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Commentary: Ravens not pleased with officials

Ray Lewis wasn't holding back. His Baltimore Ravens had just lost a close game to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he felt the team had been victimized.

"There were serious calls the refs missed, and it's just the way it is, all around the league," Lewis said.

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With his suit on, Lewis' target was no longer Michael Vick, but the replacement NFL officials.

"Guys are giving it all they have all across the league, but there are calls if the regular refs if they was here, we know the way the calls would be made," Lewis said.

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His ire was directed at the overturned call when Haloti Ngata sacked Vick with just over two minutes to go. Vick's fumble was nullified. The Eagles were given the ball and Vick scored the deciding touchdown.

"How could you overturn that, you have to certain kind of evidence, you can't overturn because someone tried to push the ball with their hand?" Lewis said.

In fact, it was a regular NFL replay official, Bob McGrath, who challenged the call of referee Robert Frazer, whose normal assignments are small college games such as the Texas A&M-Commerce-Incarnate Word matchup.

"You're looking at the films, you're looking at the games, and you say, 'wow,'" Lewis said.

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Even Baltimore coach John Harbaugh chimed in.

"It was a chaotic game out there," Harbaugh said. "The challenge for us right now is trying to figure out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact, what constitutes pass interference; I'm not sure right now."

The other controversial call was the pass interference on Jacoby Jones in the end zone.

Joe Flacco was on the ground when Jones went up for the ball, but saw the call made.

"There was a lot of holding and grabbing going on out there," Flacco said.

"I might sound a little bit like a baby here [but] for them to make that call was a little bit crazy. He didn't even throw a flag. He threw a blue beanie. He put his hands in the air like offensive pass interference."

Sunday morning, Brian Stropolo, a replacement official was pulled from his New Orleans-Carolina assignment. Stropolo had posted photos of himself tailgating in Saints gear at a preseason game in New Orleans last month.

The NFL frowns on public criticism of officials, and warned coaches about bullying the replacements. Harbaugh's criticism of the officials wasn't public, but it could be seen on television as he yelled frequently.

Flacco and Lewis took care of the public carping.

"They were all over our guys in not a very legal way sometimes," Flacco said. "I think you're probably not too smart if you're not going to try and get away with a little bit of that.

"If Jacoby did push off, which I'm not sure he did, I'm sure he's smart to do it because he was getting held. That's how he had to make a play."

During a normal season, the locked-out officials are screamed at and criticized regularly.

Their stand-ins serve as punching bags.

"We already have controversy enough with the regular referees," Lewis said.

On Sunday, the game took three hours, thirty-eight minutes. Lots of reviews, several skirmishes and injuries.

It was clear the game was far too physical for the substitute Ed Hochulis and Mike Careys to regulate. Lewis says players regularly talk on the sidelines about calls the longtime officials would make and can't because they're locked out.

"We need the guys that does their regular jobs," Lewis said. "How much longer are we going to keep going through this?"

Flacco, peeved about the inconsistency, couldn't resist a final knock.

"The NFL and everybody always talks about the integrity of the game," Flacco said. "The fact that we don't have the normal guys out there is pretty crazy."

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