A tongue-in-cheek column from the Sun’s Peter Schmuck—who artfully jabs at the Ravens' predilection to lose close games in the waning minutes—brings up an interesting point that I’ve been meaning to address for a couple of weeks, about the growing movement of "us vs. refs" here in Charm City.
Bottom line: the Ravens have received very few bad calls this season. They’ve made bad plays, they’ve been out of position, and, yeah, sometimes they get jobbed on a play. But for the most part, it’s been pretty fair against the Ravens, particularly in the closing minutes.
If you have any hope of getting over the sense of the Ravens getting cheated out of games, you first have to acknowledge that the Ravens defense hasn’t been very good. All of the disputed refereeing comes against the defense. Rarely do you see refs miscalling false starts or holding against the Birds.
If you can accept that premise, you can further open yourself up to football enlightenment for the ages. The Ravens get very little pressure up front, which makes any NFL quarterback worth his salary look like a superstar.
Since the Ravens do not have any corner backs worth their salary, Ravens fans are often compensating for the lack of talent on the corner by lamenting a lack of fair judgment on the part of the refs.
Think about it. For every big pass-interference call you’ve seen that eventually costs the Ravens games, how many replays have shown the corners scrambling to catchup to the play? If they are on their job, they are already in place to make a play at the point of the ball’s arrival; there should be no question about excessive contact or interference.
If they were ready on every single play, they wouldn’t have to get ready and be caught on a 50/50 call.
Furthermore, many of the games the Ravens lost, could’ve been won with a better field goal kicker. If you have Billy Cundiff or Matt Stover lining it up against the Vikings, and possibly against Cincinnati the second time around, the Ravens are looking at 7-3 and control of the AFC North.
You aren’t even thinking about what influence the refs wield over the games.
This isn’t to say that referees don’t make bad calls, but it is to say that in a digital, social networking world, there’s very little room for various NFL officiating crews to exact a measure of game-influencing disdain against a team that doesn’t make the wheels on the NFL bus go ’round.
The Ravens have some Hall of Fame players in the twilight of their careers, have a great fanbase, and maintain healthy rivalries with each of their divisional opponents.
The NFL isn’t interested in losing this, and we should angle our frustration with the team into a misguided perception of the league’s marketing priorities.