Curious call by referee hurts Ravens on first offensive drive

Ravens coach John Harbaugh argues with the side judge Scott Edwards during the first quarter  after Ravens guard John Urshel caught a pass but was called for illegal formation.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh argues with the side judge Scott Edwards during the first quarter  after Ravens guard John Urshel caught a pass but was called for illegal formation. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

For the first time all season, the Ravens scored on their first drive. But they needed to settle for a field goal by Justin Tucker rather than a touchdown partly because of a curious call by referee Ronald Torbert.

Before the Ravens' first-and-10 play from the Cardinals 13-yard line, reserve guard John Urschel jogged Torbert's direction and reported himself as an eligible receiver on the play. He made the motion a couple of times and even quarterback Joe Flacco pointed at Urschel to let the referee know that the offensive lineman was eligible.


Flacco threw to Urschel in the left flat and the second-year lineman powered forward for a gain of six yards to put the ball on the Cardinals' 7-yard line. However, a flag was thrown on Urschel for illegal formation. Both Flacco and coach John Harbaugh protested the call vehemently, pointing out to Torbert that Urschel declared himself eligible.

Instead of having the ball on the 7-yard line, the Ravens went backward and Flacco was eventually sacked on third down by veteran defensive tackle Frostee Rucker. Tucker kicked a 44-yard field goal to give the Ravens a short-lived 3-0 lead.

Before getting the points, the Ravens not only hadn't scored on a first drive this year, they hadn't even reached midfield. They also had just three first downs on their first possession this season.

Ross' fumbling woes return

When recently discussing the boost that Jeremy Ross brought to the return game, Ravens associate head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was quick to praise the veteran for his ball security.

Ross, who was promoted from the Ravens practice squad this season, had some fumbling woes with the Detroit Lions and that contributed to him losing his return job. Those issues reappeared at the worst time for the Ravens.

Leading 10-7 late in the second quarter after a long touchdown drive ended with Justin Forsett's 14-yard run, the Ravens forced a quick three-and-out. However, Ross fumbled the punt at the 25-yard line. The Cardinals made the Ravens pay for the mistake when Carson Palmer threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd.

Trawick gets start

Before Monday, reserve safety Brynden Trawick was probably best known by the team's fan base for a gaffe that he made during his rookie season. In the 2013 season opener in Denver, Trawick collided with teammate Jacoby Jones as Jones prepared to field a punt. The collision resulted in Jones missing several weeks with a knee injury and made Trawick the target of several jokes.

However, Trawick has long been one of the Ravens' best special teams players. He also has been used in the defense's goal-line package. With starting free safety Kendrick Lewis inactive because of a bruised knee and key reserve Terrence Brooks also out after having thumb surgery, Trawick made his first career start for the Ravens.

Lewis, who was questionable for the game because of a knee bruise suffered in last week's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, moved around well during pregame warmups and seems to have a good chance of playing Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Rest of inactives

Along with Lewis and Brooks, the Ravens also declared wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Jeremy Butler, tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore inactive.

Perriman, Williams and Brooks had been ruled out for the game on Saturday's final injury report. Butler was promoted from the practice squad a couple of hours before the game, but he'll have to wait to make his NFL debut.


Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson, who were both questionable, also played. Starting defensive end Chris Canty returned to the lineup for the first time since he hurt his calf muscle in a Week 2 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Super Bowl XXXV

If nothing else, the Ravens got a nice trip down memory lane during their warmups at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

On the sideline at one point were four members of their Super Bowl XXXV-winning team, including two of the franchise's all-time best players, and one of their two championship-winning quarterbacks.

Former linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Trent Dilfer were analysts on ESPN's pre-game show. Former wide receiver Qadry Ismail works for WBAL, the flagship radio station of the Ravens. And Jonathan Ogden, the Hall of Fame offensive tackle, was on the sideline with his son.

End zone

To make room for Butler's promotion to the active roster, the Ravens waived rookie running back Terrence Magee. Meanwhile, fellow rookie running back Raheem Mostert, claimed this month off waivers from the Miami Dolphins, made his Ravens debut … Wide receiver Darren Waller, who made a nice play in the second quarter to help down a punt on the Cardinals' 1-yard line, seemed to hurt his leg later in the quarter and did not return. …The Ravens became just the second team in the past 16 years to open the season with five of their first seven games on the road. The other one was the 2000 Ravens, who went 5-2 during the stretch and won the Super Bowl. … The Ravens opened both halves by completing a pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, the seventh time in 14 opportunities they've done so this season ... ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico celebrated his 150th "Monday Night Football" broadcast. … The roof at the University of Phoenix Stadium was closed for the game. … The Cardinals inactive list included quarterback Matt Barkley, tight end Darren Fells, offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Earl Watford, linebackers Alex Okafor and Shaq Riddick and nose tackle Xavier Williams.

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