PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joe Flacco had the ball on target and a Ravens touchdown in Jacoby Jones’ grasp. Flacco’s celebration was short lived.
Jones was whistled for offensive pass interference and the TD was wiped out. What should have been a 10-point lead turned into a field goal two plays later. The penalty and lost touchdown came back to cost Baltimore in a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
There was some initial confusion — Flacco said the official threw a bean bag instead of a penalty flag — but the play stood.
On replay, the call appeared to be the right one.
The Ravens, though, disagreed and are the latest team fed up with the maddeningly inconsistent calls made by replacement officials.
“The fact we don’t have the normal guys out there is real crazy,” Flacco said.
Flacco’s overthrows and some questionable playcalling late in the game also cost the Ravens a 2-0 start.
Michael Vick scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:55 left to put the Eagles ahead.
The Ravens had a chance to at least get in position for the winning field goal on the final drive. The Ravens turned to Flacco and the short pass on both third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 instead of using Ray Rice, who rushed for 99 yards, including a 43-yard run, but didn’t get the ball on the final drive.
Both attempts were incomplete. Flacco overthrew Rice on fourth down from the Ravens 46, and the Eagles ran out the clock.
Pressed on his playcalling, coach John Harbaugh conceded he could have called a draw. Rice refused to say he should have carried the ball.
“I am not the play caller,” Rice said. “I just do what I am asked to do when my name is called.”
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made field goals of 56, 51 and 48 yards for the Ravens, but Flacco couldn’t get Baltimore (1-1) in his range in the final minute.
Tucker almost made them winners.
An undrafted rookie out of Texas, Tucker beat out veteran kicker Billy Cundiff in the preseason and has made all six of his field goals in the first two games.
Tucker’s 56-yarder at the end of the first half sent the Ravens into the locker room up 17-7. His 51-yarder early in the fourth made it 20-17.
It wasn’t enough.
Late in the fourth, after losing their TD, the Ravens appeared to catch a break.
At the Ravens 3, Vick threw incomplete as he was being hit by Haloti Ngata, but the play was ruled a fumble and it was recovered by the Ravens. A replay overturned the call and Vick scored the winner on the next play.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said the fumble should have stood.
“The ball was already coming out, the ball was shaky,” he said. “He tried to push the ball. You can’t push the ball when the ball is fumbled. You go back to the tuck rule and all these different things. They protect the quarterback so much. For Haloti to make that play, for the ball to be coming out, clearly if you watched the play, you can watch it a thousand times, for the ball to be coming out how it’s coming out, how can you overturn that?”
Flacco and Lewis are both fed up with what they believe are regular mistakes by the replacement officials. The NFL locked out the regular officials in June after their contract expired.
Lewis said some “serious calls” are being missed and games all around the league are being affected by shoddy officiating.
“The time is now,” Lewis said. “How much longer are we going to keep going through this whole process?”
Flacco, 22 of 42 for 232 yards, with one TD and one interception, wants the regular referees back.
“After the fact, when something’s thrown, it’s like, `Wow.”‘
This was a homecoming of sorts for Flacco and Harbaugh. Flacco grew up in nearby Haddon Township, N.J. Harbaugh spent 10 seasons as an assistant under Eagles coach Andy Reid before going to Baltimore in 2008.
The Ravens had trouble with the refs, the Eagles defense, and holding on to the ball.
Trent Cole stripped Flacco on Baltimore’s second play and Cullen Jenkins recovered at the Ravens 15. LeSean McCoy ran in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.
Vonta Leach scored on a 5-yard TD run to tie it at 7.
After the Ravens failed to convert on a fake punt — Sean Considine ran 3 yards on fourth-and-4 — the Eagles took over at Baltimore’s 45. The drive ended in another turnover. Rookie Bryce Brown fumbled a handoff on third-and-1 at the 20, and Albert McClellan recovered at the 30.
Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 21-yard TD pass to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.
Up next, the Ravens play the Patriots — a game they surely don’t want decided by mistakes in officiating.
“For the conversation to be had on the sideline, `If the real refs were here, that call would have been made,’ that shouldn’t happen,” Lewis said. “But it is around the league. So, we have to deal with it.”
Notes: The Eagles improved to 5-9 in home openers under Reid and won one for first time since 2008. Tucker’s 56-yard FG tied Wade Richey for longest in Ravens history. Entering the season, McCoy had lost one fumble in the previous 28 games, spanning 565 touches. He lost his second on his 36th touch. Dallas Reynolds replaced center Jason Kelce, who sprained his right knee and was carted back to the locker room, and took his first snap in the NFL.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)