With the Ravens clinging to a three-point lead with three seconds left in regulation, Browns kicker Phil Dawson launched a 51-yard field-goal attempt that hit the left upright, fell over the crossbar, clanged off the support post, and bounced back over the crossbar onto the field. An official initially ruled the attempt no good. But as several Ravens players made their way to the locker room, the officiating crew - after a conference on the field and a query into whether the kick was reviewable - reversed the call, sending the game into overtime.
The outcome was another crushing moment in a deflating 5-11 season, which didn't escape the notice of a few Ravens yesterday as they prepared for Sunday's meeting with the Browns at M&T; Bank Stadium.
"Yeah, I talked about it in the offseason. You can do that when you don't have any playoffs," linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "I was like, 'What about in basketball when a shot goes in and then it rolls out? It's no good, right?' That's just what I thought happened."
The controversial play had repercussions, as NFL owners agreed in April to make field-goal and extra-point tries reviewable by instant replay. Some league officials have called the rule the "Dawson Rule." Those closer to Baltimore call it the "Ravens Rule."
"You don't even call that bad luck or something [as random] as a coin toss," center Jason Brown said. "It's just as if the football gods are against you. We just hope and pray that they're with us this year and that things will go in our favor."
Cornerback Fabian Washington, who said he is suffering from a bulging disc in his neck, practiced yesterday for the first time this season. Although he was limited, Washington said he is hopeful he will play against the Browns.
"I'm definitely going to try," he said. "I'm going to give it a go. How much I play, that's up to Coach."
Cornerback Derrick Martin (right shoulder) and wide receivers Demetrius Williams and Yamon Figurs - both of whom said they tweaked their hamstrings last week - were limited but pledged to be ready Sunday.
Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who said he injured his right ankle in the team's 17-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, was also limited, taking part in a few special teams drills yesterday. But Ayanbadejo said he didn't know whether he would be able to play against Cleveland.
Quarterback Troy Smith (tonsil infection) has been ruled out for Sunday. Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg (arthroscopic knee surgery) did not practice.
Running back Willis McGahee (arthroscopic left knee surgery) participated fully in practice yesterday, but coach John Harbaugh wouldn't rule out a tailback-by-committee approach, which could involve rookie Ray Rice and fullback Le'Ron McClain. "We're going to use all of our good players and put them in positions where they do what they do well," Harbaugh said. "So we're going to put our running backs out there and let them play. ... In addition to McGahee, free safety Ed Reed (nerve impingement) and cornerback Chris McAlister (swollen right knee) were left off the team's injury report for the first time since the start of the regular season. ... The team re-signed defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker to the practice squad. To make room for Parker, the team released wide receiver Matt Willis.