LOMBARDI’S WAY: Beyond a reasonable doubt the refs were guilty last Sunday

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: Beyond a reasonable doubt the refs were guilty last Sunday

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"I want the penalty called. I want 15 yards. I don’t care if they hit me or not. That’s an advantage for our offense. You just want to make sure the refs . . . I go hug the refs before the game, and ask about his kids and stuff like that. I’m trying to get him on our side."

These are the words of Tom Brady shared on Wednesday as the media dug a little deeper into the alleged favoritism towards the league’s reigning Miss NFL. Let’s hope the league’s officials read his quote. Now that the secret is out Tom, I wonder if your pet zebras will now see your feigned chumminess for the phony gamesmanship that it is…

You can’t really fault Brady for his Oscar-caliber performances but you can call him stupid for admitting to them. Yet the real fault here lies with the officiating. I get the rules – like them or not they are the rules. If you need to protect quarterbacks then do it – ALL QUARTERBACKS. There’s a reason that the league chose not to fine the Ravens’ players this week – they were right to voice their frustrations!

And for those of you that want to criticize the Ravens for complaining about the officiating, how about YOU get over it! By voicing their opinion the Ravens just made the NFL world a better place for all future 2009 opponents of the New England Patriots and that could be a could thing for the purple and black.

If you are among the many that take Ray Lewis’ and Ed Reed’s complaints as whining then try and place yourself as close to their shoes as you can. Imagine for a moment that you put in a week’s worth of work and preparation for a big presentation only to have unfair subjectivity keep you from the success you deserve. Might you complain a bit about the sequence of events leading up to the failure just moments after the said failure occurred?

And if you didn’t complain, maybe your employer picked the wrong person for the job.

Some might say this topic is old but let’s break out the wrench and dial back the hands of time just a bit here and revisit a few key calls…

Call No. 1: The Patriots are facing a third and 9 from their own 37 down 7-3. Brady short-arms a pass to Ben Watson that falls incomplete yet the drive is kept alive thanks to a ticky-tack penalty against Haloti Ngata whose forearm grazes Brady’s helmet. Brady falls to the ground like he’s been hit by a bus. Yellow laundry flies and the drive remains alive.

Call No. 2: Five plays later the Patriots fall well short of a first down after a failed third and two conversion attempt. The mark on the field is so clearly short of the marker that Stevie Wonder (with all due respect) could have been in the crowd signaling fourth down. Yet the officials grant Bill Belichick’s request for a measurement.

Neither Belichick nor Brady even watches the measurement. Both obviously know they are short but they successfully bait the officials into what amounts to a free timeout during which they collect their thoughts and opt to go for it on fourth down. They convert. Two plays later it’s Patriots 10 Ravens 7 after a questionable touchdown by Brady who was arguably short of the goal line.

Call No. 3: Ensuing drive – the Ravens first of the second quarter. After three plays that gained 4, 22 and 12 yards respectively the Ravens face a first and 10 from the New England 38. Joe Flacco throws a deep post to Derrick Mason which was defended by rookie Darius Butler. Clearly Butler interfered yet there was no call. Want proof of the interference? Look at the picture above.

The Ravens were forced to punt.

Do you think if that had been Domonique Foxworth climbing Randy Moss’ back in Boston that laundry would have littered the goal line?

Call No. 4: Fast forward to the 5:16 mark of the second quarter. The Patriots face a second and 11 from the Ravens 43. Terrell Suggs beats his man but gets hit by a second offensive lineman. His momentum carries him towards Tom Brady’s knees yet through pure athleticism he redirects his body in a way to avoid a serious lower leg collision with Brady. Unfortunately he still grazes the quarterback’s knee. The referee staring right at the play does nothing until the Golden Boy throws a mini tantrum and then gets the desired flag. Two plays later, Sammie Morris carries it in for the score – Patriots 17-7.

Four calls resulting in a 21 point swing.

And let’s not even drill down on the Illegal Contact call against Chris Carr despite contact being initiated by Wes Welker and then later in the game Derrick Mason collides with Leigh Bodden in a much less violent collision than the Carr-Welker confrontation – a collision which by the way was initiated by Bodden more than 5 yards down field. Yet Mason is flagged.

Oh and then there’s the terrible spot after the failed fake field goal giving the Patriots a first down before the penalty essentially giving them a free pass to kick a field goal – another 3 point swing.

So for those of you who say get over it, stop whining, the referees didn’t make a difference – SHUT UP!

They did make a difference and none of these pivotal calls went the way of the visitors – calls that added up to 24 potential points.

These calls weren’t the only reason the Ravens lost because despite it all they still had control of the outcome near the end.

But make no mistake about it, those calls absolutely contributed to the loss.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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