Boy, if you missed the last quarter of Patriots-Ravens, you missed what looked like a lockdown victory for Baltimore that fell apart come the last three minutes. After going up 27-20, the Pats drove 73 yards, with the aid of two fourth down conversions (one on a defensive holding penalty) and the amazing call of a time out on another attempt just before Ray Lewis would have stopped it cold. (There was the bizarre, too: anyone want to try and explain Brian Billick blowing kisses to Rodney Harrison?)
Kyle Boller did well, throwing for two TDs, and Willis McGahee rushed like the dominant back he can be and has been — topping 1,000 yards for the first time with his new team. But the breakdown on that final drive was something to watch. First down on a defensive hold, pass interference calls they felt weren’t called, and two unsportsmanlike conducts (one of them being Bart Scott throwing an official’s flag into the crowd) peek into something more, and Mike Sardo, filling in at ESPN’s Hashmarks, got it when he visited the locker room:
“The refs called me a boy. No. 110 called me a boy. I will be calling my agent in the morning and sending my complaint. I have a wife and three kids. Don’t call me a boy. Don’t call me a boy on the field during a game because I said, ‘You’ve never played football before.’ ” – CB Samari Rolle
“Everybody is kind of cheering for them to go undefeated and break all the records. They called them the greatest offense on earth. So who knows? … They made one more play than us and they got a little help.” – LB Terrell Suggs
This is possibly the most complaining I have heard about the refs from players in quite some time — and aside from the insinuation about the timing and favoritism, one official calling Samari Rolle a boy is repulsive, if true. Eventually, the NFL is going to have to bite the bullet and do like other professional sports — make its officials full-timers, pay them to spend time reviewing their tape in the off-season. Games like this only reinforce the questions about how football officials are evaluated. The response from Mike Pereira, NFL head of officiating, will be interesting.
Photo: AP/Gail Burton