The NFL is apparently ready to admit that Monday night’s officiating crew left something to be desired. According to Ed Werder of ESPN, the NFL “will acknowledge” that referee Ronald Tolbert should not have penalized Ravens guard John Urschel for an illegal formation on the team’s opening drive.
Tolbert’s flag wiped out a six-yard completion from Joe Flacco to Urschel in the red zone, and the Ravens eventually settled for a field goal, during their 26-18 loss to the Cardinals. However, replays clearly showed Urschel signaling to Tolbert that he was entering the game as an eligible receiver. After the game coach John Harbaugh said he was told that Tolbert did not see Urschel.
“He (Tolbert) said he didn’t see it,” Harbaugh said after the game. “John did everything he was supposed to do in that situation, just as he’s coached. Joe looked at it, he saw it, I saw it, and then there was an announcement. It was a legal formation.”
According to Werder, Tolbert will not be punished because the improper call was not deemed to be critical to the game’s outcome. That won’t sit well with the Ravens or their fans.
As for Chris Johnson’s 62-yard run, ESPN is reporting the league will stand by its position that the play should not have been blown dead earlier. Johnson’s forward progress clearly appeared to be stopped when he was lying on top of Ravens guard Brandon Williams. But the whistle was not blown, Johnson’s knees did not touch the ground, and Johnson eventually got up and started running again. According to ESPN, the league will maintain that blowing the whistle dead on that play was a judgment call by the referees.
“Forward progress was stopped,” Harbaugh said. “If you hit him in that situation, you’re going to get fined and penalized. Three seconds he was stopped. He declared himself down. He was sitting there.”
At least on the Urschel play, the NFL will apparently admit its mistake. That confession will still leave the Ravens at 1-6, and just like the officials, with no chance for a do-over.