Officiating matches offense in dismal display

As poorly as the Ravens offense performed in Monday night’s 12-7 upset at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the crew officiating the game had its fair share of struggles.

Three of four plays challenged by both teams overturned on-field rulings, there was a comical delay while officials tried to figure out whether a pair of fouls during a punt resulted in a re-kick (they did), and the crew failed to cite the Jacksonville kickoff unit late in the fourth quarter for at least one or even two penalties.

But two penalties against the Ravens raised the ire of many fans.

Strong safety Bernard Pollard was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness for what referee Carl Cheffers described as a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Deji Karim in the third quarter.

On the same possession, inside linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was whistled for a personal foul and ejected from the game after he retaliated to a blow struck by Jaguars right tackle Guy Whimper.

Coach John Harbaugh declined to discuss the officiating out of fear of being fined, but Pollard seemed to empathize with the plight of the officials, who are required to make snap judgments that can sometimes be distorted by instant replay.

“Officials, they are going to get criticized because the fans want them to make the right call, the players want them to make the right call, the coaches want them to make the right call, they want to make the right call,” he said. “But things go so fast in this league. So they’ve got to make it. They’ve got to quickly make a decision and go with it. As players, we might not like it sometimes, but they’ve got a tough job just like we do.”

Harbaugh did say that he will seek input from the league office regarding Pollard’s hit. Harbaugh said he thought the hit was legal and did not involve Pollard leading with his helmet into Karim’s helmet.

“We’ll definitely send it in,” Harbaugh said. “There’ll be some others ones that we send in. But we’ll just see what they say. I don’t know another way to coach it, but if they give us some insight into that, that would help us.”

Ayanbadejo acknowledged striking Whimper, but only after Whimper instigated the altercation. Ayanbadejo, who expressed regret for not handling his emotions differently, said he would confer with his agent Drew Rosenhaus to appeal any fine handed down by the NFL.

“We’ll put a whole presentation together because I know it’s an automatic, considerably large fine,” he said. “So we’ll put a whole presentation together. I think the best thing was, it shows the way I play football. Prior to my ejection, if you look, I helped two Jaguars up during the game – these are guys that I don’t even know – and then a coach gets knocked down on the sideline, and I’m concerned for him. I want to help him up. And then something like this happens. So hopefully, the NFL will be lenient with this fine just like when I had my horse-collar [tackle in the season opener on Sept. 11].”

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