September 27, 2012
A late lack of composure could have cost the Ravens two games in a span of five days.
Brandon Weeden air-mailed Paul Kruger's gift out of the back of the end zone as time expired Thursday night, but the Cleveland Browns quarterback shouldn't have gotten an extra shot at the end zone in the first place. The Ravens outside linebacker, who actually had a pretty good game with a sack and two passes defended, was flagged for a personal foul after pushing Browns left tackle Joe Thomas well after his portion of the play had ended. To be fair, Thomas did his best impersonation of a futbol player, tumbling to the ground as if Kruger had just Tazered him. After the game, Kruger said in at least two different interviews that Thomas flopped. "I wish I was that strong," he said. But whether Thomas took a soccer dive or not, Kruger's late loss of composure was inexcusable and it could have cost the Ravens the game.
"From what I have been told, there wasn't much there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I'll have to see it first, but we talked about it. And that's always a concern. That's always something, as a football coach, I think you have to look at. Sometimes, the smallest thing is going to be misinterpreted, maybe in your eyes, and you just have to walk away from everything in that kind of situation. He knows that."
If Harbaugh is concerned, he has every right to be. It was the second time in a span of five days that flared tempers and the subsequent tossing of yellow flags nearly cost the Ravens a football game. In the final quarter of Sunday's 31-30 win over the New England Patriots, cornerback Lardarius Webb got three flags thrown at him for committing a clear illegal contact penalty on Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. Webb then barked back at the official, but didn't receive additional discipline. On the next play, though, Harbaugh was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for bumping into an official while trying to call a timeout. I don't think it was intentional and Harbaugh seemed sincere in his apology after the game, but those heated moments gave the Patriots two first downs, 20 free yards and an opportunity to run out the clock on the Ravens. Had Justin Tucker's last-second kick veered a few more inches to the right, that sequence would have been heavily scrutinized throughout the week. But for now, it is mostly forgotten.
Throw in the slap-fight between Cary Williams and DeSean Jackson and those skirmishes in the Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Ravens have at times displayed a lack of composure when the going got tough. The replacement refs are back to running their fantasy football teams, so they can't be used as scapegoats anymore. If the Ravens insist on making each game a thrill ride, then they absolutely need to avoid bone-headed penalties like the one Kruger committed in crunch time Thursday night.