Late For Work 11/21: Ravens Benefit From Controversial Rule

Lewis’ absence hurt, Suggs predicts his return. T. Smith completes brilliant draft resume?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, November 21st, 2011 at 9:18 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Ravens Benefit From Controversial Rule

There’s no doubt the Jermaine Gresham 9-yard touchdown catch that was reversed after official review was huge.

Had the original touchdown call stood, the Bengals would have only needed a field goal on their final drive instead of a touchdown. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton drove his team to the Ravens’ 7-yard line, but couldn’t make it into the end zone. A field goal from there would have sent the game to overtime.

And while Bengals fans may be sour because of the call, ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley says they should really be sour with the rule because the refs made the right call.

“The Bengals didn’t lose because of bad officiating. They lost their chance at a first-place tie as well as increased respect around the league because of a bad rule,” wrote Hensley.

Cincinnati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy agrees. Bengals fans will wake up to his article entitled, “Gresham TD victim of rules.”

The rule is commonly known as the “Calvin Johnson rule” after the Detroit receiver’s touchdown was nullified in a game last year when he lost the ball when his hand hit the ground while falling after his feet had touched. Reedy explained the rule stipulates that a receiver has to complete a catch by maintaining possession in the end zone after he hits the ground, even if both feet had already touched the ground.

The refs didn’t see Gresham do that yesterday vs. the Ravens.

“The NFL competition committee, of which Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is a member, didn’t propose any changes to the rule this past offseason but tried to clarify the language,” wrote Reedy.

“It’s a rule that needs to be changed, but probably won’t,” wrote Hensley. “My eyes saw a touchdown. Common sense says it’s a touchdown. Gresham crossed the plane of the goal line with ball in hand. The NFL rule book says otherwise. The reason: he didn’t have control of the ball for what seemed like seconds after he reached the end zone. It’s a silly rule. It’s right up there with the Tuck Rule. So let me get this straight: the ground can’t cause a fumble but it can cause an incompletion?

“The officials weren’t at fault. It’s actually the NFL competition committee — and not Gresham — who really dropped the ball. The league had a chance to revise the rule after all the attention that came from Johnson’s catch … I mean no catch. But the NFL kept the rule intact, much to the dismay of the Bengals.”

T. Smith Completing Brilliant Draft Resume

General Manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff are known around the league as being one of the best when it comes to the NFL draft.

Since the team’s inception in 1996, they’ve drafted 13 players who have earned Pro Bowl honors and a few future Hall-of-Famers.

But critics have always pointed out one “blemish” on the Ravens’ draft record – not selecting a game-changing wide receiver.

Rookie receiver Torrey Smith might be the one to complete Newsome’s already brilliant draft resume.

“The second-round pick is the wide receiver Baltimore has been desperately searching for over the past decade,” Hensley wrote. “The Ravens have drafted 16 wide receivers – from Patrick Johnson to Travis Taylor to Mark Clayton – and none became consistent downfield threats.

“Baltimore had to look to free agency to find wide receivers. Defenses respected the likes of Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but they fear Smith.”

How do you not fear the sixth rookie in NFL history to post dual 150-yard receiving games in a season? Only Randy Moss (1998) and Marques Colston (2006) have accomplished that feat as a rookie in the past 15 years, says ESPN Stats & Information.

 

 

Baltimore’s Secret weapon

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His 165 receiving yards yesterday was the third-biggest single day by a Raven in team history and his 590 total yards on the season is a Ravens rookie record.

“I think we did envision the type of player he was going to be,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s why we drafted him.”

More importantly, Smith is becoming the difference-maker in Ravens’ wins, including at Pittsburgh, at St. Louis and vs. the Bengals yesterday.

Not only did his 49-yarder in the second quarter  set up a go ahead touchdown to capture the Ravens’ first lead of the game, his 38-yard touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter ended up being the game-winning score. (Steve Mariucci breaks down the play in the video to the right.)

“The Ravens find themselves leading the AFC North race because of the speed of Torrey Smith,” wrote Hensley.

It’s also the reason ESPN.com says you can’t forget Smith in the rookie-of-the-year race.

“While [Cincinnati's A.J.] Green and Atlanta’s Julio Jones have garnered most of the attention when it comes to rookie receivers, Smith is starting to close the gap,” said Hensley.

After his first two weeks in the NFL, critics were ready to call him a bust after dropping crucial passes. He even received Twitter messages from fans saying he couldn’t catch a cold. Harbaugh even had to urge fans and media to lay off the rookie and allow him to develop.

That all seems so far away now.

“[He] continues to make everyone who doubted him after two games look foolish,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg.

Lewis’ Absence More Damaging Than Green’s

One of the big talking points heading into the Ravens-Bengals AFC North showdown was which missing star would hurt more: Ray Lewis or A.J. Green.

After the Ravens defense gave up 483 total yards and Dalton threw for 373 yards without Green, ESPN’s John Clayton believes Baltimore took the bigger hit.

Lewis’ absence turned out to be more damaging, even though the Ravens won,” wrote Clayton. “Minus Lewis, the Ravens had some communication issues. There was no better example than an early fourth-quarter play in which the Ravens tried an all-out blitz.

“The middle of the defense tipped off the Cover Zero blitz, giving Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton time to audible to max protection and alter wide receiver Andre Caldwell’s route. The result was a 49-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline. Dalton, a rookie, threw for 373 yards against the Ravens and had the Bengals in position to tie the score in the final minute.”

Lewis Watch This Week

The rumors surrounding the amount of time Lewis will miss this season have been all over the place.

Some believed Lewis would be back for yesterday’s contest, others said it would be one to four weeks, there were even rumblings that his toe injury could be season-ending.

But after yesterday’s victory, several Ravens defenders – including Ed Reed and Dannelle Ellerbe – said they had to urge Lewis to rest his injury because the 16-year veteran wanted to play in the division rivalry game.

Will they be able to keep him out of a nationally televised Harbaugh/Turkey bowl?

Linebacker Terrell Suggs has already predicted Lewis will play on Thursday.

Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson tweeted that there was no injury update on Lewis after the game, but that he did receive treatment.

“Lewis’ health going forward could be the deciding factor in how far this Baltimore team goes,” wrote SI.com’s Chris Burke.

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