The Ravens were flagged seven times for 95 yards in Sunday's 31-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and the most disputed penalty was the longest one.
Rookie cornerback Tavon Young was called for pass interference while covering rookie wide receiver Demarcus Ayers on a go route down the right sideline. A case could be argued that the throw from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was uncatchable, but that did not influence the official who cited Young for the infraction, which resulted in a 35-yard gain for the Steelers.
Afterward, Young disputed the penalty, saying, "I think it was a bad call, but it is what it is."
Strong safety Eric Weddle made a stronger statement. "The -yard P.I. call was bogus, and that kind of just got the momentum for them going," he said.
The flag proved critical, as it moved Pittsburgh from midfield to the Ravens' 15. Two plays later, running back Le'Veon Bell slashed his way seven yards into the end zone to trim a 20-10 deficit to 20-17 with 11:41 left. It sparked a 21-point fourth quarter for the Steelers.
Asked if he sought an explanation from the official, Young replied, "There's no reason to ask because once the call is made, it's made. I feel like I didn't touch him. I didn't grab, I didn't pull. They just called it. When the receivers get up and they do all of that [gesturing for a flag], they're going to throw it regardless."
Ayers is a seventh-round selection in the 2016 draft who was on the practice squad for much of the season before getting promoted to the active roster last week. But that inexperience did not dissuade Roethlisberger from getting the young wideout involved in what proved to be the AFC North title-clinching game for Pittsburgh.
"I have full faith, belief and trust that whoever it is, he is going to make the play," Roethlisberger said. "It's almost like you just see a jersey. And so you throw it to him, and he went up and made a great play. I probably could have [given] him a better ball, and he could have ran with it."