Section 144, Row 14: The Corner of the End Zone.
I was there; I'm almost always there.
Every year, I purchase a set of season tickets, biding my time until my number comes up on the PSL waiting list, for reasons unknown to those who live outside the state of Maryland.
It was cold and harsh, the kind of night that you don't dress for properly, no matter how many layers of clothing you have on.
It didn't matter in the least. A sense of excitement ran through the collective fans dressed in silver and blue, purple and black. It was the Patriots game!
One of 2 games on our schedule that, when first released way back during summer, instantly brought a smile to every Ravens fan's face. This was the chance we had been waiting for—the chance to instantly bring credibility to this terrible hurt of a year.
As I watched from my incredible seats, the game went back and forth, and I was not surprised that the Patriots were doing so well. What did shock me, however, was Kyle Boller's ability to lead our usually stagnant offense on scoring drive after scoring drive against a typically stingy New England defense. By halftime we were actually even with the mighty Patriots.
Skip forward in time, and we get to the meat of the matter. By the fourth quarter, even after a backbreaking Boller interception and the following Patriots field goal, we were actually LEADING BY 4! This was amazing!!
Tom Brady and his team have a knack for making my dreams shatter in mere minutes or even seconds. I watched intently, even with my hands now frozen and the hot chocolate that had been steaming minutes before having been reduced to a chalky, flavorless excuse for a drink. Around me my fellow comrades were screaming, screaming for their season, for their friends, for our team and even at the scattered Patriots fans in the stands, who were occasionally being pelted by some stray pieces of refuse and trash.
Seconds remain, Patriots ball, 4th and 1 yard to go. The stadium is now of one mind. The chorus of "DEFENSE," and "LET'S GO RAVENS!" can be heard like a drumstick on one's ears. YES!!!!!! The Patriots are stopped and instant pure ecstasy.
Suddenly, the crowd is silent. I frantically look around and at the two mega flat screens. There it is, a small yellow flag. Ok, whatever, we'll get 'em the next time around.
4th down again. This time we've got their number. A terribly thrown desperation pass is lobbed to Randy Moss and again we stop them. A completely legal pass deflection by Ed Reed. (Ed Reed is god by the way, no bias intended, I've always thought that way).
OMFG! Another yellow flag. Pass interference. No chance to review. "This is crap," I think to myself. "We're not gonna win this game. They WILL get a touchdown no matter what."
I know it in my heart because these are the Patriots. Whether they get it or not, the referees who hate the people of M&T Bank Stadium will once again ruin any chance we have of winning.
"TOUCHDOWN!" the announcer screams. A Patriots receiver, I believe Jabar Gaffney, runs an out route to the opposite corner of the end zone and, bobbling the pass, manages to keep his feet inbounds. The side judge standing right there didn't even look at his hands!
Every person in my section of the field is screaming in a discord. A chorus of boos is falling from the sky. I beg and plead for a review. Thankfully, I get it. Certainly the officials in the stands will be able to see what the referee on the field missed.
It's so apparent that even the Patriots fans among us in the stands grudgingly agree that Gaffney was bobbling the pass as he ran out. That's an incomplete pass!
I know that because a million times I've seen the same route run by our own Todd Heap and a million times a slightly off-target ball thrown by Kyle Boller has gotten the same ruling.
The referee comes to the middle of the field.
"The Ruling on the Field Stands."
The fans reply: "BULLSHIT!!!!!!!"
These are only a few of the reasons why the Patriots won today here in our stands. I stand here and make this argument to you who stumble across this article. I'm pleading with you.
I've never written in a public forum before and I probably won't write much after this unless I deem it necessary for the continuation of the sport that I have grown to love over these past 12 years. I will summarize all the things I can think of in the next few lines to hopefully win you over.
If we let this continue, if we let the NFL control who wins and who loses—let the games be decided by the officials rather than the players on the field—then why will we watch this game anymore? I can watch professional wrestling if I want to watch a fixed game.
Please write and respond. With each voice that speaks up, we have perhaps another chance that the NFL will give us heed.
Rules broken or bent by the officials and/or Patriots during last Monday night's game:
1. Rodney Harrison leading with his helmet repeatedly during the game. Illegal, Personal Foul (15 yards)
2. Officials calling Ravens' defensive backs "boy." Illegal, Personal Foul (Ejection)
3. Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan calling Timeout before 4th down play. Little known fact: A coordinator is actually not permitted to call a time out. Only the Head Coach and the Players on the field are allowed to call time outs. (BS)
4. Pass Interference called on Ed Reed in 4th quarter on a 4th and 1. Yeah right, watch the play on NFL Replay on Wednesdays and Thursdays on NFL Network. Reed puts a jam on Randy Moss within 5 yards and then a clean release. No contact by Reed after ball is in the air. (More BS)
5. Jabar Gaffney's non-touchdown. That was blatantly a b.s. call. If you don't believe me, again, watch NFL Replay.
6. 30 yards in penalties against Ravens defensive back Bart Scott when he yelled at officials and threw the little yellow flag after one of the three 4th and 1's. At best, Personal Foul. (15 yards)
7. Hail Mary play at the end of regulation. Repeated pass interference to the extreme on Ravens receiver. Although some jostling is allowed, pulling down a receiver is not. Illegal, Pass interference (Untimed play at the end of regulation from the 2 yd line)