Saturday, November 24

Everyone's least favorite franchise

Time to pick on the Ravens!!!

Let's start with Raven linebacker and noted justice-obstructor Ray Lewis.

After regulation time had expired in this past Sunday's Browns-Ravens game, Lewis had returned to the locker room thinking his team had pocketed a 30-27 victory, as officials huddled to sort out what had transpired on the final play. Of course, as we know, Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson's 51-yard kick was eventually determined to be good, and thus overtime loomed.

Informed by a clubhouse attendant that he would have to return to the field, Lewis replied, "It’s over. We won.”

At the time, Ray-Ray was totally wrong on both counts; the game was not over, and his team had not won. Now, several days later, his statement has been bumped up to half right; the game is now over, but the Ravens still have not won, thanks to another Dawson kick on the first drive of overtime.

I like this story because of the front of denial Lewis initially puts up. Obviously the attendant knew something, and Lewis had to at least be sort of aware that the kick was in question. He is a team captain, no? Either Lewis was too stubborn or too foolish to accept the truth initially, like if he didn't acknowledge it, the situation would go away and the Ravens would be declared victors by inaction. The old head-in-the-sand trick. I like picturing the scene - if you're the ballboy, what do you say to this scary man once he disputes you? "Um...sorry, sir, but it's not over, and you haven't won?" I wonder how long it took Lewis to accept the truth.

Probably not as long as it's taking crybaby Ravens coach Brian Billick, one of the NFL's least likable people and one soon to be available for all your coaching needs. Let's review: the kick bounced off of a goalpost, hit the curved support, and bounced weirdly back into the end zone (Nick put up a video of the kick in an earlier post). It is clearly a good kick. Everybody on the Browns knows this, everybody on the Ravens knows this, everyone in the world who has seen it knows this. There is no dispute, even from Brian Billick. The kick is good and the correct ruling was made.

This should be all that matters, no? If I was a Browns fan and we lost via that kick, I would not be complaining, other than maybe muttering about bad luck a bit. The most important thing is getting the call right, which is one of the reasons why the Browns fans' bottle-throwing escapades from a few years back were so embarrassing.

Then there is the matter of the officials, who, it must be reminded, got the call correct. Not only that, but they also used correct procedure. The two judges did not initially agree on the kick, so the officials held a conference. The referee, Pete Morelli, called the replay booth only to verify that the kick could not be reviewed by instant replay. The officials then had a discussion on the field (Morelli's words) and correctly ruled the kick good.

So what would a sportsmanlike coach do in this situation? Acknowledging that the kick was good and that the refs acted properly, crediting the opponent with a victory, and beginning to prepare his team for the next game all seem like reasonable next steps.

What has Billick done? Given the Browns no credit, never once mentioned that the kick was good, filed a complaint with the league, and spent several days of the week whining. Brian Billick, you are the epitome of class. Watch this press conference after the game. What a dork.

There are some special touches that Billick adds that even a normal overcompetitive coach wouldn't think to do.

He makes a sarcastic remark about the situation, saying that, "I was remiss in covering what we do when we've won a game [editor's note: you never won the game, Brian], go into the locker room and are told to come back out again. That's not one scenario that I've covered. So, I don't know that I had them adequately prepared." Ha ha, Brian! You're so funny! Apparently you didn't have them adequately prepared to manage the clock properly and not allow the Browns 30 seconds with which to tie the game, either! Maybe next training camp you can set some time aside to work on that.

Billick also classily adds in a dig about "a couple of calls leading up to [the kick]" that he didn't like, implying some bad officiating during the contest. Check out the box score: the Browns were flagged 12 times for 104 yards during the contest, including one tremendously bad roughing the passer call. The Ravens were whistled twice for 15 yards. Take out the 15-yard unsportsmanlike call against Haloti Ngata for punching a prone Joe Thomas in the head (for which Ngata should have been ejected and will undoubtedly be fined), and the Ravens were penalized zero yards for the entire game. Damn those refs, right Brian? That's why you lost!

Maybe instead of sending the league a tape of the end of the game, you should send yourself a tape of all the times you stubbornly kicked to the Browns' Josh Cribbs and allowed the Browns to seize the field position that allowed them to tie and ultimately win the game, maybe splicing in some of your finer clock mismanagements. Review that and tell me what you think, BB.

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