Poor Officiating, Communication System Lapse Add To Ravens’ Woes

The Baltimore Ravens’ season hasn’t started the way anyone expected. A tough schedule with multiple trips out west, multiple injuries, mental mistakes and pure bad fortune have combined to a 1-6 record. The team has been waiting for their luck to change but winning doesn’t appear to be in the cards this year.

In Monday’s loss to the Cardinals, the Ravens bad luck wasn’t the only thing standing in their way; they had to contend with questionable officiating and troubles with communication equipment.

The Ravens attempted to use a little trickery on their first drive of the game. Offensive Lineman John Urschel ran out on the field, flamboyantly gesturing and declaring to the refs as an eligible receiver. Joe Flacco can also be seen pointing to Urschel, directing the official’s attention. The team was subsequently flagged on the play for illegal formation after completing a six-yard pass and catch by Urschel. The officials claimed he never reported.

What was Ronald Torbert looking at, if not directly at Urschel?

The Ravens were backed up and settled for a field goal on the drive instead of having a second and short in the Cardinals’ red zone.

Later in the game, Chris Johnson broke a 62-yard run on a play that was all but dead. The whistles never blew but the forward progress had been halted. In that instance, John Harbaugh claimed, “The forward progress was stopped. We’re clearly told that when the play is dead, they’re supposed to stop. There have been plenty of times when guys have been fined and penalized. They don’t blow the whistle half the time. That’s just the way it works, I know it sounds crazy, but the whistle is not used that often.”

The play stood and the Cardinals put another three points on the board with a Chandler Catanzaro field goal to take a 20-10 lead.

Following a blocked punt for a touchdown and a series of mistakes by the Cardinals offense, the Ravens were trailing by 8 points with plenty of time to drive down the field. They were able to mount a last-minute drive, despite losing their communications equipment (We’ve all heard stories of teams that travel into Foxborough suspiciously having issues with their phones going out). As Flacco marched his team down the field to the Cardinals’ 4 yard line, he lost communication with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

“The phones were going out. We lost our phones. There’s always going to be some confusion. The good thing was that we got everything done fast. We didn’t lose any time,” John Harbaugh told our media partner, the Baltimore Sun after the game. “We’ll go back and study it, but according to the clock, we got things done pretty darn quickly. But the phones were going out. [Flacco] couldn’t hear Mark [Trestman]. I don’t know why the phones were going out on that drive, but they went out on that drive.”

Call it bad luck. Call it fate. Call it making excuses. Whatever you want to call it, the deck has been stacked against the Ravens in 2015.

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