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Ravens’ Matthew Judon ejected after touching official during fight with Steelers, says it wasn’t intentional

Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon was ejected in the second quarter of Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers for what the officiating crew said was “intentionally contacting an official” after a fight broke out between the teams.

After a Steelers run, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters and Pittsburgh wide receiver Diontae Johnson started shoving each other. Peters delivered a headbutt to Johnson’s helmet, which Johnson responded to by putting his fingers inside Peters' facemask.

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Judon entered the fray and appeared to bring Johnson to the ground. As more Ravens and Steelers players gathered and officials intervened in an attempt to separate the teams, Judon flailed his arms as he was being held back and made contact with an official. Referee Brad Allen announced that Judon “intentionally” made contact with field judge Rick Patterson, though it appeared to be incidental as Judon was trying to break free from the grasp of a Ravens assistant.

Al Riveron, NFL senior vice president of officiating, told a pool reporter that the decision to disqualify Judon was up to the discretion of the official.

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“The officials reported there was contact with an official, so he was disqualified,” Riveron said.

When later asked if contact with a referee results in an automatic disqualification, Riveron said, “If the official feels that it rises to the level of an ejection. For example, if a player bumps into an official during a play, we’re not going to disqualify him for that. But if the official feels that it rises to a certain level, he or she has the option of ejecting the player on the field.”

After Sunday’s game, Judon released a statement through the team, saying, “I would never intentionally make contact with an official. I was attempting to free my arm as I was being held back, and I inadvertently contacted the official’s arm. My emotions were running high in the moment, and I take full responsibility for what happened. I need to do a better job of keeping my cool and not doing anything that negatively affects my team.”

Coach John Harbaugh said he did not believe Judon’s contact was intentional.

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“I was told [by officials] what the replay showed,” Harbaugh said. I’m quite sure that — I’m very confident that Matthew didn’t touch an official on purpose. I was told he was trying to release his hand away. There was some contact there, but it wasn’t anything he was trying to do – that’s what I understand the case to be.”

Judon’s disqualification made him the third Raven to exit Sunday’s high-stakes matchup. The Ravens lost starting offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and rookie Tyre Phillips to ankle injuries in the first quarter. Both Stanley and Phillips were later ruled out.

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