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NFL ready to replace replacements now?

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NFL ready to replace replacements now?

Sunday nights Ravens-Patriots match-up was a tight game decided in the last seconds for a 31-30 Baltimore victory, a fitting rematch to the AFC Championship Game, with an incredibly heartbreaking storyline of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith putting in a huge performance less than 24 hours after learning his brother had died in a motorcycle accident.

But what were we hearing about through much of the NBC telecast? The officiating.

In the fourth quarter, when the Patriots were called for one of those phantom defensive holding penalties, NBCs Cris Collinsworth let the replay sink in for a moment before saying: Guys, keep negotiating.

Collinsworth was referring to reports that the NFL and its locked-out officials were in labor talks on Sunday, an encouraging sign. Certainly more encouraging than what we saw from the men in stripes at M&T Bank Stadium.

There were a total 24 penalties accepted 14 for 135 yards on the Ravens, 10 for 83 on the Patriots. Eight of New Englands 33 first downs came via penalty and five of the Ravens 28.

Patriots coach Bill Belichicks frustration boiled over after the game ended, and he grabbed at an official as the ref was running off the field. Perhaps he wanted to protest that Justin Tuckers game-winning field goal had missed wide right. Belichick told the media he didnt want to talk about the officiating. "I'm not going to comment on that," Belichick said. "You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?"

Belichick also said he didnt think hed be fined by the league for making contact with an official. Its hard to believe hes right about that.

Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes vented on Twitter after the game: Can someone please tell these ------- zebras foot locker called and theyre needed Back at work!!!! BreakingPoint

The officials did not have control of the game for a big chunk of the first half similar to what we saw during last weeks Ravens-Eagles game. The Ravens and Patriots were pushing and shoving and tugging at each other after the whistle multiple times.

Though the pass interference against Jacoby Jones that set up Tuckers final field goal was indisputable, little else was when it came to calls in pass coverage. The wild inconsistency was maddening. Muggings that drew no flag. Tag-youre-it contact that resulted in yards marched off. Illegal contact or defensive holding or pass interference all mixed up.

In the NBA, we know the refs arent going to be consistent, but at least we understand how it works: If youre LeBron, you get the call, but if youre Kris Humphries, you dont. We defy anyone to explain how the replacement refs are making their calls.

The crowd in Baltimore was loud throughout the night and loud and clear in the second half when the fans responded to a call with what euphemistically is termed a barnyard epithet. It came across clearly on television.

So, do you think the NFL is happy about any of this happening on their biggest stage of the weekend? If any game can at least nudge the needle toward a settlement with the NFL Referees Association, this was it.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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