NFL official Pereira weighs in on Suggs' penalty

The Ravens can take heart in knowing that they're not alone in questioning at least one call that contributed to their 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Mike Pereira, the NFL's Vice President of Officiating between 2004 and 2009, said officials were wrong in flagging linebacker Terrell Suggs for roughing the passer.

"While referees are instructed to err on the side of safety when it comes to protecting the quarterback, I feel the call was incorrect," said Pereira, who now works for Fox.

He added, "Suggs made a form tackle on [Bengals quarterback Carson] Palmer. And while he did land on top of him, he did not appear to unnecessarily or violently throw the quarterback down and land on top of him with most or all of his weight, which is what the rule states. I can see why the referee made the call that he did, but to me, it was a normal tackle and not a foul."

NBC analyst and former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison agreed, saying: "If that's a penalty, then it's going to be a fine. And if that's the case, I should have probably got fined close to a million dollars because that's a legitimate hit and I've done a lot worse in my career than that. … That was not [a good call]."

On the disputed play, Suggs tackled Palmer as the quarterback was releasing the ball for an incompletion. But referee Gene Steratore ruled that Suggs was guilty of slamming Palmer into the turf even though Suggs' head was down and the linebacker was already off his feet when Palmer released the pass.

So instead of second-and-10 from the Ravens' 41-yard line, Cincinnati was awarded first-and-10 from the 26. Four plays later, Mike Nugent converted his fourth field goal of the game, giving the Bengals a 12-10 lead with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter.

Coach John Harbaugh said the team would ask the league for an explanation.

"Terrell wrapped up the quarterback and tackled him," Harbaugh said. "That's what we coach our guys to do. They did exactly what we coach them to do, and you just move on from there. You can't control the rest of it."

Harbaugh did go out of his way to establish his respect for what on-field officials have to deal with. And in a related matter, Harbaugh said he went a little too far in trying to demonstrate what Suggs did in the coach's conversation with line judge Ron Marinucci after the call.

"I was a little animated in describing the strike zone, I think, and I think he understood the emotions of it," Harbaugh said. "And I'll make sure that I let him know that I think I was over the line in my animation – without question. That's something you never want to do."

Report: Harbaugh to be fined

Ravens coach John Harbaugh will be fined by the NFL for making contact with Marinucci, according to ESPN.

Harbaugh hit line judge Ron Marinucci in the chest when he was demonstrating how Terrell Suggs legally hit Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in the "strike zone."

"I was a little animated in describing the strike zone, and I think he understood the emotions of it," Harbaugh said Monday. "I'll make sure that I let him know that I think I was over the line in my animation without question, and that's never something you want to do. And the point is we had great conversations with those guys throughout the game. We respected – we disagreed and it was animated – but it was respectful throughout. And I know Ron understood that it was respectful, so it should be OK."

An NFL spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email from The Baltimore Sun.

Rice OK; Gooden uncertain

Running back Ray Rice practiced Monday and did not appear hobbled by the ankle injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game.

"He's got a little ankle, but he was out there today," Harbaugh said. "So he looked OK."

Harbaugh said he was still waiting for an update on linebacker Tavares Gooden, whose left shoulder was in a sling after Sunday's game and underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday.

"We've got a lot of guys — like most Mondays — with bumps and bruises," Harbaugh said. "Tavares' looks a little more serious because he had to get an MRI and hopefully, that will come back not too major."

Cody "surprised" by scratch

Rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody acknowledged that he was surprised by the team's decision to deactivate him before Sunday's contest.

Cody, who underwent arthroscopic surgery Aug. 31 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, had said he was confident that he would be available against the Bengals. But he didn't question the team's reasoning behind the move.

"I thought I was going to play, but it's cool," he said. "It was the coaches' decision. I thought I was ready coming off of the injury. So hopefully, next week, I'll be good."

Zbikowski progressing

Tom Zbikowski averaged 6.2 yards on five punts, which was better than the 1.3-yard average he finished with on four punts in the team's season opener against the New York Jets a week ago.

Harbaugh's only criticism involved a return late in the second quarter when Zbikowski caught a punt over his right shoulder like a center fielder chasing a fly ball and then ran horizontally toward the right sideline. Zbikowski was dropped for a 4-yard loss at the Ravens' 28.

"I thought Zbikowski looked better on all but one," Harbaugh said. "The one that was kicked over in the left corner, he tried to bring back into the middle. That was a flashback. I didn't like that one at all. If he just goes straight up the field, he's got 15 yards where he's not going to get touched. But the rest of them were good. He took the ball north and south and made some plays."

Palmer lobbies for defense

The Ravens have built a reputation around the NFL for fielding one of the toughest defenses. Palmer thinks the Cincinnati unit isn't too shabby either.

After watching the Bengals surrender just 259 yards, 14 first downs and one touchdown, Palmer said it's time that people paid attention to the defense.

"There's a lot of talk about Baltimore's defense," the quarterback said in comments distributed by the team after Sunday's win. "Everyone hypes them up, and they're great, but I think our defense took that as a personal challenge, and they outplayed them today. They had four picks, stuffed the run game, shut down their receivers, and took over the game. It was just awesome to see our defense play like that."

Told of Palmer's statement, Cincinnati safety Chris Crocker said: "I appreciate that, but it's still a long season. We really don't measure ourselves against anybody."

Houshmandzadeh takes the heat

If Ravens fans are looking to blame anyone for the team's loss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh offered himself as the scapegoat.

The wide receiver was targeted six times but failed to catch a pass in his first return to the franchise that drafted him in 2001. Houshmandzadeh said he missed out on a few plays that could have changed the momentum of Sunday's game.

"We lost, but in my opinion, I recall three plays that I should have made," he said. "If I just make a couple of those, we win. So I would say it's my fault."

End zone

Harbaugh had no news on whether second-round pick Sergio Kindle would or had already signed a one-year deal with the team, as speculated by Pro Football Talk. "I have not heard," Harbaugh said. "I don't know. I hope so. That would be great." … Cornerback Cary Williams returned Monday after serving a two-game suspension for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. "We'll get him into meetings and get him back on track," Harbaugh said. "He went through the whole training camp and the whole offseason, so I don't think it'll be too much. It was good to see his face." The team must released a player from its 53-man active roster to make room for Williams, but Harbaugh said the deadline to do so is Tuesday at 4 p.m. … Strong safety Dawan Landry said he should have intercepted a pass from Palmer intended for wide receiver Terrell Owens in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter Sunday. "The ball was kind of thrown behind him, and so I broke on T.O. and the ball was kind of behind me also," Landry recalled. "I probably could've gotten two hands on the ball."

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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