LOMBARDI’S WAY: Will the Ravens battle the Patriots and the officials on Sunday?

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: Will the Ravens battle the Patriots and the officials on Sunday?

Posted in Lombardi's Way
Print this article

The biggest concern for many Ravens’ fans as the team makes its way north to Foxborough, MA to take on the Patriots isn’t Tom Brady or Randy Moss or Vince Wilfork. Instead it’s the officiating and the home cooking that fans are anticipating for Bill Belichick’s troops.


 

The last time the Ravens visited the Patriots back on October 4 referee Ron Winter’s flag happy crew were the policemen between the lines. The Ravens were penalized nine times for 85 yards while the Patriots were nailed five times for 41 yards. This disparity isn’t all that alarming although clearly consequential. Yet it was the timing of the calls against the Ravens and the calls not made against the Patriots that sent fans into a frenzy and screaming, “FIX!”


 

Three times, borderline calls kept drives alive for Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense. Two of those calls were personal fouls levied against Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs. The Suggs call in particular raised the ire of Ravens fans because it appeared that referee Winter would not have called anything until Tom Brady pleaded for the flag.


 

Naturally he got it.


 

The Ngata penalty was probably a legitimate call and most fans would likely accept that foul had it not been for Winter’s crew ignoring even more forceful blows to the head and body of Joe Flacco delivered by a variety of Patriots’ defenders.


 

What’s good for Brady should be good for Flacco, right?


 

And there was more…


 

Derrick Mason was interfered with by CB Darius Butler in the end zone after a long toss from Flacco. If you want proof, just look at the picture above. Yet there was no flag.
 
In the third quarter Chris Carr was flagged for illegal contact on a third and 10 pass that fell incomplete yet nearly the identical contact between Mason and Leigh Bodden later in the quarter resulted in an offensive pass interference penalty against Mason negating a 20 yard completion.


 

Then in the fourth quarter with the Patriots clinging to a 3 point lead, Belichick called for a fake field goal deep in Ravens territory. While the Patriots were guilty of illegal motion and flagged accordingly, missed in the sequence was the spot of the ball after the illegal play took place. By most counts the officials missed the correct placement of the ball which should have been short of the first down marker. That would have resulted in a turnover on downs.


 

Instead the Patriots were allowed to kick the relatively easy 33 yard field goal and take a 27-21 lead with 7:14 to go.


 

That field goal clearly raises the relevant question, “Would the Ravens have gone for it on fourth down needing 4 yards at the Patriots 14 with 32 seconds remaining or would they have tried to tie it at 24 if that Patriots field goal doesn’t happen?”


 

Without a doubt the penalties that weren’t called made a difference in the game.
 
Oh and let’s not forget the Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty called against the Ravens’ bench, a call that even game analyst Phil Simms (a stone-cold New England hugger/apologist) admitted he had never before seen enforced. 


 

So will the Patriots get some more home cooking on Sunday in the Wild Card game?


 

Do they really get any home cooking at all?


 

I decided to look at both the Ravens and the Patriots to see just how much they are penalized relative to their opponents both at home and on the road and how they were penalized when they battled against other teams in the 2010 playoff picture.  Here’s what I found:
 

 Category
Ravens/Patriots 
#penalties/yardage
Opponent 
Differential 
Record 

Overall

 
7.2/68.4
5.5/46.3 
(1.7)/(22.1) 
9-7 
Overall 
5.1/46.4 
5.7/48.8 
0.6/2.4 
10-6 
Home 
6.8/64.8 
4.5/35.4 
(2.3)/(29.4) 
6-2 
Home 
4.5/35.1 
6.1/53.1 
1.6/18 
8-0 
Road 
7.6/74.9 
6.5/57.3 
(1.1)/(17.6) 
3-5 
Road 
5.6/51.3 
5.3/44.4 
(0.3)/6.9 
2-6 
Wins 
6.4/56.8 
5.2/41.2 
(1.2)/(15.6) 
— 
Wins 
5.2/39.9 
6.6/60.4 
1.4/20.5 
— 
v. Playoff Teams
7.1/71.7 
7/62.1 
(0.1)/(9.6) 
1-6 
v. Playoff Teams
5.2/50.6 
5.8/44.8 
0.6/(5.8) 
2-3 
v. Playoff Road 
7.6/81.2 
7.4/71.2 
(0.2)/(10) 
1-4 
v. Playoff Road 
5.0/53.7 
5.0/37.0 
0/(16.7) 
0-3 

 

Most would probably concede that home teams in general will be penalized less. Hostile crowd noise makes it more difficult for opposing offenses oftentimes triggering penalties. The Patriots are no exception as they on average are called for 1.6 fewer penalties per game at home amounting to 18 yards per home game.


 

Conversely the Ravens are penalized more at home than they are on the road. The Ravens are marched in reverse at M&T Bank Stadium 2.3 times per game more than their opponent for a negative 29.4 yards. Interestingly the Ravens are penalized less on the road and the differential v. their opponent is also smaller. Harbaugh’s gang is flagged 1.1 more times per game than their opponents while away from home for a total of 17.6 yards.


 

Studies have been conducted comparing the propensity of some crews to call more penalties than others. That’s where Ron Winter comes into play.


 

Ravens fans can relax knowing that Winter will spend the winter day of January 10, 2010 somewhere other than Foxborough, MA.


 

The referee at the controls on Sunday will be Gene Steratore. Of the referees leading the four officiating crews this weekend, Ravens fans will be pleased to discover that Steratore relatively speaking lets the players play.
 

 Referee
Accepted penalties/game 
Penalty yds/game
Avg penalty yds/penalty
Total pts/game
Home team win rate
Scott Green
 11.5
97 
 8.4
46.8 
47% 
Ed Hochuli 
12.9 
104 
8.0 
43.0 
36% 
Bill Leavy 
10.6 
82 
7.7 
39.9 
79% 
Gene Steratore
9.8 
79 
8.0 
52.3 
50% 


 
* Data provided by Referee Chat Blog
 
Hochuli could have represented a nightmare for Ravens’ fans. Besides statistically being quick with the whistle relative to the other three, he’s known to call far more roughing the passer penalties – exactly what the Ravens DON’T need when facing Tom Brady in Foxborough.


 

So all things considered, the Ravens aren’t sitting too badly with Steratore at the controls. Unless of course if you consider Steratore’s home as a barometer of his allegiance.

 
Steratore resides in Washington, PA, just 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

 

You thinking what I’m thinking?

 

Facebook Comments
Share This  
Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

More from Tony Lombardi

Close

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

Get More Information