PLAYOFFS?! DON’T TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS?!
The Ravens knew heading into the games yesterday that regardless of what happened, they would finish the day as the No. 6 seed in the postseason. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t be watching their competition though, as up to three other teams could tie their record of 6 wins and 6 losses.
After entering Week 13 as the No. 6 seed at 5-6, the Tennessee Titans fell to the Indianapolis Colts to drop their record to 5-7. The San Diego Chargers, who also entered the day 5-6 were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals to fall behind the Ravens. The other two top wild-card competitors, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins played each other, with the Dolphins dominating the Jets to tie the Ravens at 6-6. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker however, after beating Miami on October 6th.
The Bengals defeated the Chargers and have advanced to 8-4. The Ravens will need to have the Bengals lose at least one of their next three games to have a chance to set up a divisional showdown for the AFC North crown on December 29 in Cincinnati.
NFL.com’s playoff picture shows that the Ravens are now the favorite to take the sixth seed, and can take solace in the fact that their conference record places them at the top of the wild-card hopefuls, as all 6 of their wins this year have come against AFC teams. The Ravens should feel lucky to be in this position after losing 5 of their first 8 games this year.
TOMLIN, STEELERS TO GET 6 NEW THINGS TO TALK ABOUT
Most Ravens fans have heard the most famous Pittsburgh retort when the Steelers lose more times than they would like, the fact that the Steelers have won six Super Bowls. (They often forget to mention they have been around since 1933, while the Ravens were founded over 60 years later, yet already have 2 titles of their own.)
However, after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin interfered with Jacoby Jones on the sideline during a kickoff return on Thanksgiving night in a game the Steelers eventually went on to lose, the league announced they were going to review the play for a possible punishment. Tomlin was on the sideline, inside the six-foot white patch coaches are forbidden to be in, and when he finally did move, stepped onto the field first.
NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that the NFL is expected to hit Tomlin with a six-figure fine. Schefter added the Steelers may even forfeit a draft pick, likely a sixth or seventh round pick. The source felt confident however that Tomlin is not going to be suspended. The punishment is likely to be given out early this week.
Former Strength and Conditioning coach of the New York Jets, Sal Alosi received a $100,000 fine for tripping a Miami Dolphins player in 2010. This fine may be even higher because Tomlin was recently added to the competition committee in the NFL.
Personally, I don’t think Tomlin being suspended is more severe than the loss of a draft pick, but the NFL seems to feel it would be.
STILL SEEING RED IN THE RED ZONE
The Ravens had one of their better offensive games of the season last Thursday against the Steelers, as they scored on six of eight possessions not including the kneel-down at the end. The Ravens punted one time, and did not turn the ball over at all.
However, it is still tough to be very happy with the Ravens once they got near the red zone, as Joe Flacco and the offense stalled many times, resulting in 5 field goals by Justin Tucker. One of the biggest issues for the offense in Pittsburgh’s territory was penalties, as Michael Oher drew two of the Ravens four false-start penalties on scoring drives (3 in total) that made it tougher for the Ravens to pick up the next first down.
The Ravens struggled defensively in the red zone as well, allowing the Steelers to score touchdowns on all three of their red zone possessions. The Ravens were happy to get the win over their arch-rival, but if the Ravens are going to make a playoff run, they need to start scoring touchdowns in the red zone, while stopping their opponents.
FIRST DOWN OR THIRD DOWN?
Just a few days after Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin stepped onto the field and interfered on a Jacoby Jones kick return and somehow avoided being flagged, that is no longer even the most egregious missed call from a game played in Maryland from Week 13 of the NFL season.
The New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins in Landover Maryland on Sunday Night Football 24-17, but had some help from the referees as in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Redskins were driving in an attempt to score a game-tying touchdown.
On second-and-5, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III completed a pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon at the Washington 45-yard line. He was very close to a first down, and one official ruled it a first down, while referee Jeff Triplette was confident he was short of the first down, which brought up third down. The chains however were moved, and the Redskins believed they had the first down.
After an incompletion on the following play, the refs signaled that it was fourth down, much to the confusion and disagreement of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. Triplette explained after the game, “We signaled “third down” on the field. The stakes were moved incorrectly.”
Shanahan said he had asked for a measurement after Garcon’s catch on second down, and was assured he did not need to by a different referee because it had been called as a first down. Griffin also said the play on fourth down, which was a hitch-route that resulted in a turnover after Garcon was stripped, and the end of the game, was not the play that would have been called if the Redskins had known it was fourth-and-inches.
It was a tough week for the referees. Shanahan has every right to be livid about the mix-up, whether it would have translated to a Redskins win or not.