Late For Work 10/25: Was Fumble Ruling A ‘Gift’ from Refs?

Also other potential playoff teams struggled and when Ed Reed will know he is back.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 9:10 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Was Fumble Ruling A ‘Gift’ from Refs?

Yes, says B Blog’s Matt Vensel.

No, says former NFL Vice President of Officiating and Fox analyst Mike Pereira.

When the Buffalo Bills had the ball on second-and-10 and the score was tied at 34 in overtime, receiver Shawn Nelson caught a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass at the Bills 45-yard line. Nelson met a pile of tacklers, and linebacker Ray Lewis stripped the ball out from Nelson’s hands.

This is where things get cloudy.  Some observers, like Vensel, claim Nelson’s forward motion was stopped and the officials should have whistled the play dead before Lewis could make the strip. Vensel said the Ravens were only able to survive "thanks to a gift from the officials."

"By not blowing the whistle, the officials blew the game for the Bills," Vensel concluded.

Pereira explains, however, why the forward progress only "appeared" to be stopped.

 "This was another weird play because Nelson was wrapped up by several Baltimore players and it would have had the appearance that forward progress had been stopped," Pereira said.  "In reality, he was being pushed forward and, therefore, the ball was stripped away before he hit the ground.

"This play is not reviewable. Aiding the runner does not apply here because it is legal for teammates to push the runner forward in the field of play."

Comfort In Seeing Other Playoff Contenders Struggle?

The Ravens’ three-point win over the winless Bills didn’t earn style points, but Baltimore wasn’t the only playoff contender that didn’t exactly inspire confidence yesterday.

That fact has’s Don Banks’ faith shaken.

"I’m seriously starting to wonder who we can trust in this year’s NFL?" Banks ponders.

Banks says he can’t trust the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (4-3) who lost by 13 points to the Browns (2-5). The same goes for the Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) after their loss at Tennessee. Even the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1) squeezed past the Miami Dolphins (3-3) by one point after a bizarre call from the officials late in the game.

"The Steelers may be 5-1 and in first place in the AFC North, but how can theyfeel all that great about their 23-22 win at Miami when referee Gene Steratore admitted the officials blew the call that saved Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a lost fumble at the Dolphins 1 and set up Jeff Reed’s 18-yard, game-winning field goal?" Banks asked.

Joining the Ravens and Steelers as teams that barely escaped an upset was the New England Patriots (5-1). They eked out a three-point win when the San Diego Chargers (2-5) missed a 50-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining at home.

Nobody in Baltimore cares if Pittsburgh or New England "feels good" about their wins. In the end, all that matters is they both stayed at or near the top of the AFC. Luckily, the Ravens survived the Bills and are still nipping at the leaders’ heels.

 "I just think you saw a Ravens team that was a little bit tired and maybe a little bit unfocused after the tough loss against New England last week," said’s Damon Hack. "But, in the NFL it’s really all about surviving and advancing. It’s not always pretty; you’re not going to beat all the teams you’re supposed to by 21 points all the time. I think they’ll clean up their mistakes."

McGahee Explains How Reed Will Know He’s "Back."

Running back Willis McGahee tried to help safety Ed Reed know when he is back.

"I told Ed Reed, ‘You’re not back until you get an interception,’" McGahee joked. "And when he came around and got that first interception, I was like, ‘All right, Ed, you’re back. But you’re not back until you run it back.‘ He almost ran one back. So it was a good thing. I’m happy for him."

If it inspires Reed to get a pick six after the bye, I’m gonna side with McGahee. Reed isn’t baaack, back until he runs it back.

But with a forced fumble and two interceptions in the Ravens’ 37-34 win, he’s definitely back.

Van Valkenburg : Pass Rush Needs Talent. Not Technique, Effort Or Schemes

Entering the game, the Buffalo Bills were the NFL’s fourth-worst team in sacks per pass attempts. If the Ravens were going to get their pass rush amped up, that was the game to do it.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

"It’s time to acknowledge that the current personnel simply cannot get to the quarterback frequently enough," Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote. "We can talk about schemes and blitzes and [Defensive Coordinator] Greg Mattison’s calls until we’re purple in the face, but stopping a good quarterback all starts with getting in his face, and right now, the Ravens don’t do that enough. It’s not about technique or effort, it’s about talent. The Ravens don’t have enough."

Van Valkenburg thinks the Ravens can overcome the lack of pressure, but only up to a certain point. It would be a tall task to ask the defense to contain Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers without adequate pressure.

To fix the issue, the Sun writer believes the Ravens would have to look outside the organization – possibly at Shawne Merriman.

"He’s not the player he was when he first came into the league — not even close — but even on one leg, he might be better than what we’ve seen so far, even if it’s only in a limited role," Van Valkenburg concluded.

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