straight successful kick to start the year, he missed a 47-yarder in the third quarter.

Earlier, a Ravens' extra-point attempt failed. Long snapper Morgan Cox botched the snap to holder Sam Koch and Tucker didn't get a chance to attempt the point after.

According to STATS LLC, it was the first time a Baltimore kicker had missed an extra point since Steve Hauschka had one blocked on Nov. 16, 2009. That was also against Cleveland.

Missed extra points are rare in Ravens history. Matt Stover missed just one, in 1996. He converted 402 of 403 in his 13 years kicking for Baltimore.

O, WHAT A RECEPTION: Several Orioles attended Thursday's game, including manager Buck Showalter and center fielder Adam Jones. Shown on the scoreboard during the second half, the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium started cheering: "Let's Go O's."

Showalter stood between former Orioles Cal Ripken and Brady Anderson. Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson were among the other current players there.

Before the game, pitcher Steve Johnson and outfielders Lew Ford and Nate McLouth signed autographs on Ravenswalk.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement