The game-winning touchdown pass Sunday for the San Diego Chargers followed a crucial pass interference penalty on Ravens cornerback Anthony Levine that frustrated coach John Harbaugh.
Levine and Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd were jostling for position on a long pass in the end zone that fell incomplete when Levine was flagged. The 23-yard penalty directly led to Eddie Royal scoring untouched on a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Philip Rivers on the next play to give San Diego a 34-33 win.
"My understanding is that both players, the offensive and defensive player, is supposed to have an opportunity to go make a play on the ball," Harbaugh said. "I saw a corner trying to make a play on the ball with a forearm on his chest and clavicle area being held down, not allowed to jump for the ball. That's a disappointing situation.
"I think a corner should be given the chance to defend, and I know he wasn't given a chance to defend on that play. That's not fair to the player. Players should be the guys determining the outcome of the game in a situation like that, without question."
Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira agreed with the call, writing on Twitter: "That's about as clear interference as can be."
Standing at his locker after the game, a dejected Levine said he attempted to play the ball throughout the play.
"He made the call, I've got to learn from it," Levine said. "I was trying to knock the ball away. I was trying to knock the ball down and just trying not to lose him. When the ball was up in the air, I went for it. I seen the ball, I went for the ball. I wasn't even playing him anymore, I played for the ball. He made the call, I've got to learn from it.
"Again, I'm holding him. I see him. I look back and see the ball in the air. My attention was no more on him. My attention went straight to the ball. I jumped, I knocked it down. I've got to go back, look at it and learn from it. That's all I can do from here."