The Ravens-Steelers’ rivalry added another wild chapter to its history on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
In a 28-24 loss, the Ravens suffered a season-ending injury to their left tackle Ronnie Stanley, their leading pass-rusher Matthew Judon being ejected and endured four Lamar Jackson turnovers to bring the game down to the final seconds.
The problem was that the Ravens felt the game should’ve lasted a few ticks longer.
On the final drive of the game, with the Ravens down four and searching for a miraculous touchdown to win the game, the Ravens thought they should have been awarded both more time and another play in the dwindling seconds.
Faced with a 4th and 2, Jackson threw to Willie Snead down the middle of the field as the Ravens got to the Steelers’ 23-yard line. Behind them, Steelers defensive lineman Casey Heyward laid on the ground injured. On the scoreboard, the Ravens had eight seconds left. They thought they should’ve been given more time. Coach John Harbaugh didn’t receive an explanation.
“I was not,” Harbaugh said.” I was given…I asked about the time, I got no answer on that. I think they said the time was fine.”
With just eight seconds to go, Jackson threw a pass short of his intended wide receiver near the sideline, which left time for just one play.
Jackson dropped back to pass and fired a pass to Snead in the end zone, but Minkah Fitzpatrick jumped up and prevented a catch from being made. The Ravens’ sideline thought a flag should have been thrown for contact to the head of a defenseless receiver. Harbaugh called the hit a “shoulder to the helmet” after the game.
“I feel for him a little bit, because I think that play would’ve been made in the end zone, also, to win the game, and it would’ve been historic,” Harbaugh said of Snead. “It would’ve been that kind of a play. You just want to see your players protected. You want to see them protected just like the rules say they should be.”
Harbaugh was shown on camera pointing to his head and after the game confirmed he was talking to the back judge asking about the hit to the head.
Snead offered that it was a bang-bang play and could’ve gone either way.
“When I got hit, it just happened so quick,” he said. “As soon as the ball touched my hands, I got hit. So, it’s like, you never know. I didn’t know how he hit me, seriously, but I got hit in the head. So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
The final drive wasn’t the only time the Ravens had questions about a referee’s decision, as outside linebacker Matthew Judon was ejected for “intentional contact with an official” during the first half.
After a scrum, Judon was trying to pull away from his coach when his right arm broke free and inadvertently struck an official in the arm. He was immediately tossed from the game. He released a statement postgame through the Ravens that said how he never would intentionally touch a referee.
According to a pool report from The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec with NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron, the official felt that Judon’s contact was enough for an ejection.
“For example, if a player bumps into an official during a play, we’re not going to disqualify him for that,” Riveron said. “But if the official feels that it rises to a certain level, he or she has the option of ejecting the player on the field.”
Dependent upon contact with an official, that referee has discretion to eject the player if he feels necessary.
“I was told what the replay showed,” Harbaugh said. “I’m very confident that Matthew didn’t touch an official on purpose. I was told he was trying to release his hand away. There was some contact there, but it wasn’t anything he was trying to do — that’s what I understand the case to be.”