Blowing the whistle on Ravens penalties

Blowing the whistle on Ravens penalties
January 1, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Ravens, Harbaugh prepare for familiar face in Pagano

The game might not have mattered much; with playoff seedings essentially decided, the Ravens and Bengals sat starters for most or all of the Bengals' 23-17 win on Sunday, giving the contest the feel of an exhibition game.

Still, one thing from the box score should matter: The Ravens were hit with 10 penalties for 102 yards, adding to their league-leading total. The Ravens ended the regular season with 1,127 penalty yards, the most in the league. Their total of 111 penalties ranked fourth.

True, the game at Cincinnati didn't matter much, but the Ravens can ill afford to give up essentially the length of a football field in penalties once the playoffs start. The Cincinnati game marked the third time this season the Ravens have been penalized 100 yards or more.

The Ravens were flagged for having 12 men in the formation once, although that could be attributed to the fact that mostly reserves were in the game at the time, when communication breakdowns were more likely to happen.

Similarly, in the first half alone, offensive linemen Bobbie Williams, Bryant McKinnie and Kelechi Osemele all were whistled for false starts. Coach John Harbaugh said that could have been because the cadence between backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the offensive line wasn't quite in synch.

Other calls were less forgivable. Ray Rice, who played only sparingly, was hit with a personal foul penalty for getting in a tussle with Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict after a play. Williams was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for a dead-ball skirmish.

"Ray’s [Rice] thing was he was trying to finish a block. I thought it was more of an aggressive foul than anything else," Harbaugh said on Monday. "I would counsel him not to do that in that future. He felt like the play was still on. He didn’t know the play was over, and he thought he [Burfict] was getting up to go rush the passer, not that we excuse that. We don’t want any personal foul penalties.

"{Bobbie’s [Williams], there wasn’t much there, but there was enough to be called, obviously, because it was called. [I’ll] counsel him to not get involved in any of that. We don’t need any of that. We don’t need any penalties. We certainly don’t need any post-snap shenanigans."

It's a long road to the Super Bowl once the playoffs begin, and the Ravens will only make it longer if they are moving backwards, 5 to 15 yards at a time.