Ravens, Bears claw in secondary

Ravens, Bears claw in secondary
November 18, 2013, 2:45 am
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Ray Rice on the end of regulation

It’s probably lost in the Ravens’ 23-20, overtime loss the Bears on Sunday — especially with how the Baltimore defense was unable to seal the deal in the fourth quarter — but the Ravens did put up an impressive goal-line stand in the second quarter.

The Bears ran six plays, five of them passes, from the Ravens’ 6 or closer but were unable to get into the end zone. One of those plays was a defensive-holding call on cornerback Jimmy Smith, but otherwise, the Baltimore secondary stood firm. Of note was how physical the defensive backs were playing the Bears receivers, yet — except for the call on Smith — the officials kept their flags in their pockets.

Part of the reason: When Smith and Corey Graham were locked in one-on-one battles with, respectively, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, they turned their heads to watch the ball in flight before defending the pass.

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It was also a trend throughout the game, as revealed by CBS’ replays, that the officials were allowing physical play in the secondary — for both teams, for both offense and defense. It was a welcome change to see jockeying for position and hand-checking, much more football-like, instead of the phantom interference calls we’re gotten so accustomed to seeing. Call it more of a laissez faire approach by the refereeing crew, except that “hands off” actually meant “hands on” for receivers and defensive backs.

Maybe it was a function of the harrowing weather and resulting rough field conditions that made the officials let them play, but it would be nice to see every week.