Baltimore Ravens Come Up Short after Two Controversial Calls

Laurie RillCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2008

There are games when you get the breaks, and there are games when you don't. That's just how the NFL is.

Sunday, the Ravens simply didn't get the breaks.

Now, let me put this out there upfront—I'm not saying the ball didn't break the plane of the goal line on Santonio Holmes' game-winning touchdown catch. It might have. It was incredibly close.

But the point is the call on the field should not have been overturned. It was one of those plays where whatever call was made on the field should stand. There simply was not enough evidence to reverse the call, whichever way it was initially ruled.

But the Holmes touchdown catch wasn't the only review that didn't go the Ravens' way.

Back in the second quarter, the Steelers had a 3rd-and-1 from their own 29-yard line. Running back Gary Russell took the handoff up the middle but was stuffed by Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis. Russell appeared to be stopped about a half-yard short of the marker, but the line judge gave the Steelers a favorable spot and a first down.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh challenged the call, and referee Walt Coleman went to take another look.

Multiple TV replays seemed to show Russell getting stood up short of the 30-yard line, but the positioning of the cameras did not allow Coleman a definitive angle showing Russell's forward progress getting stopped. It sure looked to everyone watching like the Steelers were short, but Coleman did not see conclusive visual evidence. So he couldn't reverse the call.

The Steelers kept possession and 11 plays later Jeff Reed booted a 31-yard field goal, tying the game 3-3.

The refs can't have it both ways. If there wasn't an angle providing clear evidence to reverse the call the first time around, Coleman sure didn't have it on the Steelers' late touchdown.

For the replay system to work, there has to be consistency. That night there was none.

Neither play necessarily lost the Ravens the game; as Terrell Suggs said, the Ravens never should have put the officials in that position. This defense knows allowing a 92-yard drive with the game on the line just isn't acceptable.

The Steelers got the calls last night, they got the 10 points that came from the calls, and now they are division champs.

The Ravens were on the other end, and they are likely going to have to win their last two games to reach the postseason.

That's just how this game works sometimes.