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The officials didn’t like the Ravens’ excitement during their biggest comeback win in franchise history.
They didn’t like a lot of what they saw Sunday afternoon.
The referees, headed by veteran Jeff Triplette, called a combined 23 penalties for 121 yards. The Ravens had 11 for 99 yards.
A couple nearly came back to bite the Ravens, and a couple set off some of the players in the postgame locker room.
Safety Bernard Pollard, fresh off a controversial $10,000 fine for a supposed helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver last week, was flagged for taunting (unsportsmanlike conduct) in the second quarter after laying a big hit on tight end Jeff King along the Baltimore sideline.
“We have to find a happy medium,” Pollard said.
“This is a game of emotion. It’s a game of ‘you’re trying to beat me, the man trying to beat the man in front of him.’ This is what we have. This is our life, and for the refs to try and shut us down and make it ‘let’s play nice’ – no, this ain’t nice, nice because at the end of the day, that man’s trying to take my manhood.”
Pollard said the referee who made the call told him he stood over King for too long after making the hit.
“I’m happy anytime I hit somebody,” Pollard said. “We are happy. We get excited for that. And if you want to tell me don’t get excited, no, no, no. I’m going to get excited because that’s what we have to do.”
The Cardinals ended up punting on that drive, but there were three other, more costly, penalties in the second half.
After the Ravens took their first lead of the afternoon on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals came back with a 12-play drive capped by a game-tying field goal.
The drive was first extended when a third-down sack/strip by Ray Lewis was negated by a holding penalty on cornerback Cary Williams.
Two plays later, Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb looked to be picked off by Ed Reed when he was hit by a Ravens defender, sending his pass sailing about seven yards beyond its target. But Lardarius Webb, who undercut intended receiver Andre Roberts, was flagged for pass interference.
Reed said it looked like an uncatchable pass.
“I don’t want to say the wrong thing, but it is what it is,” he said. “When you have people out there doing a certain job, you expect them to do it with honesty and make the right calls. But you have to play through it.”
On the Ravens’ next drive, as they tried to break the tie, running back Ray Rice was hit with a second taunting penalty on Baltimore. It was after he nearly broke free on a seven-yard gain to kick off the drive. The penalty backed the Ravens up 14 yards and the Ravens punted three plays later.
“I wasn’t even talking to [the opponent],” Rice said. “I was looking at our sideline and he just happened to be there. The refs screwed that one up. But hey, we won.”
The Cardinals also got a number of flags. Three defensive pass interference calls, including two in the end zone, set the Ravens up for touchdowns.
Pollard, for one, doesn’t like the way these calls are going against the defense.
“I think the NFL has to look at that, because they’re trying to take away from this game,” Pollard said. “We can’t make this an offensive game, because you’re taking the defense out of it. You might as well take the defense off the field and let them go scrimmage their 11 against air.”