On the Ravens’ opening drive Sunday against Cleveland, they started off going backwards – an incomplete pass to (gasp!) Ed Dickson, followed by a three-yard loss by Ray Rice. It looked as if they would immediately be facing a 3rd-and-very-long to start the game, but instead a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor gave them a fresh set of downs.
However, it wasn’t just your typical run-of-the-mill altercation or late hit that drew the flag. We saw Taylor punch Rice in the face, but even after the flag was thrown, the chains were moved, and the officials tried to resume play, Rice and Taylor still seemed to be barking at each other.
The officials even went so far as to warn both teams to settle down, delaying things even further.
After the game, Taylor offered his explanation for what happened:
The Browns nose guard said “something happened” that caused him to slap the Baltimore Ravens halfback in the helmet and incur a 15-yard penalty after Rice was tackled for a loss on the game’s second play.
Asked by reporters following the Browns’ 14-6 loss if Rice spit on him, Taylor said: “Look at the film, you will see . . . I’m not going to say. It is what it is. I need to keep my composure.”
A replay shows Taylor and Rice face mask to face mask after Desmond Bryant tackled the Raven veteran for a 3-yard loss.
“I heard a guy scream he got spit on,” Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “If guys are spitting, that’s immature. That’s elementary. We’re all grown men. There’s no need to spit on a guy. I don’t know if it was Ray, but apparently someone got spit on.”
It seems highly unlikely that Rice, who is well-known as one of the best role models and stand-up gentlemen in the league, a pillar of the Baltimore community who devotes countless hours of his time to charity (especially those involving children), would do such a thing.
Here’s a GIF of the incident (c/o @GDixon410):
Rice seemed to get even more heated moments after Taylor punched him – perhaps taking great offense to being accused of something as disgusting as spitting?
So, what do you think?